Friday, December 31, 2010

Blizzard in New York City (A Brief Photographic Tour!)

Well, I'm sorry I poofed, everyone. I was super busy, and then I was really trying to be the opposite of busy (with mixed success) and anyway...I'm home now, and back to "work" (and to actual work, too ;) ). I've got a few posts I meant to do in the last few weeks, but this one preempts them, because it's time appropriate. :)

So I heard on the 24th that we were supposed to get snow on the 26th. When I checked the forecast on the 25th, it said we should expect 4 to 8 inches, and I sadly made some phone calls to cancel a road trip I had planned for the next day, cause it wouldn't be safe to drive. Little did I know that by the time the snow stopped falling during the night of the 26th, we'd have gotten 20 inches in the city! So of course, as soon as I was sure it was safe enough to go out, I headed out to take lots of pictures. This resulted in two sets on Flickr: on the 27th, I went to Van Cortlandt Park, and on the 29th, I went to Central Park. This post is about some of the best photos of the lot, as is my usual practice at these times.

Van Cortlandt Park, which is the Bronx equivalent of Central Park and the closest park to my apartment (about a half mile away), is a lovely if rather natural looking park that doesn't get all that much use as far as I can tell. Certainly, the day after the storm, I was one of only 2 people to follow most of the routes I took (easily determinable by the other sets of foot prints). I didn't get out til late in the day, so lighting was a persistent issue, but I managed to get some excellent shots anyway. It was a very cold day, too, and still very windy (we had 70 mph gusts during the blizzard...).

So...this is the hill that I live on (the building on the right is mine). My car is barely visible over on the right (the four car on the right side of the street). It ended up taking 45 minutes to dig it out. :)

I don't usually make the things in my pictures, but I made an exception when I saw all the lovely fresh snow...

The wind kept whipping the snow up. I crested a hill, glanced behind me, and saw that the sunset was catching the blowing snow.

Not my footprints in this one...

This open area in Van Cortlandt park is the path that I jog on. It goes right by both those trees. Or at least it would if it wasn't completely buried in snow...

I had to wait for this shot...I kept not quite catching the geese as the migrated...but I finally got it. :)

This is the Van Cortland House Museum, which is one of the oldest buildings in New York City - it was constructed in 1748 by Frederick Van Cortlandt for his family, who owned all the land in this area. Washington and Lafayette both slept in the house during the Revolutionary War. It's now a living history museum that I have only ever visited once, on a school trip when I was in elementary schools (but I jog by it two or three times a week!). Apparently, it was only the fourth historic museum house in the entire country, as it's been a museum since 1897. Thanks, Wikipedia. :) It was very hard to get this photo; the snow drifts around the fence between me and the museum were 2 to 3 feet deep, but I found a way.

The next day, I had to drive out to Pennsylvania to pick up my dog, and then the next day I went out to Central Park to get more pictures before all the snow melts! Central Park was much more fertile ground for snowmen than Van Cortlandt was (where I only saw two...)

I love when I spot something awesome like this that another person has left behind to be discovered...

I really love this shot. It was so bright in this location that I just jacked my shutter speed all the way down (to the fastest) and my aperture closed as much as possible, and then just snapped and hoped it turned out. It did. (this is the an old reservoir; it's now just picturesque, and has a running path around it that I used to use when I was living in Manhattan)

Snowman of the day. I just loved this one. There was a great one wearing a mask, but sadly the lighting wasn't cooperative for that one...(but the pic is in the set)

Some of the trees still sported fall leaves.

I found a place where someone had tossed bird seed down; I spent a good ten minutes there, patiently waiting for animals and birds to assume positions that would photograph well. The best show is the next. :)

Sunset over Central Park South.

There are plenty of other pics that I think turned out well in the sets - I'm pretty happy with how both days photography efforts turned out, considering that I was adjusting camera settings and snapping shots with mittens on! :) Now the snow is starting to melt pretty fast - it's been warm a few days running, and it's going to be very warm (high 40s) this weekend, so I bet it'll be mostly gone by Monday. But that's always how snow is in NYC - even though it's depressing, it's at least familiar. And it's only December - we'll get more snow, with January and February still to come. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!!! :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Book Poll!

Oy, it's been a while! Hi everyone! More to come later today or tomorrow as I get my feet back under me from the holiday, but as it's almost New Years, it's time for one of my favorite New Years traditions!

All year, I keep track of the books I've read, and look forward to the end of the year, when I can participate in the LibraryThing exchange of book lists! The survey of books I've read is up on SurveyMonkey. The idea is simple: At this link, you'll find a survey which lists all of the books I've read in the past year. If you've read any of the same books (any time in the past, not just in the past year), check them off, then hit submit when you're done! In about a week, when everyone is done taking it, I'll post the results!

You can take my survey here.

Cross posted to the LibraryThing LJ group, my personal LJ, my craft blog, and FB! (yeah, I know, a lot of overlap, but I do have a few unique people in each place - sorry folks!)

(and here's my 2009 results... :) )

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bergdorf Goodman Christmas Displays, 2010

I first discovered that Bergdorf Goodman does awesome window displays when I passed by in 2008, and they had a display out which featured a crow wearing glasses and reading a book. I was in love. Ever since then, I try to catch their windows whenever I'm in the neighborhood. Thus, it was with keen anticipation that I made my way uptown to see what they had to offer for the Christmas season, 2010. And I was not disappointed. So just for reference, I took about 90 pictures JUST of the Bergdorf (and Van Cleet) windows, and I'm only putting around 10 in this post, so if you want to see the rest, you should check out the full set, up on Flickr, of all the pictures I took during the walk. :)

Final recap:
Monday was an overview of my walk
Tuesday was about Macy's
Wednesday was about Lord and Taylor
Thursday was about Saks 5th Avenue
And this is the set of all 273 pictures, uploaded and labeled on Flickr

So, on the Bergdorf. As far as I could tell, there was no overarching theme to the Bergdorf windows, though there were some recurring threads. For example, several of the displays related to travel; a couple others related to space. For each one, I took an "over all" view, and then a varying number of detail shots. So, I've done my best to narrow this down...

The first window I looked at was about a sophisticated woman of intelligence (there were books all around, and she flourished a fountain pen. However, this was the awesome part:

The next window was filled with absolutely amazing zodiac representations. This was my favorite:

The next one had lots of exotic animals, and another traveling sophisticate. And this little guy...

And a Raven warning us that maybe we were running out of time...

Then there was a woman being driven by a whole host of valet and footmen monkeys...


...and because steam punk is in fashion this year, her car was actually being airlifted by a zeppelin. It's a theme!

The jewelry was displayed in lovely little vignettes.

This was my absolute favorite display - it seemed to be the most popular of the windows in general (hence why I finally gave up and took a pic that had a few people in front of it.

This display had two manikins:

And her friend...

A disco 60s sparkly astronomer.

There were lots of awesome animal props in this one:

The next display was all about sailing ships. I thought some of my friends who make prims might like these guys:

There was a sexy manikin...

...being gazed at by a peeping tom Poseidon.

Another lovely little jewelry vignette...

One display advertised that BG has put out a book about these windows. I want it!

Then there was a classic vintage damsel up in the clouds.

Bergdorf shares a block with the jewelry store Van Cleef and Arpels. Their displays were nice too, though none had jewelry when I was there because the jewelry store was closed.

Two side windows had Christmas themed displays.

She was happy...

...and she was merry.

So...a lot of pics. More than I usually go for. But it's the best I could do cut it down.

This has been my series of posts on the NYC Christmas Displays for 2010! Until next year... :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Saks 5th Avenue Christmas Displays, 2010

The crowds are always especially thick outside of Saks, because it's directly across the street from the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Overall, I was very pleased with their windows this year. Last year, the windows there told a story about a snowflake traveling the world, and while it was sweet, it wasn't like, "omg awesome." This year, they did a vaguely unintelligible story that appears to have been about a strange girl with pink hair exploring the world and encountering awesome fashion. Since when Saks does awesome fashion, it's awesome, I thought these were one of the better sets of Windows I saw this year (second to Bergdorf, my last stop of the day and the topic for tomorrow's post, hopefully.)

To recap:
Monday was an Overview
Tuesday was about Macy's Windows
Wednesday was about Lord and Taylor

There was a lot of lovely fashion in the windows at Saks this year.

But the story of the windows focused on a strange girl with pink hair.

A lot of the displays also included bubbles (like in her net).

First, she goes exploring in a house. Then, she wanders in to the forest, where of course she encounters...high fashion! What else?

Oh, and clockwork insects. Which were very hard to photograph in the low light.

This is one of the only shots I've ever taken with a really bad reflection that somehow completely worked anyway.

Once she's done in the forest, our heroine finds a hot air balloon makes of bubbles.

Once she's up in the air, she manages to find...

Yes, it's a zeppelin hot air balloon clockwork elephant! Why didn't I think of that? Really, this display in particular was why I thought the Saks windows were awesome. Because my life needs more zeppelin clockwork elephants.

She then descends under the sea.

This was actually one of the hardest to photograph windows of the day, which was a pity cause I really liked it, the manikin was in a lovely dress.

She then gets netted by an octopus, which is all well and nice, and passes this amazing bit of fabric.

Possibly my best shot of the entire day.

Somehow, this all results in her getting transported to an undersea themed amusement park.

...where we get reminded that in the end, she is not a sophisticate, but really just a cute pink-haired girl.


...and then she's on the moon.

So yeah. The Saks windows? A little zany! Very hard to photograph, too - there were a LOT of people there, and I was really trying not to hold up those behind me, which meant I frequently had to wait for people to go by. All in all, though, they turned out well all things considered.

Tomorrow (if I have time, which is questionable): The cream of the crop - Bergdorf and Goodman. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lord and Taylor Christmas Displays, 2010

Just to recap:
In Monday's post, I outlined my day getting pics of the 2010 Christmas displays. In Tuesday's post, I ran through the best of my pics of the Macy's display.

The next stop on my trip north was a Lord and Taylor. They had a nice theme behind their windows - they collected stories from fans of their department store, and chose twelve of these stories to make in to the window displays. Unfortunately, I didn't get to read most of them, because my fellow window watchers at L&T were surprisingly rude and pushy, and it was very hard to get good pics and read the text. However, the ones I read were pretty good - touching, ya know. :) Also - they are running a holiday promotion where thy are donating $1 to the American Red Cross for every facebook fan they get between now and Christmas - so if you like them, this is your moment. :)

On to the pics!

My favorite of the stories I read was this one, in which the storyteller related how during their first winter in New York, they got invited to an unexpected and awesome Christmas party which meant that they weren't alone for the holiday.

One of my favorite pieces of their display was actually not really there to be a vignette.

The only way to see this lovely city scene was to crane your neck to see around a pillar! So much attention to detail!

In one window they did a display of some of the dolls from their older windows. This one was my favorite.

One of the things that always makes L&T hard to photograph is that a lot of their displays move a LOT. Like, this one was constantly turning - it never stopped.

As a result, a lot of my shots just didn't turn out, or look crappy, or don't do justice to how nice the display actually was. :)

For the entire day, this shot is the one I'm most disappointed in.

The display was constantly moving, and rude people were constantly pushing past me or stopping directly in front of me (and it wasn't just obliviousness - a bunch of them looked right at me before treating me badly. I was a little baffled - this didn't happen at any of the other department stores...) and I really wanted this shot. I would have stood there as long as it took to get it...except that I thought I had it! But when I loaded it, it was obvious I had let my shutter speed get to long - this picture needs to be darker - so I was very sad. :(

Probably my favorite vignette of the entire display...

I had trouble with the light in a bunch of these...

And lastly...

Tomorrow: Saks 5th Avenue!