Sunday, August 28, 2016

North Point North Station

There's a lot going on in Cambridge's North Point Park.   For a railfan, it offers some great views of the North Station tracks.    While I was photographing skaters at the skate park, every time a train was coming by I would go down the hill and take photos of passing trains.   The skaters seemed to get a kick out of that.

Lightning inbound

Looking towards Boston.  Always nice when you can work the Zakim into a shot

The first spot is right behind the skate park.  There's an access road the duck tours use with some parking next to it (unofficial park parking?).   There's nothing but a few jersey barriers separating the lot from the North Station approach tracks.  As long as you stay on the public side no one seems to mind.

Multiple inbound

Looking North.  You can see all the way to BET.  
(This is zoomed - I'm still on the public side of the barriers)

Almost home

Nice catch - two inbound at the same time

Another spot at the same location is the pedestrian bridge over the tracks.   It gives you a nice overhead view of the same tracks, and a view into north Station.

North approach

Looking north from the ped bridge. 

In the North view (above) you can see the road and parking area, and barriers that separate the ROW from the 'public' space.   Of course, never trespass on railroad property, no matter how tempting it can seem.

North Draw

The Boston view from the ped bridge

One nice things on Summer weekends - due to fewer weekend trains and lots of boats, the drawbridges are usually left in the up position until a train is ready to arrive or depart.   So you get a nice audio and visual clue that a train is coming.   (And, if you like bridges, you can see the bridges raised and lowered quite often.)


The pedestrian bridge itself is very photo worthy

If you like watching the T, this is a great hotspot to hang out at.   Lots of trains on a weekday night, and a decent number of trains on the weekend (with bridge action).

A great sky also made some photos look great in Black & White.


Inbound to Boston.   Boston Sand & Gravel in the background

Dramatic arrival

Amtrak and MBTA racing into Boston.  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Skater Boyz

Wandering around North Point with my camera one day I finally stopped at the Lynch Family Skate Park.

The skate park was built in an an area under a series of ramps built as part of the "big dig" in the early 2000's.   It began as a concept in 2000 - Boston's skateboarders really had no park of their own.  They can be seen all over town in parks and plazas, but there was never a park exclusively for them.   15 years later the park has finally open.

In fact, the whole area is worth a visit.  There's a large park-park where warehouses used to be.   The skate park.  A nice pedestrian bridge over the train tracks (Nice train watching area on the bridge and next to the skate park).  That pedestrian bridge leads to a plaza right under the Zakim cable-stay bridge.  Lots of fun exploring.


It's a nice park but has it's challenges for a photographer.  First, you're under the highway - which means you have half bright sun and half hard shade.   Always a challenge.   Second, this is a park for skateboarders - not a lot of places to randomly shoot.  You pretty much have to scout around the edges of the park.  If you go 'in' the park, you have a high risk of getting clocked by a board, bike or scooter.   (Apparently using razor type scooters at a skate park is also a thing.   Whoda thought).  Third, these are folks just having fun and trying things, so you never know who might be where at any given point in time.   (vs. a professional shoot or such, where someone is doing the same trick in the same place and you know what to expect).


I started with a lot of walking around and observing.   Where could I stand without getting killed.   Who was doing what where.   Who was doing 'interesting' stuff, and who was just puttering around. And, of course, what would actually make a good photo.

No one had any issues with me shooting.  Just respect their space and be a good sport about things.    Chatted up some of them with light conversation to see what they were up do.


Once ready to start shooting, I had to give some thought to composition.  Watching someone a few times to see what they usually do, then position myself around the bowl to get a good angle and good lighting.   I went with the mid range lens, as they went from near to far as they went around the bowls.  Switched to high speed shooting mode.  Then take bursts as things were about to happen.


Got some good shots.   Got a lot of OK shots.  A lot of lessons learned after seeing the photos back on the computer.   All in all I had a lot of fun, and look forward to heading back again and seeing if I can do better next time.


Some lessons learned.

  • Get comfortable with people.    It's easy to take photos, but it can be challenging to walk into a group of people and start taking their photos.   Definitely a skill I need to work on.   Once warmed up to the skaters it was easier for me to feel comfortable being a photographer.   And establishing some rapport with the subjects made them a little more comfortable with me.
  • Remember camera settings.   More photos were out of focus than I had thought.   I'll bump up the ISO next time.  Moving the camera to keep up with my subjects needed higher shutter speed.   I did do a decent job at keeping aperture high (wide) to make sure only my subject is in focus.
  • Keep the human element.  It was easy to catch a 'trick' in action on the far side of the bowl.  You could follow their lead up then snap as they went in the air.   Got some nice photos - but they were all of the backs of the subject.   Having their face in the photo is always more powerful - even if you end up getting fewer 'cool' photos.   As a matter of face, some of the photos of just the faces of the guys concentrating on their skating, with no tricks, were as interesting as the action photos.   Will definitely take a different approach next time


See my Flickr Album for the best photos from this shoot.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

617 in East Boston

In late July I joined on line personalities 617 Images and Boston Attitude for their semi-regular photo meet-up.  A way for local photographers of all levels to meet and greet;  share tips and experiences and, of course, to take some photographs.   I missed the Zakim shoot, and the threat of rain almost cancelled this one, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to do some night shooting in the city.

This meet was at LoPresi Park in East Boston.  A brand new park, not too far from Maverick subway station.   This is an area of East Boston what is pretty industrial (faces Chelsea Creek), but has lots of new development starting to move in.    Here we have the Eddy, new apartments that abut the park, set to open in about a month.

City Living

The Eddy, as seen from the end of LoPresi park pier.

Given the view these units will have, it's not surprising this will be the next area to see construction.

LoPresti Park

The view of Boston as you enter Lopresi Park

It was a fun evening.   Slowly everyone gathered on the pier.  Was hard to miss the group - pretty much anyone with a camera was joining us.   We chatted with each other while snapping photos of the city skyline.

City Sunset II

The failed rain showers turned out to be a blessing in disguise.    There was a small break between the horizon and the cloud deck.   For a few minutes the sun shone through and turned the world a bright orange.

Like a big bald head

Everyone lines up on the pier for the city sunset

I got a lot of sunset photos of the city and skyline, but also tried to be a little creative.  I zoomed into the sunset and played with the exposure to capture the sunset itself while letting everything else go to black.  It worked well, and I got some great photos.


Charlestown seemingly on fire from the brilliant sunset.

Once the sun had finally set, time for some night time shots of the Boston Cityscape.    Well, lots of photos of the city - when you're out there for an hour or so, you end up taking a lot of photos.   but it got me to play with different settings, different zooms and basically taking the time to have some fun.

The worst part was - we were on a dock, and I had my light-to-travel-but-not-too-heavy tripod.   Any time anyone walked on the dock there were slight vibrations when I used the zoom lens.   So while I got a lot of nice shots, not all of them were the best in focus.


Boston After Dark

Custom House

Always love the Custom House

To my surprise they had set up some light painting for the evening.   This is when you leave your camera shutter open for a long exposure, then wave a light source around in some manner.    You catch the light trail in the camera.   Can be harder than it looks, depending on what you want to paint.

Oh so close Faster
617 Images

Took a few attempts, but we got our "617"

Ad you can tell, it took a few times to get 617 correct.  Kevin painted this by using his phone flashlight to draw each number.   Of course, he has to draw them backwards and in the opposite order.  And he has to do it in a timeline manner - my camera was set to 20 seconds in order to expose the city correctly;   so if he drew too slow, we wouldn't catch it all.

next was burning steel wool.    Put steel wool inside an egg whisk.   put the whisk at the end of a string and spin it around.   You not only get a circular pattern, you get some nice sparks flying out.


Better than fireworks?

Shower of Light

Cropping for just the sparks made an interesting image

After shooting we grabbed a quick late night bite at D'parma, right down the street from the shoot.   Very nice - I'll have to hit it again.  (sautéed clams were amazing).

Thanks to 617 Images and Boston Attitude for hosting the event.   I met a lot of new folks and had a great time.   And caught a view of the city I had never seen before.   (and got my butt out of the house and finally did some night shooting).  Search the interwebs for the combined hashtag #617attitude for other peopels photos form this (and other 617) events.

See all my photos from this shoot at my 617 Flickr Album.

Another photographer caught your truly (baseball hat) chatting with a fellow photographer