Dec 012016
 

Christopher Columbus Park Lit Up for the Holidays
Christopher Columbus Park Lit Up for the Holidays

A week ago, I took a walk after work down to Christopher Columbus Park to photograph the trellis lit up in brilliant blue for the holiday season. The park on Boston’s waterfront opened in 1976 for the Bicentennial and was part of development surrounding Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace area.  The park’s gardens, trellis, and fountains can be seen here in summer.

Christopher Columbus Trellis With Blue Lights
Christopher Columbus Trellis With Blue Lights

Despite the very chilly evening the night before Thanksgiving, there were quite a few people out enjoying the display.  Most folks were taking photos–primarily selfies with smartphones because of course.  But there were also some serious photogs with tripod mounted DSLRs, including the photographer in the shot below.  My photos here, btw, are all hand-held with my old Oly Pen m4/3 (which I now keep at work for just such excursions, while my Nikon DSLR and new Pen-F m4/3 sit waiting at home).

photographing the photographer photographing a guy in front of the trellis
photographing the photographer photographing a guy in front of the trellis


Columbus Statue and the Trellis in Decked Out with Holiday Lights

Nov 242016
 

hunger_final
Hunger

A reminder. Taken on Thanksgiving morning eight years ago. Gave this guy a couple bucks on my way to Starbucks as my holiday day was getting underway. Took this photo from across the street on the way back.

Have a happy, safe holiday. Be thankful for all you have.

 

Nov 222016
 

The Whole Point (Edward Brooke Courthouse)
The Whole Point (Edward Brooke Courthouse)

I spent a sunny Sunday photographing the Government Service Center and a couple of nearby buildings in Boston’s Government Center area. I previously posted photos from this session featuring Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist masterpiece, the Government Service Center. This post features shots of the surrounding area.

Boston City Hall, designed by architects Gerhard Kallmann and Michael McKinnell, is one of the best known examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States. Completed in 1968, the new City Hall replaced old City Hall, “one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire Style to be built-in the United States and now one of the few that survive” (which I featured in a recent post).


City Hall Shadows

And here are a few shots of the area around the Government Service Center, including the adjacent Edward Brooke Courthouse, designed in the late 1990s by the same firm that designed Boston City Hall more than thirty years earlier (now Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood).

walk up out of the shadows
walk up out of the shadows

Hurley Walkway and Courtyard

Staniford Twilight

The full set may be seen here, on Flickr.

Nov 192016
 

almost pueblo-like in the sun
almost pueblo-like in the sun

I spent a sunny Sunday photographing the Government Service Center and a couple of surrounding buildings in Boston’s Government Center area.  This post focuses on the Government Service Center. In part II, I’ll post some shots of the surrounding area.

Architect Paul Rudolph’s Government Service Center consists of two separate, but connected buildings: the Hurley Building and the Lindemann Mental Health Center. It’s the most misunderstood building in Boston. Many consider it (wrongly, IMHO) to be the ugliest building in Boston.

One of Rudolph’s masterpieces, Boston’s Government Services Center, with its distinctive “corduroy concrete,” ranks high among the best examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States (even eclipsing Boston City Hall). Designed and constructed a couple years after Rudolph’s Yale Art and Architecture Building tour de force, the Hurley/Lindemann building was never completed according to Rudolph’s original design and vision. Construction of this high rise portion was never realized.

Hurley Silhouette
Hurley Silhouette

Lindemann from the plaza
Lindemann from the Plaza

Unfortunately, the Government Service Center has suffered from years of neglect. The northern corner of the building has long been fronted by a hideous chain-link fence enclosing a make shift parking lot in place of the landscaped park in the original design. Within the past five years, many external stairways and other means of access to terraces and other intriguing spaces have been blocked, closed off by (more, ugly) chain-link fences. This wikipedia photo gives you a glimpse of one such unique area, as does this Droid Hot Spot commercial from 6 years ago, posted below. I’ve kicked myself for years not photographing Rudolph’s Government Service Center when access to all the external spaces and stairways was still open (and when deterioration of the buildings was a bit less pronounced).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/djmatt/31096005805/in/album-72157672767799713/"
Hurley Stairs and Columns

The FrogRudolph's Lindemann Facade
Rudolph’s Frog and the Lindemann Facade

Lindermann Mental Health Center StairsLindemann connects to Hurley

Lindemann Mental Health Center Stairs and the Lindemann Building Connects to Hurley

I’ve been defending Brutalist architecture for years, and attempting to convince fellow Bostonians of the importance and charms of Rudolph’s Government Services Center (typically to no avail). But, Brutalism is back, baby! Well, sorta. See this recent New York Times “Brutalism is Back” article, including:

Brutalism is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness.

And a couple of years ago, the Boston Globe published this piece, The dream behind Boston’s forbidding Government Service Center including:

In recent years, appreciation for Rudolph’s work has rebounded, especially among young architects. His Yale building, after a fumbled reconstruction and decades of neglect, was magnificently restored in 2009. But his Government Service Center is now only a shadow of what he envisioned. The complex was conceived as a moving, celebratory place, but mistreatment has made it resemble a prison. Yards of wire fencing overzealously fence off walkway walls now deemed too low to protect pedestrians. Parked vehicles have eroded the surface of the beautiful plaza at Staniford and Merrimac.

See also this recent Guardian article Save Our Brutalist Masterpieces.

Hurley angle
Hurley Angle


Looking through Lindemann to Saltonstall and Ashburton

The full set may be seen here, on Flickr. More photos of the Government Service Center may be seen here in this Flickr set by Kelviin, who also administers the Art and Architecture of Paul Rudolph group on Flickr.

 

Nov 092016
 

Old City Hall
Old City Hall at Late Twilight

A few (hand-held) late twilight and night shots from my soon to be retired Olympus Pen E-P3 (in favor of a just purchased Pen F). A walk home through Downtown Boston and Back Bay, stopping by Old City Hall,”one of the first buildings in the French Second Empire Style to be built-in the United States and now one of the few that survive.” Among the several statues in the courtyard is one of Ben Franklin, pictured in the photo below. It was the first portrait statue in Boston. In May, high winds toppled the statue off its pedestal, but, luckily, Ben escaped the ordeal without damage (although the same could not be said for the sidewalk below).

Ben and the printing press monument in front of Old City HallBen Franklin statue and printing press monument in front of Old City Hall

Boston’s Architectural Heritage Foundation just announced that they are putting their lease on Old City Hall on the market. Although sale of the lease, which the AHF has held since Old City Hall was renovated following construction and opening of new City Hall in 1968, would need approval by the City of Boston’s Planning and Development Agency, AHF “plans to use the proceeds to finish improvements to the building’s courtyard and create a new loan fund for historic preservation.”

I also took a few night shots of the urban park on Saint James Street in the Back Bay with the lighted waterfall sculpture and Japanese paper flowers and fish art in the trees.

Japanese paper flowers and fish in the urban park on Saint James
Japanese paper flowers and fish in the urban park on Saint James

Lighted Waterfall Sculpture
Lighted Waterfall Sculpture

Japanese paper art on Saint James Street
Japanese paper art on Saint James Street

Oct 162016
 

Gallery Doorway
gallery doorway

A second set of shots, this time featuring only color photos, from a walk through Boston’s South End on a glorious October day with my soon to be retired, five+ year-old Olympus E-P3 (in favor of a recently ordered Pen F.) Part one, featuring only black and white photos, may be seen here.  The full set of photos may be seen here, on Flickr.

Gaslight
Gaslight

a charming South End cornera charming South End corner

And here is a selection of a few South End neighborhood favorites, featuring the petit robert bistro, the South End Buttery cafe and restaurant, and Cafe Madeleine, a French patisserie and cafe with the best Pain au Chocolat in Boston—conveniently located just a few blocks from my house.

petit robert bistropetit robert bistro

South End Butter in buttery late afternoon sunlight
Neighborhood gems Cafe Madeleine and (bathed in buttery sunlight) South End Buttery

Long shadows on Montgomery off Dartmouth
Long shadows on Montgomery Street

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQuintessential South End

Villa Victoria Ramón Emeterio Betances Mural
Villa Victoria Ramón Emeterio Betances Mural

Oct 122016
 

Bacon's Building
Bacon’s Building in stark sunlight and shadow

I took a walk from one end of the South End to the other on a glorious October day with my soon to be retired, five+ year-old Olympus E-P3. This post–the first of two from that walk–focuses on points south of Tremont, including SOWA, and features monochrome shots (straight B&W). The late afternoon sun provided long shadows and stark contrast which look so good in black and white. There are also some sun-dappled shots of a deteriorated SOWA block with an old, one-story electrical shop, as well as a very cool building around the corner near Peters Park with large receiving and loading doors labeled “IN” and “OUT” in the masonry above.

500 Roman Trattoria
500 Roman Trattoria

Leon Electric
Leon Electric

INOUT
On Harrison, the  IN  . . .  and  . . .  OUT  . . .

One Way
One Way
Sun on Ivy
Sun on Ivy

Oh, and I’m retiring the Olympus E-P3 in favor of a new, just ordered Olympus Pen F, an “impeccably beautiful shooting wonder” that “reinvents the rangefinder for m4/3,” which some have called “absolutely the most beautiful digital camera yet, trumping even what Leica can do” (no argument from me). I was afraid Olympus had abandoned the higher end Pen models and may not follow-up the E-P5, relegating the Pen line to the lower-end, fashionable E-PL line. I was hesitant to buy an Olympus OM model because I still use my Nikon DSLR (and myriad lenses) and want a slimmer alternative like the rangefinder-designed Pen cameras. So, I am thrilled that Olympus not only came out with a follow-up the E-P5, but took it up a notch and placed its high-end Pen camera alongside its OM cameras in terms of features and specs.  And having a camera that continues the Pen F legacy is a plus. Oh, and my Pen F was paid for, in large part, by some recent photo sales for a calendar. But that’s a post for next month. Cheers.

Sep 112016
 

 


Looking up inside the Oculus (while others look down)

A few photos from a trip to the 9/11 Memorial, the One World Trade Center tower, and the Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation hub. Although shot in late August, it is fitting that I’m posting these now, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Yellow Rose for Christine Lee Hanson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fountain at Ground Zero

And here are some additional photos of the Oculus and surrounding buildings, including One World Trade Center:

Oculus and One World Trade Center
Oculus and One World Trade Center

Outside Oculus
Outside the Oculus

Oculus wrap
Oculus Wrap

Oculus curve
Oculus Curve

Designed by renown Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Oculus and World Trade Center station took 12 years to build and $4 billion in public funds– the most expensive train center ever.

As the New York Times noted, “Calatrava’s original soaring spike design was scaled back because of security issues. In the name of security, Santiago Calatrava’s bird has grown a beak. Its ribs have doubled in number and its wings have lost their interstices of glass…. [T]he main transit hall, between Church and Greenwich Streets, will almost certainly lose some of its delicate quality, while gaining structural expressiveness. It may now evoke a slender stegosaurus more than it does a bird.”

The compromised design and enormous cost of the project led to an ongoing controversy, summarized by wikipedia, with a few quotes:

Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post described the station in 2014 as it was being built as “a self-indulgent monstrosity” and “a hideous waste of public money”. Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, referred to the structure as “a kitsch stegosaurus”. New York magazine referred to it in 2015 as it neared completion as a “Glorious Boondoggle.”

I more or less agree with the criticism, especially given the massive cost and fact that so much of the station interior is made up of high-end shops.  But is was fun to photograph.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial

The full set may be seen here, on Flickr

Peace.

Sep 092016
 

 

Highline Flowers
High Line Flowers

I took a stroll on the High Line on a cloudy August day after a week on Fire Island. The High Line is an urban greenway — a former elevated freight rail line transformed into a park and trail that runs from the West Village and Meatpacking District through Chelsea, ending beyond Penn Station.

Highline (on a curve)
High Line on a Curve

Note the funky sculpture in front of a newish apartment building on the High Line, juxtaposed with some old school graffiti and a dramatic piece political art (more on that below). Funky Chelsea buts heads with the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and new construction along the High Line. (Or, perhaps more accurately: new, high end gentrification on top of and alongside previous, lower rent (relatively speaking) Chelsea gentrification).

Blind Idealism is Deadly
Blind Idealism is Reactionary Scary Deadly

“Blind Idealism is . . .” by renowned artist Barbara Kruger, commissioned by Friends of the High Line.

Kruger is an American artist known for “insistently addressing the issues of power, property, money, race, and sexuality. Over the past three decades her work has ranged from the photographic merging of image and text, to immersive video installations, to room-wrapping textual exhibitions, to large-scale outdoor displays of words and images. Two of her best-known works – Your body is a battleground and I shop therefore I am – also showcase the feminist overtones of her artworks, and her concentration on women as a lucrative site for advertising and consumerism.

The original quote — “Blind idealism is reactionary” — came from Afro-Caribbean philosopher and postcolonial revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon (1925–61), whom Kruger describes as “prescient in some ways.”

High Line Follage (with Empire State Building)
High Line Follage (and Empire State of mind)

Highline yawn
High Line Yawn

The full set, along with some winter High Line photos from a few years ago, may be seen here.

Aug 312016
 

Fire Island Light (illuminated by the late afternoon sun)
Fire Island Light illuminated by the late afternoon sun

A few photos from a week on Fire Island, New York, and various points along the Fire Island National Seashore.  This trip is an annual event going back a dozen years (although not all trips were memorialized with photos). As with most years, these shots document a trip to Fire Island Light, the iconic lighthouse on the Island’s western end, sunrise photos (on the ocean side), sunset photos (on the bay side), beach photos, and some shots with a trusty 7.5mm fisheye lens for my Olympus m4/3. Oh, and the daily ritual of gin and tonics on the Fair Harbor Dock or Bay walk is well documented.

sunrise with seagull
sunrise with seagull

setting sun illuminating the beach grass like fireflies
setting sun illuminating the beach grass like fireflies

the moon hanging on (on the other side of the sunrise)
moon hanging on (on the other side of the sunrise)

leap
leap

In past August visits to Fire Island, at least one day–if not two or three–have been rainy wash outs. But other than some overnight rain and stormy skies the next morning (see fisheye shot below, with bike), the weather was particularly lovely this year. The first few nights, however, it was quite cloudy in the evening, with rain and lightning visible in the distance over Long Island. We were spared the storms but had the benefit of spectacular, cloud-filled sunsets (see the two sunset Bay shots, below, with large dark clouds and boats).

Fire Island sunset number 2
big dark clouds at the blue hour (with boats)

stormy skies (with bike and spoon)_
stormy morning skies (with bike and spoon)

Fire Island Sunset number 1
Fair Harbor Sunset

And a few more shots:

Fire Island Sunset number 5 (on the dock with bike)_finalOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApink bike _croppedRust Never SleepsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgin and tonic and sunset

walk the dog (in the hazy sunshine)
walk the dog (in the hazy sunshine)

The sun just rose over Fire Island
the sun just rose over Fire Island

Full set may be seen here, on Flickr.