A Photographic Journal of New York City – A Tripod Quest: Walking Willie-style

Hey folks, my name is Miguel de la Fuente, current Bushwick resident, and future vagabonding photojournalist (hopefully). But really, I’m excited for an opportunity to blog about my neighborhood, Brooklyn, and filter it with my own personal photographic lens. Expect some future entries on all things photo, art, Brooklyn, or some wildly imaginative combination of the three. Peace!

On Sunday, the plan was this: participate in a photo-scavenger hunt with a group of photo-junkies like myself in order to scope out the scenic in Brooklyn, upload my pictures along with an assortment of the days’ best captures, and run home to write all about it.

To write about how I put my artistic insecurities aside, and invite the world to witness my humble contributions to a photographic field to which I have fully committed. How I valiantly stepped far beyond my level of comfort and picture-take with other picture-taking strangers, embarking on an ebb-and-flow of communal creativity…

But the real story, goes like this: I arrive at the scene a whole half-hour later than the given meeting time, only to discover that my two friends, whom I had invited to the ‘hunt’, abandoned it all together, telling me that the moment they realized the whole affair operated more like a tourist-group trekking toward Brooklyn, taking the same kinds of pictures of the exact same things, they unapologetically saw themselves out of it.

I fumbled through the list of objects of things to find, and dismissively, I found the assignment rather bizarre. I mean, we had to find “gummy bears”? (My friends later told me that there were in fact, two men in bear suits, clad in tutus, chewing on some…gum)

So, collectively, my friends and I decided we were to venture forth with our own photographic excursion. The day was not at a loss. I was still determined to get my Brooklyn shots, and get them good. Besides, it should have occurred to me far earlier that I don’t like being told what pictures I ought to take.

At least we cooperated still with the scavenger hunt in this manner: to go over the Williamsburg Bridge, as the rest of the photo group had, and start shooting while we were on it. The rest of our journey was to remain self-determined. I was genuinely excited with our change in plans. I had done a film shoot over Brooklyn Bridge, but walking over and capturing Williamsburg Bridge would be a first for me.

We set off…

Armed with my Nikon D60 and an 18-55 mm lens, I braved the cold and marched up the bridge. These days, it is a most obvious piece of advice to be properly clothed when going on a photo trip, particularly in places that could funnel in strong velocities of wind, like a bridge, in this case.

I felt my fingers were frost-bitten. But the numbness in my hands sure made the experience all the more dramatic. I was determined, I said!

While the weather made for some “mild complications”, our time of day was perfect. We shot during that well-known photographic magic hour, when the sun was just beginning to set. It broke through the clouds faintly, but just enough to infuse a beautiful contrast to the overall drab grayness of the day itself. What was striking, however, were the nearly carnation-pink painted railings that lined the edges of the walking path, which made for an interesting juxtaposition of color, to the mundane metallic hue of the bridge’s foundational structure.

We trudged along, back dropped by the setting sun and its rays, shimmering upon the ripples of the East river. My intense focus for a productive shoot became tempered by the cool and calm of the late afternoon. It was a quiet day on the bridge, and even our small group of three had disbanded, meekly retreating into our own individual creative zones. We were not harassed by any zooming bikers, or interrupted by Ipod-clad runners, who tuned us out with their headphones anyway.

The only thing that may have prevented the scene from being typically postcard-perfect was the graffiti. I, however, love graffiti art. Sure, some see it as cause for urban alarm, seeing the charm of old buildings and walls harmed by some spray-paint and a few politically-savvy sayings. But I do not mind so much. Graffiti art has earned its rightful place within this most photographed urban canvas that is New York City.

There isn’t plenty of it along the bridge, but there is enough of it to detract from the dream-like quality of sunset-viewing…on a bridge. It is good to be reminded that this is New York, where Hip-Hop was born and remains alive and well. Where the guts of the city still spills onto pavements and walls throughout the Five Boroughs – and things are kept real.

On the Brooklyn side of the bridge, we descended into Williamsburg, and the view dramatically changed. An intermingling between past and present, evident on the walls of buildings and abandoned warehouses. Broken glass and aged brick finishes retouched and remixed with hues of blues and greens and reds from graffiti plastered on the walls, neatly, if you can believe me.

The beauty in all this, I leave for you to decide, dearest readers. The pictures, I will let speak for themselves.

All I can say is, at the end of the bridge, and at the beginning of Brooklyn, I felt an undeniable freshness that will keep me going on “a tripod quest“.

(for more images from the Williamsburg Bridge shoot feel free to visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/migueldlf/)

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