North America

There are three USA trips under this menu item:

  • Hawaii (2015)
    • A four-day Surfing Photography Workshop on Oahu with Michael Clark and Brian Bielmann
    • Hawaii (the Big Island), Kauai, Maui
  • South-West Canyonlands and New Orleans (2014)
    • A 14-day Udesign tour to the canyonlands of Utah and Arizona
    • Ten days in New Orleans
  • New York (2011)
    • In New York for a couple of weeks with just a Fujifilm X100 camera.

Click a link or page down for a summary of the trips and links to posts…

Heading for New York Again

Before I left for Scotland on my North Atlantic trip I entered four prints in the annual Interstate Competition of the Australian Photographic Society.  This is where people from camera clubs all over Australia compete on a State basis and the standard is very high.

I did very well with one of the prints.

Michael Hardy at Canberra Blues Society Xmas Party, 2011

And this is the one.  Last year I had won first place for monochrome print with it in the 2012 APSCON National Competition.  In the Interstate Competition, I was awarded Herbert Medal for best monochrome print and also best overall image.  Astonishingly, this has won me a 10-day photographic trip to New York with UDesign Photo Tours.

I had visited there two years ago with my partner but that was mainly a social trip and this is a photographic tour.  It doesn’t happen until next October and I haven’t done any planning so far but I’m expecting we’ll probably also spend a week in New Orleans.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

We had set aside our last night in New York for a concert by Joe Bonamassa.  I’d booked the tickets before we left Australia, from the Madison Square Gardens website.  As it happens we were staying just across the road from Madison Square Gardens and we went early to pick up the tickets and then came back for the show.  It was only then that it dawned on me that the line we had joined was for Julio Inglesias – definitely not our choice of performer.  Looking closer at the ticket I saw that it was for a concert at the Beacon Theatre, wherever that might be….

Back across the road, a doorman for our hotel instantly knew who we wanted to see and where the concert was.  He hailed a taxi for us and sent us on our way.  By the time we got there we were only about ten minutes late.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

As it turned out, the Beacon Theatre was a wonderful ornate three-tiered theatre from times past and a much better place to be than Madison Square Gardens.  It opened in 1929 for vaudeville acts, musical productions, drama, opera and silent film.  In 1979 it was  designated a national landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  From 1974 it has been a live music venue and has featured many acts including the Rolling Stones, Jerry Garcia, Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Radiohead, and Queen.  The Allman Brothers played more then two hundred times here and Bill Clinton had a private birthday party here in 2006 featuring the Rolling Stones.

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Joe Bonamassa is in the centre, in the spotlight.  Rick Melick is on the keyboards to the left, Tal Bergman on the drums to the right and Carmine Rojas on the bass at the front right.   I can tell you this because I’m reading their names off the liner notes of the DVD and CD released of this concert.  (To be precise, there were two nights and the DVD/CD selects from both).

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

Joe had several guests.  The first of these is singer Beth Hart, in the spotlight at front left.  She has frequently collaborated with Joe Bonamassa, particularly on Don’t Explain, a joint cover album of Blues classics.   She is touring Europe with him in 2013.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

Here we have a wider view that reveals some of the majesty of the Beacon Theatre.  There are a couple of nine-metre tall Greek goddesses flanking the stage.  Well, to be pedantic, they are actually flanking a proscenium arch (though it’s square in this case) so that the audience has a restricted viewpoint and doesn’t see the action from the side or the back.  This was a Roman invention which is why it has perhaps some relevance here, in context of the classical decor including lions, frescoes and columns.

You might think I have used a wider lens here, or panned and joined multiple images together.  But no, remember all my photos in New York were taken with a Fujifilm X100, which in conventional 35mm film terms has a prime lens with a focal length of 35mm.  What you see is the scope of the lens; other images are cropped in, considerably.

When I made the booking I got the cheap tickets in the top tier, thinking that the sound’s going to be just as good up there, not particularly thinking about photographic possibilities.  So this is a test of getting interesting images with a camera relatively unsuited to the occasion.  Just don’t expect any head-and-shoulder portraits.  The images still look fine though if you click on them for a much larger view.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre with special guest John Hiatt

Next musical guest was John Hiatt, a name that will be familiar to many of you.  A renowned singer/ songwriter, his style is somewhere between Blues, folk-rock and country.  His songs have been recorded with a kaleidoscope of eminent performers.  For example, his song Riding with the King was recorded by Eric Clapton and B.B. King.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

Here we have Joe Bonamassa and band, flanked by the two Greek Goddesses.  I’d better talk about Joe now.  Joe comes from a family with many generations of musicians and was something of a child prodigy, opening for BB King at the age of twelve.  He is primarily a Blues guitarist.  He also has a fine singing voice though on this occasion all the guests were singers and provided an extra breadth of style to the concert.  The concert moods ranged from something like stadium rock to quiet lyrical interludes and searing Blues guitar solos.  The guests played some of their own material and most of the rest were Bonamassa originals.  Covers ranged from Leonard Cohen to Gary Moore to the Who (though that in itself was a Mose Allison cover).

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

The last guest was Paul Rogers.  Paul is not to be confused with the late Jimmy Rogers who was a guitarist for Muddy Waters  or with Roy Rogers who is a noteworthy slide guitarist who played with John Lee Hooker.  (And those two in return are not to be confused with the country musicians Jimmy Rogers and Roy Rogers).  Paul Rogers is an English singer/ songwriter who has been prominent since the early 1970s.  He has played with a number of bands including Free and Bad Company and for the last two or three decades has mainly performed solo.

Joe Bonamassa at Beacon Theatre

Here we are at the climax of the concert, with Joe on his toes delivering the crescendo to a searing guitar solo.  People had started jumping up in front of me and moving around and it was difficult to find a clear view for a photo.

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Just a few minutes later, this is the final applause and the band has just stopped playing.

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This is a chandelier in the lobby on the way out, illustrating the grand display of the Beacon Theatre.  At the time I thought the theatre to be older than it was because it reminded me in style of some theatres in Australia and New Zealand from late Victorian or Edwardian eras (say 1880-1910).  Of course, it was reflecting the imperial glory of the silent screen moguls rather than the imperial glory of the British Empire.  The candles in the candelabra, therefore, were presumably always electric.

A stirring, memorable performance, fitting for our last night in New York.

I will probably have only one or two posts in the next month as I have a Blues Festival or two to photograph.  I will resume later with a series on lighthouses taken mainly on large format equipment in 1987.

Brooklyn

We decided to visit a market in Brooklyn on our last day in New York, going there by Subway on one of the routes that goes under the river and then emerges above ground.  We found the building but the market had moved to another part of Brooklyn.  It took some time to get to the new location only to discover that the market wasn’t open on that day.

View from Brooklyn

So we wandered to a nearby park at the waterfront with a view across to Manhattan and a flock of Canada geese at the shoreline.  We had great difficulty finding a taxi that day.  Most weren’t available and the few that were weren’t interested.  So we did a lot of walking in between subway stations.

Jewish school and school buses, Brooklyn

I was intrigued by all the Hebrew lettering in this view at one point in our somewhat random wanderings.  I presume it is a Jewish school and school buses.

When we finally reached a subway station, we travelled to Brooklyn Heights where we found a pub/ restaurant for a very nice lunch.  This is not something to be taken for granted in New York.  It is not the sort of place where everything is a wonderful culinary adventure.  There is plenty of good food, though it is usually expensive and first you have to find it.  In the part of Manhattan where we were staying the cheap food was generally appalling, even the pizzas which I would have thought to be reliable.

View from Brooklyn

After the meal, we came out on the promenade along the shore of the Brooklyn Heights for the view across to Manhattan that you see above.

It is just as well we were in Manhattan from late October to early November in 2011 rather than in 2012 because Hurricane Sandy swept through on 28 October 2012 with a 14-foot peak storm surge.  Had we been there then and stayed in our hotel during the storm, we would have emerged to find the Subway flooded, taxis unavailable because their parking lot went under, no electricity and most places closed.  Mind you, it was much worse in the Caribbean, especially Haiti where over 100 people died.

The vista above might also have been the view of George Washington in late August 1776, except with no development on the Brooklyn shore and relatively few low buildings at the end of Manhattan Island only.  He had brought his army here and waited for the British to attack but they were rather more successful at this than he had anticipated and he ended up surrounded by land and sea.  However, he manage to sneak the army across the river to Manhattan in the dead of night,  through a British naval cordon, thereby avoiding the imminent threat of annihilation or capture.

In 1626 you would have been looking across at the nascent Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (if it were even visible at this distance).  In 1609 you might have seen the sails of Henry Hudson and in 1524, those of Giovanni da Verrazzano (a Tuscan exploring for France).

A thousand years ago you might even have seen a Viking longboat or two  here.  No one really knows where Vinland was, the place where the Vikings had a few brief settlements.  Many favour Newfoundland for this, specifically the settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows.  This partly corresponds to an interpretation of Vinland as Land of Meadows rather than Land of Vines.  However, a mediæval Danish King referred to Vinland specifically as a land of wine grapes.  If so, Newfoundland was too cold to be Vinland while early visitors to New York remarked on the wild grapes growing in the region.

An Icelandic Saga I read refers to “Algonquins” possessing a “ballista”, a wooden catapult weapon used in Europe in ancient and mediæval times.  This sits better with New York Indians, who would have been more organised than the tribes in Newfoundland.   It also raises another unanswerable question of whether this was parallel development or reflects some prior Greek, Phoenician or Roman contact.   Although it is unprovable, the Vikings could well have settled on Long Island (Brooklyn) or Manhattan Island.

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

Most of the Blues musicians we saw in New York were old hands, having honed their craft over several decades.  John Nemeth, though is a relative newcomer.  (Web site; Tracks on MySpace)

John Nemeth Band at Terra Blues

I might have been able to identify the other members of the band from the CDs I bought but the liner notes of the more recent one are cemented together due to a leak of rainwater into the house from an overflowing gutter.  The CDs survived OK though.

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John is evidently not the only one in the band who wears a hat.

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

This is John Nemeth, also in the first image and the following ones.

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

He has been “on the scene” since about 2002.  He is an accomplished singer, sometimes more in the style of Soul than Blues, insofar as there is a dividing line.  The music is definitely Blues rather than Soul, though.

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

Testament to his vocal ability is that he has played with the seminal Texas Rhythm & Blues band Anson Funderburg and the Rockets, filling in for the wonderful blind vocalist and harmonica player Sam Myers, who sadly died in 2006.  I was fortunate enough to see Anson Funderburg and the Rockets playing with Sam Myers at the Narooma Blues Festival, probably in 2004 or 2005, but that was before I became Photographer for the festival so I can’t show you any images of that.

John Nemeth at Terra Blues

A most enjoyable night of very smooth Blues at Terra Blues.

3 November 2011.

The Met, Take 3

Van Gogh - Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

With time starting to run out in our New York trip, we visited the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) for the third time because there was still a huge amount we had not seen.

Van Gogh - Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

These first two images are of paintings by a Dutch artist from the nineteenth century called Vincent van Gogh.  You may perhaps have heard of him.

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This image and the two following show sculptures by the Asmat people of south-western New Guinea.

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This is the carved prow of a canoe and the canoe behind it.  The canoe is nearly fifty feet long and capable of carrying twenty people, who stand up in it to paddle with the oars that you see.  The seated figure in the prow is the deceased sister Banditis of the head carver Chinasapitch and the prone figure represents a young man who had recently been killed by men from another village.

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This is a double figure from Kamor village, mid-twentieth century.

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Crossing the Pacific and going back in time, here we have a Moche ceramic vessel  from the coast of Peru, c. 200AD-600AD

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Also from the Moche, a Head Vessel from 100AD to 600AD.

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This is a gold figure which originally would have held other objects (now missing) and worn a headdress.  Hammered from many pieces of fine quality gold, it is from the Tolita-Tumaco style area on the Equador-Columbia border along the Pacific coast, 0AD to 400AD.

Olmec jade mask, 1000BC to 600BC - Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

Further north and further back in time, this is an Olmec mask from 1000BC to 500BC.  The Olmec were one of the earliest Meso-American civilisations.  They were based in a Caribbean coast region of Southern Mexico and are also known for producing massive stone heads in a similar style to the Jadeite one above.  The stone heads could weight as much as 40 or 50 tons and be three metres high.

Miro, Dutch Interior III (1928) - Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

Back in the modern period, no prizes for recognising the work of Joan Miro.  Called Dutch Interior (III) from 1928, it was inspired by postcards or Dutch genre scenes that he collected in a two-week trip to Holland.  The central figure is an archer and it is possible that his style is somewhat different from the original postcards.

Max Ernst - Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

Max Ernst.

Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met)

Picasso, Modigliani and Giacometti.  With spectators.

New York

And the final image is a view including Belvedere Castle in the fading light across Central Park, as we walked back from the Met to the Subway.

3 November 2011.

Studebaker John at Terra Blues

New York

On the evening of the 2nd of November we turned up at Terra Blues to see Studebaker John.  This is the support musician, whose name unfortunately I do not remember.

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Initially there was no seating available close to the band but some people left after the support act finished and we were able to get a seat in front of the stage and (for me at any rate) fuel up on single malt.

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This is Studebaker John.  I had picked up a CD of his in Canberra about fifteen years earlier so I was interested to see him and had some idea of what to expect.

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As you can see, this is his bass player, whose name is Rick Kreher.

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Studebaker John plays Chicago Blues, coming as he does from Chicago.  Here they were playing mainly in the feel of their then-current album Maxwell Street Kings which he describes as the raw, less-is-more sound that I first heard on Chicago’s Maxwell St.

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There was a guest harmonica player on some tracks.

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I don’t know the name of the drummer.  There was a different drummer on the CD.

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(Web pageMusic on MySpace).

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Another great night at Terra Blues.

2 November 2011.