Tag Archives: urban

Terraces, Stairways, Sky

Terraces, Stairways, Sky
People arrayed on terraces and stairways at the Whitney Museum

Terraces, Stairways, Sky. New York City. December 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

People arrayed on terraces and stairways at the Whitney Museum

This is another of my December 2015 photographs from the New York Whitney Museum, and perhaps yet one example of my idiosyncratic approach to visiting museums. I love visiting museums, especially art museums, and I can easily spend many hours or even a full day wandering around and slowly taking things in. It is enough to drive other people who go there with me crazy! (On this visit, the rest of our group finally gave up, left without me, headed to a nearby tavern, had lunch and drinks, and waited for me to finally show up hours later.)

I love to look at the art, the people, and quite often the architectural spaces as well. This was my first visit to the new Whitney Museum, so there was a lot to see. I started on the top level and explored galleries, but soon was distracted by the outdoor terraces, which extent from each of the floors in delightful and interesting ways. On the top floor narrow terraces project out into space above the Chelsea district. On lower levels the terrace areas become larger, and afford urban landscape views of the surrounding city and back upwards toward the exterior of the museum. When I looked up at this mass of windows, terraces, stairways and more I knew there was a photograph (or several) here, and I spent some time with the subject.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Four Figures In Doorway

Four Figures In Doorway
Four people stand in front of the doorway of a Manhattan store

Four Figures In Doorway. New York City. December 24, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Four people stand in front of the doorway of a Manhattan store

I suspect that this photograph is going to perplex more than a few folks who watch my landscape and nature photography. In fact, this is one in a large string of very urban photographs made in New York in late December 2015. For those of you who “get” and like this work, thanks! For those who don’t, the more familiar kinds of photography will return before too much longer, and I’ll try to intersperse more of that photography with the urban/street/night stuff.

I’m endlessly fascinated by the way in which seemingly formless and virtually random patterns of motion in the urban environment can suddenly coalesce into something that has structure and which may even be mysterious and suggestive. Capturing this stuff requires me to be “on” all the time — and this can make me not at all fun to be with in these places when I’m carrying a camera! I made this photograph on a very crowded Christmas Eve in Manhattan, and it is one from a short sequence I photographed of this group standing in front of the entrance to a closed store — and for this instant the group miraculously assembled themselves into a fascinating tableaux of individual poses, especially the woman on the left.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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A Selfie

A Selfie
A group of tourists captures a selfie on the run

A Selfie. New York City. December 26, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A group of tourists captures a selfie on the run

A free hour or a bit more, so we took a quick walk out on the Brooklyn Bridge on a cold and windy day that was trying to rain — to join the surprising number of other people with just the same illogical idea. This bridge is a great place from which to watch many things: boats on the east river, the buildings of Lower Manhattan, the Brooklyn waterfront, the bridge itself and, of course, the people walking past by the hundreds or thousands.

The people provide a lot of photographic possibilities, but those possibilities come and go quickly. Our of an amorphous crowd so thick that I can’t see ten feet ahead of me, an interesting subject might suddenly appear. Of someone might do something surprising and interesting, but only for a brief moment. And then there are the selfies… It is no news that they have become a “thing.” The camera/phone is held at a high angle pointing down, and the subjects’ faces are almost invariably tilted up. Participants in the ritual usually lean their heads together and tilt them to one side. And then there is that smile — I wonder sometimes what it is supposed to be: a bit edgy/wry and highly posed. A moment before this group was simply walking towards me like all the other groups, but suddenly a phone came out, the arm went up, the heads turned, and there it was.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Graffiti Covered Wall

Graffiti Covered Wall
A small portion of a colorful graffiti covered wall, Brooklyn

Graffiti Covered Wall. Brooklyn, New York. December 21, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small portion of a colorful graffiti covered wall, Brooklyn

I used to have a firm policy of virtually never photographing graffiti, and when I couldn’t avoid it I would remove or modify it in post so as to not be part of the sharing that might encourage the sort of graffiti that is really simple vandalism. I still avoid photographing simple “tags” in most cases, especially when they offer little more than the evidence that some anonymous person wrote on a wall. I also have this nagging feeling that photographing graffiti-ridden cityscapes can too easily become a street photography cliché.

However, I’ve become more open to the idea of finding and photographing the accumulative juxtapositions of layers of drawing, painting, posters, and weathering that show up on some urban walls. That’s my way of explaining why I stopped to photograph this Brooklyn wall, moving in close to find compositions among the colors, lines, and shapes that have built up over time and which have been revealed as time has weathered away later layers.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Little Monsters on the Bridge

Little Monsters on the Bridge
Little monsters on the bridge

Little Monsters on the Bridge. New York City. December 26, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Little monsters on the bridge

If you wander about in New York City with your eyes open, who knows what you might see? We had an extra hour or so, and since we had been staying nearby for about a week and were only a short walk away, we decided to make a quick amble out onto the Brooklyn Bridge, even though it was cold and raw and trying to rain. The bridge, of course, was crowded with walkers, even in this uncomfortable winter weather. That meant that there were lots of opportunities of people watching and people photographing.

Most people go by so fast that only a quick photograph works, especially when crowds obstruct the view past the closest figures. Oddly, at this spot in the bridge the foot traffic seems to momentarily thin and break, and I could see this small group — perhaps a father and sons? — posing for a rather unusual Brooklyn Bridge photograph. Each of the kids was in a costume and mask of some sort, and the juxtaposition of these “little monsters” with the bridge was a surprise.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Man in Subway Car

Man in Subway Car
A man stands near the doorway between two cars of a historic New York subway car

Man in Subway Car. New York City. December 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A man stands near the doorway between two cars of a historic New York subway car

This is another of my historic subway photographs from late December 2015 in New York City. During the holiday season, on one day the system trots out the old rolling stock and folks can ride the old trains over a section of the modern subway system under Manhattan. We got there early and caught the first run of the train heading uptown, then caught it again for the trip back.

The experience is remarkable. Some of these subway cars are very old, and while they still look like subway cars there are aspects of the experience that are quite different. They are very noisy! Sometimes the lights switch off for a moment, presumably as the train rolls over un-powered sections. The passageways between cars are entirely open — the ends of the cars bounce up and down relative to one another and the wind streams past. This photographs looks through that inter-car passage and toward the connected car, where a man stands in the aisle.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

The Train Guys

The Train Guys
Subway rail fans waiting at the station for the historic “nostalgia” train, Manhattan

The Train Guys. New York City. December 27, 2015. © Copyright 2015. G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Subway rail fans waiting at the station for the historic “nostalgia” train, Manhattan

A few days earlier we visited the Subway Museum in Brooklyn, where we had a chance to wander through a bunch of old to very old historic subway cars. I was fascinated by how old some of the rolling stock is, and by the history of the system that I had not known about. I was also a but surprised to realize that some of the trains currently still on the tracks have been there for a long time. A big draw at the museum is the fact that the old subway cars are parked in this old station and one can wander in and out of them.

With this visit fresh in our minds we decided to catch the historic “nostalgia trains” event that brings many of these trains out of the museum and runs them on the subway system for one day in December. Not surprisingly this draws out lots of fans of New York history and a lot of “train people.” (It also surprises a few folks who don’t know what is going on when these really old trains arrive at their stations!) I’m not sure what it is about train people, but the seem to stand out. These guys had apparently ridden the train partway up Manhattan, crossed to the adjacent platform, and were now waiting to the train to come back for their return trip.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.