Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Me and the Damned Bird

 Bird & Chrysler, 2011

While in New York a couple of weeks ago I took the picture (below) that shows the south facade of Grand Central Terminal. I hadn’t really figured on including the stone eagle that’s perched in front of the terminal. But then I decided to use the eagle as a foreground element since most shots of Grand Central are just that; namely, head-on shots with little additional interest. The sun didn’t favor this shot, though. I wasn’t crazy about the outcome, but found the confluence of four different elements—the canopy at the corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt, the eagle just above, the façade of Grand Central and the Met Life building—to be briefly interesting.  I thought the scalloped edges of the canopy and the eagle’s beak made for an interesting silhouette.

Bird, Grand Central  & Met Life, 2011

I was back in New York this past weekend and had hoped to find better light on the Grand Central façade. I had plenty of chances, that's for sure. I walked over to Grand Central around 7:00 a.m. on Saturday hoping the morning sun would illuminate things nicely. Not so, it turns out. I hadn't counted on the hotel to the east of the terminal blocking the direct sunlight.
The second chance came about an hour later when the sun was higher and I discovered that the City had closed Park Avenue to all but runners and bikers. I don't know where the closure started or ended. But after realizing that the elevated stretch of Park Avenue that runs under the Helmsley and Met Life buildings and around Grand Central was included in the closed section, I joined the other walkers and went up on the elevated roadway. There I found myself practically face-to-face with eagle. By looking west instead of east, I ended up with what I thought was an interesting photo, as seen below. But again, it wasn’t the one I wanted.
 Bird  & 42nd Street, 2011

Late in the afternoon I had yet another chance to stop by Grand Central. I thought that maybe the afternoon sun might bend around the corner and hit both the eagle and the facade. No such luck. The whole façade was in shadow. But once again, by changing my perspective I ended up with a picture I liked—Bird & Chrysler, seen above—because it includes the eagle in the foreground and another one of my favorite places, William Van Alen's Chrysler Building, in the background. Van Alen was something of an unusual character, mainly because for having designed such a distinctive building, very little is known about him.
On Sunday morning I didn’t even try to take a picture of Grand Central Terminal. The hell with the façade and the eagle!
If I paid attention to such things, I’d say this was one of those times when life was trying to tell me there were better opportunities right in front of my eyes, even if they weren’t the opportunities I was looking for. 

1 comment: