“All the Best Action is in My Mind” is the name of the photo piece that I’m looking at right now. I know that because it’s written in type on the photo. It’s made from some of my street photos and with some of my Photoshop filter recipes. That means it doesn’t look like a normal photograph. The filter recipes are like special effects. I use them to add a little texture and style to a photo. It’s what I do to make a photo my own.

As I write this it’s early spring and it’s almost warm enough to head down to NYC and take some street photos. I was even going to do that this past Saturday but I just didn’t have the energy to make the trip. In straight up miles it’s not far to NYC from where I live but to actually travel there takes a bit of effort. Driving is probably the easiest way but it’s also the most expensive and unpredictable. It costs twelve dollars alone to cross the George Washington Bridge. Then there is parking. I’m sure there must be a good place to park for free in the city but I don’t know it. I’d probably have to pay for parking on the street or in a lot and there goes thirty bucks. Welcome to midtown Manhattan.

I used to take the bus into the city all the time and then came the Great Recession in 2008 and they cut the number of busses in half. Eight years later and it’s still cut in half. So much for recovery. My choices in trains to take are New Jersey Transit from Nanuet or to cross the TZ Bridge and catch the Metro North train from Tarrytown. The bridge has a $6 toll plus a $20 train ticket while the Nanuet train is $17. The Tarrytown train goes straight into the lovely Grand Central Station while if I take Nanuet I need to switch trains and end up in the dingy and badly designed Penn Station. I usually end up going with the Nanuet train but none of my three choices are optimal. They all end up taking almost two hours door to door each way so you can see why I can’t always drum up the energy to make the trip. Especially since it’s only forty miles away. Forty miles in any other direction other than towards NYC and I could drive their and park in less than an hour.

In looking at this photo the first thing I notice it that it’s square. I made my first square photos this size (12×12 inches) back in 2005. I made seven or eight of them but then abandoned the format until this past winter. I don’t even know what made me want to go square again except that ten years had gone by and I still had a bunch of the mylar sleeves I bought to put the photos in. They were just sitting on my shelf abandoned and reminding me that square photos existed. I suppose Instagram has also reminded me square photos exist.

When looking at this photo the first thing I notice is long legs and long hair on the woman on the left. I took her picture as she was crossing Fifth Avenue headed towards the Midtown Library. I was actually across the street from the library which was unusual for me since I’m most often on the library side of the street. That’s where the people are. I just happened to cross the street so I could get far enough back to take in the whole library building. That’s when I spotted this woman. With her long hair, high heels, and short-shorts she stood out. She’s made anonymous by me not having the angle to catch her face but I’m okay with that in street photos. It gives a sense of a fleeting moment in time. Even frozen in a photo not everyone is knowable.

I’m quite fond of the woman with her hands on the sides of her face as she looks like she’s imitating a frill-necked dinosaur. What she’s really doing is putting on sunscreen as she sits in Bryant Park but I like the gesture none-the-less. Once again it’s one of those passing moments that I look for in my photography. Unposed and unplanned they come and go without us much noticing them. But they sure can be interesting. This photo has one of my filter recipes run on it. It’s my very first filter recipe that I’ve been using since about 2005. It’s a monochrome graphic translation recipe that emphasizes one color and a bunch on littler shapes. It takes the smoothness of a photo and gives it some line and texture. In this case it gives the expression a little more texture too.

The third largest photo in this picture is of the two women on the park bench. Its presence is much milder as the subjects look like they’re taking a break, resting, and enjoying the day. Though the woman on the left is caught in the middle of a gesture these two are more about stillness then motion. Take it easy.

Most of the rest of this photo is about stillness. Even the other people who are walking are doing so slowly without great effort. None of them have the energetic style of our woman in high heels. Our man laying down in the top left corner is certainly not in a hurry. So we have energy and stillness. Those two contrasting things can move the eye around a photo. That’s one of the things about a photo like this. I want the eye to move around it and discover new things. Get caught up the looking. Keep the action going in your mind.

Taking street photos is such a different thing than making something like this out of them. When I’m out there with my camera I’m looking and reacting. I take so many photos so quickly that by the end of the day I’ve forgotten a lot of the moments that caught my interest as they happened. One of the fun things about after a day of shooting is done is looking at the moments caught by the camera and see if they line up with what I remember them being. Sometimes they do and then sometimes you get a lovely photo of a woman with her hands on her face.