New York City

Last November, Sean and I went to New York for the first time. In the first 4 days, we rode the subway, visited Madison Square Garden for an NBA Game (which included some Foam fingers), The Statue of Liberty, The MoMa, Obscura Antiques & Oddities, Nintendo World, The 9/11 memorial, Lindy’s, The Williamburg Bridge (we didn’t quite make it to the Brooklyn Bridge) and several Flea Markets as well as many High street, Antique, Thrift, Exchange, Consignment, Second-Hand and Re-purposing shops. The weather was fresh but fine as the sun was out nearly every day. Best finds? A full-sized Tin-type, three A3 sized promo photos used by the Hudson Theater, one of which is signed Bruno of Hollywood, a leather jacket and a pair of stunning earrings. Creepiest finds? A hand-blown glass spider and a handwritten diary from a person suffering from depression.  

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  We then got on an Academy bus to Atlantic City. The trip took around 2,5 hours and it drops you around 100m from the boardwalk. We wanted to visit Atlantic City for the casino’s and because we love HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’ – but we also figured that 8 straight days of New York might be a bit much. It was freezing cold, but dry, we played even in the casino at the Blackjack table and the famous wooden boardwalk was near empty. The Steel Pier was closed for the season, but after speaking to some locals, it seems that it’s in such a state of disrepair, it won’t re-open any time soon. The best thing we found in Atlantic City was a bookshop called ‘Princeton Antique Books’ (2917 Atlantic Ave.) who are specialized in finding books of any subject, so naturally I managed to find a few photography related works, two on coloring photos by hand and one on film stars of the 30's. The owner is an avid collector on Atlantic City History and owns many period photographs and negatives, some of which he kindly showed to us. I would surely recommend a visit, or otherwise putting in a request with these guys!  

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  Going back to New York for 1 last night, the hotel gives us a penthouse suite – and obviously we were surprised and delighted. We visited the International Centre of Photography (ICP), Grand Central Station, the Cake Boss Café, Chelsea Market, The High Line Park, and a few photo galleries. We especially admired the show put on by the Steven Kasher gallery: “Vietnam, the real war: the photographic history from the Associated Press” and seeing the Aperture gallery in general. We enjoyed trying all the different sorts of foods, some of which we had only seen on TV. Real NY Pizza, a slice of famous Lindy’s Cheescake (Yes, it is THAT good), Root beer floats, Knish (I want a recipe!), Ziti, Brisket, Hotdogs in Central Park, American Apple Pie, Biscotti and Cannoli, a bowl of Chilli at the Station, Fluffy Pancakes for breakfast and all the different flavors of  M&M’s you can’t buy in Europe. Everyone we met, apart from 1 woman in Brooklyn, was friendly and polite, which is maybe not what we expected. The trip was a great one and we will definitely return in the future!  

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Coalmine: Cheratte, Belgium.

Since I'm still working on the images from New York, and the house isn't tidy enough to show any images of that en public, I'll play a little catch-up and share some images I have taken on my first proper Urbex trip a few months ago. In my last week in Dusseldorf, I met up with a group of like-minded photographers via Meetup. We were going to an abandoned coalmine in La Cheratte, Belgium, and spend a good two hours on site. We went on a Sunday and even though the weather was cloudy, it was dry and the place was magnificent. For the occasion (and because I'm a geek) I had brought 3 cameras. Please note that some of the pictures are near identical and you can see the differences between the exposure qualities of the three camera's really well.

Camera 1

My small digital Canon Powershot SX130 IS to take non-important snapshots. I still have one or two moments during a day of shooting where I just cannot seem to guestimate my exposure correctly. I use this little thing in auto to see what it comes up with and check it against my own numbers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. All of my failed film images are too dark.  

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Camera 2

The Praktica Super TL2 for 35 mm color shots (1 roll of 36). The lens I used was a Panagor PMC 28mm 1:2.5 Auto Wide Angle with an Izumar coated UV filter, and I had it mounted on a small light-weight tripod. This is the camera I have used since my days of Art College in 1999-2001 and I still love it to bits. Some area's of the coalmine were very hard to get into proper focus but I think I got a few nice images out of it. I used Kodak 160NC film, which is, ofcourse, NOT suitable for this dark environment, but it was the only 35mm film I had at hand - and non-perfect images are still a lot better than no images.  

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Camera 3

The third and last camera I brought on this day was my trusty Rolleiflex Planar 2.8 with synchro-compur shutter. With 4 pictures left on a roll and 2 spare rolls of B/W film (28 shots in total), I had to think carefully about the shots and how I would set them up. It was a terrible shame I didn't have my dedicated tripod handy for the occasion as it was still roaming around in a storage unit in the Netherlands, so I had to use it hand-held and hope that the camera-shakes wouldn't be too bad. Eek! I used Kodak 400TX film and developed in R09 (Rodinal). I love how some of the images came out - especially those with a very classic feel - and I am currently using them to attempt salt-printing.  

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