I recently came back from a fantastic 9-day vacation in New York. I’m usually fairly minimalist when I travel, but this time, not so much. The fact that I’m a California girl packing for a New York winter was an added challenge. How do I stay warm, dry and fashionable (because I’m vain like that) for over a week? It’s all about good shoes, a warm coat (or three in my case), and the appropriate accessories (hat, gloves, scarves). I need to go back so they don’t collect too much dust. I haven’t had to be immersed in cold like that since I lived in Portland, and even then it wasn’t that severe.
But enough about clothes. We’re here to talk about photography. Still not being minimalist here, I brought two cameras. I’ve been on somewhat of a film kick lately, so I decided to bring my uncle’s old Pentax Spotmatic. It’s a wonderful camera. I kept the 28mm lens on that baby the entire time, but I also brought a 50mm, just in case. I should have kept it at home though because the wide angle was perfect for my needs.
I experimented a bit. I used color negative film. Kodak Portra 800. It creates a deep saturation that’s really fun. The colors really pop.
My cousin and his wife scored a sweet 5th floor walkup for a steal in Chelsea, which they let me use as home base and let me come and go as I pleased. They live a skip away from the High Line, which is a mile-long, elevated park built on an old rail line.
Walking along the High Line provides a great vantage point of the neighborhoods.
The architecture is a great mix of old and new.
I wish that SF had some more variety and creativity with their buildings. I mean, come on, the shape of this condo building is so refreshing! You gotta love it.
In addition to walking everywhere, I spent a good amount of time learning about the subway, taking the train multiple times daily. It makes me realize how truly lacking in accessibility and connectivity the Bay Area’s public transit system is.
I rarely had to wait more than 5 minutes for any train. And while the underground wasn’t as encompassing as say, Japan’s underground, they still offer more than what SF’s MUNI offers.
My favorite thing about visiting a new place, is the chance to get immersed in everyday life. It provides an alternate perspective of how to live. I liked figuring out how to adjust my needs to a new locale – where to get coffee, where to get food, which park to visit, how to spend my free time.
I popped off a button on my coat (the disadvantages of wearing vintage, the thread had gotten quite weak), and usually I would have fixed it myself, but here I just took it to a tailor to have it fixed on the spot. The seamstress was really friendly. It’s nice to patron local businesses, the frameworks of a neighborhood.
The night life is truly great. Dinner at midnight, dancing until 4am, there are a plentitude of options for late night entertainment. And so many people out in the wee hours of night. I never felt unsafe because of the sheer amount of people walking about. I understand why this city never sleeps.
I met up with many friends, shopped the sample sales, hit the bars, ate so much delicious food, enjoyed museums, sights, a comedy show. It was nonstop. And to make this a true hedonistic trip, I had a vacation from my vacation. I retreated for a couple days in a sleek, minimalist hotel. It was difficult to leave when it was time.
When it was the day to return back to San Francisco, it started snowing (again). I finally found the motivation to use my digital SLR (the only time I used the camera). I brought out my Canon 5DM2 with my 24-105mm lens, and went on my cousin’s roof to capture the huge clumps of snow falling from the sky. This is still completely novel to me – soft, frozen water falling from the sky, especially in an urban setting.
I wished that I would have been snowed in, delaying my flight back to SF. But, I suppose, it’s good to get back to reality, lest I get trapped in this dream of a vacation and never want to climb back out.