hello winter

We spent the Thanksgiving weekend at our rural homestead arriving on the heels of the first snowstorm of the year. We had the foresight to leave two snow shovels propped against a pine tree at the top of the driveway on our last visit when it was still autumn. The mountain greeted us with twelve inches of heavy snow. Fat snow – the kind that is perfect for snowballs and snowmen and makes for a very good workout in shoveling. We cleared out a parking space for the car close to the road. Then we shoveled paths to the trailer, the pile of stacked firewood, the solar power shed and the well. The snow was as tall as her so little blind Millie finds her way on the paths by following the crunching sound of your boots on snow.

The back meadow in winter

The back meadow in winter. All photos were shot with my iPhone using the Hipstamatic App (one of my favorites) with the Lowy lens and the Blanko BL4 film

Millie on a snow path. Nothing stops her

Millie on a snow path. Nothing stops her


Our lipstick red plastic Adirondack Chairs buried. See you in the Spring!

Our red plastic Adirondack Chairs buried. See you in the Spring!

photo 2 copy

I don’t cook on Thanksgiving, we are always lucky guests at other people’s elaborate and delicious dinners. This year, we decided to just drive upstate to the country and eat a regular meal. We ignored shopping and sales and just stayed holed up in the trailer feeding the fire in the wood stove. I curled up on the couch in wool socks with little dogs tucked all around for warmth and caught up on reading.

A French parlor wood stove from the early 1900's.

A French parlor wood stove from the early 1900’s.


A great read for the winter, with beautiful illustrations by the author

A great read for the winter, with beautiful illustrations by the author

At 4:30 in the afternoon it is already dusk on the mountain. The snow turns blue in the waning light. The sky is grey tinged with gold from the last rays of the setting sun. It is very cold now, the kind of cold that makes the edges of your nostrils numb. The air smells clean and it feels like you are inhaling snowflakes. Time to bring in more firewood.

View from the front porch at dusk

View from the front porch at dusk

loisaida in hipstamatic

I’m happy for photography apps and camera phones. Some people might say,  “oh, there is no skill in that, no art, its just point and shoot”. Who cares? What is art? I’m just having fun.

I took these photos with my Iphone and the Hipstamatic app. (this is not a sponsored post). I love Hipstamatic because it reminds me of film. I do know real film. I learned to edit movie film, with a splicer. I touched it. My best time was helping a friend organize the edit of his 16mm feature film. We worked in his studio in a loft in Tribeca back when artists could afford lofts in Tribeca. We worked till late in the night, listening to good music. There were many canvas bins on wheels with metal frames. On the frames were hooks where we hung the ribbons of film. Each ribbon was a numbered scene. Some were short strips, others so long they became coiled bundles in the canvas bins. We spliced the scene ribbons together by hand. You had to clean the film first and when you pulled the splicing tape over the film, you had to make sure the two cut pieces were straight and as close together as possible to avoid a cut that the viewer would notice. Once you’d laid the splicing tape down on the film, you rubbed your finger over it to smooth all the air bubbles out. It was like working with clay.

Hipstamatic lets you switch up their digital lenses and films. You choose the lens and you choose the film, and you take the shot. You wait “for the print to develop”. Then you get what you get, except faster than if you had film developed. I like the sometimes unexpected results when you see the “print”. The Hipstamatic Field Guide illustrates the different film and lenses available.

I took most of these photographs on East 7th Street between Ave C. (Loisaida Avenue) and Ave D. It is a block of stately homes from the 1800’s that is lined with very old street trees. I used the Hipstamatic Tinto 1884 Lens (befitting of my neighborhood) and both the C-Type Plate film, which has a color wash to it and the D-Type Plate film that is black & white. This lens and film combination was tricky with light. Too much sunlight and the contrast was extreme. Too little light and you got a blotchy photo. The best result was on a bright but overcast day.



Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park




Tompkins Square Park

Tompkins Square Park

ham fish in hipstamatic

I call it the Loisaida Country Club. It is Hamilton Fish Park on Pitt Street and East Houston – also known as the Pitt St. Pool or Ham Fish for short. It is an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a park with basketball courts, playgrounds and a Beaux-Arts structure housing a community center designed in 1898 by Carrère & Hastings, the architects of the New York Public Library.

Hamilton Fish Pool in Hipstamatic: Lens: John S, Film: Blanko

Hamilton Fish clock – Lens: John S, Film: Ina 1969

At the start of the summer, right after the public schools let out, the Hamilton Fish pool opens and you see clusters of children and teens beating a path to the pool in brightly colored swimsuits and flip flops, or on their way back in the late afternoon with wet towels slung around their shoulders, their faces sun-kissed and relaxed.

Bike Parking – Lens: Helga Viking, Film: Blanko

Outdoor Showers – Lens: Hornbecker, Film: Alfred Infrared

The pool, like all the other city pools has a very civilized program in the summer for adult swim – hours for purely laps, no playing or floating around. I am a big fan of the Early Bird swim and I will only miss it when there is thunder or a downpour and they close the pool.

Lens: Matty ALN, Film: Blanko

Since I’ve never been able to still my thoughts enough for meditation, swimming is the closest I’ve been able to get to it. The smell of chlorinated water signals pleasure to my brain – a Pavlovian response. The 50 meters length at Hamilton Fish is a blissfully long stretch to swim without having to turn. Plenty of time to enjoy the sight of the sun ripples in the turquoise blue water and as you turn your head to breathe, the dark green gingko trees that frame the lifeguards in their orange suits under their orange umbrellas. The rhythm of my strokes and the sound of the bubbles of my exhaling breath, gets me to thinking in a slow and focused way.

Lens: Hornbecker, Film: Ina 1982

Lens: Lucifer VI, Film: Alfred Infrared

I run into a lot of my neighbors at the Loisaida Country Club. Some are swimming friends that I only run into at the pool year after year. One summer when I missed weeks of swimming, one of my swimming friends actually hunted down my phone number to call to see if I was okay. There is a comforting routine to it all. Swimmers come at the same time every morning and mostly swim in the same lanes. Scott always does sun salutations before his swim. Robert likes the water icy and complains when it’s too warm. I asked Barbara who bikes over from Williamsburg why she doesn’t go to the newly renovated McCarren pool. Isn’t it an Olympic sized pool, I ask? Yes, said Barbara, “But they make you swim the short way, 25 meters”. That’s stupid, I responded. “Yes, it is”, says Barbara, “25 meters is indoor pool”.

Lens: John S, Film: Blanko

All the photos in this post were shot with the Hipstamatic app. I love it because it is like the old film cameras in both effect and the delightful surprise of the results. A great resource is Schmutzie’s Hipstamatic Lens, Film and Pak Guide.