I think I’ve mentioned once before that one of my weird habits is taking photos while driving. Don’t worry, my eyes never leave the road -which also means I’m not looking where the camera is pointing. I can read my camera like braille but, as you’ll soon see, some of my pics are askew (love that word) because I can’t pay attention to whether I’m getting the shot straight or not. Mobile photography is tricky, and fun – taking the photos is fun and it’s even more fun to see what I really caught on camera later. When you drive from Long Island to Queens to Brooklyn to Staten Island and then to New Jersey, sometimes you’re driving at a heart-palpitating speed and sometimes you’re at a dead stop. Either way, there’s always a lot to see – just don’t take your eyes off the road.
When Google Maps tells you that your 97-mile trip will only take you an hour and a half, you can bet that if it’s 97 miles through New York, it’s going to be more like a “3-hour tour” – except New York is no Gilligan’s Island.
You will see parts of my car in some photos, but that’s kind of the point – that’s one of the aspects of “mobile photography” that I love – it’s as if you’re in the car with me, seeing what I might see if I were the passenger. The other part of it I like is when I catch the rear view in my side-view mirrors. This particular Sunday afternoon it was a beautiful day full of sunshine and there were also millions of puffy white clouds in the sky – it was actually quite Disney-like.
Leaving Long Island
I don’t know why I took the Long Island Expressway, but something told me to and I always listen to that little voice inside my head. Traffic is typically bad, but luckily I’ve driven this route so many times that I know what lane to drive in, when to switch lanes and when to just give in and take a photo becauase I know I’m not going anywhere any time soon.
This is a really bad shot of a blimp – the DirectTV blimp obviously advertising over the U.S. Open in Queens. I caught this photo just after it made a huge swing-around 180-degree turn. Yes, I was there long enough to see the whole flight pattern.
Fast forward to the other end of Queens – where the LIE (Long Island Expressway) splits off left to the Midtown Tunnel into Manhattan (or “the City” as we New Yorkers call it) and where 48th Street is the last exit before crossing the Kosciuszko Bridge into Brooklyn. 48th Street is the first street I lived on in Queens. (That’s the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway) above), and I’m about to get on it.
I like to call these photos (above) – Field of Dreams, Traffic Reality. These three photos were taken over a period of ten minutes – in one spot.
On the BQE
On the BQE, now in Brooklyn, approaching the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, neither of which I will take. I could have really taken some great photos here, but not as the driver. The road is speedy, trafficy and windy and people change lanes like they change their minds.
Through Brooklyn, driving next to Manhattan, on my way to Hamilton Avenue, my brief diversion from traffic.
The traffic I’m avoiding is overhead – the trade-off is the traffic lights, but it’s a nice time to stop and take a breather after driving fifty or so miles. After this (above) Hamilton Ave. splits into three lanes – 4th Avenue (Brooklyn) on the left – to the Verranzano Bridge in the middle – and 3rd Avenue on the right – and you better know what lane you need to be in. It’s moments like this, that define a seasoned New York driver – even if your plates say New Jersey. Trouble is, if you haven’t lived in New York or driven through it for a very long time, chances are that all the road rules you knew before are now obsolete. I love driving through New York – any part of it – with my Jersey plates on. People think you don’t know where you’re going and then you get to one-up them on the lane changes – kind of like George Costanza crossing the road with his Frogger game.
And now back on to the road above (which I never really knew if it was the BQE still or the Gowanus or whatever, but it still says “495” which I know is also the LIE) – and it’s two exits, 6th Avenue and Guido-famous 86th Street, and onto the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (called “The Verranzano” – no, that’s not a typo – we just add the extra N in Verrazano … ‘cuz we do. In other words, I don’t know why LOL) into Staten Island.
Yes, I took the lower level, I’m chicken – if I can avoid heights, even in degrees, I avoid them. Still, you can see the water, the boats, the blue sky with puffy clouds and even a view of the road behind me. Of course three seconds after this shot, the truck that I was following came to a screaching halt and decided to put his flasher lights on – he was helping a car in distress. I found that out when I quickly looked to my left as I had to change lanes in a heartbeat. Never take your eyes off the road – which incidentally, I did a pretty good job with keeping this shot straight while not looking, even if I do say so myself. I’m sure when the people driving behind me see me stretch my arm out to the right with a camera in it, they must think I work for Google Maps or something. I should. But I’m also sure they’re thanking their lucky stars my head isn’t turned off the road either.
This photo makes 440 in Staten Island look like Wyoming. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the pavement on 440. With that gorgeous sky and open road, I just had to take this picture – I’ll probably never see anything like it again. Just one more bridge to cross – the Outerbridge Crossing and into New Jersey (below)
The other side of the bridge – New Jersey and onto the Turnpike. Alas, the New Jersey Turnpike is rather boring, so this is where my photo taking ended. Taking photos is a way to appreciate beauty, make moments last, and even make a “3-hour tour” a bit of fun.