Photo A Day June: The End

The last three days have flown by in a kazzzing! After a memorable Eurocup match and a long Friday, the weekend has finally tumbled in. And with it, my very last photo class today (read more here) as well as a beach trip to Coney. Even though a new (work) week starts in two days already, I am somewhat looking forward to it. We will have a day off on Wednesday thanks to July 4. I have never been able to decently celebrate the American Independence day in this city so far, thus I am eager to see what I can accomplish that day this year. I hope you have made plans as well – if you’re American, that is!

Let the challenge begin:

[on the shelf]

Thursday was the day Germany got to play Italy in the semifinals of the European Soccer Cup. Unfortunately, my favorite team lost to the fouling gigolos. It seems they are always having a bit of bad luck paired with too little confidence when it comes to playing either Italy or Spain. Either way, it was an exciting but also aggravating game. That one goal in the 92nd minute – boy, how lucky was that? Since it made Germany not look like complete losers, I am grateful. Hey, I take whatever I can get! While watching the game at a random bar in Midtown I also happened to be in a booth area where other Germans had gathered. Even though one guy was completely drunk and almost took the entire pub apart, the others were mellow and only slightly disappointed at the end of the day. The bar’s shelves depict my June 28 motive. Check out the sticker!

[soft]

Soft colors found in my borough! A typical Brooklyn sunset I get to experience almost daily lately because of the great weather and the clear sky. I am still getting used to being around in an entirely different hood. It takes some time to unpack and re-settle. This was taken towards Carroll Gardens, which is a great neighborhood for grabbing drinks and food if you are tired of the Slope. I haven’t been there in a while and might pay this area a tribute very soon again. There is so much to explore and summer time definitely makes it easier to just walk to certain points instead of hurrying there through the freezing cold.

[a friend]

This one was taken a while back but I still like to look at it. The brunch had been a good one: Just the right amount of food and unlimited Bloody Mary’s – how could we not be happy?! This is a friend I have also been watching soccer with lately, so I call her my Eurocup friend. She is American but wants to learn German. It takes a lot of time and patience to get to know a language and culture well, so I think she’d be better off in Deutschland than here right now. However, she is glued to the city and only allows herself occasional visits to Europe.

That’s it! Finito! The Photo A Day Challenge for June has officially ended. As I mentioned in a previous post, I will not be taking part in the July Challenge. I went through the list and found that every day has great motives so I hope to see these on your guys’ pages. However, add me on Instagram (name is Laura4NYC) and I will surely snap a few pictures in accordance to the challenge.

Have a good weekend! Cheers from New York!

Taking My First Photo Class in New York City

There is something about holding printed pictures in your hands. Something tangible and less virtual than simply flipping from one image to another when staring into a screen. This is how I felt after printing out my first batch of pictures for SXM 200.

I have been a busy bee on the weekends recently. Every Saturday morning, for the past three weekends already. Right after the Montauk Weekend Getaway (read more here) I started my first photo course ever. I guess for everyone comes the time when you really want to improve your passion. When you want to take your hobby to another level. This time was for me then and it still is now. And even though I had missed out on the first class because it had been my birthday weekend and all, the teacher still let me take part in the following four weekends. So I became a student at the FIT in New York. Yeah, go figure! I’ve walked past it so many times, even tried myself as a model once, but never imagined to be a part of a non-for-credit course there once. Well, now I was. And the excitement hasn’t ceased!

The introductory course has taken place every Saturday from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Within the past three Saturdays I’ve learned how to set the exposure right, how to monitor depth of field and motion, what to look out for in composition and, and, and.

This might sound easy and clear cut, but it really is not. See, I got my first DSLR less than a year ago, in August of 2011. At first I was too overwhelmed to look much further into the manual setting and simply wanted to play around with the focus and see how the pictures turned out.

Then I slowly worked my way up to figuring out how to change the ISO and what the shutter speed could possibly stand for. With a little help of my passionate and patient photography friend, I finally started using the manual mode in December. Which was the right time, with all those Christmas lights going on and even better so, as he gave me my very first tripod (to date a luxury). A purchase of another lens followed and I was finally starting to feel more comfortable with the opportunities at hand. But somehow, there was always something missing. I didn’t know how to shoot motion well or how to make that picture less blurry. I was still missing out on the real depth of photography, is how I felt. Especially after having taken pictures of my friends’ wedding. I thought I could do much better if only someone could provide me a bit more training and understanding of this field.

(framing a picture/rooftop view from the Gansevoort/Meatpacking)

These are the main reasons why I started taking the current course. And it turned out to be a gold mine for exactly what I had in mind. Concepts such as light painting or still river flows at night – completely left out of my head for the past 10 months. As the classes followed, one concept after another was revealed and I began to realize how much more there is to learn and how much else is out there. Fortunately!

I also happen to not be alone with this opinion. Our class is small, with only 7 students in total (at some point it used to be more but they were swallowed by the summer hole). The size offers a great advantage: More supervised hands-on experience and training whenever you ask for it. Our teacher always makes sure that we get enough practice before he lets us go for the weekly assignments. The first 1 1/2 hours have so far always been calculated for a theoretical lesson while the last hour or so includes taking us outside and having us shoot pictures of random things. The macro lens pictures, for example, were taken on a random street corner in the midst of Manhattan! Unbelievable, huh? Another proof of how important the right lens is.

(100mm macro lens, 2.8 f/stop)

From flash photography over panned motion to depth of field – we learned a lot in those few hours we had this month. Tomorrow I will be trotting the aisles of the FIT for the last time this summer and then I hope to grow on my very own photo assignments I will be giving myself throughout the following months.

For any aspiring photographer, I can only recommend taking an introductory course. Even though you think you might know it all, every teacher has a different perspective of showing you and emphasizing things you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. We had a girl in our class who took a six-months-long photo seminar in Africa. After taking this class she still didn’t think it was a waste of her money but instead she was glad to have been a part of it. Just like I feel after those last few productive Saturdays! It was great to try out camera gear I would have otherwise had to rent out from a big vendor. Or to meet people who are equally passionate about shots and who have the least clue of how to go about. And having the chance to express myself in a different way than work and write!

(panned motion)

And to show us aspiring (amateur) photographers a light at the end of the tunnel: There is only so and so much another photographer can teach you. The rest is up to your imagination and creativity. Even though you could have the best camera gear and the best teacher, you can still be a lousy artist unless you let your heart speak. So let your intuition and thoughts go loose in an area as imaginative as photography!

See A Picture Every Day for What I’ve learned in SXM 200 so far:

Life Through the Eyes of a Macro Lens

Experimenting with Light Painting

Panning Motion

Rooftop View (framing pictures, lines, night photography)

Final Photo Essay: Brunch at Mulane’s

Shots with a 50 – 200mm Sigma lens(F 4.0 – 5.6): Prospect Park One Summer Evening

Photo A Day: June 24 Through 27

The countdown towards the end of the month is on! I am ready to ring in the last few days. This time it wasn’t so hard to come up with some motives. Maybe I am getting good at this, maybe I am just getting used to it. Either way, I decided not to pursue the project for the month of July but to instead focus on other things I want to discuss in my blog. I want to turn it back into what it was before and write about topics that are most certainly coming up during the following hectic and short summer months. I might still post photos on Instagram, though, so don’t be discouraged to follow me (name stays the same: Laura4NYC).

Here we go – four days, four opportunities, four pictures:

[On your mind]

Freedom and nature. In that order! I cannot stand too much of the city at once, it makes me nauseous. Which is why I love these little green oases so much. This was taken around Herald Square and yes, believe it or not, they do have those little islands of green on which you can dwell, especially during the day. I’ve been thinking about many things right now, but more so often about which direction to follow in the next half of this year.


[Something cute]

Wandered around in Madison Square Park during a late lunch break. Almost crushed this lady as I sat down on a bench to read and write but pulled back at the very last minute. I think she was injured. I cannot else explain why she never flattered away. Butterflies – they don’t really have a purpose in this world other than looking beautiful and fluttering from flower to flower and bench to bench, do they?! It takes longer for them to develop to their full height out of that cocoon that is spun around them but then their life span is only 2 months long. But seriously, does anyone know what the butterfly is for?

[Where you shop]

I thought about posting a picture of Macy’s! It truly is one of my favorite stores and I certainly love the sales they offer and the prices I can get for the quality of clothes. But then I went past Beacon’s Closet yesterday and took this fancy shot. So it’s here that I will most certainly become a regular at. Heck, it’s only 2 minutes away from where I live now, and I’ve already stopped by multiple times this week. Not that I am really buying much. But digging through their century old clothes or new arrivals – it’s so much fun to be part of the game!

[Bathroom]

Our faucet. Obviously. Trying to be creative, here. This is a typical American bathroom in an atypical American house hold. My first one with a bath tub again, which is a really nice feeling. It’s also super clean and tidy, something the other one was not. I like my new bathroom. I can see myself spending hours in here to get ready for the day. I am dreaming of having my very own bathroom one day. In my dreams, I can do whatever I want to with the walls, put whatever I want to inside the shelves, and stay however long I need to inside the room. Well, maybe one day my dreams will come true, right? Perhaps not in one of the most expensive cities of the US, though…

Feeling at Home in the 8 Mio Citizen City called New York

Today I felt like a New Yorker. Someone asked me for directions. Completely out of the blue I was blabbed at on how to find this street and that avenue. During bright daylight, right there in the midst of Manhattan. I must have given off a certain vibe towards tourists, of that I am convinced. Which one exactly I am clueless of but maybe it was my ignorant shoving through the masses of amateur photographers eyeing the landmark of this City that gave it away.

I do have to say that I felt rather flattered than insulted when a nameless face in the crowd wanted to know her way to a specific store. Heck, do I look like I know where Bare Minerals could possibly be? Is my make-up highlighting my entire face or does it just look easily applied to initiate a question like this? Either way, I was happy to point out the directions to the Dutch girl until our ways parted again. And while my friend was giggling and saying I could have just directed them to Sephora right around the corner, a different emotion overtook me. An emotion I had fought for so long but which I have noticed always comes around when I need it the most.

Is it possible that after all this time a feeling of home has crushed through the wall of resistance? After the first few months had passed here and after I’d seen how crazy this city can truly be, I had almost given up calling the Big Apple my home. Heck, even a year and some days later (which happened to be last year, to be exact) I had turned in the opposite direction and started complaining on how New York will never feel like the place I will feel comfortable in, least to say, accepted and embraced. But slowly, as the months passed by, as I got to know her people better, as my hate for anonymity vanished, as I actually got to see my real home again, I developed a different perspective. That even though this city is hideous and expensive, unpractical and uncaring, busy and hectic, loud and polluted, fake and revealing – despite these and further disadvantages everything has its bright side. And for this shining light I came and for this twinkling star I am still hanging on to the ride. It might have been that every other place outside of this metropolis seemed so poorly populated. Or so immensely fruitless in opportunities. Not to say plain boring. It might have also been that I have learned how to deal with clinging to my identity and developing different attitudes for different situations. Whichever one it is, it has all brought me to the point I am now.

A point that always comes through in especially extreme situations. Be it searching for a room (and boy, did I have opportunity to show what I’m made of then), looking for a new job, or simply visiting a different city. It’s the point I and perhaps other inhabitants reach every once so often. This is usually the point it’s time to decide: Give the city another chance or turn your back to her and neglect her for the time being. But let’s not be quite so dramatic. After all, this quaint town shoves her foot unknowingly underneath of you and shows you when it’s time to be kicked out no matter if you’re prepared or not.

No, that is not the point I am trying to make. I am trying to explain to you, non-New-Yorkers or fellow city inhabitants, how it feels like to be finally immersed into the wonderful city life. And it’s not even the same vibes I received two years ago, when I took every opportunity out there to experience Summer Stage concerts, Shakespearean plays, or Brooklyn Bridge excursions. It is more about feeling like I can walk these streets and be well aware of where I stand. To strut down Manhattana in complete confidence and bypass the newbies who will clearly only stay for a limited amount of time. Or to rain past my favorite favorite Mexican place in the Village and to know there are quazillion others still left to discover.

And the people? Well, the people are very special. Indeed, so special, I can barely start describing them. From the typical New-York-adapted fako living a secret masochist life in his mind to the relaxed Brooklyner who will never know why he hates the Bronx so much. Or the Indian-looking Queener who will never give up showing what his hood is really made off. It takes time to get used to so many different personalities. To me, everything is pretty much about the people who live in a certain place. If I cannot connect to mass, then I will never be able to connect to the city (take Vienna for example: Beautiful place to live in but not the right culture for me). Even today, though, I still have troubles accepting certain aspects of certain people and this is why I am bugging you on here all the time… Or at least it is a good reason for the fair amount of posts, if I may.

I have fought this very special feeling for way too long. I am still fighting it. I fear that once I will let the Big Apple become my home, my one and only leading point, I will lose my eye sight forever. I will start unseeing these places and people and landmarks as less special than they truly are and adapt to the culture in a way hazardous to my own being. I might even change to someone I won’t ever wanted to become or into something I won’t ever be able to look at in the mirror again. But once again, through this eroding wall of resistance, the feeling is longing to come and take me over. And after all, it is not so bad to call New York your home, is it?

Take for example the crude epitome of anonymity and intimacy at once: The New York City Subway. Each time I walk down those worn out steps I am not prepared for what will happen this time around. And I am not talking about an occasional 20-minute-train delay or other technical hassles. I am talking about those sunshiny moments when an unexpected street performer hops on or you see a face you like. Or those gloomy minutes where aggressiveness is paired with hostility you will surely want to avoid immediately.

No, it is not shameless or fear-worthy to be home in this city. But it is also hard to feel like a true part of this eight million citizen chaos called New York. Everything you hung to changes or is destroyed (by construction or a hurricane, who knows). Everyone you felt deeply about turns your back on you and leaves the city behind – and you stranded. And every other matter that seemed so important outside of this city becomes irrelevant at once. It is hard to stay focused here. And to keep the same values you had before. At the same time, she challenges you to combine new traits with the previous good ones or to turn to the bad side forever. Then again, not everything is black and white. You are taught on how to accept the gray shades in between and to become a chameleon for the other stages you are likely to undergo when you are here for so long.

Not that I am always mistaken for a New Yorker. For instance that one time when I was wearing my hard-earned Hard Rock T-shirt and wanted to enter the ESB. A guard was protectively stepping in front of me, trying to shake me off. “Excuse me, you have to go around the corner to get to the top” he lectured me. Perplexed and slightly annoyed I pulled out my employee’s pass. After passing him, though, I had to grin. Must not only be body attitude which makes some people judge where you’re from, right? Unless he was a newbie himself…

The Game – Recap

Less than 2 weeks ago I started this project called the Game. While I had vowed to ask at least 10 people for their insight into the world that is not always conveyed to us readers, I hardly made it to a handful. I know, bad bad me. So even greater was my surprise when I found out that the few bloggers I had selected almost all came up with a great post. From 6 writers, 4 wrote an actual essay and 1 commented lengthily on the question I had posed. What a success the Game has been!

Of course I don’t want to give away the best parts but simply point you in the direction of these five talented bloggers and their excellent posts.

Here I also want to stop and thank all of you for being such a great sport by writing about topics that might have been too personal for some. Thank you, dear bloggers, I really appreciate the time you took to sit down and think about my challenge!

The very first to respond was Amanda, the fast shot! Her blog Amanda P Overseas is mostly about her life in Germany, specifically Heidelberg, where she moved with her husband, an enlisted Army paramedic. I even happened to meet her in person once when I paid my hometown a visit (read more here). Whereas her stories about how she experiences the other culture, restaurants, and towns in Deutschland are already interesting enough taken by themselves, I had a very different question for her. So I asked her how she met her husband and how she experienced her relationship to someone in the Armed Forces. Based on my own experience, it can be quite difficult to be engaged in a relationship with someone who never knows when he will be pulled out to fight a war or go on undefined assignments. Read her great answer here!

Next, the Sweetkitten from Cosy Travels of the Viking and his Kitten happened to raise an eyebrow with her equally fast response towards the challenge I had set out for her. While I am not too familiar with her blog yet, since she is what I consider a “new” reader, I went through it a bit and found some humorously composed stories on how she and her Danish husband experience life together in Brussels. I also found that she is engaged in a high amount of interesting matters (find more on her UNESCO project here) and am thrilled that she took her time to sit down and briefly write an answer for nosy me. The question was: Why did you decide to move to the country you live in now instead of staying in the Viking’s home country? More on this topic here!

The Sweetkitten probably stumbled over my blog when I published a post on Bucketlist (read more here, and yes, another Heidelberg post – alas!). Bucketlist belongs to Lesley Carter, a writer, traveler, photographer, and who knows what else(sounds like a good description for all of us, right?!). I am not sure she fully understood the purpose behind the Game but her response still deserves to be mentioned here. While I had asked her travel-related questions, she lengthily responded in a comment only a few minutes after I had posed my question! How could I ignore her efforts on this one? Exactly! So here is the link towards her post and comment (hint: it’s on the very bottom of the page)!

My Russian friend Elena has been inactive from her personal blog for a very long time already. While certain circumstances might have played a big role (she is pregnant AND moved back to her hometown St. Petersburg = move, new job, baby – what do you think the stress level could be?) I was happy to see that she revisited her blog and scraped together her English skills she most likely is hardly using at all in Russia at the current moment. Elena, great job! Thanks for coming up with that splendid post on 1) What you missed most when being in New York and initiated your move back to Leningrad and 2) when you started traveling and which culture/country you found the most interesting so far. I know, some questions might appear repetitive here, but that is just because I am asking folks whose interests overlap. Read her sweetly written response here, composed two days ago.

Lastly, Liz from Be.Love.Live took me by surprise. She published this great write-up just today. The busy bee is blogging at least once a day it seems and is completely immersed into challenges such as the Photo A Day and other Blog Awards. However, she seems to really enjoy writing and I know for a fact that she has outed herself as a social media addict. Therefore, I concluded she would have the most fun with this and maybe by conclusion was right, eh? Either way, I really enjoyed reading your original response on moving to Sweden and how you experienced your initial time in a foreign country. I also deem this has been the longest reply I’ve gotten for the Game so far.

Yup, you’ve heard correctly. I am thinking about recruiting five more fine bloggers and to hear their life story. So unless one of you folks wants to chime in and find someone you want to challenge, you will have to wait until the next time.

The Game: Play or Lose. But it would be rather nice to play, right?

Photo A Day: June 21 through 23

The last three days have been a lot of fun. Even though I haven’t done too much writing lately, I have been doing things I highly enjoy.

Photography, for one. And yesterday was the second last class of my photography course. I am a bit sad it’s already coming to an end. The five four lectures have been so informative that I have many more questions following the new techniques. More to come on this soon.

Of course the weather here in New York has been simply amazing for the past week or so. Summer is finally here and the water in the ocean provides a nice cool-off at over 90 degrees.

The challenges were easy to accomplish this time around:

[Where You Slept]

In New York, New York. View taken from the Skyroom, a rooftop bar around Port Authority (read more on Rooftop Bars here). I couldn’t find a decent picture of Brooklyn, so I kept it to that. Gorgeous, huh? It still blows me away to see the skyline on occasion. Not to mention the views you have from an elevated view somewhere inside the city – just outright beautiful! I sometimes forget how pretty this city can be when you ignore the dirt and scars of the streets and people themselves.

[From a High Angle]

Our professor requires us to print our pictures out so I’ve been comparing a few stores and their ink quality. These are random shots taken for assignments for Saturday. I actually went ahead and hung up some of the flower pictures throughout my new apartment. The colors are amazing and make me happy every time I look at them. My own artwork within my own four walls – how awesome is that?!

[Movement]

On my way to the city I took the 3 Train. I never take the 3. Even though I am not familiar with its crowd, I highly doubt that random boy scout troops frequent the subway. Especially when they are from Connecticut and come in groups of 20. Yup, 20! They were all over this specific subway car and I had a lot of fun observing how they take in their ride (Hold your breath, we’re going underneath the water!). The older guys took great care of the younger ones. They all got off at the Chambers St stop so I am assuming they wanted to check out the WTC site. I hope they enjoyed their time in the City!

Photo A Day: June 16 Through 20

I’ve been having a hard time following the challenges for this month. For some reason the picture motives do not coincide with what is going on in my life right now so I am unsure whether I should abandon it or not. However, since there are a mere ten days left, I guess I could go with the flow and try my very best to accommodate my daily photos around the little challenges.

[Out and about]

German bar, German beer, German game. This picture was a day before the notorious 2:1 of Germany playing Denmark but nevertheless equally entertaining. How I will miss the games! And the excuse to do some midday drinking just because of 22 guys chasing a ball. But all things come to an end, and so will the Eurocup. Eventually!

On top of this, Saturday was the day of Celebrate Brooklyn and the Biannual Jazz Age Lawn Party! I went to the first one but bypassed the second one. I know my chance will be coming in August, again, and I am excitedly looking forward to it!

[In your bag]

On a random day I was preparing my salad in the kitchen while my new roommate was watching a sick movie on her Netflix. Curious as to how the story ends, I asked her about it and she lent me her book. I have ever since been reading this piece revolving around a serial killer and his life story told through the eyes of his mother.
Believe me, it is nowhere close to flattering. Do you guys know this book? It was published in the early 2000s and is a fictious novel inspired by teenagers running amok at their schools and universities. This topic was a novelty back then, I remember it vaguely. Of course it is still shocking nowadays but luckily it doesn’t appear that kids are shooting their teachers and students as often anymore. Or maybe the news are not covering it.

[Something we don’t know about you]

I write articles, blog posts and a book. And still, I very much entertain my own thoughts in a personal diary. I talk about these in German since that is the language I am most comfortable with. Have been expressing my feelings and life like this from a very young age on. It is one of those traditions you just never really give up, even though you have some drought periods in between.

[Imperfect]

… was the evening on that particular day. One of those nights were you are just surrounded by the wrong people and feel it is becoming a waste of your precious time. I had been rooftop hopping with two of my German friends when their American snobby stuck-up greenhorn joined them and from there on it pretty much went downhill. First he wanted to talk us into watching a boring basketball game inside (!) for another 8 minutes. 8 minutes in basketball equals more than half an hour in real life, thanks to commercial and more. Then he couldn’t stop making fun of Germans who didn’t know much about the American culture even though he knew equally less about our culture. Such a flop and the evening ended on an angry note from my side. The rooftops were gorgeous, though, although we only made it out to two different ones.

[Fave photo you’ve ever taken]

I’ve taken too many to really narrow it down to one so I am just picking a random one I still happen to like. Beach life on Far Rockaway – photographed a few weekends back. I almost did not pay attention to this scene when a girl in front of me was taking a shot of the exact same thing. Curious as to other people’s perspectives I gave it a try and now it is my favorite wall paper on my phone. Hopefully I will be spending more time at the beach this summer. I fear I have been waiting for too long to get my tan darkened!

It’s Movie Time in the Big Apple!

The first thing I saw when I stepped out of my office building was a line of trucks neatly rowed up on 33rd St. As I turned the corner, I ran into the barriers blocking off the area on 5th Avenue to the eyes of the normal passerby. It was movie time in New York and so many times before I had witnessed it. Of course this one was a bit different because it was right outside from where I work. In the past two years I had never managed to be so insanely close to a movie crew. But since it was raining on that particular day I didn’t bother much to stop and witness the crew, just I minded my own way.

The next day our mailman enters the office. On the Tuesday before we had been speculating with him who would be starring in the film. “I wouldn’t mind getting a glimpse of Brad Pitt” my Chinese co-worker announces in her innocent, dreamy way. “So guess who I saw when walking past” the postman is trying to hook us. “Who?” I ask without having any second thoughts.

“What’s that guy’s name? Not Brad Pitt, but older. Was in Top Gun (1986). Part of Scientology, too.” “No way!” we scream, already jumping in the air. “You mean Tom Cruise??!” “Yeah, that guy” he responds with his drawling New Yorker accent. “Small dude. Saw him filming with a black-haired lady.” “Did you get a picture, did you get a picture?” we are nearly attacking him. “No, haha, I don’t care much about that” he laughs at us and then leaves the office. Not without telling us that the crew will return between 12 and 1 PM on that particular Wednesday again. Wohaaa, we are ecstatic! And thrilled. And all we want to do is time to pass fast so that we can run outside and get a picture of one of the biggest stars around.

As 12 PM draws nearer we are trying to figure out who will go on their lunch break first. She exchanges phone numbers with me and promises to tell me if she really sees the crew outside again. Right before 2 PM I get a message from her saying: I saw him! I can’t stand it anymore. I storm downstairs and am even being yelled at by the guards of the ESB for “running in the hallway”. Luckily they were not able to catch me, I was just too fast. One door is blocked, the other one I can open. As soon as I step outside, I already know this is going to be a tough one. Police and crew members are navigating everyone past the scenes and telling them not to stop. My turn to pass. And there he is: Tom Cruise in his finest, tannest, brunettest appearance ever seen live. I can’t help it but stop and snap a picture. A red-haired, bitchy crew member is rolling his eyes and I tell him to be in a better mood next time. He justifies his behavior by trying to complain he has been doing this all day long (yelling at people to get out of the scene). Well, if I were to get paid for it, I think I would look a bit happier than he did…

I hurry inside the Starbucks which is right opposite the scene and witness the last two minutes of the shoot. Tom Cruise then turns around to the crowds which are eagerly awaiting something from him, of course. He charmingly waves and then heads off, probably to the next appointment in who-knows-where. These are the pictures I was able to snap, before I was almost run over by the crowd behind me.

Shaky close-up of the star

I do have to say that he looks nothing close to 5 ft 6 (such as wiki and other dubious internet sources want to make believe). Despite his petit height, he has a lot of charisma and seems nowhere close to arrogant. I believe his hair was dyed for this specific scene and he also looked exceptionally tanned but it all fit him very well. I am glad I was able to get a sneak peak of what might end up on the big screens two years from now. What a highlight this Wednesday has been indeed!

In general, you see a large amount of movies shot in the streets of New York, no doubt about it. Even though the movie industry has largely carried over to LA, this city will always be a top scene for films, no matter how important or independent. I know that the area around Columbus Circle has always brought me close to some shoots, for whatever reason.

There is even an alley called Law and Order Way around Pier 62 on the West side. You can find more info here but it’s basically a main street that is used frequently in the crime series and to which the crews keep returning. Albeit I have rarely walked past an opening gala for a TV series, I managed to do so about one and a half years ago in Chelsea. While innocently strolling the streets of Chelsea I was drawn to a bigger crowd in front of a movie theater. Turns out this was the opening night of the ABC series Detroit 187. Unfortunately they discontinued it after one meager season but I became a big fan of it – not only because I had seen the main actors in person just before it was aired.

Detroit 187
Bike Messenger Shoot around Columbus Circle

The endless amount of actors are not only here during prime time for the Tribeca Film Festival or other classics. Catherine Zeta Jones must have been a regular at some stores and coffee shops up in the Upper West Side when her husband Michael Douglas was treated there not too long ago in 2011. Random celebs crossing the streets in front of you or sitting at a random restaurant in New York – it has only happened to me once when I ran across Chris Noth in the Da Marino but I can see how celeb spotting can be made into a sport. And my favorite encounter I had? Seeing Kai Pflaume non-chalantly walking the streets of Times Square on a memorable September evening in 2010. While I had only turned to see who else is speaking German in this city of 8 million I was eye in eye with the famous German show master. And I can happily say that he looked as much down to earth as he appears to be on TV. An observation I readily passed on to my friends online.

Of course not every scene is as glamorous when seeing Tom Cruise in front of the Empire State Building film. Still, that does not make the shoot less interesting if not to say fun. Such as the independent movie shoots in Williamsburg or Dumbo. Just walking by on a random Sunday afternoon or other weekday can make you become passionately involved in kick-boxing students or pros of other obsessions who try to give their very best in front of the camera.

It’s movie time in New York: Always, anywhere and anytime. Making this city even more vibrant than it already is!

Photo A Day: June 11 Through 15

A belated post on the mid-June days of this challenge! So many things have been going on, I am having a hard time trying to catch up with blogging and writing. This weekend has already been crazy busy and it is only Sunday morning – one more day to go, right?

Anyhow, I’ve really enjoyed seeing your pictures of the Photo A Day June and must say that I like the summerness attached to all of them (well, almost all of them).

Let’s start out with:

[Door]

As you all know, I moved – again! I’ve had so much time exploring my neighborhood in the past two weeks and have come to find that I really did move into a great match. The trade-off between the size of the room and the lively area does not bother me anymore as it did in the beginning days. And this door belongs to a German beerhall which is almost right across the street. While I had been wishing it would open up in time for the Eurocup (and they probably had planned on just the same, judging by the size of the screen they built up inside) it hasn’t happened yet. Most likely they are missing still a few of their liqueur licenses or such. However, this door reminds me of the good times yet to come. C’me on, who could top a Bierhalle diagonal from you? I see one great night following another!

[From a low angle]

The week started out rainy – as so many times lately in the past few weeks. Perhaps following this half-a**ed winter is a disappointing summer as well? However, this day was special. It was once again “Movie Time in New York.” More to come tomorrow, the post is already lined up. Right outside of the Empire State Building a fabulous sequence was shot and I didn’t even notice who was starring until Wednesday. This picture is an ode to New York and the place I work in at the current moment.

[Art]

A few weeks back I was part of a great street art project with Raquel Brust and some other friends. This photo was taken in May, so it’s not depicting the current day. I still wanted to post it in memories of the great time we had back then and the art we created. I plan on re-visiting the place very soon to see what has become of the hand drawn on the construction site. Might be interesting to see who tore it off or if it has stayed intact throughout the past month Read more about it here if you want to refresh your memory.

[Time]

This photo depicts pretty much everything I had to say about time on that particular day. Today is now and tomorrow is then. I cannot believe that June has met its middle already. Just like in last month, the days have been racing each other to form an end. Time is so valuable we often forget it. This was taken in a movie theater I happened to come across when strolling the streets of Midtown.

[Yellow]

Yellow is the color of my skirt. Yellow is my mood – very mellow. The world needs more yellow, especially in this city. The sun is yellow, the flowers are yellow, and the next trend color is yellow. The only thing that does not look good is when you put on yellow nail polish, I have come to find. I guess I really do not know what to write. It was a hot day and my sense of fashion style was appropriate. It was also Friday, which was good, as it was the start of another lovely weekend which ended up being way to short. Go figure. Can’t wait to read your yellow posts!

Now I am off to see how Germany will win against Denmark. If not, they’re still in the next round, which is equally wonderful! Ay ay ay!

A Night at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York!

Last Wednesday afternoon I was on my way to Times Square. Usually I try to avoid this place as much as possible. Once you have established a life in the City and do not have the need to search for overgeneralized overcrowded touristy stuff you pretty much know you should stay away from Times Square. However, last week the Aunt was in town. After a brief visit to Chicago in March (read more here), I once again had the chance to catch up with a piece of my American side of the family. She and her husband, the Uncle, both work for Frito-Lays and supposedly he had won the biggest award handed out in the Chips Factory. The Ring of Honor Award is only distributed to 17 people nationwide and another handful of employees around the world. It is aimed towards the crème de la crème of the sales force.

The company hosted an entire 4-day-trip for the lucky winners to New York. It included the flight and hotel stay in Greenwich/ CT, and an array of things to do in the City. A boat ride along the Hudson River, an excursion to the Statue of Liberty, a gala on Thursday, and and and. Numerous buffets, dinners, parties crammed into three evenings – they kept their winners quite busy! A hectic time at Times Square must have been included somewhere on top of their priority list as they were invited here two nights in a row. As it happens to be one of these times was reserved for a dinner at the Hard Rock Café! Yes, that one.

Now you must know that I have never set foot into the Hard Rock of NY until that date. I never even bothered to check out their guitars or T-shirts. Vegas, sure, you gotta check out the epitome of party and booze in Vegas. But not New York. It opened up only a few years back in 2005, so it’s not like it’s a definite must-go tourist sensation. However, I suppose it is kept quite busy with all the masses, due to its top location around 44th St and Broadway – the heart of Times Square. It is most definitely easy to find, right across the police station from where the drunkenards can be picked up after a late night out.

While waiting outside for the Aunt to show up I kept shaking my head at the masses that streamed by and eventually stopped counting the quazillion amount of times I was ran over and bumped into. People’s manners definitely deteriorate once they believe they are in a seemingly maskless crowd of folks.

The Aunt came out, all quirky, and pulled me around the next street corner. I was supposed to put on an orange knapsack so that the security would let me through. “We have to try to smuggle you in and this might work,” she announced, overly ready to start Operation Hard Rock. Fair enough, her husband and coworkers were waiting in front, forming a shielding group by itself. While she involved the front guard into an endless conversation on how to get to Greenwich from here (meaning the one in Connecticut, not Greenwich Village), they took me in the middle and we marched down the stairs, looking like complete tourists to everyone who is from New York. The poor security was still trying to explain how to take the blue line to W4, I am sure, when the Aunt finally got out of her self-induced mess and joined us downstairs.

The Hard Rock had separated the entire dining area just for this event. Indeed, no one was granted access to it except for the people on the guest list and people who were smuggled in like me. So while the shoppers were still trying to snag some old-school shirts upstairs to get at least some sort of rock shop flair, we were swarming around downstairs like busy bees searching for honey. And honey there was!

Since the aunt had already eaten, it was up to me to choose from the variety of different foods that were offered. First stop: the bar. After a refreshing drink I tried to cheese platter, which was a cheese chunk mounted on two tables with so many different cheese types it almost made my eyes tear. I was lucky to try their gourmet flavors as a mere 5 minutes later the table was cleared. Then off to the Sushi section. The cook was in the process of preparing a new platter and when he saw me taking a picture he told me to get into it. The photo below shows me holding the 15 pound heavy plate. Well, actually another cook is holding it but they both tried their best to make it look the most authentic.

The hardworking cooks
Portrait Artist
One hella sushi!

In the end I decided to go with a cheese and vegetable burrito, which was nicely prepared, and some green asparagus pieces. They were tasty and crunchy, so I just had to get another round. While munching next to the gravy and salad station, we had time to look around. Many artists were offering their drawings during this entire circus. Of course the lines were insanely long for everything I was interested in, but other people’s results were satisfying to look at. Such as a picture of a name drawn out in animal –formed letters. Or a self-portrait of oneself in comic painting. All of these would usually cost a small fortune but the winners of the awards and their families received everything for free. I am not even sure the artists expected a tip of any sorts.

A blurry picture of the Aunt and I
Suits!

While the Aunt was excitedly telling me about their Jersey Boy venue in the afternoon, which she was thrilled to have been part of, we came across the suits left by deceased and famous rock stars. These suits can be found on the walls of the Hard Rock all around the dining area and are nice to look at. I also learned more about the rock and blues history, which she was eager to share with me after finding out how uneducated I was on this.

Of course a typical tourist picture could not be amiss: The guitar holding pose! I was dragged over to the station at which you have to stand. An oversized sign above and a small instrument for the model to hold – shoot! We took a few photos and managed to get them developed before the entire venue closed down. Unfortunately it only lasted for a good 2 hours and then my relatives had to catch their bus. It was a great time to hang out with the Aunt and Uncle and get to see what happens beneath the ground of Times Square Manhattan on a random Wednesday night. This has truly been one of the most touristy days I have experienced this year in New York so far and now I have some sweet pictures plus a nostalgic Hard Rock Café T-shirt to remind me of it. I am not sure I will ever experience the venue in this way ever again so I am just grateful I got the chance to be a part of this side of the sweet life here in the City! Rock on!

From solo artist…
…. over goofy beings…
… to authentic stars!

The Game : An Insight into Other Bloggers’ Worlds

Recently I have come across quite a few projects and challenges swarming around in the World Wide Web. I find some of these ideas excellent and very effective towards getting to know other blogs and exploring a variety of worlds. Being part of an on-going project which includes the entire blogger/ instagram/ facebook scene is a great way of connecting to people around the globe. People who perhaps would have not stumbled across my writings or whose Web page I would have probably not found as easily as I did recently through these media.

So with all these Photo a Days, Versatile Blogger Awards, and What Nots going on, I have decided to come up with my very own interpretation of providing readers’ feedback. My idea is based on something I have not yet been able to find while surfing the Internet, therefore I want to fill in the gap. After all, isn’t blogging about creativity and introducing new ideas to the crowd? And what better way to share your thoughts on another person’s write-up if not commenting on various posts? Or even better, giving the specific blogger a challenge?

Such was my thought process, when an idea crossed my mind. Which then again turned into a whole new notion until it ended up in a final plan. And this is where I proudly present to you: The Game! A concept based on digging deeper into a blogger’s life (as long as he or she is willing to participate) and posing several little challenges in the form of so-called autobiographical articles.

The way the Game works is relatively easy: I will be selecting up to 10 bloggers who have been following German-American Abroad in the past few months (10 makes out for a good start, don’t you think?!). On their latest post I will comment and pose a challenge. It can be a question anywhere from How did you meet the love of your life and Your move to a foreign country to A life-changing story from your high school years. I then challenge these “authors” to write a separate post on these topics. Of course this is done on a purely voluntary basis from the to-be-challenged and all in the favor of the challenger. I just thought it would be fun and also informative to get to know the person behind the blog a bit better. I also find that even though these questions can be answered in a personal e-mail, it has more appeal to inquire via a blog and to spread the word to others who might have a similar interest in getting to know the person behind the creative words better.

The Game can be seen as a form of readers’ wish list as to what they want their favorite author to talk about occasionally. I sometimes find it hard to get feedback from my readers on what exactly they want to know about my life in New York, so maybe this will break the ice. I also have a ton of questions on the blogs I follow, so I am eager to see if this will be answered in my favor.

Like I mentioned, this challenge is absolutely voluntary. Under the current motto The Game: Play or Lose (insight into an interesting life) there is really not much to lose, I promise. Let the fun begin! I hope you guys find this worthy to participate in!

Photo A Day: June 6 Through 10

Whew, the next five days are up and it is only now that I realize how much life has changed!

First of, I had my first summer flu. Or cold. Or whatever gave me a fever, cough, and sneezes. So two days gone, spent in bed and trying to fight the germs.

Second of, an awesome, awesome event has started worldwide. Even though it is only carried out in Europe, other continents are passively involved in it: The European Soccer Cup! And I am happy to say that New York is one of those few American cities that seems to be actively participating in the soccer fever. I haven’t had too many troubles finding bars that live stream the games. So on the days I was feeling better, I was basically glued in front of the TV of a sports bar. Cheering is so much more fun when you do it in a group, don’t you think?

[Hat]

Bought this goody in New York’s Financial District way back in 2010. It’s actually a man’s hat but fits my head just fine. I wore it occasionally in the spring and fall, but quickly noticed that wind does not go so well with it. I also carried it with me at the Governor’s Island Jazz Fest last year. A day that was absolutely not windy and made a perfect match for my 20ies themed dress. I haven’t used it ever since but maybe I will start doing so again. Hats have been a great accessory ever since I can imagine. I just recently purchased a sun hat to protect my head from the summer rays!

[Drink]

Well, as this was the day the sickness started I really cannot post any pictures of crazy margaritas or other alcohol. However, I did manage to gulp a few of Vick’s cough medicine down. It’s a great remedy and fever reducer, in case you were wondering. Water has also been a crucial part of my healing, please notice the bottle in the background!

[Six o clock]

It didn’t matter whether it was 6 o’clock in the morning or evening, the view was quite the same for me all day long! Beeeed! Sleep, rest, sweat, sleep, curse, rest… Still not a good day health wise!

[Your view today]

Number one: The first day I felt better! And I was glad as it was also the day I went back to school. Took a college class, the first one in 2 1/2 years after graduating. Have you guessed what it is yet? An introductory photography course on a few techniques of how to work with your camera and better your pictures! I missed out on last week’s lesson because of Montauk but the instructor kindly filled me in on the details. It will last until the end of June and I am so excited to see what else I can learn and take with me!

Number two: Celebrate Brooklyn! That’s right, Brooklyn’s finest musical festival has finally started. And the best part about it? It’s for FREE! Na da! Zero! Just walk in! Last night AfroCubism was performing and I got to see a show filled with highlights and great music!

[Best bit of your weekend]

The best part of my weekend was the weekend itself! Finally feeling better and being able to leave the apartment. Brunch with my friend today. Watching two soccer games with my friend over the course of two days! I probably hadn’t seen her in a good month, so it was good to catch up with her on life and happenings. It was also good to just sit in a bar and cheer for a sport you’re used to in Germany but rarely see elsewhere. Back to the roots is what they say, eh?!