2011 – DIGITAL BEGINS! The best photos of the year

Transition year: the last flip-phone and analog pix and the first couple hundred digital camera shots are in this year’s post.



This first one is actually a pretty good flip-phone shot that was published in a newspaper (see below). It shows a juvenile red-tailed hawk (male) perched on my bedroom A/C. He stuck around for 2 months and seemed to be posing for me. He did that a lot.

I thought he was a bit of a ham, so naturally, he became Hammy. You’ll see a lot more shots of him when you get into the digital camera stuff below, starting in February.

The story was published in The Record in 2012, but since its lead photo was this one and since most of my Hammy shots are in this post, I’m showing it here. Normally, I would just put up the newspaper’s link to the story, but the paper has a new owner and many of the old links are gone, including the one to this story. Fortunately, the story is posted here: http://www.hackensacknow.org/index.php/topic,2320

Note: Most of my hawk photos are below in the February 2011 section. However, my absolute best point-blank, closeup shot of him with his browning eyes and some blood on his face (not his and obviously taken just after lunch) is in the 2012 post.



I won’t disclose the location, but when you see a shot like this sitting right in front of you, begging to be taken, you take it:



These last 5 flip-phone shots were taken at/near the George Washington Bridge Bus Depot in Manhattan.

I have a really good shot taken from there in the digital section, showing a straight-on image of the GWB with NJ in the background. This is apparently an unusual shot because every one you see is usually taken from NJ to include NYC in the background.

The Depot has since undergone a multiyear renovation (it was kind of a miserable place), but I don’t know if I’ll be going back there anytime soon to do a reshoot.






So, adios to:




I think this is the coldest-looking picture I’ve ever taken. Fortunately, I was nice and warm in my living room when I took it.


From my bedroom, it’s our guy Hammy again, parked on the A/C:


I shot my last roll of Kodachrome on July 4, 2011. The subject was Macy’s fireworks on the Hudson River between NJ and NY and at least 10 miles away. The roll had 36 exposures (possibly 37), the last two shots shown here are #31 and #33, respectively. They also show the partially-built new World Trade Center on the far right, which is more like 12-15 miles away. Those two may not be the absolute last analog pictures I ever took with that roll, but they’re close and the best of the last few.











First off, I should tell you that there will be a LOT more pictures each year from now on. You can thank (or curse out) digital for that.

What camera did I want? I had done a TON of research over a few weeks to find exactly what I needed. No more big camera……..I wanted something I could put in my pocket and take anywhere. I wasn’t shooting for magazines anymore, so I didn’t need super-high resolution……….but I didn’t want any cheap crap, either.

I got it down to two or three choices – time to hit a store and compare them hands-on.

The salesman was sold on one of them and I was leaning toward another. He picked up my choice and exclaimed, “It’s like picking up a brick!”

I picked it up and it felt fine.

“You don’t know the tonnage I’m used to shooting with.”

“So you want to buy that one?”

“No – see ya.”

Now that I knew what I wanted, it was time to hit eBay, where I found a great deal on the Canon SX130 and got it in the last week of January.

The zoom was very important to me and it turned out that the little Canon’s zoom went way beyond anything I had in my analog lens collection, so I made the right choice. And it was a good-looking camera for a little shrimp.





This is IMG_0001 from 2-3-11 – my first real digital shot (yeah, I know that flip-phones are digital, but it’s like baby food. I’m on to solid food now and I’m not looking back).

This was taken from my living room. I wasn’t thrilled with the color, so I made it a black-and-white.



IMG_0002 is ice on my roof.



Just another semi-interesting-looking thing to see from my living room:



The rest of my February picks are all Hammy, my visiting red-tailed hawk. To be honest, some of them blow my mind. I had seen these hawks on my roof before, but could NOT get within 100′ of them, but put a pane of dirty glass between us and he becomes my favorite model.

In the first one, I thought he was picking food out of his teeth……………except he doesn’t HAVE any teeth. Two pictures later, he’s tearing a pigeon apart for dinner (I had to go outside for those 2 shots. He was in a tree and didn’t care about anyone below him taking his picture – as long as I wasn’t a threat to his dinner).








In the next 4 pictures:

– he looks like he’s ready to kill me (actually, all he saw was my arm sticking out of my LR window and my camera)

– he looks innocent

– he looks surprised

– he looks sharp (it’s a movie still)








How often do you get to see the bottom of a hawk’s feet while standing in your bedroom? (also movie stills)

February certainly made for an interesting digital start.




MARCH 2011

I’ll only comment on the first two.

I had never seen a police vehicle park in a handicap space before AND be in a second space at the same time. I’m sure there was a good reason for this that I couldn’t possibly be aware of, but MY job is to be observant and document unusual things I see (among other things).

In the next shot, almost ALL lights in all directions appear to be shining brightly. I think I’d be a confused driver if I encountered that (I also think this was a time exposure that caught the green-yellow-red sequence on one side and the simultaneous red-to-green on the other).

If you have any questions about any of the other shots, just let me know.





























April 2011





I don’t know if this mockingbird is singing. It might be screaming because it appears to be standing in a crown of thorns.



The USS Ling is a WWII submarine that’s been an attraction in Hackensack since the 1970s. As of this writing, the land’s been sold and it has to go, but it’s rusted and stuck solid in mud.

To be continued………



Next to the Susquehanna railroad tracks on the right, crossing the Hackensack River from Bogota to Hackensack, are old trolley tracks that haven’t been used since 1938.



This is my “art” shot. What that means, I have no idea, but when I saw images like this when I was growing up, they were always celebrated as art.



Doesn’t look like there’s much OT – let alone regular work hours – to be had here these days:



Hackensack’s Johnson Public library’s weather vane consists of a rolled up-scroll and a quill pen. I’ve never seen another like it.



I’ve shot (and seen) a LOT of pictures of the Holy Trinity Church in Hackensack (where I was baptized), but this first shot shows an angle I’ve never seen before, so I think it’s my favorite (subject to change, of course).




Morning and afternoon:



Is this what it’s like to be “connected”? Ouch!



My cute, nosy neighbors:



The next 2 shots show the emergency backup lighting by my apartment when the electricity goes out.


Is that blood on the ceiling? If it is, I blame the guy in the following picture, who’s trying to look innocent.





The rest of April:


Industrial roofworms:





Guardian angel:





The next 6 pictures were taken at Historic New Bridge Landing in River Edge, NJ. Crossing the Hackensack River, the bridge’s predecessor was burned down by George Washington’s retreating troops after crossing it, which stopped the British troops. This eventually led to the Americans winning the Revolutionary War and the bridge becoming known as “The Bridge That Saved A Nation”.







Protecting the eggs:







May 2011







Ever see a tree eat a guardrail?



Sometimes, unrelated billboards just work well together.



My father worked for Chevy in the mid-50s and into the 60s and I found some pretty interesting things when I cleaned out the house after he and Mom passed.

Have you ever seen 1959 Chevy taillights/fins cufflinks?



This might be from the sidewalk on Eddy Grant’s street.




Oh look – more “art”!



I took this while I was in my car stopped at a light. I put it in PhotoShop and hit “Invert” and this is what I got. Looks much more interesting.



This was on the outside of my kitchen window, so I went out on the roof and got a shot of it holding hands with itself. It’s an Ichneumon wasp.

Oh…………and the little red dot is a clover mite.



The brand-new USS New York – whose bow was built with about 7 tons of salvaged steel from the fallen World Trade Center – was to sail up the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge before turning around.

Naturally, I went to the GWB and it was nowhere in sight. I walked across the mid-bridge state line and took this picture from the bridge’s New York tower……….still nothing.



I walked to the GWB Bus Depot and took this picture looking back at New Jersey and walked back to the bridge and…………a possible speck was seen in the distance. It was the New York.



While I waited for the speck to enlarge into a battleship, I saw two odd shapes in the sky. Oh wait, I know what they are…………Ospreys. I had just never seen two of them flying right at me before – kind of an odd sight.



Speaking of odd sights, some strange-looking barge with huge cranes on it and what looked like two depictions of the Italian flag suddenly popped out from under the GWB and was floating south toward the New York.



The New York suddenly turned around WAY short of the GWB. I zoomed in as much as possible to get a shot with all the sailors lined up on the side. I was disappointed that it didn’t come as far north as we were told, but then remembered that the GWB was built where it was because the river was at its narrowest point there, so turning around there might have been a problem for the ship.





Instead, a New York City fireboat came up and turned around in front of the small crowd gathered on the bridge.





I zoomed in on the boat after it turned back and saw its name: “Three Forty Three”. This was the fireboat that was dedicated to the 343 fire personnel who were lost on September 11th when the Twin Towers fell.



The show was basically over, so I started heading back to Jersey. This shot shows the GWB’s south walkway………..and a traffic jam.



Later that day, I went to Teterboro Airport to see if the Ospreys went there, since it was the last week of May, when 3 or 4 of them are usually based there for Memorial Day military demonstrations in the NY/NJ area.

No Ospreys. Instead, I shot a plane that had instructions attached to it.



Sharp-dressed man:



This was nowhere near as bad as it looks. I have two other images that show some of the ladies smiling. I think they were actually providing the man with some shade during some sort of practice drill.



What can you say about such incredibly stupid and inconsiderate parking other than that it’s apparently contagious?



This structure sits on my roof. I’m not sure what its purpose is. Maybe I can roast a hippo in it.



The rest of May:











Not a single person on the Fun Slide is smiling.
























JUNE 2011

No comment.



These two shots were taken in Johnson Park in Hackensack on a windy day.





The separation of church and state:



From my living room:



From my roof:



From my LR:




What are the odds of this guy happening to come by while I’m shooting the tandem on the right? I don’t know about you, but this amazes the hell out of me.



From my roof:



OK………..I’m already getting sick of writing “From my living room/roof”, so, except for pix that have stories or need some facts/info thrown in, I’m just gonna show the images and let them speak for themselves.

















Hammy got a girlfriend? In these 2 pictures, Hammy’s the smaller one on the right. Females are larger than males, but Hammy was still a juvenile, so I can’t be sure of his friend’s gender.

This tree is on the other end of the parking lot outside my LR window, so I went out to get closer shots.

They must have been there for at least 2 hours, never interacted and I’ve never seen two red-tails in a tree locally since.





I don’t think I’ve seen women wearing this headwear in public since………maybe the ’50s?













July 2011

These are my first digital fireworks shots:











Pancakes and peanut butter?

















Ever see someone mowing dirt?



This woman was the inspiration for Jimi Hendrix’ hit, “Boxy Lady”.





Ships in the night day.





Probably NOT Chris Webber:



“If you don’t give me DirecTv, I’m leaving!”

“See ya.”



Across the street from me:



Control tower and incoming flight at the airport:



“Splish-splash, I was takin’ a bath…………..”



If the meter of a piece of music is the arrangement of its rhythms, what do you call the arrangement of music stands by a meter?





This has to be one of the best lightning shots I’ve ever taken. Multiple bolts and offshoots are great, but to have something recognizable in the scene is the ultimate. Having both the Empire State Building and the being-built new World Trade Center visible makes this tops in my book.

The ESB is dark because they used to turn the lights out after midnight (this was taken around 2am from my roof). What makes this even better is that there’s NO rain, either where I am or 10-12 miles away in Manhattan, If there was, the buildings and lights would not be sharp, if visible at all.

There’s only the one energy-filled, flying saucer of a cloud dipping down to put a charge into the city.

I LOVE this shot!



A firetruck visits my building and then heads on down the street.





I’m sorry, but this is one dopey-looking fashion statement:



I’m not crazy about at least one of these either………….OK, both.



This one isn’t bad:



Lucky lightning shot #2………….17 days after getting the NYC one, I got this one that looks like it’s tearing through the clouds and into Hackensack’s high-rises.



This cutie might be underage, so off with her head (besides, her father’s in the next picture).



“…………til her daddy took the T-Bird away”






Preparing for Hurricane Irene………….egad!



The sunset after Irene:



Irene knocked out the power to most of Hackensack, except for the high-rises and the hospital (on the left end of the high-rises),

Cars coming down Passaic St towards my street had to turn left or right because the road was blocked (see the barricade?). It was tough getting a shot with enough car lights in it to make a good time-exposure image and I took lots of shots to get this one. On top of that, it was very windy (Irene wasn’t finished) and I had to pull down on the tripod with all my strength to keep it absolutely steady for 15 seconds, but I got this one good shot and I’m very happy with it. You can even see a couple of stars in the sky.



Stink bug! And look at the size of that rear exhaust pipe’s opening!



This is a real spider web near a Revolutionary War cemetery that’s across the street from the Bergen County Courthouse.



The rest of August:
















This is the “Yankee Lady”- a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress – coming in for a landing at Teterboro Airport (and giving Enlightenment – atop the Bergen County Courthouse – a scare).



This is an emergency vehicle heading up the street.



Happy kids:



Since I shot this on September 11, I’m designating this as a US flag molecule. And what’s with the color of my watermark? (It’s what you get when you mix red, white and blue)



It takes a village to change a flat tire:



This guy’s also losing a fight with his pants:



NASTY-looking storm clouds! (yet you can still see Manhattan in the distance):




The rest of September:

































I thought square toes were out (but the triple-threat arm candy is cool). Uh-oh…………it appears that my watermark is blocking the driveway.


I saw bubbles floating past my 7th floor LR window one day and couldn’t imagine where they were coming from until I opened the window and looked straight down.


I know the camera is supposed to add 10 pounds, but I didn’t know that sunlight added 50.



The anti-aircraft guns atop the unfinished new World Trade Center react quickly to stop the terrorist MetLife blimp from destroying the crane in Hackensack.

Bi-state cooperation at its best!



Apparently, not everyone appreciates the beauty of nature, but at least we now know where the river got its golden hues from (somewhere, there’s a joke to be had about “ladder” and “bladder”, but it escapes me. Feel free to put yours in the comments).



This is either North Korea’s first-ever missile or it’s a steeple renovation at the Old North Church in Dumont, NJ.







Car washes aren’t cheap around here.



After trashing her bicycle, a classy woman calls for an Uber.



I think I see a face in that portal to Hell opening near NYC.



Turkey vultures: beautiful in flight and ugly as sin on the ground. Hit Google Images to check that out.



Another fire engine comes down the street.



A piece of this guy’s van fell off, so he picks it up and dumps it by a pre-school playground on Halloween. Class act.



Poor kid lost her balloon to a bully:



Let a fish be your umbrella:



Golden hawk:



Tinkerbelle meets John Cena:



There are no windows in my bathroom, but there IS an ancient, non-functional, translucent skylight right above the toilet. I heard the sounds of a bird on the glass and could make out that it had a waterbug (actually, an American cockroach) in its beak (we had an infestation of these bugs in our building and everyone called them waterbugs).



Where’s the fire?



MFP (Moon, Flag, Plane)



This girl walked up to the Camaro and looked like she was taking selfies of her reflection in the car’s window. She walked away, looking at the camera and smiling. Then – while still looking at the camera in the municipal parking lot – she suddenly struck a pose, complete with duck lips.




The rest of October:




































The truck’s divining rod finds water.


Remember when you were this amused by your shadow? Neither do I.


NOT Mellow Yellow:


When I exit the back door of my building and walk up to the side street, this is what I see: my neighbor’s (the Second Reformed Church of Hackensack) Tiffany stained glass windows. Of course, they look a thousand times better from inside and there are indoor shots of them elsewhere in this blog.


You don’t see a behemoth like this being lugged around that often these days:


The next 11 shots were taken at one of my favorite local places, the Great Falls of Paterson, NJ – http://tinyurl.com/GreatFallsPaterson – (which has since become a national park). I’ve shot there many times and I think this is my best shoot there. The falls were magnificent in the bright sunlight and the fall colors were on full display, not only in the foliage, but also in many of the reflections on the water.

My favorite shot is the one with the blue ball in the pre-falls (not the full falls – these are a few hundred yards before the actual falls). These falls reflect the golden foliage and the ball could not escape. It would move up two feet and immediately get pushed back. I got to take my time and take a lot of shots until I got this one with the ball perfectly placed. For all I know, it might still be there.

The shot after that is a close second, showing the sheer force of the flow around a metal barrier and includes some more of that golden foliage reflection, (and some cool green stuff).





















At the other end of my street, the Union Street Park has two walls that seem to get a ton of gorgeous fresh graffiti art almost every year. It’s a fun shoot that’s built for photo stitches.



Hot street!




11-11-11 was Veterans Day and the day I had probably my best shoot ever at the George Washington Bridge and the magnificent Palisades. The fall colors were in full bloom and I went in the morning when the east-facing Palisades faced the sun. Being a national holiday, the world’s largest hanging US flag was in its usual place on the New Jersey tower of the bridge.

Being a windy day, the flag showed up in places and at angles I wouldn’t normally see on a windless day. The first shot was taken from the Ross Dock Picnic Area, which is just north of the bridge:



The Palisades from Ross Dock:



These two shots were taken from river level:





Just south of the bridge is Hazard’s Ramp, which accommodates boat trailers and, apparently, guys who like to exercise with heavy tires on chains.



This is an unbelievable shot. I’m standing directly under the bridge and looking straight up. The flag would normally be vertical and barely visible from my position, if at all. Today, however, the wind blew it completely parallel to the roadway. Click!



There’s a road cut into the Palisades that you can take from on top, SOUTH of the bridge, to get down to Ross Dock, NORTH of the bridge. You’re not supposed to stop on it, but who could resist taking this shot with Manhattan also in gorgeous color?



This is the last shot I took on my way back up to the top of the Palisades and started walking on the bridge to take the next shot from the walkway underneath the flag.



This shot is similar to one that I took with a flip-phone and posted in the 2007 listing.



So I came home from the GWB to find a kids’ church group playing some sort of game with ropes, blindfolds and a upside-down plastic bucket in the parking lot outside my window. Anyone care to clue me in about this other than to say that it “builds teamwork”? How?












This is a red-headed balloon-eating tree from which a very happy balloon has just escaped.



The tallest building in Hackensack from the mid 1920s until sometime in the 70s was a 14-story-tall bank building on Main St. It was recently sold to developers to be converted to residential use.

Before work started, the city historian and I were permitted to visit the building after the bank left and I got to shoot its interior. Then we went up to the top on a beautiful day and I got to take pictures I never thought I’d get a chance to take – some for historical purposes and some personal.

Of the personal shots, this has to be my favorite………..it’s my neighborhood, looking north.

Starting in the lower left is the Hackensack Middle School. Above it is the First Presbyterian Church and its beautiful steeple (the steeple – but not the church – is my next-door neighbor to the south on a height level). To the left of that church is a smaller, tan stone, slope-roofed building. This is the back of the First Baptist Church, which is right across the street as you walk out my building’s front door. Directly across the street from that church is a square-block park (Anderson Park)

Jumping over to the right, the church with the red steeple and roof is Holy Trinity R.C. Church, where I was baptized. Across the street from it (and not visible) is their grammar school that I attended. Below Holy Trinity is a church that has a square castle tower and 3 stained-glass windows. This is the Second Reformed Church – my immediate neighbor to the north.

All this means that I must live in the yellow-brick building (which, BTW, is all red brick in the front). I live in that one apartment that has no neighbors on any side (or above). The building is classified as a 6-story building and, for the most part, it is, but not where I am. That’s why I take great delight in telling people that I’m the 7th-floor tenant in a 6-story building.

Out to the west are the Watchung Mountains, which, at some point, bend around to the north and become the Ramapo Mountains, which are mostly in New York State. I’m guessing, but I’d say that from just left of center on the horizon and then going to the right are the Ramapo Mountains.

If your eyes are good, you can make out a sign on a building just below mine that says “Enopi”, which is a Korean learning center.



This is the bank’s board room table:



Who can resist a puddle? Not this genius.



It’s Thanksgiving morning and look how this turkey parked.



Two pictures showing Venus and a crescent moon:





This is either 24 Venuses or a plane taking off from Teterboro:



My kindergarten picture and the shirt I was wearing in it:



Pointing the way to Newark Airport (20 miles south):



Only paid the lower half of the electric bill?




The rest of November:



































According to my supermarket cart, maybe we shouldn’t have let this company sell our parents’ house.

Too late now.



Unintentional municipal birdbath:



Shadowy figures in bright light:



The fog in these two shots is only above the Hackensack River – not any land. The McDonald’s is on RIVER St, across the street from………you-know-what.




My bathroom skylight and a full moon:


This is the scene I “saw” from my kitchen sink in my 2007 post about waking up photographically, but you’ll have to go back there to read the story. This is similar to the image I created back then.


From my apartment, I can see both towers of the George Washington Bridge – which is about 6 miles away – but only in the winter when the foliage is down.


Hammy returns for a second winter. His eyes are changing from juvenile yellow to a more adult brown, but he has a way to go to get to adulthood.






I saw this woman occasionally over he course of about 3 months, pushing a shopping cart and not looking well. In the first picture, she looks like she had an accident or got beat up. Then she had a balloon that said “Get Well” and later, another one that said, “Welcome Home”.

She looks like she’s had a rough life. I haven’t seen her since. I hope she’s OK.












This great building from 1932 is a block away from me. The Sears exterior makeover occurred over the course of a couple of months. It wound up looking a bit spiffier, but it didn’t help much – they’re still tanking.

BTW – I got to do a shoot the following year from that tower, so look for something from that in the 2012 post.






















My camera came with a program called PhotoStitch. Being as it’s not very sophisticated, it was easy to learn.

This is an early attempt at a photo stitch. I had never tried a stitch this ambitious before. A LOT can go wrong in a 3- or 4-image handheld stitch. This one has ELEVEN hand-held images. It’s a greater-than-360-degree image from the center of a small park that’s across the street from where I live.

It’s got 4 churches (one is barely visible), 4 apartment buildings (the stitch has tilted one of them), a Baptist school and a Catholic convent. I’m standing in the middle of a deactivated-for-the-winter, rectangular fountain and the stitch has curved that too.

Click the image once. After it takes over the screen, hover the mouse over the image. You should get a + sign. Then click it again. It’s now full-size and must be scrolled to see everything. Click it once more to shrink it back and then use your back button to return to the post.


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