Hanging Out in Bars

There’s no denying it: although I profess myself to be a misanthrope, I do like to occasionally spend time sitting in a bar, watching people and listening in on conversations around me.

But what I like most is to take pictures in that special light that you really only find in a bar.

2021.03.07: The Town Dock Tavern, Rye, NY (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 160)

People and things just look so different inside a bar than they do in the outside world (and I’m saying this is true even before I start drinking!).

2021.03.07: AC’s Boots (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)

This afternoon my wife and I went to the Town Dock Tavern in Rye, about ten miles from home, to visit our friend Margaret who was bartending.

2021.03.07: Who invited Basil Hayden? (I don’t know, but I asked him to stay a while) (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)

There was only one other person there when we arrived, but soon a few regulars started coming in. The place became lively with laughter and friendly conversation.

2021.03.07: Basil Hayden, Front and Centre (Guinness on the left) (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)

Margaret made sure we were acquainted with everyone and we felt most welcome.

2021.03.07: Margaret’s Steady Hand at the Helm at the Town Dock (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)

We ate, we drank, we enjoyed the people, and then we remembered that tomorrow was Monday.

2021.03.07: Clam-orous Dishes! (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

I want to explain the picture below (also the featured image) because they look less than flattering to the people in them and I call them ‘If Hell Had Happy Hour I’ and ‘II’ because nobody looks to be having a particularly good time, but this is one of those tricks of timing where, in that one split second, everyone looks off. It’s like when you pause a video in the middle of someone talking – that most beautiful or handsome person you wanted to stare at for a while looks like the biggest doof in the world!

I guarantee, everyone was having a wonderful time, they were some of the most pleasant people I’ve ever drank with and I hope to hang with them again someday soon.

2021.03.07: If Hell Had Happy Hour I (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Reflections

Like many people, I’m fascinated by the way different objects reflect light or images. Capturing this on ‘film’ hasn’t always been easy for me. Been a bit of a learning curve.

2021.02.27: Lugano Wine Bar, Old Greenwich (OM-D MKVII 15mm, f/10, 0.40000 sec, ISO 200)

A lot of times I think I’m taking a photo of what I’m seeing only to find out that either my point of view isn’t exactly the same as my camera’s or that I didn’t have the settings right and the beautiful reflection I thought I caught looks undefined or washed out. Fortunately post processing with tools such as Snapseed, GIMP, etc., can help bring out the beauty that was there in my eyes.

2021.02.28: Sunlight Reflecting on Wet Blacktop (iPhone XR Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/121 sec, ISO 32 – Left is original image, Right is post processed with Snapseed )

2021.03.02: Sun Reflecting Off a Copper Table (OM-D MKVII 14mm, f/20, 1/500 sec, ISO 200)

I love the way different surfaces reflect objects and light: how very smooth surfaces (water, glass, polished marble) act like mirrors, rough and dented surfaces provide only a rough idea of the images they reflect. There’s an analogy somewhere in there for the way we think and relate our ideas to each other.

2021.03.01: The Perrot Library Reflected on Binney Park Pond, Old Greenwich, CT (OM-D MKVII 14mm, f/5.6, 1/25 sec, ISO 200)
2021.03.07: Narcissist (OM-D Mk5ii, 54mm, f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 100)

Not all reflection is about light and images – sometimes a reflection is seeing something two people are doing that looks almost the same.

2021.02.27: Reflecting (OM-D MK5ii, 16mm, f/4.1, 1/15sec, ISO 1600)

Those can be the most fun to capture.

Jim Hates Being Photographed – That Don’t Bother Me None, Tho

2021.01.28: Jim hates having his picture taken, so we worked out a compromise

One thing that’s happened this past year has been the great reduction of my social circle. It was never big to begin with – a group of women I usually sat with for morning coffee during the week, a bunch of regulars I would see and talk to at various pubs and restaurants, a couple of guys I would have coffee with on the weekends – but now it has diminished to, essentially, 7: two people I see daily for coffee, two couples my wife and I see occasionally, and one other guy – a crazy-talented artist who drops by with paintings every once in a while, the intervals between which have increased since, after nearly a year of unemployment, he found work.

2021.01.29: Jim hates having his picture taken

One of my coffee friends is Jim. I’ve known Jim at least three years. We became friends a through mutual appreciation of alcohol – a friendship which developed over the years over our common interests in software development, politics, art, whisky, and general conversation.

2021.01.30: Jim at breakfast not having his picture taken

In a recent post I mentioned my inability to stop taking pictures. This includes pictures of people I’m hanging around with. Jim presents a problem. He doesn’t like having his picture taken – at least not candidly and with the frequency that I take them. I decided to turn this reticence into a sort of regular feature of my Instagram posts.

2021.01.30: Jim not having his picture taken during a recent writing workshop – the cork pictured is from a bottle of Brenne, a French single malt

In addition to morning coffee, we meet regularly for dinner at the couple of places we feel safe going to, and almost weekly on Thursdays for a <air quotes> writing workshop </air quotes>. The reason for the air quotes is that, actually, it’s my wife attending a writing workshop while Jim and I discover the benefits of good whisky (Scotch, mostly, but bourbons, ryes, and others are welcome).

Anyway, thought these would be fun to post here. All photos taken with my iPhone XR Rear Camera (ISO and shutter speed whatever the hell the phone thought it should be) and edited in Snapseed using a combination of filters – including ‘tune image’, ‘details’, ‘curves’, ‘vignette’, ‘brush’, and ‘vintage’ – sometimes more than once each.

2021.02.02: Attempting to avoid having his picture taken, Jim tries to blend in with my morning paper
2019.11.06: A rare unobstructed picture of Jim

Shooting While Doing Shots

2021.01.31: Nighthawks at the Wine Bar [a nod to both Edward Hopper & Tom Waits] (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 800)

Perhaps its something I need to see someone about, but I can’t seem to stop myself from taking pictures. Everywhere I go, I look at people and things from the perspective of whether or not I could make a good picture of them. I’ll be in the middle of a conversation, something will catch my eye and I’ll reach for the camera; or walking with someone, they might suddenly find me half a block behind taking pictures. If I don’t have one of my cameras with me, I’ll at least have my phone. On those rare days I have neither, It must be funny to see me frantically patting myself down and cursing.

2021.01.25: Stool Samples (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/40 sec, ISO 320)

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I met a friend for an early dinner at a local wine bar & salumeria – we go early because the bar will be mostly empty, the friend and I wound up staying later though.

It’s one of my favorite places to go because of its interior design: marble bar, red leather barstools and booths, exposed steel beams, an interesting sunlight, and creative lighting.

2019.11.06 – The Skylight (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 250)
2021.01.31: The Bar (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/120 sec, ISO 1250)

For me, the place is so picturesque I find it hard to concentrate on my drinking – but I manage mostly because the phone doesn’t need me to play with aperture or shutter and film speed. Sure that takes some of the creativity out of it, but I make up for that in the editing later.

[Photos taken at Lugano, Old Greenwich, CT]

2021.01.31: Boulevard of Broken Drams (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/60 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.17: Tools of the Trade (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Light and Colours (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 640)
2021.01.31: Camera Shy (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2020.01.25: End of an Evening (iPhone XR, rear camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/20 sec, ISO 640)

What Do You Do When it’s Too Cold to Go Out to Shoot?

At 29°F, I thought yesterday was cold. I was wrong, this morning I woke up to 14°and the promise of a high of 19. So, yesterday I was too much of a wimp, but today I’m too pragmatic to go walking around taking pictures. (I know, I know: 19 is practically balmy in certain parts of the world during winter, but if I don’t need to be out there…)

Still, the need to take pictures won’t go away simply because I can’t get out, so I carry my camera around with me when I go for coffee, across the street to get lunch or to meet a friend in a warm bar for a drink (we can still do that here, in Connecticut, for now). If the camera’s forgotten, there’s the phone.

2021.01.28: Aux Delices (iPhone XR, back camera 4.25mm f/1.8, 1/60 sec)

Yesterday morning, finding myself alone in the upstairs dining area of my local coffee stop, I found it a great opportunity to take a few indoor shots.

One thing I’m always curious about is how light affects a picture taken with the same settings – I often see examples of these in photography magazines, but to me it seems obvious that, often, they use the same photograph edited to simulate the difference in lighting or settings. The two pictures below are actually different, taken with my camera on manual, and using the same settings: 18mm lens, f/22, 6.0 second exposure, ISO 200.

2021.01.28: Lights On – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)
2021.01.28: Lights Off – Unedited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

I usually like to play around with my pictures using either Snapseed (on my iPad) or GIMP (on the desktop or MacBook). Don’t know why… to me, the picture never seems complete until I’ve done something to it, whether to enhance the colors, the texture or just go to town messing with it using all sorts of filters and effects.

2021.01.28: Lights Off, Edited (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/22, 6.0 sec, ISO 200)

It’s the rare picture I post on Instagram or ViewBug that hasn’t had something done to it.

2021.01.28: Reading Material (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 400)
2021.01.28: Table Leg (Canon T2i, 18mm, f/3.5, 1/30 sec, ISO 2500)

What looks like dust on and around the lens in the images below is actually fallout from my croissant. A good reminder to keep my lens cap on while eating.

2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/30 sec, ISO 320)
2021.01.28: Camera at Rest (iPhone XR, Back Camera, 4.25mm, f/1.8, 1/24 sec, ISO 640)