The current heat wave has brought storms and several days of "threatening weather," where the sky is brooding, the air is heavy, and rain, at least, seems likely at any minute. It's just hot and hazy today but in the past week I've gotten in several shooting sessions in the threatening weather, with some results I really like. (As always, if you click in the image area you'll get a larger and better version of the file.)
This gas station has been through several ownerships in just the past few years. I began to wonder why, since it's in a good location on South Main Street, only a few blocks from the center of town, directly across from the old Armory, which is an active recreational center now. Then I thought about the cigarette poster—the latest owners tried to sell more than gas, but in that tiny space they couldn't have carried much merchandise. Of course there is no repair or mechanical work done here. About all you could sell would be gas, smokes, and Slim Jims. And service, of a limited sort. Their advertised gas price was always a nickel or dime higher than other places in the town, but it wasn't self-service; someone came out and pumped your gas, ran your credit card—rare except in New Jersey and Oregon where self-service is illegal. That could have been a ploy to attract the large number of senior citizens who walk indoors, around the basketball court, in the Armory across the street, every day.
Then I remembered that a Cumberland Farms outlet is less than a block away, across the street. It has five or six three-pump islands for gas, and the convenience store is at least a couple thousand square feet with the typical extensive CF range of products. Looks like the business model for a "gas station" simply doesn't work today.
As US Highway 202 approaches Torrington, there's a little cluster of billboards, just before the posted speed limit drops (profitably, I would guess, for the town) to 25 mph. This is the pair closest to the town line, early this afternoon. Outdoor advertising is a highly distinct subfield of advertising as I learned in the few times I brushed with it during the decades I made my living from general commercial photography. These boards at the edge of Torrington turn over constantly, not just new ads but different advertisers, indicating that there's a waiting list for this placement; it's a somewhat inexplicably desirable location. Many boards on I-84, where commuters and tourists flood through Connecticut, have ads that are actually disintegrating off the towers. That means that not only has the buyer not renewed their monthly fee, but the owner is too lazy/incompetent/broke to pull it down and at least put up a, "YOUR AD HERE" notice. Not so where US 202 snakes into the southwest corner of Torrington.
The scale in this picture fascinates me. Walking past the building, I took in the oversize figures of the mural. Then I noticed the "miniature" door and chair and nearby stairway. My scale perception shifted and then I realized how much larger-than-life the figures are. I think the effect I encountered in reality is still there viewing the picture.
I didn't stop to talk to anyone, but the sign in the window at the left announces the 2013 grand opening of the New Era Creative Space, which seems to be an interesting organization aimed primarily at enriching young people's lives and experience.
Stores and restaurants, not to mention people, around Peekskill, indicate there is a large Central American and Caribbean population, which I think must be a fairly recent development. Twenty years ago I was a frequent visitor in the area because I did a lot of work for Peekskill Hospital.
Another thing I noticed was that there are taxicabs everywhere—far more than you would expect in a small city with a population under 25,000, on the Hudson River, just over an hour and a half from NYC. Some months ago I learned, from unrelated research, that an abundance of taxis is a strong indicator for a large population of undocumented workers. It turns out the most dangerous thing an undocumented worker can do—in terms of risking deportation—is to drive a car without a valid driver's license. One of the better jobs for a documented worker is to drive a taxi...
Since it's summer, I've been doing some experiments working in full sunlight. I think most subjects look better in soft light, but it's interesting to look around for things that seem to thrive on bright highlights and sharp-edged shadows.
This shot from a bridge over the Naugatuck River was shot a week ago, but it's the kind of weather we've been having for a while. Temperatures in the high 80s or low 90s, high humidity, rain and some storms. Even when the sky is "clear" it's white and distances are veiled in haze. The dehumidifier in my computer/printers/scanner room is working overtime.
That hazy sky can make for some lovely light, however. It was like a giant softbox delicately lighting this meadow at Steep Rock Reservation this afternoon. Do click on one of the pictures to see the larger, isolated view which will look better than the frontpage on most devices.
Generally, for me a weather forecast with bright sun and clear skies indicates a good day to work in the darkroom, either traditional or digital. Yesterday's forecast was for storm fronts moving across the region, so I decided to try my luck at a few towns in Upstate New York ("Upstate" refers to the area just an hour or two north of New York City—the vast section of the state above there is referred to as the "North Country.")
Around 8:15 this morning, walking along the back doors of a small in-town strip mall. A white building across the street made the bright reflection in a moment of sunlight and shadow in the midst of an approaching storm.
Round and about this afternoon. I had a "Bob's Stores" discount coupon that expires today and I need new walking shoes, but they had nothing my size, as often happens. Still found a few things for pictures afterwards.