Photo of the day – Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is beyond iconic. It’s the sort of place that most visitors to New York seek to visit, even if they’re not sure why, the sort of place with a symbolic and cultural reach that goes well beyond your average top tourist attraction. Today’s beautifully realist Photo of the Day, by Flickr user jwannie, depicts the Statue of Liberty as many visitors might encounter it, framed by a boat window.

Have an image that you’d like to see as a future Photo of the Day? Submit it to the Gadling Group pool on Flickr. If we like it we might just select it to be a future Photo of the Day.

Lifelong New Yorkers are unreliable for directions

Don’t ask New Yorkers for directions. Don’t get me wrong, we’re more than willing to help. But, you could wind up with some bad information. A recent poll of lifelong New Yorkers conducted by New York Pass, an attraction discount card, shows that most of us don’t have the city’s basics nailed down.

[Photo by James Trosh via Flickr]

Photo of the day 10.05.09

I do love an iconic silhouette, and this one of the Statue of Liberty, shot and shared by othernel, is a classic. There’s no mistaking this landmark, is there? Really beautifully done.

If you’ve got some great travel shots you’d love to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day.

Undiscovered New York: Kayaking the Big Apple

Picture yourself in a kayak. A sleek and brightly-hued orange plastic vessel, bobbing placidly in the calm surf. As your paddle rhythmically dips in and out of the water, you are surrounded by calm: the only sound the rise and fall of breath and distant cry of shrieking seabirds. You pause for a moment, letting the wind whistle past your ears. Behind you, you begin to detect an insistent mechanical whine, slowly building in volume. You turn to look, craning your head only to gaze at the shadow of a huge 747 rumbling overhead. Onshore, a Saturday morning barbecue is in full swing, billowing clouds of smoke shifting in the ocean breeze.

Welcome to kayaking in New York City. Kayaking is not an outdoor sport you might expect to find in an industrial, bustling metropolis like the Big Apple, but it is nonetheless an activity that is thriving among both hardcore paddlers and visitors alike. As we pointed out earlier this Spring, kayakers can rent out boats for 20 minute rides along the Hudson River. But as we recently discovered, Hudson kayaks are only one of several fantastic paddling options in the greater NYC area geared towards both newbies and veterans alike.

Want to paddle a boat towards the Statue of Liberty in New York’s famous harbor? What about a paddling expedition to explore the wildlife of Jamaica Bay? Maybe a FREE kayak ride is more your style? This week, Undiscovered New York investigates the city’s surprisingly good kayak options. Grab a paddle and get ready to be pleasantly surprised.
First-Time Kayakers

As we’ve discovered on recent kayaking expeditions, it can take a little bit of time to get used to paddling and maintaining balance in a wobbly water-going vessel like a kayak. Fortunately for less experienced kayakers, New York is actually the perfect low-cost place to “get your feet wet.” As we mentioned in our earlier look at New York sporting culture, the New York Department of Parks and Recreation rents out free kayaks every weekend at three piers along the Hudson River. It’s a great way to try out the sport and see if you like it before investing in a longer or more expensive outing. Fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline come free with signup.

If you’re ready for something sligthly more adventurous, head to Brooklyn for free kayaking on Jamaica Bay launched by the National Park Service. The bay, which is within the Gateway National Recreation Area, harbors a refreshingly diverse assortment of wildlife and unspoiled views. It’s easy to forget you’re still in the city until a huge jumbo jet roars overhead on its way to nearby JFK Airport. Groups like the Sebago Canoe Club sponsor Jamaica Bay wildlife expeditions for when you’re ready for a higher level of difficulty.

NYC for Kayaking Pros
Kayaking can be frustrating for first timers who don’t know how to paddle or accidentally tip their boat, but as you get more experienced, it can be a tremendously rewarding sport. This is especially true in New York City, where a little persistence can reward paddlers with some awesome views of the city and a totally unique perspective on its waterways and harbor.

Groups like the Manhattan Kayak Company specialize in trips for intermediate and advanced kayakers, taking them up close and personal with some of New York’s most famous sites. For around $100-200, paddlers can arrange specialized tours of the Statue of Liberty, the New Jersey Palisades and circumnavigation of Manhattan. These trips, typically lasting around 4 hours, are test of stamina and skill, but not without their rewards. It can be a surprising revelation to experience the city from this vantage point, slowly paddling through New York Harbor as you’re passed by huge cargo ships, the Manhattan skyline beyond as your backdrop.

Through the Gadling Lens: how I manage my photographs while I’m on vacation

Last week, I received an e-mail from Gadling reader Nick:

Can you spend some time discussing what happens after you get home from vacation – photographic workflows, etc? That’s one thing that seems to be missing.

As it happens, I’m currently on vacation: last week, we had friends staying with us in Houston, and this week my family and I are in New York City, so this topic is pretty timely. That said, I’m not entirely sure I’m the right person to be giving advice on this since:

1) I’m a photoblogger. I update my blog, Chookooloonks, often, and readers tend to expect almost daily photographs from me.

2) I take an obscene number of photographs. Really. Like hundreds, sometimes almost one thousand shots a day. Especially on vacation.

3) I’m generally not an expert on archiving photographs
. Okay, honestly? I’m really pretty bad at it. But when I get back home, it’s at the top of my to-do list to sort out. So look for a post on that later.

So, anyway, unless your a pro photographer, you likely won’t feel the pressure to take as many photographs as I do each day, or feel the need to publish your images daily; still, my method of managing my shots when I travel for pleasure might be helpful to you, and provide you some tips and tricks to managing your own vacation shots. In addition, I’d love for you to share your own methods and workflows in the comments below (especially if you’re a professional photographer). And again, what I’m discussing here is not about photograph archival, just managing my current workflow. We’ll deal with archiving in a later post.

And so, on with the show:
1. I pack with photo management in mind. I’ve written before about how i pack for a trip, and those words from 8 months ago generally still stand: in addition to my camera and lenses, I take a very large memory card (a minimum of 2GB), and my laptop computer. In the last 5 years, at the very least, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a holiday of more than 2 days when my laptop hasn’t accompanied me. My sister laughs at me that I never leave my laptop at home, but the reason becomes more apparent, below.

2. Each day, I take tons of photographs. I can’t stress enough: i take a lot of photographs. A lot. Like, for every composed shot, I often shoot at least 5, sometimes 10 images. If my subject is in surrounded by constantly varying circumstances (like the water fountains, above), sometimes I take even more. It’s all about the law of averages: if I take 10 photographs of one subject, at least one of them is bound to be one I like. The same is true for any photographer, particularly if the photographer shoots digitally. That’s the beauty of digital cameras — you can see your work immediately.

Two notes about this, however:

(a) First, even though I’m taking multiple shots, don’t misunderstand: I’m not asking my subject to pose-and-readjust for each shot. These are shots taken in rapid succession, quickly squeezing the shutter. This sort of rapid-shooting technique is often easier to do with a digital SLR than a point-and-shoot, because point-and-shoots often have a delay in the shutter release. No matter. Still take more than one shot. Also:

(b) I rarely delete shots just by looking at the small display on the back of the camera — I actually only delete them if they’re OBVIOUSLY out-of-focus (and sometimes, not even then), or the camera misfired. You often never know what images you think are great (but actually aren’t) or which images you think are lousy (but actually aren’t) until you see them on a computer screen. Resist the temptation to delete. This, my friend, is the reason you packed that large memory card.

3. Each day, I download all of the photographs I take onto my laptop. Yup, that’s right: I download every day. Usually in the evening, usually with a glass of wine at my side. (Of course, I’m the mom of a young child, which means my clubbing-in-foreign-cities days are over, since our evenings out usually end at our daughter’s bedtime; however, if your night doesn’t end until the sun comes up, morning might be a better option for downloading your images). The upshot is that basically, I like to start each day with an empty memory card.

When I download the images, here’s how I do it:

a) I create a folder just for that day. The name of each folder that I create starts with the date of the day I shot the images, in yearmonthday format (e.g., today’s date would be captured as 090709). I do it in this way so that over the years, the days’ folders will naturally be in chronological order. Occasionally, I’ll add a little additional information — so the folder that contains the image of the Statue of Liberty, above, might be labeled “090707ladyliberty,” if most of the images shot that day were in and around the statue.

b) The day’s folder is stored in a general folder called “photography.” I could, I suppose, put each day’s folder on this trip in a folder entitled “New York City trip,” but I don’t. Generally, all my days’ folders are just stored in my photography folder, but I generally find them pretty easily, because of the steps that follow.

4. I scan the photographs I’ve just downloaded, picking some of my favourites, and doing some preliminary Photoshopping. I will admit that I might be somewhat singular in including this step — most people I know wait until they get home before they begin processing their shots. However, In the past I’ve mentioned how I use Photoshop as a tool of expression, rather than a tool of deception, so this generally means that I can edit my photographs pretty quickly. Besides, since I shoot hundreds of photographs a day, the thought of sitting down to finally go through my images at the end of a holiday is pretty intimidating — I’d rather just look through them daily, remembering particular moments at were funny and special, as well as critique the day’s work, so that I can remember not to make any similar mistakes on the following day.

5. If I have an internet connection, I upload some of my favourites. Again, because I’m a photoblogger, this often means uploading a favourite image or two onto my blog; however, even more importantly, this means uploading my images to my Flickr account. For those who might not be familiar with Flickr, this online service allows you to upload and store images onto your own private account (for free; or, if you’d prefer, in a paid pro account which allows you to upload unlimited images per day). You can set your account to be public (so you c
an show all the folks back home what you’ve been up to), or private, so only you (or your family or friends) have access to the images. Some notes about Flickr:

a) Flickr allows you to tag your photos with various keywords, as well as group them into various “albums” — so you can place all of your vacation photos in a group called, “My Excellent New York Adventure, July 2009,” for example. The beauty of this is that when, 4 years from now, I’m looking for an image of the Statue of Liberty that I took, I can simply do a search on my Flickr photos of “Statue of Liberty,” and it will pull up the images I took in July 2009, complete with the date that I took the shot (which Flickr automatically stores from the information embedded in the photo by my camera). I can then go back into my “photography” folder on my hard drive, and go to exactly the specific date I took the shots.

b) On Flickr (and in general, anytime I upload an image onto the web), I only share low-resolution images. There are ways on Flickr to protect your images from being taken, but frankly, it’s not that hard to bypass them. So while I save my post precious photos offline (or make certain images private on Flickr), I also limit the amount of use a person can make of one of my images by keeping them relatively low-resolution.

And that, my friends, is about it. Once I get home, I really cull through the photographs, finding ones that perhaps I didn’t notice before, adding Photoshop finishing touches, and deciding which ones I want to print — and this is relatively easy to do, because I’ve already organized the shots by day, and pretty much know where everything is. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have yet to really nail how I archive my photos once I return home and put on these finishing touches — but over the next few weeks, I hope to hone my process, and share it with you in a later post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear any tips you might have as to how your organize your photographs while you’re traveling. And, as always, if you have any questions, you can always contact me directly at karenDOTwalrondATweblogsincDOTcom – and I’m happy to address them in upcoming Through the Gadling Lens posts.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.