Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

The Trees – A New Series Takes Root

 

 

The mist is my new favorite weather to shoot in.

The mist is my new favorite weather to shoot in.

“There is unrest in the forest

There is trouble with the trees

For the maples want more sunlight

And the oaks ignore their pleas”

Rush- The Trees

 

I’m so thrilled, in the pursuit of creating images using the RX10 for an upcoming presentation on the camera I stumbled upon a new series that is taking shape, The Trees.

 

Watchungs2

 

I like to use the long fast lens on the camera to find a pattern and texture of the trees. I am shooting jpegs, and then putting them into Nik Silver EFX2 for a black and white treatment.

The Mist in the forest at Shenandoah National Park.

The Mist in the forest at Shenandoah National Park.

 

Diagonal Composition

Diagonal Composition

Bird Watch #4 Neighbor Mountain, Shenandoah National Park

Bird Watch #4 Neighbor Mountain, Shenandoah National Park

 

I’ll be honest, I don’t really care for Nature photography. But this series is resonating to me, I mean I do really like trees. They are old and wise in general, they have a mystical quality. Being pagan it’s like photographing gods in many ways.

 

 

 

 


Watchungs3

I hope you like the trees.

Watchungs4

~David

The Aesthetic of Compositional Perfection and Post Production

The fog was thicker than pea soup at the Dickey Ridge Lodge.

The fog was thicker than pea soup at the Dickey Ridge Lodge.

I’m one of those odd people who throw on a heavy backpack and hike in the woods for days. I have been doing it for a long time now, at least 25 years. I have a dwindling network of friends who I go on these hiking trips and we fancy to call our selves Trailpounders. Among all the miles I have hiked in pristine wilderness across many states I am reluctant to carry a cameras, or serious one at least. The reason being weight, and getting the picture right. Cameras can weigh quite a bit, and add to that good lenses so that you can make high quality photographs is daunting when you’re crossing mountains and pushing every fiber of your body to keep moving up switchbacks.

I have been tasked by B&H & Sony to create a program on the RX10. The focus of the program will be, “Travel Composition with the RX10”. To prepare for the program I have been shooting exclusively with the RX10 and pushing what it can do while learning what it cannot do. I’m familiar with the camera, and those who follow my blog will recall the initial review of the RX10 I wrote and shot a little under a year ago.

Elderly folk appreciating the park. They moved slow, but stuck a cord inside me. America's National Parks are for everyone, every age.

Elderly folk appreciating the park. They moved slow, but stuck a cord inside me. America’s National Parks are for everyone, every age.

This past weekend the Trail Pounders planned a four day hike in the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. Since I was working on material for the presentation, I figured this would be the perfect place to shoot with the RX10 and put it to test doing some nature photography. I would suck up the weight (1.79 lb / 813 g with battery and memory card) and stuff the camera in my trusty Moutainsmith Frost Fire pack.

The trip was excellent and pretty heavy duty. I’m not getting any younger and that pack isn’t getting any lighter. I felt I could have reached for the camera more often, but hiking (especially in a group) is an act all of its own. We managed to traverse about 17 miles in three days which didn’t afford me much lens time. On the trail we crossed a pine covered mountain top (Neighbor Mountain) and ran the ridge. I came across these interesting pine cones that had survived a fire, called a pack break and took some photos. I did my “composition dance” and moved around trying to find that perfect angle to capture the pine cones, you know that angle, the one with a perfect background and every branch facing the right direction? Well I couldn’t find it. I just couldn’t get the lens, the pine cone, and what I wanted to capture groove.

Pine Cone as it was shot- no editing.

Pine Cone as it was shot- no editing.

As I sat editing I thought, “I was so close… but darn those extra branches”… I saw them when I shot and figured they would not cut my mustard. It was then that I figured I’d work them in post and try to rescue them. This wouldn’t be retouching per sey , but more compositional rescue. I busted out my trusty Wacom table and set to it. After the image was cleaned up I ran it through Silver FX and finished it to my personal standards.

Pine Cone

Did I succeed? Did I just polish a turd? I always joke that I have taken so many bad photographs that when I do shoot now, it’s with a great intensity to only shoot what is decent if not compositionally perfect. But now, when the world is simply not cooperating it might be safe to shoot the best you can, and then do some very heavy post to get it right. Ethically I’m not 100 percent behind this, but I do feel good that at least the option is open. What do you think?

Here are a few more from the first edit. I shot in jpeg and used the creative modes that are built into the RX10 such as “Autumn Leaves” and “B&W”. Each image is taken into Photoshop and massaged.

Home and Shelter. I have had this tent since 1993.

Home and Shelter. I have had this tent since 1993.

Hiker JA- one of the Trail Pounders founders. Note, a circular polarizer was used to clear up the water behind Joe.

Hiker JA- one of the Trail Pounders founders. Note, a circular polarizer was used to clear up the water behind Joe.

SHAZAM! Joey V, he was a  Trail Pounder for years and didn't even know it.

SHAZAM! Joey V, he was a Trail Pounder for years and didn’t even know it.

Fall Leaves straight up.

Fall Leaves straight up.

The lone tree sits in the fog.

The lone tree sits in the fog.

I’ll post a link to the RX10 Presentation when it goes live. If you don’t live near NYC, we will be recording the presentation and I’ll post that too.

Till then, this Trail Pounder is signing off!

The three last Trail Pounders.

The three last Trail Pounders.

CBGB- The Last Day OMFUG

The Last Day of CBGB

The Last Day of CBGB

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco

This ain’t no fooling around

This ain’t no mud club, or C. B. G. B.

I ain’t got time for that now…

 ~Talking Heads – Life During Wartime (1979)

CBGB was the iconic NYC club that defined the punk era in America. The letters CBGB were an acronym for country, bluegrass, and blues, which was the brainchild of Hilly Kristal who opened the club in 1973 at 315 Bowery. CBGB soon became a famed venue of punk rock and new wave bands like the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, and Talking Heads. From the early 1980s onward, CBGB was known for hardcore punk.

Seeing bands play at CBGB’s would always be a blast, and just having a drink at the venerable club was always exciting. The place had tons of character, and I’m not even going to go into what peeing in the bathroom was like. As a matter of fact, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art did the show, Punk: Chaos to Couture they featured a installation piece of the bathroom! CBGB was storied, and an important landmark in NYC. However NYC is an expensive place, and Hilly got his club in trouble. In 2000, CBGB entered a protracted dispute over allegedly unpaid rent and a deal to renew CBGB’s lease, expiring in 2006, failed. The club closed upon its final concert, played by Patti Smith, on October 15, 2006. The end of an era.

 “There’s new kids with new ideas all over the world,” Patti Smith declared outside the club at the last show, “They’ll make their own places — it doesn’t matter whether it’s here or wherever it is. but It’s a symptom of the empty new prosperity of our city”.

Upon learning on the eminent end to CBGB I set out to photograph it as part of my loose project entitled, “NY Out of Business”. On a cold and windy late October day I set up my Deardorff 8×10 camera and wide angle 8 ¼ dagor lens in front of CBGB’s. Cars and vans were always parked out side, so I set up as close to the curb as possible and made my exposure. Fearing the high wind would have rocked the camera and caused a blurry image due to a low shutter speed I returned the next day only to find the premiss white washed and the awning skeleton removed. The last vestige of CBGB and her punk heritage was obliterated. Luckily, I shot it just in time.

CBGB's Last Day

This was made by scanning the 8×10 negative and correcting for perspective with photoshop using the transform tool.

A year later, the awesome clothing designer John Varvatos leased the property and with deep respect to the orignal punk ethic, integrated as much of the enterior to his shop. Walking in the Bowery Varvatos store is almost like entering a punk museum. He saved the landmark from becoming a 7-11 or worse. Thanks John!

Here is what the store looks like now.

John Varvatos

This is the original shot from the Deardorff. I was too close to correct the perspective, so after scanning the negative I was able to correct for perspective in photoshop.

CBGB 8x10

CBGB I miss you, one more piece of NYC that has gone to history.

~David

The Tuscan Darkroom and Observations in Film Based Photography

The classic rustic darkroom set up in the back workroom of the Tuscan home in Terontola, next to Cortona in Italy.

The classic rustic darkroom set up in the back workroom of the Tuscan home in Terontola, next to Cortona in Italy.

There is a sublime pleasure when you practice the core of photography that includes manual film cameras, red safe lights, and wet chemistry. In today’s parlance you call it “analog photography” and that while accurate, lacks a certain charm. It would be easy for the younger “generation Y” that has grown up in the digital age to dismiss the non-digital analog as an anachronism. Way too much effort to get produce an image. In practice it’s almost laughable when a well-done Instagram feed is not complete without apps to mimic the vagaries of film properties. With out understanding the nuances of the film and dark room to realize your images I often wonder what effect this will have on photography as we know it. Will masters of photography arise from the new generation? Will they create work worthy of Mapelthorpe, Avedon, and Witkin? Time will tell, but I’ll tell you what, with out the discipline of film it will be harder for Gen Y to attain such elevated image making. Let me elaborate on why I believe this.

I’m a late Generation X photographer, the last generation to have access to the core of the medium. In high school my yearbook was assembled with black and white photographs that we, the students printed in a small, narrow darkroom with two enlargers. The art department didn’t have one (I heard in the 70’s they did) and you had to be in the “year book club” to have access. My first assignment was a wrestling match, and I completely botched loading the film into a Nikon FM2. Eventually I learned how to load a 35mm camera and started taking photographs of my NJ suburban life; Milton Lake down the street, a local cemetery, my friends cars and more of what I was surrounded by.  You were limited to 24 or 36 shots per roll of film, and there was a great chance of you messing up somehow, in the early days of film photography your first few rolls of film were often filled with chance and mistakes. 

Chemistry, Film Processing Tank, and Film. Going classic with Kodak Tri-x developed in Agfa Rodinol.

Chemistry, Film Processing Tank, and Film. Going classic with Kodak Tri-x developed in Agfa Rodinol.

35mm film core photography workflow is pretty much performed this way since it was invented in 1923; expose film, transfer in dark the exposed film to a film developing canister, process film, make a proof sheet, pick and chose which to enlarge, and then make prints. This is all done primarily with three baths and a good wash. Exposed film and paper are put in developer, then a stop bath, followed by a nice dip in the fixer. After the stop bath, and mid way in the fixer, you can turn on the lights and get a good look at what you made. This process allows for stylistic choices such as film stock and the developer. The print can be luxurious with fiber paper, or a easy to use (but not archival) resin coated paper. 35 mm film can safely be enlarged to 11×14 and even 16×20. Larger printing sizes can be done, but expect substantial grain to be introduced to the look.

 Spark from the Seattle Suspects

You can become very exotic when it comes to mixing chemistry, often a photographer will entertain one type of film and process it the same way throughout their lifetime (and certainly the duration of a project). During the 1990’s my Seattle work was all shot on Kodak Tech Pan and developed in Agfa Rodinol. Neither the film nor the chemistry is available now, thus that work created then is considered vintage. This is something the photographer has to get used to, our selection of paper and chemistry is not eternally supplied. I recall selling the great American photographer George Tice the last supply of Agfa Portriga paper B&H had in stock. He was simply devastated! But then George adopted Ilford Galleria FB Warmtone and all is well again.

tuscan print station 

Another interesting aspect of the film photography is waiting to see the image sometimes days or months. The cool part of the digital photography and the ability to instantly see your exposure has a profound impact on your vision. With a digital camera you can instantly know if you nailed it or not. Shooting film, often times you can forget entirely what you photographed only to be surprised later when the image turns up on a proof sheet or by holding the negative up to a light. This fundamentally adjusts the “accident factor”, that which happens in an unpredictable manner and effects a expansion on your creative skills. When this chance opportunity occurs you might also be benefited by a stylistic leap and follow something that is entirely unique to you. Not to say you can’t have an accident occur in digital photography, but film photography is more disciplined in execution and easier to mess up! Don’t forget, digital seeks to emulate it’s grandfather and offer you control of effects and looks that occur in film photography easily, film photography does that inherently, but it takes more coaxing.

 

Prints made in Summer 2014. Nicola Tiezzi and I spent a night in the Tuscan darkroom till the wee hours printing. I made the portrait of the old mad and the camp grounds, while Nicola made the tank and the dog and cow prints.

Prints made in Summer 2014. Nicola Tiezzi and I spent a night in the Tuscan darkroom till the wee hours printing. I made the portrait of the old mad and the camp grounds, while Nicola made the tank and the dog and cow prints.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that everyone should practice film photography in one way or another. You can’t go forward with out looking back. 

In the next post, I’m going to elaborate on the actual film camera. As always, stay tuned photographers.

~David

The Summer Project: Back to the Analog 1950’s

NikonGear

 

Every summer I self assign myself a photo project for my August Tuscan vacation. Sometime in May or June I start to think about what I’m going to do and since I have been going to the same spot for 12 years straight now, in the past I have shot 8×10 landscapes (twice), 4×5 landscapes (and made 4×5 cyanotypes under the Tuscan sun), a study of the Terontola house with a Hassalblad (for a handsome book), Instant Italy (all shot with Fujifilm Instax), Olympus Pen FT half frame, and many digital photographs including Italy Looking Up (shot with the Leica M8.2). The past two years I have enjoyed using the Fujifilm Xpro1 extensively and showed them in this blog.

This year I was in a quandary. I considered doing portraits, but truth be told, the effort to work my Italian subjects is too daunting for a vacation, I enjoy the summer work because it shouldn’t be hard, it should be completely relaxing. Over the years I have set up a primitive darkroom in the back of the house. Primarily for developing film and lately doing contact printing. I always dreamed of having a full force darkroom back there, since I have been darkroom-less in NYC since I arrived.

This week I have read two interesting web pieces about film photography. One about an Indian Photo Club dedicated analog film and the other from an old buddy of mine who has relocated Japan and makes a strong case for shooting film with personal reasons. Both of these musings have these influenced me, they got me thinking. I am not going to drone on and on about the film vs. digital argument. That’s moot, and I have done that already in my article “The Merits of Shooting Film in the Digital World” for F295. What got me was the simple joy of hearing a shutter click, and the feel of advancing film with a lever. Loading film, unloading film, and then loading film onto a reel and putting it into a light proof tank. Mixing chemicals, timing it all, reviewing the exposed negative up to a light, cutting the negative, and then lastly, printing the negative. Working in the dark, holding that finished print in your hands after it has dried. Showing the print off, examining the print and noting how you could have printed it just a little bit better.

It’s simply sublime. There is no substitute for this process. It is the essence of photography; skill, vision, craftsmanship, and art. It’s black and white, it’s subtle, and it’s shadows and highlights dancing on fiber paper. Even as I write this, I’m contemplating bringing the last of my marshals oils and perhaps, doing a little hand coloring!

I fired off an email to my friend Nicola, one member of the triumvirate that is behind Cortona On The Move, a photo festival that occurs in the summer months in Cortona, if he could source me an enlarger. He replied he had a cold light Kodak sitting in storage! Perfect, I love a cold light source, and better yet since the back room of the Terontola house is dusty as the days are long.

So this leads me to the choice of cameras. I have a nice collection, actually I pride myself on my camera collection. Since I’m going back to roots here, I think I’d like to keep it simple and that means lets forego large format. I’m thinking 35mm. And my favorite 35mm camera system I have is my vintage Nikon S2 rangefinder. She’s a beauty right out of 1953. Sexier than a Leica, made like a tank, and unlike the more popular Nikon F system cameras, the S2 is a rangefinder. For lenses I’ll bring the entire collection, which includes; a super duper sharp 50 mm 1.4, a great semi wide 35 mm f 2.5, a sweet portrait shooter 105 mm f 2.0 and then just for fun, a 135mm.

I can’t wait to shoot all day and print all night. So keep Suspect Photography bookmarked and I’ll be posting some classic photography during the rest of August.

~David

 

Environmental Portraits, Location and the Importance Of Background

Yesterday I went on a motorcycle ride with my outlaw biker brothers (and fellow photographers) out of NYC and into Long Island. I brought along my trusty Fujifilm Xpro1 looking forward to shooting some portraits during the ride.

I wanted to shoot pretty wide open to get a blur going on the background, but it was mid-day and quite bright so f4.0 was about as open as I could go. I also wanted to show off the bikes, so I would be further back then my normal portrait shooting distance, thus increasing detail in the blur. The background would have to be considered and thought out as importantly as the subjects. As a matter of fact, I can’t emphasize enough a good background! I like to treat my photographs in three layers, a foreground (in this case the front of the bike), the middle layer (the subject) and the background. I place the emphasis in portraiture on the middle and the background; they are certainly the most critical of the composition, and finding a good foreground being a bonus.

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

First consideration on the background is keeping the horizon in a third. Never ever cut the horizon in half! In this portrait of Joe Otto on his big 1100 V-Twin Cruiser I made sure I lowered myself to ensure the horizon was placed 1/3 to the top. Notice the pavement line that leads your eyes up to the center of the image, and also the blurry car in the far top left, centered between grip and mirror. These background details are tiny, but are elements that ensure the portrait is pulled off with a compositional perfection.Relationships of shapes in the image should also be identified and included, the shape of the headlight mimics Joe’s helmet, so the included that in the crop.

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

 

In this next photograph of the Kingpin I found a background that has strong elements such as the board walk planks and the sign. While composing the image I would use the Bayside Marina sign to frame Kingpin, while being very careful where the light fixture in the upper left would be placed. During the composure I then noticed the second light fixture and made sure it didn’t touch the subject. I was conscious of the horizon cutting the frame, but the framing overided that consideration and I placed the Kingpin and his Honda RC51 Sportbike in the bottom 2/3 of the frame. By placing the subject in harmony with the planks, all the lines in the image push your eye to image right. F4 ever so slightly blurs the signage, but the intent look on the Kingpin holds the viewer’s eyes around the center of the image.

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

 

Jason took off his leather and underneath he sported a plain whte T with a v-neck. I thought of Marlon Brando in the Wild Ones and liked his casual pose over the handlebars. His HD Sportster Roadster is a new acquisition, and he loves it, the gesture in his left hand shows that. I asked Jason pose in this spot, due to the shade the tree to camera left affords. I like the texture from the cucoloris effect as well, not too strong, not too light. The rocks in the background mimic the bad-ass attitude of the Harley Davidson while the line of the path draws you across the image nicely. Horizon neatly placed in the top third with a hint of clouds.

All the images were shot jpeg with the b&w style applied, then imported into Snapseed with my ipad workflow used. Ride on readers, and keep a sharp on the background (and potholes for NYC riders!)

~David

The Raven Wing : A Study of a Harley-Davidson Sportster and Lust

WatchungWall

Wind

In my hair

Shifting and drifting

Mechanical music

Adrenaline surge…

Well-weathered leather

Hot metal and oil

The scented country air

Sunlight on chrome

The blur of the landscape

Every nerve aware. 

~Rush, Red Barchetta

 

A long time ago in a place far away (1990 and Rahway NJ) I walked into a Harley Davidson dealership with my childhood friend (and then roommate) Ed Fry. They had just gotten something very special in, the oddly named new model, Fat Boy motorcycle. It was huge, like a back streets brawler and had an attitude you could taste, smell, see, feel and hear. I’ll be honest, I have always harbored a fear of the motorcycle; it seemed too unsafe, too unprotected, and too easy to crash with my devil may care attitude towards speed. I couldn’t afford the bike back then, so I bought a pair of gloves.

 

LateShow

 

Life and time passed. I took a road that would not include a Fat Boy. A Harley Davidson is not like any other motorcycle. Riding and owning a Harley says something about your attitude that is not easy to quantify at once, because it spans many aspects of personality, means, and commitments. It’s part Rock and Roll, part Rebel and very Bad Ass. You either get it or not, you either can handle this or are secretly intimidated by it.

 

 

TrashnVaudville8street

Over the years I harbored the idea of riding a hog as they were called when I first spied that Fat Boy. One time coming out of late night speak easy in Seattle a ruffian/artist going by the name of Reuter offered me a ride across town to Pioneer Square on his bike. It wasn’t a Harley, but it was big and dark and fast. I rode bitch and hung on as we sped across a deserted 1st avenue. Damn what a way to cross-cities. In 2002 I got to spend 3 months studying Italian in Milan. During that time I secured the loan of a scooter and learned how to ride on the mean streets of Milan. Those Italians are daredevils I tell you. I actually love a scooter in the city, they are very nimble and make short work of hellish traffic. And you can park virtually anywhere once you Velcro your plate. As a wedding gift my in-laws gave Barbara and I a shiny red Vespa. Scooters might not be big motorcycles but in the city, where your top speed rarely exceeds 30 MPH and you close navigate the other cagers (enclosed cars), trucks, and taxi cabs you gain a skill that is akin to Olympic levels. We have ridden that little red jammer everywhere, but it was the long-range trips that begged to roll out on more powerful motorcycle.

WashingSqPark

This year we had a brutal winter. I longed for a motorcycle, a nice big roaring V-Twin beast of chrome, Iron and rubber that could take me further. Twenty Fourteen would be the time, and NYC would be the place. I hit up the local Triumph-Ducati on 6th and Spring in SoHo. Sitting on an American, the Triumph line of cruisers, I knew a cruiser would be my bike. The café racer style of the Bonneville T100 and the sprightly Thruxton were certainly rating high on the cool factor. While I can wave the American flag along with the best of them, I really have no issue with a British made bike. Triumph has bikes for all; adventure, hipster, brawler, classic, ultra-sporty and lets face it, Great Britain is the ultimate ally of the Allies. But… and you knew it was coming right? No V-Twin. Triumph engines are parallel twins. V is for Vendetta, V for Victory right? I digress… sorry.

 

A clean 1200 V-Twin

A clean 1200 V-Twin


In the fall of 2013 I had a great visit to Harley Davidson NYC with my fellow bad ass photographer (notice as we get deeper in this post the badd-ass-ness just keeps getting louder) Jason Geller. He had the bug for a two-wheeler as well. The trip out to Queens was well worth it; the staff was excellent and they really helped me discover the Sportster 1200 Custom as the bike that was what I wanted deep down. A Fat Boy might be in the future, but I need a little less weight and nimbleness for the city. The XL1200C comes stock with key options that fit my needs really well. I would just have to add saddle bags and the bike would be pretty darn perfect. Over the brutal winter I was reading everything I could about Harleys and checking out Ebay. I found Staten Island’s Lombardi Brothers, a dealership that has been in the same family since 1905! The showroom is tiny and packed with bikes. They listed a 2008 1200 Custom in vivid black. The price was half that a 2014 would be, and it was perfect at 3400 miles. Over a snowy day I took the Staten Island ferry across to check out this bike.

 

They gave the Raven Wing a nice bath before turning her over to me.

The dealership is one of Harley’s oldest. Family owned since 1905! Same location too!

 

Lombardi Harley is a 15-minute brisk walk from the Ferry. When I got there, they were a good bunch of guys and they showed me out back, in a little snow, my soon to be new ride. Right off the bat, the Skeleton Skull looked me in the eye and the bonding occurred. I knew it, the bike knew it, the dealer knew it, and the Carthaginians knew it: this was the one.

 

OurFirstMeeting

 

Mechanical creations of such beauty need a name, and this would be the Raven Wing, named after the fast attack mounted Space Marines of the Dark Angles Chapter. The Raven Wing is fast- the fuel injected 1200 CC V-Twin 5 speed can hit a ¼ mile in 4.3 seconds.

Watchungs Reserve

 

I added a set of cool bags from Viking Leather. The Raven Wing needs to hold stuff for the paintball and photography journeys. The mounting hardware provided by Viking isn’t the best and easy to mount, but the bags are super cool and not overpriced like the Harley saddle bags. Barbara and I had a big fight over the chrome studs. I won.

 

WestPointCombatClassic

The Raven Wing at the West Point Spring Combat Classic, I rode up to the Point at 4 am in the fog on the Pallisades Parkway. I couldn’t see a thing and the pot holes were like lunar craters. Notice the Planet Eclipse Ego 11 with SOD sticker… yea SOD paintball for life!

 

I’ll be the first to admit it and Barbara the next, but riding the bike obsesses me. It’s thrilling, exhilarating, and just plain fun. The throttle is very heavy, and the Raven Wing gives throaty roars when it revs up through second and third gear. The front suspension rises up and you get pulled back into the saddle while hanging on. The Raven Wing is like a wild horse you have tamed, it is heroic to ride but still a little scary.

 

The Cloisters make an excellent back drop for such a noble steed.

The Cloisters make an excellent back drop for such a noble steed.

 

Funny thing about riding a red Vespa and a black Harley-Davidson, the women check you out and smile when on the vespa, but on the hog the dudes check you out and give you thumbs up and nods. Dudes always hating on the Vespa, saying it’s pussy. Nah, the Vespa is confidence and intelligence for an urban explorer. The big Sportster is something entirely else, but not any more masculine, it’s an attitude thing. And hey, the chicks dig the Vespa and the guys dig the Harley… so what’s it going to be those who would say the Vespa is pussy?

 

Bleecker  Street, NYC and home of Magnolia Bakery.

Bleecker Street, NYC and home of Magnolia Bakery.

 

Now if you’re a rider, this part is something you are familiar with, and if you’re not a rider, let me elaborate on riding which is both cathartic and tactile. It takes all extremities to ride, your left hand is on the clutch, left foot on the gearshift, right hand on throttle and front brake and lastly your right foot is on rear brake. All your visual senses are on overdrive looking for road debris, potholes and shitty drivers. Your brain is firing off instructions to your arms and legs and processing data at alarming speeds. You simply are in sense over-drive. Shifting gears is evaluated with your ears and feeling the engine (whine and vibration) while a moment of laxity and it’s the curb for you. It is wonderful to ride, and if you are bothered by the daily grind, when you ride, the grind is gone. It’s magic. It’s called the thrill of riding a motorcycle.

 

Weight of the World

 

So one last story, this past weekend I was at a red light, and a young African man was crossing by and admired the bike, I gave him a wave and he really took a close look at the bike, smiled big and held his hand over his heart and became revenant. The Raven Wing, a HD Sportster moved this man, his emotion was tangible. What is it that can spur such a response? I don’t know exactly, but I look forward into riding into conclusions.

 

Self Portrait at my dream castle, the Cloisters.

Self Portrait at my dream castle, the Cloisters.

 

This post is dedicated to Ed Fry, my mechanic and blood brother. Rest In Peace Brother, a piece of you will always be riding alongside of me down the Highway to Hell. 

 

Two Icons, a V-Twin and the Worlds Fair Jump Towers in Queens.

Two Icons, a V-Twin and the Worlds Fair Jump Towers in Queens.

 

~David

 

 

 

 

 

 

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