Brooklyn Banks

July 1, 2009 § 23 Comments

We are here. Under the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Manhattan bank.

It’s a hidden world ensconced by dilapidated brick walls on the left, the Brooklyn bridge traffic throbbing above and a graffiti perimeter on the right. From where I stood, this was perfect eye candy: the twin roads roof forming a literal skylight, a young skateboarder practicing his flip and an elongated space ahead of me…that seemed to stretch out and curve into nothingness.


A Black & White Indulgence

NikonD90 18mm 1/250s F/4

The light was quite limited under the bridge, and in order to capture the skateboarder’s quick motion on the left, I had to push the ante up on either the ISO or the Aperture opening. For this shot, I chose to keep the ISO at 200, and instead, opened up the Aperture to F/4 (which I was afraid would compromise the depth of field). I tried shots the other way round too, and also played with reduced shutter speeds to get pictures with slightly blurred motion. But in the end, despite the sky peeping in so brightly, this shot did it for me.

I spent hours here, watching the skateboarders ramming against the slopes, the benches and the cobbled floor. I confess, I never glanced at the time :)

The ambience was colorful and harmonious:  Some graffiti here and there, red brick walls, crayon colored tables with left over snacks, and shouts of cheer or disappointment ringing in the air.  I had always enjoyed watching skateboarders practice at Union Square Park, but this place felt very different. Perhaps, because I was transported into a new world with no distractions. Credit that to a secluded location and the unique architectural setup cradling this place.


Under the Brooklyn Bridge

NikonD90 26mm 1/50s F/10

Inviting red bricks caught my eye. I took some close-up shots of the disheveled bricks too, but there was something alluring about including these doors that ‘had been’. It was interesting that this was the only wall with a label: ‘Brooklyn Bridge Arch4’. As if it had been demanding a title for eons, which was finally conferred. Does a name bring about a sense of belonging? All in all, a quite simplistic shot really, but for the stories one could weave around it:)


Table Tops

NikonD90 105mm 1/125s F/5.6

Encountering litter engages me in conflicting thoughts. On one hand, it irks me that people leave their trash behind for someone else to clean. Is it indifference? A lack of civic responsibility? On the other hand, the tell tale signs they leave of themselves, intrigue me. What did they look like, and what does their litter reveal about them? What do you think she wore? Preppy chic or Country hip? Shot here: Carbonated fruit drinks, freshly sliced watermelon and a pot of butter. I was missing the bread sticks:) The checkered table-top with wanton scribblings was simply captivating.


The Towering Arch

NikonD90 18mm 1/125s F/10

This was a tough one. There was only so much distance I could get between this tall archway and my camera. A teeny bit of the arch got cut off on the top. Since I was so close to it, I found it hard to capture the symmetrical and vertical perspective w/o the structure appearing like it was going to fall backwards any minute! This shot (one of many), was the closest I got to achieving that. Love this pic still. Notice the contrast between the high arch and the small figures, the sense of immense space, the shots of colors from the bikes and the postures of these two boys in conversation.


Look Up

NikonD90 18mm 1/400s F/22

Looked up, and the sky peeped through the freeways, sky scrapers looming. The surrounding life on the ground was such a contrast.


The Graffiti Wall

NikonD90 32mm 1/80s F/5.6

This guy was recording the action with his video-cam for the most part, perched right next to this lamp post. There was a moment when he stood up, leaned his weight against the pole, and looked on at nothing in particular.


A Lowdown

NikonD90 18mm 1/200s F/4

Metal, cemented floor, the red-tee boy with his skateboard and ME. Check out the bikes rolling in the background, and if you look hard enough, that ‘video-cam guy’ is perched right there, in the far right! The mood in this shot seems somewhat somber , as if objects of my interest had dispersed out and away from ME. Ironically, I can still hear the grinding skateboards and rattling bikes.


Comfortable Company


The walls, the props and the young boys: all seemed to blend into the scene so effortlessly. Taking a break. Waiting and watching a skateboarder attempt his move. Unaffected by my presence, they carried on with some happy inaction.

What about action? Here are some shots, that do not warrant a commentary:)


NikonD90 32mm 1/125s F/4.2


NikonD90 18mm 1/200s F/3.5


NikonD90 18mm 1/125s F/3.5


NikonD90 45mm 1/200s F/4.8


NikonD90 38mm 1/250s F/10


NikonD90 42mm 1/250s F/8


NikonD90 80mm 1/200s F/6.3


NikonD90 105mm 1/400s F/5.6


Another bit of this evening that I really enjoyed was just shooting the skateboarders, as if creating their portraits. Some hung about alone, some in tight groups and some wandered loose…from one group to another. Some waved a hello, others smiled, and some seemed to be someplace else. Meet them:


NikonD90 105mm 1/50s F/5.6


NikonD90 105mm 1/1000s F/5.6


NikonD90 42mm 1/250s F/8


NikonD90 70mm 1/200s F/5.6


NikonD90 32mm 1/200s F/5.6


NikonD90 32mm 1/200s F/5.6


NikonD90 58mm 1/200s F/5


And so the Brooklyn Bridge underbelly kicks, growls and shakes with raucous laughter. It invites you in, and wraps you in it’s warm turbulence. I left with reluctance, and new found friends. A day well spent, a day of much fun.

Tell me if you enjoyed being transported there with me! Break a leg or shoot a spin!


– The Juice at work

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§ 23 Responses to Brooklyn Banks

  • purelynarcotic says:

    Lovely post. Nicer pictures.

    I want to visit NYC. soon. :)

  • Street Photographer says:

    Some great shots. You’re really lucky; round here (in the UK) the scare culture has got so great that aiming a camera at teenagers or kids has become a perilous exercise.

    • The Juicer says:

      Thanks Mike- for the comment and for visiting!
      Yeah- I have heard about these issues in UK from other photographers. Unfortunate, to say the least. How and why ‘a scare culture’?
      If you have an opinion or some background on this, do share. Interested in doing some research.

  • […] This post was Twitted by BazzaK […]

  • Street Photographer says:

    Somehow it has come to pass that anyone with a camera in a place where there are children is a potential paedophile. There have been cases of people taking pictures of their own children in the bath (like one or two years old, like we all have) are reported to the police by the processing lab for taking indecent photos. Many public outdoor pools now have a ‘no photography’ rule – parents have been refused permission to taker pictures of their own kids in a public place.

    It’s largely been whipped up by the media, but it’s a problem. When taking pictures of teenaged kids in the street recently they spotted me (not that I was hiding; I was using an SLR, and not shooting from the hip) pointed, and started shouting “Paedophile! He’s a paedophile!” Not pleasant.

    • The Juicer says:

      Thanks for sharing Mike. I empathize with you. To constantly encounter and have to submit to such hate and fear! ‘Not pleasant’ is an understatement.
      I find it hard to wrap my thoughts around this, or more so, come to terms with it. Your description of a society inflicting such scare tactics upon themselves and their own children is harrowing. Instead of believing that the majority of the people in this world are good (and I am not being too idealistic here), people are more inclined to believe otherwise? I despair to think how children being brought up in such an unhealthy society will be affected. Not to mention how this cuts off an important part of a child’s upbringing- their interaction, learning and mentoring through other adults- apart from their own parents.
      Is it fair to call this ‘mass hysteria’? Will it die down? If it does, the media would be the key harbinger of change. So I beg the question, what has become of the media?! Is sensationalism the only kind of journalism that thrives now?

      You were right, I am indeed, feeling very lucky right now. Unlike Britain, a constant fear of impending child abuse has not taken this nation in its throes. And people do not see that as the eventuality in their daily lives! I am glad that in general, a positive inclination still pervades this society. At least that’s what it seems like in comparison! The American people do have a strong bias towards hopeful possibilities. It is this very jubilant disposition that the rest of the world stereotypes as being ‘simple-minded’, but there is much more to it than meets their myopic eye.

  • terryodee says:

    Gifted you are, gifted you is.
    Britain. It saddens me greatly, intensely, that people like Mike (streetphotographer) have to endure the crap that is thrown at them, for holding a camera.
    I have freinds still in the PhotoJpurnalism trade and even the UK police ignore their Journalist credentials and harass them in the name of…Child Protection? Terrorism? Privacy?
    Sadly, Britain is a country that has a culture derived from a long, rich, colouful history. Britain is a country that has developed a deep shame of its own history & culture.
    Britain is a country famed for its tolerance of others culture and history and its welcome to all regardless of race, colour or creed. Britain is a country that has developed a complete intolerance of its own people.
    I adore your work Shipra.

    • The Juicer says:

      Thank you Terry, for the constant support and feedback.
      A discussion like this makes this post all the more worthwhile. You and Mike have helped add such valuable insights.
      The reason I value street photography, above everything else, is that it chronicles life as it is, societies seen as they are and were. It’s a medium that encourages and facilitates observation, criticism and cognizance of the changes that have and are taking place in our society.
      “Britain is a country that has developed a complete intolerance of its own people”
      You raise some very interesting observations about the changing face of culture and tolerance in Britain…ever so briefly and bluntly :)…which I appreciate.
      By ‘culture’, I am referring specifically to the image one has of one’s own society: The ‘Cultural-Self’ if I may say so. Which to me, is a collective understanding of who we are, the guilts we harbor over the years, what we fear and what we aspire.
      Where this collective sense of Self leads us to, is completely self-driven; in my opinion. Yes, certain events which were/are not in our control influence us too. But we tend to give them and their perpetrators too much credit, thereby absolving ourselves of any responsibility towards seeing or acting on reason.
      Eventually, a negative culture like this, is propelled by the very people who claim they suffer from it. In this case- a collection of paranoid parents, rampant yellow journalism and an overdose of governmental policing!

      Oh, and about tolerance– be careful- ‘The Big Brother is watching’!!

  • Som says:

    WoW sahi yeh ……bahut maza aya…. really different altogether from your previous posts….cheers.

  • David says:

    Great photos

    You’re a natural – look at those smiles.

  • sampada says:

    Those are some really great pictures. Just like purely_narcotic, I now want to visit NY. (I am from Mumbai, so I’ve always harbored a love for big, busy cities).

  • Abdullah Khan says:

    Hi Shipra!

    Your photographs are instigating me to plan my maiden trip to NY. You are able to capture the soul of the city. Your each post reads like an essay on this city of dreams.


  • Peter Yao says:

    Eye candy for sure! It’s like a slice of cake, icing on the top, all the flavors on the bottom. Nice shots!

  • Amit says:

    It’s indeed a captivating theme blended with greats shots and mesmerizing narration !!! what’s next ?

  • timm says:

    Excellent! Insiders view. Love it.

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