The Scene from Bowling Green

I am constantly surprised at what photos seem to resonate with people. If you look through the photography posts in my blog, you will likely see that repeated over and over. The photo above is yet another example of this.

Last year I took a trip to New York and Connecticut, took a bunch of pictures and then slowly worked my way through those I thought were worthwhile.

Then I made a second pass.

And a third.

Finally, the other night, I looked at the three handheld exposures you see below and said, "Ya'know... I really dig the architecture here and it's a shame to just leave these sitting on a drive." I grabbed them, made some adjustments in Lightroom, popped them into Photomatix for some HDR merging and then into Photoshop for the rest of the development.

That sentence somewhat trivializes what I did, but the reality is that most of the elements were there to start with. The weather was stormy in New York and this created a lot of cloud action. This makes for some interesting skies. When processed in black and white, the results can be dramatic.

The downside to cloudiness is photos tend to be flat without the benefits of direct sunlight. HDR processing can pull some of that dimensionality back with some creative exposure and curve adjustments to tweak things a bit more.
I was quite pleased with the results, but I was unprepared for how well it has been received. Just goes to show how much I have to learn.

Now that you've read my ramblings, a little about the location.

All I could remember about this area was that it was in the financial district and we walked through Battery Park to get there. Fortunately I have developed identifying locations based on Google Maps satellite imagery into an art. Welcome to 26 Broadway aka the Standard Oil Building.

Based on the angle, I must have been in Bowling Green when I took the shots. I did a double-take when I saw that because when someone says "Bowling Green", I immediately think of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Because this amused me, I had to include the location in the photo's name.

Yeah, I know. Riveting stuff.

Bottom line. Don't throw anything away because you just never know what a little elbow grease will do to it.

Comics Stash: December 19, 2012

Right now you are thinking that you must have gone back in time given the date in the title. (OK. Probably not.) I've decided to date the posts based on when the comics come out rather than when I stash them.

The number of quality issues for this week was extremely high. It was a great week for comics. The artwork seems to consistently match the quality of the writing. Books with writing I liked almost always had quality artwork to match with Batgirl #14 being the exception.

Much of what was released is setting the stage for a larger story or crossover event. Occasionally this ends up with stories being a bit on the light side by delivering us fluff or filler. The books this week avoided that trap.

With so many event books coming up, it made me appreciate the single-issue story of Hawkeye #6 really stand out.

Supergirl #15 

Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Not much to say here other than more questions about H'el are raised (Why are his powers so different from the rest of the Kryptonians?) and we get more glimpses of Krypton-That-Was.

Wonder Woman #15 

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang

I've never been much of a fan of the New Gods so the appearance of Orion in this issue doesn't do much for me. If you take this occurrence out, there's really not much else happening. Diana gets her armbands upgraded by Hephaestus and now they manifest swords for some reason.

Even though I'm not sure how to reconcile the Wonder Woman in this book with the Wonder Woman in Justice League, I've been fine with that because I really appreciated how Azzarello has been mixing modern and ancient Greek mythology. I think that good will is about spent. As much as I would hate to do it, this title is about to be dropped.

Batgirl #14 

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes

Batgirl is not on my regular pull list. (I just heard the collective gasp from all of you Gail Simone fans.) It's not that I don't like the book. I just like other books better.

I'm also not one to get sucked in by crossover events. If I can't get the story I want in the books I'm already getting, I'm more inclined to drop titles than to pick up anything else.

In this case, however, Joker plays a big part in Barbara Gordon's history. The potential for some great storytelling is what got me to add Batgirl to my stack. And so far so good. In a book with James Gordon Jr. (crazy brother), Barbara's mom and the Joker proposing to Barbara with what we assume to be mom's ring... there's not much to complain about.

Of course, that won't stop me. The art left a lot to be desired, but I'll not belabor the point since the writing more than makes up for it.

Indestructible Hulk #2 

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Yu

The second issue builds on the concept presented in the first. The idea that Hulk can smash while Banner builds in order to maintain some sort of karmic balance. The arrival of Tony Stark adds a twist given that one of the reasons for Banner's joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and devoting his resources to inventing instead of doing away with the Hulk is that Stark is largely seen as both a genius and a benefactor. Bruce is plagued by a bit of the green-eyed monster, maybe? (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Good plot development and artwork to match. I'm ready for things to really start ramping up.

Journey Into Mystery #647 

Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Valerio Schiti

Sif possessed by a barely contained berserker rage. This does not bode well. Fortunately her brother Heimdall is there for a little familial heart-to-heart. If that doesn't work, there's always banishment. My bet is that the next issue with be subtitled "And Hijinks Ensue."

There really is a good mix of drama and humor.

Before Watchmen: Moloch #2 

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Eduardo Risso

I'm just glad there are only two issues in this run. I was never sure there was a need to dig deeper into Moloch's backstory and nothing convinced me otherwise. I can't recommend this one.

Thor: God of Thunder #3 

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic

The tension builds as we find that somehow a younger Thor is to blame for the God Killer's rampage.

In an interesting twist, things turn into something of a murder mystery as modern day Thor mounts an investigation into gods gone missing. As he finds each of them dead, he also finds signs of his old nemesis. Someone who scares even the mighty Thor.

I'm on the edge of my seat here!

Avengers #2 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opena

Ex Nihilo monologues for a bit and the "bigger" Avengers team assembles. The attack on Earth has begun and the team heads back to Mars for what should be an epic showdown.

Harbinger #7 

Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Phil Briones

The appearance of Flamingo, a small town stripper in an abusive relationship. She also has latent psiot abilities that Peter awakens. The team can now add someone who can control fire to the roster.

X-O Manowar #8 

Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Lee Garbett

X-O and Ninjak take out the Vine embedded at MI-6 and part ways with a tenuous truce. Aric continues to have anger management problems as well as trust issues.

I was a huge fan of the original run of X-O in the early 90's. In fact, it's one of the first comics I regularly picked up when I was but a young collector. So it's been a while, but it seems that Aric acclimated to modern life much more easily back then. The armor helps a bit with language, but social interactions would still be problematic. I like how the new run is keeping the character brash and abrasive since, based on the flashbacks, Aric was a bit of a problem in his own time.

Hawkeye #6 

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: David Aja

A self-contained Christmas story subtitled "Six Nights in the Life of...", this exactly describes why I love this book. No crossovers. No protracted building up of plots. It's action and humor. I actually, literally laugh out loud on occasion. It's "real".

Look. Here's a brief list of highlights:
  • Tony Stark helping Clint untangle his home entertainment system
  • Avengers battle with AIM portrayed as a side-scrolling video game
  • Dr. Druid saying "Whither the HDMI?"
  • "Hawkguy"
  • Russian mob
  • Katie returning Clint's gift
  • A feel good Christmas ending
If that doesn't make you want to read Hawkeye, then there's no help for you.

Comic Stash: December 21, 2012

I'm going to try something new and write down my thoughts as I read each book. That should help me get these post done in a more timely manner as well as being a little more accurate with my impressions.

Winter Soldier #14  

Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Butch Guice

This seemed like a filler issue to me. That said, I still enjoyed it. There really has not been a truly bad spot in the entire run.

Iron Man #4  

Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg Land

I like the concept of Tony using modular armor which adds a twist that he has to determine the load-out for a particular mission. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be very good at anticipating his need.

That said. I'm just not feeling it. There is nothing deep about this book. I know it's strange to apply that description to a comic book, but the reality is that the story and characters just are not developing.

I'm also not a fan of the surly, teen-aged suit A.I. Bleh!

So I said "one more issue" after issue #2 and I actually gave it two. I'm out.

Superboy #15  

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artist: Roger Robinson, Iban Coello, Amilcar Pinna

Things are starting to get interesting and H'el is the least of them. Questions such as "What is up with Superman's suit?" and "Where did the genetic material for the Superboy clone come from?" seem like they might be answered soon.

We do find out that there are three components to Superboy's DNA and the reaction of the suit seems to confirm what I imagine we all assumed since issue #1 (no spoilers).

The only real complaint I have is the number of artists used. I don't like flipping a page and wondering what happened because things suddenly look different.

Batman #15  

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo

One of the best team-ups in comics today is Snyder and Capullo and The Batman title is consistently strong. It takes a certain amount of skill to make it seem that we are being introduced to characters that we have known for decades. I find myself finishing each issue wanting to find out more about this Joker fellow. Seriously creepy guy.

The follow-up story showing events inside of Arkham Asylum is also excellent. What in the world is going on there? What were they doing with that horse? What is Joker's plan? Plus we meet the Riddler and he seems to be a genuinely interesting character himself.

So good.

Batman and Robin #15  

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason

A lot of what I said regarding Batman #15 applies here. My only additional thought is that Joker's continued references to Batman being the Robins "father figure" may be a clue to show that he doesn't really know as much as he's letting on. Otherwise he'd surely be playing up the whole "actual father" angle.

Or he just wants us to doubt. He's tricky like that.

Maybe one postscript. The images of Joker with his face upside-down... Wow. And yes. That is exactly what I meant to type.

Before Watchmen: Rorschach #3  

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo

Good but not great is where I stand on this Before Watchmen title. I'm curious enough to stick with it, but I'm not particularly invested in any of the characters. I don't know that I've learned much more about Rorschach other than he can take a beating. Certainly nothing that would make a team-up with Nite Owl seem a natural progression.

On the positive side, how great is that cover? To add to the cleverness, it segues well into the first frame of the story. Very nice.

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #3  

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Adam Hughes


The style of writing from the perspective of someone who sees all moments in time at once was done in the original series. It was done well and only enough to keep it from getting too tiresome. A whole series in that style and then throwing multiple timelines into the mix... Ugh.

If this is just a 4-issue run, as it appears to be, I'll pick up the next one just for completeness. If not, I'll have to really think about how much more I want to subject  myself to this.

Archer & Armstrong #5  

Writer: Fred van Lente
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino

The Eternal Warrior gets introduced and he's way less likable than the original run. And that's OK in my book.

The plot was moved forward only incrementally, but meeting Gilad and having the role of a geomancer presented sets things up nicely for the next issue.

Bloodshot #6  

Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Manuel Garcia

I like what they've done with the new Bloodshot. Conceptually, he's got the same basic abilities, but it's handled much more realistically (for a comic book). The idea that a person is essentially indestructible because of nanites in his blood that repair damage to his body is made much more interesting when that person continually gets beaten to a pulp. These repairs aren't "free" either since it takes protein to fix the human body. Issue #6 delivers more Bloodshot beatdowns at the hands of some odd looking adversaries that I'm sure we will see more of in the future.

The cliffhanger has our protagonist blasting his way into a room full of children who are undoubtedly special in some way. Not much is creepier than children doing things not particularly child-like. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.