Once upon a time, I used to call my friends from payphones like this. Now I’m afraid I’ll get swine flu if I touch it…

Once upon a time, I used to call my friends from payphones like this. Now I’m afraid I’ll get swine flu if I touch it…

The streets were wet when I got up a few days ago, and the weather forecast called for rain throughout the day. Consequently, I decided to spend my half-hour of daily "photography time," during my lunch-break, down in the subway station, where I knew I could stay dry. Since I had a mid-afternoon appointment on 72nd Street, I decided that instead of photographing at my own local subway stop, I would take the train downtown and hunker down in a quiet corner to see what came my way. I found a quiet bench on the downtown side of the 72nd Street IRT line, and sat patiently to see what would happen across the tracks, on the uptown side… Later in the afternoon, when it was time to head back home, I spent half an hour sitting on the uptown side of the tracks, waiting to see how people were behaving across the way…

As is often the case, I got a consistent sense of solitude, isolation, wistfulness and even loneliness on the part of the subway riders I was observing; maybe the gloomy weather up above made them all pensive, or maybe that’s the way they always are, when alone in the subway. Whatever the reason, there were only one or two cases where I saw people laughing, smiling, or chatting cheerfully with one another.

As with the last subway group that I shot at ISO 6400, there’s a little bit of noise/graininess in these images — but I decided to leave them that way. I did adjust the "hot spots" (areas over-exposed from the fluorescent lighting in the subway station) and "cold spots" (shadows and dark areas), and punched up the color a little bit. But aside from that, this is yet another view of the typical daytime scene on a typical NYC subway line…

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Note: this woman certainly doesn’t look pregnant; nevertheless, this photo was published as an illustration in an undated (Nov 2009) Squidoo blog titled "SWINE FLU AND PREGNANT WOMEN." It was also published as an illustration in an undated (Nov 2009) blog titled "Women and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome."

Note: this photo was pubished as #380 on Flickr’s "Explore" page on Nov 1, 2009.

Moving into 2010, it was published as an illustration in an undated (Jan 2010) Squidoo blog titled "Difficulty in ovulation." I don’t know why anyone would look at this photo and have any thoughts whatsoever about ovulation … but who am I to say? It was also published in an undated (Jan 2010) The Pregnancy Health blog with the same title as the citation that I used on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Mar 10, 2010 Payphone Org UK blog, with the same title as the caption I used on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Mar 27, 2010 Disease Report blog, with the same title as the citation that I used on this Flickr page. And it was published as an illustration in a May 12, 2010 Symptoms of Pregnancy blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. It was also published as an illustration in an undated (May 2010) Squidoo blog titled "Why I Cannot Get Pregnant." It was also published in an Oct 25, 2010 blog titled "How Early Can You Get Pregnancy Symptom: Listen To Your Bodys Signals." And it was published in a Nov 7, 2010 Welcome All Mothers and Mothers-to-be blog, with the same title and detailed notes as what I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Dec 13, 2010 blog titled "How To Get Pregnant If You Are Over 40," as well as a Dec 13, 2010 blog titled "Very Early Pregnancy Symptoms That Could Help Confirm Your Suspicion of Early Pregnancy."

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 15, 2011 "Nice Music 2010 photos blog and a Jan 21, 2011 PlanMyBabyReview blog, with the same title and detailed notes as what I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Feb 6, 2011 blog titled "Pregnancy Spotting – The Top 6 Most Common Causes Of This Scary Condition!" And it was published in a Mar 13, 2011 blog titled "What You Need to Know About Early Pregnancy Stages," as well as a Mar 17, 2011 blog titled "Top Tips On How To Get Pregnant Fast For parenthood – Best Tips for Getting Pregnant Fast." It was also published in a Mar 21, 2011 Health Tips blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in an Apr 26, 2011 Mommy Guide blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page.

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jan 14, 2012 blog titled "Q&A: Ear infection, 6 month old when should I call her pediatrician?"

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in an undated (early Jan 2013) blog with a badly garbled version of the caption that I had originally chosen, i.e., "When on a time, I utilized to call my neighbors from payphones like this. Then I’m scared I’ll receive swine flu when I touch it…," and with the same detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Jan 11, 2013 Affordable Medical Care blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Mar 12, 2013 blog titled "Bloomberg Announces ReinventPayphones Contest Winners," as well as an undated (late-May 2013) posting on a Swine Flu Information blog with a garbled version of the same caption that I used on this Flickr page.

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Over the years, I’ve seen various photos of the NYC subway "scene," usually in black-and-white format. But during a recent class on street photography at the NYC International Center of Photography (ICP), I saw lots and lots of terrific subway shots taken by my fellow classmates … so I was inspired to start taking a few myself.

So far, I’m taking photos in color; I don’t feel any need to make the scene look darker and grimier than it already is. To avoid disruption, and to avoid drawing attention to myself, I’m not using flash shots; but because of the relatively low level of lighting, I’m generally using an ISO setting of 800 or 1600 — except for my most recent photos with my new Nikon D700, which are all shot at ISO 6400.

I may eventually use a small "pocket" digital camera, but the initial photos have been taken with my somewhat large, bulky Nikon D700 DSLR. If I’m photographing people on the other side of the tracks in a subway station, there’s no problem holding up the camera, composing the shot, and taking it in full view of everyone — indeed, hardly anyone pays attention to what’s going on across the tracks, and most people are lost in their own little world, reading a book or listening to music. But if I’m taking photos inside a subway car, I normally set the camera lens to a wide angle (18mm) setting, point it in the general direction of the subject(s), and shoot without framing or composing.

So far it seems to be working … we’ll see how it goes…

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suskipuski says:

Nice Boots

Susan

"Wellygirl" a Girl in Rubber Wellingtons says:

Another perfect picture Ed with the subject bang in centre, love to know why she looks so sad.

Ed Yourdon says:

wellygirl,

Thanks! Normally I try to put the subject off-center, but I thought it was important to have the pay phone, and also the pillar with "72" to show which subway station it was.

Of course, I have no idea whether the woman was sad — and if she was, why? But if you look at several of the individual photos in this Flickr set of subway photos, you’ll see that many people have a similar expression. I think that, in many cases, it’s not that they’re sad, but rather they’re taking advantage of the isolation they feel in the subway to day-dream, or to think about whatever is important to them. They might be thinking about lost love, past happiness, or good days to come…

"Wellygirl" a Girl in Rubber Wellingtons says:

Thanks for that Ed, your philosophy makes sense.

Stuart Oswald says:

Hey cool payphone photo. I’ve got a website that shows these kinds of pictures. Would you let me use this picture on my site? ( http://www.payphone.org.uk/ )

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