Coney Island: A NYC last hurrah

Life is moving once again.

Currently, I'm back in good ol' Columbia, Missouri. Contrary to popular belief, I have not graduated. I am taking staff photo at the Columbia Missourian at the moment — I have not taken it before. And I am super excited to be back with my friends, closer to my family, and in the part of 'mericuh that I recognize.

Before I left New York, though, good ol' Tyler Jackson, my boyfriend, came to visit me. Tyler had never been to New York, so he had a laundry list of things he wanted to see — and there were some things I hadn't seen, either! So we spent the week he was there running around sightseeing. One of those places was, of course, Coney Island.

After an insane subway ride to Brooklyn that included breakdowns and crazy people in our car (naturally), we made it to Coney Island. We immediately ran to get some food — not only were we starving, but had been saving ourselves for theme park food, and, of course, Nathan's Famous.

Both of us had a fantastic time on Coney Island. I have a sort of carnival fetish and Tyler really loves carnival food, so it was perfect. Plus, Coney Island is the most ideal spot for people watching in the world, I believe.

It was a great last hurrah for New York City. And after driving 21 hours straight, starting at 5 a.m. on Long Island and ending at 12:30 a.m. (with the time difference) in Columbia, Missouri, I am finally back in the Midwest where I may or may not belong.

Preserving animal trophies

After spending time with trap shooters and going on a hunting expedition, it's only right that I finish out the hunting process — seeing those trophies mounted on the wall.

I've been wanted to do a profile all summer but have had a lot of sources fall through, unfortunately. I jokingly told my boss one day that I was going to do a story about a taxidermist, and he, a New Yorker, said, "This isn't Missouri! There's no way you can find a taxidermist on Long Island." Turns out, he was wrong.

I met up with Rich Dunlop at his tiny shop this week, hoping there'd be blood and guts galore (after the cow slaughterhouse and the Faroe Islands, I'm immune to it now). Apparently, though, the taxidermy process is a long one. Each animal takes about nine months to process, from tanning and drying and molds and the works. November is his busiest month, since it's the beginning of dear hunting season, but since I'm leaving in a week I had to settle for mostly clean taxidermy — just putting skin on a deer head mold.

It was a good time, though, and has spurred some new project ideas in my head, which is obviously never a bad thing. This will probably be the last piece I produce for Newsday — I leave in less than a week, unfortunately, but it's been a great summer! But I'll write more about that later.

Multimedia piece is copyright © Newsday 2011.

Day at the ballpark

My internship is coming to a close, so I had to start checking stuff off my New York photo bucket list pretty quickly — like the one that says to go to a major league game!

At the beginning of my internship, my boss Arnold Miller promised me I would get to shoot a Yankees or a Mets game before the summer was over. I got really excited about this notion, but throughout the last eight weeks, things have been so busy that we both just forgot about it!

The other day we both remembered — and he decided that he wanted to shoot a baseball game for the summer, too. He's the boss, so unfortunately it seems like he spends more time managing than doing assignments, so it was a nice trip for the both of us, plus Bobby Cassidy, to go down to shoot some baseball!

Newsday has usual sports shooters, as most papers do, and we wanted to do something a little different. Arnold and Bobby came up with a great idea to shoot a feature about day games in New York — and found the perfect day to do it.

Thursday there were two New York games going on. The Mets were playing the San Diego Padres at Citi Field at noon and the Yankees took on the Los Angeles Angels at one at Yankee Stadium.

Try as they might, Arnold and Bobby couldn't get me a day pass to the Yankees, for some reason. I wasn't too upset, as I'm not the biggest Yankees fan either way (coughGoRedSoxcough), so it was off to Citi Field for me!

I spent the day shooting features and sports action of the goings-on at Citi Field. I really didn't focus on sports action as much as I should have, to be honest — I think I was too concentrated on getting a variety of feature shots that I settled for easier hitting shots and didn't really try hard enough. I'm not so proud of that, but had a blast the entire day, either way!

I'll just have to practice shooting baseball better on some less high-profile games come next baseball season at good ol' Mizzou!

Here's the natural sound piece, with shots from myself, Arnold Miller and Bobby Cassidy. Edited by Daryl Thomen. Shot for Newsday.

Summer nights

You can't beat summer nights. Not only is it a nice break from the heat of the day, there are so many things going on — softball games, concerts in the park, ice-cream eatin'.

Newsday is currently working on a summer-long video project about summer nights. Although I was shooting video all day yesterday up in Northport for it, I couldn't resist taking a few stills while I was there.

Arm Wrastlin'

I've never been really good at sports. I have quite little coordination, aggression and competitiveness. But arm wrestling is always fun, no matter what age you are! Though, I'll tell you, I'm much better at thumb wrestling.

I went to Wading River on Long Island last week to shoot video and photos of some professional arm wrestlers. I didn't really know one could be a professional arm wrestler. My knowledge of arm wrestling doesn't go much beyond lunchroom table matches and clips of "Over the Top" I've seen on VH1's "I Love the 80s."

But these guys are serious — and ripped! Both Dave and Bobby are award-winning arm wrestlers and have competed professional for USA teams. And they have quite the community going on around Long Island. Both talked about how arm wrestling seemed to be more of a working class sport and just made sense for all those involved based on their upbringing — and they were always the strongest guys among their friends.

The multimedia piece I did for Newsday is below. Sometimes I do the editing, sometimes I don't — this was the first time I've passed on a piece to someone else! Matt Golub did the producing on this one for me.

Hot child in the city

Oh, have you heard it's hot outside? That there's a heat wave? Or, as some people are calling it, a heat dome? Yeah, it's hot.

At first, I thought New Yorkers were a little hyperbolic about how hot they thought it was in New York. Before last weekend, temperatures hadn't even exceeded 95 degrees, which sounded great to me. I'm used to 106 degree humid summers in Missouri.

But it can get hot out here, I'll admit. I've been perfectly happy all summer but lately I've been struggling with almost passing out from the heat and, with anyone, just trying to stay cool! And staying cool isn't so easy when you're walking most places, taking the subway or surrounded by skyscrapers.

I visited my friend Theresa Berens in Manhattan this weekend, per usual. We've been exploring a lot since we're both in New York this summer. We decided that if we were going to be in the city this weekend though, since we knew it was going to be hot, we had to prepare with cool activities.

Luckily we found an article in "Time Out," which appropriately had a cover story on "ways to stay cool" in New York. Flipping through it, it suggested visits the various museums in town, which we had planned to do, since they're air conditioned. And it also suggested cooling off in a fire hydrant, but I thought that was too drastic. Apparently the fire department will even help you do it! But it also mentioned swimming in the fountains at Washington Square Park. It was a bit of an unusual activity for the two of us to do, but we were adventurous — and, well, desperate!

Washington Square Park was a mad house. People were either swimming in the fountain — which conveniently had a sign saying no swimming was allowed — or laying out on the grass. We definitely wanted to be in the water, even if it was a sinuous green color.

Kids were going crazy in the fountain. I think being a kid is really an advantage because when you're swimming in green water, you just really couldn't care less about all the germs and bacteria floating around in there. They were swimming on their bellies around in it, squirting it out of their mouths. I stuck to just sticking my feet in and occasionally getting into the actual fountain, which was spewing clean and clear water.

Staying cool isn't easy in weather like this, that's for sure. But with enough adventure, popsicles and a bathing suit, it's possible no matter where you are!

Speakeasy Sips

Being a young adult at the ripe ol' age of 21, alcohol is a new friend of mine. And there's nothin' better than getting to drink on the job.

OK, so these drinks weren't actually alcoholic. Our guide for the day apparently thought that drinking before 2 p.m. was a bit excessive, so requested the drinks be made virgin-style. I didn't voice my disapproval, as that would be unprofessional, but that rum runner would've been a lot better with actual rum.

A few weeks ago, I took a voyage with a reporter to a town on Long Island called Stony Brook. The city is trying to boost its tourism by highlighting the speakeasy culture that boomed there in the 1920s.

Apparently, Stony Brook, having great access via waterways, was hopping with rum runners, bootleggers and flappers during the roaring '20s. Although that may have been illegal back in the day, that hasn't stopped the tourism board of Stony Brook from trying to highlight on this culture. The town has even made an itinerary that caters to the historic events that once occurred there, making note of stops like the mill and speakeasies along the way.

I was really excited when we arrived at The Country House in Stony Brook. The restaurant is revamped from an old farm house and even has its own resident — and friendly — ghost. It was a beautiful place with fantastic food, which we got to sample on the job.

I was even more excited when the owner, Bob Willemstyn, brought out drinks to photograph, as I remembered all that laborious work we spent learning to photograph metal and glass in Advanced Techniques last fall. Obviously this wasn't a studio shoot, so I had to use the speedlights I had on hand.

I only used the speedlights for a few shots, to be honest. I remember an on-location trick Rita Reed went over in class, which was to use window light or an in-house light to backlight the glass. Especially since the drinks were especially colorful, this is what I knew I wanted to do. I think it turned out pretty well. Glad my education has paid off so far!

Long Beach — The New York One

No matter how busy you are, when you live near a beach and not in a landlocked state, you must make time for the ocean.

I've been quite busy producing and editing video over at Newsday for the last week, mostly due to a car repair that I needed to get done — can't do much shooting without any wheels! But I did manage to make it down to Long Beach last weekend. The waves were much more wicked than anything I've been used to before. And I got an insane sunburn. But I had a great day with Krystin Arneson and I plan on returning this weekend. Enjoy.