Dreamy phone call

Dreamy phone call
Phone Call
Image by Ed Yourdon
As I walked through Verdi Square, I passed by this guy while he was staring off into space and listening to his cell-phone. I was only about two feet away from him, and didn’t want to stick the camera-lens in his face … so I walked past, then over to the east side of the little park, and back past him from the other direction. At this point, I had the little flower-bed “island” between me and him, so I didn’t feel like I was being so intrusive … though I don’t think he noticed me at all at any point along the way…

Note: this photo was published as an illustration in an Aug 2009 Squidoo blog titled “Awkward Moments: Caught Staring!” It was also published in a Feb 23, 2010 blog titled “HOW TO PHOTOSHOP A PERSON INTO A PICTURE – PHOTOSHOP TUTORIAL [IN-DEPTH].” It was also published in a Mar 24, 2010 MatadorLife blog titled “Photo Essay: People Watching in Verdi Square, New York City.” And it was published in an Apr 5, 2010 blog titled “Photoshop Tutorial: How to Photoshop a Person Into a Picture [In-Depth].”

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jan 6, 2012 blog titled “Occupy smartphone: Top 10% of mobile users occupy 90% of bandwidth.” It was also published in an Apr 3, 2012 blog titled “Don’t put me on hold! Brit firms fail in online customer service.” And it was published in a Nov 29, 2012 blog titled “Make calls over the 4G network drains the battery fast.” (A Spanish version of the same blog was also published on Nov 29, 2012 with the title Hacer Llamadas Traves de la Red 4G Agota Rapidemente Bateria) It was also published in a Dec 10, 2012 blog titled ” Cheaper and better smartphones will arrive as chipsets come in-house.” And it was published in a Dec 11, 2012 blog titled “Cool New Cell Phones For Cheap In Bildern.”

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Mar 6, 2013 blog titled “Sneakers: The Complete Collectors’ Guide.” It was also published in an Apr 16, 2013 blog titled “Photoshop Tutorial: How to Photoshop a Person Into a Picture [In-Depth].” And it was published in a May 14, 2013 blog titled “8 Kinds of Social Media Personalities: Which Are You?” And it was published in an Aug 8, 2013 blog titled “30 Smart Answers To Tough Interview Questions.”


Note: on Sep 12, 2009 I edited this photo, based on suggestions from a couple of Flickr friends. First, I tried two different cropping alternatives: one where the subject ended up on the extreme left side of the picture frame, and one with the subject on the right side; for my own personal, artistic reasons, I decided I liked the latter choice, so that’s what I kept.

More importantly (in my opinion), the original image was way too “cool,” with an overall bluish tinge — perhaps because it was late afternoon in November, or maybe just underexposed. But in any case, I decided to “warm” up the picture by increasing the “temperature” setting, so it would look a little more like a photo taken at the end of a warm, sunny late-autumn afternoon.

And then I decided to saturate the subject’s skin tones a little, and also increase the saturation of the red in his shirt, the brown of his pants, and the yellow/gold background (which happens to be a store front across the street, on the far side of Broadway). It turned out that the yellow/gold of the store-front was a bit over-exposed and had become a “hot spot,” while some of the leafy areas and the bench that the subject was sitting on were too dark; so I fixed that, too. Indeed, the whole scene was darkened somewhat by shadows, so I adjusted the overall shadow setting…

So, is the final result better? Who knows? It’s all a matter of subjective choice, I suppose, and perhaps many people wouldn’t notice, or care, about the difference. Or they might just look at this final result, shrug, and say, “Eh. It’s okay.” Well, anyway, I like it better … and since I’m the one who has to live with the results, in the long run, I suppose that’s what’s most important…

By the way, the original version of the photo can be found here on Flickr.


This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of “interesting” people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some “sympathetic” pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, far more people who are not so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.

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