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Suspicious couple on a park bench

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posted by Ed Yourdon alias Ed Yourdon on Monday 18th of May 2015 10:53:29 AM

Ummm ... yes, this is a couple -- though it's hard to tell how serious and long-lasting the relationship is. Indeed, it could just be a casual friendship ... who am I to judge? The young woman seems wrapped up in the display shown on her smartphone; but the young man has spotted me taking his photo, and does not seem to be very happy about it. I can't help wondering if I would see the same couple here a week from now, a month from now, or a year from now ... ******************************** I am fascinated by the couples I see out on the street, and have decided that I should devote a Flickr album to show you some of the examples I’ve seen. It’s only been the past couple of days that I’ve decided to focus on couples specifically, so it will be a month before I feel that I can review and edit the new photos I’ve taken, without being too subjective about what I like and dislike. In the meantime, I’ll go through the photos I’ve already taken—which extends back over 45 years—to see which couple-related photos look worthy of bringing to your attention. Why am do I find couples so interesting? The simple answer is: public displays of affection. I’m a sucker for situations where I see a couple embracing, hugging or kissing; and I can’t help smiling even when I see an ordinary couple walking down the street, holding hands. Sometimes it’s even more subtle: it may be only the body language that shows you something special is going on. Indeed, sometimes I have to be very careful: the mere fact that two people are walking side-by-side on a crowded street does not necessarily mean that they even know each other, let alone that they are a formal couple. But you can usually tell by watching for a few seconds: even if they are not holding hands, a “real" couple will tend to adopt a common stride, and they’ll move their legs and feet in tandem. Sooner or later, one of them will look at the other; or one of them will reach across and grab his/her partner’s hand. Sometimes it’s not the affection that catches my interest, but the individuals themselves. If it’s two beautiful people, I can’t stop help staring in amazement and appreciation. And if it’s two ugly people, I often think to myself, “Thank goodness the two of you found each other!” Sometimes one of them is beautiful, and the other one is not; and then I find myself thinking, “What on earth is he doing with her?” Or, obviously, the converse: “What on earth is she doing with him?” Sometimes the situation does not cry out, “These two don’t belong together,” but merely, “Who on earth would have predicted that these two would have found each other? I wonder how that ever happened?” Of course, the very term “couple” can be a little tricky these days — especially in a large, multicultural city like New York. Most of the couples that I see are old-fashioned traditional “straight” couples; but more and more of the couples are gay pairs, of one persuasion or another. I’m delighted that the gay couples look happy and unembarrassed; and I’m even happier that nobody (at least here in NYC) pays any attention to them. Indeed, my definition of “couples” is broader and more general than just two adults who have some kind of relationship. I’m equally interested in couples that consist of parent and child, or brother and sister, or even two friends who get along well but who may not have any romantic association at all. And it doesn’t have to be a twosome: three or four close friends, or a parent with several children, or any other reasonable combination, is still something I’m likely to notice and photograph. So I’ll start this album by adding any existing couples that I’ve already photographed in the past (and who have thus appeared in one or more other Flickr albums of mine), and will add some notes to indicate why I think they are an “interesting” couple. That should keep me busy for a while, and within a few weeks, I’ll start adding “new” couples that I’ve seen on the street, and that I’ve decided photograph primarily they are couples. If you see any of my other Flickr photos that you think should be included here, please let me know. ********************************* As I wrote in another Flickr set a few years ago, you can be reasonably sure that there will be lots of interesting people to photograph in Central Park if you happen to visit when on a weekend when the weather is nice. My typical plan, on such photo expeditions, is to walk through and around several different parts of the park -- in order to see different groups of people, and also to take advantage of different scenes and backdrops. But it means that I don't spend very much time in any one place, and most of my shots end up being "ad hoc" in nature, with almost no planning, preparation, framing, or composition. On this particular weekend in mid-April, I decided to restrict my wandering to just one area -- the "Great Lawn" that's more-or-less in the center of the north-south expanse of the park. I walked around the sidewalk perimeter of the large grassy area, starting at the north end (because I had entered the park at 86th Street), heading down to the south end by the Delacorte Theater and the Belvedere Castle, and then back north again to my starting point. Actually, I went around the same loop two or three times before I got bored and went home ... I had a 24-200mm zoom lens on my Sony RX-10 camera while I was walking, and while that made it relatively easy to capture some interesting scenes of people out in the middle of the lawn, as well as people just a couple feet away from me. Normally, I would just shrug and mutter to myself, "Well, that's the way it goes&quot. For most of the walk,I set the lens to its maximum wide-angle setting, and take advantage of quick, unfocused, wide-angle "hip shots" whenever there was something interesting nearby that I had to shoot quickly. When I got home, I decided to take a quick look at the Wikipedia article about the Great Lawn, to see if there was anything special that I needed to mention in these notes. I didn't expect to find much, because -- as far as I knew -- it had always been part of Central Park, and had always been the same. To my surprise, I found that that was definitely not not the case. Indeed, today's Great Lawn is situated on a flat area that was occupied by the 35-acre "Lower Reservoir" that was constructed in 1842 to supply water to the residents of the city. After the Croton-Catskill reservoir system was completed, the Lower Reservoir became redundant -- but political battles ensued for several decades before the city finally settled on a plan for an oval lawn. That plan basically fell apart because of the Depression, and the open area was filled with a "Hooverville" of improvised shacks for quite some time. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia finally brought in the legendary Robert Moses (the visionary force behind so many other parks around New York City and the rest of the state) to implement the plan -- and it was essentially finished in 1934. And there's more to the history, too, but I'll let you read that on your own if you're interested. (You might be interested to know, for example, that in 1995, Pope John Paul II held an open-air mass for 125,000 on the Great Lawn. Yes, it is that big!) In any case, I finished my third loop around the park, went home and uploaded several hundred photos, which I've winnowed down to the ones you'll find in this set...

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  • Published 12.04.21
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