Monthly Archives: June 2013

Travel Theme: Sculpture

By Vladimir Brezina

IMGP2678 cropped smallAilsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Sculpture.

Her own examples start with man-made sculptures, but conclude with her “favourite sculptures [that] come from the natural world… sculpted by wind… and water…”

Here is a sculpture that we came across recently that seems poised between the two worlds, being both man-made and sculpted by natural forces, wind, water, and sun…

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And in the morning…

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On North Captiva Island, Florida, during our kayak trip down the Gulf Coast of Florida in April (see here and here).

And speaking of beach sculptures, check out this one, courtesy of our friends 2 Geeks @ 3 Knots!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Companionable. One interpretation was here; here’s another one.

In the bird world, as in the human—

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Companionable.

Rafted up companionably for lunch…

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Another interpretation of “Companionable” is here.

Yay Coney Island Mermaid Parade!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

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“Yay, kitty cat!”  the little girl in front of us yelled. The woman in the parade stopped and smiled. She was wearing a brown fur costume—perhaps too warm for this sunny June day—and a button nose. Whiskers striped her cheeks.

DSC_0370 cropped small“She’s a friendly sea lion,” another woman said. Of course! The friendly sea lion danced over to the line of kids. “Would you like to pet my flippers?” she asked.

Shyly, the kids did. Then they went back to shouting at the weird, wacky, and wonderful array of costumed creatures before us: “Yay bunny rabbit!” “Yay green lady!” “Yay guy on stilts!”

We were at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, an annual festival celebrating Coney Island (“America’s Playground”)—and more generally, celebrating Brooklyn, New York City, sunshine and summer, the ocean, gays, straights, recovery from Sandy, families, friends, and fun.

It almost didn’t happen this year. Hurricane Sandy devastated Coney Island, and the not-for-profit that has run the parade since 1983, Coney Island USA, was over $100,000 in the hole. The nonprofit used to get most of the funds to put on the parade from its museum and performance studio, which was demolished by Sandy.

In a last-ditch attempt to keep the parade going, Coney Island USA launched a Kickstarter campaign—which netted over $117,000. Enough to keep the show going on.

DSC_0609 cropped smallAnd enough to generate a wonderful sense of celebration. Coney Island is back, bigger, better, wackier, and wilder than ever. This year’s parade really spotlighted the reinvention of Coney Island from nostalgic landmark to au-courant hotspot—perfectly blending the traditional and the cutting edge. (Exhibit A:  The only float sponsored by a national brand was sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon—the lowbrow canned brew favored by Brooklyn hipsters everywhere. Go figure!)

The kids in front of us had certainly gotten the message. They loved everything about the parade, and weren’t shy about asking the paraders to perform: “Burn some rubber!” they shouted at the vintage cars, glittering in the early-summer sun. (The drivers obligingly did.)

DSC_0620 cropped small“Play your horn!” they shouted at a saxophone-wielding participant. (He did.) And of course, “Over here! Over here!” they shouted at the paraders who tossed beads, candy, and toys at the onlookers.


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And the kids didn’t seem to be too impressed by the eye-boggling array of nipple pasties, codpieces, and jiggling buttocks. Mermaids and their consorts require very little clothing, so creatively embellished nudity is one of the hallmarks of the Mermaid Parade. But it’s not something the kids seemed to care much about, one way or the other.

DSC_0654 cropped smallInstead, they applauded anything and everything, indiscriminately.

“Yay police!” they shouted out at one uniformed NYPD officer, who shot them a puzzled look, then grinned and waved.  Although the parade was well-patrolled, the officers almost seemed unnecessary—I’ve never been in a crowd that large where the overwhelming mood was so cordial and friendly. (The day of the parade is informally called by the NYPD “Coney Island’s Crime-Free Day”.)

Vlad took almost 2000 photos during the two-hour parade. See below for a gallery of the best photos.

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DSC_0678 cropped smallAnd when it ended, we made our way onto the packed beach so I could dip a toe into the ocean, then headed back for the subway ride home.

At the gates to the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue subway stop, we got one last surprise: As we went to add more money to our metro cards, a cop waved us through the open gates next to the turnstile. “Subway’s free today,” he said.

“Yay, police!” indeed.

And YAY Coney Island Mermaid Parade!

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Photography 101: Viewing the World with a Photographer’s Eye, II

<— Previous in Photography 101

This is the third installment of Photography 101.


Next in Photography 101 —>

The Daily Post

In part one of “Viewing the World with a Photographer’s Eye,” photographer Ming Thein talked about the basics of what makes a good photograph. In today’s part two, he takes a look at the little things you can do to make your images stronger — shot discipline, selection — as well as common mistakes and things to practice for the future.

There’s the small matter of shot discipline to think about. If you’ve ever wondered why some people’s images look crisper and punchier, it’s probably because they’re taken care the whole way through the image-making process. Shot discipline covers everything from eliminating camera shake to choosing the optimum apertures, processing RAW files and saving uncompressed versions. It also extends outside the technical disciplines to editing, and this isn’t the same as post processing (or what’s commonly thought of as “Photoshop”).

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Thank You, NYC Swim

By Vladimir Brezina

IMGP7910 cropped small 2Unlike Johna, I’ve been reluctant to write too much about myself on Wind Against Current. Who would want to read that stuff?  And now I don’t have to write anything—NYC Swim has done it for me.

In each issue of their Cross Currents Newsletter, they profile a particular swimmer, or sometimes a volunteer, such as a kayaker, who has worked extensively with them. And so the latest issue of the newsletter features a piece entitled Volunteer of the Week: Vladimir Brezina

It’s got something about what I do when I am not kayaking, or blogging. So, if you want to read such stuff, there it is! :-)


By Vladimir Brezina

Last night we had a minor bit of fun awaiting the “super” Supermoon.

We looked up the time of moonrise—8:40 PM, just after sunset. And we looked up the direction in which the Moon should appear at moonrise—115 degrees true. This number was very pleasing, since it happens to be more or less the direction in which our apartment looks out over the East River.

But our view of the horizon is by no means complete. There are quite a few tall buildings around ours that block the view. Would the moon rise behind one of these, or in a gap between them? I suppose we could have gotten out the compass… But we preferred to wait and be surprised.

And there is was! It appeared in one of the gaps.

Astronomical predictions are wonderful, but you also need luck…

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Weekly Photo Challenge: The World Through My Eyes

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is The World Through Your Eyes.

Kayaking through New York Harbor, you never know what you’ll see…

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Travel Theme: Ripples

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Ripples.

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By Vladimir Brezina

The Summer Solstice has just occurred, so— Happy Summer!

And the livin’ is easy…

(Of course, Happy Winter! to those in the Southern Hemisphere :-) )