Birthday Breakfast at Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette

Before COVID-19, Bhavna and I dined at Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette at least twice a month, usually on a Sunday morning. We introduced Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette to family members, and it became part of their regular dining rotation. Post-COVID-19, we are restarting our early morning breakfast routine. Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette is back on my Sunday calendar at 7:30 AM.

Friday 18 November 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

The first meal I had at Aunt Chubby's was the Grits and Greens. I had mine served with an egg on top and a few strips of bacon. It quickly became my favourite. I used to be able to order it every day of the week. But for unknown reasons, Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette now serves my favourite, Grits and Greens, on weekends only.

Friday 18 November 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

Friday, 18 November 2022, was my 56th birthday. I did not have Grits and Greens.

Aunt Chubby's Luncheonette · Friday 18 November 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

The Edge at Hudson Yards

Bhavna and I experienced spectacular panoramic views of the New York City skylines from The Edge, a 100-floor iconic new skyscraper in the Hudson Yards section of Manhattan.

Bhavna and I experienced seeing the panoramic views of Manhattan and Jersey City skylines from The Edge, a 100-floor iconic new skyscraper in the Hudson Yards that rises 345 metres (1,131 feet) high1 and dominates the skyline of Manhattan’s West Side.

Since New Jersey Transit runs a slower schedule on weekends, we drove in, braving the traffic into New York City via the Lincoln Tunnel. I found parking on W 31st Street. Looking skyward, we could see the building in the distance as we started walking.

The tall buildings in Manhattan often interfere with GPS signals. I got turned around somehow, ending up at the entrance to the Peloton Studios building on W 33rd Street. No worries. After a quick chat with a security guard, we walked around the block to the entrance to 30 Hudson Yards.

Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

Hudson Yards is an area of Manhattan that has undergone a 400-year-long evolution from a wetland to the current residential and commercial neighbourhood for which it is known. Hudson Yards was first referred to as a “Slaughterhouse” because of the many slaughterhouses built along the Hudson River waterfront in the 18th century. The area became known as “Hudson Yards” after Isaac Moses purchased the land in 1810 to create the Hudson River Railroad. The railroad allowed for improved transportation of goods to the docks and ferry terminals in the area. In the early 20th century, the rail yards declined in use, and the area became known for its warehouses and manufacturing plants. The neighbourhood was gentrified in the late 20th century, transforming old rail lines into High Line Park, a popular destination for residents and tourists alike.

Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

Our entry to the building took us through a multilevel indoor mall, which to me felt similar to the Mall at Short Hills or Bridgewater Commons. Bhavna and I entered an elevator on the third floor that took us to another floor, where we passed through security. They directed us through a hallway with LCD signs that explained the history of the building with future expansion plans. We entered another elevator, which zipped us up to the Sky Deck, a glass-enclosed observation area.

Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

We were immediately stunned by the awe-inspiring view from the outdoor observation deck. We could see north toward The Bronx, east toward Brooklyn and Queens, and southwest toward Jersey City and Hoboken. The glass leans out slightly, allowing visitors to lean out and look down on the city streets below. The glass walls and glass floor of the skyscraper offer stunning views of the cityscape below.

Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

I’m not good with heights, so I hesitated to go near “the edge” and the glass floor. But I overcame my issues to document Bhava doing what my mind would not let me do.

I struggled to take a selfie with the Fuji X-T3, but luckily we met a brother and sister visiting The Edge for the first time. They asked me to take their photograph and then offered to take our photograph in return.

Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

The Edge has 102 floors, various office spaces, luxury residences, and retail stores. It boasts an expansive lobby, a fitness centre and spa, and two restaurants with terrace seating. The building is home to many world-class amenities, including a luxury hotel, high-end retail stores, and state-of-the-art event space.

In addition to its incredible height, Edge at Hudson Yards stands out for its The Edge Climber, an interactive art installation that takes visitors up the building’s exterior. This climbable structure is made of aluminium and stainless steel. Bhavna later decided she wanted to try it for the dare, but the tickets were already sold out. Next time, perhaps.

Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

We spent almost three hours at The Edge, leaving just as the sun set over Jersey City. I have finally completed visiting all three significant attractions at Hudson Yards. The High Line park was my first and most frequently visited attraction, and I walked to the top of The Vessel art piece for the first time last summer.

Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR
Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR
Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR
Hudson Yards
Saturday 29 October 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR

  1. The Empire State Building is 443 metres (1,454 feet). ?

My Best Images From 2021

Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photography project

It is another new year and time for the annual round-up of my favourite previous year’s images. Once again, Brent Huntley has invited photographers to participate in his yearly Top Images from the Photography and Travel Community photography project. It's a year-in-review project, and photographers are encouraged to choose their top "10(ish)" images, publish them to a website, and submit the link to Brent for inclusion in a photography blogroll. You can review all the Best of the Year submissions or just the 2019 and the 2020. It's a fun way to review the year in pictures with far away (and near) photography enthusiasts, and each year I discover interesting photography blogs to add to my RSS reader.

This post also aligns with the Lens-Artists Challenge #180 – Favorite Images of 2021.

Selecting just ten photographs from the thousands I made this year is challenging and even more so by the ongoing global pandemic, limiting travel and public experiences. I spent even less time outdoors in 2021 than I did in 2020. Most of these photographs are not to my usual standards as you would expect. As a friend used to say, these photographs are the cream of the “crap”. My choices below are based on my emotional connection to each image.

Waves | 4 February, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

At the end of 2020, my contract with my last client ended. In June of 2021, I continued to work remotely but for a different client. I had much time to explore the waves of emotions crashing over me. The future continued to feel “unsettled”.

people running in snow while snowing
Winter | 7 February, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

Winter brought a lot of snow, much more than I have experienced in recent memory. I was still unemployed, there was no vaccine, and I was challenged to assemble the words to express my feelings.

woman smiling
25 years together | 4 May, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8

This year, Bhavna and I celebrated 25 years of marriage, a bright spot in a year that would continue to be the “new normal”.

kids playing
No worries | 23 May, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

After the “new normal” school year that these kids have had, it was great to see the return of some “normal” activities. Given how long I went without employment, I was still feeling out of sorts, but I was happy that I had finally signed a contract. I was still feeling blue but happy for the green.

Sir Alphonso Mango | 8 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Our cat Sir Alphonso Mango is now almost two years old. My youngest daughter, Kiran, is attempting to complete her studies at Oberlin College sooner. She will be away for all semesters this year and the next. I have set up an office with Alphie as my daytime companion in her room. He enjoys listening in on the Teams conference calls.

Ray's Reserve cocktail
Ray's Reserve | 19 June, 2021 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back dual camera 6mm f/2

With little else to do, Bhavna and I spent the summer outdoors at some of our “safe spaces”, including the Brick Farm Tavern, Flounder Brewing and Sourland Mountain Spirits. These spaces are our "away” from home spaces. I just loved the colour of this cocktail, Ray’s Reserve, named for the distillery’s founder, Ray Disch.

Rahul | 27 June, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

The best thing about being vaccinated is that we could finally hug each other and regain some of the intimacy denied during the lockdown. I had so missed these summer BBQs with family. My nephews were sporting new haircuts, and I had to capture the smiles. When adapted to my Fuji X-T2, the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 is an excellent portrait lens. Look at that bokeh!

Dragonfly | 3 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

In 2019, I started getting into bird photography, photographing warblers with a rented XF100-400mmF4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR. I was smitten and planned to buy this lens to use in 2020. Inspired by Stephen Gingold and local photographer David Mathre, I rented this lens again and went out chasing dragons. I want this lens but struggle with the $1800 price tag.

woman smiling
Bhavna | 10 July, 2021 | Minolta XD-11 | MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2

I continued to relearn 35mm film photography. I had more keepers in 2021. I grew weary of the increasing cost of 35mm film, film developing and scanning. I bought an Epson V600 film scanner and learned how to scan and colour-balance the film myself. I am saving about $8-$10 per roll of film. I have also limited myself to using 35m film stock priced under $10 per 36 exposure roll. My current favourite is Kodak Pro Image 100.

Flounder Brewing at Carriage Farm
Flounder Brewing at Carriage Farm | 16 July, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T2 | MD ROKKOR-X 50mm F1.7

Some old spaces moved to new locations. After years in a tiny industrial garage, Flounder Brewing finally completed the restoration of the 150-year-old farmhouse at Carriage Farm. The new site in the farm country in Hillsborough is fantastic. The taproom only has a few ales, but Bhavna and I invited our friend Ed Velez as our “plus one” when the brewery had a soft opening weekend for Delta House members only. Having a beer at Flounder Brewing became an almost weekly habit.

Note: I dropped and broke my Fuji X-T2 in August and replaced it with a Fuji X-T3.

ababoned freight car in Lambertville
Look | 10 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

This is my favourite image of the year. On a drizzly autumn day in October, I went on a quest. I had read about and heard about an abandoned freight car on some railroad tracks in Lambertville. The freight car has seen better days but has inspired multiple graffiti artists.

Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve | 16 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8

We hiked a lot less than we did last year. Maybe it was some pandemic-fueled ennui, but we lost our motivation. But, one weekend, while exploring Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve, Pettoranello Gardens, and Community Park North, I saw a family cross a narrow wooden bridge I had not noticed before. I had promised Bhavna we would go hiking this weekend, so later that day, we returned to Billie Johnson Mountain Lakes Nature Preserve and explored one of the loop trails. We had so much fun hiking and exploring this new space.

Autumn Macro | 17 October, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 + Fujinon MCEX-16

"It's for you", Bhavna yelled from the kitchen. I opened the package, saw the [Fujinon MCEX-16]] macro extension tube, and was upset and excited. I was upset because had I checked the mail sooner, I could have used the extension tube to photograph the fall berries and wildflowers I saw during the previous day’s hike. But I was excited because, with winter arriving, I had the means to transform ordinary things into extraordinary photographs. I experimented on some autumn leaves.

Aunt Chubbie's at Christmas
Aunt Chubbie's at Christmas | 7 December, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Before the pandemic, before taking to a nearby trail for a hike., I had a semi-regular habit of breakfast at Aunt Chubby’s. The restaurant re-opened for indoor dining earlier in the year, but Bhavna and I did not feel comfortable dining indoors until after our Pfizer vaccine booster. We started to feel almost normal.