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must see :: Bill Cunningham New York

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“Using the low-key approach that shapes Cunningham’s column, Press works up a portrait that’s as raw, gentle, funny, and—in the end—irresistible as the pictures themselves.” —Slate

If you don’t follow fashion you could be forgiven for not knowing who Bill Cunningham is. Forgiven—but not off the hook. There is even less of an excuse now that a fascinating documentary has been made about his life and work. In Bill Cunningham New York (Zeitgeist Films) Director Richard Press has captured a truly charming character who could have easily been overlooked by the wider public—and what a shame that would have been.

Although famously praised by Vogue’s Anna Wintour and given front row seating to all the fashion shows in the US and abroad, Bill, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer, is not one of these ascot-donning, private car-hiring types. Instead, this octogenarian can be seen riding his bicycle through New York City traffic in a blue smock normally worn by Parisian street cleaners—both of which point to his ascetic lifestyle beautifully captured on screen.

It might be easier to think of Bill not as a fashion photographer for one of the largest newspapers in the world, but as someone he more closely resembles: a street photographer. All day he roams the city looking for themes: hats, flowers, colors, patterns, whatever appears to be trending at the moment. His photos are candid and rarely, if ever, posed.

Every Sunday in the New York Times Style Section, Bill’s thematic photos are collected and carefully arranged. The painstaking process, also given time in the film, is both humorous and endearing. Aside from the shots of ordinary, and sometimes extraordinary, people, Bill is the man behind the week’s gala event pictures. One’s heart melts when you hear Bill explain that he chooses which to go to based on the good of the organization, not on who is attending as one would assume.

This sharp divide between the notion of the fashion industry and one of its most-loved is what makes this film so compelling to those outside of this seemingly glamorous culture. Bill Cunningham is one of the most genuine characters I’ve ever seen, a humanizing force in a world viewed as vapid and materialistic. All should be grateful to Press for taking the time to capture him on film.

After you watch this documentary, you’ll never miss the Sunday Style section again.

Official Trailer

Now playing at the IFC Center  and Village Cinema East through Thursday, June 16 and coming to Symphony Space starting June 12th

Official site
Slate review
Bill Cunningham’s New York Times page

Written by Gabrielle

June 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

things new yorkers like :: art school

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from the mission statement:

3rd Ward is an incubator for innovation and possibility. Our members come from all walks of life to realize their potential and find additional meaning in their lives through our supportive community and top-of-the-line creative resources, including photo studios, media lab, jewelry studio, wood & metal shops, and a huge education program.

Anyone can come to 3rd Ward to work, play, learn, grow and, ultimately, transform.

195 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY

:: [join in] ::

moviehouse :: every second sunday / doors.7pm . . . film.8pm / free
this series presents the best local filmmaking. music, drinks, snacks, and people to talk to.

sweatshop social :: every last monday / 7 to 10pm / $10 suggested donation
you bring fabric and 3rd Ward gives you sewing machines, more fabric, advice, beer, and music.

drink n draw :: every wednesday / 8 to 10:30pm / $15.person . . . $10.w friend . . . free for members
bring your drawing tools, they have the model and beer.

classes :: interdisciplinary courses in art, digital multimedia, photography, fabrication and craft.

3rd ward homepage

Written by Gabrielle

February 6, 2011 at 11:54 am

things new yorkers like :: natalie portman

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Written by Gabrielle

January 29, 2011 at 9:14 pm

things new yorkers like :: thievin’

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Written by Gabrielle

January 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

things new yorkers like :: hip hop

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since jay-z’s book decoded hit the streets in november the legendary hip hop artist has been doing, what seems like, limited publicity. two highlights from the media rounds have been his interview with terry gross on npr’s fresh air and the video of his appearance at the new york public library, where he was paired in conversation with philosopher, scholar, and blues man cornel west. the talk was moderated by nypl event curator, paul holdengräber.

nypl link will open with sound. both are available for free audio download from iTunes.

Written by Gabrielle

December 23, 2010 at 8:54 am

things new yorkers like :: holiday markets

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union square holiday market
until december 24th
11am to 9pm daily / 11am to 4pm december 24

[more info]
Urban Space

Written by Gabrielle

December 17, 2010 at 10:33 am

woman about town

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Written by Gabrielle

December 7, 2010 at 7:59 pm

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things new yorkers like :: packin’

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Written by Gabrielle

December 4, 2010 at 9:50 am

photography :: what the f/stop?

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if you’re like me, you’ve put off learning the basics of manual photography way too long. all those numbers and decimal points: they make my brain hurt and my heart race. my eyes go blurry with each page, which often read like an eternity. automatic is fine by me, thanks—until now. it’s time. i can handle it. so can you. here’s what i’m starting with:

time of day: early morning and late afternoon produce long shadows, which make pictures more effective. but this doesnt mean you shouldn’t go out shooting at other times.

ISO: the sensitivity of the film. the more sensitive, the less light it needs; the less sensitive, the longer you need to keep the shutter open—not good for photographing things that move. my grandpa once told me about 800 speed film; it saved me from needing a tripod. the least sensitive i’ve seen, the one needing the most time with the lens open, is 100.

shutter speed: the shutter speed is one of the two basic exposure settings on your camera, the other being the lens opening which i get to next. shutter speed determines the amount of time you allow light through the opening of the shutter—how long you expose the film to light. remember your ISO number: the higher that number is, the less light you’ll need to produce a photo, which means you can snap away at faster shutter speeds. some cameras can go as fast as 1/8000 second (the standard unit for measuring shutter speed) and some can keep the shutter open for 30 seconds, a long time in the photo world. with the automatic setting, your camera will choose the best speed to try and capture a still image, read: not blurry. but what if you want something blurred? what if you’re off at the races and think a trail behind a horse would look pretty cool. the shutter speed will help you with this effect.

here’s the math: as you decrease the shutter time, making the snap quicker, you cut the amount of light hitting the film in half. as you increase the shutter time, holding it open longer, you double the amount of light hitting the film. this doubling and halfing will, i’m sure, mean something to me one day.

f/stop: this is the term used to indicate the opening of the lens. its other names, which are a bit more descriptive, are lens aperture and lens diaphragm. this determines the amount of light allowed to pass through the lens.

from largest opening to smallest, here are the most common f/stops: f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, and f/16. notice that the numbers on this one feel a bit counter-intuitive: when you increase the lens opening the number paired with the ‘f’ decreases and vice versa.

here’s the math on this one: as you let more light in by decreasing the f/stop number you double the amount of light hitting the film. as you slow the light coming in by increasing the number you increase the amount of light by half compared to what it was before.

reason to care: so far, the most intriguing reason to learn this stuff is called “depth of field”. depth of field is a way of saying what in your photo, from the foreground to the background, is in (sharp) focus. if you want a sharp foreground and a fuzzy background, set the f/stop to the largest opening—or the lowest number on the number line. to have the entire photo in focus, use a small lens opening, the smallest f/stop—or the highest number on the number line. and everywhere in between. see, fun. i’m sure the shutter speed plays a role in making sure you don’t overexpose or underexpose your work—go outside and figure it out.


Written by Gabrielle

November 22, 2010 at 10:01 am

Posted in how-to, photography

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things new yorkers like :: physics

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Written by Gabrielle

November 2, 2010 at 5:44 am

rabbit man

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Written by Gabrielle

December 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Posted in photography

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