I Can’t See New York

Seventeen years ~
Feels like a lifetime,
And yesterday ~
We remember

In some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s been seventeen years since September 11. It seems like an age ago – it was more than half my lifetime ago now, in fact. The world has changed so much.

And yet in other ways it barely feels like much time has passed at all. I still remember seeing it so clearly on television; watching the second plane crash, the towers fall. The horror, the shock, the disbelief.

Perhaps that is the way of historic moments though. In searing themselves into our consciousness, they change us, change the world. And so when we think of them it’s almost like time continues to stand still, even after so long.

I wanted to do something to mark the day besides a short poem, so I thought I would share a song as well. Tori Amos is one of my favourite artists and it was actually through this song, I Can’t See New York, that I discovered a lot of her more modern music.

It’s from the 2002 album Scalet’s Walk, which is about a young woman’s journey from one side of America to the other, exploring Native American history and learning about political extremism and American culture, as well as a thousand other things.

The album is a masterpiece and as Amos’s protagonist approaches the end of her journey, she puts her on a plane above New York, circling above ash and dust, confused and terrified as a plane crashes and 9/11 unfolds.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful song and I’ve always thought one of the most powerful songs about that day. So many years later it still captures that awful sense of confusion and sadness so very well.

My thoughts to everyone in the US today.

Haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Rise to Save Our Coast

Rise for Climate Newcastle Panorama

Rise for Climate Newcastle Panorama

The Rise for Climate event was on this Saturday, September 8. You may have seen some of the news reports about it over the weekend but if you didn’t, Rise for Climate saw hundreds of cities and towns around the world join together to hold peaceful protests and rallies calling on the world’s leaders to take action on climate change.

It drew some huge crowds around the world, particularly in the US and San Francisco where thousands marched ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in San Francisco next week.

Here in Newcastle, the RISE to Save Our Coast rally at Newcastle’s beautiful Bar Beach was organised by Stop Seismic Testing Newcastle and was attended by hundreds of people from all across Newcastle and the Hunter. It was a great event and the energy was fantastic despite it being a very cold and windy day.

Originally I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to the event as I had plans in Sydney for the weekend. But I ended up having to raincheck and in the end it worked out well as I was able to attend after all.

I shot the rally with a couple of other members of the photo group I’m part of and it was a busy hour of shooting but a lot of fun. It was very overcast and damp which was challenging at times but the atmosphere was amazing regardless and the clouds actually gave a nice soft, moody light that really suited the feel of the event.

Afterwards I went to a McDonald’s nearby and frantically edited some of the photos on my laptop to upload as soon as I could. We wanted to get them up within an hour if possible so the rest of the world could wake up to the event – it was tight but we just managed it. I don’t think I’ve ever edited so fast in my life.

I’m pretty happy with how the photos came out. I’d never shot an event like this before and I think most came out well and I definitely learnt a lot. On top of that this was only the second time I’d used my new camera so in the midst of running around like a demented chicken, I was still trying to work out how everything on the camera worked. Note to self: maybe don’t switch camera systems right before an event next time, CJ.

More importantly, though, it was great to be a small part of a cause I really believe in. I’m a pragmatist so I don’t expect the world to change overnight but unless we as citizens speak up and call for change, there is no incentive for our leaders and politicians to ever act decisively on climate change (or any issue). I see events like this as a vital part of that.

And, hopefully, part of leaving the world a better place for our children and grandchildren to live in.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Central Street Revisited

Central Street Revisited

Central Street Revisited

Just a day, just an ordinary day
Just trying to get by
Just a boy, just an ordinary boy
But he was looking to the sky
~ Ordinary Day, Vanessa Carlton

I took this photo about a year ago during a day trip to Sydney. It’s of one of my favourite spots for street photography in the Sydney CBD, Central Street, a little avenue opposite the Event cinemas on George Street.

I’ve taken several photos there over the years, including this one which is one of my favourites. It’s a great little spot to go back to as the scene is always changing and there’s always something new and interesting to photograph.

I was quite happy with how this one turned out. It’s very simple but captures a slice of ordinary life that I find really interesting and I like the tones and textures as well.

The area looked very different the last time I was down as well with all the construction going on at the moment. I’ll have to get a couple of photos of that too.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2017

Golden Trees

6CE7DCD8-AE7D-4E84-B7DF-33862D406041

Never have I seen
A tree or lake
That could not take
My breath away

Beautiful light on the Newcastle foreshore last Sunday afternoon. I was heading to the ocean baths to shoot the sunset and stopped quickly to shoot this scene on the way. The light was amazing… I was definitely lucky to be in the right place at the right time!

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Float Your Boat 2018

Last weekend was the second edition of Lake Macquarie’s Float Your Boat event. It was a lot of fun and seems to be getting bigger and better each year!

For the first night I went along with my photo group to Marmong Point Marina for the start of the event and then on to the Toronto foreshore to capture the boats in action, and then on the second night I caught them near where I live in Belmont.

The photos were challenging as shooting moving objects at night is quite difficult but they came out well overall. I think I learnt a lot from shooting the event last year and it really helped me this time. I’m very happy with them.

Both nights were a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to next year’s event. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

The Leaning Tree

I am like a tree
The wind blows me to and fro
But still I stand tall

I spotted this tree on the Newcastle foreshore while shooting the sunset last week. I thought the way it was leaning was interesting and I really liked the way it framed the scene and the dying light.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2018

The 4th Awakens

CJ and the Stormtroopers

Sometimes I wish
I was a child again,
Seeing magic
With new eyes

The Stormtroopers

I was out shopping earlier and passed some of the Southern Cross Garrison outside The Empire Coffee Co at Charlestown Square.

One of the cafe’s lovely staff took the photo with me in it and the stormtroopers were kind enough to pose for a quick snap afterwards too.

It was was great fun seeing them there and fantastic seeing so many kids going up and chatting and taking photos. Definitely brought a big smile to my face.

Happy Star Wars Day!

Stormtroopers in Black and White

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Pinny Beach at Dusk

Pinny Beach at Dusk

Purple skies
Clear water –
Memories of another life
Long ago

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago. I had been planning to arrive for a sunset shoot but I ended up being slightly late and missed it. The dusk was still beautiful though and I think the photos turned out well anyway as the light was so interesting.

It was a bit of a strange photowalk for me as this part of Pinny Beach actually adjoins Caves Beach, the suburb in Lake Macquarie where my mother and I stayed with my grandparents after we had to leave Sydney following my father’s suicide attempt.

It was actually almost exactly five years to the day that we left Sydney when I took these photos and going back was a bit surreal. Caves Beach is a beautiful, peaceful place but it was not a happy time and I still see echoes of our experiences there when I walk around, particularly of our early days there and my grandparents’ dementia.

In retrospect I probably should have picked a different day and week to go but I’m glad these photos came out of it at least. Photography has been one thing that has really helped me to process and heal during these last five years… it’s very cathartic and I’m glad that I could capture the beauty there that day. Five years ago I probably wouldn’t have been able to recognise it and I guess that shows how far I’ve come.

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Nobody Knows

Self-Portrait in Black and White

Nobody knows the world is ending
Nobody knows we’re all alone
Nobody knows how we got here
Nobody knows the way back home

Nobody knows the pain you live with
Nobody knows the masks you wear
Nobody knows the promises you’ve broken
Nobody knows the scars you bear

Did you think love would save you?
Did you think everything would just work out?
Don’t you know life’s not like that?
Don’t you know what it was all about?

Nobody knows if Jesus is coming
Nobody knows if God is dead
Nobody knows the clock is ticking
Nobody knows the end is up ahead

Nobody knows what it has cost you
Nobody knows the lies you tell
Nobody knows how hard it is to keep going
Nobody knows how far you fell

Did you think you would find forgiveness?
Did you think you would explain it all away?
Don’t you know some things can’t be forgiven?
Don’t you know there’s nothing you can say?

Nobody knows the war is coming
Nobody knows it’s already too late
Nobody knows the game is over
Nobody knows how to change their fate

Nobody knows the prayers you whisper
Nobody knows the secrets you keep
Nobody knows everything you’ve lost
Nobody knows why you weep

Did you think it was going to be easy?
Did you think you would just start again?
Don’t you know your sins have to be paid for?
Don’t you know there was a price, even then?

Nobody knows how the inmates took over
Nobody knows who’s running the show
Nobody knows who’s going to save us
Nobody knows how the future will go

Nobody knows why I still love you
Nobody knows why I hate you too
Nobody knows why it’s so hard to forgive
Nobody knows what we’ve been through

Nobody knows
No nobody knows

Photo: Self-Portrait in Black and White © CJ Levinson 2016
Poem licenced under Creative Commons