Jake Egbert Photography Blog

Fleet Week 2012 #2 - Parade of Sails

For post number two I picked a few favorite shots of the other ships that participated in the parade of sails.

There were several other tall ships cruising the Hudson River with the Eagle this fine May morning (here's a list of most of the major participants). Each time we passed one of these ships our crew manned the rail, and their crew did likewise. I think the most impressive were the ships like the Dewaruci of Indonesia that had crew members waving in choreographed precision from high aloft in the rigging.

The Eagle led the procession into Manhattan beginning just south of the Verrazano bridge. Following us was the destroyer USS Roosevelt, which was the lead vessel in an impressive battle group that included several more destroyers and the LHD-1 Wasp. Circling the group were several small heavily armed Coast Guard vessels, insuring that nothing interfered with the parade.

My next post will focus more on the aerial portions of the event. Until then, check out the pics below or head over to the big gallery.

Lady Liberty through the rigging

The Dewaruci of Indonesia

The CUAUHTEMOC of Mexico

Pride of Baltimore II

The Gloria of Columbia

The Guayas of Ecuador

USS Roosevelt ahead of the rest of the battle group

USS Roosevelt passed under the Verrazano Bridge with the crew at the rail in their dress whites

The Verrazano Bridge

US Coast Guard RBM

The CUAUHTEMOC of Mexico

45-foot RBM.  Armed and dangerous!
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Fleet Week 2012 #1 - A Morning Ride

I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in late May when I was invited to spend the day aboard the USCGC Eagle during Fleet Week 2012 in Manhattan, NY. A friend of mine is an officer with the US Coast Guard and he happened to be assigned to the Eagle this summer. He invited me to ride along as a VIP while the Eagle led the Parade of Sails up the Hudson River! When he extended the invitation I really had to think long and hard about it... Ah, who am I kidding? I jumped at the chance. Immediately!

It should come as no surprise I had my camera along for the ride -- I came home with over 1,000 photos. With everything going on lately it has taken me a looooong time to get up the ambition needed to sort through and edit that many photos! The other item of note, photographically speaking, is that this was the last event that I photographed in .jpg format. Right after my cruise aboard the Eagle I switched to RAW format as an experiment. This was based, partially, upon on a conversation I had with a "serious" photographer on board the Eagle, and I haven't had any desire to switch back. RAW format chews up my hard drive and pushes the processing capabilities of my laptop, but it allows me a level of editing control that I just can't get with .jpg pics. In fact, it has been so long since I took these .jpg pictures aboard the Eagle that I found it very frustrating to go back and try to get the results I wanted now that I've been working in RAW for several months.

Since there are so many pics in total I plan to make a few posts highlighting my favorites by topic.

This post is really about getting myself, a civilian land lubber, on board a very cool tall ship early on the morning of May 23. So here goes...

Once I had accepted the invitation to ride along I received an email from a friendly Coast Guard public relations rep instructing me to arrive at the financial district of lower Manhattan by 6:30 AM. There a pair of 45-foot Coast Guard response boat-mediums (RBM) would begin ferrying VIPs out the to Eagle, lying at anchor just off the Statue of Liberty.

To ensure a timely arrival, I stayed the night at a hotel I Pricelined up near Times Square and then took the subway down to the WTC and my date with the Coast Guard. I arrived on time along with a sizable group. In fact, there were so many members of the press and other VIPs that I got to wait a couple of hours for my turn to board an RBM for my trip out to the Eagle. So I wandered the marina observing the endless stream of New Yorkers running, cycling, and walking their dogs while the sun rise reflected off of WTC 1.

After watching several boatloads of passengers make their way out to the distant Eagle it was finally my turn! I boarded the last RBM shuttle and once we cleared the marina they rev'd the twin 825 HP diesel engines and the financial district shrunk quickly behind us. I had a great view of the Eagle and the Statue of Liberty as we approached, however, I had a difficult time taking pictures because I thought it wise not to fall headlong into the Hudson River. I alternated snapping photos between other passengers and holding fast to the engine cowling to avoid taking a bath. I will say this, though, if you ever get the chance to ride a water taxi with a bow-mounted M240 machine gun, I highly recommend it!

We circled the Eagle and I made may way up a set of stairs to the deck, where I met my host for what promised to be an exciting day.

The Eagle is just visible in the distance along with the Statue of Liberty

One WTC rising through the Manhattan morning mist

Morning joggers reflected in the puddle of a leaking hydrant

North Cove Marina

Another view of One WTC

Eagle and the Statue of Liberty from North Cove Marina

A Coast Guard RBM loaded with VIPs heads for the Eagle

The shrinking Manhattan skyline

Lady Liberty over Eagle

My lens was not wide enough to get the whole ship (at least not shooting one handed from a moving RBM)

Good morning, Lady Liberty!

USCGC Eagle backed by the Jersey City skyline

Jersey on the left, Manhattan on the right, Eagle in the middle

One more of Lady Liberty, posing with our special water taxi (the one wearing that bright band of orange)

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Wall St. - Occupied

Ok, I think this might do if for photo posts about New York City for a while... We'll see.

On the day I encountered the Occupy protesters in September I took a walk down Wall Street past the New York Stock Exchange, still not expecting the barricades or the police presence that brought foot traffic to a near gridlock condition. The protest movement was still pretty new and the atmosphere outside of the exchange was electric. There were hundreds of police officers in the area and the expectation of trouble was palpable. I didn't see anything that approached violence, but I sure heard a lot of the local business people complaining about the crowds, the barricades, and the police presence.

Near the end of the trading day the intersection in front of the NYSE was kept clear except for police officers and limousines

To keep the street clear, all foot traffic was barricaded down to the narrow sidewalks

More cops than traders

A couple of NYPD's finest texting to maintain their sanity while guarding the bull

Tourists still lined up for photos with the bull, they just had to reach over a fence to do it

Freedom Tower on Sept. 21, 2011

Compare the progress on the new tower's construction in this shot taken on December 16, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street

On September 17, 2011 the Occupy Wall Street protest movement began in earnest in Zuccotti Park just a couple of blocks away from the New York Stock Exchange and the World Trade Center. On September 21, 2011 I wandered right through Zuccotti Park, completely unaware of the Occupy movement and the purpose behind the large group of protesters covering the entire city block.

Below are a few images that I think illustrate the experience.

From what I picked up by observation, I gather that I actually agree with some of the major points of the Occupy "agenda", whatever agenda really exists. I mean who doesn't side with those opposed to corporate corruption driven by greed. Mostly, however, it seemed like the movement was pretty much open to anyone with a beef against anything. I felt that if I were to sample any five protesters, I'd get five very different descriptions of what the movement was really about.

Most of the protesters appeared dedicated and energetic. They had covered most of the sidewalks surrounding their camp in the park with colorful and creative cardboard signs, some of which were carefully crafted, others of which were crudely scrawled in magic marker. There was a makeshift kitchen set up in the middle of the block and the "active" protesters were gathered toward the east end of the park right next to the bus stop. Old men played flutes, young men wearing joker makeup smoked hand rolled cigarettes of dubious composition, a large group of musicians played percussion on whatever they had available from snare drums, to buckets, to skate boards. More than one of the female protesters boldly wore... well, not much of anything, and friends, there are some things you just can't un-see. I learned there are also things you can't un-smell; this when I moved in close to a group of participants listening with rapt attention to an outspoken and zealous opinion leader wearing a red tie -- no showers in Zuccotti Park, I presume!

Overall, I guess I was left with an impression that the movement consisted largely of peaceful, unwashed, disorder.

My favorite sign of the day

Are you pretty enough?

Play your drum, or whatever else you have at hand


One Sign (Made Cheap!)

Where's Waldo... Don't look too closely or you might just spot someone smokin' something "medicinal". Oh, and a couple of unwashed naked people...

Some Wall Street types showed their contempt for the protesters by marching directly over the signs on display

Drawing inspiration from the Bible

The American Dream

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Empty Sky: NJ Sept. 11th Memorial

In keeping with my recent New York posts I continue with another. I suspect there are a few more yet waiting to be published...

In September of this year I had the opportunity to visit the Empty Sky: New Jersey September 11th Memorial at Liberty State Park. I come back to this area often as I lived in New Jersey for two years back in the mid 1990's and several months of that time were spent right here in Jersey City. I came to love the view of the Manhattan skyline visible from nearly everywhere in the eastern part of the state. I am still not used to the absence of the towers.

I was not aware of this memorial's existence prior to my arrival at the park. I just wanted to look at the city skyline and to let a friend of mine see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I like it, though. I'm sure I'll go back again, and likely more than once.

Reflecting on an empty sky where the towers once stood

1 World Trade Center or Freedom Tower as of September 2011

Beams from WTC

The two walls of the memorial are the same length as the base of the twin towers. The height of the walls reflects the proportion of the towers if they were lying on their sides.

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Trinity Church & Wall St.

On our recent trip to NYC we also visited the Wall Street area of Manhattan. We walked around and through Trinity Church and then headed down Broadway to see the iconic Wall Street sculpture Charging Bull. Unfortunately, the bull is still under constant police surveillance and barricaded to prevent anyone from approaching it. We walked back a few blocks until we could skirt the truck barricades and crowd-control fencing and walk past the front of the New York Stock Exchange, a tree that appears bigger than the one at Rockefeller Center, and Federal Hall.

Many of the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have moved on now that Zuccotti Park has been cleared out (eventually I may get around to posting some of the pictures that I happened to take during the first week of the protests back in September). Anyway, the police presence at the NSYE is considerably smaller now but the barricades there, just like at the bull, still remain in place. I suppose most of the cops have migrated north with the crowds flocking to Times Square and Rockefeller Center.

Trinity Church - Looking South on Broadway

Ashes from a thousand candles

Bull Pen -- The Charging Bull sculpture is guarded and fenced off from tourists

Now that's a Christmas tree

George Washington surveys the NYSE from the steps of Federal Hall

"Integrity Protecting the Works of Man" -- Pediment sculpture by John Quincy Adams Ward

Hello, there George

Trinity Church looking west up Wall Street

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9-11 Memorial

The evening before our latest trip to Manhattan, I logged in to the 9-11 Memorial website on the off chance that I might get reserved tickets to visit the site. I had tried and failed, on short notice, to get tickets in the past. We had to wait until after 4:30 PM, but we were able to get in without any trouble this time!

I wondered how my children would digest the experience as none of them are old enough to remember the day the towers fell. We've been to the site several times over the past ten years, and we watched several documentaries together as a family at the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. As a result, my children were very aware of the significance of the 9-11 Memorial during our visit this time. It is always a bit difficult for me to sit through any of the documentaries as it brings back vivid memories of the devastation that I felt on 9-11-2001 when I saw the beloved Manhattan skyline and so many lives changed forever. Somehow it is easier for me to visit the site than to relive the news footage of the events of that day. And, I think the memorial will bring necessary awareness for generations to come of what occurred that clear September morning.

One of the specials we'd seen was about the design of the memorial with its pools, waterfalls, and engraved names. The kids were very interested in the significance of each small detail designed into the memorial.

It was a beautiful, if cold night, and we toured the site with reverence. We searched for a few names that we'd learned from one of the documentaries on the computer terminals they have set up for just that purpose and we located the sections where those names are engraved. Unfortunately, the names we found all happen to be located on the north edge of the North Tower pool -- the only side closed due to the construction on the Freedom Tower.

The new tower is rising taller and taller into its place in the Manhattan skyline and its floors are all lit up in red, white, and blue as a backdrop to the memorial pools and the growing inner-city forest of swamp oaks. One of the highlights for all of us was the survivor tree now located just to the west of the South Tower pool.

We were all humbled by the experience of visiting this beautiful memorial to one of the most impactful tragedies in our shared lifetimes. Of the many, many pictures I took, the following were the ones selected by my kids as being the "best" and most meaningful representation of our visit. If you ever get the chance to visit the 9-11 Memorial, I certainly recommend you take advantage of it.

South Tower Pool

The nearest row of swamp white oaks marks to each pool delineates the actual footprint of the original towers

The twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man made waterfalls in North America

The Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center rises into the night sky

From the Memorial Jury's statement on selecting this design: "The 'Reflecting Absence' has made the voids left by the destruction the primary symbols of our loss"

The "Survivor Tree" is a callery pear that survived the destruction and was preserved for replanting.

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