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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

The New York City Empty Sky Memorial

All photos from this post, and more, can be viewed fullscreen here.

View photos of my 2015 visit to The National September 11th Memorial & Museum here.

September, 2000

In September, 2000 my family had gone on a trip making its way North along the Eastern seaboard.  One of the stops was in Liberty, New Jersey to see The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - we never went into Manhattan proper much to my disappointment.

This was WAY before I knew anything about photography - I just liked taking pictures on my little Kodak Advantix.

This is a picture I shot at age 12 in the year 2000 from the Northern side of Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey - now the current site of the Empty Sky Memorial.  I remember my parents bickering over whether "those two tall buildings are the Twin Towers or the World Trade Center."  I said I thought they were both; the same thing.  Fast forward a year, and everyone in the World knew the answer without a doubt.

It's incredible to me that I even have this picture, that I shot it myself.  I was 12.  The majority of my life has been post-9/11, working at IAD and DCA.  My entire aviation related career arc has directly resulted from that day in 2001.  This photo is a relic of a time before that; before the TSA and DHS existed, before all the post-9/11 security and societal changes that resulted.

Here is that photo I unwittingly took at age 12.

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September, 2018

This August I travelled to Rhode Island to visit my friend Alyssa on her birthday, however due to a need for flexible scheduling, I made the journey by car rather than flying this time. It occurred to me by doing this I could make a quick stop at Liberty State Park in Liberty, New Jersey and see the Empty Sky memorial, which I’d only learned of its existence about a year prior thanks to my friend Natalie (who happens to live just 5mi away in Weehawken - I got to visit her on my stop as well :-D). I knew it was the same spot I’d taken that photo as a 12 year old, but it wasn’t until the night before leaving I realized I could try and replicate that photo and compare the New York City skyline across 18 years of history. Before going to bed, I printed a scale copy of my 18 year old photo of the New York skyline (the original print would stay safely at home).

Remarkably, the weather was visually similar to that day in 2000. Textured overcast, but no fog obscuring skyscrapers’ upper floors. Inspecting the original picture, I counted 12 light poles visible, which would give me a good starting point to get me close to the same spot for that matching perspective. To my surprise, the park benches and even the trash cans hadn’t changed in all this time. In order to fit all 12 light posts in-frame, I walked back parallel to 13th light post from the end, and incredibly the perspective aligned almost perfectly - even the park benches lined up, though some trash cans moved, as you’d expect they would over the course of 18 years.

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I’d come here with a purpose, and to my surprise it took me longer to walk to this spot from my car than it did to fight the wind in correctly lining up my photograph in the shot. Next, I wanted to capture a modern view of the same angle. Taking these photos even required me a lower my camera a little bit to account for my shorter 12 year old stature.

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And here are the photos, 2000 and 2018, side-by-side. History in both pictures; the Twin Towers visible in 2000, and One World Trade Center erected adjacent to the empty sky where they once stood. Many other buildings have also sprung up across the skyline, and the freshly planted trees in my original picture are all grown up today.

Continue reading for more views of the New York City skyline later in this post.

Empty Sky

Next stop was the Empty Sky memorial, just steps away, visible in the righthand side of the photos above. Empty Sky was dedicated on September 10, 2011, the day before 9/11’s 10th anniversary. Designed by Jessica Jamroz and Frederic Schwartz, Empty Sky is comprised of twin 30ft tall walls spanning 208ft 10in engraved with the names of all 746 victims of the September 11th attacks; on one side, I beams from the Twin Towers stand solemnly - on the other, directly across the Hudson, lies Ground Zero, and the empty sky in the New York skyline where the Twin Towers had stood. The memorial is impressive at all times of day.

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New York City

New York’s sky today is still beautiful, just different. New buildings have sprung up, and One World Trade Center now watches over the city, with the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and 432 Park Avenue all overlooking the city uptown. The last five times I’ve been to this city, I’ve been in the city, so this was also happened to be my first opportunity to photograph New York’s cityscape since I was here at age 12.

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2018 National Night Out with the MWAA Police Department

Until only a few years ago I had never even heard of National Night Out.  I still don't know when it is until it is happening as it's not something that's usually on my radar.  That was the case again this year, when I went to DCA to photograph a newly opened store; though I knew the MWAA PD and FD would be participating in National Night Out whenever it was, I didn't realize it was that day until I arrived in the afternoon and they were just getting started... directly in front of the store I was on site to photograph.

After asking a few officers to kindly get the hell outta my shot, I completed the photoshoot I was there for, and then proceeded to stick around and check out the booths MWAA PD had set up.

 Why yes that  is  a $10,000 thermal scope.

Why yes that is a $10,000 thermal scope.

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2018 Virginia Gold Cup

Another year, and another Virginia Gold Cup in the books!

This was on my second Gold Cup, and it took a bit of convincing to get me to go again after last year's disastrous first attendance; I am happy to report that I did not get assaulted and threatened with physical violence by any random attendees like I did at last year's rainy mud-fest of a horse-race.  In fact, if you watched the Kentucky Derby today, the weather at that event mirrored the Gold Cup's weather one year ago.  Although it did sprinkle off and on as the afternoon went on, it was still much drier and enjoyable than the introductory fiasco from last year.

One benefit to being a muddy mess is it makes for dramatic pictures.  I admittedly was more focused on relaxing than capturing photos this year, and my placement during the event was at the beginning of the home-stretch, not at the finish line like last year; for those reasons, I feel last year's photos turned out more dramatic, but that's no problem.

Since I presented last year's muddy photos in grungy black and white, I am sharing this year's captures in color.  If you'd like to see all the photos in color and black and white (or even make a purchase), you can do so by viewing the gallery here.

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Arterra Wines

Burnt out from last year's rain, we had a rain contingency plan this year since the weather was forecasted to be spotty; after enjoying a nice picnic lunch and spectating several of the races, the rain started rolling in and we packed up to head to a nearby winery.  Being wine people, we'd visited quite a few of the nearest ones (Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn is a unanimous favorite), so with a bit of driving around we landed on Aterra Wines; a small, modern rustic barn tasting room with a selection of varietal and blended wines.  With bold, fruity flavors and low tannins, this winery's offerings are on the sweeter side, and wine drinkers of all places on the sweet / dry spectrum will find a refreshing Summer wine to enjoy with a snack here.  This hit the spot on a warm, rainy day!

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Upon leaving The Plains, we spotted a controlled burn on the mountain opposite us; it appeared to be burning piles of branches from felled trees, with the satisfying smell to accompany this educated guess.

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Katie's Cars and Coffee: April 28th, 2018

It's been almost two years since I visited Katie's (though I thought I went last Summer, however don't have any pictures from it).  It was nice to get out to a car show again; I went to the Ferrari Club of America Spring Thaw last week, but Katie's has offerings from every make, model, era, and style, so I find it more enjoyable.

A friend of mine is borrowing a tilt-shift lens for fun to learn how they work, so this time I brought along my under-loved TS-E 90mm f/2.8; Canon's first tilt-shift lens ever, first introduced in 1991, and the world's first telephoto length 35mm tilt-shift lens - at 90mm, this lens is designed for tabletop product photography, such as foods, but I've found use for it as a portrait lens, and in my wedding photography for capturing wedding rings.  As it turns out, the lens my friend was borrowing was Nikon's 28mm f/3.5 PC, which only features a shift adjustment; no tilt - the PC stands for Perspective Correction.  Perspective adjustments via shift are useful for architectural photography; any focus plane effects you see in the photos below are tilt only, as I don't have use for shift in these types of images, plus the effect of shift on this focal length has very few useful applications.

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The RTR Mustang was a spot I almost missed.

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The heavily modified 350Z got a lot of attention.  While it's not my taste, it was well built.  I gathered that this is an example build for a local performance garage (there was a matching Ford truck also at the show).

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Algonkian Regional Park

After Katie's, we met up with Imran and decided to go to Algonkian Regional Park to at least enjoy some of the nice weather, and play with the 28mm f/3.5 PC (Great Falls was too packed).  I still have not been hiking since reconstructive knee surgery in October, and this was also a good warm-up / test, since Algonkian is just a simple dirt path.  There happened to be a 50 mile / 50K / 10K / 5K race sponsored by The North Face going on while we were there, and the thought of such a distance alone makes my knee ache.  I had pushed myself running a 5K the day before (my limit right now seems to be two 5Ks per week), so my knee was already hurting before we even got there.  Though for day-to-day I am 100%, athletically my knee is still recovering.

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2018 Ferrari Club of America Spring Thaw

Spring has sprung (hopefully for good; no more freak April snow events please!) and that means cars and coffee events are about to pick up.  Kicking things off for the year is the Ferrari Club of America's Spring Thaw; a chance to get the cars hidden away in the garage over Winter out and stretch their legs some.

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The Testarossa was one of the cars that got me into cars; as a child, I had a 1:18 size red Testarossa toy car - this is my earliest memory of a specific childhood toy.

The Ferrari Testarossa is one of the most iconic cars for both Italian sports cars and the 80s as a decade.  Although it wasn't the only Ferrari in the show, many people remember the Testarossa from Miami Vice (although I am slightly too young to fall into this demographic).

Like most cars, the Testarossa underwent updates every few years; these small incremental changes can drastically change the value and desirability of a given example.  The very first Testarossas only had one mirror (distinctively mounted on the driver's side roofline), but this changed to a standard two-mirror design a few years into production.

The 512TR was the first major update to the Testarossa, and is often the most sought after model of Testarossa due to the increased power output and usability upgrades, such as improved clutch and shifter engagements.  The 512TR can readily be identified by spotting the facelift front foglights, updated wheels design, and black engine cover / third brake light (US spec).  You can see some of these design differences between the standard Testarossa and the 512TR, including the changes to its flat-12 engine, with the two versions parked side-by-side below.

(I still have never seen an F512M (the Testarossa's final version) in person.)

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I am by no means a die-hard Ferrari fan-boy, but the 599 with its flying buttresses has also always been a favorite; it's a direct successor to another favorite of mine, the 550 Maranello, and going back a few more generations, the Testarossa again (I like grand tourers, if you haven't figured this out yet).  Originally an aesthetic feature with the bonus of aerodynamics, the flying buttress introduced by the 599's design is now an element included in almost all modern supercars, such as the new Ford GT, BMW i8, and numerous McLarens, to name a few.

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Of course the F40 is another icon of racing history; I arrived past the start time and missed a second F40 parked next to it.

Fun fact; even though there were almost 10,000 Testarossas produced and only 1,315 F40s, I have seen more F40s in my lifetime than Testarossas.

Like most kids, I had an F40 Hot Wheels as a kid.

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Somehow a few other cars made it into the Ferrari show; a Maserati GranTurismo, a Porsche 911 GT2, a McLaren MP4-12C Spider, and a... Miata?

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Proof nature says it's Spring:

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