Bushwick from 35mm* ~ Brooklyn, NYC

I haven’t picked up a hard copy of a NYC guidebook in years, so am not sure if Bushwick has been listed as a ‘hood to visit in Brooklyn. If not, it most certainly will be (or should be).

My husband and I lived in Bushwick 4 years ago, and while its skyline hasn’t changed, it’s definitely coming into its own. The neighbourhood is located about a 40 minute walk from the heart of Williamsburg, or a short ride on the L line, where the action takes place steps away from the Morgan St subway stop. There’s no view of Manhattan from here, there’s no cool breeze from the East River; the inland activity pretty much centres around three streets: Bogart, Moore and Varet.

An industrial area made up of still functioning factories, the community is young, art loving, fedora wearing, and low key. It’s not unusual to see a Porsche parked near an 18 wheeler truck, alongside a row of bikes, at the curb of one of the many commercial-turned-residential loft buildings. The neighbourhood made a name for itself largely because of the appeal of Roberta’s Pizza restaurant, which I wrote about here: Bushwick, Brooklyn – the new frontier? Side note: wow, the photos in that ‘ol post…

“When we first opened here, there was nothing around,” said Anthony Falco, the director of mobile operations for Roberta’s Pizza. “It’s been great to watch the whole area grow…”**

Mario Batali, famed Italian chef, lists it as a favourite restaurant in Brooklyn; the New York Times has given it rave reviews. In the vicinity of Roberta’s, there’s a wine store, a couple cafes, a Natural Foods store, another restaurant, and vintage shopping – streetside.

The gritty streets are decorated with street art, and while the hordes of tourists haven’t made it this far (yet), it is possible to stay at recently opened New York Loft Hostel.

The neighbourhood is still evolving, and though my husband mentioned that he wouldn’t mind moving back (years ago, he knew then, the area was on the ‘brink’), I feel that I’ve outgrown Bushwick. Or maybe Bushwick has outgrown me. But I still like to return, reminisce, and see what’s changed.

This weekend, we walked in on Roberta’s Pizza Block Party. No invite required. Enjoy the photos!

*NB: All photos taken with my new 35mm 1.8 Nikon lens. I’ve found that it’s a matter of using the legs as zoom, and am still figuring out best aperture to use for different compositions.

Below: an adjoining taco shack by Roberta’s, further down from the main restaurant

Below: chicken taco. Behind it, one with pork topping.



68 thoughts on “Bushwick from 35mm* ~ Brooklyn, NYC

  1. This is a great post, Marina. That 35 1.8 is a great lens isn’t it? – Light, fast, sharp. I really like that lens. These are great images. I can see the difference. There’s a greater sense of immediacy or directness that comes from using a prime lens, as well as a naturalness from the fact that it’s a normal lens. Good going!

    • thanks Joanne! I am so glad you noticed the difference, You are absolutely correct – light, fast, and sharp! I just need to keep on practicing using the different apertures levels. Can you advise the best aperture to use for say, getting a whole street scene sharp?

      • I’d start with f/11 and go up or down from there. Use hyperfocal distance. At f/11, everything from about 6.5 meters from you to infinity will be sharp. At f/16, everything from 4.5 meters from you to infinity will be sharp. On the other hand, if you’re focusing on something, say, 4m away, then f/8 will put everything between 3.3m and 5m in sharp focus. f/11 will give you between 3m and 5.6m. f/16 will give you between 2.8m and 7m.

    • Thank you! I appreciate it – there’s always a learning curve with the camera. Take a read of reviews on Roberta’s – the lines can be long during peak season. Let me know if you have any Q’s on NYC for your trip – I’d be happy to help!

    • Thanks so much Scott! I definitely love practicing depth of field. I’m so happy you took a look – I am open to any tips you may have. I’m fussing around with the aperture a little so hope to gain control of that soon 🙂

  2. Amazing photos! It looks like you’ve had fun with your new lens. 😉 I love them all, but especially the taco photo.

  3. Excellent photos Marina. I paricularly like the shot of the salsa. I can see you’re getting to grips with the new lens. Some very hand rule of thumb figures from Joanne on depth of field. I think you got it spot on with the salsa shot which is why I like it so much. Salsa nice and sharp but the background not so blurred that you can’t make out what’s going on. I checked out your original post. It’s great to see how much you’ve developed as a photographer in such a short time. Fabulous. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Adrian. You know, that salsa shot is my fave 🙂 and I am glad you singled it out. I like that the guy in the background reminds me of the Karate kid! can you believe the pics in the previous post? What a long road it has been 🙂

  4. Classy glass…….but its what you do with it that matters and these are great…Already some very fancy DOF stuff…Ain’t you clever?
    Bushwick looks good…I currently just can’t get enough street art so this post is a double winner.
    (and I keep finding more here in Birmingham…..I dragged Mrs SHPics around an industrial no-mans land for 5 hours today…She blames you!)

  5. I definitely missed this part of Brooklyn when I was last there, but…might have to go back! Love your blog. Some really interesting stuff here. 🙂

    • Thanks Emily! it is a spot that isn’t high on the list – I understand as there’s so much more to see – but it is evolving, so i am sure you’ll love it when you see it. Another neighbourhood to explore! Appreciate your comment about my blog 🙂

  6. Great photos, this place has got real character! I nearly always use a prime lens, it can force you to get close to the action and really become part of your environment. The street art is fantastic, could look at these over and over again.

    • Thanks Laura! that makes me so happy that you could look at these pics over and over 🙂 I think the prime is my go to lens – and I love how compact it is, as well as how fast it shoots. A different experience 🙂

  7. “using the legs as zoom” that’s exactly the thing 🙂
    The photos turned out great, they are so alive! The DoF gives such a dimension to the images.

  8. Marina, these are beautiful images that really tell a story. Definitely worth looking at in full size. You are doing beautiful work with that new lens! the neighborhood is full of character. I love the monochrome shoes!

  9. Super cool Marina, looks like a great ‘hood and I admit I’ve never even heard of Bushwick! Yummy tacos and I always love your perspective!

  10. What an interesting variety of scenery and artwork, including the painted car. Also, if Mario Batali lists a restaurant as a favorite, that would be one to put on my list to try!

    • hi fergiemoto! that painted car was pretty neat to see 🙂 Batali lists Roberta’s as a fave in Brooklyn, and it is pretty good. For a restaurant in a pretty desolate, industrial place, it sure is a nice surprise. Thanks!

  11. Yet another excellent post, Marina! Using a prime lens forces you to consider more the composition. And using your own feet is not that bad, isn’t it? You managed extremely well, here. About aperture, I would quote Allen Hopkins: “F8 and be there”… 🙂

    • Thanks so much 🙂 So happy you took a look and thanks for sharing the F8 advice. Is that your rule of thumb with the 35mm for sharp pics? tell me about the feet and composition – it’s pretty cool to navigate the shot from a few different perspectives.

      • Actually the biggest gain you get, in my opinion, is that you get closer to the subject. With a zoom, you are, most likely to adjust the zoom, rather then move closer. Now, about the f8, I guess the quote emphasizes more the importance to be in the middle of the events than on the technical part. For reportage, f8 is a good enough aperture.

  12. i don’t know much about camera lenses but if there is one thing that stands out for me on this series of photos is how you play with the angle and the composition.

    really beautiful photos Marina.. i must say regardless of which camera you use, you are getting better and better at this 🙂

    • Thanks so much! That’s so kind of you to say – I admire your photos so much too. I’m trying to snap photos at whatever chance I get. It gives me alot of enjoyment and I love seeing how a photo might turn out 🙂

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