Central Park self-portraits

by Lorien E. Menhennett

When I was in college, one of my favorite (and most time-intensive) classes was photography. This was before the ubiquity of digital cameras — we shot with 35 mm, 400 ISO film, all black and white, manually developed and printed in buckets of smelly liquids under red safety lights. My final project was to tell a “story” in a series of still photographs. I decided to share my daily jogging route. I started and ended with a picture of my running shoes to give context. In between were images of the route itself, the trees, bushes, houses, fences, and streets. I took each photo while slowly panning a scene, blurring the images slightly to give the impression of movement. For my presentation, I mounted each image on rectangles of black art board, with little cutouts along the top and bottom to look like segments of a film strip.

I don’t jog anymore; I prefer an exercise bike, an elliptical machine, or simply a long walk. The photos I present here (digital, obviously — how times have changed!) tell the story of my recent walk to, through, and from Central Park. I am eternally grateful to those who had the foresight to guard this giant swath of land as a nature preserve, and I visit it often. The park changes throughout the seasons. Here is what it looks like on a sunny, spring day.

The park has many boulders suitable for scrambling or simply sitting.

 

In April, there are patches of daffodils all over the park.

 

Blooming magnolias remind me of my childhood home in Forest Park, Illinois.

 

Central Park even has a castle — this is me against its wall.

 

From above, there’s a lovely view of one of the park’s ponds, a giant lawn, and the city skyline in the background.

 

The park paths meander, with many overpasses and underpasses. Here is one of them.

 

Commemorative statues dot the park, including this one of Balto, the sled dog famous for helping transport diphtheria treatment to combat an epidemic in Nome, Alaska in 1925.

 

My walk home was lovely too. This is me in front of the tulip-laden Park Avenue median.

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