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When I saw this building on the west side of 9th Avenue near West 46th Street in New York City I knew I had the right subject matter for a “timeless” photo of New York City.

There’s nothing in the photo that identifies a specific era. I shot this in 2009, but it could have just as easily been from 1949. The shadows from the fire escape forming a pattern on the block building, the generic pizza sign on the right side and the blank windows offer no clue to the decade.

I first noticed how the low midday sun on this November day cast long shadows from the fire escape across the yellowish bricks on the building front. Framing the shot to concentrate on the lines and shadows would create an interesting image, but one that would confuse the viewer’s eye because it lacked a true focal point. That’s why I widened the composition a bit to include the pizza sign. 

Every time I look at this photo my eye is immediately drawn to the pizza sign before exploring the other elements of the image. That’s the focal point.

       About the photographer

I’m a photo hobbyist who lives in Hilliard, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. I typically spend several mornings each week in the woods of local parks, photographing birds and other wildlife. I also enjoy shooting sporting events and photographing different cities when I travel around the country.


I began doing photography in the pre-digital, pre-autofocus, pre-Internet 1970s. I had a color darkroom in the basement of our house in our hometown, Ashland, Ky., and on occasion would shoot for the newspaper where I worked first as a sports writer, then as city editor. But I put the camera away in the 1980s after burning out from too many of those "hey can you" photo jobs – “hey can you shoot my son's Little League team," or "hey can you shoot my daughter's wedding." I reached the point where I dreaded picking up the camera.

After taking a vacation from photography for more than 20 years, I was using my daughter’s point-and-shoot digital camera to get some photos of her first college tennis match in fall 2004 (she played four years at the University of Akron) and realized how much I missed photography. After doing the “Nikon or Canon” research, I bought a Canon digital SLR, started adding lenses – that’s my Canon 600 f/4L, the lens I use for wildlife and some sports photography, in the photo above – and have been shooting ever since