Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), the most "livable" city in the US, is another major American city within driving distance of Toronto.
The steel city with its dazzling nightscape and stunning location is a must see for any photographer. While sports events on the two weekend days (a baseball game on Saturday & the Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday) shut me off from downtown core area of the city, still managed to take a few postcard shots of the city from Mt Washington.
With an abundance of coal, the city was a natural centre of the American steel industry, and the city's 400+ steel bridges attest to this fact. The city's architects, over the years have literally gone berserk with bridges.
The weather forecast was one of rain and overcast/cloudy skies for the two days I was planning to go on, not really a sight-seeing kind of weather. Reminds me of a hilarious piece written by a photographer that I was reading a few months ago somewhere, about "Why you should never date a photographer"... among some 30-40 reasons, one was about how, while you would feel excited about visiting a place on a bright sunny day, your photographer boy/girl friend finds it boring, instead delights on cloudy and gloomy days, because those conditions often provide the best shots. While a natural disaster or a severe weather condition might give you the fright of your life and make you run to safety, your photographer boy/girl friend would be foolishly salivating at the photo opportunity such settings give, danger...what danger!
The beauty of Pittsburgh is that you can stay far away from the bustle of downtown and yet take in some glorious shots. Although I'm not a big fan of downtown areas of cities, I had planned to go in for a short while with my 50mm fixed focal, to take some street/people shots, but unfortunately sports played spoilsport...with all roads into the downtown core being blocked off for the marathon.
Sports and Universities almost seem to dominate city life & cityscape. Home to three high profile sports teams, Pittsburgh Penguins (with our very own Sidney Crosby), Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the city, I guess never has a dull moment throughout the year. My wide-angle lens came in handy as I attempted a few bracketed shots of a couple of stadiums.
Which invariably leads me to discuss a common issue with photographers and their gear, crossing borders/airports, especially the US. A very short trip across the border and then on top of it you say you are going on a photo trip, almost always elicits suspicion from the TSA/Border Security. In the past 3-4 years, my suitcase lock has been broken into so many times by the TSA at airports that now I have stopped locking my baggage (why bother!).
A tripod inside a check-in baggage makes the TSA nervous while a tripod inside your carry-on makes flight attendants nervous ("...what are those three steel legs sticking out of your backpack?")
And while driving through the border on short trips (longer trips don't cause trouble), I have quite often been stopped, questioned and my car swiped through x-ray machines to make sure I'm not doing drugs or am not doing anything harmful (both on Canadian side as well as US side). As opposed to a lot of people, I don't really feel impatient or angered at such searches (in the end it is for our security only), but I sometimes wonder if the questions these security personnel ask can be a bit more intelligent.
For example last time while returning from my 1 day trip to Watkins Glen park (NY), this CBSA guy starts asking stupid questions that had no relevance to his trying to find out why I went for such a short trip, that too just to take photos. Something he could have found out instantly by just asking to see what photos I had taken on my camera. But I guess the guy was inexperienced. This time also, was stopped while coming back, the short duration and photography again raising eye-brows, but luckily the two young ladies asked smart & relevant questions (why was I taking pictures of marathon runners in Pittsburgh, very relevant question) after opening up my camera and looking at the pictures I had taken.
My trip ended with a visit to University Of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon's campuses and some awesome landmarks inside them (Cathedral of Learning & the spire of Carnegie Mellon). Another photo trip to a stunning city, though extremely short, coming to an end...
Click link to see a few more of the Pittsburgh shots