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Photographer Ilan Rubin | via Ilan Rubin Studio

As part of our series about Whale Square, a former industrial building turned office space in Sunset Park, we sat down with one of the building’s creative tenants, photographer Ilan Rubin. The Israeli native moved to New York City in 1985 and began building his commercial photography business a few years later in Chelsea. Since getting his big break shooting for Harper’s Bazaar in 1995, he’s worked with a multitude of major brands and magazines, including Cole Haan, Target, T Magazine, Vogue and Barney’s. Here, he remembers his beginnings in photography and compares his longtime studio in Chelsea to his newer studio at Whale Square in Sunset Park.

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Normally visitors can’t roam around the Navy Yard and take pictures of interesting industrial history, but this weekend, you’ll get a chance to explore and photograph a few of its fascinating closed sites. Participants in the winter photography tour will get to see the 19th-century Navy Hospital campus, the World War II-era pier that offers views of Wallabout Bay and a functioning dry dock used for ship repairs.

Sadly, the tour won’t allow access inside these buildings, and don’t expect to get anywhere near the dilapidated houses in Admiral’s Row. Turnstile Tours is leading the tour, which costs $30 per person.  And anyone on the tour can score free tickets to another Navy Yard tour by entering the Yard’s Instagram photo contest. You can buy tickets here, and it begins at 11 am tomorrow morning.

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Image source: policymic / Photo by Amanda Kirpatrick

The folks from Rockaway Rises let us know about this photography exhibition coming up – the Museum of the City of New York has issued a call for submissions from both amateur and professional photographers. Your images must be of the areas affected by Superstorm Sandy before, during, and after the storm.

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Holiday shopping guide roundup

Just in time for the weekend, we’ve published a roundup of holiday shopping posts to help you out with the rest of your holiday purchasing this year. Sometimes one needs a little inspiration in the shopping department, and we hope we can help you out with that. Queens has a lot to offer on the shopping front, so definitely check it out!

New photography displayed at Alewife

We’ve learned there is some new art up at Alewife in LIC that features views of and from LIC:

Alewife, the ART-BAR, is currently showing photos of New York by Long Island City photographer, Howard Stevens. Views of Manhattan from Citylights and both Avalon buildings are shown with scenes from Gantry Park. Colorful shots of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges are also featured. Come enjoy a pint while viewing views of NY from inside the pub.

MenuPages finally arrives in Queens

For the longest time, MenuPages – the website that publishes restaurant menus online and allows you to post reviews – was limited to Manhattan and Brooklyn. Now they are in Queens! It took them long enough, and we are glad they have found their way into one of the best areas for food in the US.

Raising Astoria giveaway on Queens Mamas

We spotted this great giveaway over on Queens Mamas – Raising Astoria (26-11 23rd Avenue) is giving away a $50 gift certificate! You can use it for any of their classes, like Song of Myself, First Art, Songbirds, and more. You have a couple more days to enter. Good luck!

Leaf Fest was an overwhelming success

Leaf Fest, which took place on Saturdays in October, November, and December, collected a ton of leaves – actually 6.5 tons – that fell on the waterfront parks in western Queens. That’s a whole lotta leaves. It couldn’t have happened without the organizing efforts of Green Shores and the Astoria Park Alliance, and the help from hundreds of volunteers. These leaves will be added to the composting efforts at Build It Green! in western Astoria. The eventual compost will help parks and gardens in Queens, instead of sitting in an oxygen deficient landfill. All good!

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Image source: policymic / Photo by Amanda Kirpatrick (click to enlarge)

Over on PolicyMic, art and architecture photographer Amanda Kirpatrick visited the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy and wanted to understand the storm and its aftermath. She wanted to find a way to understand what had happened amidst the overwhelming massive amount of information that was coming at her via media and other sources. She decided to look at structure.

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As much as we love the written word, sometimes the unique, hodgepodge character of Queens is best represented in images – which is why we want to give a shout-out to the photographers who document the borough. There are plenty of awesome NYC-based photo blogs, but these two are special in that most of their content is focused on Queens.

Image source: Cate Fanklyn

Cate Franklyn of Astoria uses her photography skills to make us see the beauty of our urban environment.

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Image Source: In Bloom Collective

Starting today and running through Sunday, over 30 Queens artists will display their work at 16 local venues during the first-ever Astoria Arts Festival. Visit participating locations at any time during the weekend and explore a wide-range of inspiring creativity, from paintings and drawings to photography and mixed media.

Don’t miss the opening party tonight (9pm-1am) at Hell Gate Social, 12-21 Astoria Blvd. Festivities will include a group show, DJs Nick Tha’ Smoocher and Frankie Pancakes, a slideshow showcasing all participating artists and vendors selling “Jewelry as Art.” The party will continue at The Sparrow Tavern, 24-01 29th St., with an exhibit featuring photography by Pamela Curtissela Curtiss and drink specials.

Astoria Arts Festival
Friday, Nov. 9 – Sunday, Nov. 11
Various locations in Astoria
Times vary by location | Free

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Motorcycles and Muni Meter receipts aren’t friendly with one another, so let’s just have free parking

Apparently motorcyclists have a hard time with Muni Meter receipts. Muni Meters are those kiosks where you purchase parking and leave the receipt in your vehicle to prove you’ve paid for your spot. All over the city you see them cropping up and slowly parking meters are going the way of the dodo (we are curious how this will affect bike parking, too, since parking meter poles are a prime spot for people to lock their bikes to), and the only way to prove you’ve paid for street parking is to have that little receipt showing, usually displayed on the dash.

Of course, with motorcycles, there is no interior, so motorcyclists are perplexed as to what to do with the receipts. Attached to the motorcycle, they are at the whim of wind and weather, as well as people that simply like to steal the receipts off the bike. DOT says motorcyclists should affix a clear plastic sleeve to hold the tickets. But motorcyclist and City Councilman Peter Vallone has another solution – free parking for all motorcycles in NYC!

Now that it’s cooling down, dig into potatoes and bacon

Since the weather has really turned Fall-like, it’s time to look to heartier foods, and we have a good one for you – Koliba’s potato spaetzle (dumplings). Koliba is a fantastic Czech/Slovak restaurant on 23rd Ave in Astoria (GMAP), and serves up delicious hearty Eastern European fare. The spaetzle, about an inch in length, are served with either a tangy sheep’s milk cheese and bacon or sauerkraut and bacon; we usually opt for the sheep’s milk cheese. The bacon is thick cut and the whole thing is fatty, carby goodness. It goes great with a Staropramen, too.

Greenpoint Landing in Brooklyn will have a fancy footbridge connected it to Queens

Greenpointers wrote about a massive development called Greenpoint Landing, that is coming to the northern tip of Greenpoint. The plans include a footbridge to LIC (over Newtown Creek) to be designed by Santiago Calatrava. He designed the WTC transit hub in Manhattan. Looks like Greenpoint and LIC will be kissing cousins in the waterfront highrise department.

LIC Vernon Blvd dog run fans and users – there’s a Facebook group for you

The LIC dog run on 48th Avenue and Vernon Blvd is a popular spot for pups and their parents. To join in conversation and community with others that use this dog run, there’s a Facebook group for you – Long Island City Vernon Blvd Dog Run.

Most photogenic spots in Queens? Parks are a popular choice

This morning we asked, what are some of the most photogenic parts of Queens? We got some great answers, and here they are, both from our comments section and twitter:

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This weekend in Queens brings a variety of activities for all ages! See a film screening, go to a Zumba party, a photowalk, and learn how to make paper and ! Check out our events calendar for even more things to do around the borough.

Image source: Rodrigo Achá on Wikimedia Commons – Palacios de govierno Bolivia in La Paz, Bolivia

Screening of Insurgentes – Celebrate the culture of Bolivia during the Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 at the Queens Museum of Art (GMAP) this Thursday at 6pm. Insurgentes is an activist film that follows two centuries of popular uprisings in Bolivia. A Q&A about the film will follow immediately after the screening. Admission to the QMA + screening is free!