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WHILE VISITING NEW York a few years ago, Dan Winters popped into a bodega and ordered a plain with a schmear. The clerk just stared at him, and Winters, who spent four years in the city starting in the late 1980s, realized the guy had no idea what he was saying. Times had changed, even for breakfast. “No one said, ‘Let me get a bagel with cream cheese,’” Winters says. “It was ‘plain with a schmear.’”

Winters celebrates that era in The Grey Ghost, a look at the New York the photographer experienced in his late twenties. “It was the twilight of the New York City that would become the New York City of lore,” Winters says. “The New York of Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico—not to use too many Al Pacino references.”

WIRED’s chief photographer splits his time between Austin, Los Angeles and Savannah, and has over the years flown about 3.2 million miles photographing everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to President Obama. Three years ago, while working on his memoir Road to Seeing, Winters, who is 54, rediscovered the images he made decades ago in New York. The city so profoundly shaped him that he decided to compile the photos in a book.