The Parade of Stars

I can easily amuse myself on a crowded street by observing people as they pass.  My fascination with strangers began in the 60’s watching a live local TV show in Pittsburgh. As the audience was exiting the host gave the patrons a chance to say something to the camera on the way out. The emcee called it the Parade of Stars. I will send a free DVD copy of my documentary Chasing The River to anyone that can name the show, the host and the call letters of the TV station that produced it.

Zagreb Uncle

Since I enjoy watching people it shouldn’t come as any revelation I also have a good time photographing people on the street.  Until recently I didn’t know this was a genre with sub genres including street fashion and street portraits.  I just enjoy capturing candid images…Allen Funt…of people that grab my eye.

Unlike humans of NY portraits which is  portraits with stories from the subjects…Studs Terkel…  I have no knowledge of the people so I make up my own stories.  This man on the streets of Zagreb was taken in 2010.  It was only the last 20 years of his life he had not lived under Tito Communism.  In the Winter of his life he witnessed significant change.  The contrast between him and younger Eastern Europeans coming of age after the collapse of “The Wall” was dramatic.  His face & the way he dressed reminded me of my Grandfather’s brothers.  I think he would have fit in at those big Christmas Eve dinners at my Grand Aunt’s house.

Sarajevo Eyes 006

I saw these eyes coming from 80 yards away!  As I was watching the diversity of people promenade on the streets of Sarajevo these two women grabbed my attention.  Even though I have no real credibility to comment on fashion, these two had very distinctive Hijabs.  Their fur & make-up set off contrasting facial expressions & authority.  I imagine the woman on the left is an older & wiser mentor to her younger naive companion.   She is about to extol insight into something they both are observing & the young-ling is eager to learn.

Speaking of fashion 2 things.  First, I did once win “Best Dressed” at the Phil Simms Bowling Tournament so I do have an iota of fashion sense.  Secondly, if you are interested in Street Fashion Photography I can recommend  Bill Cunningham New York  A quirky individual that still shoots of film.


I have sub genres including people on phones aka “The World Around Me isn’t as Interesting as This Little Electronic Device”.  With a few exceptions I deplore the way some in society use smart phones as hypnotizing web portals & communication pacifiers.  VERY few snap images using phones with consideration for anything other than  diary-esk sharing via social media. Instead of freeing themselves from the office they take work everywhere they go.  Gaming & mindless web browsing distract  from here & now to a place that placates short attention spans.  I enjoy the world and most of the people around me more than any device.  For me, retirement equals flip phone!!!

This photo was taken in Balboa Park SAN.  As I am prone to do when taking photos of people I found a spot to stand & blend in.  I observed a few different traffic areas with good bg & lighting where I could snap portraits as people passed by. One of the 1st details to catch my eye was the “ink” on this woman. I hoped she would walk in an area where I could get a good shot of her tattoos. Ink is another sub genre of mine.  After 20 min or so I was ready to wander elsewhere & she hadn’t taken her eyes off of her phone.  I have no idea if she was texting, playing Angry Birds, searching top rated things in SD or reading Pillars of the Earth.  I do know she was ignoring an inspiring public park.

behind you 006

Another sub genre of mine is echo/feedback of the world I capture. With the flood of cameras people routinely have, “People Taking Pictures” is one of my go-to subjects.  Everybody is now a street photographer.  Why not…I know I enjoy doing it.  However, I enjoy the old-school hands on feel of a DSLR with optical options.  But most importantly for me is connecting the eye into the viewfinder where final/critical decisions are made about framing or snapping.  And, I still use the editing process to separate the wheat from the chafe to better polish the visual story I want to tell.  For some reason these 2 remind me of a quote I associate w/Annie Liebovitz that every experienced photographer knows…”Sometimes the best shot is behind you!”

I can recommend a good doc about an unknown street photographer.  Her work can be a template for anyone who wants to improve their urban eye.  Finding Vivian Maier





The Challenge

One of the core aspects of photography I enjoy are the diversity of challenges different genres & subjects provide.  Wildlife, & particularly bird photographers, capture amazing images. Not only are they knowledgeable about their subjects habits & habitats but they must have an extraordinary amount of patience.  Many of these dedicated photogs use a 400mm as a go-to lens.  With these 4 shots I was on the long end of my kit 18-135 lens that came with my 7D.

Belize Pelican 006

I got this shot off the coast of Belize.  We were celebrating my birthday kayaking along the worlds 2nd longest barrier reef.  The sky & water were a sapphire blue during the day. This particular evening, as Pelicans were feeding, the sun was setting & the water had lost the azure reflection.  The color & the ripples on the sea seem to be an extension of the hue & texture of the birds feathers.

Roseate Spoonbill

 This Roseate Spoonbill  was captured at Merritt Island Sanctuary in FL.  Some might say this type of location is the best place to go to get pics of birds.  However, I saw a display of shots from an amateur photog this past Spring at the Roger Tory Peterson Institution.  I was amazed at her depth of  knowledge of the species & their migratory patterns she had.  Even more amazing were some of the shots an “amateur” could get  .Her subject knowledge gave her an asset that transcended the fact that she did this as a hobby not for profit.  She did use a 400 mm lens which wasn’t a surprise.  What hit me in the head is when she shared some of her shots were taken in a graveyard.  The stillness apparently relaxed the birds giving her a few more moments to snap the shutter.  Sometimes it is that simple…find a quiet place where the subject is relaxed. is a link you will enjoy especially if bird photography is an inspiring challenge.

Bird on Golden Rod

I have no idea what type of bird this lil tweet is.  I do know I got lucky & I cropped.  After watching the flight pattern of this sparrow-like bird, I picked an area with great light.   I noticed it was a landing areas of his/hers.  I kept checking my AF at various points in the scene & waited for a landing.  I estimate that the time of the bird on the branch was less than 3 seconds.  Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Merritt Island FL

  Of all of the advantages of digital photography I do believe the cropping tool is my favorite.  It gives me an opportunity to refine the image I capture.  I lack the experience of color correction and compositing that many skilled post-production artists have so the simple re-crop is my “comfort club” in my digital bag.  That being said I did tweak the green & red curves of Bird on Golden Rod just a smidgen. After exporting at 908 x 626 I think it looks OK on my computer.  I have serious doubts as to the quality of print repro any larger than 12 x 8.  I will do a post sometime about the challenge of  full frame perfection.

White Ibis 005

How you define the quality of your own work is a subjective perspective that evolves.  I like to keep raising the bar & explore new subjects.  Doing bird photography, if I can ID the bird from the photo that’s a good shot.  Good light w/ soft clouds in the bg & a graceful wing-span.  Yea,  for me…after cropping…was the shot of the day.  It is a White Ibis which is a wadding bird.  I prefer locations for birds around water so Herons and Ducks are often the species that challenge me.  Merritt Island FL