Humans give narrative to an image

People are one of my favorite subjects to shoot. Across many genres they add impact to a frame in many different ways.

01When I do street photography I try to remember to look up. Often the 2nd story adds to the sense of place. The 3 windows with the fire escape by themselves is not a compelling image. But, add clothes hanging & a woman looking out the middle opening & the image now has a story-line. In this case the street below is an assumed part of the scene because of the direction of her gaze & the upward angle of the shot.

02I had taken a few shots of the sunset from the cliff overlooking the Pacific & I was considering walking down a steep the path to explore lower perspectives. As I was visually trying to find the path down to the beach to determine how challenging it would be I noticed a surfer that was calling it a day. The wave on the shore with the setting sun in the upper corner is an OK image. The silhouette of the surfer in the lower left provides a context to all of the elements.

03If you are aware of Bresson, puddles invoke inspiration from a master. When I saw the woman with the red coat I couldn’t help my self. Unlike Bresson capturing THE Moment by snapping a single shot I put the camera in burst mode and captured 7. With this shot my motivation was good but poor execution.

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The rain also offers interesting fashion/costume opportunities. What I like most is how the polka-dot pants match the raincoat. If you have never done it I highly recommend street photography in the rain. Just find an over hang for cover and keep your eyes open.

new05I really should never comment on fashion but… First of all, the umbrella is cliché but sets the environment. Second, the sweater, scarf, vest, bag & torn jeans are a strong set of elements. The kicker for me is the flowers on the umbrella are a complete juxtaposition to her clothes. I also like the fact that the most of the facial figures are hidden.

06Graduation was outside rain or shine. Others in my family watched on closed circuit & from a window. Dad was in the elements with his daughter. I am sure the alumni matching jackets, shirts & ties would have been a “cute” moment as they walked in. However once they were in their assigned seats “Bill Class of 63” became my only good shot of the day excluding images of Lauren. Scanning the venue I remember thinking “Shouldn’t all of these smart people get out of the rain?” Traditions can be kinda weird.

07 copyMy folder of people shots has a sub-folder of people on phones. I was walking around the balcony of the Carnegie Galleries and this out of place sculpture got my attention. Titled “Alone in the Crowd” by Nicole Eisenman it is surrounded by traditional roman figures. By choice I shun smart phones. I do recognize they are versatile & valuable tools. I try not to judge people using them but many people have taken themselves out of the reality of time & place to a tiny little screen. The world is a big place.

08 copyI also have a sub-folder in people called people taking pictures. Lots I could say about this shot but I’ll only comment that she is doing an excellent job with lighting, angle of the camera & background.

09 ShoppingOne of the great experiences of travel is that sometimes it transports your eyes back in time. Both times I visited the Balkins I felt like I was in the 40’s or 50’s or at least what I imagined them to be. When I saw this woman it immediately made me think of an Aunt that had worked at Kaufman’s in downtown Pittsburgh for almost 50 years. For a few people the hat can make the person as well as the person making the hat.

10 copy copyThe nature of street musicians is that they seek attention. Acknowledging this they can also be models. You should also acknowledge they are trying to make some cash!

11If you do enough street photography your bound to see some grit. In these types of situations be very aware of your parameter. I think it is important to document the human condition with photography including all of the bruises and scars.

12 copyI don’t have a People sub-folder for this shot except it is double filed in the Signs folder.

IMG_1687 copyI have begun an Ink sub-folder recently. This may evolve into a territory to explore further. One of the reasons I enjoy photographing people is that, even just a tight shot of a photographer tattoo on someones leg creates an image ripe for a story.

 

 

 

 

Natural Available Light

The variety of natural/available light motivates me to look at a scene in different ways. The diversity of lighting characteristics provides many interesting perspectives on subjects I may otherwise not have noticed. Technically I have no problem with high ISO further expanding scenes I see & try to capture.

 

The variety of natural/available light motivates me to look at a scene in different ways. The diversity of lighting characteristics provides interesting perspectives on subjects I may otherwise not have noticed. Technically I have no problem with high ISO further expanding scenes I see & try to capture.

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Shadows have an important role across all genres. This window accent in late afternoon light provided a wonderful display of contoured shadows. I have worked with this as a B/W image but I prefer the subtle hues in the original.

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The back-light was coming in from the barn door & with assistance from the drops of moisture it provided another layer of texture to a simple subject. When I first walked into the space the light is what got my attention. I then searched for a subject. There are many ways back-light can impact an image. With the proper position it can separate, add strength, create a mood or accent the subject.

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A personal preference for floral images is a background that supports the primary composition without conflict. This can be frustratingly hard when I am trying to isolate the beauty of a single flower. In a situation where back-light is the dominant source, backgrounds usually have less light & I can easily reduce the depth of field letting the background become soft forms, diffused shadows & muted colors.

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Overcast & rainy can be a good time to get waterfalls if you crank up the ISO. This is 5K f29 at 1/60. The reflective falling water is the natural bright component but much of the atmosphere is in the shadows. This hike was one of the few times I regretted not having my tripod to use for a long exposure. Fortunately I had good foul weather gear.

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When doing street photography I listen for street musicians because they add layers to the scene. A septet of musicians on a corner is hard to miss. I think the trombone player recognized the need to lower himself for me to see the entire band. For just a moment I was in sync with their tune. The strong available light on the BG wall was over-blow but Photoshop, even with a jpg original, was helpful. The noise/grain isn’t a distraction in my eyes. ISO12800 may seem ridiculous but it was the setting I needed to capture this NOLA moment. In my mind, if I had had to set up fill flash the intimacy would have been gone.

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Landscape photography requires a commitment of getting on location for early am light that I don’t have. However flat light of mid-day, clouds & reflections can result in some nice captures. To integrate reflections in the frame I explore different perspectives & angles. At times examining the direction of light & reflections is a lot like walking around a pool table to find the best shot. This shot is just off of Rt 120 North Meadow of Yosemite.

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Sunset fits my lifestyle more than sunrise. Give me a Ferris wheel, a sunset, an American Flag & water to work with & I will find an image. If only their had been a gull in the upper right. The Puget Sound/Seattle area is a place I would enjoy exploring more.08
The soft diffused light on the only bright part of the frame pulls your attention to her somber face. While the color of her coat, her posture & the background hint of melancholy, the umbrella helps frame her face & also adds an element of structure into the scene. The unseen factor is that it was taken in Liverpool England, which has a reputation for dreary weather.

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This is where I say I Love Digital. When I walked into this tobacco-drying shed in Vinales Cuba I immediately was captivated by the harsh tropical sunlight reflecting off of the deep brown dirt floor. After 1 year of experimentation I understood the advantages of RAW & was comfortable with the low light capabilities of my camera. This is exactly what my eyes saw. Being able to almost immediately capture it was very rewarding. The entire environment offered numerous possibilities but I was drawn to the faces of people.

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I was still just getting used to the camera in 2014 & only shooting jpg. On a trip outside of Sarajevo I saw a fog-bow, which is a less common cousin to a rainbow. The very subtle color gradations can be seen with close examination. Working with this image motivated me to further explore the digital capabilities of my camera & Photoshop.

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I have indeed had moments when I wished I had equipment & experience with fill flash. I also have recognized missed opportunities because the tripod was in the trunk. However, I have learned that Natural Light is a challenging motivation in how I approach many of my subjects. Recognizing subjects & styles of photography I enjoy has been helpful to whatever improvement I’ve had in the past 8 years.