It’s Been Awhile

I’ve been somewhat dormant publishing new posts since I’ve abandoned my twice a month deadlines. The gallery showing of Portraiture of Cuba, a non-photo focused trip visiting my daughter in Israel & the fact I’m not a fan of winter photography are my best excuses for not doing much new with my camera.

Also taking up significant time has been learning the visual differences between digital platforms, software, screens & projectors. Maintaining consistent quality in the digital world is frustrating! File that under “I hate digital”. I’ll let that go for now. 

The past months have been a time to continue crawling up the Photoshop mountain. Without a doubt I’ve abandoned earlier inhibitions about “altering the reality” of my images. In fact, some of my favorite images over the winter have been oldies that I now can do post-production work I’ve learned in the past few years. File that under “I LOVE digital”.

It’s not like I haven’t pressed the shutter recently. The unpredictable snapshots I got visiting Tel Aviv & Jordon were good exercise for my eyes & my mind. I never thought I’d get a surfing picture or see a couple on a date using a fast electric scooter. The light, the colors & the textures in the Jordon Desert were completely unexpected with a Deja vu of Star Wars.

I have a new camera with astounding low light capabilities. The advantages of higher resolution/full frame are great. I’m getting used to the electronic viewfinder associated with mirror-less but I’m still a fan of optical thru the lens. As with most things in life not all change is an improvement. The EOS-R will be getting a workout in the months ahead.

I have a few photo sojourns planned for the upcoming months including a road trip west visiting family & reconnecting with valued friends. It’s nice to be able to blend a photo topic that has baffled me for many decades with renewing personal connections.

I have an east bound trip where I’ll visit a respected friend before continuing the elusive challenge of chasing sailboats. The 12 Meter Championships is an opportunity I’m excited about. It’s part of a workshop with sailboat photographer Onne van der Wal. The logistics & variables involved with this passion of mine is something I’ve come to accept. Last May, going after the Volvo boats was disappointing because of the weather. Yet, sails continue to dominate my mind’s eye.

Later in the summer, the Tall Ships in Erie PA will provide another opportunity for capturing a chapter of my photo dreams.  In doing my planning, I’ve discovered another avenue I may someday pursue to put myself in position to capture the beauty & power of these boats. For now, I’m just hopeful that I have no need for a rain-cover for my camera in either Newport or Erie.

Closer to Pittsburgh, the opportunity for a multi-layered collaboration involving a mixed media diptych is in the works. It will be a collaborative effort where “the light” was an inspiration to both. This will be another chance to explore creative motivation. The back-story is one of the more interesting/serendipitous preludes to a project that can best be described as a ‘burgh thing. It may be a 2 part blog posting. (When was the last time you read diptych & serendipitous in the same paragraph?)

If all goes well, this fall I will finally spend a few days in what some have called The Most Beautiful City in Europe. Prague has been on my list of places I’ve wanted to visit with my camera. The lure involves history, architecture, classical music & at least geographically, the home of Bohemian lifestyle. Capturing the appeal with still images will be a challenge. A big work in progress.

A subject I enjoy almost everywhere I go requiring no planning is people. Sometimes they just add a human perspective to the frame. Other times their expressions preface an interesting story. In the case of still images of musicians I’m convinced a 2 shot tells a deeper story.

I often see what appears to be a boring sight & realize I have an unorthodox perspective. For example, parked cars seems bland at best. However, when I considered the skill needed to parallel park in tight urban areas, 5 cars caught my eye. Maybe it was a parade at rest?

If nothing else, this blog gives me a better understanding of why I pick up my camera. I enjoy putting myself in situations where I need to visually explore the environment to find a frame that inspires my mind’s eye. Frequently patience is a needed tool. However, per-visualization of subjects & the planning involved with chasing those moments is another layer of my photography motivation.

Looking Back for Tomorrows Goals

Although we begin a new year my 1st posting of ‘18 will look back & evaluate how my perspective of photography has evolved.

 

01

I begin 2018 looking back & evaluating how my perspective of photography has evolved. Any capture by a camera immediately becomes a document of history. This image of my grandfather relaxing on the porch in Stow connects me with a man I barley knew but am deeply indebted to. It reinforced the connections a photograph can create. Operating the Bemus Point Stow Ferry I ran into a son of one of my fathers fishing pals Dr. Robert Schmalz Jr. He shared this image which was taken before I was born.

02

A highlights of ‘17 was this image taking 3rd place in The Eddie Adams Show. It’s an honor to have any connection with this influential photojournalist. From the moment I snapped the shutter in Sarajevo in 2014, I knew I captured the character of the subjects. To have it recognized in a juried competition was very satisfying. The endless diversity of people & the human condition on streets are subjects that still motivate me.

03

I’ve got comfortable with the ethics of editing my images that don’t touch on journalism or documentary. I still have the goal of capturing what my eyes see. HDR, can assist in adding details our eyes see but camera sensors can’t. I still believe over-saturated HDR  lacks an “actuality aesthetic”. Other images I’ve edited made me realize there is a 2nd opportunity to tell a story. A wildly over-exposed shot became a B/W image I’m happy with. A slightly out of focus image was manipulated into a frame capturing the moment I was after. OBTW I realize it’s in focus or not but I also remember Bresson said… “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”

04 split dancer

Although I doubted I would take my enthusiasm for photography into the world of printing, I did. I learned printing, matting & framing require different perspectives. The image on the left was cropped for the web. To get a well-proportioned print & ensure a solid presentation hanging on a wall I went back & included more of the original shot on the right. Is it an improvement? It depends on if you are looking at the print hanging on the wall or the screen of your desktop. Obviously my PS work has improved.

05

I enjoy spectacular landscape photography & I enjoy the opportunity to experience impressive vistas. However, I’ve discovered I don’t have the kind of dedication to this particular genre to take it to another level. I will still wander with my camera, however I will try to improve my photography skills with other subjects.

06

Part of my family’s history,as well as my own, is connected to Chautauqua Lake. When I saw the Steamship Replica the Chautauqua Belle along the port side of The Bemus Point Stow Ferry I was transported to an earlier time when few other vessels on the water had mechanical power. In the months ahead I may try some Photoshop wizardry on this shot. Too bad I’m not really a wizard.

07

It has been almost 1 year since my trip to Cuba. The process of sorting/editing my images was a terrific opportunity for reflection on my abilities. It encouraged me to look forward to what I will do with photography. I’m hoping to cultivate connections for a showing of 15 or so of my portraits of Cuban People. A recent review I got from Lens Culture said my work “had incredible humanism in the portraits of Cuban people.” I liked that. The reviewer also said that, after looking at my blog, a book is something I should start working on. I don’t think that is going to happen.

07a

My own opinion of my sailing images is they are just slightly better than mediocre. That however will not stop me from pursuing this challenging subject I really enjoy. I’m in the planning stages of a trip to Newport RI to catch the 65 foot Volvo Racing beasts in May. Anybody care to join me???

08

I also would like to further develop a portfolio of dance photography. Dancers have balance, form, color, The Moment, texture & space. What better subject for a camera. They blend emotions & athleticism into statuesque animation for our eyes.  Any connections in this area would also be appreciated. Happy New Year.

 

 

Non-Talking Heads

During my career I shot thousands of Talking Heads. With my eye in a viewfinder or watching monitors I saw moments where character was revealed on top of features. Usually it was as subjects listened so it rarely made the edit. Some video/film works paint a picture of people well. However, the portrait is a genre of stills. Portraiture is a significant goal of my upcoming photo essay.

During my career I shot thousands of Talking Heads. With my eye in a viewfinder or watching monitors I saw moments where character was revealed on top of features. Usually it was as subjects listened so it rarely made the edit. Some video/film works paint a picture of people well. However, the portrait is a genre of stills. Portraiture is a significant goal of my upcoming photo essay.

001

Some portraits will always convey personal memories & relationship. On the deck of The Harp & Fiddle Jerry Hughes returned my Ike 55 I loaned as back-up about 10 years ago. Since the early 80’s we have worked alongside each other in a spectrum of capacities. His professional attitude & personal friendship are traits I see in his wise eyes. A Chicagoan by birth he came to Pittsburgh via ND & LA. Thanks for everything!

0001

This docent/guide at Ft. Niagara had the perfect face of a young soldier. The soft reflective light bouncing off the deep walls of the fortress window was about perfect. I’m trying to engage interesting people to get more intimate photos. I did direct him where to look for the best light/shadows. The expression in his eyes of a young mans apprehension in a far away land clutching his weapon was his own contribution.

02

I believe people at work exhibit a glimpse of their character. Especially people engaged with tools. This craftsman in Copper Alley Sarajevo focuses on a detail of a small object. Surrounded by his work, the old eyes guide his hands as they have thousands of times. People in the books of Studs Terkel have inspired me. Working, his 74 oral history classic, heightened my interest in the stories of the individual at work.

0003

A Power of the portrait are details giving a taste of personality. The eyes & the subdue smile framed by his goatee show a friendly person. Adding his hand into the shot emphasizes strength. I worked with Slappy & I can affirm he is the type of person you enjoy working with & being around. The non-studio staged portrait provides challenges. By having him tilt his head & cropping the image very tight I was able to fill the frame almost completely avoiding BG distractions.

04

I like people in candid moments. Even without the full face I consider this a portrait. It shows emotions in a moment of waiting. Holding herself tight we get a glimpse of her anxious face in profile. The tree is a barrier she looks beyond. The umbrella adds weight to the moment. I like how the visual elements come together. Rain provides opportunities that you need to look for. The work of Philippe Halsman can be credited for breaking the constrains of traditional studio 3 point lighting portraits. Some of his work with Salvador Dali is amazing. Currently, the images of Annie Leibovitz are some of the most inspiring portraiture I see.

 05

Some people smile using all parts of their face. On a rainy day this parking attendant had a smile for everybody. The pith hat is a perfect “topper” to the beard, nose, cheeks, &  the squinting eyes. His face toughened by the weather dominates even though he is wearing a neon safety vest. This portrait shows how all our features display emotion.

06

Andy I’s deep-set eyes in shadow are a drawing feature. Shadows on his cheek etch strong facial structure & the reserved smile defines his personality. Headsets literally tie him to his craft. He is one of many top quality sports camera ops I was privileged to work with during my career. As a replay operator, aka slomologist, I watched thousands of hours of events thru the eyes of dedicated professionals like Andy. Watching, looking & examining the work of others is a tremendous motivator.

08

Some say out of the mouths of children come honesty. I believe innocent eyes are where you find honest emotion. These 2 lived on a farm near The Jungle Dome in Central Belize. I prefer being ignored & become a fly on the wall taking pictures. In this shot these 2 toddlers were intrigued by my every move. The eyes define curious. I try to be respectful of parents wishes when taking photographs of children.

10

Randy Gilson is described as a master in the art of making something worthwhile out of what is seen as worthless. Somehow I never heard of RandyLand but when I heard the basic description of eclectic re purposed art it was enough of a hook to get me to visit. I won’t try to describe what he has done to a corner setting in the North Side of Pittsburgh other than with this portrait of him. He is one-of-a-kind with a mission that can be infectious.

Inspired by Humans of New York, photos like these are a goal for a 2-week trip to a country in the tropic of Cancer. I am practicing this genre to improve my approach & techniques with the goal of documenting people & stories of their lives. Suggestions welcomed as well as critique.  Coming up in my next post I look at 2 spirited sisters.

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