Monthly Archives: January 2013

Classic Curves

Where: Corner of Powell and Jackson – San Francisco

 

 

Between Meeting:  After MacWorld

 

 

 

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While many like to photograph the Cable Cars in San Francisco, I often find myself shooting the cable car tracks.  Tracks with turns create a sense of elegance along with motion where there is no actual movement.  Then its all about how to light metal.

 

 

While seemingly unintuitive, metal is not directly lit.  Instead, an indirect light source via an incident angle lights the metal.  In the studio this is be controlled with flats, fill cards and scrims.  One of the masters of this craft is Andre LaRoche of Stage 3 where indirect light is used to photograph cars and motorcycles.

 

 

When on location the concept is essentially the same, but instead of using a 4 x 8 foot flat to bounce light in at an incident angle, you have to put the sky to work.  In this shot I estimated the path of the sun and where the incident angle would make the metal of the tracks gleam.  I then waited for the light to slow down and for the Kelvin temperature to drop for that golden color.

 

 

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18%

Where: Airport, Rochester NY

 

 

Between Meeting: Traveling to the ICP Infinity Awards in NYC

 

 

 

 

 

5Rochester has a reputation for gray skies.  The old joke is that the 18% Gray Card was patterned after a typical Rochester sky at high noon.  While a gray card is the sensitometric halfway point between white and black, skies in Rochester do sometimes feel a bit 18%.

 

 

While waiting to board my flight, I noticed moving shadows on the floor that I had not seen in a few weeks.  When I looked up, it was unusually sunny and I saw two people washing windows one story up from the boarding area.  In one direction the light was flat, but in the direction of this image, the light was backlighting the soap and giving the scene a sense of texture.  So I just followed the window washer on the side of the building with the good light, waiting for the right moment of soap, squeegee, composition and action.

 

 

I set everything to manual to prevent the autofocus from going to infinity and exposed for the soap letting the person silhouette.

 

 

 

 

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Pictures Instead of Postcards

Where: Singapore

 

 

Between Meeting: Lunch Break During a Strategy Meeting

 

 

 

6

 

 

When I come across a postcard scene, I always try to find something that a postcard would never have.  Otherwise, all I have is another postcard.

 

 

Buddahs in Asia often feature a pot belly and a big smile.  Many like to rub the pot belly for good luck, but I noticed that this Buddah had wear marks on the face.  In a few minutes some people came along and started rubbing the face for good luck.

 

 

With a blur of the hand via a 1/30 shutter speed, I went from postcard to picture.

 

 

 

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Bus Stops

Where: Delhi, India

 

 

Between Meeting: After an Epson Print Academy Program

 

 

 

23Bus stops are often fertile ground for great photographs.  My favorite bus stops are in San Fransisco because the older shelters have diffused stripes that are etched into the glass.  These stripes cast shadows and make for great silhouettes.  The bus stops in Las Vegas cast different patterns due to the drilled holes that make up the back wall of the shelters.  Rochester NY has patterns etched into the glass of their bus shelters that make for interesting design forms.

 

 

 

Right after we completed an Epson Print Academy program in Delhi, I walked to the front of the hotel where there was a busy bus stop on the Inner Ring Road.  There were no bus shelters in this spot, just a parade of buses with hundreds of people.  Each of the buses had a person in the last seat who would wait until the final person boarded, then would bang the side of the bus with his hand signalling the driver it was safe to pull away.

 

 

 

Of the 20 or so people I photographed who performed this service for the drivers, this person’s eyes really connected with the lens.  It’s the only exposure I was able to make before he banged the side of the bus and sped away.

 

 

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Why I Love This Picture

Where: French Quarter, New Orleans

 

 

Between Meeting: After Trade Show Hours

 

 

 

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I’m headed to New Orleans later this month on business.  In prep for the trip I was reminded that I made one of my favorite images in The Crescent City, pre- Katrina, of a hotel worker taking a break.

 

 

 

Most see this as a simple, quiet picture.  But to me its filled with multiple elements of composition many of which I learned from my amazing high school instructor, Warren King.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rule of Thirds

 

 

-The woman is in a third

 

-Her head is in a third

 

-The top step is in a third

 

-The bottom of the door is in a third

 

 

Symmetry

 

 

-The meeting of the two green doors

 

-The white door jambs

 

-The equidistant beige wall

 

-The steps and the threshold

 

-The door hinges

 

 

Color

 

 

-Similar colors of the door, dress, tattoo and steps

 

 

Gesture

 

 

-Body pointed right, head pointed left telling a story that could be about the present, or the future, or maybe the past

 

 

Interrupted Pattern

 

 

-The crumbled paper next to the step that shouldn’t be there, but connects with the highlights in the socks and the door jamb.

 

 

 

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When You Gotta Go…

Where: Miami, Florida

 

 

Between Meeting: The Day After Photoshop World

 

 

 

1

 

I love the art deco buildings of South Beach, but my favorite place in Miami is Little Havana.

 

 

8th Street, better known in the area as Calle Ocho, is a Cuban neighborhood filled with amazing people. While walking down Calle Ocho I came upon Maximo Gomez Park better known as Domino Park, where spirited people play a very aggressive game of dominos.

 

 

 

With my limited High School Spanish I befriended an elderly man.  We drank some remarkable Cuban coffee.  He then introduced me to his friends, we drank more coffee and also smoked an amazing cigar. After a good 45 minutes, I felt there was enough rapport that I could bring out the camera.  Rapport is so important in this situation and my new friend was turning into a wonderful Fixer.

 

 

He advised me who I should photograph to make the best impression and then made the introductions.  I saw a great face and asked if he could introduce me.  He quickly refused telling me, “Not a good idea, he was at the Bay of Pigs and still a wanted man”.  I took his advise, and we drank some more coffee.

 

 

I was in the zone capturing so many amazing images, but my concentration was quickly broken due to the after-effects of drinking all that coffee.  There was so much to shoot and I didn’t want to leave, but I had to refocus my efforts on finding el bano.

 

 

I was so frustrated having to leave but when I came upon a mop leaning against a colorful wall outside the bano, I knew this was going to be the best shot.  I made a strategic decision to take care of nature first, then made a few simple exposures where the mop looked like a face with long hair.

 

 

I was back in Miami a year later for a different trade show.  After the show ended I headed straight to that park.  I had a much higher resolution camera and was determined to make an even better photograph.  I jumped out of the taxi and went straight to the wall.  The mop was still there!   But it was leaning against a freshly painted beige wall.  It was now a zero picture.  I was reminded to always get the shot, because it might not be there in the future.

 

 

 

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The Stomping Grounds I Never Knew

Where: Santa Barbara, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: After a Brooks Institute Board Meeting

 

 

 

Bike-Dip

 

When I was a student at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara I rarely noticed the immediate area.   I would often drive 2.5 hours to my native LA to do assignments because I thought Santa Barbara was where the action wasn’t.  My long term photographic sights were on Chicago then New York and even London.  Over time, I did Executive work in the business schools of Harvard, UVA and Michigan. For the most part, my world was East of the Mississippi.

 

 

When I went back to Santa Barbara recently as a member of the Brooks Institute Advisory Board, I was shocked at how beautiful Santa Barbara really was, and equally shocked that I never noticed this when I was a teenager.

 

 

 

So after one of the Advisory Board meetings I set out to capture the beauty of Santa Barbara I missed as a student.  I failed.  All I was getting were postcards.   So I settled into my comfort zone of shadows and contrast and found a skateboard park.  While the park was within sight of the Pacific Ocean, I focused on the shadows of skateboarders and bicyclists.  I cropped out the palm trees, got the shot and then like old times, drove 2.5 hours to LA only this time to catch the red-eye to New York.

 

 

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No Light, No Problem

Where: Yangon, Myanmar

 

 

Between Meeting: Weekend Before a Meeting in China

 

 

 

Monk-Motion-A

I attended a meeting at an Epson facility outside of Hong Kong last year.  I went two days early to take advantage of the weekend, cashed in some frequent flyer miles and flew from Hong Kong to Bangkok and then onto to Yangon (formerly Rangoon) Myanmar (also known as Burma).

 

 

Several photographers told me Burma was a photographer’s paradise.  While they were thinking of the famous Pagodas in the North, I found photographic paradise on the amazing streets of Yangon.  With only 48 hours in country, I was on high alert for the best images in the least amount of time.  So when the light became too flat and the tropical temperatures soared, I sought out pictures indoors and visited a Monastery.

 

 

 

I soon learned that this was the time when young monks had their last meal for the day, and I was allowed to make photographs.  The light inside was dim and filled with color casts that could not be white balanced.  In the analog world I would have had to punt, but with a DSLR I pushed the ISO up to 2000 and experimented with blurs at 1/9 of a second.  I concentrated on finding a singular element that would stand out from similar elements.  When one of the monks reached across the table I panned to get a bit more sharpness on him letting the others blur.

 

 

 

With Adobe Camera Raw I found a compromise white balance and then brought out the reds with Viveza 2.

 

 

 

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Bubble Boy

Where: Costa Mesa, CA

 

 

Between Meeting: Sunday Before a Monday Morning Meeting

 

 

 

 

 

Water-Bubble-BoyWhen I have a meeting Monday AM that requires travel, I try to arrive by Noon on Sunday.  This gives me enough time to look for pictures when the light is good later in the afternoon.  I did a Google search on What’s Happening in Orange County (South of Los Angeles) and learned of the Orange County Fair.

 

 

 

 

I love State and County Fairs anywhere in the country because they are usually filled with great color and shapes to photograph.

 

 

 

At the far end of this Fair were Bubble Rollers, where children climb into large plastic bubbles and bob around in a pool.  The challenge was finding a singular element in a confusing scene and then pulling focus.  When I saw a boy wearing a yellow shirt I honed in on his every move through the pool knowing the complementary yellow and blues could create vibrating color.  I increased shutter speed to both stop action and reduce depth of field then manually focused to prevent  the autofocus picking up on the contrast in the small waves in the pool.  After about 30 exposures that missed, this one worked.

 

 

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