Monday, April 30, 2012

Sunday Sunrise ~ White Balance Creative Option

We decided to head north to Rehoboth to work with the remnants of the jetties, as a foreground element. Sunday's sunrise was interesting with the overnight storm moving out to sea. Usually with a low front moving out the waves are large, but this morning the ocean was more like a lake than the ocean with waves lapping the shore instead of breakers. As we watched the morning light come on we were working with very slow shutters to try and magnify the little wave action hitting the jetty, but it wasn't much, probably the calmest I have ever seen the ocean!
White balance is always a question students have and always seems to be a mysterious digital photography term. White balance for early morning light which is very blue can be set to cloudy or shady, or auto. Raw files can be easily manipulated to achieve different white balance choices in post processing. White balance settings attempt to make white subjects white, it counteracts the light in the achieve the objective of balancing white subjects to render them white. I often like blue in the images of early dawn. Its a creative option. I do always hit the eyedropper tool in the Bridge in Photoshop to check what if white was white as the white surf break should be and the result is often very dramatic. Sometimes I like it better, sometimes I don't but the bottom line is, there is a choice!
Here is the "White Balanced" image of the scene above which more accurately represents the scene.
I also broke the rule of placing the horizon in either the lower third or upper third of the scene. In this scene with the clouds and the jetty as main subjects the more centered horizon worked best. (Well, at least in my mind)

And here is another slightly different composition...with two different white balance choices.

Have a back up plan ~

This past Saturday night on my beach workshop, we had hoped for a pretty sundown due to the predicted afternoon showers which were supposed to be moving out by evening, but they came late so instead, we made shots around the pier and of the tents that were left up from the events of the day. When the rain started we headed to the boardwalk for a few more shots. We were making shots in the arcade when this young woman walked by and she started playing one of the games. I chatted with her a few minutes and asked if I could take a shot through the glass of her playing the claw game. She obliged and its one of my favorite shots from the weekend. Always look for interesting people to incorporate into images.
It was a motorcycle weekend  in Ocean City, Md and the large event tents were still in place on the parking lot. The shapes of the roof line made an interesting graphic image against the dark grey western sky.

One of the workshop participants had a Nikon capable of multiple exposures which he had never explored when making images before. So I helped him set up his menu and experiment with 9 shots of the ferris wheel as it moved around. We tried to time the shots in the series as the lights on the wheel lit up. I thought the result was fun and I added a little Snapart3 effect to my shot in post processing. We also experimented with multiple exposures when making shots of the fishing pier as the very small breakers rolled in hoping to maginify the effect of the small breakers. I liked the resulting soft images I was seeing and post processed my shot with a touch of Snapart3.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Workshop Sunrise Shoot

It was a good morning on the beach. We made it to the beach by 5:15 there was already light on the horizon. I helped everyone get set and making images then I made a few myself. The sky was pretty clear so we focused on the surf and the shoreline reflecting the color of the sky. When the sun broke the horizon we had some fun with the big shell and the surf.  I had a little time after breakfast while the group catches up on some rest and processing to process a few images. Clouds are moving in and I hope we have a great sunset...and don't get rained out.

Friday, April 27, 2012

On Personal Vision.....

Final Image
Often I am not sure how other photographers feel about my use of Snapart3 on my photographs, and I guess the reality is if I like it and it pleases me, then who cares, but I think we all like a little reassurance that we are not all wet with our thoughts and I asked on FB the other night and photographers I admire, said they liked this image...but one comment got me to thinking (a dangerous thing).
The comment went like this......."I know a few, politely labeled purists, who have heartburn over it."  
The comment made me think....."but I didn't like the photograph from a purely photographic perspective."
So today, I thought I would share my ideas, process and a few before and after images.  

When I saw this young woman, sitting in dappled shade on a sunny spring day in front of the New York library, I just loved her style; from the Polka Dot stockings, to the blue beret, wire glasses and blue draped coat....I also loved the scene, with the bistro tables, old architecture and urban backdrop. So I made the shot. What I did't like was the fact that she was eating lunch. I never really like to catch people eating as I just don't think those are great shots, but I was moving fast and had only a few seconds to capture the scene. I made two shots...the shot below is the one I decided to work with.
Raw Unprocessed file
Now for me, as a photograph, I don't like it! While it is a "pure" representation of the scene. 
Pure ~ Although, one might argue that, as I was working with a shallow depth of field around 3.6, which then blurs the whats pure? I didn't like the amount of contrast with the background lights on the buildings, I didn't like the bright street light coming through the balustrades. I didn't like the person caught in the balustrades walking across the street. I didn't like the pills of wool on her beret. But I thought I could do something with it when I liked the subject and the scene overall, just not how the camera rendered the light and detail. So I went about applying my vision for the scene.
Color adjusted, contrast adjusted in Camera Raw and Photoshop
First, in Camera raw and Photoshop I took a lot of contrast out of the scene and adjusted colors, But it still wasn't working for me....but it was getting closer to my vision. I opened up the shadows so her stockings were more visible which then revealed a large run in her stocking at her heel..... the background lights also became less distracting, a good thing. At this point I said lets run it through a little I really did see this as a French impressionist inspired image.  When I did, I used several layers to apply different styles of "paint effect" to different parts of the image. After working the image in Snapart3 you really can't tell she is eating, the pills in her beret disappeared, the run in her stocking is gone, the people seen through the balustrade I now liked giving the scene a sense of place. In the end after processing, I really did have the image I was seeing in my mind when I made the shot. If I was working in the "purist" mindset, I probably would have thrown the image out! 
I don't know what I will ever do with it, but artists paint because they love to paint! I process pictures because I love to process pictures! and I probably would paint if it didn't involve all the that mess, supplies and storage of supplies. Plus I like the act of photographing!
Everyone has different vision and I for one am glad for that, it expands mine and makes me think!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Watermen's Harbor, Kent Island, Md.

On the way to the beach today, I decided to stop at one of  my favorite Maryland places to photograph, The Watermen's Harbor on Kent Island. It was a cool overcast day, but I wanted to see if there was anything interesting to photograph. I parked and started walking around and soon I began to see a few images. As I walked I noticed a work boat pull up to the end of the dock and he began to unload his catch from the morning on the bay. So I made my way to the end of the dock and observed the process. Ignorant to the actual catch in the bags I asked, and he said they were "Bait Clams" or Razor Clams, so I watched him load the back of the pick up with colorful bags of "Bait Clams."  Bait clams are purchased by crabbers to bait their traps.
Shortly after I arrived at the dock, another truck pulled up and two more men got out of an old truck. One of the men immediately went to the boat and began scooping up a small collection of clams on the boat.
As I moved in to make images of him picking up the loose clams he said to me "you a news lady? tell the state of Maryland to do something, these are endangered." Well those were the eating kind of clams, we used to enjoy so much, but now are scant in the bay waters. My guess is those few bay clams didn't make it back into the bay...instead his dinner plate! I was glad I stopped!
Here's a link to an article from the Sunpapers on the declining Maryland Bay Clam population.

As I was walking back to the car I caught another shot of "bait claims" heading to market.
Loved this still life for the tones of the baskets and the tones of the waterman's jackets hanging inside the boat, visible through the window.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New York City IS for Lovers!

Walking around the streets of New York City, one sees many different photo ops, but I was delighted with the ones I saw of couples....coupled, from embraces moving down the street as one to simple hands being held together. This theme in my mind was really wrapped up when, in front of the Plaza Hotel, I spotted one man on his knee...was he proposing?? on a beautiful spring day in New York? How romantic or ..... Who knows maybe not at all but it sure looked like it!

All images were shot with the Nikon D4 fitted with the 28-300mm lens and processed with Nik Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop CS5.

Monday, April 23, 2012

New York City Streets~

I did a double take on this one, when I first decided she might make an interesting image. At first I just thought about a woman reading her iPhone, and then I saw the little one under the pack like carrier with her little stockinged leg hanging out. Maybe a Nanny or a Mommy?
Today I had a chance to process a few more images from my New York City street shoot. This collection was partly inspired by Sue, who mentioned at brunch, that she likes to capture images of people reading..well on a beautiful spring day during lunch time in Bryant Park that's not hard to do...but I also found people reading, iPhones, and Kindles all over the city in various places.
Kindle Reading
Well reading is reading....
Smoking and reading.....
Reading and reading..can be confusing....

Really, just reading...a book!

All the images here were shot with the D4 fitted with the 28-300 lens. They were processed in CS5 and Nik Silver Efex Pro2.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Love New York City with a little Snapart3

When I go to a "place" different from my own "place" I try to capture what seems most different than "my place." We all have our place which has it's own character and familiarity. New York City with it's fleet of Yellow Cabs filling the city streets is most different from my place! Standing outside of Grand Central Station, I became interested in watching the cabs come and go in strings of yellow, as people quickly jumped inside, escaping from the hectic city streets finding a few minutes of rest allowing a stranger to get them where they needed to go. I try to teach my workshop participants to be an "Observer" first and a "Photographer" second. If you are not "seeing" and "observing", then you can not make compelling images.

This shot was double processed through Snapart3 and then back into Photoshop CS5
 Observing people  moving toward Grand Central crossing the huge white striped intersection in a rush to get their trains was also interesting. Catching people in full stride, coming right at me, with the back drop of the city buildings was fun.
Watching people interact with street vendors and their packed street kiosks is always fun.
And then there are the "standers".....Folks just standing, resting talking doing what they do in a rather staged way....but not staged...just there...for the camera and photographer to see.

The door man for Trump Tower reflects a classic image from New York City where doormen guard the entrances to Apartments, Hotels and Museums....and the masses of people passing by are reflected in the glass windows and doors.

..and heading back to the bus through the theater district I spotted these guys hanging out engaged in conversation, against a painted wall with an architectural feature that acted like a perfect frame. When I looked at it I thought "Trompe l'oreal."
Working with the 28-300 lens was perfect for shooting across the street and making a tight composition, or for reaching out into a crowd to isolate a face. While the lens is a little slow compared to my 70-200 2.8 , it is really great for its size and flexibility and price. It does have a pretty big distortion factor but is easily corrected in the bridge in CS5. It was a great day in New York City with a super group of photographers...I have just posted my fall day trip to New York City if you would like to join me for a fun day on the streets in New York City. Click here for more info.

Friday, April 20, 2012

New York City Streets~About the Boys!

Yesterday I conducted one of my favorite workshops, the New York City Street Photography Day trip. I had a super group of participants. We started our walk in the Wholesale/Retail flower market and this man, an owner from Peru, was willing to pose for us at the doorway to his shop.
After working the street there we headed north up Broadway to brunch at the Brooklyn Diner, where the food is always fabulous. Today, as I reviewed my images several themes of them was all about the men with great character!
In front of the diner was a street vendor sitting by his stand. I saw him but in a hurry to make our reservation time I continued in to the restaurant. When we were eating breakfast we shared images we made on the way up to Times Square and Sue had grabbed a shot of the very same man, so I said we will have to see if he will let us all photograph him on the way out. So I stopped and began to talk with him and the group was making images, he loosened up and allowed us to make a few shots.
We walked on to Bryant Park and Grand Central then up Fifth Avenue. As we were walking there were quite a few Hasidic Jewish men walking the streets. I stopped and paused as one approached, and made a shot.
We also made a stop at Trump Tower for a coffee break. When we left the door guards had changed and this handsome man with a beautiful smile was now in front of the Tower, so I asked him if we could take his picture and he volunteered.
 We walked Fifth to Central Park and made images of the Coachmen trying to solicit horse drawn carriage rides in Central Park. I spotted one Coachman waiting who looked Irish and I just had to ask. So I did, it broke the ice and he was willing to have his picture taken.

As we walked back downtown on 6th avenue to Juniors for dinner, I spotted an elderly man in the street with a cane hailing a a classic we all turned our cameras on him, he said to us "What is it you all find so fascinating about me?" before we could talk to him, the cab came and he he got in. I thought about the question he posed, on my way home...what was it that made this scene this man so interesting.....
Well, to me, he totally symbolized New York City's toughness. Clearly an elderly man from a different era, in an amazing traditional suit and hat....a throwback from gentler, more formal times, he seemed so unique now,  among the hooded sweat-shirted, plugged in earbud, iPhone folks which now are the norm on New York City Streets. Maybe he also reminded me of our human frailties, with his cane.....and  yet his independence was clear as he stepped right out to solicit a cab on his own. It was a perfect moment for what was really a perfect day on the streets on New York City! I will be scheduling another New York City Day Trip in the fall....hope you can join me then. All images were first converted in Nik Silver Efex Pro and then processed with OnOne Perfect Effects, for the sepia toning and blended back with the Nik version with reduced opacity.
All the images here were made with the Nikon D4 fitted with the 28-300mm lens, handheld at ISO 1000! So awesome for street photography! and believe it or not...I was spotted on the street on Fifth Avenue by the same man that spotted me in Washington, DC with the D4...and he called out D-fah, D-fah...and we smiled and laughed like crazy that this could be true! He owns a diamond jewelry Kiosk shop on Fifth Avenue. He invited all of us in to meet his wife and see his business.
Yes even in New York City, it's still a small world!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spring Tulips and the photographers old addage......"Shoot the Vertical right after you shoot the Horizontal."

This weekend I helped on a volunteer basis,  The Baltimore Camera Club with their annual Camera School. I teach composition in the classroom on Saturday and then assist with the field lessons on Sunday. Its a busy weekend but fun! Today we were in Sherwood Gardens and making images of the tulips. I got a chance to do a little personal shooting with the D4, and my 200 mm macro lens fitted with a 52mm extension tube for the first time. The 52 mm extension tube did not seem to fit as well to the body mount but I made the connection anyway and it worked fine. The one really great thing is the ISO capability of the D4. The increased ISO capability for macro is so sweet! At times I was using ISO 1000, that I never before was able to use doing macro work and still get a useable  image. I was able to achieve shutter speeds at 1/125 sec with the extension tube connected, a real plus for me, especially since we had a little breeze today.

In my composition class I drive home the idea of making lots of shots when you have great subjects..and always make vertical and horizontal images of the same subject, then decide when you get home which one you might like best! I also cover color theory and this purple pink tulip with a background of out of focus purple azalea shrubs really resonated with the idea of working with analogous colors....but when you pop in the green stem and find the one tulip with the yellow it adds a whole color spectrum including color opposites of green and magenta...and the triad color of yellow!
In Camera Swipe 200mm macro lens f-16 ISO 400 1/15 sec Processed in Photoshop CS5
I always work in horizontal and vertical orientations when making images.
ISO 1000 Shutter Speed 1/1000 f-stop not recorded 200mm macro 52 mm extension tube Processed with Photodhop CS5 and Nik Color Efex Pro Classic Soft Focus filter
Two image blend in camera swipe. Blended in Photoshop CS5