Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Tunnel View Last Light

114 sec at f/22, focal length: 25mm, ISO 100 - December 14, 2006 at 6:19pm PDT
Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II, tripod mounted

Well we've had some pretty nice storms come through and I haven't been out to photograph once. Oh well, maybe during the holidays. Hope this winter season finds you all warm and well.

Happy Holidays!
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

King Kong, The Police, and Polka Dots

King Kong, The Police, & Polka Dots

1/30 sec at f/3.5, focal length: 18mm, ISO 400 - February 27, 2007
Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II, hand held

As I'm writing this, our first snow of the season is falling. So for those of you that aren't feeling these last couple of posts, I'll have some nice wintery images very soon. I was hoping to get to Yosemite today, but forgot that we are watching my nephew for the next couple of days. I'll be there soon enough.

This is King Kong. That was the only thing that I could understand, he liked to be called King Kong. He was spanish speaking and drunk, and I was neither of those things. My friend, Bo and I spent quite a bit of time with King Kong on his front porch exchanging gestures and sentences broken down to only the most essential words. He was excited for us to be photographing him and he was putting on a show. The image shown here was the only moment that I saw him retreat into himself and seem to forget that we were there. I think it's beautiful and tragic at the same time. I think it is truly a telling moment of this man, whoever he is.

Our time with Mr. Kong was cut short by his very large, angry looking son, that stepped out of the house. In retrospect, I don't think he was really that angry, probably just suspicious of two strangers with large cameras that were on his porch trying to communicate with his dad. I wish that I would have worked for the portrait of the two of them together. I think it could have happened. But we got scared and left.

Please take the time to visit Bo Parker's blog - A Moment Preserved. Bo is a very dear friend of mine and has been an inspiration to me creatively. Bo's own creativity spans many mediums, though his blog focuses on photography. He's an extremely talented musician, gifted writer, and a wizard when it comes to graphic design (even though he didn't do ANY design work on his blog...tsk tsk). Any ways take a look. Be sure to browse the older posts to see his posted image of King Kong. It looks to be almost the same moment as the image above.

*A note on composition: With photography like this, the subject matter is constantly changing and the right moment can be elusive. So when that "decisive moment" does coincide with the click of your shutter, your intuition for good composition needs to be instinctive. This comes from continual practice of observation and composing of everything that passes in front of your eye balls, even if there is no camera in hand. Pay attention to how the light is interacting with the surfaces, where shadows are falling, where lines are going, where they're crossing. My instinct for composition allowed me to place the King in front of a dark doorway where no distracting lines were jutting out from the back of his head. He's nicely framed by the dark space behind him, and since he's filling most of that space there is no overwhelming black hole any where else in my image. Just something to think about.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

"And Now for Something Completely Different"

Over Pass

1/1250 sec at f/6.3, focal length: 86mm, ISO 200 - June 15, 2004, 4:08pm PDT
Photographed with Nikon D100, ED AF Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 D, hand held

This image was taken 4 years ago while I was studying photojournalism at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, CA. It's not an exemplary image of the "decisive moment", but I do enjoy the composition and light quite a bit.

I regard street/documentary photography as one of the higher forms of photography as well as the most important. That being said, I don't do much of it (or any of it as of right now for that matter) because it's so damn difficult. Not technically difficult, but difficult in that I have a hard time capturing intimate, real moments that lend themselves to a larger narrative. People tend to tense up or smile too much when a camera is around. It becomes easier to stand too far back (like in this image) or leave people out of the frame altogether, or to shoot too loosely from the hip, and that's not good. It's not the subjects fault that this is how they respond to a camera, it's my own, as the photographer. I'm not doing my job to become a part of what I'm photographing, to allow the subject to not even notice the camera. And I don't mean being sneaky, I mean not being creepy.

With THAT being said, I do have a few projects in mind that I'd like to work on in the coming year. We'll see how it goes.

Now some links to others that are much better at this than I am. - the caliber of work coming from these students now is pretty impressive.

Matt Mallams - and his blog. Oh and he's a Brooks alumni.

Damon Winter

James Nachtwey

and of course Henri Cartier-Bresson

There's plenty more, but it's getting late...

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Oak Saplings in Fog, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California

Two Oak Saplings in Fog, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California

3.2 sec at f/22, focal length: 29mm, ISO 100 - December 2, 2008, 5:24pm PDT
Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 17-35mm f/4L, tripod mounted

We had a beautiful sunny day. Crystal clear blue skies, brisk breeze. Wonderful spring like weather, but just a bit chillier. Then the fog started to roll in...and MADE my day. I love fog. Absolutely love it! It's right up there with falling snow. The immense quiet that takes over is humbling. Instant meditation. You're senses become heightened and everything is in focus. In a forest like this, the trees become bigger and more intimate at the same time.

I think that the best way to photograph a situation like this is to forget about any preconceived ideas of how you'd want to photograph it. Let yourself become immersed in the fog and open yourself to everything around you. Experience it first without your camera. After a bit, you'll know when it's time to start making images. Feel the composition through your viewfinder instead of seeing it.

I think that when we set out to photograph, it becomes a mission. We become bent on taking pictures and are taken up with the technical aspect of it all. We forget to make a connection with our subject. And without that connection we fail to represent our subject in a meaningful and personal way.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Back!

Sunset, Grand Canyon and Colorado River, South Rim, Arizona

1/13 sec at f/16, focal length: 70mm, ISO 100 - November 30, 2008, 5:00pm PDT
Photographed with Canon EOS 20D, EF 70-200mm f/4L, tripod mounted

I hope that you all have had a wonderful thanksgiving. My family and I loaded up in a rented RV, along with my parents and brother, and headed out to Arizona for thanksgiving with some family. We had a great time visiting with family that we hadn't seen in some time (it was my grandma's first time meeting my wife and two children so that was worth the whole trip in itself). We had never traveled in an RV before so that interesting, and definitely better than driving 10 hours in a car with two youngsters. Photographically the trip wasn't so producing but there are a couple of keepers. I'm especially happy with the image posted here.

In any case, it's nice to be back.
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