Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Inside Demacks

I mentioned last week that the January assignment for the Bay Area Photo Club was "Old Galveston." I've literally walked by Demacks hundreds of times and even knew some of the children of the original owners when I was in high school, so the building has always drawn me to it somehow. Maybe it's because so much of the Strand was redeveloped for tourism back in the 1980s. Demacks always seemed out of place - an operating produce supplier in the middle of a tourist-oriented, family-friendly destination. I guess deep down maybe I thought the modern commercial outlets were the ones out of place; Demacks seemed to fit better into the Strand environment. It bucked the trends and lasted for many years until it eventually fell out of business. So it has stood vacant for about the last 7-10 years. The image I posted on Monday showed the exterior. The image above was shot through one of the broken windows shown at street level in the previous post. For you photographers out there, the original image (below) was a 5-shot HDR, converted to sepia with Nik Silver Efex, distressed with some scratch brushes, and framed with an OnOne Photo Frame antique edge. I ultimately used the antiqued version for the photo club assignment. What a paradox though - shooting an HDR only to grunge it up to look old. But maybe that fits right into the mystique of Demacks - it still stands while the tourist businesses now scramble to reopen after Ike.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Before the days of Walmart and Target, there were corner grocery stores, where people would make daily stops to get fresh produce. I saw a photographic body of work a while ago where the photographer documented the current state of these buildings of a bygone era. Shot in black and white with minimal postprocessing, these images portrayed how life has changed in the past 50 or 60 years. Instead of neighborhood corner grocery stores, we now have big box chains strategically placed every 10-15 miles along interstate highways. The photo above is one of these corner stores from a bygone era - it's called Demacks Produce and is located on the corner of 19th and Strand in Galveston. Obviously it's seen better days. I can remember when it was an active produce distributor, but it's since fallen on pretty hard times, and after Ike, well, it hasn't been touched since September.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

tangled and rusty

This is a tighter shot of the pile of chairs in the photo posted earlier in the week. The black and white conversion was done with Nik Silver Efex Pro. If you're interested in doing great fine art black and white conversions, this is a piece of software that you have to get. It is truly revolutionary in the control and mood you can place in an otherwise ordinary photo, and the number of tonal options is unbelievable. Recently, I've been working with the U-Point Technology control points in the program, where you can create areas of varying exposure and contrast - really great for evening out a photo made in hard light like this one. Check out Silver Efex here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

4 months later

Hard to believe --- four months ago this week, Hurricane Ike struck Galveston. In some ways it seems so long ago, and in other ways it seems like yesterday. The island is finding it's way back slowly. The city struggles with budgets, residents struggle with rebuilding their lives and homes, but you see progress and hope, and that makes you feel better. I was down in Galveston on Sunday taking some photos for the Bay Area Photo Club's assignment of "Old Galveston" and ran across this scene. I haven't taken very many of these type photos - debris piles ... people's lives, homes, and businesses on the street corner. But four months later, this appears on the street one day. Makes you shake your head. For every 10 steps forward on the island, there is a scene like this. Restaurant silverware in plastic containers, rusty upsidedown chairs in a pile, soda water still in bottles litter the curb. In the background you see some of Galveston's public housing, fenced off with their future uncertain. It's a long road back, indeed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

proteus leaf

New Years resolutions anyone? Well mine isn't necessarily a resolution, but I'm hoping to shoot more photographic series and bodies of work this year. I've been inspried by the work of Mark S. Johnson and his book Botanical Dreaming for over a year now -- the beauty he captures in the out-of-focus areas behind the subject (known in the photographic world as bokeh). It's one of the things I'm going to try and do more of in 2009. This image was shot with an SB800 flash through an umbrella above right, using a 50mm Nikon lens with a 36mm Kenko extension tube. The extension tube effectively allows a lens to focus at a closer distance than it normally would - sort of the inverse of what a teleconverter does. But the down side is the extremely shallow depth of field. Used to your advantage, though, you can get some interesting effects. The best way I've found to focus this set-up is to turn off autofocus and simply move your body (and camera) until you achieve focus. So hopefully you'll be seeing more of these images here through the year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Blair revisited

This photo was taken back in July of a woman named Blair who we happened to meet near the Strand in Galveston. Larry asked her and her boyfriend, Carlos, if they'd be interested in doing some modeling for us, and they agreed. The photo was taken in the alley behind the Tremont House. It was on one of our first outings with off-camera strobes, and this particular shot was taken as most of the photographers were shooting Carlos with strobes while Blair waited patiently in a window sill. We left the photo shoot sure that we had Blair and Carlos's email addresses, but in the weeks that followed we couldn't find them. But by coincidence, Larry happened to meet a friend of Carlos's who put us in touch with them. So, earlier this week I was working on a couple of shots to put on a CD for them, and this is one that I never thought much of until now. With a little work, I think it's worthy of posting on my blog and one that I bet even Blair will like. So that brings up a question: as photographers, what's your editing process? Do you keep most of your raw shots or do you ruthlessly cull through them, keeping only the very best? Are hidden gems going in the trash or are you saving valuable disk space by permanently deleting? I'd be interested in hearing opinions...