Monday, August 27, 2012

Nicole on the Beach

A few years ago I saw a photo of a saxophone player taken on the beach -- not just any photo, but one that has as they say "impact." It sort of resonated with me. And it makes sense why. It was taken by Joe McNally, one of the best location shooters and lighting photographers working today. It was one of those images that you file away and always want to try, not that you'd ever really come close to McNally but even a poor man's attempt might have some sort of merit. After finding a model for this -- (Nicole, who I work with at UTMB) we scheduled a shoot and I invited two other photographers who I knew appreciated McNally and the sax image just about as much as I did -- Larry Patrick and Doug Haass. After some flash and ambient photos in the dunes, as sunset neared we headed for the water's edge and made our best effort (above). Perfectly fine image. Will it be in my portfolio one day? Maybe. Am I happy I made the attempt? Absolutely. Because any time you put yourself out there -- working in not exactly ideal conditions -- you learn and grow as a photographer. And that's the fun part of any vocation -- making those small steps in the evolution. 85mm, f/5 at 1/40 sec handheld; light from an Elinchrom Quadra from camera left.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Orleans #4

Welmon Sharlhorne with his artwork in progress, Jackson Square, New Orleans, May 2012. From a technical standpoint, this photo is an interesting comparison to the first photo of Welmon -- both were shot at f/5.6. In the first image you can see the effect of the 300mm compression on the background and how nicely the background renders. The image above was shot at 58mm, and you can still see detail in the trees behind Welmon. Just an interesting side note. Sometimes we get caught up in shooting shallow apertures and forget the fact that zooming and compression also play greatly into the "bokeh" look that is so popular now.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Orleans #3

The photo above of Welmon Sharlhorne was taken in Jackson Square in New Orleans. Interesting story here. Welmon is a folk artist in the city; some people call his art "outsider art." These terms stem from the fact that Welmon's not a classically trained artist. His work is very linear and geometric -- often containing buildings, birds, and clocks. It's pretty unique, and honestly not what you'd expect from a street artist in New Orleans. Kim and I were sitting in the park taking a break from the warm late May temperatures when Welmon strolled by and stopped at the same park bench. We struck up a conversation immediately and he told us his life story. Welmon spent some time in juvenile detention as a young boy in Houma, then as a young man began mowing yards in the New Orleans area. After getting into a dispute over payment for a job, Welmon found himself on trial and eventually incarcerated at Angola State Prison. The details of the story here get pretty vague. But ultimately, he spent over 20 years at Angola, and during his time there he began creating his art using ballpoint pens, manilla envelopes and tongue depressors. His story became known, and upon release from prison his art became highly collectible. He's been exhibited in numerous regional art galleries, the Smithsonian, and in Europe. He's not shy about telling you his story and promoting his art. He seems to survive through support from fellow artists and local places of business who let him work in their space. He's a true character -- one that you couldn't make up and don't meet very often in life. I knelt down on the warm Jackson Square concrete and took some photos of Welmon as we finished our conversation ... using the trees behind our bench as a backdrop. With the late afternoon sun coming from behind my right shoulder I used the pop-up flash on my camera for a little fill, but the majority of the warm light came from the low sunlight behind me. 1/125 sec at f/5.6, 300mm. Note he has no lenses in his glasses, which made my job of getting rid of reflections very easy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Orleans #2

This photo was taken in the New Orleans French Quarter in May. I've never tried much street photography, and with an afternoon to myself to wander around I thought I'd give it a try. I saw this older woman shopping in this very trendy boutique so I hung around across the street and took a couple of photos. I guess you can read into this image a lot of things, and that's part of the beauty of street photos. They are a moment in time and a peek into a person's life with some sort of underlying meaning. 1/25 sec at f/8, spot metering, 82mm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Orleans #1

Back in May, Kim and I made a trip over to New Orleans. It was a rich and interesting photo experience. More images to come over the next week. One of the highlights of our trip was dinner at Jacques Imo's -- a wildly popular, quirky little Cajun restaurant in the uptown area of the city. It was the day of Tulane University's graduation when we ate there, so it was extremely busy -- wait time for a table was up to an hour and a half, and as we sat on a church pew near the reception desk, we saw group after group gladly put their name on the list. No beepers, no loud speakers -- "Oh, we'll find you" was the reply from the hostess when the name went on the list. People made their way to the bar or spilled outside onto the narrow street. And somehow people were found and groups made their way back into the shotgun house now a restaurant -- through the kitchen and into living rooms that had become dinning rooms. The food was great -- authentic Cajun food with interesting modern twists. The atmosphere and the whole experience was something you tend to remember for a while. As we left we took the photo above with an iPhone. Just a couple of things to point out -- The Jacques Imo's flat bed car in front of the restaurant had a table for 2-3 people in the back, and people were happily eating dinner right there. Also to the left is a grill where they were serving broiled oysters on the half shell as people waited for their table -- quirky and interesting -- everything you'd expect in New Orleans. iPhone photo; saturated in Photoshop, pixel bender filter applied generously.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Floral Macros - Version 2.0

More experiments in extreme shallow depth of field -- 50mm lens with 36mm extension tube, 1/100 sec at f/2.5, two lights in umbrellas above from either side at about 1/8 power, auto focus turned off, get in close, hold breath, trigger shutter, hope for the best.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Jekyll Island at Dawn

The photo above was taken in the spring on Jekyll Island, Georgia. It was one of the many shots I took on Driftwood Beach at sunrise. This was taken on day 2 of three sunrise shoots on the beach. I ventured back near the scrub to back light this great downed tree on the beach. Only problem is that the area where the beach met the brush was also the place where the noseeums were the worst. I've been bitten by mosquitoes and fire ants over the years, but after three mornings at Driftwood Beach, I don't think I've ever had worse bug bites. 0.6 sec at f/14, 56mm.