Thursday, March 19, 2020

HUMOR IN PHOTOGRAPHY


In light of the fears and concerns regarding the world-wide COVID19 virus, I thought I'd keep things light this month by talking about humor in photography.

Whenever I am out and about with my camera, I'm always on the lookout for the humor in life--the kind of humor that can be interpreted through a photographic image.  The subjects or situations that make me laugh or smile include the surreal, the unexpected, unintended messages, the funny or simply cute.

In today's self-quarantined, paranoid, and fearful condition, I hope my images bring a laugh or smile to you, whether you're at work, at home or out and about as you keep your social distance from others.  


I stopped at a convenience store to gas up. After I went inside, and before I paid, I decided to look for a protein bar to eat on the road. As I walked around the small store, I saw this. I asked the owner what the cat's name was. He said, "Mr. Pibbs."




We're not the only ones "stocking up." Do you think this will carry him over until after hibernation? I didn't know squirrels could open their mouths that wide!




I will let you interpret this sign. I don't know about you, but it made me wonder what the juxtaposition of those two words was trying to say. Hmm? 




I was in the parking lot walking to my car after doing some shopping. I promise, I did not stage this. This is exactly what I saw. Message: Don't dog and drive!!




I saw this scenario during a visit to Switzerland about ten years ago. I call it "Salvador Dali Bike." Remember Dali's melting clocks? Were the tires "melted" before or after the bike was locked to that fence? 




Are these real-life examples of what we call "Love Birds?"

  
  

Even in the animal kingdom families make appointments for their "family picture." 




Awww, that feels so good! 




Whatcha lookin' at? 




Oh, come on, this will be fun.



Okay, I'm done!




I hope these images brought you some laughs, or at least a smile. Keep your spirits and hopes high. We will get through this. Stay safe and strong. 


   

Thursday, February 13, 2020

CLASSIC CARS

A lot of folks, of all ages, admire classic cars, whether they are shown as originals or as customs. It's much more than just taking pictures of cars--that can be boring. For me it's about capturing the car's essence, its character, it's uniqueness; its "trademark." style.

Lens choice and perspective are two key factors I use for this type of subject. Exposure is also critical, as many of the cars are in broad daylight and are extremely reflective. So, be careful with that challenge. You might have to over-expose a lot of your images in camera. 

So let's take a look at some of these works of art, starting with this beauty.


I took a totally unconventional angle of this 1957 Buick in order to emphasize the design of the curves and circles. The focus is on the vehicle's design rather than the car itself.



In order to isolate this 1953 Chevy from its busy surroundings, I got in close  with a 17 mm lens and shot it vertically to further isolate it. I overexposed it by a +1 stop to keep it from going too dark. 



For this 1951 Pontiac, I closed in on nothing but its hood ornament. Although I liked the original image, I found the ornament's design (shapes and curves) so interesting that I converted it to an art piece by using a photo editing application called "Glowing Edges." I used a close-focusing zoom lens set at 250 mm in order to extract the hood ornament from the confusing and distracting space around it.



When I photograph the whole car I like to take a unique perspective. For this beautiful '57 Chevy Bel Air I got close to the fin, got a corner perspective and, with a 10 mm lens, was able to emphasize it's trademark fin. In order to keep the black dark I under-exposed it by a -2/3 of a stop. 



 Another way to isolate a classic vehicle from its environs is to convert everything but the car to B&W. That is what I did with my nephew's awesome customized 1939 Ford. It really made his car "pop." In case you're new to this, it's a simple photo editing process. First, you "select" the car carefully. What I do after I select it, I enlarge the image really huge so I can double check my selection, making sure I didn't cut off parts of the car and that I covered all of the background carefully. When I'm satisfied with my Selection, I then convert the background to B&w and make adjustments to it until I am pleased with the blacks, grays, and whites. The result is something like this.



Sometimes it's just the color of the car that will make it "jump out" from the others. A good example is this white Ford pickup. I over-exposed this scene by 1-stop to keep it from going gray.




I found this beauty as I drove by Pindall, Arkansas. My composition was there for the taking. The owner ran a nearby woodworking shop and gift shop and had some of his carved chickens and roosters in the pickup bed, I guess ready for delivery. Whatever the reason, they added to my composition!   



I saved this last example for those of you who like to have fun with photo editing software. I photographed this elongated Caddy, then converted the background using an application called "Glowing Edges," like one of the images above, except on this one I just applied it to the background. 



In summary, for me it's much more than just taking pictures of cool cars. I consider the colors, shapes, the surroundings, any issues I might have with exposure, the backgrounds, and any unique characteristics of the car before I go "click." After the fact, I might decide to do something a little extra, to take it beyond a photograph--just for fun.  

Friday, January 24, 2020

PORTRAITS OF THE HISTORIC & ICONIC



I love history, therefore I really like to aim my camera at old, historic and iconic buildings, statues, and structures. My first tip is to refrain from simply taking pictures of them. Doing so makes you a tourist, not a photographer. Treat them like you would any subject-- consider the composition, lighting, timing, exposure, technique, and time of day or year.

I treat them like a portrait, trying my best to capture their beauty, uniqueness, best features, or any photographic perspective that brings out its history. The word itself includes a story. 

So, let me start with what remains my most unique approach and technique. The story behind this structure is key to the approach I took.

The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas has a super interesting story. It was that story that led my right brain to come up with the idea of superimposing the heroes of the Alamo onto the facade of the structure. Using my camera's built-in multiple exposure feature, I photographed a section of a nearby obelisk depicting the heroes of the Alamo and superimposed it in front of The Alamo. I explain this technique in Right Brain Photography, available through Amazon.



This is the oldest bar in Denver, Colorado--The Buckhorn Exchange. I like photographing buildings and structures at twilight. Interior lights are on at this time of day which  brings out details and shows off my subject's character.Additionally, if the building has interesting sides, I like to include them too. It gives the structure a three dimension look. 



Since we're in Denver, let's check this beauty downtown-- The Brown Palace. Many dignitaries and celebrities have stayed there, including The Beatles The corner where two streets meet at 45-degree angles was the perfect spot from which to shoot. The dark twilight hour allowed me to use slow shutter speeds, which gave me those cool car light streaks.  



Millions of people know of the photogenic Mormon barns along Mormon Row near
Jackson Hole, Wyoming. As for composition, perspective and angle were key in depicting the context in which these barns were built--near the Grand Tetons. A low angle, about two feet from the ground, gave the barn heightened prominence and placed the mountains near equal to the barn's roof.



There is a beautiful stucco Catholic church in Taos, New Mexico known colloquially as Ranchos Church. Surprisingly, it's backside, to me, has more artistic value than the front, which looks like so many other stucco churches. Evidently Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keeffe thought so too. 

I had seen tons of photos and paintings of this beautiful 1815 church. All of them were during the day. During one of my several trips to northern New Mexico, I wanted to do something different. So, I went out after sunset to see what the shapes and angles looked like at night. I liked it. It's a study of color, shapes, and form. The subject itself is secondary.  



St. Francis Xavier in Lucern, Switzerland was built in 1677. It's majestic presence is obvious. I wanted to pick up that character through my camera, so I got up early one morning to get that nice warm glow to it and the city in general. From that angle and perspective, it's beauty was repeated in its reflection in the Reuss River. The interior of the church is just as awesome as its exterior. Mt. Pilatus serves as the backdrop. 



The next two examples are in the little quaint and historic town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, in the northern Ozarks. The first one is probably the most photographed building in town-- The Flatiron building. If I shoot before delivery trucks arrive, I can have the whole town to myself--no people, no cars; just the town showcasing its charm. 



Another iconic and much-visited structure in town is glass-encased Thorncrown Chapel. What I often do is go on-line and see what photos others have taken. I don't look so much what's been done, but what has not been done. 95% of photos I saw were in the daytime. The ones in the evening were shot straight on; looking right at the front of the structure. What I didn't see was a three-dimensional perspective.

One day I called their office to ask permission to photograph it after visiting hours. They allowed me to go after hours, at twilight. I had the entire grounds to myself. The situation allowed my to look for different angles. This was the angle I had not seen. 

  
 


The final two examples are in the underrated city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, which has its history rooted in natural and healing natural spring waters, nature, gambling, and mob visitors. It certainly has its share of historic and iconic buildings and structures. 

Here are just two of the many I have seen and photographed. I'll start with the iconic MALCO theater. It has a rich history and story. Before racial integration, there was a "Colored" back entrance where tickets were purchased for their balcony view of current movies. The ticket booth is still there as a reminder. President Clinton frequented the movie theater during his youth. It is now home to Maxwell Blade's magic and comedy show. The Art Deco building holds its own among other historic and iconic buildings in the city. 



Angel's Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown is in another historic building that reminds me of something I would see in Chicago. Nighttime seemed like the right time to bring out it's "Ay Tony!" character. Once I set up my equipment and decided on my composition I waited for cars to clear so I could get a clear shot of the corner restaurant. While I waited, this man walked out and stood on the corner. I knew that was the moment to go "click." The time of day, composition, lighting, and the human element all  gave me more than just a snap shot of Angel's. 




Every city and town has unique historic building, structures, and statues. Go out there some early morning, late afternoon, or evening and see if you can bring out their character, charisma, and charm.