Tag: Monochrome

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Black Photographers of Note

February is Black History Month here in the United States. So, for this post I wanted to highlight two of them for you. These men currently have exhibits at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art here in Washington, D.C. There are other black men and women who have made a mark in photography; however, I have decided to focus on these two for my own personal reasons.

The first and most well known is Gordon Parks. His exhibit is titled “Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early work 1940-1950.” This exhibit features 120 photographs from his early years and covers many topics such as Black Life in Urban America, photos from his experiences working for the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information among other areas of interest.

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas in 1912 and was a self-taught artist. He not only photographed black subjects; but he was a pioneer in that as a black photographer he photographed white people in many different settings from coal mines to refineries and he was a featured fashion photographer. His work included being a photographer for Life magazine when it was arguably the most widely read magazine in America. Mr. Parks also played a prominent role in film with movies such as: Rounder, Shaft, The Learning Tree and other projects. You can read more about Mr. Parks at this Wikipedia site, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Parks.

With so many pictures to chose from I decided to post the photo below. Personally, the contrast of the white couple viewing a photograph of a black couple was intriguing! What are your reactions?

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The other black photographer is less well known. He is Dawoud Bey and his exhibit at the National Gallery of Art is entitled: “Dawoud Bey: The Birmingham Project.” This photographic exhibit was particularly poignant for me and all Black Americans of my age along with many Americans of other races. On Sunday, September 16, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by four members of the Klu Klux Klan, a white supremacy group that dates to the period of Reconstruction after the War of the Rebellion (Civil War) here in America. 4 young Black girls were murdered, and 22 other people were injured by this racist attack! You can read more about the Birmingham Bombing here https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/10-key-facts-16th-street-baptist-church-bombings-article-1.2361565.

Not widely known is the fact that after the bombing a large crowd of white people in Birmingham began to celebrate the bombing and some took to rioting. Several young white men came upon two young black boys who were delivering newspapers. One of the men took out a gun and shot and killed the younger boy! It happened to be they were brothers. Mr. Bey decided to include a young black boy and an older black man in this exhibit to honor this young victim of a senseless and racist attack.

Mr. Bey decided to portray these young people as they may have looked had they not died in the bombing. He selected several young people about the age of the youths who had died and then found several people about 70 years old to portray how they may have looked as adults. He then posted them in similar positions and photographed his subjects in black & white. I decided to post this photograph for its haunting aspect. It almost appears that the people in the photograph are looking at the viewers and this made me shiver. I was the same age in 1963 as these children when they died, and I remember the bombing as if it just happened!

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Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photographic journey takes me.

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Blog Posts

Philadelphia Panorama Photos

The title for this blogpost makes use of the letter P three times and that is a lot. It is also appropriate because this blogpost is about taking many photos and creating a panorama. It is also a blogpost that prominently (another P) displays my rather poor skill in shooting panoramas. That is ok because this blog is about my journey to becoming a better photographer and what I learn along the way.

Last week, my wife and I took a day trip to Philadelphia and I brought my camera and tripod along specifically to try a few cityscape panoramas. I had only done one panorama before this attempt; therefore, I thought it was time to explore the technique. I decided to not look at any videos beforehand to prepare myself just to do something different as a challenge. I am guessing that some of you readers also experiment this way but most probably try to learn a new technique prior to putting the camera on a tripod. The later technique certainly makes more sense than my approach, but I like to take risk!

I made quite a few mistakes and these photos show those errors, but I think I did learn a lot in this experiment. Rather than list all of my mistakes, I’ll let you look at the photos and figure out what went wrong for yourself. I read in a photo magazine that analyzing photos done by others is a good practice to help you refine your own skills, so hopefully these photos will help all of you!

The three photos below were all taken from Camden, NJ looking across the Delaware River towards Philadelphia. I used Adobe Lightroom to stitch the photos together into a panorama. The first photo is a monochrome conversion that consists of 7 individual photos.

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The next photo was taken from a similar location and consists of 6 individual photos.

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I tried a different approach on the next photo and used 12 individual photos for it. It should be clear what went wrong with this photo.

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After going to lunch with my wife at a riverside sports bar we drove across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia. I wanted to take a photo from the South Street Bridge near the University of Pennsylvania campus. This panorama consists of four photos. This was probably the best photo of the group.

Autumn in Philadelphia

When I returned home it was time to go to my photography school of choice, YouTube.com. There are many great videos here and I found several on creating panoramas. After viewing these videos and then looking at my photos I can certainly see how to do an improved panorama photo shoot on my next opportunity. Hopefully, you managed to dissect these photos, and in the process learned more about taking panoramas.

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to check on my progress in becoming a better photographer.

Blog Posts

Interesting?

Since I started my interest in digital photography in the last 3+ years the number of videos on photography, articles on photography, books on photography and photography podcasts that have passed before my eyes or through my ears has been substantial. Hopefully, all of this has helped me to improve both my photography and post-processing skills. Recently, I found myself gaining more interest in monochrome images. Fortunately, in digital photography all it takes is a simple button click in Adobe Lightroom to convert a color photo to monochrome. Then the magic of Lightroom, DxO Silver eFex, Photoshop or any other software programs can help you further edit your masterpiece.

One of the facets of photography that is also getting my attention is the concept of “Interest” which to me is how to create a photograph that is interesting to view? This is a very subjective exercise because everyone would probably have an opinion on why any given picture is interesting or not to them. How often do you look at a photo and think to yourself, “That is an interesting photo”? I must admit that I have just recently started to do this myself. In the past my comments would have been primarily, “That is a good photo”, or “Wow, that is beautiful” or something like “Good capture”. What are your most common comments when you view a photo? Perhaps you are the technical type and say, “Great Composition” or “This photo is tack sharp throughout” maybe you would say “Good tonality in this photo”. At times it seems that a monochrome photo limits distraction by allowing the eye to just see tonality in the image. There is no wrong answer, I think we all see photos with a different eye (pun intended).

Here are a few examples from my perspective. The first two photos are nice but not particularly interesting to my eye. How about your eye?

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Blacksmith at Work

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Which Train?

The next photo is one that I find interesting. You may be asking why I find this one interesting. That is a fair question. I think the photo has an element of mystery, the lighting creates a strong emotion of potential danger yet the bright building and sky in the background points a way out. This photo is interesting to me as a monochrome image but as a color image it is a little boring! What are your thoughts on this photo?

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Bright Passage

It seems to me that for a photo to be interesting to view it needs to connect with the viewer in some emotional manner. That is what will cause the viewer to spend a few more moments gazing at a photo. It makes the viewer feel some tug at their emotions. In the modern world we have a multitude of distractions all grabbing for our attention. As we look to create an interesting photo, we need to keep in mind that we are competing for the viewer’s attention. As stated earlier in this post everyone has a different eye for what might interest them in a photo. My goal going forward is to try to create interesting photos and that means connecting on some emotional level with the viewer. That should prove to be a great photographic challenge for me.

Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see where my photography journey takes me next!

Blog Posts

The Mountain Festival

A few weeks ago, the family decided to take a day trip to West Virginia to attend the 43rd Annual Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival. I decided to bring my camera and check out any good photo opportunities. The festival itself was a great deal of fun! I managed to eat a lot of food and even bought some canned items to bring home. My wife, daughter and granddaughter bought magnetic bracelets constructed of semi-precious stones that are supposed to block pain. If you are interested check out the website below. I have no connection to this business or any way to know if the magnets work as advertised but the bracelets are attractive!

www.uniquemagneticjewelry.com

 

The festival offered many great photo opportunities and I am posting a few pictures in this post. I decided to focus on a blacksmith theme. I also wanted to be creative in using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to test my skills. The first photo is an anvil and I tried to bring out the texture in the old metal.

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The next photo is of the furnace that the blacksmith used to create his metal objects d’ arte. I finished the photo by using the Patch Tool in Photoshop to remove the clutter in the background. It was amazing to see how well it turned out. There are a few errors but with practice my skills should improve.

Mountain Festival-4887  Mountain Festival-4887-Edit

The next photo is of the blacksmith working on a heated metal rod that he was shaping into a plant leaf. I had his full attention because no one else was around, so he answered a lot of my questions. When he finished he gave me the leaf that he had just fashioned. It is now hanging on the bulletin board in my office! Since it was a photo of a blacksmith, I thought it would look better as a monochrome image. This was converted from color to monochrome in Adobe Lightroom. I also used one of the new monochrome profiles, number 6, that was included in a recent update to Lightroom.

Mountain Festival-4890  Mountain Festival BW-4890

This was a fun outing and it even gave me a few good photos to add to my collection. Please come back to visit www.cestlavie4me.com to see more of my photo journey to becoming a better photographer.