Tag: Street Photography

Blog Posts

Where is the story?

Since I started my interest in photography as a hobby there have been many new topics for me to explore. You know the basics, how to shoot in manual, jpeg vs Raw, Photoshop, Lightroom, composition, HDR and on and on. I have even opined about some of these topics in this blog myself. These, and many more aspects of becoming a good photographic artist are important to invest time in mastering. I continue to be amazed at how much I’ve learned and how much more there is to learn about photography.

Lately I have been considering the concept of storytelling with a photograph. This is a subject that has come up many times in some of the YouTube videos I have viewed, along with books and blogs on photography that have occupied my time. Interestingly, many of the photographs that I see do not always convey any significant or obvious story to me. I suspect that has also been the experience of many of you reading this post.

Naturally, this brings us to the question of how to tell a story with photography. For example, consider a landscape photo. At first, I could not see any story in a photo of a mountain, waterfall or some trees. I just thought that I was viewing some good photos. How about macro photography? What is the story that is told by examining a closeup of the inside of a flower or the wings of a butterfly? Even street photography sometimes appears to have no story that I can discern. Maybe I’m just looking at a photo of a man talking to a woman or some graffiti art on the side of a building.

I have arrived at the conclusion that my difficulty in finding stories in photographs is really a problem of my seeing. What does that mean? Simply put, it means I have been focused, pun intended, on looking at a photo from a technical viewpoint. Since I am in the learning phase of photography, it has been natural for me to try to view the focus, clarity, color or tone, composition and many other mechanical aspects of photography. I have not put any time or effort into looking deeper into a photo to find a story that is meaningful to me. It might not even be what the photographer intended but I suspect in many cases it is exactly the story the photographer intended.

This thought occurred to me due to a recent photo contest at my local photography club. The topic was Street Photography. The initial photos I took were ok from a technical standpoint but there was something missing. It became clear to me that I was just taking a photo of a scene that looked like it might be a good photo for the competition but I was not tuned to looking for a story to photograph. That caused me to finally go back and look at photos on Flickr, 5oopx, Instagram, Facebook and my club’s website to concentrate on stories. Slowly I began to see something I had missed before. The lighting and beauty of a landscape that may never occur again in precisely the same way. Did the picture give me an experience of being there when it was taken? I saw photos of the inside of a flower that displayed the awesomeness of God’s creation.

Hopefully, I will be a better photographer in the future by looking for the story in addition to successfully mastering all the technical manipulations to create a good photo. Back to the Photography Club competition. I managed to use my smartphone’s camera to capture some scenes that I hope convey a story with emotion. The first one is of a woman who was talking on her phone while waiting for her car to be washed and I could tell she was receiving some bad news. I was close enough to take the photo without being noticed. The next photo was of an older man just sitting on a bench. It struck me that he probably spent a lot of time at his age just sitting and possibly thinking of times gone by. As I am also getting older this connected with me in a particular way. Here are the photos for you to judge if you sense any emotion or story in them. Come back to www.cestlavie4me.com in the future to read more of my adventures in the journey to becoming an artist in photography.

Bad News

Bad News

Killing Time

Waiting

Blog Posts

Urban Photography

I have found that taking photographs of people in their urban surroundings is very enjoyable for me. In a previous blogpost I discussed what types of photographs I wanted to take and decided that I like to point the camera at anything I enjoy! Is that something that appeals to you or do you tend to concentrate on one specific type of subject matter? Have you considered trying new subjects and challenges? With summer approaching and good weather to be found throughout the northern hemisphere, now is a great time to get out and explore taking photos of different subjects and situations.

Recently, I had the opportunity to take some photos at both a local street festival and in the historic city of Annapolis, Maryland. I consider these to be urban photography although some of you may prefer to call it street photography. Since these are my photos I have decided to use the term urban photography. My hope is to display people interacting with one another in an urban setting or just being a critical element of an urban scene.

The first several photos were captured at the OneLoudoun Festival in Ashburn, Virginia. Ashburn is a suburb in the greater Washington DC metro area and OneLoudoun is a real estate development that is attempting to mimic a downtown area in a city. If you visit, then you can decide for yourself if this idea is successful. The picture below is entitled Conversation. I caught sight of the couple in conversation in the midst of a crowd of people. I processed this photo to highlight them and at the same time to deemphasize the rest of the scene. I wanted the effect to be subtle and my style seems to gravitate to lightly post processed photos.  Conversation

The next picture from the festival featured a dog. Usually, I am not the person who has much interest in photographing animals, but this scene caught my attention with the dog, his owner and the costumed person in the background. Since the dog was a black and white breed and his owner was wearing black tights, a white top and boots with white fur trim I decided to process this as a monochrome image. I did use a slight tint just to make it look a little different. It's about me!

In America, we have a provision in our Constitution that permits citizens to own firearms. The actual text of that amendment is as follows A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. Depending where in the world you live, this might be a concept that you disagree with. Many individual states also have laws that allow for citizens to carry firearms on their person. A weapons permit is required to do this. The Commonwealth of Virginia has laws to allow the carrying of firearms and if you are interested click on this link http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-308.01/

The rationale for this discussion is found in the next photograph from the festival. This scene was interesting because the two blue balloons are harmless and photogenic. If you look closely to the left of the woman with the balloons you will see a man wearing a red headscarf. Note that on his hip is a handgun. I thought the juxtaposition of the innocent balloons in a scene with a handgun was a great opportunity for a photograph. I tilted the image in post for a little extra effect. Gun and Blue Balloons

Now the last picture from the festival was of a family behind the stage where a band was playing to the crowd. I watched the dad take several pictures of the family and I took candid pictures of them at the same time. The one below is entitled Why me? And I think you can surmise the reason for the title. Why me?

Annapolis is a very historic city here in America. It is the capital of the State of Maryland and it was also the first capitol of the United States prior to Washington DC. It is also the home to the U.S. Naval Academy. The first picture was taken on Main Street near the harbor. This area is a very tourist oriented neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and bars. I noticed several Naval Academy Cadets standing outside of a restaurant and thought the scene was interesting due to the four people and dog (again an animal) in the foreground. Their facial (not the dog!) expressions are all quite different and tell various stories. Feel free to guess what you think those stories might be. Naval Academy Cadets

The last photo is of a traffic control officer. It looks like his hand signals are giving contradictory instructions. Actually he is signally to pedestrians on both curbs that they can walk. Just as I snapped this photo a gust of wind blew in from behind me and blew my hat across the street behind the officer. He was kind enough to run after it and grab it before a car had the great opportunity to run over it! Traffic Control

Thanks for visiting C’est La Vie Photography Blog and come back to see another post in the not too distant future! Feel free to leave a comment.

 

Blog Posts

Working a Photo

In the last few months I have attended a couple of presentations by gifted photographers who discussed the concept of working a composition. By this, you should try and take a photograph of a particular subject from different perspectives, different aperture settings, different focal lengths, and any other techniques you can use to try and create a picture that is unique. The emphasis for you is on doing this in-camera and not just relying on Photoshop or some other editing program to manipulate the pixels.

 I must admit that this technique is one that I have not done a very good job with in the past. As I look back it seems that I probably spent too little time on any given shot. This is perhaps because I didn’t think through quite clearly what I wanted to do before I started shooting or in some instances I was impatient to move on to the next photograph. In any event, this is a problem in my photography that I plan to correct immediately.

 Recently, I visited New York City with the intention of enjoying a day or two in the city and not necessarily concentrating on photography. Fortunately, I did bring my camera with me just in case I changed my mind. As it turns out, I did use my camera much more than I had originally planned. New York is a fantastic city for photography, in particular, for urban street scene photography. I think I will use some of those photographs for my next blog post on the topic of street photography, but for now let’s stay on the topic at hand which is working a composition.

 When I came up with this idea for the blog, I realized that I did not have very many examples of working a particular composition to get a perspective, view or just a composition that was somewhat unique. I guess that points out what a poor job I have been doing in the past with working my compositions. While in the financial district I did manage to take a few different photographs of the icon of the Financial District, “the bull of Wall Street” sculpture. I will use those photos to somewhat highlight the idea of working a composition; although, admittedly, a very poor example of that technique.

 The first photograph that I took was from the front of the bull and it is shown below in color. As it would happen, many people were walking by and just as I snapped the shutter the woman on the right came into the frame and I memorialized her as a blur. I wasn’t originally planning to show this photograph to anyone because of that; but, since we’re talking about many photos of the same subject I thought I would include it as an example. Not exactly good in-camera examples, but I told you I had not done a good job of this in the past!

Color and Uncropped first photo taken.

First photo taken.

The next shot was a close up but it was also marred by someone walking into the photo as I pressed the shutter. So I cropped it to eliminate the blurred image of that person.

Closeup with blurred image.

Close up with blurred image.

This was the resulting image.

Cropped to remove blurred person.

Cropped to remove blurred person.

Ok, I took another photo and again a person walked into the frame. I needed an assistant to watch for me or I should have been more attentive to what was nearby before firing the shutter!

Black & White Conversion

Black & White Conversion

Cropped to remove blur.

Cropped to remove blur.

By the way, did you note the position of the woman at the rear of the bull! I wondered what had her so fascinated, I managed to walk around to the bull’s rear end and as you can expect I saw a substantially different view! This view by itself is fun to look at and certainly illustrates taking a photograph from a different perspective.

Another view from a different perspective.

Another view from a different perspective.

As long as I was having fun, I decided to take this photo into Photoshop and using the Out of Bounds effect created a fun photo of the bull crashing into the New York Stock Exchange. Like a lot of people, I have lost money in the market and this gave me some satisfaction as a visual way of getting back at Wall Street!

Market Crash!

Market Crash!

 As I look at these photos I wonder how much better they could have been with a little more time invested in working the composition. Perhaps a few photos from a ground level perspective would have been good. If I had arrived early in the day before the crowds arrived, then I would have had fewer distractions and a better environment to concentrate on the various compositions. Maybe a photo taken from a few inches from the bull’s nose with a wide angle lens would have been a winner.

 Hopefully from here on out I will concentrate on working a composition in greater detail. The other thing that I’ve heard multiple times, especially in relationship to street photography, is trying to convey a story in my photograph. In the next blog post on the topic of street photography, I will share some photos that attempt to tell a story. I will leave it to you to judge whether or not I have accomplished that mission and to what degree. For those of you who already are doing a good job of working your compositions you didn’t need to read this, but for those like myself who have not been doing this, I hope this gives you some ideas that you can use in your photography.

 Keep shooting!

 

Blog Posts

Using Lemons to make Lemonade!

Recently, I decided that I wanted to work on some new photographic themes. Living near Washington DC I decided to capture some scenes that the average tourist does not see when he or she visits. Now that I have been taking photographs for a while I decided to do some preparatory work. I took the Metrorail to the Shaw Station and then walked around the neighborhood. As I saw interesting residential buildings I took some pictures of them with my smart phone. I then used my recorder app and made notes about the location and where I thought the best position to take the photograph would be. When I finished my day and returned home I found that I had selected 10 different locations that I thought would make interesting photographs.

Bistro Before Editing

Bistro Before Editing

I then did some research on where sunrise or sunset would be relative to these locations. This helped me to decide whether to take pictures in the morning Golden hour or in the evening Golden hour. After all of this preparation I felt quite proud of myself! The only other decision I needed to make was when I would take the first set of photos. Since I was quite excited about the potential I selected this past Thursday morning as the day to start the project.

On Wednesday evening I checked weather.com and saw that Thursday would be partly cloudy, but no rain was in the forecast. So at 4:30 AM on Thursday I drove into Washington DC full of excitement and anticipation of a great photographic journey. I just knew I would have beautiful, colorful morning skies as backgrounds to my shots. As I was driving on the George Washington Parkway, I noticed that the sky was partly cloudy and now I started to get concerned along with being very sleepy! I arrived at my designated parking area, took out my camera, gadget bag and tripod and started walking to my first location. Within five minutes of leaving the car it started to drizzle and a few minutes later rain was falling profusely from the sky!

I decided that I could either go home or use this opportunity to take some different photographs. So I decided when you have lemons the best thing to do is to make some lemonade! Since the ground was wet and it was still somewhat dark and cars and buses had their headlights on along with the buildings beingwell lit; I decided to do some motion blur shots with the added benefit of reflections on the wet street. When the rain stopped I took a few pictures of some of the buildings that I originally planned to photograph, needless to say I did not have the beautiful colorful sky I originally wanted.

Bistro After Editing

Bistro After Editing

As I was looking at my photographs in AdobeLightroom V. 6 that evening, one of them caught my eye and I decided to do some additional editing on it. I noticed that the sky was bland and colorless, so I decided to add a new sky using Adobe Photoshop Elements V. 13. This was going to be a challenge as I just barely knew how to use Lightroom and I had not spent any time with Photoshop Elements! Fortunately, I had a nice sky photograph that I had taken some time before with my smart phone. I proceeded to look at several videos on YouTube that described using layers and layer masks. After multiple attempts I had a reasonably decent copy of the Bistro you see in this post. Although I made some mistakes, for first attempt I think it turned out rather well.

Lesson learned: Preparation is great and important nut you also have to be flexible and find a way to turn a problem into an opportunity to photograph! Keep shooting and come back to visit this blog again in the future or subscribe to the RSS Feed at the top left of the page.