Archives For May 2013

…seems to be the 20 working day turn around they claim. An eternity. Although I did take one with my cell phone during this hiatus.

Graffiti
Graffiti (Nexus 4)

These next 2 with Monochrom.

Store Windows I
Store Windows I

Store Windows II
Store Windows II

You may think there’s little apparent difference, but I couldn’t extract much tone and detail from the Nexus 4 image.

It does go to show that opportunity on the street is still an opportunity not to be missed. Even with just a cell phone.

Michael

When I picked up my Leica Monochrom, one of the first things I did was to look up other Monochrom shooters. There are quite a few around the globe, but Stephen’s work really stood out to me and I immediately ‘bookmarked’ him as a Photographer to follow.

It turns out my work has also attracted his attention and, this week, I am featured Photographer on his quite excellent blog.

Please click the image and have a read, but also stay to check out Stephen’s work; he has a wickedly keen eye for street photography.

Stephen Cosh Photography

ISO SCHMISO

May 20, 2013 — Leave a comment

Gospel from the Projectionist

Gospel from the Projectionist

I always thought I was quite flexible, from a technical standpoint, as long as I nailed focus and composition. Hehe, wrong!

In a strange, mildly interesting. and unsurprising way I was inflexible on some things, like ISO! Digital noise used to be pretty ugly and I would do anything to avoid pushing the ISO above 640. A slew of f/1.2 lenses gave me some very creative bokeh when shooting wide open. I can quite happily shoot steady down to a 1/6th thanks to a practised stance – very useful for camera phones! At the point of capture, I have to admit ISO was always allotted thinking time.

Thanks to a great looking noise, when it does eventually appear on the Monochrom, I don’t give it a thought now. Don’t get me wrong, I do pick my photographic battles, some shots just don’t work in the dark.

The shot above, is 1/45 ISO6400, probably f/4 and very noisy. The guys were intently discussing the, even to a lay person, very powerful projector that was displaying images on the side of the Tate Modern. It’s a big building and the projector, well, it’s got its own truck. I was really tempted to ask them to show my portfolio ;-)

So, never fear the noise. Unless it’s ugly noise – I’m sure there is a law of diminishing returns that should be applied to images on quality of composition vs level of noise.

As a Londoner, New York is fascinating to me. One aspect you can compare and contrast across the cities of the globe are the Taxis, Police and emergency response vehicles. Strolling about midtown Manhattan for a couple of days, I was fortunate to see each of them.

Street Series: New York Icons III

Street Series: New York Icons I

Street Series: New York Icons IV

Street Series: New York Icons II

Have a great weekend all
Michael

Streets Series: Venice III

I am pretty committed to squeezing every ounce of photography from the streets of London as I am capable, but I have used my passport and here’s some proof!

Streets Series: Venice I

Streets Series: Venice II
 
These images were taken during Venice’s impressive Carnivale, always in February. Numerous people, I presume locals, dress in these fabulous costumes and wander around the centre of Venice generally looking awesome whilst they pose for tourists. Unlike Cuba, they don’t pose for tips either!

The Science Of Waiting

The Science Of Waiting

This is an unexpectedly good scene considering I was waiting for a crossing pedestrian to be hurried to a trot by the surge of traffic after the green light. This is the frame. No crop or rotation. The triangle of subjects makes for an interesting scene of leading lines, especially with the ambulatory woman being in the centre of the vanishing point in the background. The stop light adds a whole other layer too.

HAPPY DAYS

HAPPY DAYS

I’m not generally fond of markets. Old Spitalfields is slightly different. It’s a large enclosed space with the traditional market stalls in the centre and more tradition stores lining the outer edges. This store, above, is just such a one.

Notes on Exposure

I’m not sure how everyone else exposes with the Monochrom, but I tend to evaluate the scene for white and black areas. In the above example the wrapping paper, on the left, is highly reflective – the white area. Inside the store and to the right is the black area. I’m quite good at seeing luminosity rather than colour and for this image above, to balance the scene, I exposed on the brickwork floor in front of the store.

Reflections

I’m just obsessed with reflections in street photography so my next outing, once I get my camera back from Leica, will be to head out after a good rain fall.

Good luck in your streets all!

Private Property [Explored May 9, 2013 #246]

Private Property

I spotted the space, the people and the security guard almost at the same time.

My very next thought was about the centre piece in this hidden from the street scene and how they might have engineered the water to flow invisibly to the surface and flow equally over the four edges. So, and now a few seconds have passed, I see the people – some tourists, some office workers – are going about their business and sitting and walking by.

The private security guard is staring at me as I survey the scene. He has decided for me that I should take a photograph.

It is becoming more and more frequent that I get approached by private security, which means that a) there’s a hell of a lot of great london architecture that is privately owned and patrolled and b) why target photographers?

I can understand stopping those of us that turn up with medium and large format cameras on a sturdy tripod. You might not be wrong jumping to the conclusion that this is a commercial effort for said photographer. I got pretty adept at setting up out of sight, running into position, shoot 3 frames and run away!

But as far as this guard knew, I had a little digital camera and was just taking a few snaps.

“You can’t take photographs here. It’s private property.”.

He’s right, I don’t have too many rights here, so I mumble protest and move on. I’d already got the shot.

I’m getting some flak for this image, but I stand by its value as a comment on so many of the architected spaces in central London.

Have a great weekend all
Michael

 

Constructing Mazes

Constructing Mazes

In a previous life, as an artist using traditional mediums, my brain didn’t really grasp the creative use of a shorter depth of field. On picking up a digital camera, it quickly became an obsession for me to use focus to pick out details and occlude the rest of the world in the name of creativity. My favoured style now is to see all, to capture as much of the world in a frame. And the world does reach to the horizon.

So is there a rule? What works, especially in street photography? What changed for me?

Over the years, my preferences in the photography of others and my own goals for my images chased each others’ tails. I definitely respond to photographs that reveal to me an aspect of the world I hadn’t previously seen or considered; an image, with nothing more to say or a photograph with a message or metaphor or simply an allegory. With this appetite for content in the images of others, why should I not strive for this in my own photography?

Not to get too distracted selective focus, and depth of field is just a selected plane of focus, is the sledgehammer of leading lines. The eye has no choice but to go to the focal area. It surely must follow that if the photographer is using a short depth of field they have something to say about a subject in isolation from the rest of the world.

As street photographers we have so many things to think about whilst wandering around. I am guilty of evaluating people, things and scenes for luminosity and tonal rendition as well as their position in space before I interact with them! But before I take a photograph I do consider the question, “when I publish this image, will viewers understand why I took this photo?”. It’s valid! They were not there, at the scene.

Where’s the rule?! What is it?! Well, there is no rule. Maybe a mantra, but no rule.

As a photographer, consider those who will be looking at your image whether on the internet, in a forum post, or as a print hung in a gallery. Did the fuzzy out of focus world really detract from the lovers sharing an ice cream on a bench, because I can’t think of many situations where the context of the world wouldn’t add to the scene.

As a street photographer, of course.

 

Working Lunch

Working Lunch

Just. Keep. Walking.
Just. Keep. Walking.

Subject not related to image, by the way. I found this mural near Shoreditch High Street and instantly loved the symmetry and the piece. Just gotta wait for one of those pesky pedestrians to enter the frame. I waited. 2 minutes! Thankfully the first person to walk past I could see had a purposeful stride. Shutter speed a little slow to exacerbate the moment. Framed. Pause. Captured. I’d hoped to get across a little anxiety. Did it work?

I get asked a lot, “Why Photoshop over Lightroom?” and I think my answers over the years have, much like my requirements and experience of these products, evolved.

Lightroom excels with image management and as a workshop for the RAW image. If, like me, you purely use Bridge and Photoshop you’ll be well aware you need to apply a little discipline to organize your own images. As for working with camera RAW files I already did the work for exposure and framing – do you use your feet? ;) So my time in Adobe’s Camera Raw is fleeting.

When LR first emerged my better half, Suzy of the impressive reefbeasties.com, embraced Adobe’s offering as an eco system for her photography. In addition to the file management and camera RAW work, there is a comprehensive array of image finishing tools; gradients, brushes for dodging, burning, healing, et cetera.

Suz and I prepare images quite differently. She’s principally a nature and wild life photographer so all the effort is at capture time, some raw manipulation and some sliders and backscatter removal.

I work images in layers, not available to LR. Most of the time, the image above for example, my workflow will result in an image base layer, a filter from Silver Efex Pro 2 and an additional low contrast SEP2 filter set to a layer blend mode of Soft Light.

Where Photoshop excels for me is I can vary the opacity of these layers which, I assure you, can transform the photograph in terms of contrast and depth. I can save the photoshop document and come back later to re work it. Yes, I know there are virtual copies in LR, but I find it easier to manage layers inside a single file. Horses for courses, I think.

I’m going to wrap this up for fear of rambling, but Photoshop clearly spanks Lightroom in terms of accurate manipulation of portions of the image. LR’s brushes and gradients just will not do and it’s all too easy to end up with those rotten halos around objects. I can select an area, refine that selection and create a mask. I doubt portrait photographers will work on hair with Lightroom. They’ll export to Photoshop.

Personally I don’t remove anything from my images, but I will process areas separately. Water and other reflective surfaces require a much higher contrast manipulation than people or buildings. I’ll quite often increase clarity and structure for wood like textures. Trust me, this high contrast high structure work does not go down well with female skin. Accurate mask based layer work also hides areas of transition between the different areas of work; essential when printing.

Of course, it’s entirely possible I get my images to where I want them through sheer dumb luck, but no one tells me I don’t know what I’m doing :D

If you’re in the UK, enjoy your Monday public holiday!

Michael