Archives For September 2013

B00Bs (safe for work)

September 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

I work hard on my photography and recognition comes at a, most welcome but, glacial pace.

By sheer chance I encountered these Cheerleaders on Millennium Bridge. The whole ‘encounter’ was 1000-2000-3000, yes 3 seconds, long and a reasonable street shot; straight, clean borders, focus, smiles.

St Paul's Cheer Squad [Explored]20000 views in the first 24 hours and, near instantly, Explored on Flickr.

Go figure.

 

As I wander London’s streets I look up. I’m not referring to a moment, I mean the entire day.

Long ago I discovered, all too slowly for a reasonably intelligent person, I looked at everything as a tourist and, as a London worker bee, virtually nothing I wasn’t about to trip over.

I try to see the landscape with the people in it and my street photography reflects a style of unwaveringly long depths of field and significant backdrops.

Sometimes you don’t need people.

Blackfriar's Solar Bridge

Urban Landscape
We all take photos of the Tube and why shouldn’t we?! Definitely one aspect of London’s identity.

More often than not people make the scene.

Future Perfect

It’s not an intrusion. Don’t ignore the landscape.

Awesome Saturday

September 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

Time pinched our valuable bits and sprinted away from us on Saturday! Figuratively speaking, of course.

We fully intended to make use of the London Open House and, in the end, managed only to see City Hall before we had to be in Brick Lane. You can see the great efforts of others in the official Flickr Pool.

City Hall

I did take a few shots but, and I waited for this one, the above photo really captures the spirit of Open House; great architecture, open to all. If you click through you can see father and son lying supine on the ground, camera pointed to the ceiling.

Of course, the day is obviously too long for some.

Offline

And then on to Brick Lane. My better half is smitten with her Olympus OMD EM-5 and wanted to go see the ‘Olympus Image Space’ installation. Each day there have been several sessions where visitors can use their own camera or try out the new EM-1 with the various lenses on offer.

I politely stuck with my Monochrom and I don’t think I let the Leica side down!

Colin Nell

Air

This is Cleveland who was running the sessions for Saturday.

R. Cleveland Aaron

Not a bad haul for a weekend!

Down Tools!

September 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bentley & Co.

It’s London Open House this weekend, so set down those tools and scrape yourselves out of bed!

Here’s a couple from me from last year, City Hall and Queen’s House.

Dizzy

Tulip StaircaseGood luck all!

Michael

 

The British Library

September 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Lives Of Others
The Lives Of Others

Did you know, through the Copyright Act of 1911, there is an established principle of the legal deposit that ensures the British Library and five other libraries in Great Britain and Ireland are entitled to receive a free copy of every item published or distributed in Britain?!

They haven’t asked for any of my images.

Is that a bad sign?

From London’s Streets

September 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

This short series are the results from a walk around London last week. I thought it would be fun to concentrate on the lives of suits, but they are literally on their way somewhere or stood drinking outside Pubs.

Business Travel

Of course, not all suits work in Finance. This chap had huge ‘diamond’ studs in each ear.

Smokin'

Even now I find it incredibly difficult to photograph people on trains. You really can’t do this with an SLR.

Games

Spitalfields again. Very near Liverpool Street Station if you didn’t know.

Untitled

Really, what else would you put in the open areas of the financial district?!

Shiny

And, of course, the ever present homeless and hungry. Click through on this one to see the woman’s face of pure disdain.

Antipathy

Tate Modern

This image, above, was my 14th capture on my current camera. If you look back a year, at your out of camera exposures. Could you have captured a better frame?

Going into the weekend, I will leave you with my mantra.

Shoot the best composition you can. Shoot RAW and nail the exposure.

You can edit again, but you can’t re take the photo.

Have a great weekend all

Michael

 

You Have An Assignment

September 9, 2013 — 2 Comments

Space

Recently, I have read a few articles on what street photography means to them, the authors’ own personal definition.

Surely it is simply the documenting of real life on the streets? Mostly images of people, interacting with their environment or other people. Sometimes inanimate things or structures.

Which streets you tread to exorcise your photography demons, that’s more interesting to me!

I self label as a London street photographer. I really am most comfortable walking round central London. Plonk me somewhere else and I’m out of my comfort zone and just a little bit wary.

Perusing

This weekend I found myself in my Parents’ home town.

It’s a small town and has a dog leg high street you can cover in 15 minutes. There are the basic shops you find in most any town, but it’s not quite on the radar of the coffee shop chains. I did say small.

I think, in this town as a street photographer, you have to be more patient to find the odd scenes of juxtaposition you’d be tripping over in London. Or is it just me?

So I propose you all go and take some street photos away from your usual stomping ground.

Seriously.

And report back!

Leica rangefinder cameras constantly receive numerous comments and posts on their expense, quality and value over DSLR and micro four third counterparts. Okay the price is pretty hefty and that’s Leica’s business however, setting cameras down beside each other, I’ll still take mine. Better quality than any micro four thirds and most DSLRs. Smaller than the vast majority of DSLRs and the smallest full frame camera… until Sony steps up with its Nex, but I don’t do auto focus :p

On a street photography walk, I will walk between 5 and 10 miles in a day. In addition I’ll jump on the tube at least 3 times in that day. I simply couldn’t walk around with a DSLR in my hand, all day, and with a back pack too!

To prove I walk light, here’s my street pack

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Lowepro Event Messenger 150 Mica
  2. Leica M Monochrom
  3. Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron-M Asph
  4. Plastic bag for camera in case of downpour!
  5. Earphones for train journeys, although don’t use them on the street as you’ll miss things!
  6. Barton Braided Leather Neck Strap
  7. Join me on a Guided London Photo Walk
  8. Lenspen – much better than cloths
  9. Sandisk SD Card (95MB/s one)
  10. Spare Leica battery
  11. Yoobao power bank and at 11200 MAh, this will charge an iPad and 2+ smartphones! We never travel without it.

Finally, take a few Pounds/Euros/Dollars in the case there’s a stand out street act who fills a great frame!

 

I’ve had my Monochrom for a while now, in excess of 5000 captures and I have a solid workflow; I can produce the image I thought about at capture time.

This is a significant point and raises a question for all of you.

Do you visualise the final image when you first see the scene to be captured?

I do and it’s the principal reason I have a good percentage of keepers. A large part of this is knowing that a composition won’t work but, in no small part, visualising the final image means I’ve already processed the image before I get to the computer.

I’ve already written a piece on how I process images from the Monochrom and here you can find Leica Monochrom Workflow.

Has anything changed?

I have a better understanding of how the contrast blend modes, Soft and Hard Light, affect my images. This means I choose and manipulate Silver Efex Pro 2 filters more accurately to achieve the contrast I need. That’s definitely down to practise.

And I have a new sharpening technique, which I will detail in this post.

It’s probably best to work through an example. Here’s an image, as exposed, but resized.

Images straight from the Monochrom are simply exposures. All the detail and tones are in there and they just need manipulation.

Personally, I use Photoshop CS6 and Silver Efex Pro 2. It really saves time, but do be careful as it can be misused. For example, High Structure filters will texturise the walls and paved floor so much so the scene will look like a nuclear bunker.

The first layer is a base layer, 017 Full Spectrum. Structure +45 and Dynamic Brightness +30.

Here’s an important distinction with SEP2. If you start the filter program from the floating toolbox window, SEP2 will take your entire image and flatten it. That’s what you will work with.

If you select a layer, in Photoshop, and then go through the menus, Filters > Nik Software > Silver Efex Pro 2, you will only work on the selected layer within the Nik software.

I always process from the background layer, which was the output from Adobe Camera Raw. Always.

Select the background layer, through the menu go to SEP2 and I choose the 023 Wet Rocks Filter. Film Type to Neutral. Dynamic Brightness +30, Midtone Brightness +15, Contrast +10, Structure +25. All other settings remain untouched.

I chose Wet Rocks because its higher structure lends itself well as a contrast layer.

You have to move this new layer to the top and to set its Blend mode to ‘Soft Light’.

This is already a better result, but it’s too dark. Did you know…

A Curves Layer set to a Blend Mode of Screen, opacity 40%, is basically an extra stop of exposure.

I want to concentrate the viewer’s gaze on people in the centre of the image, so I will apply a mask to this curves layer, which will look like this in the layer palette.

To get the radial mask effect, use the Gradient Fill and select the Radial Gradient.

You can also cheat a little and imply more contrast than there is by adding a further contrast layer to the outside using an inverse radial gradient mask!

Duplicate the Soft Light contrast layer and set it to Hard Light.

Apply the mask we just talked about. Invert the mask in Images > Adjustments… > Invert

I’m happy with the process, so far, and I will double check exposure levels by going into Image > Adjustments… > Levels. Click on Auto with the preview ticked to see how much the image levels change. My monitor is calibrated and so i don’t usually see much difference. It’s a good basic indicator you have missed exposure though!

Do not underestimate the effect of correct sharpening. If applied correctly the viewer shouldn’t really be aware of it. Not enough or too much will be quite obvious.

Here’s what I do.

Flatten all the existing layers from processing. Now duplicate this one layer 3 times!
For each of these new layers, apply the High Pass Filter, then set to Blend Mode Overlay…
First layer – Not the base layer! – High Pass, Radius 4.0 pixels. Layer opacity 20%.
Second layer, High Pass, Radius 2.0 pixels. Layer opacity 20%.
Third layer, High Pass, Radius 1.0 pixels. Layer opacity 40%.

Flatten the image and you can now resize for screen. My images, landscape, are set to 1600 pixels and I use the ‘Bicubic (Best for smooth gradients)’

If you didn’t work in sRGB, which the Monochrom uses so this shouldn’t be an issue, convert the color space to sRGB. Also convert the image to 8 bit.

Here is my final JPEG image.

Cynical Father

Please send questions if I’ve not explained anything sufficiently. And, of course, there are a good number of ways to process the Monochrom’s images. This is just my own potion.

Thanks for reading
Michael