Friday, July 26, 2013

July 27, 2013

I went to see the United Indians of all Tribes annual celebration last weekend.  What a great time.  The Native American traditional clothing was amazing.  There are some etiquette tips to keep in mind if you happen to be at one of these beautiful celebrations.  Ask first before you take a picture of the performers.  Some performers don't want their picture taken while others welcome it.  I guess the main etiquette when photographing people is to be friendly and respectful and when necessary ask before you leap.  During the Grand entry stand and remove your hat.  Don't pick up any feather that has fallen to the ground, ask one of the staff to pick it up and return it to the owner.  Don't block others from viewing the tribal dancing.  I like to sit or kneel in front of a standing crowd, that way no one gets irked and frustrated with me.

When you are taking photos look at the background as the Tribes circle and dance in front of you.  Try and position yourself in an area where the background is neutral and won't distract from the colorful clothing.   If it is a sunny day photograph with the sun behind you.  This way you won't have your subject in deep shadows.  Use a fast shutter speed to stop the subjects movements.  Capturing the facial expressions can be very powerful.  You will need to use a longer lens.  I brought a 105mm lens plus shorter lenses but next time I will also bring my 180mm lens so I can get a tighter close up of the traditional clothing and face painting of the dancers.  I will also experiment with slower shutter speeds for movement and color when using the longer lens.  I will pan with my camera following the dancers as they move though the frame.  You will have to decide how abstract you want to take your final image.

It was very powerful and impressive to see the Native American Tribes parade into the dance circle with the drums beating and the voices chanting keeping their culture alive and well.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

July 21, 2013

I like to make photo lists and cut tear sheets from magazines and list potential concept shots that I want to work on.  This list expresses for me a certain amount of interest in these subjects.  I have a curiosity to explore their potential.

When we go out to shoot, (even if we have a tight list of potential subjects) we are always looking for serendipity to play a roll in our ability to create a better image.   

When we get to our location we find many things that will interfere with our image making goals.  The terrain is not what we expected, it is the wrong time of year, the light is too contrasty for your image goal, it is stormy, time of day is wrong, you're thinking to much about an argument you had with your companion, your interest is waning etc...

This invariable leads to a doubt of your subject choice.  We are always thinking of someplace with better opportunities.  Our time is precious and we can't just sit and wait.  This is not the nature of man.  We are impatient to the detriment of our ability to create great images. Our minds want it all and we don't want to work hard to get it. So we start to doubt our location and the image goals we set for ourselves.  Maybe we should move to a new, better location and see how the light is there and not have to waste time in this location where nothing is working for me to get a great image.

But if we wait and look at the scene before us and are patient, the subject will reveal worthy images to us.

The real issue is light and subject.  We all wish for better imagery.  What makes better images is dramatic light, dramatic subject and composition and the relationship the viewer has with those choices you made to create that image.

But how realistic is it to have every element line up so that all you have to do is step out of your car, set up your tripod, click the shutter and then move on because you have captured that perfect dramatic image.  Or better yet, why even get out of the car, set your ISO at 400 and shoot the scene while keeping a consistent speed of 60mph. 

What stops you from experiencing the true revelations of this world? 

Over thinking can be a barrier.  It becomes a process of abstraction leaving you unprepared to experience the here and now, the deep beauty that lies in front of your eyes just within your grasp, if only you would open those eyes and see, really see what is in front of you.  

Any layers you put between you and your subject can dull your perceptions. Doubting yourself and your image intention is one of those barriers.

These layers can hamper your ability to see old as new again. You are blinded by image stereotypes and mundane self observations to see your surroundings you walk by every day as subjects worthy to photograph.  Get out of your box and notice and see the new subjects (that were always present) of beauty that abound right in front of you. 

Once you have opened your eyes to a new world of wonder and possibilities it is time to express your new found observational skills.

Any place you choose to shoot from has the potential for great imagery.  It is letting go of your inner barriers and just open your eyes. Take in the light, its quality, direction, its motifs.  

What is illuminating this scene that has finally caught your attention? Now that you see it, will you be able to make an image worthy of your seeing.  Can you make a transition of seeing the subject in only one way to seeing your subject in many different lighting situations.  Maybe this overcast light is good for less contrast, maybe this harsh sunlight is telling me to wait for sunrise or sunset light, maybe using a different lens and getting low to the ground will bring the viewer suddenly into your new perspective and a connection will be made.

Take in the light and the paradox of timing and being there. 

How many times have photographers found the perfect spot to shoot their subject from only to have the light fizzle and their patience tested.  And how often is the opposite true, you are in a bad lighting situation but you have had the patience to wait , knowing that if the light breaks through you will have a dramatic image and suddenly the light comes and this beautiful light hits your subject and all is good and your rewarded with great images.

Trust your instincts.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

June 23, 2013

I was shooting at Queen Anne Hill a few weeks ago at Kerry park.  This park has one of the most iconic views of the Seattle Skyline.  You get all the beauty of the city with the Space Needle and the downtown corridor and Mount Rainier as a back drop.  You also get the Seattle waterfront with the new Ferris Wheel and Ferry boats leaving and coming into the city as the sun sets on a warm summer evening.  It is truly magical.  It was packed with photographers and tourists visiting from other cites.  Tour buses will pull up and crowds of people will get out and come and stand with us (photographers) and take quick photos of the city and then leave for the next tourist destination.

What made this day even more special was the Moonrise.  During the summer months the moon moves south along the earths horizon line while the sun moves north.  Because of this, you get a perfect storm of sunset light reflecting off the glass buildings and a moonrise that will go over the city at twilight. What fun.

I got there early knowing it was going to be packed. I brought an extra tripod to put up next to my working tripod to save a place for a photographer friend that was going to be late.

I do make the effort to update my image files with the newest Seattle skyline imagery. I still make some sales of these images. But not as I once did, in the heyday of Stock.  There are just too many images being taken at any given moment to make it a worthwhile, constant job to concentrate on skylines only or any subject that is easily accessible. This doesn't mean you don't shoot these subjects but you balance shooting with markability, interest and light.