Saturday, June 07, 2014

New Directions

I'm not going to stop shooting landscapes. I love landscapes. Nature has been speaking to me my entire life and landscapes and seascapes and cityscapes and starscapes and cloudscapes and all the other kinds of scapes, well that's my vision. And I use these as the basis for my art, where I use the technical tools at my disposal to make the images look like what my mind sees, not my eyes. One day, as my eyes fail (not totally unlikely, there are already some signs in my aging vision), I'll still be able to see with my mind.

Photography is not a one-tracked medium. Each genre is unique and the only thing in common between shooting the fall forest and a wedding or newborn infant is, well, you use a camera and a computer for both. And to be successful in any of those genres, you need to connect with your subject. I can do that with the former, but not the latter.

I can do that, too, with sports and action, a bit. You need a better sense of timing than I have, but I think that's just practice. Rosa tried to teach me a little about colour: that takes work too, but I'm getting there. I'm pretty good at textures, that's a landscape thing but I suck at patterns and don't get me started about people.

Half a year ago, I posted that I was going to try hard to overcome my shyness and approach more people to take their pictures. I am trying, but it's difficult. I'm going to try even harder. My friend Gary (others know him as Ian, but that's a long story...) introduced me to street photography. Something I don't know if I can do or not, but which I find incredibly fascinating. I'm not sure exactly what street photography is: everyone seems to have a different definition. And within street photography there are many different disciplines. To me, it's capturing a moment. The picture tells a story about something happening. There doesn't have to be action, just something happening.

I looked through my archives and came up with some pictures that I think fit that definition. Here's what I think is an iconic one, but I don't know if others, people who ARE street photographers, agree with me.

I shot this in the Byward Market in Ottawa a couple of years ago. This couple were interacting with the street musician. You can make up a story about what was happening. It's a moment in time. 

There are some very well-known names in Street Photography. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winogrand... I spent some time looking at Winogrand's work, at listening to an old lecture of his, watching video of him doing his thing. Several things struck me: (1) I don't get it. There are some very highly acclaimed images of his that I would have thrown in the trash. I don't understand what makes them great. It's like that $1.6 million dollar painting in the National Gallery, "Voices of Fire" which is just a red stripe on a blue background. I don't get it. (2) Winogrand talked for an hour at Rice University and I have absolutely no idea what he was trying to say. And (3) how could he do what he did? He shot with a Leica M4 and a 28mm lens which meant he had to get up close and personal with his subjects. He bobbed and weaved and shot thousands and thousands of images right in peoples' faces. How do you do that? I'd be a stealth photographer, shooting with my 200mm from across the street!

Anyway here are a few more of my "street" images. It would be great if people would respond and tell me if they like them or not, and more importantly, Why!

Kensington Market in Toronto. I shot a bunch of people walking past this mural, I even got a couple of people to make a few passes for the camera! This was candid, though and I swear the lady was either drunk or high, she walked funny. The motion blur says something is happening... 

Kayak Parking Only. In Haliburton last week. It's about the colours but it's also a story. I actually have a number of shots of people walking past this spot, but somehow this one talks to me. 

And there was a motorcycle (actually it's a Bombardier Can-Am Spyder 3-wheeler) going past the same display. Something going on. 

A more traditional street shot. The Distillery District in Toronto. Gary tells me it's a great example of "Spot the Not" with 'the wheelless lady walking in the other direction.  

One more from Kensington Market. I think Winogrand might have liked this one. Or not... 

It's different. Outside my comfort zone. Get outside yours...


Remember I wrote about SeaFoam motor treatment last week? A reader from here in the Haliburton area (whom I've never actually met, to my knowledge) wrote me that he decided to try it on a Honda water pump that he couldn't get going after the winter. It worked! I'm telling you, it's magic stuff!

Track Meet

The same day as the kayaks in Haliburton, there was a track meet (for elementary school aged kids) at the high school. I shot some pictures of the relay race. I was trying to tell the story. I shot where the baton exchanges were happening.

Three competitors coming to the exchange point. All looking at where they were going to have to hand off 

Here's a handoff. I couldn't decide which one(s) I liked best so here are a few more 

An instant after the previous shot. 

Too cute, right? 

I call this "Determination" 


OK, a couple of closing pictures for your enjoyment. If you click on them, they blow up and you'll see the detail I was able to capture. This is D800 and Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 space...

These were both shot in my light tent, Different backgrounds, same flower, same basic lighting conditions. 


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