Photographs of New York ’cause that’s where I live

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Flautist - Infrared

14 September, 2008 (15:02) | 1 comment

Times Square Shuttle platform.

My favorite use of the modified XT is with the infrared flash (modded by BeyondVisible.com).  This has been much easier to work with than when I was using the flash with HIE.

flautist-ir-06911 Flautist - Infrared

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Fruitstand - Infrared

14 September, 2008 (13:31) | 2 comments

fruit-stand-0450-copy Fruitstand - Infrared

It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I’ve made a Lightroom preset that creates this interpretation from the Lifepixel converted XT RAW file.  It uses one of the custom DNG profiles I made and a bunch of LR tweaks.  I’m pretty happy with it so far.  It does have a tendency to blow out highlights, but that can be easily corrected with one of the graduation filters, or by dropping the exposure a bit.  But it’s a very good starting point.

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A Time to Relax

13 September, 2008 (20:25) | 1 comment

I remember a time when our gadgets were friends - and there were ads that showed scenes of happy men and women working on the beach with their gadgets.  Now, the gadgets have taken over and become surrogate bosses.  It seems, as I look around that instead of giving us freedom - they’ve managed to keep us more enslaved then ever.  One gadget to relax with, another to make us more efficient.   Rather than giving us the promised freedom, they’ve put us on an invisible leash.  The machines always win out in the end.

keyboards-8337 A Time to Relax

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12 September, 2008 (18:35) | No comments

Photographers in New York are always treated with respect and admiration.

respect-7858-copy Respect


Night Crossing

12 September, 2008 (15:44) | No comments

night-crossing-7179 Night Crossing


Oil Cap and Leaf

12 September, 2008 (10:27) | 2 comments

oilcap-rain-3228-copy Oil Cap and Leaf

And slowly I fall back to my old ways…  As you can see, I’ve taken another pretty serious crack at breaking the color barrier.  This has been my second prolonged jump into the color world, and I’ve gone through hundreds of old shots, trying very hard to do them in color, but except for some of the color infrared shots, I don’t think I’ve made much progress.

So it was very nice to put the 40D back around my neck after so much walking around with the XT IR camera and begin shooting with b&w in mind.  What can I say - maybe you can’t teach an old dog too many new tricks.


Waiting for the Pope

11 September, 2008 (07:44) | 9 comments


pope-5615-copy Waiting for the Pope

I think this is a good example of the different effect of a color street shot v. black and white rendition.  The color shot gives a lot more information, what the colors are of the participants.  This tends to place it more into a certain time and place.  It is more real in that way.  While it brings out the fashion, the skin color, the accessories etc. this also hides some features.  The babies eyes, for example, peer out at you in the b&w shot.  In fact, all of the expressions are “stronger” in the black and white version.  And some things are left out in the b&w version.  It’s not as clear that the woman with the baby is a nurse.

When people say that black and white has a timeless quality - I think this is why.  Colors, especially in street scenes, but in many other instances, bring you into the present time.  The b&w removes these color clues, and the sense of time is not as strong.

The color shot, in twenty years will seem very set in time.  The black and white shot, not as much.

Of course, neither one is better or worse - but the effect is different with street shots.  If you’re shooting nature, then the colors don’t give this sort of cultural clue as tree colors etc. are pretty much the same in any era.

Well, I think that explains why color has been tougher for street shots; whereas b&w can keep the forms, the expressions etc. without placing them in a particular era unless that’s something you want to do.

pope-bw-5615 Waiting for the Pope

There really is no secret formula for creating color shots that have the features of black and white.  Yes, I’ve seen all sorts of attempts at it, subduing colors, only using several tones etc. (and I’ve played with them all) but it is a matter of trade-offs.  The color street shot is simply going to give more information, and more clues to time, fashion,  economic status, race, and all sorts of odds and ends; and the black and white street shot is going to simplify the scene so that expressions, eyes, how people are standing, how the figures are relating or not relating to each other, will be more prominent.

I knew this before on an instictive level.  Now I feel I understand what was behind that instinct.

There is a third choice - which is the toned photograph.  This keeps the aesthetic elements of b&w in place but gives a feeling of warmth or coolness.  Sort of a middle-ground.

(As an aside, neither one of these shots have been carefully prepared - they’re just presets in lightroom.  If I were going to choose one to work on it would be the b&w shot.  I’d like to bring out the restaurant worker in the background that needs to be lightened up. )

However, just to further complicate things - some images - yes even street shots - are better in color (such as this one below).  So - some sort of conclusion is called for - and this is it: it mostly depends on what information is important in the shot.  I think that has something to do with how many elements there are.  The red lipstick, the blue hat - I think they make this shot more interesting.

And sometimes, there are too many elements to control in the color shot and black and white brings out the important parts (or what you think are important) better.

bird-lady-5643-copy Waiting for the Pope

So my not-so-brief forrays into only color, or only b&w seem to be winding down. I suppose that I’ll simply have to live with the fact that in the future, it won’t be all or nothing, but what works best for the image.

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D. at Breakfast

5 September, 2008 (09:15) | No comments

breakfast-dan-2 D. at Breakfast

I can’t recommend the IR look for people unless you like a zombie look.  The eyes are almost always a problem.  With flash - they turn into mirrors.  Without flash, they are deep dark pools.  The skin also gets a pasty look.  One interesting thing about the most famous IR picture of people - Weegees movie people was that they were wearing 3-d glasses (which removed the dreaded infrared flash in the eyes effect).

This applies to close-up portrait type work.  If you’re shooting figures, long shots, etc. then people are fine and the eye thing isn’t much of an issue.  When I was shooting the hustle dancers with flash, I was trying to be careful and get them in profile rather than straight on.  You can see the beginning of trouble in the third shot which is partly dead-on.

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Trashy Memories

3 September, 2008 (21:54) | 1 comment

garbage-can-20011 Trashy Memories

Don’t you think there are textures that bring back memories on a subliminal level?  Something here about the paint and the industrial factory feeling, and the twine tied to the lid.  Also the light coming through the fine wire…  I just wonder if there is some sort of hyper-subliminal-link to an experience that I connect with this feeling. Read more…

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Crate with…

2 September, 2008 (21:10) | 2 comments

window-display-1999 Crate with...\

In the window of a picture framing store.  If I knew what was in the crate - I’d give it a proper name.  Is it hay?  Straw?  Some sort of grain?  I giveup - but infrared usually doesn’t work well through windows - or at least it cuts a lot of the light coming back… For some reason this plate glass worked at a normal illumination.

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