Posted on January 10, 2014

One thing I want to do more of this year is get better at shooting portraits. So I felt a great place to start is to access where I’m at as a portrait photographer and update my portfolio. I went through my photos I’ve shot in the last couple of years and picked the best twenty portraits. After I got through that edit, I redeveloped them with a consistent look and utilized all of the current digital darkroom techniques. I used a subtle split tone with warm highlights and cool shadows to give them a real sense of depth while keeping the classic look of black and white.

I’ll be writing and posting each portrait in the coming weeks but this first one is this portrait of Jerrett, a snowboard buddy of mine I met at the first Splitfest. He’s also is surfer so last year I took advantage of him for a stock photography shoot in Tofino, a little surf town on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada.

He just got back from a surf session and was a little beat up but he wasn’t injured so I took advantage of the opportunity. There’s a plethora of surf photos available from all the agencies so I didn’t feel there was anything new to be done in that genre but I still was interested in capturing the spirt of surfing. To make the shoot even more challenging I decided to do this without actually shooting someone surfing. The spirit of a sport like surfing really lives within the person anyway so it made sense to point the camera at what I was after.

There’s something honest and authentic about this portrait that I really like. There’s nothing posed about this photo. Jerrett was in no mood to have his photo taken and he was too exhausted to care that I was there. The only thing I asked him to do was look into the camera. I kept my equipment simple, a camera, a lens and the soft light of British Columbia.

SONY, SLT-A77V, DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM
1/500, f/2.8, ISO 50


Posted on January 7, 2014

I started the New Year off with a photo of a stranger. Michele and I were down in the Haight having a New Years breakfast and site seeing afterwards when this guy and his very young puppy caught my wife’s eye. She just had to say hi to the puppy and after a little discussion, I found that he really wanted some photos of his puppy Anupu. So I went to work and shot 20 photos in search of a quiet moment which is not so easy with a puppy.

The exposure was easy, he was already in an open shaded area so I used my electronic viewfinder to make sure his black clothes weren’t underexposed and just exposed to the right. I had to bring back the highlights a little in Lightroom but I didn’t loose anything from shooting this way. For the processing I tried to stay true to what I saw when I shot the picture. There’s a lot of black in this image so even though I exposed the the right, I still had to lighten up some of the shadows to keep the details from getting lost. I ended with a subtle vignette to draw the viewers eye in.

I really like the idea of shooting a portrait of a stranger at least once a week. I could never do a project like this every single day but maybe once a week is more reasonable and is enough of a challenge. I just need to remember to get a model release.

SONY, ILCE-7, Canon FD 85mm f1.8
1/60, f5.6, ISO 640

Before the Auction

Posted on December 20, 2013

This was taken just before the annual benefit auction at SF Camerawork. I was strolling around taking some photos before the auction when I saw this coat hung on the back of a chair. I liked the repetition of the empty chair backs and thought the coat was a nice break in that repetition. As I was framing the shot, the man in the background caught my eye. I thought he would be a nice addition to the other elements in the scene. So I adjusted my depth of field to keep him in focus and then the rest of the elements just fell into place.

I’ve been thinking about what makes any one moment better than another in street photography and this is one of those moments that really illustrates that question. The moment in this photo is really not about anything at all but there’s something intriguing about this image. The composition is strong but there must be more to a good photo than just good structure. When I started shooting street a couple of years ago I was always looking for the “Bresson Moment” when everything comes together at the perfect time. But as I got better at shoot street, I started looking for the “In Between Moments” which were more ordinary but still had something about them that captured your imagination. (This is a common theme among many street photographers where they are seeking to create the extraordinary in the banal.) But lately I’ve been thinking that it’s really about being “In the Moment”. I’ve been calming my mind to keep it from wandering which helps me to realize the moment and discover something fresh…… I’ll be writing more about this in the future but for the time being, I felt as if I was “In the Moment”” when I captured this photo.

SONY, ILCE-7, FE 35mm F2.8 ZA
1/60, f/8, ISO 1600

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