Light Change

Posted on January 13, 2014

I knew this was a keeper as soon as I snapped the shutter. A brief review popped up in the viewfinder and it confirmed those very thoughts. But I has to dismiss it quickly if I wanted another shot. I was tracking the rider down the street for more shots but this was the one.

I originally set up for this shot on the corner of New Montgomery and Market in downtown San Francisco. The corner has some great backlighting that I wanted to take advantage of. It always seems to take forever for someone interesting to enter your scene when your waiting so when this guy pulled up after just a few light changes I was stoked. The backlit plastic basket on his handlebars really caught my eye, it was just the thing that made this capture a little extraordinary. I took some static shots of him as he waited for the light to change but they were just not work for me. But when the guy stomped on the pedals and took off, it changed the entire scene dynamic.

I had the camera turned to portrait position as I was taking the static shots so when this guy took off from the light so quickly I didn’t have time to switch my orientation. A horizontal shot may have been a better format but I still like how the composition works here, it’s very unexpected. I like the graphic quality and the flattened perspective. The diagonal lines are very dynamic and match up well the stunning gesture. This will be a great addition to my City Bike Series.

SONY, ILCE-7, Canon FD 85mm f1.8
1/4000, f/4, ISO 100


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

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