I used to call Sunday, “Experimental Sunday.” Why? I really don’t play computer games. Even when I do, I get bored pretty easily. The only game I really liked was Diablo. It’s taken the maker 14 years to release the new version so I gave up. Long ago I decided that rather than play a game, I would “mess around” with Photoshop and various plug-ins. How did that work out? Sometimes, I made a creation that I liked. Sometimes, I didn’t. Since failure is a great teaching tool, I learned a lot. How’s that for being tongue-in-cheek?
So, this picture was made in Hong Kong, in Causeway Bay looking toward Jardine’s Crescent. It was made from one the restaurant levels in Times Square. Yes, yes, yes… I was using a plug-in called Topaz when I “messed” with this picture. At the time, I was trying to replicate some early without actually going through the work of making multiple exposures, merging them and going from there in post production. It works to a certain extent. It made a very poster-like image. But, it’s not really me. I use a modified version of HDR to enhance a picture, but that’s where I stop using that technique. Besides, despite claims to the contrary, the human eye does not see like HDR. It sees shadows and highlights. It doesn’t open up shadows. It doesn’t flatten highlights. That’s why people wear sunglasses. That’s why people use a flashlight.
Okay. You know I like bricks and brickyards. So, while most photographers are taking pictures of the famous sights of Melbourne, I’m poking around the lesser known alleyways and laneways of the city. Some are relatively wide and house cafes, coffeehouses, restaurants and stores. Others are really just tiny passage ways, like this one where I waited and watched for the perfect passerby. I found one and this picture is the result.
Yes. There is a lot of post production involved in the picture. I wanted, and achieved, a lightly dreamy feel.By the way, you can go to a website called http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au to learn a lot more. You’ll even find out that Corporation Lane has been renamed to ACDC Lane after the band of the same name.
I spent many years in Hong Kong. It may very well be like another home to me. Like anything, some days I miss it a lot. And, on other days, not so much. This is an image that was made looking toward Northpoint, an Eastern District area of Hong Kong which is, comparatively speaking, mostly a blue-collar manufacturing and mixed use area that for a time was known as “Little Shanghai” because the first wave of immigrants created Shanghai styled businesses. I made the picture looking toward it from Causeway Bay.
I thought that I would share this older picture. How much older? Well, its production is coming up to seven years. I didn’t think that it was that old, but time flies… as they say.
Here’s the story. I’d been asking an editor to give me some work in China. He did. But, the timing could not have been worse. Hurricane Katrina struck on 29 August 2005. Like so many New Orleans people I was displaced. I relocated to Lake Charles, Louisiana. I was displaced again. This time, by Hurricane Rita. I evacuated to Mountain Home, Arkansas. This little town is just south of the Missouri border and very near to Branson and Dollywood. It is also very near Bentonville, Arkansas, the corporate home of Wal-Mart. This turned out to be very important.
Almost upon arrival at my new digs in the Mountain Home Best Western I received an email from my editor asking me if I could shoot a project in Beijing, China. See what I mean about bad timing? Wow! I got organized in a tiny town where I knew nobody. I have almost no remaining vices. That’s a story for another day. But, one of my last vices is that I like good coffee and I like it as espresso. Here’s where the timing got better. Not a week or two before I ended up in Mountain Home, a small “hip” coffee shop opened near to my motel. The owners took pity on me and my need for refuge. They allowed me to use the shop’s address as my physical address for the things that I needed to Fedex’ed to me. I worked from there. I got ready for my China trip from there. Those folks where incredibly kind to me in a real time of need.
Wal-Mart came into play because they require vendors to come to them and so a modern commuter airport was built in the little town of Bentonville, which meant I had a place from which to fly that wasn’t hours and hours away.
So. I went to China.
The was a very good thing because it was a two-week assignment. It got me out of my head from my double evacuation and it allowed me to be productive at a time when most of us were still reeling from our losses.
Oh yeah. The picture. This is another one of those “on my way to someplace else” pictures. I was headed to a temple when I took a peek down a street that lead to a hutong.
I ran into this little guy and his mom, who is behind us laughing.
I have a very kind follower who wrote that I am an artist. She said something to the effect that I should embrace it. I would if I was an artist. But, I’m not. I’m not a lot of things. That’s okay with me. What I am is pretty simple. I’m a photographer who makes pictures of whatever is in front of me, That’s really the core of me. Oh yeah. Sure. Sometimes I light things. Sometimes I shoot what falls into the portrait category. Or, the commercial category. Or, travel. Or, or, or…
One of the wisest photographers I know, Jim Richardson, has this to say about it. “If you want to take better pictures, stand in front of better stuff.” That’s it. That’s pretty much what I do.
Here’s some of that stuff now. Not only do I enjoy street food. This new fangled and trendy food trucks are a Godsend to me. But, I enjoy a lot of Asian food. Like the Vietnamese soup, Pho.
Well. This road picture is a little different. Usually, I make pictures through the windshield, while I’m driving. Not this time. At least I parked and photographed what I saw in my mirror. I like this frame. It’s about leaving. It’s about winter. It’s about being on the road. The color is nice too. It’s rich without being too rich. Oh yeah. New Mexico.
Everybody knows this place. But, they know it from a different angle. This is the famous San Francisco de Asis church in Rancho de Taos, New Mexico. Viewed from its back side, which faces the road, it is probably one of the most painted and photographed places in The United States. But, seen from the front it almost looks like just about any New Mexican church that is surrounded by a village plaza.
The picture. If you make a time exposure in deep shadow that natural blues in the cold light will appear.
However, I did enhance this image to make it look my mind’s eye saw it. Here’s the deal. When we make a picture of a scene there was something that attracted us to it. But, quite often neither a digital capture of an exposure made on a piece of film — remember that — can capture the scene as we remember it. That’s due to the limitations of chemistry, optics or even physics.So, I chose to help the picture along in post production. There is also an opposing philosophy that says the picture should look exactly as the camera captured it. Some photographers make a big deal of that. Why? The photographer whose name everybody knows is Ansel Adams. He never left the image alone as it came from the camera. In fact, he created an entire method of developing and printing the picture called The Zone System. He sought to improve the raw image and turn it into the image he saw when he actually pushed the shutter release button.
With the passing of Levon Helm, I’m having trouble sorting out what I want to post today. A lot of memories came flooding back. Some good. Some not so good. Some of my younger followers might not even know who he was. That’s okay. He played drums in a seminal band called, “The Band.”I guess what sticks with me today as is something he said. “If it doesn’t come from your heart music just doesn’t work.” I suppose that applies to just about everything.