A little impressionistic
A little impressionistic.

Once again. Blue Hour.

You know, that time right after the sun sets. When the light is so blue. This is also a style in which I used to work. Impressionism. I’m taking a journey into my past. That’s right. I’m going back there.

Here’s why.

I used to do this a lot. I kind of made this a signature style in mid-career. But, it was mostly film based. It evolved out of working in the streets and feeling the need to keep moving. Even in days that seemed less violent than today, a guy with a bunch of cameras and a tripod is an easy target.   So I tried to keep moving. And, the ISO of most slide films was relatively low. Relatively low? Did I just write that? We were shooting slide films that might have an ISO of 50 or 100. So. In this kind of light we might have been working 1/4 of a second at f5.6. Something like that. There faster films, but lower ISO usually meant higher quality.

Along came digital photography.

Early digital cameras didn’t allow for much more flexibility in terms of enhanced ISO. If you turned the ISO up much beyond its native speed, you introduced a lot of noise. Stuff that looks like grain. Most of the time it appeared in shadows. It was mostly heat induced by the image processors of the time.  Other things happened. Like the infamous purple fringe, which is what happened if you shot in backlighted scenes. Like I do.

Flash forward.

Today’s digital cameras have what seems to be unlimited ISO ratings. There are some of the newly released bodies that can push the ISO to well over 100,000. You can turn night into day. If you wanted do to that. That’s a good thing. I think. It also introduces the potential to crank the ISO up to over 500 even in bright daylight. Cool. Everything is sharp. Or should I write, every damn thing is sharp?

That’s where I was. What I was doing.


We watched a series of videos on Amazon Prime. About Impressionism. It didn’t take much longer than about of half of the first video for the dim lightbulb in my brain to switch on. I had drifted away from the work that makes me who I am. At least from an artistic standpoint. Yeah, sure. Clients may still want every picture sharp and looking like a photograph. That’s fine. But, my own work can be whatever I want it to be. That’s where I’m headed. Back to the past.

One more thing. For you.

All of what I wrote is why many of you use all sorts of filters. On Instagram. In camera settings. In Photoshop. Or, whatever post production you choose. It’s likely that you are starting to look at your digital captures and are thinking that they look too sterile. Too clean. So, you are trying to make your pictures look a little more like they did when you saw them made on film. Or, on analog as the digital folks say.  That’s a good approach. But, you can start by turning your camera’s ISO down. Way down.


2 Replies to “Streetcar in Blue”

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