Cuba!

E Pluribus Unum - Havana - 2013

Today was a great day in the evolution of relations between Cuba and US. This is an image I shot in Havana during a beautiful week in January 2013 – note the “E Pluribus Unum” on the upper part of the wall. One from many!

With today’s news, I look forward to many more happy images from Cuba and the wonderful people we had a chance to meet while we were there. Change takes time – and generations to pass. It was a wonderful day for Cuba today!

Light, Gesture and Color

Peppers - San Francisco - 2014

This a quick grab shot from one of my Friday photowalks in San Francisco with Doug Kaye. Shot with my Fujifilm X-E2, we were walking across an overhead walkway looking down at this food truck selling pizzas. These two women caught my eye – the first sprinkling red peppers on her pizza and the second frizzy blond with her 49’ers jacket on.

Combine them with the red shirt and finger gesture from the guy in the food truck and things get interesting!

The Power and Beauty of Monochrome

Arise - Klamath Overlook - 2014

2014 has been an amazing photographic journey for me. For example, my Lightroom catalog currently has almost 68,000 images in it – spanning the years 2000-2014 – with over 25,000 of those (37%) shot just in 2014. It’s almost crazy how many images I’ve taken this year!

Something I regularly revisit is the split between my earlier work on landscape photography and my more recent interest in street photography. They’re very different – but, in some sense, both deliver very satisfying feelings as I look back on my work.

Another always interesting insight is the color vs monochrome difference – how color can really enhance an image and how monochrome can to – by reducing the distractions of color. It’s a dichotomy – one that’s always fun to explore.

I recently watched a brief series of videos by John Sexton – and he inspired me to look back and explore more fully some of the landscape shots I’ve taken this year. This is one example – an image shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 at early morning at the Klamath River Overlook in far northern California as part of Michael Frye‘s Mystic Forest workshop. The color image is quite beautiful – shot as the sun was rising in early June. But I think this monochrome treatment is especially good – with its drama, composition and mood. This is an image I need to print and frame – I think it’s one of those special ones!

Ocean Light – A View from San Francisco’s Cliff House

Ocean Light - San Francisco - 2014

Here’s another view from San Francisco’s Cliff House – looking down Ocean Beach. Last Saturday we had the remnants of a rainstorm clearing out – making for interesting clouds, light and shadows.

I captured this image with my Fujifilm X-100T.

Hallelujah at San Francisco’s Cliff House

Hallelujah - San Francisco - 2014

Here’s another shot from my Saturday visit to San Francisco’s Cliff House. As I walked over to this overlook, this guy was working out on the terrace below me – shadow boxing, jumping jacks, he had a beautiful routine – enjoying his space just above the Pacific Ocean.

I captured this shot with my Fujifilm X100T – the first of a couple I tried – as he was doing his jumping jacks routine. I love the juxtaposition of him with the water below – and the seagull in the middle right of the image. I opted to leave it in color – in fact, to enhance the color a bit to better match what I remember.

Jay Maisel: Light, Gesture & Color

IMG_2191

One of the major highlights of my explorations in photography was a very special week in May with Jay Maisel at The Bank in New York City. I’ve written about it before including this post about the importance of gesture. That week in May was one of the most unique learning experiences I’ve ever had – all thanks to Jay.

Jay shared everything with us – as he said, “It’s all I’ve got.” We suffered his harsh (but useful!) critiques, his stories and jokes, but also his love and care. Remarkable. Beautiful.

Jay’s just published a new book which discusses perhaps the most important primary theme of his teaching – it’s all about capturing light, gesture and color – the three ingredients that make images great images. While light and color are certainly important, my favorite is gesture. And, I think it’s Jay’s favorite too. He writes:

“You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings and the implications of all that you look at: the wetness, reflectivity, and power of water; the subtlety of clouds; the texture of the bark of the tree; the delightful surface of a finished piece of wood; the smoothness of a baby; the rough, ragged face of the aged; or the aerial perspective of diminishing clarity in a series of mountains.”

Yes, the details – and the gestures – “the little eccentric things that people did that gave them individuality and made them interesting. … When I see these things and I’m lucky enough to get them, I can’t stop grinning like an idiot.”

Oh Jay! You make me smile – and reflect on the beautiful impact you had on me. Love ya, man!

Solo at Ocean Beach

Solo - San Francisco - 2014

Here’s another view along San Francisco’s Ocean Beach shot from the viewpoints just south of the Cliff House. This is a beautiful spot on great mornings like this – being able to look right down the beach from this perspective.

This image was shot with my Fujifilm X100T with the TLC-X100 teleconversion lens installed. The TCL-X100 changes the focal length from 35 mm equivalent to 50 mm equivalent. It was helpful to have a bit more reach for this shot. The tonality is straight out of the camera – nothing else applied.

I love the surfer, how he’s positioned at the edge of the light with his footsteps fading beyond!

In the December Light at Ocean Beach with an iPhone 6 in Hand!

Ocean Beach - San Francisco - 2014

I love the light this time of year – and, for those of us who live in northern California, we also might even get some clouds in the skies! The combination of low angle light and great clouds – when we get them – is magical. This morning was one of those mornings – the skies were in “clearing winter storm” mode with lots of low clouds beginning to break up, swirl around, mixing with the sunlight in dancing patterns.

I headed up to San Francisco – originally thinking I was just going to visit the galleries at 49 Geary St. where a new Group F.64 exhibition has opened at the Scott Nichols Gallery and a new retrospective show – “The Plot Thickens” – has just been put up at the Fraenkel Gallery. My plan was to drive to Daly City BART and then BART in to the Montgomery Street station and walk to the galleries at 49 Geary.

But, as I was driving north up 280, the skies were just magnificent. I kept resisting the urge to find a place to pull over to shoot the clouds hanging along the skyline of the coastal ridge – and just let me eyes enjoy the magnificent play between cloud and light. As I got closer to Daly City, I could see that this cloud activity continued further north over the western beach of San Francisco and, perhaps, even up to the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate. I waved off my plan for Daly City BART and, instead, headed over Brotherhood Way to Sunset, then Sloat and up the Great Highway to the Cliff House.

That’s where this image was taken – shot handheld with my iPhone 6 and post-processed in Lightroom. What a beautiful morning!

Journeyman

Journeyman - Paris - 2014

We were in the Jewish Quarter in Paris – having had lunch at the falafel place I headed out for some solo shooting.

This is classic street photography “stage” shot – you find an great background and wait for someone interesting to fill the frame. In this case, the colors just worked – the red collar and the blue cap against all of this beige/brown.

It helps to capture the arms and legs at just the right spot – that’s mostly luck and, maybe, just a bit of skill.

I shot this with my tiny Canon PowerShot S100 – had it on my belt as my secondary camera while I was in Paris.