Life is a Mystery

Life is a Mystery - San Francisco - 2016

Yesterday Doug Kaye and I met up for one of our Friday photowalks in San Francisco. Along the way, we stopped by the Bank of America Building – at least that’s what it used to be called – at Kearny and California Streets.

The sun is still reasonably low in the sky – and it casts these dramatic light and dark shadows on the south side of the building. It’s a perfect stage – just takes patience to wait for a subject to walk into the frame. It was Good Friday – so there wasn’t a lot of pedestrian traffic into/out of this building in San Francisco’s financial district. But, we’ve learned to be patient – and I was rewarded when this woman walked out the door and into the frame.

The mystery part of the image for me is her quiet reflection in the column across from her on the right. I love her hair and hands in that reflection – balancing off her walking into the light. Sometimes we get lucky!

This image was shot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 using the Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens and processed with the Acros film simulation.

Here’s another edit of this image – suggested to me on Facebook by Theo Streibel.

Life is a Mystery #2- San Francisco - 2016

San Francisco with the Fujifilm X-Pro2

Experienced - San Francisco - 2016

The streets of San Francisco provide such a wonderful range of opportunities for street photography – it’s become a bit like an old glove that just fits.

Even on a mostly fog covered morning, we discovered opportunities to capture interesting images – with me shooting with a new Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 lens (35mm equivalent). I shot both JPEG and RAW – and post-processed a few of these images using Lightroom’s camera calibration for the Acros black and white film emulation.

I love the tonality of Acros – and want to spend more time shooting with it in camera. Meanwhile, the X-Pro2 has provided a new challenge – with a bit of a learning curve.

Morning Coffee - San Francisco - 2016

Glance

Dudes - San Francisco - 2016

Friends - San Francisco - 2016

Super Selfie - San Francisco - 2016

Photo Editing on my iPad – Bay Bridge

San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge

Today I took a video workshop with Karen Klinedinst teaching me techniques for editing images on my iPhone and iPad. While I’ve had many of the apps she walked me through already installed on my iPhone and iPad, I hadn’t spent the time to learn how to use them. Karen took the time to walk me through them – and I came away inspired to try doing more image editing and creative processing on my iPhone and iPad.

This afternoon I grabbed my iPad and tried a few of the techniques she taught me – resulting in this image. Originally shot a few weeks ago with the Fujifilm X70, I used Snapseed and Photoshop Fix on my iPad to create this monochrome version. Snapseed does a superb job with black and white conversion – and Photoshop Fix has a superb healing brush tool. A great combination for this image!

On the streets with the Fujifilm X-Pro2

Lantern

My Fujifilm X-Pro2 arrived a few days ago – and I headed out today on a very wet and ugly day in Menlo Park to take my first few shots with this new camera.

I mounted the Fujinon 35mm F2 lens on the X-Pro2 body and put the camera into Acros film simulation mode. On Crane Street in Menlo Park is the Nativity of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church – one of my favorite local places for architectural images.

Here’s an example – one of my first images shot on the X-Pro2 – shooting with the 35mm lens wide open at f/2.

Scooter

Scooter - San Francisco - 2016

Yesterday was my first time on the streets of San Francisco after upgrading my Fujifilm X-E2 to the latest firmware update (V 4.0). One of the best things about using Fujifilm cameras is how they have regularly provided significant firmware updates to older cameras – and this update to the X-E2 is a significant one – especially to the autofocus capabilities of the camera.

This is an example – shot into the morning light using the camera’s zone focusing mode.

Hobart

Hobart Building - San Francisco - 2016

This morning I headed to San Francisco for a lunch meeting. I purposely arrived a bit early and did some street photography along San Francisco’s Market Street.

One of the special treats in San Francisco are the secret spots – the public spaces that aren’t well known. Since I was early, I headed upstairs to one of my favorites.

At the corner of Montgomery and Post Streets, there’s a Wells Fargo Bank branch. If you walk through the center door, you can take an elevator up to a roof garden that overlooks Montgomery/Post/Market. It’s a wonderful oasis in the midst of San Francisco’s busy Market Street scene.

This morning the light on the adjacent Hobart Building was just magnificent – both the direct sunlight on the right side and the reflected light on the left side.

That Glance

Glance - San Francisco - 2016

Today I joined a group of friends to visit the current exhibition of Paul Graham’s work at Pier 24 in San Francisco. Pier 24 is a beautiful gallery for the display of photography – with large neutral spaces in many different rooms – and controlled reservation-based entry to minimize any feeling of crowding the in the space. It’s a joy.

Graham’s work was organized into three bodies of work: American Night (1998–2002), a shimmer of possibility (2004–06), and The Present (2009–11). In his video, Graham talked about how each body of work was based on one aspect of the camera. American Night was based upon aperture – overexposing the images to create the soft white images. A shimmer was based upon time – snapping multiple images in a sequence to tell the story of something in a series of images. The Present was based upon the use of selective focus – or very shallow depth of field – to shift the viewer’s attention to a different point of interest in each image.

After watching Graham’s video explanation of each – and walking the exhibitions, I came away really liking his American Night collection best of all. These images at first look like nothing – you glance and them and want to move on. But when you stop and spend time with each image, your eye begins to see details that you originally overlooked. As you move closer to the image, the effect is enhanced – you start seeing more. A lovely treatment – and something I want to play with in the future.

Meanwhile, as we departed Pier 24, I came across this man walking toward me in the shadows under the pier’s overhang. I grabbed a quick shot and then he sat down. I continued walked toward him – and asked him – with a quick motion of my hand with my camera asking if it was OK to take his picture. He said yes – and then I captured him in this pose glancing off to his left. One of those great moments when it all comes together in street photography!

Adding Presence to Black and White Photos

Three years ago I was in Havana participating in a person-to-person cultural exchange organized by the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. One of the photography group leaders at that session was George DeWolfe. While I wasn’t in his group, we did share breakfast a couple of days and I really enjoyed getting to know him a bit more.

After that meeting, I’ve followed George from a distance – and I particularly enjoy the work he’s been doing for years around the notion of adding “presence” to black and white images. I haven’t been using his techniques, however – but a blog post that I read this morning by Julia Anna Gospodarou brought me back to George and re-learning one of his simple techniques for adding presence to an image in Photoshop.

Last night I processed the top image below taken on a photo walk with Doug Kaye in San Francisco last Thursday. We often find the Muni bus stops along San Francisco’s Market Street to be good “stages” – and we await for interesting actors to appear. I was pretty happy with the image last night but when I looked at it again this morning I found it a bit “flat”.

Reading Julia Anna’s interview with George got me motivated to try a quick version of one of his techniques for adding presence – using the Color Range tool in Photoshop to separately adjust the brightness and contract of the highlight, mid-tone, and shadow areas of the image. This is a super easy technique – using the Color Range tool to create a selection of, for example, the highlights in the image – then use a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to tweak the brightness and contrast of just the highlights. Do the same thing for the mid-tones and then for the shadows. Takes about 2 minutes to adjust the image this way – and it does help reduce the flatness and spread out the tonality of the image to make it more appealing. The second image below shows the result of my quick adjustments this morning.

There are other ways to accomplish this – with much finer grain control, for example, you can use Tony Kuyper’s Luminosity Mask technique to also do this. But the quickness of using Color Range with a few Brightness/Contrast adjustment layers makes for a very speedy workflow. Thanks to George DeWolfe for sharing this technique – which he first wrote about back in 2007, almost ten years ago.

San Francisco Streets – January 2016

Doug Kaye - San Francisco - 2016

My photo buddy Doug Kaye and I met up yesterday in San Francisco for our first walk together of 2016. As usual we met at the Ferry Building – and immediately got immersed in the setup activities for Super Bowl City which is opening tomorrow. It was very cool to see the scope of this event – as lots of craftsmen, stage hands, and security staff did their work in Justin Herman Plaza and up Market Street.

Doug was shooting with a new – used but mint – Rolleiflex film camera. It was fun watching him look down to capture shots – Vivian Maier style. Meanwhile, I was shooting with my first Fujifilm X camera – the Fujifilm X-E2. I had a new lens – the 35mm f/2 prime – and put the X-E2 into black and white (with yellow filter) mode – and had a great time shooting. This camera really does work wonders in your hands – and the Fujifilm monochrome film treatment just looks superb right out of the camera.

Some examples follow. It was a very good day.

The Beard - San Francisco - 2016

Plugged In - San Francisco - 2016

Love to Sign - San Francisco - 2016

Plans - San Francisco - 2016

Philz - San Francisco - 2016

No Excuses

No Excuses - San Francisco - 2015

Citicorp Center in San Francisco is at One Sansome Street – just across from the former Crown Zellerbach building.

This stretch of Sansome just off Market Street is the province of motorcyclists – the parking is just for them. The architecture of the Citicorp Center provides an interesting stage – and there’s the Montgomery Street BART station entrance just off to the left. A locus for some fun street photography in San Francisco!

On a bright March morning in 2015, this bike rider was eyeing for a spot.