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!
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!
As I was leaving San Francisco’s Ferry Building, I came across this scene – in the bright sunshine and dark shadows I shot this image with my iPhone 6. The advertising posters provide curious backdrops to an intense discussion underway between this couple. And the guy off to the right is clearly wondering what I’m doing – as he’s looking right at me.
Jaime Ibarra told me one time that fingers in an image are all important. His background as a flamenco guitar artist influenced his view – but he’s right. Most of the best gestures in an image include fingers – including this one.
What makes a great image? Not sure I know – but I find the multiple areas of interest in this one capture my eyes. The contrast, the posters, the curves of the shadows – and the people.
Lots of credit – deservedly so – has gone to the notion of “the decisive moment” in photography and its origin with Henri Cartier-Bresson. The notion is a precise capture at the moment of most interest.
In late August, Doug Kaye and I went exploring in San Francisco’s Chinatown. We came across this lovely alley way that heading up hill – a perfect “stage” that street photographers love to find. Once you’ve got a stage, you have to wait for something interesting to come by and fill it – patience helps!
I got lucky – this fellow walked into my shot and I was able to capture him in mid-step – holding that coffee cup in his left hand. A decisive moment to be sure!
I recently got reacquainted with the beautiful monochrome work of Michael Kenna. His images have a number of striking qualities – mostly long exposure, his use of grain, and the square (and small 8×8 inch) print size. But for me it’s the light in his images that grab me.
Doing a bit of reading of interviews of Kenna, he has spoken about his he uses a light sepia toning in the highlights of his images – and how, by doing so, the mind’s eye sees the highlights as a bit forward in space while the shadows are pushed back – adding a sense of dimensionality to an image.
This is an image of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge shot from San Francisco’s Embarcadero with my Fujifilm X-E2 on a particularly moody February morning. I used it as an example for applying this kind of technique – sepia toning of the highlights. To do so, it’s an easy process in Photoshop CC. Select the RGB channel to create a selection, then add a gradient map adjustment layer – the selection will automatically be loaded into the adjustment layer’s layer mask. Then select the photographic toning Sepia 1 tone – and you’re done with the highlights.
I took it a bit further, duplicating that process but inverting the layer mask to add a Selenium 2 tone to the shadows – pushing them further back in the mind’s eye.
Below is the original monochrome version of this image – you can see the difference. Click on either to see a larger version.
Earlier this week, Scott Kelby posted a new portfolio of images that he described as looking like they had been shot against a background of white seamless. He described the technique he used in Lightroom to create this look – based loosely on blowing out the sky, increasing contrast and clarity and reducing vibrance.
I gave the technique a try on a couple of my images from a bright New Years Day 2014 in San Francisco. This is perhaps the best of what I tried – the Hornblower cruise boats tied up at Pier 3 in San Francisco.
Shot with my Fujifilm X-E2 and post-processed in Lightroom 5.
While walking through the exhibition on Sunday, I captured this image of a portion of it – which, coincidentally, has an image of Three Brothers on the far wall just above the woman’s head. That version is from the 1860’s – here’s my version from a few years ago! Shot with my Fujifilm X-T1 and processed in Lightroom 5.
I recently published an initial version of this image – shot very quickly at San Francisco’s Ferry Building as we were heading into Slanted Door for lunch.
My friend Doug Kaye commented – gee, that image seems a lot darker than what I remember you showing me on the back of your camera! So I tried again – going back to the original and processing it another time. This image is that result – and, I agree with Doug, it’s brighter and better.
Shot with my Fujifilm X100S and processed in Lightroom 5 and VSCO Film.