Category Archives: Stanford

A Bit of Solitude at Stanford Memorial Church

Solitude - Stanford - 2014

I recently took a Sunday walk on the Stanford campus – something that was an almost weekly occurrence when Lily was alive. We always had a great time – she made lots of new friends and found lots of interesting smells along the way. And I got some nice exercise – which I’ve been missing!

On this Sunday morning, I had my Fujifilm X100S with me. Here’s one of the images – taken in the small area behind the Stanford Memorial Church. A great spot for peace and quiet – and for reading.

I post-processed this in Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC – applying a bit of a painterly effect.

Channeling Edward Hopper at Stanford’s Cool Cafe

Lone Diner - Cool Cafe at Stanford - 2013

We headed over at lunchtime today to meet friends at Cool Cafe – Jesse Cool’s delightful cafe at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford. I’ve recently had foot surgery (hammertoe) so I opted to grab the tables for the four of us while the others ordered.

While waiting, I happened to look left and noticed this lovely shot – which I captured with my iPhone 5s and adjusted using a couple of the iPhone adjustment apps including Instagram. The colors and effect reminded me of the beautiful work of Edward Hopper!

Checking In with the Fujifilm X-E2 at Stanford

Checking In - Stanford - 2013

On Sunday, I often like to take a walk around the Stanford University campus. Parking is usually easy on weekends (except game days!) and there’s so much to explore. I can get a nice hour long walk in and capture some interesting images along the way. Lily and I used to do this regularly – and I still miss her whenever I’m walking Stanford.

Here’s a shot taken with my new Fujifilm X-E2 at Stanford this past Sunday. I was walking around the Quad when I noticed this young woman coming towards me – right in the middle of the walkway. As she got to the stairs, she stopped, looked at her smartphone and began talking – clearly she was in a FaceTime video chat with someone. I thought the like was very beautiful with the striking contrast with the shadows – and snapped this image with the Fujifilm X-E2.

When I got home, I post-processed the image a bit using both Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC. For shots that tend to be “busy”, I often use Topaz Simplify 4 to remove some of that busyness – and I did that on this image. If you look closely (click on the image to see a larger version), you can see that there’s lots of detail in the center where she is but that as you move out to the edges the details fall away and you just see the major elements of the image. That’s Topaz Simplify in action.

I also applied a touch of cinematic toning (orange-ish highlights, blue-ish shadows) using Lightroom 5′s split toning panel before declaring the image complete!

That Rock Band on Sunday Morning at Stanford

Stanford Memorial Church

When I’m out shooting, I have lots of fun looking, shooting and enjoying. Photography is such a rich, deep pursuit – it’s a delight.

This morning I needed to get out and exercise so I headed over to Stanford – with nothing more than my iPhone 5s. A superb camera – in my pocket. As I headed into the Quad, I noticed this group ahead. Not sure why, but it struck me – another rock band visiting the campus! Perhaps they’d like a cover shot for their next album? I obliged – and smiled.

Nothing better than good photographic fun on a beautiful Sunday morning at Stanford. Superb.

How about you – a great Sunday?

Remembering Lily – Wandering Stanford

Quad - Stanford - 2013

Lily and I used to really enjoy our weekend walks at Stanford. We live close to the campus – a quick trip in the car to one of several of our favorite starting points. On most weekend mornings, there’s not a lot going on around campus – but she really enjoyed just getting out and walking as did I.

Sometimes, I listened to podcasts along the way. Other times I didn’t – just wanting to be in the moment walking with her and enjoying the beauty of this special place. Lily didn’t care what I did – she just enjoyed all of the sights and smells along the way – a semi-regular routine but not one that was frequent enough to be boring!

One of our favorite spots was inside the Quad. She didn’t particularly enjoy all of the stone footing – but when we got out into the outer area with some nice grass she was happy again!

Many times I’ve taken this shot looking back at Memorial Church. Yesterday, I took it without Lily at my side – while remembering all of our great times together wandering Stanford.

Walking Stanford

Stanford Memorial Church

Lily and I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday morning to head out for a walk at Stanford. We parked near the old Chemistry Building and then made a gentle loop of the Quad.

The photo above was shot with my iPhone 5 and then tweaked using one of my latest Lab color workflows in Photoshop CS6.

The photo below was shot on my iPhone 5 in Panorama mode and then tweaked in the iPhone using Painteresque and Snapseed.

Stanford Quad Panorama

It was a wonderful fall day for a walk on the campus! And I continue to really enjoy my minimalist photography – with just the iPhone 5 camera in my pocket!

The Power of Black and White Photography – An Example

Angel of Grief - Stanford University - 2012

I learned so much about the power of photography in the short time I had with my good friend Chris Gulker before he passed away in late 2010. For most of his work, Chris was dedicated to creating powerful black and white images – and he did so with great passion and flair. His images were almost always of people – and, sometimes, about events with people in them. Late in his life, he began shooting portraits – mostly in color – for InMenlo.com. But his passion remained the black and white photography he loved.

What is it about these images – when they shed the color that we expect? How do they become even more “powerful” – when losing that colorful dimension?

In my experience, going to monochrome is a fascinating way to explore images – first looking at them as originally shot in color – and then moving them to monochrome, shedding the influence of the color, and just getting down to their essence – of light and shadow.

This image of the Angel of Grief is an example. It’s a classic piece of memorial statuary located near the Stanford family tomb on the Stanford University campus. It’s tucked away in an out of the way place that you come across while walking. It’s so striking when you see it – a memorial to Henry Lathrop, brother to Jane Stanford, based on an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story.

Late in May, I took Lily for a walk through this area – including the Arizona Cactus Garden and the Stanford memorial. I had along my Canon 5D Mark II with the 135mm f/2.0L lens. The late afternoon light was streaming in from the upper right of the image. A powerful sculpture – in powerful light.

Benches

Back from another wonderful session today with good friends at the Walker Evans exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Art Center. Last fall, I took a portraiture class taught by Neal Menschel at Stanford’s Continuing Studies program – and many of us met up today to tour the Walker Evans show.

While we were there, I shot this image out in the inner courtyard with my iPhone 4S. It was all post-processed on the iPhone – using Nik’s superb Snapseed along with Noir.

IMG 3434

Walker Evans – from the Ideal to the Ordinary

Last Thursday, I attended a lecture on Walker Evans given by Jeff L. Rosenheim at Stanford’s Cantor Art Center. Rosenheim is Curator, Department of Photographs, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – and a leading authority on Walker Evans. The Cantor has a comprehensive exhibition of Evans’ work on display currently – it’s a delight to enjoy.

Walker EvansRosenheim divided his talk into three parts – a biographical introduction to Evans, his primary years photographing New York, Paris, Havana, and the American South, and his later years at Fortune and Yale. A frustrated writer, Evans turned to photography instead – and made photographs that have become the iconic images that document life in American in those days.

As I’ve been spending a bit more time studying the works of Evans, I found a wonderful volume at my local Menlo Park Library this morning titled “Unclassified – A Walker Evans Anthology” edited by Rosenheim and published by the Metropolitan in 2000.

In the introduction to this volume, Maria Morris Hambourg, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs at the Metropolitan writes:

“…[Evans] sensed that the timbre of the time was conveyed with a peculiar authenticity through vernacular things rather than formal or academic expressions, and he therefore made a habit of studying billboards, roadside stands, wrecked cars, rural churches, graffiti, and trash for signal significance. Shifting attention from the ideal to the ordinary, he leveled the landscape of art.”

From the ideal to the ordinary – Evans made the ordinary so special. Walking through this exhibition of his images, you can see the most ordinary elements of American life through Evans’ special eye. Remarkable.

Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts. – Walker Evans

[Notes: When asked about his other favorite American photographers, Rosenheim mentioned Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Lee Friedlander and Helen Levitt.]