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.
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.
In June of 2014, I was up in northern California – in Humboldt County – for a workshop with Michael Frye. That time of year is pretty magical along the northern California coast – with the fog coming in overnight and – sometimes – burning off in the mornings.
On this particular day, we were heading south along California Highway 1 to our first stop. This image was captured in the car – following Michael’s – with my iPhone 5s heading into the morning light. One of my favorites from the trip!
Yesterday I was outbound from San Francisco and our flight made this wonderful loop up and around the City itself. Fortunately I had a window seat on the left side of the airplane and had a window seat to all of this.
I snapped this image (along with many others!) using my iPhone 6s.
Below is a monochrome treatment of the same image.
I wrote yesterday about Paul Graham’s exhibition at Pier 24 in San Francisco. Graham’s exhibition features three different approaches to photography. One of his approaches he called “American Nights” – consisting of images that had a high key, sort of faded look.
While enjoying the whole show, I found Graham’s “American Night” images the most interesting of the exhibition – and wanted to try the technique on a couple of my images. Here’s my first example – “Cuban Nights” version of one of my favorite images from Havana in 2013 that I titled “Lady in Red”.
The whiteness was added to this image in Photoshop by adding a white Color Fill adjustment layer and adjusting the opacity to approximate what I saw in Graham’s images. The original image can be seen here – but don’t look at it until you’ve stared at this version for a bit of time and begin to see some of the details emerging. That’s the fun part of Graham’s technique – at least for me!
And it works especially well with large prints on the wall – more so than with this small web image version!
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!
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.