Choices

Here’s another photo from a recent walk along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. I came across this fellow obviously looking to rent one of the two scooters behind him. He seemed a bit frustrated – going back and forth while poking at his mobile phone – undoubtedly trying to activate one or the other.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of him in front of the two scooters and the layers including the railing behind, the pier and then the bridge in the distance. Shot using my Sony RX100M6. Post-processed from the original RAW file using Lightroom Mobile and Snapseed.

Morning Glories

Along San Francisco’s Embarcadero is an outdoor sculpture titled Cupid’s Span by married artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. According to Wikipedia, it sits in Rincon Park and was installed in 2002. The sculpture is made out of fiberglass and steel. The artists said that the piece “was inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.” See the artists’ website for more information.

As I was walking by on this particular morning, the fog was just beginning to break up and the sun beginning to peek through. I looked for an interesting angle to try to catch the sun just behind the bow – and took this photo with my Sony RX100M6. Post-processed in Lightroom and Snapseed (to darken the image and add some drama) before posting to Instagram and here on my personal blog.

San Francisco’s Pier 14

The San Francisco Embarcadero has become a wonderful venue – ever since the decision was made to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway following the 1989 earthquake. One of the many new features in Pier 14 – a pedestrian pier that is eminently walkabout from along the Embarcadero.

One of my favorite spots to shoot an image is this one – where the pier and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge “converge” with Yerba Buena Island in the distance.

The original image was shot with my tiny Sony RX100M6 at f/4, 1/1000 sec. and edited in Lightroom Classic. In Lightroom I used the range masking feature to selectively adjust a gradient in the sky portion of the image. Range masking allows adjustment of the tonal range (or color) to which the gradient is applied. In this case I wanted to darken the drama in the clouds without also darkening the bridge or the island itself.

The Language of Black and White

From a post I wrote earlier for InMenlo.com

Model: Rene Reyes

I’m just back from a weeklong workshop titled “The Language of Black and White” held at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Taught by Cira Crowell, the week involved a deep dive into the key aspects of black and white photography — a genre that I’ve come to appreciate and enjoy very much. Cira (@ciracrowell) is a superb black and white photographer who I met last summer in a workshop taught by photographer Christopher Michel (@chris_michel)

Each day of the workshop had a theme: Who, What, Where, Why, How and When. After introductions on Sunday evening, Cira asked us each to share what black and white photography means to us. “I’ve come to appreciate the timeless quality of black and white photography,” was my comment. Others shared insights about the simplicity of black and white, how dropping away the color helps add clarity to a photo, and more.

We began each day with a short reading from a wonderful Georgia O’Keeffe book: Some Memories of Drawings to help us set a mood for the day. O’Keeffe comments on many of her early drawings describing what was in her mind as she moved from concept to drawing on the paper.

Continue reading “The Language of Black and White”

Image Processing: The Overton Technique

My photographer friend Roxanne Overton has pioneered using an easy technique in Photoshop for creatively merging multiple images of the same subject. Doug Kaye wrote about the technique – and how to do it – on his blog a while back.

While multiple images taken from slightly different positions often generates the most interesting results, you can sometimes be surprised by the simplest approach.

Here, for example, is an image taken with my iPhone along the San Francisco Embarcadero yesterday that I processed using the Overton Technique. It was generated from one image. After opening the image in Photoshop, I duplicated the layer and then horizontally flipped it – creating a mirror image. Auto-blend then combined the two layers to generate this results – which I tweaked a bit further back in Lightroom to black and white, etc.

If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud member and have both Lightroom and Photoshop, give this technique a try. After playing with a few image sequences, you might find one that feels downright brilliantly creative!

“it could be that there’s only one word and it’s all we need…”

In a recent Facebook post, Barack Obama listed three books he’s recently read and wanted to share. One of them was one of the late poet W. S. Merwin’s – “The Shadow of Sirius“. Obama wrote:

One of the great poets of our time, W. S. Merwin, passed away recently. A brilliant writer and conservationist, Merwin spent the final period of his life on a former pineapple plantation in Hawaii, working to restore the surrounding rainforest. … I’ve drawn inspiration from Merwin’s writing because it teaches us about ourselves, our world, and how we as humans connect to nature. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time on poetry but Merwin’s death reminded me of how a good poem can inspire and instruct. So if you’re in the mood, give one of them a try.

Obama’s pointer took me to a recently published collection of Merwin’s poetry: “The Essential W. S. Merwin“. Yesterday, on Father’s Day, I was flipping through this collection and happened to come across his poem “The Unwritten” which I really enjoyed. It’s about a pencil – and how the pencil holds words “that have never been written, never been spoken, never been taught”. He concludes with:

it could be that there’s only one word
and it’s all we need
it’s here in this pencil

every pencil in the world
is like this

Indeed.

And, that word is not just in every pencil in the world – but in every human too!…

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Remembering Dad

Here’s one of my favorite photos from my younger days – my Dad helping me along on that big two-wheeler bicycle! Dad would have been 98 years old this year – and we all miss him dearly. On this Father’s Day 2019 we have lots of great memories of our wonderful Dad!

Photorealistic

Recently I’ve been playing a bit more with image modification that takes a photo from its straight out of the camera look and modifies it to emphasize more interesting parts of the image: typically light and color.

Much of this process involves simplifying the image using tools that remove details (which I often find add distraction to the essence of an image. I’ve been encouraged by some of what Eric Kim has been doing.

On my Mac I used to experiment using Topaz Simplify for this kind of work. But today I’m almost always editing quickly on my iPhone and sharing the results to Instagram. It’s amazing how quickly this yields fun results.

Here are a few recent examples made using the Priism app.