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Art and Artists Photography Photography - Black & White Stanford

Another Ansel

I recently visited Cantor Art Museum at Stanford to see a temporary small exhibition of Ansel Adams’ work: Surf Sequence. It’s an exhibition of five of his photographs taken in 1940 along the San Mateo county coastline looking down at the surf as the waves move in and out over the sand.

Surf Sequence

They’re beautiful images – as usual with his work. Even more interesting to me, however, were two other images on the opposite wall taken in the late 1920’s of a skier coming down a ski run on Mount Watkins in Yosemite (both images shown below taken with an iPhone 11 Pro Max).

Skiing on Mount Watkins, Yosemite High Sierra
Skiing on Mount Watkins, Yosemite High Sierra

These images remind me of one of Georgia O’Keeffe’s drawings – Winter Road – although I’m sure one didn’t directly influence the other!

Winter Road

Winter Road comes from one of O’Keeffe’s books of early drawings and we studied it along with some of her other work during a workshop I attended last summer in Santa Fe. The image above was taken with my iPhone at a wonderful exhibition of her work – Living Modern – that I saw last August at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno.

I’ve seen a lot of Ansel Adams photographs over the years – but these were new to me. There so different from his usual Yosemite work but very “musical” in some sense. There’s a certain calligraphic look in all of these images – pen strokes that vary in width. Others might see other things – finger patterns in the frost on glass in the wintertime, etc.

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Black and White Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Stanford

Ansel Adams and Edward Weston at the Cantor

Weston by Ansel Adams -— Adams by Edward Weston

Currently there’s an exhibition of over thirty prints by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford. Yesterday I stopped in for a docent tour of the show and enjoyed seeing their prints with Carol’s accompanying commentary.

She started with the two images above. On the left is Edward Weston taken by Ansel Adams. On the right is Ansel Adams taken by Edward Weston. In the exhibition the Weston prints are smaller – 8×10 contact prints in white frames and unsigned on the front while the Adams prints are signed and framed in black. A nice contrast.

The current exhibition draws from the Capital Group Foundation’s gift of 1,000 photographs to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University that includes works by American photographic masters Ansel Adams, Edward Curtis, John Gutmann, Helen Levitt, Wright Morris, Gordon Parks, and Edward Weston.

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Black and White iPhone Xs Max Paris Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Sony RX100M6 Street Photography

Paris Streets

During a brief layover in Paris recently I hit the streets with my iPhone and a Sony RX100M6 to see what I might see. Here are a few from a couple of hours on the street.

Capturing the Pantheon
Glance
I See
Two Pairs
The Couple
Intense Conversation
Rider
Making a Selfie
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Art and Artists iPhone Xs Max Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White

The Artists in Bavent France

Recently, I participated in Valérie Jardin’s Normandy workshop and had the special opportunity to visit the artists working at the pottery in Bavent, a few miles from our home base in Cabourg.

The artists we very welcoming and open to our visit – it was a special time to be able to see them work and to capture a few portraits of them. Special thanks to each of the artists for being so generous with our group of photographers and to Valérie for enabling us to visit.

For making these images I used my iPhone. Here are a few of my favorites images from the visit.

The Potter
The Painter
The Jewelrymaker
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iPhone Xs Max Lightroom Lightroom CC Photography Photography - Black & White Photoshop Photoshop CC San Francisco/California Topaz

Curvy

Last Friday my friends Doug Kaye, Steve Disenhof and I spent some time at the recently re-opened Salesforce Park in San Francisco. This park is above the Transit Center on the roof – elevators at either end bring you up to this roof top level.

One of the fun things to see at the park is a fountain (you can just see the holes for the nozzles in the white ring above) that’s triggered when a bus comes through the Transit Center below. There’s a glass wall behind the fountain that makes for some fun reflections. That’s a reflection of Steve walking in the upper right corner (with the hat!).

With this image, I tweaked it a bit in Lightroom, Photoshop and Topaz Simplify to give it a more painterly effect in black and white. The original image – shot with my iPhone Xs Max – is below:

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Black and White Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White Portraiture santa fe

Gallery: Black and White Portraits from Santa Fe

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing some of the portrait work from my recent Santa Fe workshop (and one from a July 2018 workshop) on Instagram.

Here are a few examples in a tiled gallery – something I’ve been wanting to try.

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Before and After Black and White Lightroom CC Monochrome Photography New York City Photography Photography - Black & White

Before and After – That Glance

Just around the corner from Bryant Park is the main branch of the New York Public Library – the one with the lions out front! Inside is a nice small cafe – it was a lovely place for a couple of tired street photographers to rest their legs for a few minutes and enjoy a bit of liquid refreshment.

While we were waiting there, this lovely young woman came in and sat down across the room from us. The final image above – in black and white – was edited in Lightroom on my iPad, exported to the Camera Roll, imported into Snapseed, tweaked a bit further using Snapseed’s vignette and framing tools and then exported for posting on Instagram. This workflow took about 5 minutes start to finish.

Below is the original image in color straight out of my camera. It’s lovely on its own – and the slight tilt actually adds a bit of drama to the image. But I prefer the more portrait look of the black and white image.

image_6b99f037-ebb1-4d55-8ea9-65a356b2afcf._dsf5940
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Before and After Black and White Lightroom Lightroom CC New York City Photography Photography - Black & White

Before and After – Ping Pong in Bryant Park

image_7553cdae-4340-4df9-b83a-ca76e0b93fc3.c5b6c625-727d-4c3d-978d-94fb351877d2

One of my favorite places to photograph people in New York City is in Bryant Park. Over in one corner of the park there are a couple of ping pong tables which are usually occupied by enthusiastic players. Just watching them play can be mesmerizing! Trying to capture a good image from the scene can be challenging.

In this before and after sequence, the final black and white image above was created from the original below by editing in Lightroom on my iPad. I converted the image to black and white, adjusted the color sliders to get the tonality satisfactory to my eye, and then cropped and straighten the image to eliminate the distracting elements and focus in on just the player and his intensity – about to hit the ball back across the net.

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Black and White Gesture Monochrome Photography Photography Photography - Black & White

Light, Gesture and Color…Sometimes!

I was very fortunate to be able to take on of the last workshops taught in New York City by the great Jay Maisel. Jay drilled a lot of things into our heads during our week with him – and one of them turns out to be “light, gesture, and color”. For Jay, the best images had all three: great light, a human gesture captured at a moment in time, and beautiful color.

Since I’m doing more and more work in black and white, I often settle for light and gesture – without the beautiful color.

What’s interesting though is that the best black and white images usually also start from beautiful color images! In fact, using color to help separate the tonality of the grey scale in a black and white image is critical to adding “presence” and depth to a monochrome image.

This image is an example – it was shot from some distance away – so it’s been cropped quite a bit and isn’t very sharp. But the dappled light was beautiful and the gesture is really great with his fingertips lit by the light. Plus the color in the original image was lovely – making for good tonal separation in the monochrome version.

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Black and White Lightroom CC Monochrome Photography New Mexico Photography Photography - Black & White Photography - Sony RX100M6

Plaza Blanca – White Place

During my recent Santa Fe workshop on black and white photography, we made a field trip to Plaza Blanca – also known as the White Place. The location is near Georgia O’Keeffe’s New Mexico home and was one of her favorite places to visit and paint.

I was handicapped a bit – hobbling around with a cane resulting from breaking one of my legs a couple of months earlier. The sandy soil was challenging but also provided a good workout – and, hooray!, I didn’t fall down!

I had brought along a brand new camera – a Sony RX100M6 – which turned out to be the perfect camera (along with my iPhone Xs Max) for my photography that day. I couldn’t have handled a heavier bag of gear nor a heavier camera around my neck. I mostly did one-handed shooting – and the zoom lens of the RX100M6 turned out to be perfect for my needs – as “zooming with my feet” was not much of an option that day!

As we were finishing up late in the afternoon, the sky darkened in the distance with these striking clouds – and the sky seem highlighted most dramatically in this image shot in portrait mode. The image was post-processed in Lightroom, Photos (iOS 13 Beta) and Snapseed.