Inverness iPhone 12 Pro Max Photography Photography - Black & White

Brock’s Boathouse in Inverness

For many years, I’ve enjoyed seeing this old boathouse sitting out in Tomales Bay just off Inverness, California. In November 2020, we were staying nearby and I couldn’t resist pulling over along the road and snapping this photo with my iPhone 12 Pro Max. Note the white heron in the water near the right side of the boathouse!

This black and white version was first processed in Lightroom using some filters and then into Snapseed with the Drama filter applied to the lower 3/4 but not to the sky area.

Here’s the original photo from which the black and white version was cropped:

Creativity Living Photography

The Root of Creativity

 “At the root of creativity is an impulse to understand, to make sense of random and often unrelated details. For me, photography provides an intersection of time, space, light, and emotional stance. One needs to be still enough, observant enough, and aware enough to recognize the life of the materials, to be able to ‘hear through the eyes’.” — Paul Caponigro

Paul Caponigro

In his poetic reflection on creativity and photography, Paul Caponigro speaks to the impulse within us to find meaning and connection. He describes creativity as the act of synthesizing seemingly disparate details into a new understanding. This certainly rings true for photography, which takes fragments of time, space, light, and feeling and fuses them into a single image.

Caponigro argues that photography requires stillness, observation, and awareness. In stillness, we allow the details to come into focus rather than rushing past them. In observation, we notice and absorb the subtleties that give those details meaning. And in awareness, we sense the deeper essence that animates the materials—the “life” inside inanimate objects and moments.

This process of seeing and synthesizing creates order from chaos. The photographer looks patiently until the details crystallize into something coherent. By “hearing through the eyes,” they grasp at the threads connecting each fragment into a whole. They take meaningless bits of time, space, light, and emotion and compose them into an image that conveys a new understanding.

There is a mystical quality to this act of creativity that Caponigro evokes. Photography becomes almost a meditative practice of slowing down and listening closely enough to hear the inner life of the world around us. When we tune into that life force, we can then give it expression through a photograph. Just as a musician channels sound into music, the photographer channels light into art.

Note: for more about Paul Caponigro, see this short video about making prints from his images.

iPhone 14 Pro Max Menlo Park Photography


Sharon Park – Menlo Park CA

On my morning walk yesterday the skies had some moisture in them that combined with the morning sun to make a lovely pattern. The surface of the pond was smooth because the fountain which is usually running and making subtle waves is still offline due to damage from last winter’s storms. Most of the time I’ve missed the fountain but this morning I was happy the surface of the pond was like glass!

The questions about this image include:

  • Color or monochrome – I tried both and decided the subtle color of the original worked best.
  • The tree limb – there’s a pesky (actually pretty) willow tree at the end of the pond that likes to intrude in photos taken from this particular spot. I debated about removing it in Photoshop or not and decided it was a feature worth leaving in.

This particular pond is among my most photographed locations. I’ve captured it in all seasons and from many angles. It’s truly one of my favorite photographic subjects! Yesterday the light/cloud combination was just lovely! I make the image with my iPhone 14 Pro Max.

See also: Spotted: Gorgeous reflection on Sharon Park pond

AI iPhone 14 Pro Max Photography Photoshop CC

First try with Photoshop’s new Generative Fill

Earlier today Adobe announced a beta of Photoshop which added an AI-based generative fill capability powered by Adobe Firefly. I have been playing a bit with Firefly to generate images but this new capability integrated into Photoshop is quite remarkable.

On my morning walk this morning, I snapped this photo of Sharon Park in Menlo Park, California. I liked how the sun was breaking out of the morning marine layer and creating some interesting light.

I wished I had taken the image in a 16:9 format so that it was wider – so I brought it into the new Photoshop beta and began using generative fill to enhance the image. Specifically, I added four generative layers which took me about 5 minutes to do (most of that time was me thinking about what I wanted to change!):

  • Used the crop tool to extend the border of the image to the left – widening the image.
  • Selected the sidewalk asphalt pavement and replaced it with cobblestone.
  • Removed the other pavement in the far right of the image and replaced it with lawn.
  • Added some ducks and ducklings to the pond.

Here’s the result:

A very pleasing result! The image is far from perfect but it’s much more visually interesting that the original right out of my iPhone this morning!

I’m looking forward to exploring more of the capabilities of this generative fill feature and look forward to seeing how Adobe continues to evolve it going forward!

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) iPhone 14 Pro Max Photography Portola Valley

Redwood Circle No.2

Here’s a second example of slow shutter cam photography using my iPhone 14 Pro Max (here’s my first example). This is a photo of another redwood circle at the Portola Valley Town Center. This one is immediately behind the main town hall building. By the way, both of these redwood circles have picnic tables in the center of the circles making them a beautiful spot to have a quiet outdoor lunch!

As with my first example, this was shot using the Slow Shutter Cam app – by doing a quick short pull down of the iPhone while the shutter was active for 0.5 seconds That provides the blur and also seems to shorten the height a bit. I then open the image in DistressedFX+ and try applying various textures and color backgrounds until I find something I find pleasing. Takes about 10 seconds!

I should have mentioned in my first post that I was first drawn to intentional camera photography by my friend Roxanne Overton. She has a very active Instagram feed with her ICM work – it’s always inspiring to see what she’s doing!

Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) iPhone 14 Pro Max Photography Portola Valley

Redwood Circle

Yesterday I went for an afternoon walk at one of my favorite local places – Portola Valley Town Center.

The library there is among the best of our local libraries and the campus itself is a perfect place for a great walk. I enjoy walking the big loop around and can easily choose between options for either a half mile or full mile distance.

Yesterday there was a Sunday afternoon’s level of activity with a Little League baseball team out for practice and a very animated girls soccer game underway.

As I walked around the old school building I looked up and saw this circle of redwood trees with the sun behind them providing a beautiful glow. I’ve been experimenting with intentional camera movement (ICM) photography so I opened the Slow Shutter Cam app on my iPhone and made a quick vertical movement to slightly blur the trees. Later, at home, I used the Distressed FX+ app to add texture and color to the image resulting in the version shown here. I like the way it turned out!

iPhone 13 Pro Max Optimism Photography Photography - Fujifilm X70

On Optimism, the News and Technology

I’m enjoying listening to an interview with Kevin Kelly on edisode 110 of the 3 Books podcast wiht Neil Pasricha. Kevin’s optimism is a delight – and a great reminder of how to sustain positivity.

I really enjoyed Kevin’s discussion about news – that bad news (like almost everything we read/watch daily) travels fast while good news travels slowly. He says if we had headlines every ten years, instead of every day or every hour, those headlines would be more optimistic. Such a good point.

2022 for me has been a year of very consciously turning my news consumption way down – especially video news which I’ve essentially eliminated. I still do follow a lot of RSS feeds and read too much news from those print/online sources – but getting rid of the talking heads on TV news has been very rewarding this year!

I also very much enjoyed the recent Cool Tools episode that Kevin did recently with my photography guru Christopher Michel. Chris is a wonderful teacher of photography and his abilities with portraiture continue to amaze me.

On Cool Tools Chris recommends one camera (beyond the Leica’s he typically uses) – the Ricoh GR3. The GR3 is a camera I’ve resisted buying – preferring my iPhone’s camera for the kind of casual street photography that I enjoy. But the GR3 gets very high marks from Chris, Eric Kim and others.

Eric says that the

“RICOH GR III/IIIx is probably at least 1000x better for photography than even the newest iPhone Pro.”

Maybe he’s right. He continues:

“The iPhone Pro camera is not for ‘pros’– it is actually for grandmothers who want to make better landscape photos, millenials/zillenials who want to shoot better selfies of themselves and their ‘lifestyle’, or for people who just want the most long-lasting battery on a phone (which happens to also shoot photos).”

But for now and the kind of photography I’m doing, I’m more than satisfied with the computational photography power of my iPhone Pro.

There was one camera that I owned previously that was in the same genre as the GR3 – the Fujifilm X70. I owned the X70 for a couple of years and really enjoyed using it. Chris Michel talks about how his tools (especially his cameras) must inspire him – and the X70 did that for me. Unfortunately, I sold my X70 a few years ago and then Fuji stopped making that model – so they’re hard to find in decent condition. That X70 of mine is one camera I really wish I’d held on to!

Both of these episodes (with Kevin and Chris) are great to listen/watch. Two masters at work!

iPhone 13 Pro Max Photography San Francisco/California Street Photography

Back to The City

For many years, I met my good friend and photo buddy Doug Kaye almost every week on Fridays in San Francisco. We’d meet at the Ferry Building and head out walking from there – exploring the streets of San Francisco in a most leisurely way. Taking our time when we saw something that captured our interest, a scene that seemed particularly interesting.

As our tastes evolved, we became increasingly drawn to finding places with the best light, the most interesting light. Chasing the best, most interesting light and then slowing down to capture slices of time – as people would pass through while we watched and waited.

After a couple of hours walking the streets, we’d find one of our favorite places for lunch, kick back a bit and take a breather, perhaps do a quick review of the images we’d captured, and enjoy each other’s company over a shared table.

Then Covid hit… and everything changed. Those walks on the streets of San Francisco just stopped. Our photography interests changed during Covid – they had to change! The circumstances forced our hands – we had to abandon our love of street photography. We no longer had our favorites streets to walk. The people were gone. You know the feeling…

Last week we reinvigorated some of those old memories – meeting up in San Francisco again after over two years of being absent. We traveled light – no heavy camera gear – and we did do a lot of street walking. We stayed along The Embarcadero, shared lunch outdoors at Waterbar and went to see the new exhibition that’s just opened at Pier 24. We had a great time – it brought back memories of those years we’d walked the streets.

Doug summed our time up nicely:

Yeah, it was a great day. Good weather, good food, good friends. Hard to beat.

Here are a few images from our time in San Francisco – all taken with my iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Creativity Photography

Just throwing some paint around…

For a while I’ve been enjoying being a member of Story Club by George Saunders. I’ve enjoyed his writing a lot and find that the kind of interaction that Story Club enables deepens my appreciation of his work. In addition to the insights George shares there, the comments shared by other members also add a lot of value.

One of the regular weekly things George does is to answer a few member questions. His most recent Office Hours post was good fun where he talked about having a recording session to capture a snippet of music to include on an audiobook version of one of his books. He wrote:

What I found electrifying about this experience was the way it shot me back to the early days of my writing life.

— George Saunders

That triggered me to think about the similar feelings I get when I’m doing some of my photography work – in particular, when I’m re-editing an old photo perhaps years after I originally made it. There’s something about the re-editing process that takes me back to the time I made the image – including how I felt that day, what the location was like, anything usual about the lighting or the smells of the place, perhaps any music around – that kind of stuff. There’s also often an element of serendipity at work drawing me back to a particular image and even thinking about editing it.

I find one of the most enjoyable things about photography is a certain left brain/right brain aspect it brings me. For me, the process of making an image often begins in the creative side of my brain – being drawn to the light, color or shadows of a scene – but my mindset than quickly shifts to being an analytical one as I consider the specifics of things like settings, composition, etc. required to capture the image. And maybe I become captured myself by the scene and my creative side pops back in and out.

What’s wonderful later about the editing process is re-awakening that initial creative vibe that brought me into image making in the first place. And, while that original image is static – frozen in time when I snapped the photo, the editing process can be very dynamic and non-destructive. I can play with adjustments, try different things, perhaps make some severe manipulation or just a light tweaking.

As Saunders wrote in his post: I’m really “just throwing some paint around…” and it’s such fun!

Books Living Music Photography

Life is a Contact Sheet

Happy New Year! Let’s work towards better outcomes in 2022 than we had in 2021! Like most I’m looking forward to leaving 2021 behind and excited about what the future could bring! Now onward to my first post of this new year!

While away for the Thanksgiving holiday I started watching the Beatles’ Get Back documentary on Disney+ while in a garage in Sonoma county. We had gone away with family and this spot was a great escape for the Thanksgiving weekend. Sometimes the place where you watch a TV show or read a book becomes it’s own memory riding alongside the show or the book in your mind.

Get Back is the remastered version by Peter Jackson that looks and sounds really good – especially given the vintage of the film that it’s based on.

Recently I was on a morning walk listening to the Holiday Special edition of the In The Hive podcast with Joe Hagen and Emily Jane Fox. Joe hosts a great segment talking to Don Was of Bluenote Records about the therapeutic beauty of listening to jazz music (especially in these Covid times). Don commented about the Beatles’ Get Back documentary – about how fascinating it was to see the Beatles working through their creative process – oh so many takes! – before they get to their final result. It was quite interesting to see them working and collaborating together – and just how much time and effort was involved in their creative process.

While I was listening to Joe and Don talking about Get Back, their comments brought to mind that Get Back is really just another metaphor for what photographers know as a contact sheet – the capture of all of the images which are winnowed down to get to a final image choice or two – or sometimes none at all.

Here’s an example of a photographer’s contact sheet:

Magnum has a wonderful book of contact sheets from many of its great photographers. When you leaf through that book you realize just how the creative process takes to work and image and reach the photographer’s ideal result.

But isn’t that process of iteration fundamental to any creative pursuit? Writing, photography, music, you name it. And, isn’t that iteration process what living itself involves? Once in a while we see the iterative steps in action when artists like the Beatles or the Magnum photographers share a behind the scenes look at how they got to their final work product. Those are special learning opportunities worth paying attention to!

Watch Get Back and you’ll find it fascinating but also a bit frustrating to see just how many steps can be required! You can see the same kind of process when you browse through Magnum’s Contact Sheets!

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.

Dale Carnegie

Science seldom proceeds in the straightforward logical manner imagined by outsiders.

James D. Watson