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.
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.
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!
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
And, that word is not just in every pencil in the world – but in every human too!…
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!
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.
We are having a lovely early June weekend here in the San Francisco Bay Area and it was one of those perfect lazy Sundays to visit the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford.
I recently broke the femur in one of my legs and am just now getting to the point of being able to get around using just a cane and without the seemingly ever present walker that I’ve been using. Cantor is a perfect spot for taking it slow while getting in some good exercise walking both indoors and out. It’s a perfect place for some iPhone photography along the way!
The inner courtyard has a new piece that’s very striking in its isolation:
A lunch of shiitake mushroom soup at the Cool Cafe hit the spot with just enough sustenance to keep me going. Next to me on the patio we’re a couple reading – they looked like regulars who enjoyed the ambiance of reading under an umbrella while overlooking the lovely lawn view adjacent! Put me in the mood to do the same! (I’m currently reading Bitcoin Billionaires!)
In one of the indoor galleries are paintings from two favorite artists: Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keefe. Here’s the O’Keefe work:
And the Hopper piece:
Out in the Rodin Sculpture Garden it was lovely parking myself in the shade, reading a bit and watching the visitors explore. Along the way I noticed the sunlight on one of my favorite small sculptures in the big Gates of Hell:
Here are a few more images from my walk at Cantor today – and a few more over by the main Quad and Memorial Church:
I’ve recently come across a couple of techniques (in both Lightroom and Photoshop) that help turn a photo taken during daytime hours into a moodier, darker image. These techniques involves both overall image adjustments to darken and change color balance along with selective edits to add lights, increase highlights, etc.
I recently tried a quick version of this technique on an image taken down San Francisco’s Ocean Beach on a moody morning. It’s been adjusted overall to add the moodiness along with tweaking a few of the highlights to enhance points of interest in the image. This took about 5 minutes in Lightroom CC to adjust.