Admiration. That’s what I have for street photographer, blogger, and vlogger Eric Kim. I started following Eric’s blog several years ago as he began actively writing about the joys he found in street photography. His blogging efforts led him to pursue teaching street photography classes in various cities around the world and, more recently with his partner Cindy, an active publishing (both open source and for sale) and photo gear related business (see his product page).
Eric’s blogging has evolved beyond the mechanics of street photography into his philosophy of life – his joys, his worries, and his endless pursuit of creativity. I enjoy reading him for his quick comments and insights – almost always stimulating my thoughts off in an unexpected direction. Reading his work and watching his talks open my mind in new ways.
Recently, Eric gave a talk at Google which is available for watching on YouTube. One of the best parts of his talk – much of which is focused on his approaches to creativity – starts at about 19:30 into the video. He shares one of the photos of an older woman with a big smile that he captured years ago on the streets of New York City. His description of that image, how he shot and and his interaction with the audience about the photo is just great. (He sells a signed limited edition of this print on his website.) He’s written about this on his blog as well.
As for me, Eric’s had an impact recently – he’s helped jumpstart me back into more actively writing for my blog. Watching his work, I’ve come to realize that sharing is both worthwhile and also easy to do with today’s blogging tools. I’m able to quickly have an idea and – on any of my computers or mobile devices – being drafting a blog post on that idea.
This post is a great example. While waiting for my coffee to brew this morning, I was thinking about Eric and that segment where he shares the store of the smiling older woman. That got me thinking about how I admire what he does – and what he’s been doing for years now. And so here we are. Thanks Eric!
In last week’s Kindle Chronicles podcast, Len Edgerly interviewed Amazon’s Julia Sommerfeld about her work as the editorial director of Amazon Original Stories. Amazon Original Stories “brings unforgettable short fiction and nonfiction to Kindle” and the stories are available to Amazon Prime members at no additional cost.
In the interview, Sommerfeld happened to mention a short title “Parable” by Jess Walter that’s part of the Amazon Original Stories series “The One” – “true stories that stay with you.” Walter is the author of a major recent best seller, Beautiful Ruins, that I’ve not read but have heard good things about – “a story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 . . . and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.”
On a recent hour long drive we listened toJess Walter read the story (with the Original Stories series you get both the Kindle book and the Audible audio book) – and enjoyed it very much. It’s a dog story – and, like most dog stories, also a love story that makes you remember how having a dog affected your life. In addition to the story, Walter’s narration is perfect for the book.
The Kindle Chronicles is one of my favorite weekly podcasts. Edgerly has maintained a rigorous every Friday posting schedule for almost 600 weekly episodes – for me, the Chronicles has become a regular Saturday morning listening pleasure every weekend!
One of my favorite YouTube channels is Sean Tucker’s. While it’s nominally about photography, Sean’s videos are as much about his philosophy of life and living. As he says: “I’m more interested in the ‘why’ of photography than in the ‘how’.” I’ve listed Sean as one of the photographers who inspires me on my Inspiration page.
During a recent workshop, the instructor played one of Sean’s videos – which is very much about the “how”. It’s one of his best tutorial videos – all about the exposure triangle and how to shoot in manual mode.
A more recent one that I also really enjoyed is this one: Taking Portraits of Strangers (feat. Gabrielle Motola). After an introduction by Sean, Gabrielle talks about her approach to shooting portraits of strangers – by approaching them, talking to them, and capturing their images. She shares some great insights into that style of street portrait photography!
Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s channel so that you get notified when he’s posted a new video. I find they’re always very worthwhile!
A few weeks ago – after returning from a week in Santa Fe – I made a day trip to Reno to visit the Nevada Museum of Art and its Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition Living Modern (organized by the Brooklyn Museum). I caught a morning flight from San Francisco and arrived at the museum just as it was opening at 10 AM. The sun was pretty dramatic on the museum building that morning.
The exhibition was beautifully displayed – a combination of both O’Keeffe’s artwork (paintings and drawings) and her clothing. The combination helped illuminate my understanding of her as a person – particularly her emphasis on wearing black – and her use of light and shadows in her artwork.
One of my favorite drawings of hers – Winter Road – was on display near the end of exhibition. It’s a drawing of a long driveway – strikingly done.
The exhibition displayed her artwork on the walls while her clothing was displaying in the middle on mannequins. The combination provided a lovely juxtaposition allowing a movement back and forth across the two domains.
In a different area of the museum there’s another exhibit of O’Keeffe’s camping gear. She was quite an outdoor woman – spending overnights camping out in her favorite locations in New Mexico.
The gift shop in the museum had the following quote from O’Keeffe – which sums her her clothing style!
I hadn’t been to Reno in many years so it was fun to catch back up with the city a bit while I was there. About a block from the museum is the breakfast and lunch spot Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs. Naturally I had to try it out – having breakfast for lunch!
After lunch, I stopped by the National Automobile Museum – about 160+ classic cars from the original collection acquired over the years from casino owner Bill Harrah. A worthwhile visit – the movie provides a great overview of the collection and about Bill Harrah.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot more post-processing of portraits that I’ve taken over the years. There are some finishing touches easily applied in Lightroom that can be very helpful in making a portrait look great. Here are some of my favorites…
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.
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.
One of the things I’d like to do better is to remember (!) what kind of editing I’ve done to take a photograph from the original in-camera capture to the “final” posted image that I’ve shared or published. I’ll often finish editing and image – publish it – and come back across it months later only to wonder how exactly did I edit this photo!
In the spirit of trying to do a better job remembering, I will share some examples of the process I’ve used for photos that I’ve recently edited. The first two posts use photos taken in New York City – over five years ago – during a workshop I was fortunate to take with the great photographer Jay Maisel.
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.