Portraits of the Day – Santa Barbara Solstice Parade

I’ve been a bit under the weather, so I won’t be finding any Red-White-and-Blue this evening. Instead I leave you with a few from the Santa Barbara Solstice Parade – June 21, 2014.

Although many find it easier to take street portraits than complex layered images, I find it just the opposite. So I worked on picking people out of the crowds and finding the portraits that captured the feeling of the day ranging from last minute makup preparations, float decoration, or looking for a little cool on the sidelines.

Lip Touch Up

Pink

Finding Cool

Practice, Practice, Practice – Preparing for Cuba

wyman_IMG-290176-Edit

Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
A: Practice, Practice, Practice

I will be soon going my first travel photography workshop. I am joining Eddie Soloway and the Sante Fe Photographic Workshops on an 8 day trip to Cuba visiting the cities of Havana, Trinidad, and Cinfuegos.

Sometime in early 2012, I set my sights on photographing in Cuba in 2013. I don’t know exactly why I picked Cuba, but my life is filled with examples that follow the same basic pattern. I get and idea of doing something and just decide to do it. At the time of my decision often have little understanding of what it will take to get there or even what it will be like when I arrive. I just know it is the right thing for me to do and I set out single-mindedly to achieve the objective. The pattern includes both a long-term vision (I want to be a classical oboist) and lots of little short term activities (I need to master the Strauss Oboe Concerto, I need to study with the 1st oboists of the major US symphony orchestras).

So it was with this trip to Cuba. I announced to my friends: “I’m going to Cuba in 2013, who wants to come along?” I did not wait for answers, I just started my planning and preparation.

My preparation for the trip has included finding the right trip, studying Spanish, reading about Cuba and its history, studying other’s photos of Cuba, studying with master photographers to find myself, and practicing my particular brand of street and social documentary photography. The last part included shooting exclusively with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, memorizing as much as I can about where the settings are located (I’m really bad at memorizing details), and doing as much street photography as my schedule allows.

Over the past several months, when I went out shooting, would say to myself: If you were in Cuba today shooting, what would you come home with. And I would evaluate my results and experience by asking myself several questions that run the gamut of exploring my craft, my vision, and my inner strength.

  • Did I capture the mood?
  • Did fear keep me from taking a picture of spending the time required at a venue to get the right shot?
  • Did I keep and open mind and try new things?
  • Was I conscious and intentional with my camera settings?
  • Did I have any issues with efficiently using my camera?

This approach is completely parallel to the lessons I learned when I studied music.

  • Study with the greats – study great photographs, take workshops with the right people, read about their processes
  • Practice your scales – take practice pictures in different conditions isolating different techniques
  • Run dress rehearsals – go out and shoot as if you were on the assignment
  • Know everything about your instrument – study the manual and practice finding those hidden, but needed, menu items
  • Be unconsciously conscious about the state of everything while you are playing – It needs to be second nature that for every shot you know what your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, and white balance are.

Each time I went out I produced more good work and became more comfortable with my approach to photography and the OM-D system.

I will be bringing 2 Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera bodies, 5 fast prime lenses and one zoom (as a backup). I’ll also be bringing my Induro CT114 tripod with Acratech bullhead. I’ve prepared and run my dress rehearsals. I’ve concentrated on prime lenses so that I am super conscious of composition and framing. I’ll be warming up with a couple of days in Miami before the trip and the concert starts on January 29th.

Angry in Pink – A Portrait

Angry in Pink
Barricaded by suitcases and posture – Angry in Pink by I Nancy, on Flickr

Yesterday I went out to see what treasures awaited for me and my camera at Los Angeles Union Station – a mighty art-deco icon and still in use as the primary train station in Los Angeles. In comparison to the grandiose caverns of the stations I’ve visited to in Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York, Union Station is small but full of both character and characters. This day I found my best subjects in the main waiting room, upstairs at the train tracks, and at a local eatery – Philippe’s.

The main waiting room is large and rectangular with a main walkway down the middle and large frosted glass windows on both sides, architecturally a mixture of Spanish Mission and Art-Deco Modern. The seats are square wood and leather, ample and comfortable, so different from modern airport waiting rooms. There are always plenty of travelers that seem to have hours to wait, which I’ve not quite figured this out as this is the western most terminus for the United States. They must be using Union Station as a hub to go east after arriving from somewhere from the north or south.

From a technical perspective, the lighting in the station is dim, but interesting. The two sides of glass provide good directional lighting from either side and for normal use there is hardly need for additional lighting (though I’ve never been there at night). For my day of photography cranked my ISO to 1600 at f/4 or larger and work from there. I was looking specifically for portraits so mostly donned my 70-200 f/4 on a full-frame Canon 5dMkII. Stealth photography, you might quip. But I’m sure I would not have been able to capture these expressions with a shorter lens, and expressions was my objective.

I looking for interesting faces with interesting clothing, to tell a story, today I present “Angry in Pink”.

Study

Study
Study by I Nancy, on Flickr

Riding on the commuter train in Chicago provided me with so many photo opportunities that I could hardly put the camera down. Of course my hubby’s son thought that I was nuts, being that he rides it every day. When I entered the train I immediately began a process of mental notes. What did it feel like, what did I see?

This car was a double-decker with everything tinged in faded 1970’s kodachrome orange, yellow, and cyan. The upper deck provided views down and across filled with metal bars and orange seat patterns. As the train began to fill my opportunities evolved from simply lines and patterns to incorporating people, first a few and then more as we got nearer to downtown. The patina on the stainless rails provided diffuse reflections of the yellow light and cyan tinged windows. The vision I was forming was to look for interesting views to maximize the framing effects of the bars, the diagonals of the seats below, or the perspective looking down the car. When I peer across the train and spotted this young man studying so intently I began my exploration of the framing I would create. I worked both on the framing and waiting for the right pose and look.

The result here is based on with the strong framing, slight tilt of the papers and lighting hitting his hair and folds of his shirt. The color harmony of yellows and cyans are seen both in the windows and walls as well as reflected in the bars. I dodged down the lettering on his bag – the the facing seat) and brought up the lighting on his face a touch.

Taken with the Olympus E-PL2 and Lumix 20mm pancake lens.

Portrait Skillz

It is no secret that lately I’ve been taking a lot of camera phone portraits and scenics. I’ve dubbed them Camera Phone Portraits/Scenics – Portraits/Scenics in 2 Mega-Pixels or Less. The theory was that taking these images, with their questionable image quality, would force me to think about the composition that would be needed to carry the story. This is most exemplified with this recent camera phone image.

Leading Lines
Waiting for Godot (Leading Lines)

But how would I measure if this exercise is working?

I recently had a request an opportunity to walk the hallways of my place of work and take casual and semi-candid portraits. Tops, I spent 2 hours over 2 days taking these. There was no setup. For some I carried around a single flash with a bounce card on a light stand adjusted about 7-feet high. The flash was set to ETTL/M, over compensated for the bounce card by 2 stops, and triggered wirelessly with Cactus-brand triggers, a.k.a Poverty Wizards.

Just really a bunch of drive-by shootings where I tried to capture all the whimsy of the camera phone shots, only this time with high-quality glass.

These are some of my favorites – I’m labeling them Portraits in Approximately 8 Mega-Pixels.

Simon and Richard
You Looking Over My Shoulder?
Kristy
Peeking In
Really Don't Take Him Seriously
Look - Snaggit From My Favorite B-Movie

Street Portrait Classics the Book

Street Portrait Classics on Blurb

120 Pages of Black and White photographs in the style of the Masters of Photography from the 20th Century. These artists are the Elite of the genre on flickr.com. You can view the entire collection on the flickr group Street Portrait Classics.

Zack Jennings, Ozzie on flickr, graciously organized the flick group Street Portrait Classics to collect just over 100 B&W Street Portraits for publication into a book. The Premium Edition is available in hard cover on blurb.com and will be available in soft cover from Lulu at a later time.

I am honored to be included with my photo Dared to Look Up.
Dared To Look Up

A Slice of Family

A Slice of Family, originally uploaded by Introducing Nancy.

I thought for sure my next blog post would be a photo from a recent visit to Chinatown which I have been working on for a week or so now. But NO! This amazing accident happened at dinner last night.

My brother Jeff and his wonderful family (Nanci, Aliya, and Sam) are in town for a few days and coincidentally it was also my parents 58th wedding anniversary on July 9th. We decided to take our parents out to dinner and since it was both an occasion and a family visit, the cameras were flying.

While Sam was setting up this shot of his parents, I thought I’d piggy back on the scene and the most serendipitous thing happened. My cam-phone exposure occurred at precisely the same instant as the flash went off on the other camera. This created this great off-camera flash effect. But, when I got home and started processing it, I noticed that I also ended up with an oddly 3-banded image – I’m guessing a flash-synch artifact. I cropped out the middle band and had this remembrance.

Accidental photography for sure!