Wall to Wall People – Working with Complexity

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When it comes to my street photography, I am heavily influenced by the work of Alex Webb and David Alan Harvey. Both of these photographers are known for their highly layered complex images with compositions that play with the juxtapositions of near and far subjects. Though these compositions are quite complex, each image is collection of clearly identifiable scenes and interactions, each playing out in their own space within the image.

Here is a set of images from Santa Monica Beach taken during the busy July 4th weekend. The bright sun and harsh light adds to this colorful and active scene. Images were taken with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and 17mm lens (35mm effect focal) prime lens. Although you may think that with these more complicated the scenes, a zoom lens would help manage what is in the frame, however, I find it easiest when I stick to a fixed focal length and move my feet to find the right location then wait for the moment.

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Quite Light at Mesquite Dunes

Bushes
Quiet Light at Mesquite Dunes. Death Valley, California, by I Nancy on Flickr

Some time ago, the assignment in the Martin Bailey Photography Forum was quiet light. It was an interesting assignment for me. Although I’ve always admired low-contrast images, the approach had alluded me. These images, taken this past weekend at Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley, are my tribute to quiet light.

On this morning we were treated to a light layer of high clouds, what my friend Darrel Priebe calls God’s Softbox. I like how the gentle shapes of the dunes match the mood of the gentle light. The sky was a beautiful powder blue with nearly the same B&W tonal value as the dunes themselves. These images are pretty enough in color but the color contrasts were contradicting the whole low-contrast, quite light, feel that I was seeking.

The RAW files were first processed in Lightroom to adjust dynamic range, then brought into Silver Efex Pro for conversion into B&W.

Peaks
Peaks by I Nancy, on Flickr

More Death Valley Images

Ripples in the Dunes

Ripples in the Dunes
Ripples in the Dunes by I Nancy, on Flickr

I’m beginning to learn the value of time and distance when it comes to evaluating images. This images was shot on my Utah trip taken in late September. The trip was a whirl-wind tour through areas surrounding Page Arizona, Bryce and Zion National Parks. Upon returning, the emotions of the trip were so in grained that it was very difficult to separate them from the value of each image. The day we visited the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, not far from Zion National Park, we had already missed the best morning sun and the temperatures were quickly rising into the 90s. In addition, photographing these dunes meant more slogging through sand, something which we had already had enough of. “Oh goody, more sand!” became our favorite expression.

This image lay victim to my reluctance to revisit these emotions and edit this mid-morning shoot. The sand here is fairly fine and a reddish, orangeish, pinkish color. The sky a deep blue. The clouds were coming in and soon the weather would cool down some and bring a great display of clouds, rain, and hail for our ride home a few days later. It was difficult to bring out the texture of the ripples and still maintain a good handle on the color. Ultimately the B&W allowed me to concentrate on shapes and the bands of textures. I did all my processing with Lightroom and Photoshop layers (levels and contrast), but I’m guessing that this would have been a good candidate for Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Here is a nearby scene in color. I capitalized on the orange and blue to enter this image into the Thousand Oaks Photo Group December Digital Composition Challenge on Complementary Colors. Ultimately I think that the B&W with its diagonals is a more dynamic image. We will see what the judge has to say on Monday night.
Dunes and Sky

Shifting Sands


Delta Flow, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

Ripples
Ripples, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

This morning I took a pre-dawn trip to Santa Barbara Stearns warf with a bunch of photog friends. Each of these early morning trips always seem to produce something different. Sometimes there is spectacular fog, clouds, or birds. Today we found low tide and some nice cloud formations. But as the sun rose it skimmed over the roughshod sands recently sculpted by the receding tide. I spent much of the next 30 minutes on my knees in half-wet sand capturing the miniature landscape.

I was tempted to convert these to B&W but the natural lighting created an almost duo-tone effect that adds just the right touch of warm and cool.

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