Friday Close Out

Love Locks Melbourne Australia 1024x768 Friday Close Out

Love Locks (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/1.8, 1/160sec & ISO 200.

I love Fridays not just due to the impending weekend but also because it gives me a chance to close out the week.  An opportunity to sit back and look at what I have accomplished, what I failed to do and take stock in the direction I am going in.

Window Melbourne Australia 687x1024 Friday Close Out

Window (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/1.8, 1/160sec & ISO 200.

I am posting some of the last pictures I took in Melbourne, that wonderful city that deserves so much more of my time, and from some shots taken in Perth.  Again I will mix B&W and color and won’t ask myself “why” but just enjoy the emotion they convey.

Keep Walking Melbourne Australia 1024x768 Friday Close Out

Keep Walking (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/1.8, 1/160sec & ISO 200.

It was a busy week…but a good week.  I have accomplished what I needed to, I have learned a bit and even got a chance to do some things that I wanted to.

 

 

B&W vs Color Street Photography

Waterfront Melbourne Australia 1024x768 B&W vs Color Street Photography

Waterfront (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm shot at 45mm, f/1.8, 1/250sec & ISO 200. This image I saw as a B&W when I shot it. The textures of the waterfront just begged for a B&W conversion.

Street photography is all about emotion and it is an area where B&W photography continues to reign supreme.  It is difficult to imagine but when color photography came out it was assumed that B&W would disappear much as it has in mainstream film.

Well I took some pictures this past weekend that really brought the question about B&W versus Color for a street scene.  Most of the time I like B&W for a street scene but occasionally it is the colors that really speak to me.  I decided to dig a little deeper into this subject to understand what other photographers do and how they decide on B&W versus color.

This first video is nice and short but does a great job explaining how we see color.  I could not find a better video that explained so much is such a short period of time.  Have a look.

0 B&W vs Color Street Photography

While digging a bit I stumbled across this video from Adorama that goes into some detail about how color impacts B&W images.  It is about 22 minutes and in it Mark starts off with some color plates but then uses a model for some real world examples.  I also like this video because he uses Lightroom for the B&W conversion.

0 B&W vs Color Street Photography

Amazingly enough there is very little out there on why photographers opt for B&W versus color.  The vast majority of things I read or videos I watched chalked it up to personal preference.

A great site that explains the emotion of B&W is this one here.  It is a short blog post but covers a bit of everything in it.  Mrs Coulson explains an important concept rather quickly.  For example:

The art director on a book once said to me ” a colour image is only valid when the colour is great colour.”  Hence if the colours jar, or they are not harmonious or are distracting that is when I convert an image to black and white.

I must agree.  Most photos I prefer to see in B&W unless there is a story that the color is telling. If the color is distracting to the story I convert to B&W.  But there are other considerations to be sure.

The single best quote that Mrs. Coulson uses to explain our love affair with B&W is one by Toroslab.

“Black and white is an attitude, a different way of looking at things. I knew many photographers like Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau who preferred to work in black and white. There is an indescribable magic in black and white that is impossible to explain, it is the shadows and the highlights, in the details and in the mystique. Black and white treads that fine line between reality and fantasy.”

I have to agree with ‘Toros’ on this one.  Why we love B&W may indeed be impossible to explain but the emotion is clear.  It is as if by switching to B&W we strip away distractions and leave only the emotion of the person or scene.

Shoe Repairs Melbourne Australia 661x1024 B&W vs Color Street Photography

Shoe Repairs (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/2, 1/100sec & ISO 200.

The image above was taken in my walk around Flinders Station in Melbourne.  I love this picture of the worn building and the gentleman up early working his craft of a cobbler.  The texture of the sun shade above his window and the door really cry for a B&W treatment.  The detail that my little OMD5 was able to capture in complicated light really amazed me.

Street Art Perth Australia 1024x767 B&W vs Color Street Photography

Street Art (Perth, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/6.3, 1/500sec & ISO 200.

This image of a woman painting a wall was taken in Perth.  We were driving by and I saw this scene and had to stop for a couple of pictures.  What drew me to this was the turquoise color wall.  I tried converting to B&W and spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the conversion right.  But the scene lost what drew me to it in the first place.

This wonderfully dressed woman, with tattoos on her arms painting on this bright wall just does not lend itself to a B&W conversion.  I simply could not do it justice so I opted to leave it in color.    So here B&W failed in the emotion I was after.  Color transmitted this far better.

Family Blowing Perth Australia 1024x768 B&W vs Color Street Photography

Time Passes (Perth, Australia): OMD5, 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/1.8, 1/1250sec & ISO 200.

During the same outing I came across a broken fountain with these three faces set to spray water.  The texture and lack of color really made the decision easy to go with B&W.

So after spending the better part of a day reading, watching and thinking about B&W vs Color I believe it boils down to the emotion that is felt.  There are times when that emotion is best transmitted in B&W and other times where color is the best medium.  Frankly there is nothing left to understand.  If you shoot digital convert to B&W and see.  Ask others for their opinion and ask yourself why you were drawn to a scene.

 

 

Melbourne Streets

Flinders Street Station Melbourne Australia 1024x768 Melbourne Streets

Flinders Street Station (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm shot at 45mm, f/5, 1/800 sec & ISO 200.

I had to take a trip to Melbourne for work and managed to escape for an hour and capture a few pictures.  For those who have never been it is an amazing city that deserves allot more time than I was allowed to give it.  I was staying in a wonderfully restored historic hotel across the road from Flinders Train Station.  Due to my limited time I stuck around the station and captured some street shots there.  I wish I could have stayed all day.

This is the reason I bought my little OMD5 as it allows me to take it on these trips and use what little spare time I have to go out and capture some images.  While I miss my D800 on these trips it would be impossible to carry that along with me.  The OMD5 fits the bill perfectly.  You can read more about why I went with a Micro 4/3rds kit HERE.

The shot above is of the famous clocks at Flinders.  There is a local phrase here which says “meet you under the clocks” which means this spot.  It is said that many great romances began here as it is a common place for couples to meet at.  I am sure it can tell its fair share of stories of broken hearts as well.

Flinders Station Melbourne Australia 768x1024 Melbourne Streets

Flinders Station (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm shot at 45mm, f/8, 1/320sec & ISO 200.

Flinders Station can easily be spotted from afar thanks to the beautiful dome and classic green and yellow paint.  The shot above captures the dome as well as a historic light post taken from a bridge nearby.

If you want to see some more images of Flinders Station the You Tube video below does a great job of using different vantage points to capture some great time lapse images.

0 Melbourne Streets

Around the station you have an elevated portion of the tracks that leads into the city.  Under these tracks there are all kinds of interesting things happening.  Unlike what you might expect there are plenty of well heeled people running around.  But a few steps away and you see the seedier souls of the city which you would expect to hang around under the tracks.

Fight Club Melbourne Australia 1024x638 Melbourne Streets

Fight Club (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 17mm shot at 17mm, f/4, 1/60sec & ISO 640.

In the picture above I captured one of the shops that have been built under the tracks.  This one is a boxing club which does not appear too inviting.

To capture this image I passed the place the first time and took a mental note of it.  I kept walking taking some more pictures and on the way back I prepped the camera as I came close.  I did not want to stand around fiddling with settings so I wanted to capture it carefully but quickly.  I set the camera on auto ISO and set a aperture of f/4 (with a 17mm lens DOF at this distance is not really an issue).  I then quickly framed it and took two shots and moved on.  This prevented anyone from noticing me and allowed me to take a candid image of what they were doing.

Bar Melbourne Australia 1024x547 Melbourne Streets

Pub (Melbourne, Australia): OMD5 45mm, shot at 45mm, f/2.2, 1/8sec & ISO 200.

The image above was taken at a local pub where we stopped for lunch.  I loved the bar with all its bottles and wanted to capture it with the bar tender moving.  I set the camera up with a f/2.2 kept the ISO to 200 forcing the shutter speed to creep to 1/8sec.  This gave me a fast enough capture to hand hold the camera while allowing for some movement.  I took three shots and liked this one the best.

Friday has Arrived

Patrick Gabriel Perth Australia 682x1024 Friday has Arrived

Patrick & Gabriel (Perth, Australia): D800 270mm shot at 70mm f/4, 1/250sec & ISO 800.

Well it has arrived in Australia at least!  Here is a shot from a couple of weekends ago shot by my wife of me and my youngest.  The odd lines on our faces is due to the bug screen shadow but in spite of that I love this photo!

Most importantly so did Gabriel so I printed it up for him.  Well that is all I got for now.  Enjoy your weekend with family…and why not take a few photos of them!

 

Its raining…time for some Flower Macros

Flower Back Yellow Fill Perth Australia 1024x682 Its raining...time for some Flower Macros

Flower Back Yellow Fill (Perth, Australia): D800 40mm Macro shot at 40mm, f/8, 4 sec & ISO 100.

This weekend it has been raining cat and dogs here in Perth.  A cold front came through and between the wind and the rain it is miserable out.  Fortunatly for me we had a friend over for lunch and he was kind enough to bring my wife some flowers.  So after he left I pulled out my Nikon D800 with the 40mm DX macro and had some fun!

Light was fading fast so I needed to work quickly.  I set up the tripod and put the flowers on a bench and began working.  Flower Macro shots have been done to death but they are fun especially if you can look for an innovative perspective.

Below is a short list of the things I try every time I shoot Flowers…it is my go-to cheat sheet.

  • Try shooting the flower from below.  We always see them from above and with a macro lens (even the cheaper one I have) you can see some great detail.
  • Try using a little bottle of water to spray a mist over it.  Due to the lack of time I did not try it on this shoot but it is easy and fun to add a little dew on the flowers.
  • Try a single big drop of water.  Sometimes it is not dew you are after but an interesting reflection.  There is a whole genre of photography that puts different images in the reflection of a single drop of water.
  • Finally don’t shoot the whole flower.  Try getting the composition right with a single section of the flower.  This adds a bit of action into the composition and gives it a bit of adventure.
Nectar Perth Australia 1024x819 Its raining...time for some Flower Macros

Nectar (Perth, Australia): D800 40mm Macro shot at 40mm, f/8, 1/6sec & ISO 100.

Nice, simple and fast.  These are the recipe that I go to every time I am out shooting flowers.  Just remember that when shooting macros any movement is your enemy.  below is how I handle that.

  • Use a tripod.
  • Wind is your enemy.  Get away from it!
  • Use a remote trigger to avoid any movement when pressing the shutter.
Orange Purple Flower Macro Perth Australia 1024x683 Its raining...time for some Flower Macros

Orange & Purple Flower Macro (Perth, Australia): D800 40mm Macro shot at 40mm, f/8, 0.7sec & ISO 100.

Some Food for Thought

Perth Work Ahead Perth Australia 1024x768 Some Food for Thought

Perth Work Ahead (Perth, Australia): OMD5 45mm shot at 45mm, f/8, 1/250sec & ISO 200.

Street photography is one of my favorite genres to enjoy and by “enjoying” I mean look at.  Shooting street photography is one of the most challenging genres to master.  I wanted to understand a little more about why it is so frustratingly hard so I spent a little time looking at my street photography attempts, those of the experts and some people’s thoughts on the subject.  So here is what I learned…

Street Photography Types

There are two types of street photographers out there and both are legitimate.  The first group is the one that uses people as the main protagonist of their photo.  I searched through hundreds of photos of great photographers that are masters at doing this.  The more recent discovery of thousands of images from photographer Vivian Maier has shown us some of the best examples of this style of photography.

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 8.35.51 AM Some Food for Thought

Photo by Vivian Maier

 

Vivian Maier’s images are amazing.  Much of what draws my eye is the time in which the images were taken.  An everyday street scene in 1950 is a work of art in 2014.  But after skipping through those images I found touching moments of people captured perfectly.  The simple image conveys an emotion across 64 years of time and hits you like a brick.  How did she and other street photography greats manage that?

I tried to understand what makes a simple portrait a masterful photograph and I found this explanation from Mimo Khair on Flickr Moment (you can see it HERE).

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 8.27.53 AM Some Food for Thought

Photo take by Mimo Khair

In the video Mrs. Khair explains that she is looking for “moments of connection” or “when someone is inside a moment”.  That explanation really nails the hundreds of excellent street photography images that I have seen.  Mrs. Khair really has  a knack for capturing these moments as can be seen in the image above.  The street provides the backdrop, the leading lines and the compositional tools.  But the image is not about the street but rather the two people clearly in love sitting on the floor.

This style of street photography is the one that pulls me the most.  It uses the “street” to give a background to the real story of peoples lives.  When done well and people are captured “inside a moment” the results are mesmerizing.  I can look at some of these images for hours.

The second group of street photographers tell a story about the street, buildings and events and leave people to play a supporting role.  These images may not even have a person in them. They tell a story of a place that we may very well recognize but have never really taken he time to look.

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 8.44.25 AM Some Food for Thought

Photo by Jay Maisel

Jay Maisel is said to be one of the greatest street photographers and he is indeed an inspiration to me.  Looking through his pictures I have discovered that this is the type of photography he really excels at.  People are protagonists in many of his images but they play a supporting role to tell the story about the place.  More recently the main protagonist of his images has been color and Jay Maisel uses it better than anyone else to tell a story.

That is not to say that photographers can’t do both.  Below are a couple of images where Vivian Maier uses people as a supporting role and Jay Maisel allows people to be the lead protagonist.

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 9.02.53 AM Some Food for Thought

Photo by Vivian Maier

 

 

 

I can see that above Vivian uses the lady walking to provide scale, depth and symmetry (using the reflection).  But the photo is not about the lady but about the place.

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 9.03.41 AM Some Food for Thought

Photo by Jay Maisel

 

 

In the image above Jay Maisel captures the man in a moment.  The expression and eyes convey boredom at first glance but then we see something else…resignation.  He appears to convey a message of having to go someplace that he does not wish to but must go.  The fact that he is framed in the window of a bus helps convey the message of travel…

Street Photography Under Threat

The other thing that I have noticed is that while street photography is very popular to look at it is suffering a bit in this day and age.  I am beginning to see more people take images of the street instead of images of people on the street.

I occasionally like to stop by and see a few minutes of the discussions on “The Grid”.  Much of the content is a bit forced but there are some good discussions if you can work your way through some of the fluff.  In Episode 151 (41 minutes in) Scott Kelby shares a story of walk around Paris with Jay Maisel when they were confronted by a lady who did not appreciate her photo being taken.  From Mr. Kelby’s description it seems that it was a very traumatic experience for him and has driven him away from street photography.

This is a fear that we all share.  No one wants to cause someone pain or anger with our hobby.  But should we allow street photography to die?  In an age of cell phone images being taken all over the world should we stop and suddenly put our cameras away for fear of invading someone’s privacy?  If someone does not want the image taken can they not just ask us not to?  Is it reasonable for them to become irate without having tried a discussion?

Tailor at Work Singapore 866x1024 Some Food for Thought

Tailor at Work (Singapore): D800 24-70mm shot at 70mm, f/8, 1/90sec & ISO 400.

 

Before starting this post I always thought that my street photographs lacked something because they did not capture people in a moment.  Now I understand that there are times when the story is about the street and through careful composition, the right timing and a little luck these images can be mesmerizing in their own right.

I have also realized that while the fear of rejection can push people away from street photography I do not believe that to be right.  I believe that if I am respectful in my image taking and will immediately delete any image of someone who asks me to I will not allow a few rude people to drive me from a genre that I love.

 

New Lens, New Review

Bike Shadow Subiaco Australia 1024x768 New Lens, New Review

Bike Shadow (Subiaco, Australia): OMD 17mm shot at 17mm, f/2.8, 1/640sec & ISO 200.

Good morning everyone!  We had a great weekend in Perth and were out and about with the family.  Saturday was my sons basketball game and Sunday we went to Subiaco to enjoy some rather unhealthy breakfast and take a nice walk around the open markets.

What made this great day even better was that I had a new lens to play with!  Yup I took my OMD-EM-5 with a new Olympus 17mm f/2.8.  I have been playing with it for a couple of days but the outing on Sunday gave me the chance to put it through its paces.  Have a look at the review HERE.

Below is an image taken at my sons basketball game.  This was a coach’s shoes.

Weathered Floor 1024x733 New Lens, New Review

Weathered Floor (Perth, Australia): OMD 45mm shot at 45mm, f/3.2, 1/250sec & ISO 200.

Below is a video I saw this past weekend that inspired me to look to the shadows.  It is a long photo critique done by Zach Arias and his wife.  Some of the images are mesmerizing and worth a look.  The bike shot above is my response to the inspiration!

0 New Lens, New Review

Revisit an Old Shot & Update on Portfolio

Looking Out BsAs Argentina 682x1024 Revisit an Old Shot & Update on Portfolio

Looking Out (BsAs, Argentina): D300 24-70mm shot at 70mm, f/4, 1/60sec & ISO 200.

Hello everyone!  Well we are progressing on this week rather well I would argue.  For todays post I have gone back and selected an old image to reprocess and bring some life back into it.

I have also updated my Quest for a Portfolio page with another 12 images (you can see them HERE).  These are some pictures I took while in Argentina mostly from a trip I took with my father to a small town called Villa General Belgrano.  It was a GREAT trip.

The top image was taken back in 2010 when my youngest was still very small.  His mother had stepped out to the store and I was left watching him.  I was playing with him on the floor with my camera trying to take some “Family Photojournalist Pictures” but he kept going to the window to look for his mother.

I took a bunch of pictures that I love on that day.  Something about forgetting all technicalities, ignoring ISO limitations, allowing for a bit of movement and some soft focus images but just trying to capture a few minutes with my son.

Sometimes we have to return to basics and just capture moments in time and forget about what they will look like on Flicker or being critiqued by someone else.  Just capture a real moment with family!

And the final image will scare my wife as she is terrified of these little visitors!  While Australia is known of their arachnid population this particular little guy was captured in Argentina.  She had built a little web nest that went into a plant like a long tube.  I managed to get close and used a tripod.

Spider LL TT Argentina 1024x680 Revisit an Old Shot & Update on Portfolio

Spider (LL TT, Argentina): D300 18-200mm shot at 105mm, f/5.3, 1/60sec & ISO 200.

 

Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

By Threes Macro Perth Australia 1024x1022 Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

By Threes Macro (Perth, Australia): OMD 12-50mm shot at 43mm, f/8, 1/10sec & ISO 200. This image would have been lost as I was out for a walk and would not have taken my Nikon D800 due to the weight.

As many of you already know I have taken the Micro 4/3 plunge by trading in some airline miles for a Olympus OMD-EM-5.  To find our some of the reasons for this very large deviation of my regular kit you can read all about it HERE.  I have received a few questions about what it is like to switch from a 36Mp full frame camera to a 16Mp Micro sensor.

Let me be very honest.  I never really worried about the sensor size expect for two key areas.  The first was background blur. A full frame sensor traditionally gives much better bokeh which is a nice to have when shoot portraits.  The second is wide-angle shots.  In order to get a crop sensor to get a really wide-angle shot you have to do some really bending of glass.  This is difficult (read expensive) to get right as distortion becomes a major issue.

The rest never really bothered me.  You can see a great site HERE that goes into greater detail between the differences in sensor size.  I have borrowed their picture below to show the difference in size.  If not have a look at this video from Karl Taylor just below the image sensor size plot.

Screen Shot 2014 08 23 at 4.53.29 PM Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

 

0 Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

After getting a full frame sensor I stopped worrying about it and never looked back.  When doing some research for this post I came across the video below which puts everything into context.

0 Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

Then there is the last argument that going full frame is cheap.  All you have to do is go to film.  I have recently done this and you can see the results HERE.  I love film photography and highly recommend any photographer to pick up a cheap film camera and have some fun.

0 Full Frame, Fuller Frame, Fullest Frame

But to answer the questions….yes there is a difference in sensor size.  Yes the detail I get from the Nikon D800 is amazing.  But the easy carry of the OMD-EM-5 makes up for this easily.  I have just purchased a Olympus 17mm for it to help keep the kit as small as possible and am amazed at how much quality I can get in such a small package.  For those interested, I will review this lens in a few days.

The OMD was purchased as my street / family event camera and it is working out perfectly.  A recent example is that I took the family on a three-day camping trip and took my Nikon D800.  I only took it out once to grab some shots of some wild flowers (Australia has some amazing flowers).  I would have been just as happy with the OMD and my back would have been much happier.

Would I take the OMD on a paid wedding shoot?  Nope.  Professionals do not have to worry about comfort.  They must focus on getting the best shot they can and who does not love a portrait of the bride with milky smooth bokeh?  But would I take a Nikon D800 to a friend’s wedding?  Nope too big. I would take the OMD to fire off a few shots.

So forget sensor size and get the camera system that is right for you.  If you are looking to become a photographer then look at what other professionals in your genre are shooting.

 

 

 

Building My Portfolio…Slowly, Very Slowly…

I dread thinking about building a portfolio.  The idea of going through your images to select the top 20 and showcase them to everyone as your “best” is a bit stressful to say the least.  This got me thinking about why I would want to create a portfolio.

For professional photographers a portfolio is vital to be able to showcase their work to clients or customers (yes there is a difference but we can leave that one for another day).  It is their way of showing the style of shots they take and their ability and talent.  I am sure that if your very living is relying on your portfolio you will spend time and energy ensuring it is the best work you have.

But this begs the question why would an amateur assemble a portfolio?  I do not make my living off photography so what possible purpose could a portfolio have?  I know it is important because I made it one of my Photography Resolutions for 2014 (granted I was probably drunk on Eggnog at the time but I am sure there was a reason!!!).

The truth is a portfolio forces a difficult but important process for any photographer.  That process is one of choice which requires a criterion to base that selection on.  In other words you have to decide what are the requirements for one of YOUR photos to make YOUR portfolio. Is your best work portraits?  Is it macro photography?  What theme should you build your portfolio on is the first and most difficult questions to ask.

In an effort to help me through the process of making a portfolio I have decided to break up all of my travel images into a trip specific portfolio.  I will do this slowly over the next few months (we have made a bunch of trips and this process is time-consuming) to see what images am I more drawn to.  Once completed I will then use these images to select my portfolio’s theme and then assemble it.

In order to make it easy I will assemble the mini-portfolios into a menu called “Travels Completed”.  Several friends have asked me for this for some time now.  With my quest to build my portfolio providing a suitable catalyst to actually making it happen.

The first one goes back to a trip taken in 2010 to Grand Cayman.  This was not very good photography to say the least for reasons explained in there.  But it represents the beginning of my photography travels.