January 28, 2011

Old Grungie Look

After a senior portrait session in Galveston last week, I decided to roam around a while and photograph anything of interest that I found.  I really liked this old building, which, I believe was a brewery at one time.  

I wanted to push the grunge look so I produced a HDR image and then further enhanced the look by using nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter.


Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 at shot at 35mm ISO 200, f/11 and various shutter speeds.
Post Processing:  
Lightroom 3—Set black and white points, added clarity and mid-tone contrast.
Photomatix Pro—Combined three photos to create and tone map the HDR photo.
Photoshop CS5—used nik Color Efex Pro tonal contrast filter.

January 25, 2011

Product Composite

Originally, I prepared today’s photo for Bay Area Photo Club’s January assignment of “product shot.”  When I first saw the assignment I was not very excited.  My initial reaction was to put some product in front of two strobes and a white seamless background and then fire away until I got something I liked. 

But then, I was watching some ads during a football game and saw some really cool stuff.  So I decided to do more than just a product shot—a full ad mock-up.


January 21, 2011

Street Photography No. 4

Today’s post is the last in my discussion of street photography.  It comes from Dickens on the Strand and to me demonstrates the last element that I think is needs to produce good street photography—expression.  In this photo, I believe the expression makes the viewer want to understand what she is thinking about. 
The simple background sets her off and allows the viewer to concentrate on her expression.


Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 shot at 200mm,  ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/500th of a second.

Post Processing:  

Lightroom 3—Adjusted white balance, added mid tone contrast and saturation of various colors.

Photoshop CS5—used spot healing to clean-up various spots, softened her skin slightly and then did some dodging and burning.

January 18, 2011

Street Photography No. 3

This is rare.  I have a photo that I would have normally disregarded on my first pass of reviewing what I shot  I think this demonstrates, vividly, why you need to move when doing street photography.  

This is one of the first photos that I took in the series.  The background is cluttered and does not help support or set-off the subject.  It gets in the way of what I want to convey and what I thought was important in the scene.  Definitely not a very good photograph!

Think about how much Photoshop work it would take to make this photo be on par with the original photo I posted of the Mad Hatter.  I have neither the time nor the patience to do it.  I prefer moving the five steps it took to get the original one.

Enjoy, if you can.

January 14, 2011

Street Photography No. 2

Before I discuss what I consider the most important aspect of street photography, I would like to discuss a couple of basic technical items.  I generally set my camera to aperture priority, automatic white balance, continuous focus, 51 points (3D tracking) and auto ISO sensitivity control (which varies my ISO as needed to keep the shutter speed at a certain minimum).  If the lighting has a lot of variability, I will also set auto backeting (usually three shots—0EV, +1 EV and -1EV).  I set my camera to these settings before I start shooting.  I think these setting help me get the best exposure automatically so that I can concentrate on the subject.  If your camera does not have these exact setting (either because your Nikon model does not have them or you use a different camera manufacture), I suggest that you read your camera manual (this is the strange paper booklet that the manufacturer included with the camera) to determine which settings are best for this type of shooting.

Now the real secret of street photography, you must move.  Unfortunately, zoom lenses has taken out (or at least, reduced) the aerobic aspects of street photography.  Since I generally like shooting most subjects at focal lengths of 60mm or more, I generally rely on my zoom when I have limited space in which to move.

Dickens on the Strand #4 and #6 were part of 18 shots taken over four minutes and 22 seconds.  Below is how I moved around the subjects to get the two photos previously posted (starting at position 1 and moving to position 4), plus the photo shown above.  Posting #4 was taken from a low vantage point at position #3 and posting #6 was also taken from a low vantage point at position #4.  As I moved around, I notice that I still had a lot of clutter in the background if I photographed the subject from my normal height, so I lowered my shooting position until I got a nice clean background.  Being aware of the background is essential when photographing people.

Although today's posting does not have a clean background, I like it because it adds additional context to the photo of the Mad Hatter.  I should have taken a little more care in framing the shot to include all of the tube running from the Mad Hatter's mouth. 

January 11, 2011

Street Photography No. 1

Recently, I got a request from that famous singing group, Tina, Tyler & Ellen, to explain how I go about my street photography.

I love street photography because you never know what you are going to get (if anything) and you constantly have to adapt to changing lighting conditions, subjects and backgrounds.  If you look at the labels on my blog, you will see that street photography has 86 different posts which ties it with environmental portraits as the most posts on my blog.  If I was consistent with my labeling, I believe that street photography would have considerably more.

To me, there two essential elements to a successful street photography image:  interesting subject and separation of the subject from the background.  Interesting subjects come in all sizes, shapes, colors and ages but what I try to do with all of them is to emphasize what attracted me to them in the first place.   
A great example of how I did not do this is my December 21, 2009 post.  In the full frame version of the photo, I did not hone-in on the glasses; consequently, the photo is very ordinary.  Even the cropped version is lacking because it does not fully capture the unusual nature of the spectacles.  So, my first rule of street photography is to find a subject that interest you and make your photo about exactly what attracted you to the subject.   
Separating the subject from the background can be done several different ways:  shooting subject against a simple background, using shallow depth-of-field, under or over exposing the background while properly exposing the subject, shooting subject from an usual angle, etc.  This is one of the parts of street photography that makes you continually adapt.  Unfortunately, I cannot give you a formula as to which approach will work best in different situations.
The photo posted today is a revision of the one I posted on December 21, 2009.  If I had shot this as I should have, I would have used an f-stop of f/2.8 (rather than f/9.5) which would have completely burred the background and slightly blurred his face.  Additionally, I would used a shutter speed of 1/60th of second which would have overexposed the background by about 1 ½ f-stops.  I tried to simulate these differences using Photoshop CS5, but I must admit, the result is a very poor substitution to shooting it right to begin with.  But, I think you can better understand what I should have done.
Next post, I will describe how I try to get this result in the camera.


January 7, 2011

Dickens on the Strand #8

Today’s photo is the last one that I will present from this year’s Dickens on the Strand.  Brock noticed this young lady while the parade was going past us.  She was on the opposite side of the street, so, I approached her immediately after the parade was completed.
She was great to photograph.  She went into many different poses and displayed a great deal of personality without saying a word.  This is my favorite because it is not one that you will normally see.

Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 shot at 200mm,  ISO 200, f/4 and 1/500th of a second.

Post Processing:   

Lightroom 3—Adjusted white balance, added mid tone contrast and saturation of various colors. 

Photoshop CS5—used spot healing to clean-up various spots, softened her skin slightly and then did some dodging and burning.

January 4, 2011

Dickens on the Strand #7

For some reason, the combination of cigar and the Steampunk goggles just seemed odd to me.  Naturally, I had to record it.
I wanted the image to showcase the goggles so I focused on the left three small lenses and then added a little sharpness and contrast to them in Lightroom 3.  As a result, his face is a little soft which will bother some people, but my intent was to focus the viewer's attention on what I found unusual and interesting and that was not his face.

Upon seeing the image on the computer, I felt that the soft background really set the subject off.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 shot at 200mm, ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/350th of a second.
Post Processing:  

Lightroom 3—Adjusted white balance, added mid tone contrast and sharpness and contrast to the goggles.

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

You have now entered the second decade of this century.  Where did those first ten years go?

Have not been doing too much photography over the holidays except, of course, for family affairs.  Normally, I am not allowed to show any photos of the grandchildren but I got a special permission from Mrs Patrick the First and Mrs Patrick the Second.

Here are two shots of youngest grandson, Cameron. He has very definite opinions on what is in style and what is not.  During the unwrapping a presents he would decide on adding this or that to his attire.  And, to prove he was fair and balanced, it did not matter whose clothes it was (the boxer shorts are his eight year old brother's and the shoes are his six year old sister's).  

Hopefully Cameron will work with me this year to help me improve on my dress.

Here is hoping that everyone has a safe and happy 2011.