October 29, 2011

Interruption of Jay Maisel Workshop

I interrupt my posts about Jay Maisel workshop for an important message:  today is JD’s birthday.   She is 29.  Not sure how the math works:  she is 29, we have been married 45 years and her son is 43 years old.  But, then again, she is our mathematician in the family.
For her birthday, she got Blaze and Pepper.  Two black, female toy puddles—actually one of them is mine, but I thought that I would get a few bonus point here claiming that she got two. 
Blaze and Pepper are a continuation of our long line of great black toy poodles:  Marble who was with us for 14 years, and then Elvis (16 years) and Sam (18 years).  Blaze and Pepper have some big shoes to fill, but just look at them, you know they are capable of fulfilling those shoes. 
Actually, we currently do not have them.  They are only five weeks old and we will not get them until they are eight weeks old, sometime around November 15th.   The breeder expects Blaze to be about 5 1/2 to 6 pounds and Pepper to be about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds.  A couple of doggie sumo wrestlers, for sure.
After seeing the photograph, Chloe, our granddaughter, named Pepper and JD decided on Blaze because of the white on her throat (the same as Marble). 
We look forward to bringing our new family members home.

October 25, 2011

Jay Maisel Workshop #4

I have had several people ask me:  “What exactly did Jay teach you about street photography?”  “Could we have more details about your process in taking these shots?”
I guess the biggest thing that I learned from Jay was “slow-down”.  Walk slowly; take-in everything around you.  When you see something interesting, study it to determine what you want to do.  Then slowly raise your camera to your eye (“don’t scare your prey with sudden movement”).  Slowly and carefully frame your subject.  Remember to look around the edges to make sure that you have no distracting elements.  Forget:  “I will fix it in Photoshop”.
Jay liked today’s photo.  He liked that I was down at the little girls level—we were looking eye to eye.  He liked that she was looking straight at me—that generated a feeling of connection between me (and ultimately the viewer) and the little girl.  He liked how the stroller’s lines added a dynamic element to the photo and how the balloon acted as an anchor and also eliminated a lot of bright pink that would have taken the viewer's eye away from the little girl's face.  He did not like that I shot the photo at f/5.6.  He believes that for ultimate sharpness, you need to shoot every lens about one to two f-stops up from its maximum f-stop, which would be f/8 to f/11 for this lens.  He also did not like that I shot this in landscape orientation.  It showed too much uninteresting space to the left of the little girl.
I agreed with all of his comments.  For my blog, I have committed the mortal sin of cropping today’s photo to illustrate Jay’s point about landscape vs. portrait orientation.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 at 200mm, ISO 1,600, f/5.6 and with shutter speeds 1/250th of second.
Post Processing:  NONE!

October 18, 2011

Jay Maisel Workshop #3

What did Jay say about this one?  Well, it went something like this.
Jay:  Larry, what were you thinking when you took this?  Better yet, were you thinking when you took this image?
Larry:  I liked the way the little girl was looking at me.
Jay:  Did you notice the eyes of the doll?
Larry:  No, not really.  I only saw them when the photo came-up on my computer.
Jay:  So, you openly admit before me and your fellow students that what helps make this photo a really good street photo was just a lucky accident?
Larry:  Well, yes, I guess it was.
Jay:  In street photography, accidents happen.  Sometimes the accident helps your photos, and sometimes it &%$#*! your photo.  Accept both and just move on.  What helps make this photo is contrast:  the little girl’s look is so intense and the mother’s look is so passive; the dark little girl with her almost black eye and the lily-white doll with bright blue eyes.  The contrast draws you into the photo.  It makes you wonder.  I like this one.
Larry:  Thanks.
Jay:  You thanking me?  You should be on your knees thanking the photo gods for the blessings they bestowed on you.

October 14, 2011

Jay Maisel Workshop #2

Before delving into today’s photograph, I need to provide you with the ground rules of Jay’s workshop.  The basic rule is:  what you shoot is what you present.  There is no Lightroom or Photoshop work that is allowed on anything that you print.  No cropping, no setting white and black points, no sharpening.  NOTHING can be done to your images other than downloading them and resizing (maximum length and/or width) them for proper presentation.  You shoot and present your images as JPEGs.
I try to know how my camera works, but since I never shoot in JPEG, I knew very little about how the various JPEG setting worked within my Nikon D3.  As a result of this, I was forced to quickly learn about the various sharpening, color saturation and contrast setting available within my camera.  I must admit, it took me a couple of tries before I got the camera setting the way that I wanted them.  The final setting that I settled on were:  sharpening at 7, contrast +1, brightness at 0, color saturation at +1, and hue at 0.  With these settings I felt that my images had just enough pop to catch the viewer’s eye, but not that “over the top” look that you often get when the sharpness and color saturation are pushed to the limit.
In the spirit of the workshop, all photos presented as Jay Maisel Workshop photos are JPEG images without any adjusting or retouching in Lightrooom or Photoshop. 
Both of the photos that I am presenting today were taken in New York City's Chinatown.  I had asked permission to photograph both of the subjects before I took the photos but I waited a little time to allow them to go back to their “normal” activity before taking the shots.  I wanted the images to be about normal life in the big city.
Camera settings:  Nikon D3, Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 at 200mm, ISO 2,200, f/8 and with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second.
Post Processing:  NONE!

October 7, 2011

Jay Maisel Workshop #1

Meet Jay Maisel.  
Last week, as part of his workshop in New York City, I spent 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM from Monday through Friday with Jay.  The workshop in a word was mind-boggling!
Every day I was completely challenged by Jay’s instructions, words, works and of course, that special Jay-look that said:  “Have you lost your #@!*& mind?”  Jay’s instruction seems so simple when he explains them and then demonstrates them through his own work.  But then, you hit the streets of New York City and you feel like someone who has lost his “#@!*& mind.”
Did I learn anything?   Probably more than I will ever know. 
Did I enjoy myself?  Unquestionably.
Will I be a better photographer?  Time will tell.
Today’s photo of Jay was taken in his studio giving one of my fellow students one of his special looks.

October 4, 2011

What I Did on My Vacation #17

Here is my final photo from Machu Picchu.  It is of JD walking up one of the many stairs that you will experience if you got there.  If you plan on going, a little advice before you go:  Stairmaster!