Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Week 4: B&W Video Arcade Outing

While the ladies in the family were having a Baby Shower for Amanda in Austin, the soon-to-be father Sergio took the guys to a local video arcade, complete with old time real pinball machines. Something the younger ones had never seen.

In a very colorful locale with flashing lights, bright colorful neon, blinding LEDs all around, then the  walls and ceiling are painted a flat black and your only camera is shooting B&W... 
you focus on capturing people, contrast and sharpness. 

The following shots were taken to find the limits on the B&W camera in a high contrast situation with very bright lights and very deep dark shadows. 

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The boys watching the fast moving silver ball roll and bounce round under the glass top. 
Their first real Pinball experience...
they loved it.



This realtime experience is more intense than an electronic game. They did not realize they could use body language to influence where the ball rolled. I remember the frequent "TILT' penalty I would get for overactive body language.

Back home we played the "Pinball Wizard" song for them, then disagreed
 over who made that song famous first, Elton John or The Who?

Before googling the answer, who do you think made it famous?




Of course, there were other rides and games too.
Now grandson wants to buy a "crotch-rocket" motorcycle.



The intensity and focus in trying to beat a game that is programed against you...



This final photo captures the look of amazement the first time you score an air hockey point against your Pop...


The family outing was a hit for all.

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On the photography aspect,  the camera was more than capable of handling this challenging light situation if I used the right settings.  

For the photographer is was a learning experience. 

Ride safe and far my friends, 
Keep clicking.

CCjon




Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Week 3: Black & White Mall Photography


Back to the Mall, again in the late afternoon.
The sun is lower in the sky with that intense bright light casting long dark shadows.

Time to play with shadow, light and people.

As people emerged from shadows into the bright sun, they would squint till their eyes adjusted. 

This grandmother pushing the stroller is an okay snapshot, but not an attractive photo. It does display the dynamic range from white to black and the many tones in-between.



Tried shooting across the walkway as people walked into the sun. 
Again okay, but not what I was looking for.


Went home empty handed, frustrated.

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Return on a Saturday afternoon, more people, more action. 
Capture the following shots that I feel much better about.

Maybe he is a war hero or was it an industrial accident? 
Polo has a cool style, right amount of bling, dressed for a 98 degree day. People were hugging the cooler shadows. This is an open air mall, where only the store interiors are air conditioned. 


I am not asking people's permission to take their photo.  
Many are not aware I am even taking photos, though some are. They are all busy with their own lives, rushing to reach the next air conditioned store, ignoring the crazy guy in the sun with a camera.

Am learning to set the right exposure and distance before lifting the camera to snap the photos. Street photography is seeing, even foreseeing an event before it happens. One has the camera ready, shoot fast before the moment passes.

This Saturday there was a lot of shopping being done. Is the economy as bad as what the news reports?
This is a Premium Outlet Mall with many local shoppers but they also come here from outside the US. 
One hears many different languages being spoken.



I went inside to escape the heat, not to eat. 
Who goes to a kitchen with hot ovens to escape the heat?

In the food court, Ryan serves a customer their slice of pizza. 


The sun was blistering hot... 
The bright sun with the deep dark shadows was a challenge in finding the right camera settings.
One guesses the best they can, grab the shot before the people move on. On days like this, no one is leisurely lounging around. They are all moving quickly from one spot to another looking for cool.


More shopping bags, waiting to be carted home. 
Inanimate objects are the only shots I can slow down, take some time with. 
Making sure the exposure is correct before taking the shot. 


After walking around for an hour, decided to just sit in one spot and watch.
This young man was bored following his mother around, 
so he decided to start holding the door open for customers.



There is a challenge is finding the right camera setting for capturing both light and dark complected peopled without over exposing or under exposing the skin while working under a bright sun. In a studio setting one can adjust the lighting to compensate, but street photography is an uncontrolled environment. 

The busy B&W pattern in her blouse contrasted nicely with the sparse display window. 



Have heard that in desert climes one stays cooler when completely covered, no exposed skin.  
Temperature was 98 today, few clouds, bright sun.

This lady looks suffocatingly hot to me, but then I have never tried covering all. 

Maybe white robes would be cooler?


Is case you are wondering, in all the street photos of people I have taken, no one has questioned me, told me to stop or gotten mad at me. One can usually tell if a person does not want their photo taken by their expression. If I get a negative vibe, I just move on to the next subject that catches my eye.

In the photo above, you might wonder why she would allow me to take her photo. In this situation, when I see someone I want to photograph walking my way, I raise the camera as if focusing on the building in front of me. Then I wait for the subject to walk into the frame before snapping the shot. Sometimes the person sees me and detours around. If that happens, the opportunity is gone. I never try to chase them. 

Some who see me, will stop so as to not be in front of whatever I am taking a photo of.
But most others keep to their original trajectory,  ignoring me. That's what I want.

Am gaining confidence with the camera, finding the proper settings for snap street photography.

Am heading to New Mexico then Colorado for the national sidecar rally.  

More sidecar photos to come. Maybe even in color...

Stay safe, ride far my friends,

CCjon







Sunday, June 19, 2022

Week 1: Better Black & White Photography


Black and White photography harkens back to the old days before the advent of color film.  
Some say it has a more authentic feel, a certain nostalgia about it.
This summer, am teaching myself to be a better Black & White photographer. 

B&W does force one to concentrate on the composition of an image. Give more consideration to shapes, forms, lines, subject matter. and their interaction. Color can make a weak image with poor composition look decent. B&W will not let you get away with that.

Having researched multiple books on B&W, subscribing to the B&W photo magazine for several years, am now ready to give it a serious go. Even invested in a monchrome camera. 

Why would you buy a camera that only shoots black and white when you can shoot color photos then convert the color image to B&W on your computer?

Answer: sharpness and quality of image. 

A color camera takes a photo by splitting the light coming into the camera using a color filter, into red, blue and green, plus the light and dark (luminance). When converting a color image to B&W, you are only getting the luminance from the pixels that were not being used to capture color.

The B&W camera uses all of its pixels to capture luminance. None of the sensor's pixels are used to capture color. Thus giving you a sharper image with more shades of light and dark. 

Since the B&W camera can capture more light and dark information, it is more sensitive in capturing images in low light situations.

Enough talk, let shoot
First, trying a few macro shots while at my desk.




That was interesting, now something with architecture,

Sun Rays



The next night I walked around the local outlet mall, hoping to catch something interesting.  Being a week night, here were very few people in the mall. Was not able to take any street portraits as I would have liked.

 Next are a few images captured while learning the settings on the camera. Learning where to stand to eliminate reflections on glass...  or be aware of reflections and place them where you want.

I hope he doesn't think he is in the dressing room.



Clones...



As the sun was setting, the few remaining shoppers departed, as did I.




Well, that's concludes this week's first walk-about session.

We will see what next week brings. 

Ride safe my friends,

CCjon




Week 2: Black & White Night Photography

A few days later returned to the mall after sunset to learn different camera settings.

After many failed attempts at night shots, only kept two. The high contrast of interior lights and the dark outdoors made it extremely challenging to get a decent photo.  Am sure the camera is capable to taking quality photos is this setting, the weak link is the photographer. 

Will keep reading and experimenting until I learn what the proper settings are. 
As someone said, if it was easy everybody would be doing it. 


The food truck lady inside under a bright light allowed the camera to capture her image. The customers outside waiting have a heavy grainy texture. 

When there is a large contrast between light and dark, the camera can only handle so much range, then it has to or you have to decide:  Do you set for light or for dark.




Dippin' Dots break...

His iPad screen gave off just enough light to brighten his face.


Those were the two night shots I felt were good enough to keep.  
Am not using any flash, just the camera settings and holding steady.

Will be back in a few days to try again.

Ride safe, keep shooting.

CCjon

Saturday, June 11, 2022

How to: Editing a Decisive Moment Photo

Was asked for a basic walk thru on the steps I use to edit a photo. 
Let's use the photo of Alex sneaking away with his diploma, shown in the previous post. 

First, to give you an idea of how far away I was from the stage.



Using my SONY RX10 III camera with a telephoto lens, captured this color image at 105mm focal length; typical snapshots are shot at 35mm focal length. If I had used 35mm, we would not be able to pick out Alex at the distance. This is where a good telephoto lens comes in handy.

The long lens gave us a raw image with potential to work with.


Okay, we have a raw image, now what?

First step: we want to eliminate artifacts that do not add to the story: the body on the left, the little boy in the lower left, the bleachers, tops of heads. Need to cut away anything that distracts from the image. The cutting is done by cropping the image. If I cannot crop it out, I'll try erasing it.

I probably crop 100% of the photos I take. My preference is to shoot a larger field than I think I'll need as it gives me more leeway when it comes to trimming away the non-essential. 

Here is the crop I applied to this image.  Cutting it down to include the essential parts of the story in a scene. That head in the lower left cannot be cut out without taking away from the action. Maybe we can do something about it as we continue working.



Next I converted the color image to black and white. Why? 

In the color shot above, the teacher's blouse and the aides white pants are both brighter than Alex's blue shirt. That green background is a hot spot. Our eyes will always go to the brightest point. This story is about Alex, so we need draw attention away from those brighter areas. Converting to B&W will help us do that.

In many photos I have used color to focus a viewer's attention. Today we'll use light and dark (levels of luminance) to do the job since color is not pertinent to the story.


With Alex's shirt a more equal tone in the image, we can continue massaging.

Next step is adding a vignette (that's the darkening of the edges) to keep the viewer's eyes 
from wandering off the page. The vignette darkened the green background, and blended the head shape into a shadow making it less noticeable. The vignette also changed the scene from three actors to two main characters with a supporting figure.

See the teacher's arm pointing off the stage. That strong line wants to lead the viewer's eye away from Alex.  That we'll fix in the final step.


First though a bit of sharpening...  a nudge of structure. 
Like grandma's recipes, a pinch of this, a dap of that is how its done.
Every photo editing software app has sliders to affect changes to the scene. A common mistake is in pushing the sliders too far. What is nice is you can always move the slider back if you go too far.

The final step was an ever so slight change. Can you spot it?


When everything in an image is a similar tone, it will look flat, lacking depth.

A smidgen of brightening was added on Alex's face and shirt to make him move forward, away from the teacher. Light moves an object forward. Darkening makes it recede. Adding or taking away light creates depth.

Most dramatic change is in comparing Alex in the final image with the teacher's aide on the right. In the color photo the aide was a prominent feature. Now we have three distinct layers: Alex in front moving forward, the teacher in the middle ground and the aide playing third fiddle backup. 

If the last two photos look exactly the same to you, look again at the tonality change in Alex's shirt sleeve against the teacher's arm in the two photos. The shirt is now slightly brighter giving a sharper edge/contrast, separating the distance between the two persons. 

Those were the adjustments made to arrive at the final image.

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Henri Cartier Bresson the French photographer coined the term decisive moment. In reviewing images of the top ten black and white photographers, you will see their most memorable images were all decisive moments. Each one was in the right place at the right time with the right equipment.  Decisive moment images can not be created in a studio or planned, they just happen... everyday. They are happening all around us, everywhere. Those fleeting moments are the hardest to capture as they are gone in an instant. Success is being prepared for when the opportunity presents itself. 

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Thanks for following along, hope this gives you an insight into my editing thought process.  Yours will be different are we each see the world differently. That's okay, we need variety in life.

Ride safe my friends,

CCjon




Thursday, June 9, 2022

Alex's Pre-K Graduation

Our youngest grandson, Alex Daub graduated from Pre-K in May.  
Of course Tita and I would not miss these family moments.


Alex, the proud Pr-K Graduate



Captured this moment after he hugged his teachers. With diploma in hand, he turned to escape, 
the wrong direction

Love the expression on Alex's face. 

" I Got it!"



Alex with his proud parents, Lily and Alan.


CONGRATULATIONS ALEX

SUPER JOB DAUB

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Alex is the youngest of our five grandsons, 
soon to be bumped up to second youngest when Ronin arrives in July.


Ride safe my friends,

CCjon


Friday, May 27, 2022

Portraits from Baja - B&W

One of my objectives during the February ride down Baja California was to capture street portraits using the iPhone camera. These are all in black and white, with the background erased by using one of the settings in the camera. Of the dozens of portraits taken, here are the ones I like best.


Paco in Ensenada
Paco was on a bench selling plaster curios painted gold.
Had cans of gold spray paint in a canvas bag.





Juan in Ensenada
Juan is the parking lot security for a popular restaurant there.





Manuel in San Felipe
He works as an electrical contractor


Jaime, a fisherman in Bahia de Los Angeles.
Bahia was one of the poorest towns we witnessed in Baja. A local business employer closed, now fishing is more for feeding your family than commercial. 




Juan, at a crossroads of Highway 1 and Highway 5,
sells gasoline from the trunk of his car. The sun was very bright mid-day.





Billie only has one leg, uses a crutch and a walker to get around Tecate.
His smile and happy mood is contagious.





"No name" shy beggar in Tecate. 
He saw Billie (above) and I talking, laughing. Approached us slowly and just stood there, saying nothing.
The only person I gave money to after talking their photo.

Enrique in El Triunfo
He is a lifelong rancher, town historian, storyteller. 
His jokes were long and winding, with great punch lines.

Amazing little camera in the iPhone. Because mobile phones are common place today, using them to take candid street photos offers great opportunities to capture images of people relaxed, unassuming. It does not cause people to change how they are acting. With a large format professional type camera, people freeze up, frown, cover their faces with their hands, turn away, leave you, etc. 

One can fiddle with the iPhone while talking, then casually snap a photo without putting people on guard. Immediately share the photo you just took with them. They will smile. Worked for me.

Ride safe my friends, am heading to Hotchkiss, Colorado 
the first week of July for the USCA National Sidecar Rally. 

CCjon