Street Shots

Whew! What a busy week it has been. Attending a private University using the quarter system does take its toll on you. Anyway, this week I was wondering about what genre of photography I would write about. Astro-photography? It takes too much to get a decent photo. Forensic photography? No, too graphic and morbid for you and I! Hm, what of street photography? Well, there are a lot of variables involved:  the environment, atmosphere, and my favorite subjects: people.

The environment is a critical aspect and sets the mood of the scene. Are you shooting inside a busy city such as N.Y.C. or at a run-down metropolis such as Detroit? Below is an example of the environment dominating the photograph:

streetRomanas Naryskin

Upon sight of the photograph, one can tell that it is a train yard that hit a day of rest since it is empty and a few drifters come and go with small adventures to share. The fog in the background adds to the ominous feeling of the empty train yard. There also is a silhouette in the mid-ground that adds to the mystery of the photograph. Whew, the hairs on my arms momentarily stood up!

As for the atmosphere, I am talking about the culture of a certain region that a photographer might decide to shoot in. Do the people mind at all if you took pictures of them from across the street? Are you surrounded by a culture that is very self-conscious and might cry out at you for taking pictures of them without their permission? Is there a turf war going on between two rival gangs that may be affecting the atmosphere negatively?

***This brings up another subject entirely: A photographer’s right to shoot the public. It should be known that the laws vary from place to place, especially from country to country. Every photographer should be aware of the Legal Handbook for Photographers by Bert P. Krages II.***

Here is a comparison between a friendly culture and a hostile one:

Hostility-005Hostility – Naterally Wicious, Flickr

swearing

Romanas Naryskin

The two men smiling at the camera above seem to be friendly, right? Well, they weren’t exactly happy with Romanas taking a photo of them. Before smiling, they were cursing at the photographer. Unfazed from experience, Romanas kept on shooting until he was satisfied and left the scene immediately.

That’s the amazing thing about humans. You could guess all day what they are thinking or showing in a photography and your conclusion would still be wrong. That’s the uniqueness of street photography, you never know what you are going to get and you are forced to interact with people, indirectly or directly. Here are two more pictures from NYC to complete the blog:

blackgirlmirror-2012-copy

09_by_dechobek

’09 – dechobek, deviantART

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

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Black and White Photography

We see millions upon billions of colors; it’s difficult to distinguish them from the next shade of a specific color. The possibilities for discovering different colors are infinite. However, that can be overwhelming when viewing photos especially in the digital art age where there are many opportunities for anyone to take photos and play with the saturation/contrast slider in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or with the already customized presets installed in the Instagram apps. The colors can also distract from the details within the picture.

Black and white photography began in the early 1800s with a device named the Camera Obscura. When color photographs was invented by a man named James Clerk-Maxwell, black and white photographs still remained popular because of the value it carried with each photograph. To this day, black and white photography still holds its ground against many genres of photography because of what it offers: nostalgia, attention to detail and versatility.

Nostalgia is a fantastic thing to experience and in the age of Information, we are absolutely stubborn when it comes to keeping in touch with the latest fads in technology or anything relevant to our interests. Digital photos are uploaded to the Internet every day and therefore lose any meaning the owner intended to get across to the viewer. With black and white photos, especially those done properly will cause the viewer to immediately relate to the photograph with a memory similar to the image.

ImageCandy Cigarette – Sally Mann

The image above immediately takes me back to the time when my brother was a young and rebellious 7-year old. I found him outside with his friend, “smoking” cigarette butts! Being the good older brother I was, I scolded him. His response: “so?” This picture brought a specific memory back almost immediately. Sally did her job as a photographer well.

As stated above, color sometimes takes away from the incredible quality and detail within a photo. Being an aspiring minimalist, I often am sensitive to the range of color used in photos. If the colors are too contrasted, I become turned off and move onto the next picture. With black and white photos, I seem to study each one of them for the details captured with a decent lens. I have noticed that the elderly are especially great objects to use for black and white photos. With such monotonous colors, the details effortlessly reveal themselves as can be seen below:

ImageSanta? – RaVN11

The mind-blowing details can be observed in the intricate but messy facial hair, the clogged pores on his nose and cheeks. His overall facial expression is obvious. I interpret this picture as a man in deep thought suddenly interrupted by an obnoxious photographer. It is a fascinating portrait regardless.

Black and white photography does not have to apply to only people, though. It can be applied to nature, architecture, sports, or even action photography. Black and white colors can make the lone pier seem to extend to infinity, a skyscraper more tall and intimidating, or it can cause an athlete to seem more dramatic or heroic during an intense moment in a match. This blog will end with some excellent examples:

ImageUntitled – Georg Sedlmeir

ImageChrysler Building – Dave

Image

Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston – Neil Leifer

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

Sports Photography

We see it all the time. Whether it is on TV, the Internet, or most famously: the Sports Illustrated magazine. Sports photography is a form of documentation for what occurred during a game. Here is some history for the origin of sports photography. It all began with a gentleman from England named Eedward James Muybridge. He was initially interested in nature photography (in the 1870s, where photography was reserved only for the rich due to the high expenses required for a decent photograph), but then he was requested by Leland Stanford to take photos of his horses in movement (Equestrian) to prove whether horses had all four legs off the ground in a trot or gallop. A sequence of photos animated can be seen below:

File:Muybridge race horse animated.gif

And then there was the birth of sports photography. Some might debate it wasn’t true sports photography because no competition was involved. The .gif seen above involves a professional rider and a purebred racehorse, so I will allow the reader come to their own conclusions whether the genre began in 1878.

Ever since the late 1800s, sports photography has grown immensely but also is avoided by many due to the high level of mastery needed to capture the right moment in any sport. It seems that there are three major components to having a profitable photograph from any sport: location, prediction, and as expected: skill with a camera. Location is critical when deciding on a player to photograph. A sports photographer wants to find the optimal location where he can have many angles for better chances at landing the “shot.”

A good location, however, isn’t everything. You have to channel your fortune-telling powers to predict whether a soccer player juggling the ball will turn towards your camera or when a lay-up is going to occur in an intense game of basketball. Lastly, tremendous skill is needed with a camera. Auto-focus helps a lot, but the muscle memory is needed to automatically go to the AF button and then promptly press the shutter button when the right time comes.

Now believe it or not, we have our own sports photographer! His name is Dylan Heuer and he is an alumni of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA degree in Visual Media. His photos have been used by ESPN, CBS, MLB and the NHL.  To conclude this blog, I ask him several questions to get a professional perspective on what it takes to be a sports photographer.

Ceasar – Thank you very much for taking a few moments to answer my questions. Let’s cut to the chase. Why sports photography?

Dylan – Ah, that’s no problem at all! I love sports. I love photography. When you combine the two, my work ethic is unmatched. I know how to find the right image. I know how to capture the right play at the right time. I know how to catch the right emotion in any given game. I know what makes an image look powerful that shows a story of 1,000 words. With my vast baseball knowledge and the passion, I believe my clients won’t be disappointed with my motivation and enthusiasm.

Ceasar – Which sports do you get the most excited about shooting and why?

Dylan – Baseball is definitely my favorite sport to shoot because it’s simply my favorite sport. I love to watch the game through the viewfinder of my camera. I love capturing the right moment where the ball makes contact with the bat. I love capturing the right moment as the pitcher releases the ball from his fingertips. I can’t resist the love of the game.

heuer2Victory Celebration – Dylan Heuer

Ceasar – What is the most difficult or frustrating aspect of shooting sports?

Dylan – Even though baseball is my favorite sport to shoot, I’ll have to say that it’s a harder sport to shoot, too. Baseball is a slow sport with sudden bursts. That means, just like a player, you have to be ready for anything at any given moment. Sometimes I’ve missed great photo opportunity because I’d set my camera at second base where I predicted the action would be, but it happened in left field. Also, you have to include the countless close calls that I’ve had with foul balls whizzing right past my head while I’m in the dugout.

heuerTommy Field, Sky Sox Shortstop – Dylan Heuer

Ceasar – What were your highest and lowest points as a sports photographer?

Dylan – My most favorite memory of shooting sports has to be the RIT men’s hockey team’s memorable run to the Frozen Four in Detroit in 2010. At that point, I was just starting out as a photographer. I captured some of my greatest photos and some of those photos are still in my top five of the best photos that I’ve taken in my life. Some of those photos ended up on ESPN and CBS. It was also one of the greatest times in my entire life. And I really don’t have a low point. What does that mean? I’ve found the right calling for me in life. This is what I was meant to do.

Ceasar – Thank you very much Dylan! I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with an old friend.

Nature Photography

Wildlife. We seem to be so disconnected from nature due to our fascination with technology whether it be cell phones, laptops, or the latest kitchen appliance shown on TV late at night. However, there is one positive side to the rapid growth of technology: DSLR cameras. It is a tool that can be used anywhere, including the forest or at some isolated waterfall in the Appalachian mountains. It brings us back to nature no matter how much we may deny it.

Landscape photography is extremely popular because it is a simple case of getting the timing right, owning a DSLR and a couple of lenses, and then a steady tripod for long exposure opportunities that might arise when the lighting conditions aren’t so great. Here is an example of landscape photography:

CaptureMesa’s Arch, jmarshphoto, Flickr

This photo was taken in Utah and at sunrise. There are times where absolute self-discipline is needed for breath-taking photos while everybody else is asleep. This is a perfect example.

Another aspect of nature photography is the wildlife roaming the forests, seas and skies. It is quite fascinating how much time it takes for a half-decent photograph of any kind of animal. I would know. I vividly remembering witnessing something incredible: a line of squirrels parading along the top of the wooden fence at my previous home. The pack included 10 or more squirrels, perfectly lined up and evenly spaced from each other marching to some unknown destination. Wanting to capture the incredible moment, I took out my Sidekick 2 and attempted to take pictures, only to find that the cell phone did not offer zoom capabilities and had terrible quality. The most tragic moment of this attempt was: the fascinating parade had disappeared into some tree, so my tiny window of opportunity had closed, never to be opened again.

Below are some excellent examples of wildlife photography:

Lion, Mats Grimfoot

To me, this photo is absolutely extraordinary, but ordinary at the same time. It is perfectly normal to observe the basics of nature taking place: a predator capturing and devouring its kill. On the other hand, it is difficult to take photos of such a grisly scene and getting the composition right so that the viewers can clearly understand what is going on with the picture. Mats did an excellent job with this one. I think a bit of luck was involved because during the feast, very few animals dine like the french. Their heads and claws will constantly be moving. The intense eyes of the male lion was captured well here. It evokes me to think that even though the lion has successfully made a kill, it still has to remain wary for those pesky hyenas.

Another excellent example of wildlife photography also incorporates macro photography, as seen below:

Upon sight of the picture above, one can only wonder how many attempts it took for the determined photographer to capture the bee doing its natural duty: collecting nectar from what seems to be a  fresh dandelion. It is tough to get a clear picture when the bee is moving so quickly. I am going to take a wild guess and say that this shot was taken with a 100mm macro lens, one of the most popular macro lenses out on the market.

Some of the examples of nature photography I placed above is only a small insight into the wonderful world of photography. I have always appreciated the tough and motivated photographers that take these type of shots because it is a lot of work for a single digital file. To conclude, photography is an excellent motivator for us to go outside and spin the creativity gears in our heads while re-connecting with nature through a lens.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones