24 June, 2007

Action Packed

Theatre Mama and the Action Angels were at it again, this time promoting Cirque du Soliel - Corteo at PrideFest 2007 in Denver. I had the opportunity to join them throughout the day, catching their antics. Theatre Mama and all of the Angels are wonderful to work with and a joy to photograph. If you've got a show that you want to get the word out about, Theatre Mama is who you should call.

23 June, 2007

The Moment's Decision

I’ve spoken before about how I like “street photography” and capturing the “decisive moment.” First used by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the decisive moment is exactly what it sounds like, a moment in time where we are at the precipice of action. This is the moment that can occur in an instant and in that same instant be gone, so it is the trick of capturing it that makes street photography part art, part skill, and part luck. Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time and others it’s about patience, and looking for people or places that will create the moment much later on. The prime example is children, and I apologize for sounding quite despicable, but just watch children play on the playground. Untroubled by the world around them, they embrace the here and now and do what they do.

The example I came across was a promotion for Cirque du Soleil down in Denver. Theatre Mama was promoting the opening of Corteo and unleashed the Angels in Action. Throughout the day, these angels had fun, made noise, and quite simply, enjoyed their job. From playing leapfrog in the streets to swinging from poles, they got people to look. Each of the following images was completely unposed. I simply watched them, and at times waited for them, do what they had to. Sure, a couple asked me if I wanted them to do anything in particular, but I said “no.” Street photography is photojournalism: completely unrehearsed and uncontrollable…to an extent. Instead of creating the composition, the street photographer has to look for the composition to present itself. Color, shape, pose, lighting, is all done in reaction to the moment. The trick to being a good street photographer is to find all of this.

I hadn’t done street photography in quite a while and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. This is one direction I would like to take my photography. I’ve done a fair amount with my involvement with Kiwanis and Circle K International, but one can always do more. The street is always there and people will always be out there.

PS: If you happen to know any of the angels, let me know. I’d like to share my images with them as well as all of you.

12 June, 2007

High Dynamic Ranger! Tone Away!

The human eye and the camera, whether film or digital, are not equals. It’s simple to say and as much as we want to, neither film nor digital can reproduce what the eye sees. Sure there are tricks to get around it, multiple exposures for film and an increase in the use of High Dynamic Range or HDR. Basically, what it’s doing is increasing the range of light and dark that can be captured. Really, its multiple exposures for digital, but we’ll skip the technicalities. For example have you ever tried to take a picture of a gorgeous sky only to have the landscape underneath disappear (as seen on the left)? Or maybe the opposite, you took a fantastic landscape, but then the sky went white and lost all of it’s detail (as seen on the right)?

And this is what can be done with HDR.

“Belmar #2: Lakewood”

Beyond the HDR to bring out all of the tones, I’ve actually desaturated the image to produce black and white print, which I then followed up by selectively split toning. Split toning is a traditional darkroom method to add color to traditional silver prints (black and white). I did mine toning digitally since many of my captures are digital (and as it turns out, many toners happen to be carcinogenic, but then again, what isn’t these days?). The main difficulty in producing “Belmar #2: Lakewood” was that I knew I wanted to do a color HDR as well as a black and white, and a selectively toned image. I haven’t had much practice switching between thinking in color and thinking in black and white. You either think solely about the light and shadows or the use of color, or at least I do. We'll work on changing that. I f you are interested in some more toning work, check out Phil Borges, who does absolutely incredible work. Also take a peek at the work of Mark Eshbaugh.

01 June, 2007

"Put four walls around an idea."

After a long day of shooting probably the most difficult subject I have ever undertaken, I along with some fellow photographers attended the Nick Vedros talk sponsored by the Art Directors Club of Denver. Vedros was one of the first, if not the first photo illustrator whose work I was introduced to as inspiration for my own photo montages. What amazes me the most is the simplicity with which he constructs images. I don't mean to say that how he does it is simple, but the end result is a seamless image that one could expect to walk out the door and see the scene as if it had happened right before their eyes. It is this quality which I find in many of my favorite illustrators, such as Mark Beckelman and Charles Shotwell.

Though it's Vedros's quote, I think the idea of giving form, structure, and stability to an idea is something worth remembering and something that does not apply solely to photography. In everything we do, if we cannot concretely form our idea, how can we expect to bring it to life. Dream big because if you don't, you don't expect enough from yourself.
Oh yeah. I plan on making a regular outing to "First Fridays" in Denver. This is a wonderful opportunity to view art and galleries here in Denver. So on the first Friday of every month, many of the galleries down on Santa Fe Dr. are open and waiting for people to stop in and just look around. Feel free to come on down and see what people are up to.