Manhattan Street Scene, 2008

I stumbled upon a photo challenge on the WordPress reader. It is Instant Inspiration (31)  from Marcus Puschmann’s impeccable photoblog Streets of Nuremberg

Since I am still archiving my older photos, I picked a shot from my trip to NYC in March of 2008. I converted the original color image to B&W and then augmented the contrast per the challenge.

Below are both versions of the photo. Which do you prefer?

2372265593_0168e74a22_o (1)2372265593_0168e74a22_o (2)

Advertisements

For Love of Festivals and Parades

2561667023_d539a5008c_o (2)
At the St. Gerard Festival, 2008

When my daughter was still young enough to enjoy the rides at festivals and the candy thrown at parades, I’d take a camera along to capture those moments of her childhood. While she was in elementary school, I also took pictures of crowd scenes at these events. I felt that these candid moments full of people were a sort of poetry in itself.

I learned the meter of such poetry by living on the grounds of a church who hosted a massive three-day festival every year in June. By the way, my dad was the groundskeeper at St. Gerard Church for many years, and we lived in the apartment attached to the church building during most of his time working there. The church parking lot was also a staging site for most of my city’s parades.

While I’ve been revisiting my photo archive, I’m glad that I captured some moments of such crowds. Witnessing the festival and the parades was part of the bedrock of my early years. Taking my daughter to see the gatherings and taking the photos was like passing on a family tradition to the next generation. My dad actually took some pictures of the crowds back in the day, and my mom once remarked, “I think your dad has taken more pictures of strangers than of us.”

I’ve decided to post my street photography of festivals and parades on my Facebook page. By doing this, I’ll make these photos more easily available to the people depicted and their loved ones.

Many of the crowd photos I took from 2006-2011 have elderly people in them, and I’d be happy to know that the families of those people have access to those images. It so happens that my family had a single photo of one of my great grandfathers for decades, and that photo was a death portrait from 1936. Through reunion with long last family, we have seen three more pictures of him. I’m still haunted by the notion that there are more pictures of him lingering elsewhere in photos albums that have become heirlooms of other families he knew. He could be the guy in the photo standing beside someone else’s great-great grandfather, and no one yet has been able to answer the question, “Who’s that guy?”

 

Summer Photo Walk, June 8

DSC_0036

The weather is hot yet dreary today. It is possible that we may add to our coffers of rainfall once again. We’ve had entirely too much rain over the past two months (17 inches, according to the Lima News).

This morning I wore my oldest pair of shoes and headed toward one of the soggy parks. The light was unreliable at best. I took some B&W photos, too, but many of those turned out blurry because I forgot to adjust the ISO for the dim light in the forest. Despite this issue, I did find a few of the B&W worth posting on this blog.

By the way, have any of you had luck with using a Facebook page for your blog? I don’t do much with mine, but I noticed there’s lots of features now for making posts, like easy slideshow videos and “Notes” which can incorporate text, photos and video. There’s also some ambitious-looking carousel post which can have links to multiple destinations. This makes me curious as to why Facebook hasn’t harnessed their publishing assets to create the go-to destination for bloggers. It’s like they intentionally left room in the online world for platforms like WordPress and the like.

DSC_0121DSC_0225DSC_0232DSC_0238DSC_0249DSC_0253

Summer Photo Walk, July 8: B&W

I haven’t dipped into black and white photography in many years. In a technical sense, the images in this post are monochrome rather than B&W. There aren’t many pixels in these images that are truly black or white. With that aside, I should mention that I don’t tend toward precision. I’m the kind of person who thinks napkins are redundant if paper towels are on hand. When I write B&W, I really mean monochrome.

I used to do photo walks with my camera set to B&W, but then I read a digital photography tip that eroded my interest in it. It’s a tip that is so widespread that it meets the criteria of common knowledge I suppose: shoot in color and change to monochrome during post-processing. It’s simple to take color away but almost impossible to add it (with fidelity) to a monochrome image. I can see the wisdom of this practice. There’s the serendipity of colliding with the unusual. I wouldn’t want to miss a color picture of clowns training falcons in the wild, for instance.

The problem with this approach is that, for me at least, shooting in color tunes into a different way of seeing. I love highly saturated colors enriched further with morning or evening light. I just don’t have it in me to adopt a high-key, muted color style that is widespread on social media. When I take color photos, color is my highest priority. I don’t value light unless it deepens the color. I’ve tried flipping those images to monochrome while editing, but there’s not enough contrast left once the color is stripped away.

I’ve learned that I need to dial into a monochrome mode while I’m shooting if I want decent B&W images. Then my priority is light. A humble tree grabs my attention because it is lit in glory. I suppose B&W photography sharpens the fundamentals of the form: light and composition.

Shadows are deepest at the height of summer. It’s like the sun spills an inkwell in the shade.

Paper Mallards

For five years, my daughter and I lived in an apartment complex next to a pond that was home to dozens of mallard ducks. Looking back at that time, I so wish I’d taken more pictures of the ducks. I think I was paranoid that my neighbors would complain I was drifting too close to their patio doors with my camera. Our time there was so peaceful, and I didn’t want to disrupt it with conflicts, especially ones that were very avoidable.

There is no other place in town where the ducks visit so reliably. At the apartment pond, a few would stay all winter, keeping a quarter-acre circle of water fluid even in the dead of winter with their dabbling. It was there I learned that water in motion takes much longer to freeze.

In this post, I share one photo of the ducks from that era. The photo was originally in color, but the edit to black and white startled me in the best way. To my eyes, the loss of color makes the duck look as if they are made of paper and are floating on fluid glass.

34718289024_2a815819e3_k

This evening I discovered RedBubble.com, where you can upload your photos and digitized artwork and create all sorts of items imprinted with your images. I think I may order a print of this one.