Category Archives: Google +

What’s New Is Old

If you’ve followed my work on either Google+ or Facebook, you know that I’m very interested in black and white photography.

Not only am I interested in black and white photography, I’m branching out and doing my best to recreate the same look and feel as some authentic,  antique black and white and toned black and white photos.  You may even think I’m obsessed with it (and you might be right)!

I’m not going to go into the mechanics of how to do black and white, or processing to give an image a vintage look.  There are plenty of resources available for that.  Youtube is one of the best places to start.  This is more about my thoughts behind the pursuit of creating these type of images.

To start off, what makes a good candidate for black and white?  For some folks, it’s a street scene.  For others it’s an interesting face.  For me, it’s old buildings, aircraft, and other antique or abandoned items.  That’s not a hard and fast rule, just something that works for me.  Every once in awhile a seascape or landscape will also work in black and white.

There are many tools available to help you create the perfect black and white image.  Yes, some cameras have this feature built in, and sometimes you can get some good results this way.  Personally I find shooting all originals in color and in RAW works best for me.  I prefer to do my conversion on the computer.  It’s very easy to convert a color image to black and white, but very difficult or next to impossible to convert black and white to color.

My favorite tool for black and white work starts with Photoshop.  But while Photoshop is very versatile, there are some plugins that make it even better.  Perfect Effects by OnOne Software is one of my most used tools.  Nik also makes a plugin called Siver Effex Pro that I like, but lately I’ve been using another Nik tool called Analog Effex.  These plugins also work with Lightroom if you happen to have it.

In todays world of bright vibrant color, why work with black and white?  It’s hard to explain.  I’ve always been amazed with the work of Ansel Adams.  The mood that he created with his richly toned black and white masterpieces was amazing.  In some ways, he captured the raw drama and emotion of a scene without color getting in the way.  Sometimes the tone and textures of a scene are brought out in a way that color just can’t do.  And when it’s done right you may not even notice that it’s black and white.

One last thing regarding the tools – which camera did I use?  My opinion is usually that the camera doesn’t matter, and I’ll stick with it here too!  Most of these were done with my Canon 40D, but in one case, I used my Olympus E-M5.  I really don’t think it matters that much.  I could just as easily have used my wife’s Canon S95 point and shoot.  Just use what you have and concentrate more on capturing the scene rather that what you have or don’t have in the camera bag.

While black and white isn’t for everyone, you may still want to give it a try.  You just never know when you are working an image and it jumps up and grabs you in a way that it just couldn’t when it’s in color.

Before I close, I want to let you know that the good folks at OnOne are still giving away Perfect Effects 8  for free.  That’s right, FREE!  Just click on the link and you’ll be able to download your copy.  Try it, use it, love it!

Here are some of my most recent examples:

That’s it for now.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!

The Way Things Work Out.

It’s funny how things work out. With regards to photography, I’ve always considered myself a landscape photographer. Not that I don’t enjoy other subjects, its just that landscapes are my favorite. That seems to have changed lately. Landscapes have temporarily taken a backseat to aviation photography, specifically air shows.

Since the beginning of 2014, I have attended 3 air shows, and paid extra for special photographers access at 2 of them. There’s just something about the vintage WWII planes that I can’t get enough of, and the icing on the cake this year was the appearance of the Blue Angels at the LA County Air Show and the F-22 Raptor at the Planes of Fame Air Show (I know, these aren’t vintage WWII planes, but pretty special just the same).

Since the Planes of Fame Air Show in early May, I have captured literally thousands of frames of these planes. Now that isn’t to say that they are all keepers, quite the contrary. When I’m sitting down at the computer I’m carefully reviewing each one, and have deleted hundreds so far. Mostly because they are not in sharp focus. Since I tend to use a relatively slow shutter speed for the propeller planes (gotta catch that prop blur) my keeper rate can be low.

If you follow me at all on Facebook or Google+ you know that I like to give the WWII planes a vintage touch. I start out in photoshop, but most of the vintage look and feel is done with OnOne Perfect Effects 8. I love the options that are available, especially the ability to stack different filters into separate layers, each with its own blending functions. You can easily apply a filter, tweak the blending, and immediately preview your image. On the fly adjustments are quick and simple.

I suppose the message of this post is to flexible. You just never know what direction your photography will take you. At one time (a long time ago) I thought wedding photography was what I wanted to do. I even dabbled in videography for a short time. Air Shows have slowly moved up the favorite ladder for the last 7 or 8 years. As much I enjoy the fast action of the air show, I am looking forward to getting back to the quiet and peacefulness of an early morning landscape.

Here are a few photos from air shows.

That’s if for this post. Stay flexible my friends, you just never know what photo opportunity will present itself.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!!

Capturing the Moment and the Mood

Hopefully this won’t get too deep or sappy!  I was thinking about what makes a good photo.  There are a lot of pretty pictures out there, but some just seem to reach out a grab you.  Why?

To anyone concerned with making more than snapshots (and that’s ok too), this is a tough question.  I post a lot of images on-line.  Some seem to take off, and people like them, share them, etc….  This is actually easy to see on websites like Facebook and Google +.

I can also get a  good idea on another site called ViewBug.  In fact, ViewBug is very active with people sharing all kinds of images and it has contests.  Flickr is another site I post on, but it seems to be fairly slow there lately.

While I don’t have a concrete answer to why one image is more popular or appealing than another, I do have idea.  Mood.  When one of my images is more popular than another, I thinks it’s because it goes beyond just being a pretty picture and evokes a certain mood, or feeling.

Here’s an example:
The Cabin

I’ve  called this one “Warm and Cozy”, and it’s done quite well on the various websites.  There really is something warm and cozy about this shot.  That little cabin in front of a pond with the warm inviting lights shining.  Kind of makes you want to go in, sit in front of a fire and have a cup of hot cocoa.

How do I know this image works compared to some of my others?   It was my most popular post on Facebook, got a lot of attention on Google +, has done very well on ViewBug, and made a good showing on Flickr.

Getting it right isn’t easy (and who’s to say what’s right anyway).  Its more a matter of connecting with your intended audience.  There are plenty of technically perfect photos out there that suck.  Why?  Usually because they are boring,  don’t draw you in, or lack an emotional connection/mood.

Other than making family memories or snapshots, I try to think more about the “why”  when I’m making a particular image.  What is it about the scene in front of me that is compelling or what is it that makes me want to press that shutter, and share it?  Sorry, its starting to get deep!

In an attempt to illustrate this, here’s a more recent image:
Imperial Beach Pier, Sunset

I made this one on Superbowl Sunday, late in the afternoon on the beach next to the Imperial Beach Pier.  The sun was setting, and the light was starting to fade.  While the sunset itself was just ok, I noticed the cloud formations.  This was the edge of a small storm front that was moving in.  The tide was out, and the clouds were reflecting in the wet sand, almost like a mirror.  I took a lot of shots moving from one side of the pier to the other, trying to capture what I was feeling.  That feeling was one of amazement and awe!  I was amazed at what a beautiful scene was in front of me, and in awe of the size of it.  The sky seemed to go on forever!

Looking at this shot brings me right back to that day, that moment when I was there standing on the beach.  The equipment I used is unimportant.  It could have been anything from a simple point and shoot to a large view camera.  The more important thing was that I had a camera with me and was able to capture the moment, and the mood.

Hopefully this was helpful.  If nothing else, I’m hoping to get you to take a moment, and think about why you’re going to press that shutter.  Who is your audience and how are going to connect with them?  Did you capture the moment and the mood?

That’s it for now.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!