Tag Archives: vintage

One Photo, Endless Possibilities

Warning – if you are one of those photographers that thinks photos should be made in the camera with no post processing, then this isn’t for you!

If you’ve followed me at all, you know that I really enjoy post processing my images.  I love getting the camera out and making what I call my base shots.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape or airplanes at an air show.  But to me that’s only part of the process.  Getting the images into my computer and finding new ways to “enhance” them is part 2.  If you like to post process your photos, it doesn’t really matter if you just tweak them a little bit or go hog wild.  The important thing is that you enjoy it.  Don’t get caught up in the debate about whether or not to edit, it’s entirely up to you!  It also doesn’t matter if  you use Photoshop or Picasa.  Use whatever you have or are comfortable with!

There are a couple of things that I like to do to my images.  One is to convert them to black and white, and the other is to give them a vintage treatment.  How do I know when to apply black and white or vintage?  I don’t know, at least not until I try it.  There are some types of photos that have the potential to look better in black and white or vintage.  For me, they tend to be older things such as WWII aircraft, or antique automobiles.  Old buildings like those you might see at a ghost town also work well.  Landscapes are a little harder to visualize.  If a scene is very colorful, such as a forest in Autumn, it might not make sense to convert it to black and white.  The best way to find out is pick one of you photos that you think might look good in black and white and convert it.  If it doesn’t work, then all you have to do is cancel your changes and close the image.  No harm – no foul.  Pick another photo and try again, and pretty soon you’ll start to develop a sense of what is a good candidate for black and white.  This may even carry over to when you are with your camera and looking at a scene.  Try to visualize it, not only as you see it, but also in black and white.  Keep trying, and if you do this enough, it should start to happen for you.

Here’s an example.  This is a WWII Focke-Wulf FW-190 (a.k.a. the Butcher Bird).  The original shot is from my Panasonic FZ1000, and was taken at the Planes of Fame Air Show earlier this year.

It’s not bad in color, and I did some post processing.  But when I look at it, I get the sense that it could be better in black and white.  Here’s what happened.

Not to bad, but it still seems like something is missing.  My next thought was how it might look had it been taken with a film camera in the 1940’s.  This is the result.

Most of the WWII (and earlier) photos that I’ve seen are faded, or just plain worn out.  The paper they were printed on has texture, and there are a lot of imperfections.  That’s what I love about them, all of the imperfections.  Personally I think it gives these photos character, something that a lot of technically perfect photos from todays cameras lack.  Just because a modern photo is tack sharp and has optimum bit depth and blah blah blah, doesn’t mean it has character, or in the case of a WWII era photo, a sense of history.  I guess what I’m saying is that a lot of todays perfect photos have no soul, some of mine included.  It’s something I’m working on with my post processing.  Every once in a while I think I’m getting close.

How about you?  Is there a type of photo that moves you or speaks to you in a way that others don’t?  If so, get your camera and favorite editing software and get busy!  Go over to my Facebook page and share some of your work – upatdawnphotograpy (just click the link).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

My Photographic Niche

If you’ve followed any of my work you’ve probably noticed by now that I am hooked on a few subjects.  Landscapes have always been a passion of mine.  Military aircraft, especially WWII Warbirds on display in an air museum or an air show are something I really enjoy.  But lately I’d have to say that my niche is black and white photography.  It’s not that I’ve lost interest in my other photographic interests, black and white has just taken a front row seat.

One of the benefits of black and white is that I can still work on my landscapes and also the aircraft.  Since I shoot about 95% color (I do switch the camera over to black and white occasionally), I have the best of both worlds.  It’s after I’ve taken the shot and have it available for post production that I can begin to transform it.  Sometimes when I’m out and working a scene I can even picture it in black and white. Ansel Adams described this as previsualization where he defines it as “the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure”.  This may sound a little corny, but it works for me.  There are some scenes that just seem to cry out to me – “black and white”!

Here’s an example.  This shot is of the Imperial Beach Pier, just south of San Diego.  Whenever I’m down in the area I try to make a sunset photo side trip.  I was trying out my new Sony RX100 and got lucky to have a very pretty sunset.

Not bad, and I think most folks would probably just leave it as is.  But there was just something about it that made me wonder what it would look like in black and white.  I think the result gives this shot a completely different mood.  It’s been transformed from light, colorful and even cheery to dark, moody, and somber.

There’s one more aspect to my black and white obsession, and that’s adding a vintage look. I’ve been fortunate to have access a family travelogue from the early 1900’s. The book is called “Around Arizona” and chronicles my great-grandparents and very young grandfather’s 1000 mile journey around a very rough and wild Arizona. Being over 100 years old it’s not in the best shape and I’m in the process of scanning all of the pages and copying the photos. I’ve always admired vintage photos and like to study them to try and duplicate their unique look and feel. Having access to some that have a direct family connection is just icing on the cake.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s an example:

As you can see, this photo is far from perfect. It’s faded, scratched, blotched, etc… etc… And I think it’s absolutely perfect with all of it’s imperfections. Looking at it takes me back to simpler time, when there were no superhighways, no air conditioned cars, no fast food. Photography was very primitive compared to what we have today. The camera my great grandmother used for this shot was an Eastman-Kodak No.1 Pocket Camera. It used A-120 roll film and had an autographic feature that allowed the photographer to actually write a note on the back of each frame of film using a little stylus.

That’s enough history. My point in sharing all of that is to say that I use this as my inspiration to further transform some of my photos into something similar, something with that same vintage look and feel. I’m not always entirely successful, but I enjoy the challenge. Here’s one of my more recent images:

To sum it up, I’d say that black and white, including vintage images have more character than those technically perfect shots that are cranked out today. There’s nothing wrong with a perfect digital shot that is flawless down to the last pixel, but most of them lack character, or a soul. A photo doesn’t have to be perfect to convey a feeling, a mood, or tell a story. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with those that want to create that technically perfect image. I’m just going in a different direction, towards my niche.

If you like black and white photography and want to see more, check out my new Black and White Gallery!

That’s it for this post. I hope you find your photographic niche! Until next time, Happy Shooting!