I was feeling particularly antsy yesterday. Pent up irritations and the whacked out news cycle had me craving a serving of sanity. Have you had that feeling lately?
If I cannot get outside, then my guitar helps. Oh, I have such stories all embedded in that spruce and rosewood box. The best guitars in the world, in my opinion, are made by Gallagher. They used to be in Wartrace, Tennessee, and recently moved to new digs in Murfreesboro. I paid a whole lot less for my G-70 model back in 1975, and I got a tour of the shop and sat a while with J.W. Gallagher himself. I heard him complain about Japanese built, guitar knock-offs flooding the country. He showed me a catalog of Japanese guitars with Martin, Gibson, and Guild copies. He said several came personally to his shop to buy and take them home to reverse engineer them. He would not sell them a guitar, he said. Now they are mostly made in China, and the quality of the instruments is amazing. Such are the times. I like Larrivees too. I play okay, not well enough.
But I ramble.
So I told my wife, “I’m going hunting.” She knows what I mean. She asked me “Where are you going?” I responded, “It depends on what shoes I slip into before I walk out the door.” I slipped into my street shoes. No walk in the woods. I grabbed my old, beat up Domke, which I have carried for 40 years. Inside were my Nikon FM2N (built about 40 years ago, tough as an anvil, and tragically famous) with 50mm f1.8, several rolls of film (there’s a resurgence), and my Sony A6000 with the kit lens, a 16-50mm zoom, and a Sigma 19mm, f2.8 Art lens. With my wife’s last word of caution, “Be careful and don’t look like a stalker,” I am a stalker in a way. Creepy. I was off to the hunt.
I prepared my mind as I drove. I actually ask myself, “Am I seeing in black and white, or am I seeing in color today?” I will make a choice, or I will decide not to make a choice. “Indecision is the key to flexibility.” The Dallas Rule #14. Yesterday, I decided to see in color, but I soon stumbled and I succumbed to magnolia blooms. To me they are the visual equivalent of the Sirens… I’m getting ahead of myself.
I did not realize what an abundance of subjects would present themselves. I had driven less than a mile, when I spotted some kids riding bikes and scooters and some ducks sitting on the sidewalk next to a park near our house. I whipped around the round-about, and set the car under the shade.
(Backtrack. All the photographs in this Blog were made within a two hour period. I took nearly 300 images total. Oh the benefits of digital. When I work with the A6000, which reminds me of my Leica M4-2, I set it on slow motor drive, and I will take two or three exposures. I don’t bracket exposures, I bracket my steadiness. The A6000 supports image stabilization, depending on the lens, but taking the additional exposure helps insure that I have the most steady, thus sharpest image.
The 300 images actually distilled to about 100 images. Big caveat coming: In some cases, I could only make 1 (ONE) shot, because when people are your subject, you are only given ONE shot. Any change in expression, hand motion, gait, etc. and the photograph is gone. So it is definitely not picking the best in a series of unconscious crap. It is understanding yourself and your tools. The Decisive Moment applies to all things.
If I shoot Nature, especially plants and flowers, I normally steady the shot by using a tripod. You could argue the Decisive Moment applies, but I think not as much. When I am hand holding the camera, this is when a couple quick exposures may help steady the shot. I was traveling light with no tripod.)
Here are the images from the park:
I like the duck portraits, especially the red faced Muscovy, sporting a pompadour; a very stylish homage to Nick Jonas’ long quiff cut.
The magnolias were my other favorite subject. They beg for black and white and would not be denied. I was happy to oblige them.
You might think a community park is thin on subject matter, but there were plenty of people and things just chillin’.
I shot a roll and a half of Fuji color negative film too. In a few days you will see the film photographs in a comparison with the Sony photographs of the same objects. I think digital has a clear advantage over 35mm film, but it is so much fun for me to photograph with film, much more fun than digital which is so effortless.
Like I said, film is undergoing a resurgence as the kids grow older and want a more classic look to their pix. There are apps, filters, presets, and profiles to make your digital files look like film, and there is real film. It is an experience. You can pick up a used film SLR camera and three or four lenses for about $1000 or less. They were built to last for decades, maybe even a lifetime. My digital camera will be obsolete in two years. Film will cost you a bit more than an SD card for certain. The entire process is much S-L-O-W-E-R than digital. The act of photographing is much more deliberate. You don’t have the luxury of making 500 shots to explore your subject. (That’s over $250 in film and development cost). However, it is satisfying and offers you a different pallet.
I finished in the park and was carried away to the square in Marietta. Not gritty and contrasty like downtown light, but the subjects were more varied than the park.
Street Photography is addictive. The scene changes constantly. You have a chance to interact with people directly or discretely. People with dogs are easy to approach. If you are attentive to the dog, their owners will generally like you. I have two dog photos. I love dogs. The terrier was very friendly. The sheepdog was refined and aloof.
Some of the people in these photographs knew I was around, but chose to ignore me. For example, the woman with the tattoo on her leg, talking on the phone, was aware I was aiming the camera at her, but she was intensely engaged in a conversation. She was talking loudly. She wanted a roommate, she said, but they upset her. The phone distracted her, and I was able to photograph her. I only wish I had gotten closer.
The 19mm lens on the Sony A6000 APS-C sensor has about the same coverage and angle of view as a 28mm on a full frame 35mm or FX digital camera. I crop anyway, sometimes a lot. I find a 50mm lens causes me to stand too far back from my subject, even though with a wide angle lens as my prime lens, the final cropped photograph may be closer to about a 50mm angle of view. I like the 35mm lens view on a full frame camera. I plan to get something around a 28mm for the Sony pretty soon. If you find the lens focal length and format calculations confusing, click here for an explanation.
Here are the photographs from the Square. I was drawn to red like a moth.
Try a two-hour challenge yourself. See what you can capture in a short period of time.