April 05, 2012

Shooting with Film, Part 1

Kodak Tri-X 400 Kodak Tri-X 400
Now that digital has nearly entirely taken over for film photography, the variety of different types of cameras has rapidly diminished. This has probably to do with the increased burden of camera manufacturers to supply the incredibly complex technology of image capture and processing. In the days of film, as long as you had a lens, a shutter, and a mechanism to load film, you could develop your own camera system.

Now, that simple process of capturing an image on film has been replaced with digital sensors, image processors, buffers, not to mention the fully-fledged operating systems needed to control the camera functions. Unfortunately, I think this leads to camera manufacturers becoming more conservative in their designs. The time and money spent in research and development on digital cameras means that manufacturers design their cameras to appeal to the broadest audience possible. That audience is almost always the average consumer, not the enthusiast. This all means that the more specialized camera types (for example: medium format, and rangefinders) get more expensive and harder to acquire unless you’re a successful professional or independently wealthy.

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February 20, 2012

Robert Frank: New York Is »

Newly rediscovered photos by Robert Frank commissioned by the New York Times in 1959. I would love to see this book republished. The Americans remains one of my favorite photo books.
Robert Frank: New York Is

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January 06, 2012

A Walk Around Wichita

50mm f/1.4 @ f/5.6 50mm f/1.4 @ f/5.6
During a quick visit to Wichita, I made some time to walk around and take some photos. It was a quiet visit where I spend much of the time by myself. That offered me the opportunity to randomly pull over and take pictures of things I normally wouldn’t have encountered. My first stop was at a motel off to the side of US-54 which has a huge sign of a cowboy that can be seen from far away. I didn’t get a great image of the sign, but the neon red lighting was its own kind of beautiful kitsch.

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January 01, 2012

My Favorite Street Photos of 2011

Now that the year has finally ended, I thought I would go back and select my favorite street images of 2011. 2011 was a big year for me photographically. This year I really started shooting street seriously. The whole process has been about me forcing me to get out of my comfort zone and working on overcoming my shyness. I’m still as shy as I ever was, but I’m learning to push past it to make the images I want to make.

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December 19, 2011

Post-processing is like hot sauce »

Kirk Tuck compares too much excessive post-processing with covering your food in Tabasco sauce:

The analogy that pops into my mind is hot sauce.  Lots of people like the tang and bite of good salsa and, taken in moderate quantities it adds a special flavor and spice to regional foods.  But there has become of subset of hot sauce fans who, having burned out their taste buds through egregious overuse, look for hotter and hotter versions of the sauce and take delight in their ability to ingest it without running for a huge glass of water (best to try milk instead).

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December 08, 2011

Lawrence Christmas Parade


Since I haven’t been out shooting much now that it’s become colder, I’ve been looking for more opportunities to get out and shoot. So when I heard that the Old-Fashioned Lawrence Christmas Parade was coming soon, I made it a point to grab my camera and get downtown.

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December 03, 2011

Stanley Kubrick’s New York »

Stanley Kubrick's New York
Before he was a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick worked as a photographer for Look Magazine. Check out this gallery of his work (for sale) he took while working in New York City. Also, don’t miss photos he took on assignment in Chicago.

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December 02, 2011

Seattle Vacation

35mm f/1.4 @ f/2 35mm f/1.4 @ f/2
I just started this blog, and already I’ve let it go without an update for over a month. Well, I’m going to use this post to jump start it, and I’ll be getting back to work soon. I actually just started a new position which is taking up more of my time, but I’ll work on a more regular update schedule.

Back to the blog: Last month, I took my first vacation in awhile. My girlfriend and I flew to Seattle to visit my best friend who went to work at Microsoft last year. We were only there for four days and not wanting to neglect my friends, I didn’t make photography my priority, but I did try to make sure I got a few shots in.

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October 21, 2011

Thoughts on the Lytro by Duncan Davidson »

I was planning on writing more about the camera, but his thoughts nearly perfectly match my own.

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October 19, 2011

Lytro light-field camera announced »

The Lytro light-field camera has been announced. From it’s design and functionality it has been targeted specifically at the consumer point-and-shoot crowd. My guess is that creating any sort of high-resolution output with this new technology would be prohibitively expensive at this point. It’s unfortunate because I think this technology will be far more attractive to the enthusiast/professional market in the long run.

Here’s a nice analysis written a few months back from QT Long on the potential problems for the future success of this device:

Unfortunately, looking at the description of the camera benefits, it seems that Lytro has erred a bit too much on the consumer side. In order to appear more simple, they did not emphasize the full potential of the technology. Their three selling points “No fuss focus, Speed, Travel light” are aimed primarily at point-and-shooters. This could be based on market research concluding that the main user complaint about point and shoot cameras is shutter lag caused by autofocus. However, aren’t cell-phone cameras light, and simple enough ? They have huge Depth of Field (DoF) which makes precise focus a non-issue, particularly when the intended use of images (social sharing via low-res electronic use or 4×6 prints) doesn’t require high resolution. Moreover, point-and-shooters rarely want to post-process their pictures on the computer. They certainly didn’t want to mess with color balance and RAW files, so what is the chance they’ll enjoy dealing with light field files and setting focus?

Lytro thinks that there will be a “magic” to be shared with living pictures with which you can play, but while this is cool the first few times, it is so only superficially. I am not sure of lasting interest for a technology that requires a specialized plug-in or app, even if that app is built into social media sites so that you don’t have to install anything.

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October 19, 2011

Google Image Telephone »

An interesting concept with some fun examples at Blake Andrew’s blog.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with Google Image Telephone. This is like Telephone except instead of whispering in your neighbor’s ear you upload a photograph into Google’s Image Search engine. When Google attempts to identify the image (usually successfully) it also returns 7 or 8 visually similar images. You choose whichever looks most interesting, re-enter it into Google Image Search, and the process repeats. After 10 or 12 cycles, the original message has usually been thoroughly scrambled. That’s Google Image Telephone. It’s sort of a silly game but strangely addictive.

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October 10, 2011

Kids on Mass Street Part 2

A few more pictures from Sunday. You can see the earlier pictures in Part 1.

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October 10, 2011

17 Years in Afghanistan by Seamus Murphy »

Check out these excellent photography by Seamus Murphy from his 17 years documenting Afghanistan. He also has a Kickstarter project raising funds to produce a documentary about the people of Afghanistan.

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October 09, 2011

Kids on Mass Street

Bert Nash Dash & Bash


There was a small little festival set up on one block of Massachusetts Street today. It was a fundraiser for the local psychiatric center, Bert Nash. There weren’t too many attractions, but fortunately, the bouncy houses and obstacle courses they had set up meant lots of kids playing about. It’s hard not to get some good pics when kids are about, so I grabbed my 50mm lens and went exploring.

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October 09, 2011

Matt Weber on the Streets of New York »

I came across this interview today of Matt Weber. He used to be a cab driver in New York City who purchased a camera for himself just to document the things he saw. Eventually he gave up driving a cab but he now has an extensive body of work documenting New York City from the 1980s until now.

His website has lots of good stuff.

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September 30, 2011

Adam Marelli analyzes Henri Cartier-Bresson »

One of my favorite things to read about photography on the web is Adam Marelli’s Great Compositions series analyzing the composition of great photographers. This edition looks into my favorite photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The famous Robert Capa mantra “If your pictures are not good enough, you are not close enough” does not always apply. Cartier-Bresson shows us that photography is a finesse game. It requires careful observation, patience, and a trained eye that recognizes when something is missing. Without the final character the photograph is dead. The photograph is a pointless landscape, devoid of significance. Once the distant figure comes into place, the light switch flicks on for a second and the whole moment is permanently alive within the frame.

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September 30, 2011

Lawrence Art Party tonight at 5

For anyone in the Lawrence, KS area, my work will be displayed at the Lawrence Art Party for Final Fridays night from 5-9pm. The Lawrence Art Party will be held at 716 New Hampshire Street in the Hobbs Gallery. Come say hi. There should be plenty of interesting artwork on display.

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September 28, 2011

Is Bob Dylan a Plagiarist? »

It looks like the answer may be yes. Legally, derivative works can be difficult to separate from plagiarism, but speaking as a photographer, this definitely crosses the line.

Now there’s a show of Dylan’s paintings at Gagosian Gallery in New York. The Gallery originally said that the paintings provided “firsthand depictions of people, street scenes,  architecture and landscape” observed by the singer during his travels in Asia.

Trouble was, they weren’t firsthand—Dylan copied them from photographs. Here’s one example, of a painting copied from a photograph by Dmitri Kessel, and here are a couple more, copied from photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Léon Busy.

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September 24, 2011

The trouble with focus groups »

The advent of the new Nikon 1 system last week, along with its nearly universal unpopularity amongst enthusiasts, prompted this article by Mike Johnston at The Online Photographer.

Here’s the problem with focus groups: it turns out that when you can get a bunch of people together and get their undivided attention, and have an extended period of time in which to explain your product and its rationale to them while they’re feeling attentive and receptive, you get different reactions than when your product is just sitting there unexplained in a bubbling cauldron of hundreds of other similar products all competing for the harried consumer’s attention.

Like it or not, the small core of enthusists and pros are the tail that wags the dog in the photo market. They (I should say “we,” of course, since that’s us) have an outsized influence on the purchases our friends, relatives, and neighbors make.

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September 23, 2011

Paul Trevor’s photographs of kids in Liverpool from 1975 (Video) »

These wonderful photographs of kids from Liverpool in the 70’s have been turned into a Like You’ve Never Been Away.

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September 23, 2011

Sunrise at the Golden Dam


I feel incredibly lucky today. I had a great time doing street photography in Kansas City yesterday, and this morning I couldn’t sleep. Fortunately, I took advantage of the opportunity. I grabbed my bag and decided to see if I could catch the sunrise over the Kansas River and I’m very pleased with the results.

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September 23, 2011

Kansas City Street Photography

Some amazing light in downtown Kansas City. Some amazing light in downtown Kansas City.
Yesterday turned out to be a big street photography day for me. I got some shots in Kansas City, attended a talk by a street/documentary photographer and asked my first stranger if I could take his picture.

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September 20, 2011

Pet photographer makes adoption photos classy »

Photographer Theresa Berg is applying good marketing principles to pet adoption. In contrast to the normal terrible photos that accompany pet adoption ads, she has been doing pro-bono work making well-lit, attractive pet photos for adoption agencies to use. And it’s made a huge difference.

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September 18, 2011

Struttin’, Scootin’ and Splashin’

A trip to the Kansas State Fair

50mm 50mm
One of the things that comes out of having a passion for photography is that it motivates me to do things I would otherwise have no interest in. The desire to take photos is overwhelming enough to make me want to drive three hours to Hutchinson, KS to visit the State Fair.

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September 11, 2011

Lusting after Leica

The legendary Leica M3 The legendary Leica M3
As a street photographer, I have often felt descriptions of Leica cameras compelling. It’s impossible to study the history of street photography without coming across numerous mentions of Leica cameras as the camera of choice for street and documentary photographers. Recently I was able to use an operate a Leica M camera for the first time. While my time handling the camera was brief, it was an even more pleasant experience than I had imagined it would be.

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September 10, 2011

My Birthday with a 50mm Prime

My friend Phillip and his son trying out the bow and arrow. My friend Phillip and his son trying out the bow and arrow.
Since moving away from my hometown of Wichita to attend collage at KU, I’ve seen less and less of some of my old friends. So this year for my birthday I decided to give two of my best friends from high school a call to see if they wanted to come to Lawrence and have lunch. Fortunately, they both agreed and we had a nice time. And because it was my birthday, I gave myself to take pictures the whole time (as if there was an another option). My friend Phillip now has three adorable children, one of which just loves getting his picture taken.

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August 23, 2011

Street Photography at the Lawrence Busker Festival

Pretty good? No? Pretty good? No?
To inaugurate my new website, I thought I’d post about the Lawrence Busker Festival last weekend.

I have been less photographically active this summer than last year. I think that the summer heat is largely to blame. But when news of the Lawrence Busker Festival popped-up, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity. Downtown Lawrence, KS is a wonderful, small, artsy area which encourages walking. The Busker Festival brings out street performers and the whole area begins bustling with activity.

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August 14, 2011

Developing a new website

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