January 6, 2011

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 6th, 2011 by Ghost

My friend Adrianna and I walked New York for many hours today, and I took a ton of photographs, many of which I’m quite happy with. So many in fact, that by the time we arrived at this location I was sure that I already had my photo for the day. That said, I didn’t know that I would happen upon this wonderful scene in Madison Avenue Park. We both commented that this was sure to look amazing at night. What a wonderful surprise that it translated so well by day.

A Kind of Falling – Madison Avenue Park – NY, NY

ISO 500, 24-70 @ 57mm, f/5.6 @ 1/80 sec – hand held – available light

January 5, 2011

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 5th, 2011 by Ghost

Another study in New York impressionistic photography. I wonder if I would have made these kind of pictures had I never seen the work of Stieglitz and Steichen. If only they could have seen the camera I made this with. Stieglitz used a “hand held” camera that was as big as a house. I took this photograph with a 14 megapixel point and shoot about the size of a cell phone.

Steps – New York, NY

ISO 800, 5mm (point and shoot lens) f/8 @ 1/125 sec – hand held – available light

January 4, 2011

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 4th, 2011 by Ghost

Today was the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the show: Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand. Alfred Stieglitz is one of my favorite photographers. Seeing his work in person was a monumental experience, and made me continue to examine my own work. All three of these photographers created images that are like incredible paintings. Soft and dreamy, the painterly, or impressionistic style they favored at the beginning of their careers continues to speak to me, and upon seeing this work, made me want to start creating photographs in this style. Even the idea of returning to film is something I was thinking about.

Cut to me walking out of the MET, and almost directly in front of the museum I meet Naoki Okamoto. Some of Naoki’s work reminds me of the impressionistic style I just mentioned, though with modern subject matter, and a different process for creating this look. His work is stunning. I took my time, and looked at every one of his photographs, fell in love with a number of them, and am purchasing my favorites. I mention this because in the same afternoon that I thought this is the work I should be doing, I realized that it’s far important that I continue to develop my own style, and hopefully bring something new to a style which I admire.

Today’s photograph is a direct answer to everything I saw and experienced today. It is definitely impressionistic in style, but as it’s photographed digitally, and by me, the dreamy quality has a look all it’s own. The same, and at the same time very different than what I saw today. This is what is right.

At Play – Central Park, NY

ISO 100, 24-70 @ 46mm, f/18 @ 1/6 sec – hand held – available light

January 3, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010, Project1 12/2010 on January 3rd, 2011 by Ghost

Today I visited The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the experience was truly inspiring. I saw photography ranging from Dorothea Lange to Nan Goldin, and the paintings of Pollack, Picasso and De Kooning to name and few. I also read an important quote by the painter Mark Rothko: “The progression of a painters work, as it travels in time from point to point, will be toward clarity: toward the elimination of obstacles between the painter and the idea, and between the idea and the observer.” This is exactly what I’m attempting to do when shooting for Project1. It is a constant: That I remove all that is extraneous, and hopefully realize the absolute core of what I’m photographing. I don’t believe that previously I had thought about it so clearly, but it does help explain why most of the time I’m more interested in breaking a scene into smaller pieces, and capturing what might be most important to the eye, the observer.

I’ve always known that it is of at least some importance that I have a clear understanding of what I’m creating. Though shooting for the pure love of it, and not putting to much thought into what the art is has allowed me to create with a lot of freedom, it will be become increasingly important for me to be able to verbalize some objectives so that I can explain to people what I’m doing and why. Art for arts sake is wonderful, but the art world at large, a place I hope to become more a part of as I continue to exhibit, will expect an elevator pitch detailing the inner math, or dialogue of what I’m creating. Much like philosophy, this is a dangerous place for me. If I’m not careful, I’ll make to much of something simple, and think too much of that which I create.

Tonight’s entry is a reply to the simple, yet elegant forms I saw in many of the paintings today.

Transformation – New York, NY

ISO 800, 24-70 @ 24mm, f/5.0 @ 1/320 sec – hand held – available light

January 02, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 2nd, 2011 by Ghost

What can I say…My first night in New York City and I was blessed with incredible clouds. Walking around today I had taken some decent stuff, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied. Noticing the cloud cover this evening I suited up for the cold and headed out again, which once again, is exactly the point of Project1. Never settle – Get THE shot.

I’ve decided that for this year if  there are multiple images I’m happy with, and they go together as a set, I will post more than one. And with that…

The Sky’s Are Crying – Manhattan, New York

ISO 250, 24-70 @ multiple focal lengths, f/9 @ 6.0 & 8.0 sec

January 31, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 31st, 2010 by Ghost

Today, Sunday the 31st, marks the end of my first month since starting Project1. If I were to stop today, it would have already been an incredible journey. I haven’t done  31 art only photo shoots in the past few years, much less in one month. In addition to taking photographs that I’ve had in my head for years, I’m creating images never dreamed of, and all because I’m allowing myself the time to do it.

Reading Benita Eisler’s excellent, O’Keefee and Stieglitz: An American Romance, was a big factor in starting Project1. My first time reading something of this nature, it not only inspired my return to creating art, but also a new desire to find out more about the artist’s I have admired for so long.

To mark the end of my first month, tonight’s photo is very much an homage to O’Keefee and Stieglitz. The sheen, and slight glow of the skin, architectural  hands, and soft grays are very reminiscent of the portraits they created together.

Cradle – Fallout Shelter – Downtown Los Angeles
ISO 800, 24-70 @ 60mm, f/4 @ 1/80 sec – handheld – available light

January 30, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 30th, 2010 by Ghost

Polished stainless steel waves, frozen in time before they can crash to the ground of South Grand in downtown Los Angeles. I’m, of course, referring to Frank Gehry’s breathtaking Disney Hall. Seeing his masterpiece for the first time was a kind of religious experience, and yet, until tonight I had never taken a single photograph. A big part of the reason is that I don’t like to create common images, particularly of landmarks so often photographed.

Tonight I had planned to shoot in Chinatown, but without finding my mark, continued driving, and ended up in front of Disney Hall. I started at the structures North side, breaking it into pieces, and spent some time blending the hall’s surrounding organics and steel, eventually finding a combination I was happy with. Readying myself to leave, there was a feeling that I hadn’t tried hard enough, so I decided to investigate further. Finding my way to the back, or West side of the building, I came upon a small path where you can actually go between some of the “waves”. It was here that the magic began, and this is exactly what I saw. Other than increasing the blacks, no Photoshop was used in this photograph. It’s as if the building is actually breathing. Steel gills drawing in the light, and releasing winged apparitions into the night. Looking at those walls tonight, so much beauty surrounding me, I was almost brought to tears.

The Birth of Night Birds – Disney Hall – No. 1 of a planned series
ISO 800, 24-70 @ 32mm, f/2.8 @ 1/6 sec – handheld – available light

January 29, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 29th, 2010 by Ghost

After working for almost  36 hours straight, I didn’t want to stray far from my studio tonight. Inspired by photographs I was making for a model last night, images with glorious texture, I went outside to shoot the ivy laden wall, just outside my studio. That’s one of my windows top left. Exhausted, I was just starting to get some idea of what I wanted to do when a teenager walked by, and I caught him in motion blur. It just so happened that my rushed framing, and exposure, were almost perfect. Wanting to improve on the theme, I adjusted my camera slightly, set it to auto countdown, and exposed myself walking through frame a few times. I also experimented with photographing one of the buildings artists, asking him to make a few passes as well. I decided one of the self portraits was the most striking, and though a little hard to see here, my face became a grotesque mask of pain and fear.

The fact that I keep showing up in my photographs makes me think of the photographer and artist, Cindy Sherman, who has been photographing herself for decades. Almost a month into Project1, and turning the camera on myself far more than expected, I look forward to exploring the theory behind her work. Excerpted from her homepage; “Although, the majority of her photographs are pictures of her, however, these photographs are most definitely not self-portraits. Rather, Sherman uses herself as a vehicle for commentary on a variety of issues of the modern world: the role of the woman, the role of the artist and many more.” The fact is that I have never spent much time analyzing what drives me to create my photographs.  I’ve been shooting professionally for over 15 years, and for another 15 before that, so I suppose it’s about time I took a long hard look at my craft. Sounds like fun.

Untitled – Ave 33 – Los Angeles – tripod – timed release
ISO 400, 24-70 @ 25mm, f/5.6 @ 1/3 sec

January 28, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 28th, 2010 by Ghost

Drifting in and out of the shadows as I explore the night in East LA, a house of worship is never far. Beautiful examples are abundant, and make wonderful subject matter. The confluence of geometric shapes shown here is, for me, total eye candy. Since I was a child I have literally ‘traced’ shapes with my eyes. Imagine following the lines on a building, chair, or car, with your eyes. It’s something I do all of the time.

Using this photograph as an example I wanted to start to talk about the digital negative, or DNG. I treat a digital file much like I would a film negative, working to make sure that my exposure and color temperature are as perfect as possible in camera. That way there is a lot less work to do in post production. DNG’s are imported into Adobe Lightroom 2 for basic tweaking, with final changes made in Adobe Photoshop. Essentially I create digital photographs which look as if they were made with a film camera. I call myself a ‘pure’ photographer, meaning that I don’t add wild effects, or swap in sky’s that weren’t there to begin with. I don’t have anything against that style, only that, coming from a long background in film, I prefer pushing myself to create the best image of what is actually there. I only add effects in post that mimic the look of certain film stocks, and processing/darkroom techniques.

I thought this was worth mentioning because tonight’s photo was treated exactly like a black and white negative. Using Photoshop, and OnOne’s incredible Photo Tools Software Suite, I ‘processed’ this image just like a film negative. Edge vignetting, slight diffusion, and dodging/burning, are exactly what I used to do in the darkroom. If you aren’t using OnOne software you should be. I can’t recommend it enough. Playing with opacity, and blending multiple presets, I’m easily able to achieve the look , in this case, of a photograph developed in the darkroom. After years in the soup, it’s wonderful to have software that can aid me in using those darkroom techniques, but with my computer. For those of you who started with digital, and aren’t exactly sure what I’m referring to, simply look to classic photographers like Ansel Adams to understand what I’m talking about. There’s a ton of darkroom in his final images.

If you’ve never been in the darkroom, I encourage you to take a class, and get your hands dirty. Watching your photograph come to life from a blank sheet of paper is truly magical, and will give you new insight into processing with the computer. If you’re interested in private classes, and live in, or near Los Angeles, please contact me. I was a professional printer for many years, developed many darkroom tricks myself, and love to share my passion for the disappearing art of darkroom printing.

Confluence – Lincoln Heights
ISO 160, 24-70 @ 28mm, f/5.6 @ 15 sec – tripod – available light

January 27, 2010

Posted in Project1 01/2010 on January 27th, 2010 by Ghost

Tonight I’m exhausted. I’ll only say that for years I’ve wanted to photograph the machines that drive our cities, and our lives.

Behemoth Hum – Vernon
ISO320, 24-70 @ 38mm, f/2.8 @ 1/13 sec – handheld