Some street photographers wait patiently to capture the decisive moment. Others just snap away, and then later notice that this shot looks like the bicyclist is about to careen into those people at the crosswalk, even though that never happened. But it still looks kind of decisive, or nearly so.
This graffiti wall on Houston Street, just off of the Bowery, appears to be officially sanctioned, and perhaps even a single work of art. It’s not clear, but part of the wall is behind a fence while the rest is open to the street, but all of it has the same style writing in a single color – red. It seems unlikely that such unity would have come about organically, without some organizing force behind it. Nevertheless, I suppose anything is possible, and perhaps a single artist tagged part of the wall in this style, and the next person came by and mimicked what he or she saw, then another, and another, and so on.
And, yes, that’s my shadow stretching out from the foreground. There seems to be a tradition of such shots, and I do not think I have done one before now. I actually wish the shadow were not there. I did not notice it when I first set up, but even then I realized there was no way to avoid it. I could come back at a different time of day and lose the light, or shift the perspective of the photo and lose the shot. So here it is. It partially kills the deserted street effect I like so much.
This was shot in the early morning, looking west down Houston street. I did a basic HDR process in Photomatix, then a variety of filters in both Photomatix and OnOne software, including one of the Brian Matiash HDR presets. The original result out of the HDR processing came out a bit grainy, and noise reduction did not have much of an effect, so I decided to roll with it and actually added to the graininess with one of the Film Effect filters in the Nik suite.
Shortly after writing and posting yesterday’s blog entry, I started reviewing my news reader to catch up on my RSS feeds. To my delight, I discovered that Derrick Story chose my submission to be the featured image for his November Photo assignment, which was “High ISO.” The image he featured is shown above. There is no prize except for the honor, which is quite enough. Actually, one of his sponsors will pick a photo from the same set of submissions to win a free SizzlePix print, but they do not necessarily pick the same image, so we’ll just have to see. I noted the fact that I “won” as an update to yesterday’s post but I thought it appropriate to post the image today. In retrospect, I might have added “enter more photography contests” as a goal for this year.
I started listening to Derrick’s podcast several months ago, but this is only the second time I entered his Photo Assignment of the month contest/exercise. I can recommend Derrick’s podcast if you have not tried it yet. It is mostly about photography with occasional forays into other areas of creativity and technology, with Derrick’s personal interests as highlights. It also includes a lot of Apple/Mac info. He’s a great teacher with an engaging personality. I briefly met him at the PhotoExpo in NYC this fall.
In any event, this image was taken with my Nikon D700, which has superb high ISO performance. For the assignment, we were charged with taking a picture at ISO 800 or higher. This image was taken at ISO 2500, at night, with no flash, on Fifth Avenue. I used an 85mm lens at f/3.2 and a 1/320 shutter speed using autofocus. As I often do with night time street photography, I had the exposure setting switched to +0.67. Depending on circumstances, sometimes I move it up to +1.0. Here, the vendors cart was so well lit that I pulled the aperture back from where I usually shoot at night, which is at f/2.2 or wider. My only post processing was a to the Highlights slider in Aperture, to pull back some detail in the faces of the girls closest to the bare lightbulb. I did not even add any noise reduction or sharpening.
These brightly lit vending carts have really become prevalent in the past year. When i started doing night time street photography just 9-10 months ago, there were not so many. They present a challenge, as I am usually not focusing on the people right next to the cart, so the bright but limited light they shine often wreaks havoc on my auto exposure meter. Here, it allowed me to demonstrate the beautiful performance of the D700 at a high ISO, including its ability to capture a wide range of light in a single image.
I sort of, almost, half-planned, to do a year in review post for 2010 but it just didn’t happen, mostly because I just did an anniversary post for the blog in October. I’m also feeling a bit burned out with some of the social media, self-promotion activities that are ancillary to running a photo blog. Daily posting can be a chore, but I’m not burning out on that, rather for the past 3-4 weeks I’ve been taking a bit of a break from Twitter, from commenting on other folks pictures, and related stuff. Since that has mostly meant neglecting stuff I do for others, it felt wrong to do a big “hey look at me” post. My plan is to revive those activities starting when I return to work on Monday.
So instead I decided to do a Year in Preview: a mixture of what to anticipate, including some promises, some aspirations, a fair amount of uncertainty, and nothing called a resolution. The following is an unordered list.
- More pictures of guys in cool hats (with a hat tip to Jason Martini for the idea)
- Keep posting a daily photo at least until April 8, and probably beyond. I’ve never announced a Project 365 goal, even to myself, because I want the freedom to miss a day if necessary and I also do not know what I would do once the year was over. Why stop posting daily just because 365 days went by? Still, I have to admit that if I get to day 365 I will recognize it as an accomplishment.
- Finish my book and publish it on Blurb. I finished almost all the writing, photo selecting and design. What is left is the tedious work of proofing, resizing photos, and such.
- Finish and publish my first video tutorial and publish it. I might even do that this week. Maybe.
- I’d love to have just one image make Editor’s Choice at HDRSpotting, but all I can do about that is keep submitting.
- Keep my Bus Stop and Crosswalk series going to at least 100 images each. As with the daily posting, I do not expect to stop, but maybe I could take a break after getting to 100.
- Figure out how to make Flickr work in my publishing work flow or drop it. I have never loved Flickr. I don’t like the way images look, and the thumbnails especially lack all reasonable visibility. I started using it because it has a strong existing community, and for a long time I routinely got more page views there than on my blog:. not just marginally more, but 3-4 times daily. As time has gone by my blog page views increased while Flickr has stagnated so they are nearly equal. Sometimes a good Flickr day might double my blog views, but that happens less and less. Plus, Flickr almost never sends traffic to my blog, which is where I really want people to go, even though I almost always put a link to my blog under each Flickr photo. Because I don’t love the look at Flickr, I do not spend enough time there making comments or adding favorites, and, as a result, I’m not getting the exposure I would want in return. Despite my recent temporary burn out, I much prefer the interactions through Twitter and on blogs. I tried posting to some of those groups where you have to leave 3-5 comments for every image you post, and I have gone through flurries of activity where I leave lots of comments, but it has never really paid off. I’ve never had one of my images reach Explore or Interesting status, and I generally get a handful of comments and a couple-dozen views on most images at best. Bottom line is that the half-measures I have been taking are not worth it, but I don’t think I have the time, interest or energy to make it work, so it makes sense to just drop it. Except that there are a handful of contacts I have made there that I would miss, and for some there is no other way to stay in touch. But this year I should figure it out one way or another.
- Meet more of the people I have connected with on Twitter, or blogs, or elsewhere online. So far I’ve met Brian Matiash and Scott Wyden, both at the ProPhoto Expo in New York last fall and that’s pretty much it. I almost met John Sotiriou for a photo shoot in NYC this week but the snow storm and poor cleanup turned the week upside down. That’s it. There are about a half dozen photographers I know online who live or work in New York City and I have met none of them. That should change. There are also more within a reasonable driving distance, be it New England or New Jersey, and I should reach out to them. The rest are tougher, but if I happen to travel to areas of the country where I have good Twitter photographer contacts I will reach out to them and if such people pass through NYC I hope they do the same.
- Go out more often to take pictures. Even though I post daily, I do not get out as much as I suspect most people probably think. I tend to take a lot of pictures on my excursions, and then parcel them out over the next few months.
- Keep learning and make even more friends and contacts. That ‘s the most fun part.
Best wishes for 2011 everybody.
UPDATE: I just discovered that Derrick Story chose to feature my image submission in his Photo Assignment for November, High ISO. You can see his post and my image here.
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