Monday, March 29, 2010

Korean War Memorial

My last couple of posts have featured photographs from the Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.  This post focuses on the Korean Memorial.  The challenge for the photography in each of these posts was shooting subjects that are photographed thousands of times each day, and yet finding something unique and appealing.
I will let you be the judge of whether I accomplished my objective, but I would like to comment briefly on the second photograph – I am confident I achieved my objective with this shot.  While I was photographing around the memorial, I was lucky enough to encounter a wreath laying ceremony including a number of Korean military officers, Korean war veterans, and what appeared to be representation from the Embassy of South Korea.  The coincidence of this event presented the opportunity to take the second photograph.  For me this photograph does a nice job of telling a story.  In the foreground, the official party for the wreath laying ceremony is watched closely by the soldier in the background.  It is almost as if the roles have been reversed – the unfocused and ghostly looking people in the present form a frame for the clearly focused apparition of the past.
All of the photographs featured in this post were taken with the same lens, the same intent, and same approach.  All of the photographs were taken with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS lens and were shot at open apertures of f2.8 to f4.  The combination of longer focal length and the open aperture results in a quite shallow depth of field.  In other words, the subject is in focus, but the those things that are not at the same distance as the subject, are not in focus.
Mostly, this approach is used to blur the background and draw attention to the subject as with the photograph of the baritone player.  However, it works equally as well by blurring the foreground and leaving your subject in sharp focus as is the case for the second photograph and the one following.  The next photograph, while being a good example of blurring the foreground, is also a good example of what depth of field means.  In this case, the foreground is blurred, the subject is in focus, and the background is blurred.  As you can see, there is some distance X to Y from the camera that is in focus (the focal plane) and the remainder is not…either in the foreground, or the background.
I hope you found this a new and interesting look at the Korean War Memorial.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

One Year of the Craig Corl Photography Blog

I missed it.  My first blog entry was on 13 March, 2009 and I just realized I had passed the one year anniversary of the blog.  Now that I have made this realization, I would like to thank your for your continued support, comments, and patronage.  I also hope that you have, and will continue to enjoy reading the blog as much as I enjoy writing it.
As I begin the second year, I do not expect a change in the form or content of the blog.  However, I do have a few projects in mind that you might find of interest.  Most prominent of these is a new web gallery.  I have threatened to do this for some time, but have not yet made it a priority.  I will check this item off the list in the next couple of months, so stay tuned for the announcement.
The intention of the gallery is accomplish several things.  First, I want an appropriate environment for showing the best of my photography.  This will include some of my photography you have not seen on the blog.  I also want to make purchase of the photography an easy and pleasant experience.  Finally, I intend to set up the gallery with projects that present a related and cohesive group of photographs that tell a story.
The photographs featured in the blog are a continuation of the last blog that featured detailed shots of the Lincoln Memorial.  These photographs come from the Jefferson memorial.
Thanks again for hanging around for the last year and I hope you stick around for the next.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Lincoln Memorial – You Don’t Have to See the Whole Thing

There are icons around the world that if you were to photograph even a small detail, it would still be easily recognized .  The Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC is Certainly a member of that group.
The photographs featured in this post are a result of my visit to the Lincoln Memorial with the intention of shooting only details, and finding interesting perspectives on a subject that is photographed tens of thousands of times each day.  The challenge was to find a different way of looking at the monument.
One of the reasons I am making this post is to make the point that it is clearly not necessary to compose a photograph that includes everything you see.  In other words, it is not necessary to take a photograph that includes the entire sculpture or the entire monument.   By limiting your view finder to a small portion, your viewer is drawn into the image through the use of their imagination as it tries to complete the photograph.
I will share similar work I made at the Jefferson Memorial and the Korean War Memorial.  I also hope to share some photography that shows how limiting your field of view, even in portraiture, can result in very interesting photography.
Have fun and go make some great photography!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walk Around NY Part II

South Street Seaport
Here are a couple more photographs from my walk around NY. The first comes from South Street Seaport and the second is from the back side of the Staten Island Ferry sign.  I find both these shots appealing from the perspective of tonal range.  They are both well balanced shots that do not introduce an excessive amount of contrast yet cover the full tonal range.
Staten Island Ferry-2
The shot of the Staten Island Ferry sign adds additional appeal because it is true to my desire to find an interesting perspective on the common.  While the Staten Island Ferry building may not be “common” to a lot of people, I believe I have achieved an uncommon perspective for those who know it.
Have fun and go make some great photography.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bigger Photographs

Staten Island Ferry
For quite some time, I have felt the desire to post larger photos on this blog.  However, I am not an html pro (ok, my skills don’t even amount to a sub-novice level) and had no clue how to make this happen.
Fortunately, my good friend John ( helped me break the code.  My intent is to present fewer, but larger photographs.  Hopefully you will find the larger format more enjoyable.  I would love to hear your feedback.
NY Stock Exchange
If you have an opinion, I would be happy to hear it.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Walking Around Manhattan

Red Coat Recently I was able to spend a couple of days in New York and spare some time for photography.  New York is a photographers playground.  At every step there is an interesting view, interesting people, and a constantly changing landscape of light.
The photographs in this post share a couple of characteristics; a) they are black and white (ok…a little exception in the first photograph), b) they are high dynamic range (HDR), c) they generally focus on things rather than people (another post focusing on people is forthcoming), and d) the subject matter is NY landmarks.
While taking these photographs, I was blessed with an overcast sky for most of the shooting.  Without direct and intense mid-day sunlight, hard shadows are minimized and details are not lost to the shadows or blown out by the bright light.  Of course, using HDR techniques we can overcome a great deal of this, but the soft light of an overcast sky is mostly preferable.
Flat Iron Building
I was very happy to get the next photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Only during the winter, while the leaves have left the trees, is this view possible.
Brooklyn Bridge
Come back soon to see more of my walk around Manhattan.  I will be posting more images of NY icons and likely a couple focusing on the people of New York.
Have fun, and go make some great photography!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery in March

Arlington in March
A fundamental aspect of good photography is reflecting the mood or context of your subject.  When I think of Arlington National Cemetery in the context of photography, two photographic approaches jump to mind immediately – it must be in black and white, and photographing this sacred place is best done in winter.
Arlington in March-2
Although Arlington National Cemetery regularly boasts some breathtaking colors, I believe the solemn and respectful nature are best represented in black and white.  In this case, colors = party, black and white = reverence and respect.  Arlington should not be perceived as a place of reverie, it is best viewed as a place of deep reflection.
Arlington in March-3
My second key ingredient is photographing in winter.  Barren and apparently lifeless trees add to the stark and contemplative nature of the place.  Imagine any of these pictures with trees full of bright green leaves.  The image is completely transformed.  Not only are the views obstructed, but it becomes a much warmer place.  I believe that misses the character of Arlington.
Arlington in March-4
The photographs in this entry were taken early morning under a clear blue sky.  This works well because the blue sky becomes a contrast to the white headstones, and the long shadows add further contrast and interest.  On the other hand, I have photographed Arlington under completely overcast skies with great results.
Arlington in March-3-2
With overcast skies, the shadows diminish, contrast decreases, and Arlington becomes even more foreboding.  Headstones that do not cast shadows due to the very soft light, are both eerie and transfixing.
I find the next photograph particularly appealing.  As framed, the headstone in the foreground stands out as independent from the rest.  It makes me wonder if this warrior’s life was similarly independent.  I also like the way the Washington Monument subtly peaks through the trees as a comforting force offering comfort to the interned brave. 
Arlington in March-5
I am particularly fond of the final photograph.  Arlington National Cemetery is an imposing and overwhelming place.  As I look across the sea of nearly identical white headstones, I am impressed by the monument to freedom it represents while at the same time feeling a sense of anonymity brought on by the sheer numbers.
This sense of anonymity is clearly represented in this photograph.  It captures the headstone of unknown U.S. Soldier number 7300 located in an obscure corner of Arlington.  Who is unknown U.S. Soldier number 7300?  Where did this soldier serve?  Who did this soldier leave to mourn?
Arlington in March-6
So the next time you are shooting, think about what elements of a photograph contribute to the “mood” of your subject.  It can make a difference between a good photograph and a great photograph.  And the next time you have the privilege of visiting Arlington National Cemetery (or the equivalent in your country), take the time to read the headstones, and reflect – it is a humbling and valuable experience.
Have fun and go make some great photography!