Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars in Washington DC

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-6

For those of us living in Washington DC, Hurricane Irene made her visit, departed, and is now harassing New York.  With golf out of the question on “the day after Irene” due to debris on the course, I decided to make a tour around DC to survey the damage.  Fortunately we were spared from much of the forecasted impact.  However, some poor folks were not as lucky.

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC

As I toured the city, I found little of interest to photograph until I returned to my Capitol Hill neighborhood.  Here I found a number of trees knocked down with unfortunate consequences for the cars trying to support them.  Gratefully, my car was among the untouched.  From what I could tell, none of the damaged and crushed cars involved injuries to people or anything other than the car and some uprooted sidewalks.  Cars and sidewalks can be replaced.

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-1

With little additional to add, the remainder of this post is dedicated to documenting the damage in Southeast and North East Washington DC.

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-2

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-3

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-4

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-5

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-7

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-8

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-9

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-10

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-11

Hurricane Irene Crushed Cars Washington DC-12

Beware of trees during hurricanes.  And until the next storm visits, go make some great photography.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

New York Upper West Side Pigeons

Pigeon Ghosts

As I was moving some photos around this morning I found these two photos I failed to include in the New York “Zoom Rack” series.  Here are links to the rest of the series: 

Both of these photos are different from most of the zoom rack photography I took while in NY.  First, most of the photographs I made were uncharacteristically (for me) in color – they passed my test of color adding information that was important to the composition.  Second, the first of these photographs features two types of apparent motion – the effect of motion brought on by the zoom rack technique, and the motion of the pigeons in flight.


Pigeon Ghosts-1

The second of these two photographs is also ripe with leading lines.  The lines in the sidewalk lead your eye through the photograph, and the light lines created by the zoom rack technique bring your eye to the center of the photograph.


Once your eyes have readjusted to normal photography, I will likely return with another set using this approach and some scenes from around Washington DC.  While talking about upcoming cool stuff, I recommend you check out my other blog “Craig’s Grape Adventure” tomorrow when I will post a very exciting wine pairing with tuna prepared three ways – tuna and avocado tartare, seared tuna with mango salsa, and toasted fennel crusted tuna with fresh vegetable quinoa.  I am anxious to prepare this delicious progression, photograph it, and of course – enjoy it.


Have fun, and go make some great photography.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Union Station Washington, DC Black and White

Union Station-2

Last week, Jason from the Jim O’Ferrell Band (the J.O.B.) suggested Union Station in Washington DC as a potential subject for the cover art of the single “Messenger” which they are now recording.  Easy stuff.  I took a walk over to Union station and got some shots.

The next photograph is an alteration of the first.  With the intent of reflecting the haunting lyrics of the “Messenger,” I decided to add a texture to muddle things up a a bit and add a mysterious feel.

Water and leaves overlay

I doubt that a photograph taken in portrait orientation will make the final cut, but here are a couple of shots from Union Station in a different orientation.  The repeating patterns of pillars, windows, scallops, and other architectural elements make Union Station a great subject – whether shooting in landscape or portrait orientation.

Union Station

Union Station-1

Have fun and go make some great photography.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Zoom Rack Photography of New York Taxicabs

NY Cab zoom rack-5

This is my third and final installment of Zoom Rack photography from New York.  Here are the links to the previous two, in case you missed them:

NY Cab zoom rack

For this final post in the series, I decided to focus on the iconic New York taxicab.  Nostalgia draws me back to the days of the Checker cabs in NY, a true icon, but at least they remain the same color.

NY Cab zoom rack-1

As you can see from the previous photo, use of the zoom rack technique can result in some interesting abstract results.  In this case, there is just enough information to give context (the Times Square Marques in the background) and the yellow of the cab to let you know this just might be a New York taxi.

NY Cab zoom rack-3

Unlike more normal bias toward black and white photography, these photographs were processed in color.  With the subject of NY taxis, it would be difficult to respect the bright yellow paint if processed in black and white.

NY Cab zoom rack-4

In addition to the yellow of the cabs, the motion introduced by racking the zoom, makes for some interesting bright light trails that are more interesting in color than black and white.

NY Cab zoom rack-2

Have fun and go make some great photography.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Times Square Zoom Rack Photography

Times Square Zoom Rack-3

If you are puzzled by the term “zoom rack photography” take a look at my explanation in a previous post; Zoom Rack Photography in New York

Times Square Zoom Rack-4

I will have a couple more posts in this series.  For this post, I am sharing photographs of Times Square in New York using the zoom rack technique.  Times Square is perpetually filled with activity, energy and movement.  The zoom rack technique works well in this setting by exaggerating the motion.

Times Square Zoom Rack-5

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Zoom Rack Photography in New York

Street Action

Earlier this year, my good friend and fellow photographer John Downey (John A Downey II Photography) introduced me to a photographic technique I decided to play with during a trip to New York over the weekend.  I don’t know that the technique has a name, so I gave it one – zoom rack photography.  The technique is conceptually pretty simple, but it takes practice to get it right.

Times Square

The technique involves composing a photograph using a zoom lens at a short focal length then simultaneously “racking” the zoom to a longer focal length while depressing the shutter button.  Easy stuff, right?  But wait, there is more.  The real challenge of executing this shot is a sufficiently long shutter speed that allows you to rack the zoom from a short to long focal length.  My experience with this in NY led me to conclude that the optimum shutter speed was 1/4 of a second.  To get a decent exposure at this shutter speed generally means lowering your ISO and increasing your f-stop (high number/small aperture).  If you are shooting in bright sunlight, even your lowest ISO and highest f-stop may not get you to 1/4 second shutter speed.  In bright light, you may have to add a neutral density filter.

Bikes and Cones

The next challenge is stabilizing the camera.  The amount of stabilization will depend on the level of clarity you are trying to achieve.  This type of photography intentionally blurs most of the photograph.  However, you can increase the clarity by good technique (bracing your arms), steadying the camera against a solid object (like a lamp post) or using a tripod.  All the photographs in this post were hand held or braced against something solid.

One of your first impressions of this form of photography may be that it looks somewhat like photography made with a Lensbaby.  I would not disagree but would point out two aspects that distinguish this approach.  First, because of the longer exposure time, objects in motion are further accentuated with motion – like the cyclist in the previous shot.  Second, you get some unique effects I can’t as easily account for such as in the following photograph.  I don’t think I could recreate this photograph using a Lensbaby.  The smoky, ghostly steaks coming off the buildings while keeping most of the shot in relatively good focus is not something the Lensbaby is built for.

Ghost Buildings

Like any photographic technique, this is certainly one that can be overdone.  However, used judiciously and in compositions amenable to the technique, you can add another fun tool to your kit.  Later this week, I will post more shots from NY using this technique – just to be sure I have overdone it.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Concept Photographs for the “Messenger”–The J.O.B.

Rush Hour Ghosts-1

After a good night’s sleep aided by my last culinary adventure (see Craig’s Grape Adventure tomorrow when I post Trinidad Doubles with Cucumber Chutney and Trinidad Pepper Sauce Paired with 2010 Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc), I set out before sunrise to work on some photography for the new single “Messenger” to be recorded by The J.O.B. (The Jim O’Ferrell Band).

The photos featured here represent several of the concepts I have discussed with Jason Crawford (electric guitar extraordinaire) including the ghostly images of the subjects evoking an unconscious connection among them.  The purpose of this post is to discuss how I captured the images.

Rush Hour Ghosts

The first component is that of capturing the subjects in motion – leaving them with a ghostly blur.  This requires a long enough shutter speed to allow the blur to develop.  This is why I was out the door early.  I do not have neutral density filters (dark filters that limit light arriving at the sensor), so I had to rely on taking the photos under low light conditions to maintain exposure and achieve a sufficiently long exposure to capture the motion.

The second challenge was getting enough bodies in the photo to achieve the crowded bustle and energy I desired.  To do this, I composited 10 to 15 shots for each photograph.  More precisely, I set the camera on a tripod to maintain a constant composition, then took a bunch of shots as I saw people in the positions I envisioned.  In post processing I started with a base photograph, overlayed the other 15 or so shots, and then masked in the subjects to get all the bodies in the same shot.

Stay tuned for further updates on this project.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


Monday, August 1, 2011

New Album Art Project for The J.O.B. (TheJim O’Ferrell Band)

Ryan in Union Station 2

In April I wrote a short post about working with The J.O.B. to produce a photograph for the band’s single “Nowhere.”  The project was a great deal of fun, and you can see the original post at Nowhere by The J.O.B.  I also encourage you to visit The J.O.B. at their website where you can connect with them in all the usual social media outlets, listen to their music, and download their latest single, “Nowhere.”  Speaking of the music, if you like original rock with great story telling, you will become an instant fan of the J.O.B.

Recently I received a note from Jason Crawford (blazing electric guitar and rocking artistic crafter of the band’s heart pounding lead guitar work) announcing the J.O.B.’s return to the studio to record their next single “The Messenger.”  Jason asked if I would be interested in helping with the artwork for the new single – “The Messenger” - I thought about it for quite some time, maybe a microsecond, and signed on.  Jason sent me the lyrics to “The Messenger” (sorry – top secret stuff that you will have to wait a short while to enjoy) so I could start the creative process of seeing a fit between the photography and the song.  From my perspective, the photograph must play a role in adding to, or supporting the story told through the lyrics – a visual component of the storytelling and a wonderfully enjoyable challenge.

While I can’t share the lyrics, I can tell you they are powerful, symbolic, and rich with images.  I had to read the lyrics several times, each time my “wow” impression was amplified.  From a photographic perspective, the lyrics are a bonanza of mental images supporting the central theme; each line adding another layer of photographic potential.

Jason and I are now deep in the collaborative process of exchanging ideas, commenting on photographs that may contribute to the composition of the final product, and even discussing the photographic techniques that will achieve the aesthetic that matches the vivid images in the lyrics.  I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge and the collaboration.  The photograph at the top of this post is one of the shots we have discussed and contains several components likely to find their way into the final artwork.

As I find interesting aspects of the creative process to share, I will keep you updated.  I promise to let you know about the final product, and most importantly, the release of “The Messenger” by The J.O.B.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.