Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Short Discourse on Photography, the iPhone, and Urban Fishing ~

I had set out this past weekend to to engage in what has become a favored pastime: to wander about, observe interesting things, take some pictures, and go fishing. All at the same time. I have the first part of that covered pretty well. My Fuji mirrorless camera is pretty darn easy to carry around with me, even with a couple lenses, and if I'm aimlessly wandering with no direction in mind other than to see if I can stay out of trouble, then there's no excuse not to pack the iPhone in my pocket either.

And that's exactly how I go fishing.

So I set out at the crack of dawn (ok, probably a little closer to the crack of noon) with my fishing gear that consists of an insulated cooler, some ice, and a credit card. There are a couple of wonderful Asian markets in our fair city that you can rely on to have the freshest fish and exotic produce, all of which can provide amazing culinary -- and photographic -- experiences. Both of these images were made with my iPhone; I went to two different markets and could have wandered about them for hours. There was no shortage of things to see and images to form in my mind and in my camera: so many colors and textures that were just dazzling.
It's not always necessary to drive for miles looking for the perfect photograph; more often than not, it's right in front of you just before you hit the check-out line.

Oh, and the halibut I caught was delicious. And did I mention the sakè?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little Windowlight Love ~

I'm not full of wisdom. Not sure I even have that many good ideas. But one thing I am sure of is simply this: If you're not finding something new and different and challenging and fun in your creative life -- whatever that may be -- you die a little each day from terminal boredom. And I hate when that happens.
Years back, a fellow portrait photographer and I would take great pleasure in looking at how light was falling on people we would casually see in restaurants and bars; die-hard studio guys, we nonetheless thought many times that we were looking at what would have been lovely portraits. But our cameras -- big ol' medium formats -- were always back at the studio, so we had only our eyes and a few beers to appreciate what we saw. This is the great liberation of the digital camera, and even more, the smartphone camera. I'm never, ever, without my iPhone, and I've become almost fanatical in my desire to chase down that great light and make those portraits I saw in my mind all those years ago.

This is what's so neat about the iPhone: it's spontaneous, unplanned, creativity-on-the-fly when you find yourself in that perfect place with perfect light. So I have a call-out to all of you to help me find those wonderful places with big windows and the kind of light that makes your knees go weak. Restaurants and bars; living rooms and hotel lobbies; the places that are all around us. If you know of such places, I want to go there with you and make a portrait.

Terminal boredom? No, never.

But maybe a few beers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

There's Always Something There ~

Your mission, should you decide to accept it.....   is to go where you haven't been before, where it looks decidedly unphotographic, where the weather is rainy/cloudy/windy/wet (insert your own dreaded condition) and find that one image that will knock your socks off. It can be done. You can do it.
And so once again, stepping off into the (sort of) unknown, the intrepid Bill and Chaz and your's truly went wandering about parts of the industrial NW of Portland (our fair city) that were unfamiliar to me. This time there were no great bridges over great rivers, and no natural or man-made monuments to capture the heart. Just buildings, reflections, textures, puddles, and inspiration. And decent coffee.

There are two axioms I try to live by when it comes to my photography. One is that you really can find the extraordinary image just when (and where) you think you can't. It may be something beautiful or powerfully raw, something dark or downright whimsical, but it's definitely there. The other is that your camera really doesn't matter, and shouldn't be used as an excuse holding you back.

In fact, I have a notion to go wandering with someone who is not at all interested in photography; a poet perhaps, a philosopher, a wanderer with  a fine eye and a way with words. I wonder, would we look at the same things? I'd be interested in how that might change what I focus on and shoot.

 I have a hunch I may see things differently.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Somewhere Along the Edge ~

After a certain age, pretty much all our discussions turn into philosophical discussions. And so it was the other day in conversation with my fellow philosopher and wanderer Richard, as we idly speculated on where --  and what -- was beauty. As no alcohol was involved in this particular discussion, we couldn't come up with any particular Great Truth. Darn. But I was able to provide to myself, at least, some clarity to a philosophy about photography I have held for many, many years.

When you see a beautiful sunset, look behind you to see what it means. It's where day meets night, where light meet shadow. It's where the sea meets the shore, where a smile turns inward; where there is sadness and joy, harmony and discord, yin and yang.

All the really interesting things happen here, at the edges. That's where I go looking, and that's where you can find me.

That's where I'll set up my tripod.