In monochrome

04Jun09

Reuters has an excellent series of monochromatic images on their site. Nearly everyone of them speaks to my love of simplicity in photos.

Many think of monochrome images as black-and-white images. True, B&W images are a subset of monochrome images, but any photo that has predominantly one hue can be considered monochromatic as seen in the collection.

Apart from B&W photos, this is as monochromatic as my photos got:

Green

Green

Check out the Reuters collection here.

Cheers.


Having a camera with me at all times has allowed me to take photos in unexpected places. Most of the time, I’m not shooting for the sake of photography, but mostly for documentation: that pretty flowering plant I might consider for my backyard, or interior design ideas in that model home.

However, every once in a find, an opportunity presents itself and even with an underwhelming 2MP camera oddly out of place in, what is now an indispensible tool for me, an iPhone, a fresh perspective can be found.

I was enjoying family time with parents, my brother, his wife, and their 3-month old baby Sonia (woohoo, I’m an uncle of 3-months!), doing the things this family does best, which is hanging out and eating good. In this particular case, given the propensity of babies to eat and poop, those not involved when baby Sonia is being cleaned of the latter propensity, including me, were sitting in the food court of a rather empty mall in Cupertino.

Here I spied the interesting patterns formed by empty table and chairs, and the black and white tile formation on the floor. After trying different framing, I ended up with what I thought wasn’t too bad a shot.

Food court

Food court

While the artistic aspect had some merit, the technical side with the dullness, color imbalance and unexposure needed work. In my iPhone, which I’ve taken to call George, I fired up Photogene to do a little bit of technical adjustment, and then CameraBag to see what I can do with it in terms of “looks”. CameraBag allowed me to try different “looks” such as the Holga look, the Lomo look, etc. Among the different options was Cinema, which gave it a tight horizontal crop pretty much down the middle. Now this was interesting! I fiddle it some more, and ended up with this one.

Food court II

The image is quite pixellated given the tight crop of an already small file, but I like it! I love how the object on the right still says “chair” and how the tile pattern leads from the top left corner to the chair.

Sometimes you find art in unexpected places.

Cheers!


I very strongly lean towards the simplicity of design in my photos, which sometimes makes getting good shots a little difficult in some situations.

For instance, I was at Shreiner’s Iris Gardens near Salem, Oregon last weekend, and while there were many beautiful bearded irises in the garden, I didn’t find anything I’d take — the flowers were just too complicated and angular for my photographic taste. In fact, I ended up shooting mostly leaves and alliums!

If someone has any great artistic photos of irises, I’d love to see them and learn from you.

Until then, these are some of what I ended up liking…

Silhouettes of alliums

Silhouettes of alliums

Cheery morning calls

Cheery morning calls

This is the only shot of an iris flower that I thought was interesting because of the texture, but it could really be any flower:

Splashes of purple

Splashes of purple

I actually desaturated the green background of this next image some because it looked fake!

Allium

Allium

And my leaf series:

Cold

Cold

Luminescent green

Luminescent green

Shadows of leaves

Shadows of leaves

You can see my other photos in the flora series on my photo site.

This coming Memorial Day weekend has the Iris Gardens putting up a BBQ chicken and jazz show starting at 11am on Saturday. If you’re in the area and are interested in attending, I’d recommend going early and doing a little shooting prior to event. The flowers should just about to peak this weekend, me reckon. We were there at 7am last weekend and we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

Cheers!


Scott Kelby has announced his second worldwide photo walk. My friends and I joined the first one last year and had a blast.

Can’t say if this year will be better, but I’m sure it’ll still be lots of fun. Grab a camera and start shooting!

Read all about it here to see if your city has representation.

Cheers!

Update: It’s now also mentioned on Scott’s blog with a bunch of Q&A’s.


I love travel photography. I actually love the “travel” part more than the “photography” part, but I digress.

When I travel, I try to get slices of the scenery, the architecture, the culture, and the people. I can do a decent job on most of those categories, but the people photography aspect is my weakest part.

When I think of people photography, I think of street photography — taking photos of people who are going about doing their own thing and would rather be left alone than have their photo taken.

My problem is that I really don’t want to get into their faces to get the shot. More often than not, it’s because I like to keep myself intact as missing a limb makes life harder to live. Shoot people in the streets takes real cohones, and not to say I don’t have some, but sure not as much as this guy, Joel Meyerowitz. Check out this video from him on the art of street shooting and you’ll see that it sure isn’t easy. Did you see how close he got to people when he’s shooting them??! Of course, he has a much easier time because he has a small Leica compared to my big honking dSLR with 2.8 lens. What I’m carrying can practically be classified as a lethal weapon in the right hands. Yeah, Joel has it easy with that small camera…

When I’m traveling and shooting people, I tend to shoot from far away using a telephoto lens. As I said, it takes guts to shoot closeup.

Here’s one in the Pisac street market in Peru. I stood a far distance with my telephoto ready just for the right expression and timing to not have some tourist in the shot. Even though the vendors probably are more comfortable, some were still quite offended at having their photos taken by other people.

Rug seller in Pisac market

Rug seller in Pisac market

Here’s another one of a kebab seller in Jerusalem, Israel. In this case, because I ate there, it was easier to get up close and practically in the vendor’s way to get the shot.

Kebab seller in Jerusalem

Kebab seller in Jerusalem

Here’s one more of a hotdog guy in Noo Yawk city. Just as I snapped the shot at close range, he looked up and smiled. Wheew! That was close…

Hotdog street vendor in New York City

Hotdog street vendor in New York City

Here’s another one from Peru. This time on the streets of Lima. I gathered my courage here and asked the veg seller if I could take his photo, and he gladly obliged. The only problem with doing this is that it’s a little more posed. Of course, I could’ve just waved after my shot, but keep shooting after the first shot to get more natural behaviors. This time I didn’t, however.

Lima vegetable vendor

Lima vegetable vendor

Generally, I’d say that I don’t think I have that much to fear in taking photos of others, but there’s still that discomfort on possibly getting an unexpected, or hostile, reaction. Of course, there’s a difference between shooting where tourists are expected to be taking photos vs. shooting in the middle of the sidewalk like Joel in the video.

I’m still working at this, and I have no idea how Art Wolfe or Steve McCurry can get such great people shots. Do they pay the subjects before taking the photos? Some seemed posed, but are they?

If you have a story or a technique when you shoot people or street, why not share it below?

Cheers!