2014 Deck – Week 35

Exploitative or Journalistic?

The question with regards certain street photographs is usually whether the resultant image and its use are exploitative or journalistic; this is not a question for viewers or critics, it is a question for the photographer; anyone says otherwise is trying to be self-important; yes, a fallacy, I don’t care.  🙂

I saw this chap sitting in what seemed a dejected and sad position, and I “had” to take a photograph, but carefully, surreptitiously, so as not to make him too aware of my intentions;  wanted the scene as I saw it to be portrayed as I remembered it…

In the shadows cast by the trees along the avenue, in the bright midday sun, one man, sitting, alone, almost overlooked, in the heart of Georgetown.

I titled this one “In the Shadows”, because that is how I see many of our fellow citizens living; in the shadow of oppression, in the shadow of others who walk along with a brighter present and future than he may have, in the shadow of trees and buildings that have existed longer than he has, in the shadow of a life that could be better, but isn’t (reasons unknown).

Cropped to 3:4 from the original

1/125s @ f/7.1, 24mm, ISO 200

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery.


Sea-breeze Sleeper

After posting Week 22’s photo, I did go back and look at the other photo from the week that had caught my eye…

Asleep under what little shade is offered by the tree so wanting of leaves, a man is kept cool by the sea-breeze in the hot midday sun.

I did some dodging/burning in the area where the sleeper was 🙂

50mm, 1/2000s, f/4.0, ISO100

Click on the image to see it in the Black & White Gallery along with many other black and white images.

Colour or Monochrome

When film (or plate) was the way to capture photographs, there were many many debates, just like there are now.  They didn’t debate sensor sizes, they debated film sizes (and that had so many I won’t even start on that), and just like many enthusiasts and professionals now debate colour vs monochrome, so it also went back then.

While there were specific films developed for both types back then, in the digital age we are pretty much guaranteed that the camera you buy, whether the one in your mobile phone, compact camera, mirrorless or DSLR camera, it will in all likelihood take the photos in colour, which you can then convert to monochrome (black and white, sepia, etc) in post-process, whether in-camera or in software on the PC.  This changed when Leica developed their Leica M Monochrom, it was the first major brand to produce a high-end digital camera that produced only black and white photographs, and rumor has it Sony is working on a black and white version of their RX 1.  I don’t want to get into a debate myself over the need or desire to have a camera that only shoots monochrome, I can only say that it is unlikely I would ever buy one myself, but that is probably only my wallet talking.

In the genre of Street Photography, there is usually a preference for black and white images, but there are many many great coloured Street Photographs out there, more than you’d think.  Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work in street photography was very definitive for the genre, and all his work was in black and white, he also experimented with coloured film but was never satisfied with the results; of course, he only had access to the types of film available then (the 1950s) and if you look back at coloured prints from those days you’d see the limitations of the coloured film of the time.  I dare say that if he had lived in a later era, he may have at least given the coloured films a chance.

When I first started taking photographs on a slightly more serious basis than just snapshots, I didn’t do much black and white processing, and even when I did, it was more for the novelty than because I knew why it should be done and to which photographs.  Now I do a lot more processing in black and white…

What have I learnt that changed my views?

I’ve learnt that not all photos look good in monochrome, the tonal range and subject matter is very important for an image to look good in monochrome.  Monochrome images tend to showcase textures, shapes and form better, and by removing colour from the image you are left with just the elements that make up the composition, and if those elements are not functioning correctly in the overall composition, it will feel off, or look cluttered.

When used correctly, colour will catch the eye and hold it, this works for some compositions, but for others, that same thing tends to shift the focus of the viewer from the overall composition and have them concentrate almost solely on one portion of the image.

I’m no expert, but this is how I see it; recently I took a few photographs of some Jhandi flags on the Kingston seashore, and I chose two that I liked, and I processed them quite differently, and primarily for the reasons stated above.

This one I chose colour, because the main subject and the focus of the image is the Jhandi flags themselves, the various colours chosen as they contrast with each other, the browns of the sand and the blues of the sky.

The second image I processed in black and white to articulate the relationship between the clouds in the sky with the sands on the ground, the change from dark to light in both the sky and the land as they meet at the horizon, the sharpness of the shadow from the midday sun, and the contrast between the flags on the pole so close to the viewer against what seems to be a smaller post in the distance to the left of the frame.

These are my decisions, they may quite well not be anyone else’s choice.

In the end, these are choices I make in how I express myself artistically now, it is not how I did it a few years ago, it may not be how I do it five years from now.

Click on the images to see them in their respective galleries.


Most photographers will tell you that the worst time to go shooting outdoors is noon, with the midday sun directly overhead casting deep shadows on people’s faces, or flooding subjects with overhead light giving it very little dimension, this applies to landscapes as well… As Lady Luck would have it, that’s when I get to go outside… at midday, whether it’s to accompany Nikhil on his walk or leaving work on a Saturday… it’s the noon sun I usually have to shoot under.

This one is not the type of thing I normally do, but something about it caught my eye and I shot it… left it to percolate for almost a year, then went back to it with fresh eyes.

Not something that many may like, but here it is anyway 🙂

Click on the image to see in the in Gallery with others from the Black and White Collection

From the Bandstand

Sheltering from a light rainfall, I took the opportunity to snap a few photos of this gentleman walking on the wall… the rain didn’t bother him, and here he’s even taking a drink out of that bottle 🙂

Canon Rebel T1i  |  Sigma 17-50mm  |  1/640s, 17mm, f/11 ISO 400

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery along with many other images from my journey in Sepia images 🙂

2013 Deck – Week 21

I was perusing my takings for the week and I had pre-selected 16 photos that I was thinking of using for the Deck Project, some street photos, some seawall photos a few bird photos… you get the idea…  Maybe it’s the mood I was in or just that most of them seemed “normal” to me, but I ended up choosing one that I knew was not necessarily a great composition, and then in processing I also did some unusual work with the sliders 🙂

All that being said, I don’t expect many to appreciate or like the final result, but to me the entire thing was so off-kilter that I ended up titling the image just that… “Off-Kilter”, and it grew on me.  🙂

Canon Rebel T1i  |  18-55 Kit Lens  |  1/200s, f/11, 30mm, ISO400

Processing notes: Selective desaturation and hue adjustment.

Click on the image to see it in the Gallery.

Photos From a Midday Walk

I remember lots of people engaging me in dialogue after the post that I made “Where to look for something to photograph”, and while there were nods of assent and some disagreement (which I quite understand), one thing that struck me was the question as to the variety of images I get when I do something of that sort.

It seems, that Nikhil and I are making quite a habit of taking either a midday walk or an afternoon walk, and sometimes I come back with a few images worth sharing, other times I am not so lucky.  I recently processed a few images from two such walks and thought I’d share them here.

This first image struck  my fancy, I liked the wooden structure, the fence and the palm tree in the background, the only problem I had was that PVC pipe marring the scene.  There wasn’t much I could do about that pipe, but while the image looked nice in colour, I thought that rendering it in black and white helped just a tiny bit to tone down the intrusion of the pipe.

Not only did it help a little there, but it also brought out the nice lines of the old-fashioned windows and shutters.  One of the reasons I took the shot to include the pipe was that I wanted to get both bridges in the shot.

The next photograph shows two things that are fairly common around certain parts of Guyana, the plant (which I have always called an eggplant, because some people decorate them with eggshells, the white eggshells looking rather nice on the green leaves) and the concrete fence with the spaces between the blocks.

There was something about the simplicity of the scene that I liked and tried to capture, the texture of the fence the radial symmetry of the plant (not readily seen)  and the stretch of grass.

One of the things about Georgetown, is that almost anywhere you decide to take a walk, you are sure to come across some old buildings, not necessarily just old in age but also derelict.

The next photograph is one such example, a house that appears to be currently uninhabited, and slowly going to ruin.

Obviously, what caught my eye was this same derelict look; the old style of windows, the wide open room at the end that towered (slightly) over the rest of the building, the encroaching vegetation that may soon take over the building.

I believe that, ideally, I would have loved to do either a photograph of the inside, or wait until dark and try to illuminate it somehow on the inside, but neither of these ideas was practical.

I find that these older buildings had “character”, and I can most times find some angle of interest to photograph on many of them, much unlike most modern box-like houses which have distinct lack of character, being built “functional” as Nikhil once told me.

Before you believe that on these two walks near and in Queenstown, there were only buildings which may look good when displayed in monochrome, there was also this old church (maybe not so old) on Irving Street.

I’ve wanted to photograph this church, my intention being to get it early in the morning when the sun illuminates its north-eastern section, I had never actually considered an afternoon photograph, but as we approached it I saw that it was nicely framed by two palm trees and was pretty well-lit by the afternoon sun, I couldn’t have planned it better.

Most people who know me, know that I love a blue sky in my photographs, with or without clouds, I love a blue sky, and I think that the building has been nicely offset by the lovely blue sky and the verdant green grass.

I can imagine a wedding party in the churchyard, that would make quite a pretty picture, maybe I should volunteer as a wedding photographer just to get that!

Now I wonder what the view from that tower would be like…

The other photograph in line is one of a house that has some nice old architecture, on a small scale, but definitely gives lots of dimension to the front of the building.

I can go on and on about why I liked this building, from the nice step and porch, to the verandah, to the style of roof with its secondary portion, to the windows, the door, there were even side windows (Demerara Shutter styled) at the side that aren’t in this photograph, but what really caught my eye was the combination of these to create the face of the building together with the nice simple colour scheme of green and white.  Very nice and very simple and when I looked at it from this angle, there was the Red mailbox just sitting there, some say it’s a sore thumb, but I think it adds to the image not take away.

If you look carefully you can see the fretwork on the porch, the lightning rods on the roof peaks, the louvre-like wall of the verandah is especially distinctive, and what I liked a lot, was the green bench on the porch, it completed the image for me.

The final image of the set is a photograph of a place you couldn’t miss if you traveled down that street, unless you were blind.

It appears to be a residence, but obviously of someone of means and someone of deep religious conviction.  The Hindu influence is very definite, the building, though low, has many architectural nuances, and although the fence is high it is designed to allow the beauty of the place be seen.

I am not a big fan of these multi-part roofs, but they do have their beauty, and while I would never paint anything in my yard pink and powder blue, it does somewhat compliment the earth tones of the main building.

I didn’t mean to ramble so much on this post, but the images from a walk can be quite interesting to me.