Tulips for me
So in order to avoid getting stuck with yet another cliché you can
A) avoid shooting well-known, shot-to-death landmarks or
B) Be creative, adapt a new approach and create something original.
Ok, sounds great you say, but how do I adapt a new approach, what does it even mean?
Well, when creating your famous landmark image you can create something new either when shooting the photo or at the post process/printing stage.
You can completely change the final appearance of the photo by selecting a camera that utilizes your vision best such as the Holga, polaroid, classic camera such as the kodak brownie, large format, pinhole or even a modified digital camera. Each one of these cameras will provide you with a unique image that can help depicting your insight.
If you like abstracts why not shoot an abstract of that landmark? If you are a street photographer you can make a picture where people are the subject and the landmark is the supporting cast in the background. If you like to make panoramas or time-lapse photos, you can certainly put a new spin on any overshot landmark.
Now, improving an average (not to say boring) shot of a famous landmark at the post processing or printing stage can be a bit tricky as it is very easy to overdo it and further add to the cliché.
But, as long as you have an idea and a general direction, and you’re not just playing around with the filters in your photo editor, you can absolutely make something original and imaginative.
I usually, not only avoid shooting landmarks, but I also keep away from visiting them. (I just get quite uncomfortable in big crowds)
But on this particular day in San Francisco, the colors, the sky, the crisp air, just seemed so perfect to photograph the Golden Gate, So I did.
When printing this photo I knew I need a different approach or I’ll get stuck with yet another boring image of the Golden Gate. So I decided on taking it to the 70′s and make it look just the way I’ve imagined it back then.
For my birthday I decided that I will choose my favorite picture for this year.
So I chose this picture here which was taken in Hinsdale, IL and I chose it for a few good reasons;
* It was taken with my favorite camera: Kodak Brownie.
* It was taken on a wonderful day during a trip to the Midwest and it was the first time I traveled with a classic camera. I saw plenty of photographs of Chicago and they were OK but I wanted to create something else and so I knew I need to photograph Chicago with a box camera.
* This photo is a Lith print which is an alternative darkroom printing process and it was printed on a warm tone Fomatone fiber paper.
* I imagined this very photo when I took it.
Pheww, I’m so glad we finally got rid of 2010!
And so I would like to wish all visitors to this blog ( yes, all 3 of you) a happy new year!
BTW, I have a silly ritual: at the end of the year I choose my favorite picture for that year.
Basically, it is a great opportunity and an excuse to go over the pictures with a new eye.
I think this is the first time I didn’t choose an urban/street photograph.
Sun printing is a method of printing onto a surface using (yep, you guessed it) UV rays from the sun. Most people use sun printing to print various arrangements on paper by creating a design on a sun print paper, such as leaves and flowers, and exposing it to the sun.
But you can also sun print your negatives.
First thing to do is choose a negative with a good contrast, place it on the sun printing paper, set a piece of glass over it to hold it down and keep it flat (make sure your glass is not coated with a UV blocker!) , and expose it to direct sun.
The exposure time depends on your location, season and time of day, so you’ll have to experiment with it a little. The sun printing paper recommends exposure time of 10-15 minutes, but if you are printing in late afternoon you’ll need around 30 minuets and even more.
The print below was exposed around 1PM for less than 4 minutes.
When the sun exposure is complete, you will need to rinse the print under running water until the water runs clear.
For a final touch you can use a blunt object to distress the edges while the print is still wet.
Now if you don’t shoot film and have no negatives, don’t despair.
Create a negative version of your favorite digital photo and print it out on an inkjet transparency. It will work just like a real negative and even better because you can make it any size you want.
I got my watercolor sunprint paper from Freestyle but most art supply stores have some type of sunprint paper as well.
“I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity, and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York in company with W Thomson and Colo Humphreys, with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its calls, but with less hope of answering its expectations.”
George Washington. Diary entry. April 16, 1789
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
Altered images can be a unique addition to various projects, such as collages, altered art, or journals.
And since this method is a type of freeform artistic process, you can torment your photo print any way you wish.
Only one thing to keep in mind before you get your tools ready is that most distressing techniques won’t work as well with homemade inkjet prints, and for best results you should use a photographic print that was printed in a photo lab or a high-end printing service.
You can begin modifying your photographic print by scratching lines onto the prints using an artist knife. Next, use sandpaper to get rid of the gloss appearance, bring out the color beneath the top layer of the print, and give it a truly distressed appearance.
If you feel adventurous and are brave enough, try spattering or even rubbing household bleach onto your print. Using a cotton ball or a sponge, you can pat the bleach in purposely to some areas of your print, or you might prefer to randomly squirt it on at random.
Another thing you can do is get a bleach pen and use it to write or draw on your print. If you can’t find a bleach pen, use a skewer or a tooth pick, dip it in the bleach, and use as a pen.
Note that the bleach, which starts yellow, will quickly turn into white.
If you like the yellowish appearance you will need to wash off the bleach in water just a few seconds after applying it to the print.
In addition you can randomly add acrylic paints or markers and, at last, lightly sand the print again in order to blend the paints into the print.
This process works well with color, sepia ,or black and white prints.
One day, when I’m all grown up and have more patience, I’m going to learn how to do HDR photography. For now, I discovered that I can adjust the depth and clarity of an image in a photo editor and so create something that looks quite similar to HDR photography. It is so simple to do that there’s practically no need to provide any specific instructions. All you need to do is play around and adjust the image’s sharpness, contrast, brightness and play around with the shadow/highlights settings to bring out the depth of the image. In addition try creating layers and blending them using different blending modes.
If you insist you can download fake HDR actions for Photoshop like this one: Fake HDR by ~photoshop-stock
If you have Corel Paintshop Pro try the Clarify filter (Adjust/Brightness and Contrast/ Clarify); it will pretty much do the trick.
Aging a color photo is obviously more challenging than making a black and white or a sepia tone image look old – difficult, but not impossible.
Especially if you like coffee.
Now on to the details:
The first step is to un-vibrant (is this a word?) the image so it doesn’t look too vivid. You can do this during scanning or in your image editor by reducing the highlights, saturation, and contrast. Or you can just go for one of your unsuccessful washed-out photos (as you see, unsuccessful doesn’t necessarily mean failed).
The next step is to create an aged looking paper, which I did by using the leftovers of my morning coffee. Really! All you need to do is crumble a paper (I used watercolor paper), soak it in coffee, and let it dry in the sun. Now the same watercolor paper looks like it has seen many years of hardship.
Next, scan the stained paper, open your favorite photo editor and blend it on another layer with your washed out image. And just like before, you will need to play around with the blending and transparency settings until you like what you see.
By the way, if you are not a coffee drinker and prefer tea, no worries; you can do the same process using tea instead of coffee. I’m sure there are many other ways to age a paper such as burning, ink stains, distressed ink, antique solutions, or simply use an actual aged paper from an old book. These are just a few methods to choose from, so simply select whatever works best for you.
As a final touch, you can darken the edges of the photo by using the darken or burn tool in your photo editor.
While rummaging around a thrift shop in Big Bear Lake I found a Popular Photography issue from 1981 and thought it might be interesting to read or at least I’ll get a kick from looking through the old camera ads (I did!).
One of the articles by Howard Chapnick claims that “the world is currently surfeited with self-styled photographic artists and image makers…”
Did you notice he doesn’t call them “photographers”?
Mr Chapnick continues to say “One doesn’t become an artist by proclamation or because one exhibits in galleries. Nor does the photographic image maker qualify who searches painfully for the perfect picture, concerning himself with the way the image is achieved at the expense of what is being said.”
So why is Mr. Chapnick offended? Well, it seems that the new cameras (of the late 70’s and early 80’s) brought photography to the masses more than ever before.
“The robotized cameras that manufacturers have developed perform all the necessary functions of picture-taking… we have been surfeited with billions of images. What we need are more meaningful photographs to penetrate beyond the superficialities that are immediately discernible. “
So I was thinking; what would this nice man say about today’s “Robotized” digital cameras and all the billions of images that are taken every day?
[I hope you will choose to participate in voting for your camera of choice.
The results of this poll are going to be considered and published in my next book.]
I imagine some photographers will find it difficult to pick their favorite camera for street photography but whatever it might be, the selection will be especially diverse.
Common sense dictates that the camera is compact, light, quiet and fast, though I’m sure this is not always the case. Most photographers will probably select the camera based on the desired appearance and quality of the final images. And besides, photographers can be quite a fussy crowed and often become rather attached to their camera regardless of its adaptability to the streets.
Having some experience with street photography and shooting a variety of SLRs, rangefinders, box and toy cameras, I would have quite a difficult time choosing one favorite camera.
Generally speaking, I find SLR’s are especially demanding of my undivided attention and in addition they can be quite heavy cameras.
TLR & box cameras are often complicated to operate and just like toy cameras they can be fairly unreliable. In addition toy and box camera’s manual winding is a definite drawback if you want to keep up with the pace of the streets.
Rangefinders, though posses most of the ideal attributes, they sometimes turn out poorly focused images and sadly not everybody can appreciate this trait
As far as digital cameras go, I can only assume there is no wrong camera for street photography and that most digitals can get the job done and with rather decent results.
But what do I know?
People often think photographing at night is a difficult challenge.
Some photographers believe it is necessary to use a flash or carry around one of these tripods in order to come up with a picture that is not completely dark (or somewhere near it). But in fact, shooting in the dark, with the right attitude, can be easily done;
1) Camera settings: It is obviously very helpful to have a fast film in your camera or simply set your digital camera for night shooting. Most film and digital cameras have camera settings for night photography that can do the job.
The majority of classic and toy cameras have the B (bulb) exposure which allows long shutter exposure by letting the photographer keep the shutter open as long as the shutter release is held down.
2) Flash – do you even need it? : Besides its tendency to change the whole natural and interesting appeal of the nighttime, the flash is often limited to 4 feet or so, which makes it totally useless when making street photos.
3) Leave the tripod at home! : I find it difficult to understand why would anybody with a clear mind choose to be attached to one of these 3-legged thingamajigs, while there are so many objects out there which can be used as temporary resting places for the camera (like; mailboxes, cars, fences and even your loyal friend’s back!) for your long shutter shots.
So all you really need for a successful night shoot is to keep steady hands and hold your breath while pressing the shutter button (hopefully without passing out).
Since I began taking pictures I developed a curious habit of looking out the window first thing when I wake up in order to inspect the state of the sky for the day.
Obviously, the more clouds and depth of colors the higher it is ranked in my
personal “sky scale” ™.
Here are a few occasions when nature took care of the beauty and marvel of a scene and all is left for us to do is get the camera out and capture the wonder.
Road trip 2009:
Top row from left to right: Roadside Pennsylvania 2009, East Los Angeles 2009. | Middle row: Countryside Virginia 2009. Alexandria, Virginia 2009. | Bottom row: sunset in Pennsylvania 2009. Geese over Virginia Fall 2009.
If you like this artwork and would like to create a similar masterpiece, this is how it is done:
1) Make a black & white mirror photocopy of the photo of your choice.
2) Cover the photocopy with Gel Medium and put it face down onto a watercolor paper.
3) Wait a few hours until the image is dry.
4) Spray the back of the photocopy with water and rub off the access paper to reveal the photo which is now transferred to the watercolor paper.
5) Repeat step 4 as many times as needed until all the access paper is completely gone.
6) Use water colors to color your photo.
7) Make sure to protect your artwork with a clear protective finish.
Here is what I used for this artwork:
A photocopy of a picture taken in the countryside of beautiful Virginia.
Golden Regular Gel (Semi-Gloss)
Canson 9”X12” heavyweight watercolor paper pad.
Reeves water color paints.
Krylon Low Odor Clear Finish (Matte).
As you probably know you can transfer images to a great number of different surfaces such as: photo papers, canvas, wood, ceramic tile and so on. And so obviously experimenting with different surfaces is one enjoyable aspect of image transfer.
One of my favorite surfaces to transfer to is aluminum foil and recently I decided it will probably be a good idea to mount these transfer on a canvas panel so they don’t tear easily as they might when they are kept loose.
So all you need to do here is take a canvas panel or any other firm surface of your choice and using Mod Podge cover it with aluminum foil.
And now you have your surface ready to receive the transfer.
Here, when covering the 8”X6” canvas panel I made sure to smoothen the surface before transferring the image (taken at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan) onto the foil.
And here I actually crumpled in the foil and didn’t smoothen it when covering the canvas in order to create a textured surface.
The only difference between color and black & white image transfer is that the color Xerox is printed on a higher quality paper than the black & white Xerox copy.
Therefore it needs more time to dry and also it requires a bit more effort to remove the left-over paper (step 5). But otherwise it is the same basic process.
A couple of months ago I wrote a post praising the charm of cross-processed slide film. One thing I would like to add is that different types of slide film will react differently when cross-processed; Often they appear green but sometimes they have a blue or even a brownish hue. Therefore it will be a good idea to try a few of them before settling on your favorite effect.
One way to create a background for the Texture Layer technique is to get scrapbooking or designer or any other decorated paper which you can then scan and manipulate to work with your photo.
I found lots of these wonderful papers at Michael’s; they have a couple of aisles displaying a bunch of designer papers and since they all look good the real problem is which ones to get.
I like using these papers for photo backgrounds mainly because after I scan them and have a digital copy I can use the actual paper in my mixed media projects,
such as this one.
With this year coming to a close I decided to re-post a couple of my favorite posts of 2009. Here is the first one, (it was written in February):
Spring semester at the college had begun this week, and I find myself back in school.
I’m taking a class in Website development. I guess it’s a sign of the times.
The economy being what it is I, like many others, have to consider alternatives and changes in my life. A few years ago I did not think I will be so eager to ever go back into this field of designing websites for clients who never know what exactly it is they want. And here I am. Must be the sign of times.
But soon I realized that not working in web design nor taking too much interest in it in the last few years I’m somewhat out of the loop. Not completely ignorant yet, as I kept learning new things as necessary for my own online presence, but there are undeniably a few areas in need of strengthening and more experience.
So far I’m very much enjoying the class I’m taking which I anticipate is going to add some depth into my “old new career”. I was also lucky enough to get a small job; setting up an online store for someone, which is not too bad of an income considering the amount of work I invested, so it feels like a good start so far.
I know this post is not directly relevant to photography but I wanted to encourage you my dear readers (yes, all three of you) to stand up and not to be afraid to make changes and seek for better alternatives. And if it doesn’t work for you at first, don’t despair, try some more, try something else.
Maybe you haven’t noticed but life has its own rhythm and it tends to drip away quickly.
The main difference between designing your own book and designing a book for a client is that you have to work even when there’s no inspiration what-so-ever. Especially when the client wants an “artistic” design which without ado transforms the job from a simple book arrangement into the illusive realm or art.
But I guess this is a common problem for any form of art which is to be preformed as a job; you can just sit around and wait for inspiration where there’s a deadline to meet.
So what should you do?
I don’t know about you but for me books are a great source of inspiration. So I went to our local book store looking for books about book design (kind of challenging writing a book about book design, don’t you think? I mean this book, not only has to be informative and written well but it got to excel in its own layout and design)
OK, anyway I found a few good books about book design (non of which had any special design…) but I was actually quite captivated by another book about graphic design titled:
graphic design for the non-designers
Non-designer? Definitely me!
Even though I’ve done plenty of design work over the years, I have no background in graphic design and in fact I really don’t know much about it.
The main thing I love about this book is that they take you through the very first steps needed to get started, from equipment, through basics of design and to actual design projects. You can’t go wrong!
So if you are interested in learning something about graphic design and finding inspiration with your own creative project (including photography related work) check out this book.
“All you need is a little patience and imagination and you’ll be fine”
A few days ago I’ve receive an email asking me to answer a simple question: What’s the difference between street and urban photography?
I would suggest they are two terms which pretty much describe the same thing; for the most part street photography is about photographing urban life or people in urban situations.
However, some photographers insist to make a distinction between the two genres;
Street photography often features people or some other human element, frequently to reveal a social comment, while urban photography tends to portray the urban landscape; buildings, structures, bridges and does not necessarily include the human component.
I’ve seen a few passionate arguments amongst street photographers about the definition of the genre and which pictures can be accepted into the street photography category.
Maybe there is a difference but maybe its just semantics, it doesn’t really matter because when you’re out there armed with a camera you probably photograph both people and the urban landscape and whatever else unfolds in front of you.
Until now, when working with texture layers I would choose the picture I wanted to work on, then looked around my textures and try to choose the right texture or textures that will work with this particular image. I would then layer the texture/s on the image and if the texture didn’t work I would delete the layer and try a different texture. This process was not only a tedious one but mostly it was strenuous on my PC’s memory (and my patience!).
A few days ago I had an idea to create one file that has all my favorite layers in one place. So I layered 10 of my favorite textures and saved the file as a psd file so all the layers are preserved. The file size is about 90MB so it’s somewhat a large file but it’s not too bad.
Now I open the picture I want to work with and add it as a new layer at the very bottom, underneath all the textures. At this point all there is left to do is play around with the transparency of the various layers, “turn off” (make invisible) the textures I don’t need, until I like what I see. And that’s pretty much it!
Driving south from Winchester we took small country roads in a hope to find the real Virginia.
We stopped by an enormous flea market with so many cool oddities and though I was unsuccessful bargaining down an old viewfinder camera I confess mostly I just enjoyed the southern accent.
Eventually after some driving through little towns, creeks and wineries we arrived to the Rappahannock river and to historic Fredericksburg on its banks.
Near by is Ferry Farm where George Washington spent his boyhood years. (you didn’t think it would be a day without GW, did you?)
And now I’m getting ready to go back.
To go back from home to L.A.
We drove from Virginia into West Virginia, then through Maryland, along the Amish Country of Pennsylvania and into Philadelphia.
It was pretty cool to find myself in a big city after a few days of countryside, small towns, rivers, waterfalls and hiking in the mountains.
So I took street photos like there’s no tomorrow.
And tonight? Tonight I’m sleeping in Valley Forge where George Washington and his army camped over the winter of 1777–1778.
And if by any chance you’re under the impression I’m on some follow-the-George Washington-trail, I think you might be on to something.
A slow day. We hiked along the Potomac (or the Patowmac as George Washington would say ).
The lovely hike took place along the river at Great Falls which is where the Potomac is shared between Maryland and Virginia.
I think more than anything I was mostly looking forward to this day.
we rented bikes at Biken’Roll in Alexandria VA in the morning, and took the Mount Vernon trail which is a 9 mile stretch of a gorgeous trail to Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.
This time again, I chose not to stand in line with everybody else for a stupid visit inside the home.
instead I walked around the grounds, went down to the pier on the Potomac and tried to stay quiet, as the signs demanded, by GW’s tomb.
Riding back to Alexandria in the evening was a ride against the wind and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact the sun insists to set somewhere over the hills instead of into the ocean. weird.
It was the best and most beautiful bike ride I’ve ever done.
I can’t see how anything is going to top today, the bestday.
The drive from Washington DC to Winchester VA was so smooth and the air was so clear. We had to stop by a river we found on the way; it turned out to be the Shenandoah river. We met a guy who sent us to a monastery up the hill where we got some open views of the surrounding area and fudge for our hosts in Winchester. I took a few pictures up there. It is such a different world.
In my last post I mentioned I prefer traveling with a digital camera rather than film, but this is not entirely true; I do in fact always make sure to pack at least one film camera.
Tomorrow, as I’m traveling to the East Coast, along with my D60 I’m taking my Holga as well.
I think for some places the Holga will simply be a better choice.
Now the question is where to get the film? Usually I buy my film in small quantities from Samy’s Camera or get it online if I come across an attractive deal.
But now as I needed a somewhat larger quantity of a variety 120 film, trying to save some money so I can actually eat while I travel, I decided to go out of my way, wrestle the L.A traffic and go visit Freestyle on Sunset.
What I like about Freestyle photo store is that they have a greater selection of film from around the world, some very attractive prices and they are also really big on Holgas and other toy cameras.
I mean they have a “wide angle pinhole panoramic Holga” a “twin lens Holga” and even a “3D stereo Holga”, whatever that is.
Btw, you can find Freestyle online at: www.freestylephoto.biz/
So I got myself a bunch of mostly black & white film, but also a couple of color and a couple of slide film just for fun.
I think I’m ready.
I’m in a process of putting together ideas and plans, much like a blueprint, for my next book.
The book will include some thoughts about street photography and many of the techniques I use in photography; some that are featured in my last book (I am not an artist) and a bunch of new ones.
If there is something you want to see in the book, if there is a technique you think needs further explanation or if you have any other suggestion, I would love to here from you.
You can leave a comment here or if you want it to be private you can contact me directly.
Btw, You will find most of the techniques I use featured in this blog, here to the right under “Categories”. A list of the chapters and techniques in my last book is available on this page (on the right).
I came across this picture while looking at my old photoblog. I think I took it around 2002, when I was young and beautiful.
It is one of these pictures that will always keep me wondering; What was this interesting group of women doing together in this room? Ah, I’ll probably never know.
And that’s, ladies and gentlemen, the beauty of street photography!
I believe I already complained and whined here about my Lubitel before.
It is a camera that is made of plastic and is often labeled a “toy camera”, but I’m always a bit disappointed with the end results as it actually takes sharp and “normal-looking” pictures.
What a rip off! (Ok so I only paid $8 for this camera but still…)
But finally, last week I took this camera for a round of evening shots in Santa Monica, and what do you know? I actually got a few cool dark and soft photos that would have made any toy camera proud. At last I got my money’s worth out of this camera!
p.s. by the way, I forgot to focus.
This morning I was longing to make some good ol’ fashion image transfer, and though image transfer is not a huge production, still, I had no time to spare.
However, one little disorder I suffer from is that once I have an idea in my head I can’t get rid of it no matter how hard I try.
And then it hit me: inkjet transfer! duh!
Inkjet or printer transfer is a method I came up with a couple of years ago and as far as I know, I don’t believe anybody else is performing inkjet transfer quite the same way, which is OK, no, actually its great.
Inkjet transfer, like I mentioned before, is a really fast and a no-brainer method (no wonder this brain came up with it).
I think in a way my technique of printer transfer is so simple that it completely confuses some people; I always get lengthy emails asking me puzzling questions about this process. It definitely takes longer to write these emails than making the actual transfer
OK, so this is how it’s done:
1) Print a mirror image of your chosen image onto any kind of plastic sheet; I usually use a standard sheet protector.
2) Once the printing is done, and since this kind of a medium will not absorb the ink, the ink will remain wet. All you need to do now is transfer the image onto any type of photographic paper by pressing the print face down into your paper of choice.
So I made two transfers this morning: the one here (taken in NYC in 2000) and a second one which I made the same way but with a twist. I’ll share it with you next time. So stay tuned and don’t touch that mouse!
One beautiful, sunny morning I woke up with a crazy thought; it might be an interesting challenge coloring outside the city lines.
The problem is that color always drives me to a great frustration; I can never get the hang of it.
Maybe it has to do with the old days when I printed color photos in the lab at school.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about correct, proper or even real-life colors, it is a scientific drivel anyway, and I don’t claim to be color blind either. But poor me, I just never know what I really want (obviously this is not the only area in my life where frustration is present..) and what did I visualize?
So it seems I often have the impulse to go bold with colors, maybe to a point when it is absurd. Poor me. clearly I need help.
Though some people believe shooting expired film is a crime against photography, I was always a big fan of the unique and unexpected results of the long-expired film!
It’s the extra grain, and the softness, the dark edges, and if you’re really lucky you get some real fading and other beautiful signs of aging (just like wrinkles).
girl and a puppy. 3rd street promenade. June 2009.
camera: Olympus 35RC.
Film: Ilford HP5 400 ASA
Yesterday after dropping off film at the lab I noticed they are promoting a 35mm Holga for $42.00. Isn’t it yet another trap by the Lomography group? Probably so.
A quick inquiry on Flickr when I arrive home reveals the pictures taken with this camera are OK (I definitely like the extra grain) but doesn’t have the famous Holga quirky effects and so its quite deceiving selling this camera under the Holga name .
I think if you wish to shoot 35mm in your Holga you’ll be better off if you modify your old Holga to accept 35mm.
There are a few good online tutorials which explain how this can be done, especially take a look at this youbube video, so as you can see, not only you get cool looking negatives you also get to have fun reassembling your beloved camera.
A few years ago, one of my Holgas was adapted to accept 35mm by my friend, David, and to be honest after taking just a few rolls back in 2006, I completely forgot about this camera until now when I saw the Holga 135 promotion.
So now I’m quite eager about finding this camera again and taking a few rolls, maybe using some expired or damaged film. Cool!
Now, where on earth did I put this camera???
Here are a couple of tips that are not precisely photo tips but since they are WordPress improvements, they can in effect support and also enhance your WP photography blog presentation.
The first one I want to mention here is the lightbox 2 plugin I installed here. This plugin opens the image in a new window while darkening the background page. Pretty neat and quite easy to install. Just download the plugin here, unzip, upload to the wp-content/plugin folder and activate in the plugin section in WordPress.
Here, give it a try; click on this image:
The other thing I wanted to mention is that WordPress allows the design of pages outside WordPress which can then be uploaded into WP. The reason one would want to do it is if they want pages that look differently than their blog pages but still keep them inside WP.
It took me a (long!) while to figure it out, but once I did, it turned out to be a pretty easy and straightforward practice.
Here it is; How to create unique pages in WP:
1) Create the page in your html editor.
2) Add this code at the top of your page above the html: < ?php /* Template Name: TemplateName*/ ? >” (replace the TemplateName with anything you want)
3) Upload the page into: wp-content/themes/default folder.
4) create a new page in WP. Give it a title and select the template you have just created from the Page Template pull down menu.
5) publish your page.
Take a look at the page I created outside WP: Creative photo techniques (link is located at the top of this page)
As you see it doesn’t have the sidebars like the other pages. In this case I chose to keep the page looking somewhat like the rest of the blog by maintaining the title and the colors but you don’t have to if you want to create something new all together.
This was not planned or anticipated in any way when I began taking pictures, but now, I find the main benefit of photography for me is that every picture takes me flying back in time not only to the event or occasion, no, my going back in time is much deeper than the usual picture-memory association. My pictures take me into a dark forgotten locked channel of awareness that otherwise would have stayed locked forever. If you experienced it you know what I’m talking about.
But this is merely the value of photography; this is not why I photograph.
The main reason I take pictures, and will always take pictures, is that I love this place.
And because I love this place I want to illustrate and forever preserve its existence, the truth and the depth of it which I’m grateful I’ll never understand.
But don’t let big words fool you; it is a lot simpler than it sounds
And I have faith in you, my dear two readers; I have no doubt you can come up with a better explanation to an otherwise perplexing drive we have to photograph everything around us.
Someone I know told me he has an old film camera he doesn’t really need anymore (what a shocker!) and maybe I would like to come over and see it, and if I like it he will give me a good price even though he’s truly quite fond of it and would hate to part with this wonderful camera.
So I stopped by to check the little marvel and was a bit disappointed to find out it was not quite an “old camera” unless we count the mid-90s as ancient history.
It was a Canon EOS Rebel X SLR and I had a very little interest in it but I was rather polite and said oh what a nice camera. And to continue the charade I asked him how much he wants for it. He shifted the camera from one hand to another as if he was trying to weigh it and see how many dollars it will take for him to give it up.
Lucky for me I was sitting down when he finally said “$350!” I needed a few seconds to recover but I eventually gained my composure and said “ OK, let me check on eBay and see how much this camera is sold for online”. Sure, he said, but don’t forget this camera is in mint condition.
I was curious enough and I actually did check out this camera on eBay. The prices were ridiculously low from $5 to $54. I was looking around real good but unfortunately I couldn’t find one for $350.
As it is the market for classic cameras that are no doubt fun and intriguing, is limited to a few enthusiasts, so even these cool cameras have reasonably low prices. And even though I’m not an expert in the financial system, I have to suspect that SLRs from the 90’s have almost no market value. I mean if you have one at home you might get the urge to use it every once in a while, maybe. But if you’re going to buy a film camera I don’t believe you’ll be hunting and bargaining for something like this Canon SLR.
You can find this article and many other photo processes in my new book:
So Much More than Photography
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Black & White print edition Price: $20
One of my favorite pictures was taken in the Embarcadero, San Francisco with another relatively new SLR (2003), Nikon N-75 and a Kodak 100 tungsten film.
One of my favorite things about creative photography is working directly into the photo print. This time I combined two methods that until now I did independently: hand coloring and distressing prints.
As far as the hand coloring goes there are a few ways to color and paint photographs, and they can be divided into two groups: traditional hand coloring using oil paints such as Marshals paints or the way I prefer doing it, free form painting.
Using free form is about mixing different painting approaches and tools, painting rather than coloring, stamping and adding text.
So basically the idea is to have fun with it and experiment with various ideas and methods.
Here I began with sanding the print which was printed on a glossy paper in order to rid of the shiny finish. Next I used an artist knife to outline the lines in the picture. I then painted the photo using acrylic paints to bring out the feel of the charming evening hour when this picture was taken. And finally using acrylic paints I stamped the photo, no special reason, just because.
Happy Earth Day !
Don’t forget to leave all the lights on when you leave home, drive your over-sized SUV over your neighbor’s stupid organic garden, cut down a couple of trees and dispose of used cans and bottles in the trash can. OK?
Most photographers when they talk about their first camera they suddenly turn all nostalgic and without any previous warning they drown in magical distant childhood memories. But not me. When I’m asked about my first camera I have to admit my story is quite lame, it only goes a few years back and is not special or wondrous at all.
Its quite embarrassing to admit but I actually began taking pictures with a digital camera. It was around 1998 before digital cameras invaded life in America, and in fact every time I used this camera I had to explain everybody around what a digital camera is. Though I must say I doubt that anybody really understood what a digital camera is all about because they always asked “but where is the film?” or “ how do you get the pictures from the film to the computer?”.
This so-called camera was a point and shoot Ricoh which was capable of creating images at 1 Megapixel (640X480), not enough to print even a wallet size picture. But I don’t really consider this camera to be my first camera: to start with, it wasn’t really mine; it actually belonged to my friendly neighbor. But mainly I don’t have any strong sentiments to this camera due to the fact this camera produced awfully low quality images which resembled something that looked more like a line drawing than an actual photograph. However, to its defense, I have to say that this alleged camera somehow made me curious about photography and helped me realize photography can actually be an enjoyable and a wonderful craft (instead of serious and stiff).
Ok, so my real true beloved first camera entered my life about a year later, sometimes in 1999. It wasn’t mine either. As I got curious about photography I wanted to shoot a real 35mm SLR. I looked around in different camera stores (yes, these stores are not fictitious and they actually did exist once) but even if I just wanted to purchase the body only (though I’m not sure what I would have done with an SLR with no lens) it was just too expensive for my shamefully modest budget.
So I complained and whined about it all to a few of my online friends (as you can see I don’t actually have real life friends) and I guess I must have done quite a good job of whining, that finally one of my online friends, Udi, told me he has an SLR camera, a Minolta SRT 101, which he is not planning on using anytime soon and if I really want it he is ready to let me borrow it. Right away, before he might change his mind, I said I’ll take it.
I still have this camera to this day. Its true Udi said I can borrow it for a while, but I think after he had seen how much I like this camera, not to mention the wonderful pictures I sent him, he just didn’t have the heart to take it away from me.
So every once in a while I go back to this camera and shoot a few rolls.
I think this camera will always have a special place in my heart.
Surfer, Santa Monica.
camera: Minolta SRT 101 Film: Kodachrome 64 (cross-processed)
The answer to your question, dear Mark, has something to do with the role of photography. I’m not an expert on the history of art but it seems to me that until photography came around, art was a serious medium that was used to depict portraits and landscapes in a very responsible manner. But once photography assumed this important job, the artists were free to begin doing abstract and other types of visual interpretation. So photography was pretty much left with making portraits, landscapes and documenting events. This is very nice and nothing is wrong with it. But this doesn’t mean photography can’t be used in other ways. Despite its scientific and mechanical nature, it can even be an artistic medium.
Now, you call it “destroying your pictures” but I see it as “presenting my images in a non-traditional form” which is just one step in the process of making photos. This is why I prefer the term “making photos” and not “taking photos”. Photography can be a process of creating something artistic which is shaped by many steps such as: choosing the camera and film, locating the image, selecting the desired settings, making the exposure, developing and printing the photograph and finally presenting the image.
It is never “as is”. I’m not even sure what “as is” really means.
The bottom line is that photography does not have to be confined to a single limited view of its function and it should always be characterized and defined by the individual photographer.
So mark, I tried answering your question seriously, I hope it works for you.
Now, excuse me, I have to go destroy, I mean, distress a print or two.
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