Shades Of Sepia

Photographic art & community shared thru photography.

Chinatown, NY | August 9, 2014

Salutations everyone. Today I visited Chinatown in Manhattan. I haven’t been down there in ages. I have to say, if it were not for the fact that I was in the company of good friends, and that I always enjoy myself on every outing with them, I would have never gone to Chinatown. I would not have chosen this location for myself/solo. First, it was incredibly crowded and has made photography quite difficult for me. To date, Chinatown had to have been the most difficult and challenging place for me to take photographs. The other thing, I didn’t realize that some Chinese street food vendors really have it out for photographers. One woman gone ballistic because a friend and I was taking pictures of fruits she was selling. Not only did she try to chase us away, but she was showing a follow vendor how we were taking photographs. Huh? A fellow photographer explained that in China photography is practically forbidden many situations. Then I also realized that that woman probably thought we were food inspectors, and probably was scared we would get her shut down. Because she didn’t speak English, it would have made no sense to try and explain anything. But you know, on the other hand it’s sad, because in that split second, I’ve learned first hand what a closed world the Chinese live in. For them, Chinatown IS china. Anything outside of Chinatown is most likely unbeknown to them. However, in the end it did not matter to me, because I was enjoying myself with good people, who also happen to be photographers too (we can all relate LOL).

Unfortunately, I didn’t shoot as much photos as I would have liked; not because the Chinese had issues with us, it was just too damn crowded. I’ve learned that this is something that’s not for me. I wouldn’t go unless I was with friends. However, on the upside of things, I did manage to obtain some really interesting shots. So I guess I can say it was kind of worth it. We were at a park near Bayard Street. Again, a whole new world. There were people playing live traditional Chinese music, as well as singing in their own language. Please don’t take this the wrong way (it is not meant to disrespect), but when I heard them bang that Chinese musical symbols, it immediately took me back to those old 60-70’s karate movies. It also made me think I’d wish I’d gone to the Hong Kong Dragon boat festival. But to be honest it was too far, plus I’d rather go with my photo group. I’ll see if the guys want to go next year. Speaking of martial arts, there were people performing what looked like Tai Chi. This was a pain in the ass for me, because they were practicing in very dark shade, and it was difficult finding and adjusting the right camera settings without disturbing them. Well, like I’ve said, despite the minor difficulties and annoyances I’ve experienced; I obtained some great shots today! So I’m not sorry I went. Plus I got to laugh and have fun with some new friends.

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Alberto Korda 1928-2001

Alberto-Korda

Alberto Korda 1928-2001 was a Cuban born (Havana) photographer, best known for his very famous shot of military leader Che Guevara. Alberto used his camera to document revolutions of his time such as Che. Alberto was a book maker and an encyclopedia sales person, who became one of the most famous photographers of his time (and partly ours). Alberto died of a heart attack at the age of 72.

Picture Perfect? O’ Really?

william scott photographer

William Scott photographer

Today’s technology has advanced to the point were we can actually see better watching a butterfly on a HDTV 1080p television screen, than watching that same butterfly live in the Bronx zoo. Now we have 4k technology, which doesn’t make sense because it will be quite some years before cable networks will display movies at that resolution. It got me thinking; has awesome technologies like television made us loose our perception of things in the real world? Let me explain… In terms of photography, I haven’t really noticed it until recently; but, it seems as though the mentality for this generation of photographers is that it is compulsory to over process your images. In other words, in the pursuit of making a photo look “perfect,” that the subject no longer looks natural in the environment the subject is in. I’ve seen photographers make changes that doesn’t even look practical. Just because we have the ability to take something away, doesn’t mean you actually should because you can. In other words, if you’ve taken a shot of a woman sunbathing, and natural sunlight is hitting her skin creating warmth; just because you don’t like that warmth doesn’t mean you should process it out. The way the warmth is being cast on the woman’s skin is not only helping to tell the story of the subject in the photo, but it also gives a clue as to the estimated time of day the photo was taken. There is a lot of hidden information that is given just by color alone. Why would you not allow the subject to tell it’s true story? If you remove the very essentials of a photo, it means you’re now telling the story, and not the photograph. I guess the same can also be true for some in camera processing. In terms of street photography in particular, you don’t always get to choose the precise settings you want, because weather conditions don’t always allow it (unless you’re bringing in the big boy lighting equipment). Sometimes your location doesn’t always allow it either. If you took a shot of someone running, and a little blur shows up on the exposure, don’t immediately think that its bad and delete it. That blur indicates motion, and tells the viewer that the story is that this person was running very fast when the picture was taken. It is not a mistake, it is a natural occurrence when the object moves faster than the shutter. If you quickly wave your hand across your face, what do you see? You’d see motion blur, because your hand is moving faster than your eyes ability to capture (stop) the movement. Now we’ve gotten spoiled, everything that is a natural occurrence is now often seen as a defect, or a problem. Do you understand what I’m getting at? We’ve had some phenomenal photography back in the day, and we did not have Photoshop.

Our society these days are fixated with the need to correct something. Be it photography, our bodies, or even someone’s sexuality. Everybody is seen/interpreted to be broken, and someone has the answer on how you can get fixed! Very few people are able to except things for what they naturally are. The very act of trying to modify your body to something it’s not (excluding transgendered), or try and force someone to emotionally and psychologically change to something we’re truly not meant to be, is “unnatural.” To those who love to twist things out of context, let me make it very clear that I exclude transgendered people from my prior statement. ‘Cause it is not just about the physical when it comes to our transgendered community. Actually, it’s not just about the physical for homosexuality either. I’m talking about excessive plastic surgeries; the consistent mental pounding to try and make someone do what is pleasing to THEM/or because of one’s personal idea of a God. However, the offenders who can only see flaws in others will not see themselves as broken. Remember that old saying, opinions are like assholes and everybody has one, and will try to shove it down your throat the best way they can? I dare you to challenge yourself. Challenge yourself to only see the beauty in your artistic photo, and not automatically zoom in on all the tings that are perceived as an imperfection. Once you’ve accepted the beauty, you will begin to see the true story in the photograph, and treasure it. When you look at things from that perspective, then it’s just a matter of enhancing the story of an already perfectly composed and framed photo; rather than spending hours or perhaps days correcting something that may, or may not really need correcting, on something that was meant to be a photograph. Keep in mind I make distinctions between a photograph, and an image with full on artistic expression. Images with full artistic expressions don’t need to necessarily follow any forms of logic; the only thing that matters is the creator’s end result, and is he/she satisfied with the final work. Why would someone choose to be so meticulous, when not all monitors display graphics the same way? Why would you be so meticulous, when printers are not always exact (even with monitor/printer calibration)?  Why would you be so meticulous to the point of maddening yourself? Why would you impose that on other people? We can’t even get all browsers to behave the same way! Hmmmmmmm. I’ll let you have time to think about that.

© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com

Bryant Park In NYC | July 26, 2014

Today I went with some new friends to take pictures in Bryant Park. I haven’t been there since forever. It was nice going there again, it is a really nice and peaceful park with lots of plants, near by restaurants, and people just chillin enjoying the day. I did not get as many macro close-ups as I wanted, because bees were flying very close to me and I truly did not want to get stung. Those bee stings hurt like a (*&)*&^. I guess this is one good excuse to save and purchase the professional micro lens LOL. There was also a street fair just a block a away. The fair was huge and went on for blocks and blocks. I did not walk through the entire event. After awhile the merchandise sold got pretty redundant the further I walked. I saw no point in really venturing out past 5 blocks. I managed to get some really beautiful pictures, despite the fact the sun barely showed it’s face 🙁 . A good photographer would never let any clouds ruin their day (unless there is a thunderstorm obviously, then again, not even then for some of us LOL). I saw people in the park that were teaching the kids how to juggle balls and bowling pins. There was also another kind of sport, I’m not sure what it is called, but they were throwing ball on the ground? It was almost as though they were using these giant balls as marbles. Honestly, I don’t know what the hell it’s called. I didn’t think it was important enough to ask quite honestly. But it was interesting to watch. Positivity was definitely in the air today, and my photographic subjects reciprocated (so appreciated that). After our park shoots, we got back together and found a nice restaurant and had a good time getting to know each other.  Enjoy the photos and thank you for your support……

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What Is The Best Way To Take “The Perfect” Shot?

adrianThe best way to take a “perfect” shot, is the way that you feel comfortable doing. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t take the shot.  Otherwise you may always be unhappy with that shot, and you may or may not have an opportunity to retake another one. Think of photography like being a chef; each chief has his or her own recipe for that “perfect” meal! As you practice your craft, you will eventually find this to be true in every way. Every “photographic chef” knows the perfect camera, the perfect lens, the perfect filter, the perfect diffuser, the perfect softbox, etc. But the reality is, each shot needs to be taken on a case by case basis. It’s important to always look at other photographers and observe how they take photos; not just what they do, but ask their logic behind it. You will not really learn much if you are unable to understand the why’s, behind the how’s. Now, you should be aware that occasionally, you’ll encounter a few professional photographers who don’t believe in sharing, but there are plenty that do. So, don’t be startled if someone brushes you off, or is reluctant to share any tips; just except that for what it is and move on. However, do be mindful that you’re not a leech. In other words, don’t be under their ass asking 10 thousand questions while the photographer is trying to work. If you have that many questions, then maybe it’s time to actually pay for a basic photography course. Photography classes are everywhere, you can even do it on-line. I also would avoid asking thousands of questions to even a casual photographer at an event; simply because most likely that person wants to enjoy the event they’re in (not to have their brain picked mercilessly by a total stranger).

Youtube has plenty of youtubers giving useful tips on photography. Some of those youtube tips are literally the equivalent of a class course. There are some good videos, and there are some really bad ones, but at least  you can acquire some free education on your camera. Remember that there is no substitute for your camera’s instruction manual. There are even youtube videos on using manual settings, and a lot of them are actually good. Although taking shots in manual mode offers full control over your exposures, don’t beat yourself up if you cannot grasp all the concepts right away. Finding your inner photographer takes time, and someone else way is not always going to be your best way. It could take months, perhaps years before you find what works for you (you may find multiple things may work for you at various times). I see nothing wrong with going semi-automatic (program mode, or aperture/shutter priority); again keep in mind your DSLR camera isn’t perfect in terms of the way it tries to calculate exposures in various situations/and or additional equipment used. So, even with being in semi-automatic mode, you can still get an overly or under exposed photograph, or a very blurry photograph. Same is true for your “White Balance.” Your camera will also try to calculate a bad White Balance, and then use those calculations along with other calculations such as depth of field, to estimate what your overall exposure should be for that particular shot. However, sometimes it is necessary to go semi-automatic; because there just isn’t always enough time to think about your settings when there is a lot of things going on (sports, stage performance, fiesta, etc). So, yeah, photography isn’t easy, and your i-Phone is NOT a DSLR camera. Personally (for those days I have no other choice), I’d rather go semi-automatic than fully automatic; simply 12because I prefer to have at least some control instead of none. Keep in mind also that some features are not available in fully automatic mode, such as “exposure lock,” which can be very useful when you/your subject is under uneven shading, such as trees and such.

Bottom line is, stay open minded, keep practicing, and keep learning. You may not realize it but, your camera is a computer, with a little processor calculating color, depth, surrounding conditions, multiple lighting in the environment, temperature, etc, etc. Therefore, learning photography really never ends, which is why I will never consider calling myself an “expert.” Even as I work towards being a semi-pro in terms of being a stock photographer, I will always be a student of photography. In addition, as technology change, techniques will change, etc, etc. Also, as you find your way as photographer, don’t let anyone put you down, or make you feel insecure about your work, simply because you have chosen to do things in a different way. The greatest crime isn’t that you’ve chosen not to follow the same old boring conventional standards as most do; its not building your creativity by learning from various resources and staying open minded. This is so important especially when it comes to people of color. This is true because most of us don’t like change, and the second thing is photographers of color are almost unheard of in the photography world as a whole; simply because there are so few of us having strong interest in this beautiful art form. So many missed opportunities of stories we could have told through our lens. It’s not just about how to do it, but the concepts and theories are important too.

© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com

Bronx Walk: Around The Neighborhood | July 20, 2014

It was a beautiful day today, so I decided to walk around my neighborhood and take some photographs. You know, the Bronx has obtained such a bad reputation over the last 3 or so decades. However, the Bronx (like so many other boroughs) is rich with culture and life! Construction workers working hard, Yankee fans, children, guys playing sports, landmarks, interesting trash (yes I find beauty even in garbage), all within a couple of hours in a very small section of the Bronx. Anyone that thinks the Bronx has no photo opportunities is sadly mistaken. One thing I have noticed though, there does seem to be  slight difference in experience when photographing up in the Bronx. Every once in a while, I’d notice a couple of Manhattenites run away when they see someone with a big camera LOL. However, most Bronx people really don’t care, we live our lives normally as though the camera wasn’t there (for the most part). Which is a good thing. I enjoyed taking pictures of my neighborhood; I’ve actually forgotten how colorful it actually is. Then again, I’ve realized that once you start taking photographs of your neighborhood as a photographer, you see everything differently; you start to notice things you never knew before. By the way, I want to remind newbie photographers that photographs with logos are for personal use only (for such use as a blog); and cannot be sold or submitted in any art gallery.

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A Reminder For Me, And A Lesson To Newbies

I want to kill two birds with one stone. That is, the importance of checking your monitor, and also showing an example of how skill & a good photo editor can prove essential. Before I go out on any photo walk, I always make sure I have my batteries changed/charged; memory card formatted; and clean my lens(es) as well as inside my camera. There is nothing worse than going out and forgetting to do these things. Well, long story short, I was taking a couple of shots of statues around my neighborhood court house. After a number of shots later I noticed a line going down the monitor screen. Unfortunately, the location I was at earlier was so sunny I did not catch it at first. I quickly realized that this was a strand from a light brush I used to clean my camera. This was most likely made out of horse hair (I assume), because I can’t think of anything that would be heavy enough, yet can easily break off in to my camera.

The lesson here is, the second reason why I wasn’t able to see it in the viewfinder, was because the hair strand was behind the mirror! Which means that it was directly on top of my sensor. If I didn’t have a habit of looking through my monitor to check exposure, I would have never noticed the annoying brush hair. So be very careful when you clean your camera; not just being gentle, but making sure that no other possible debris could be in front of the sensor. Please note, both the mirror and sensor mechanism is extremely sensitive and delicate. If air can not remove the foreign body out of your camera, have a professional do it.

Unfortunately, I did not want to go back and retake all those shots of the statues. However, the good thing was, my photo’s composition came out so well that I was able to remove that annoying hair from the photo. Now, keep in mind, if the hair showed up in front of a building, depending on the pattern of that building, the work and time needed to correct it would not have been worth it. So composition is still always important. Software is not elusive to fixing bad exposures, and bad skin problems; it can also be used to repair as well.

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Nikon: Is The DX Format On It’s Way Out?

choose-a-super-wideangle-lensSalutations My Brothers & Sisters In Photography,

Again, my blog is about my photographic journeys, NOT about the latest technologies and or the mechanics of camera hardware. However, there are times when I feel certain subjects are important to talk about. Since photographers of all levels read my blog, I will make this article short, and sweet. If you’d like to learn more about The differences between NIkon’s DX and FX formats click here.

I’ve been reading quite a bit of crap, about various photographers (both hobbyist and professionals alike) that think the DX format is pretty much dead. Well, I always seem to have a totally different view from a lot of people, but, that’s what gives the photography world flava, doesn’t it? Let me be blunt here, just because some of you swear by FX doesn’t mean you should automatically tell everyone that they should dump and sell their old DX lenses!

35mm-frame-460-pxIn plain layman’s terms, the only difference between DX and FX is that FX supports full frame for cameras with larger sensors (36x24mm); whereas DX format is cropped (24x16mm). BE AWARE, A LARGER FRAME DOESN’T MEAN MORE MEGAPIXELS.  First time buyer’s beware. The big hoopla over FX is that now the size of the frames are now equal to the old 35mm analog cameras. Many professional photographers prefer FX because you can get more inside your frame. Now, I know I would get chewed out for this later probably; but I feel this is nothing but a placebo effect! What do I mean by this? The FX format makes old time photographers feel that now they’ve converted their camera over to the “real deal” because they are now using full-frame. My rebuttal to that is, what’s stopping anyone who has a DX frame from simply popping on a Wide angle lens? The actual quality of your photograph doesn’t really change a whole lot just because you have an FX (I mean not to the point that anyone would notice).  Have you ever heard someone look at a photo and say, “oh yeah, that was definitely from an FX camera?!” Besides 99% of us pull our photos in to an editing application anyway! So what’s the point? If quality was an issue, professionals would never choose DX formats. The only exception to the rule, is if black-man-camera-fieldthere is a technical reason for having a faster shutter speed, and additional focal points, DX format is just as good as any.

The bottom line is, Nikon is focusing more on FX because it’s the next wave of technology, not necessarily that they will dump DX formats. First off, if I were to upgrade my D5200 right now, the only FX format that would be worth getting would be the Nikon D800E 36.3 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera (Body Only). However, the average person (even some professionals can’t afford that. So where does all of this “DX is dying” talk is coming from? Common sense, DX is not going anywhere anytime soon. Even if Nikon (theoretically) stopped DX today, there would be a lot of used shops still buying and selling DX format for many years to come. People like this are spending their money based on preference and not a need; then you try to convince other poor folks to do the same. Please…….. Not only that, the FX lenses are soo much more expensive and much heavier. Photographers must consider weight of the lens they’re buying more seriously. If you know you’re going to be out in the field all day, do you seriously want a heavy ass lens around your neck? Not only that, it’s difficult to quickly move your tripod with a heavy lens on your camera. Make purchase based on whether or not it’s practical, not because someone told you “its the best.” When you read comments about DX is dying out, think of this article I’ve written. As I’ve always said, there is no such thing as a magic shutter number, aperture number, lens number, or model number; it’s all about what’s needed at that given moment and time.

© 2014 ShadesOfSepia.com

Manhattanhenge @ The Gantry Plaza | L.I.C. July 12, 2014

Today, I went to see the Manhattanhenge @ The Gantry Plaza in Long Island City. You can read about what the Manhattanhenge is here. I got there kind of early, so I walked around before it was time to meetup with members of my camera group. I got some nice shots of people playing sports, and just relaxing having a good time. Unfortunately, I did not get a shot of the sun because it did not travel in the location it was supposed to; plus there were some clouds blocking the spectacular experience 🙁 . Oh well, the good thing was that, as always I try to think positive and got some other interesting photographs, so the day wasn’t a total loss. I met some incredibly nice people, both in my photography group, and strangers I’ve met in L.I.C. I managed to get quite a few shots of the brilliant sun over the buildings (before the sun went down). As I walked along Central BLVD, I discovered people were actually fishing. I didn’t realize you can do that there! It was really interesting to see. Every time someone has ever talked about fishing, it usually involves a boat, and or traveling to Great Lakes somewhere. I was so happy I decided to bring my tripod, because as it got dark, it became really difficult to take pictures. For me, it was a totally different experience shooting at night; and if I didn’t have my tripod, I don’t think I would have gotten any shots at night. Despite the fact that we did not get any photographs of the “Manhattanhenge,” I had a wonderful experience meeting new friends (and an old one). Time sure flew, and I guess it was because I was having fun! I just realized I barely took any pictures of my new friends 🙁 . I will make sure I am more  mindful next time 🙂 . New York is such a beautiful place to shoot photos, I don’t understand when people “I don’t get street photography.” I decided to do something a little different with my camera. I did some “in camera processing.” For today’s event, I have done no processing on my computer for these shots.  Ahhhhhh it’s wonderful to be different and unique, and not play follow the leader.

Boy, I am so happy I came home in good spirits, because we all know there is always someone waiting around the corner (loitering) to say something negative, stupid, and uncalled for. And obviously these same people think the intended person is deaf. The only thing I will say about this ignorant person’s comment is that; yes, it would be nice to have everybody’s support, but, I know that despite all the positive things I’ve done, there still exist miserable people who make it a point to say something stupid against me. However, there is enough people that now DO understand, so what you’ve said under your breath is unimportant. Not only that, a lot of people around you think your unimportant too. So stop trying to make yourself bigger than what you actually are. I don’t need your kind of support. I know that I am not only talented, but creative in what I do; my actions over the years speak for itself, which says more than what the hater’s have done (other than blab every change they get. I am happy with that fact. I do hope that one day some of you haters snap out of your miserableness, because I’m having fun doing what I love to do. I don’t need your seal of approval. Crack open book, please.

 

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F**k You Photographers!

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Here is another shot I found to be absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, this is not a clear photo because I was not focused on him, I just happen to notice this after the fact. I didn’t take offense to this in anyway. I’m not sure the reason why this guy gave me the finger, however, it doesn’t really matter cause I don’t give a sh*t. But I was thinking of how many people that frequent very public places, and of those people that  hate photographers. I never really understood this mentality at all. So many people are willing to spill all their business to the world on Facebook & Twitter, yet, they get bent out of shape when a photographer takes their picture? News flash people! Public Places are exempt from any privacy laws! Look, like it or not, the truth of the matter is, our pictures are taken every second we speak. From the moment you walk in to a department store, there are cameras tracking every move; from Google Maps® that captures your image walking across the street (and mind you, they are not perfect, sometimes faces are not always hidden); to walking inside a subway station were security cams are constantly filming us; to your very own doctor’s office; to police scanners. We are in the age of cellphones, it is so easy to whip out our phone an take a picture of you in Walmart, and upload somewhere. Even police cars in most states in the U.S. now have cameras on their vehicle, as a result of repeated false accusations and complaints against  law enforcement. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, whether you “believe” it or not is irrelevant at this point. Photography in ANY form has become a way of life, and in some cases, compulsory. So honestly people, you really need to get over this ASAP (in addition to a scroll of other things). It is not practical these days, nor does it make any sense.

Every individual photographer is different, our motives are different, our personalities are different, etc. Personally, I am big on personal space. I always make sure that I respect my subjects personal space! In other words, despite the fact I have a legal right to take your photo in a public place (in the same way a reporter does), that doesn’t mean that I would walk up in your grill and start snapping away, as though you’re in a photo shoot (that would be totally rude). If it was necessary that I needed to get up closer (about 2 feet) I would almost always ask permission; I think this is a  courteous way of handling it. The only exception, is if we are in an event, ie, fiesta or cultural event, because it is expected that people will be taking pictures of everybody. Second, 90% of photographers take photos when they see either something magical happening, or something artistically beautiful. If a photographer wants to take your picture, it’s because there is something beautiful about you. It may not necessarily be your looks, but your energy, or your strength; maybe its what you’re wearing; your posture; the composition of your background; or maybe a wonderful moment your having with your children, something that would tell a wonderful story to those who wasn’t present at the moment, can be told in a photo. A photographer documents precious moments that would never be seen otherwise.  Beside, the same people that complain, are taking endless selfies all day, and posting them to Facebook; that tells me that you love attention, and your just putting up a front. If after you read this article and you still have issues with us taking your photograph, maybe you should purchase a book, and or Google photography and privacy laws; and for goodness sake, lighten up.

From the looks of how contorted his mouth is, he wasn’t too happy with the fact I was taking a picture, however, the funny part is, it’s obvious he thought I was trying to take a picture of him. Who knows? Maybe he thought I was a tourist? 🙂 So, shame on him for assuming! Well, we all know we can’t stop judgmental people can we? They’re like viruses that never die. In a world with so much unbelievable, and unnecessary hate, don’t make a fuss when someone takes your picture; because it just may mean that photographer sees a beauty in you that should be shared. At the same time, if a lens is pointed in your direction, don’t assume we are taking your picture either! Photographers generally don’t snap anything and everything, contrary to what people “believe.”

© ShadesOfSepia.com

Grant’s Tomb | Riverside Park | June 22, 2014

I  visited Grant’s Tomb last weekend with some new friends I met @ one of my photography groups. I really encourage all new photographers to seek support from other photographers (positive minded photographers that is). If you ever encounter a “Mr. Know-it-all” who is self absorbed in their own interpretation of how a photo should look; then you know they are not a positive energy to be around, nor do they encourage creativity. Come to think of it, I’ve encountered a couple of photographers who wouldn’t share tips either. Unfortunately, they won’t encourage much creativity either. Just stay away from miserable people like that. Anybody who relies on technology to that extent, is not confident in their own inner ability as a photographer. Just my humble opinion. Photography is about paying it forward. There is enough photo opportunities for everyone!  Its about what your photographer’s eye sees, not about what your critic sees, or what specific equipment or software your using, or the specific technique, or whether or not your photo complies with the “rule of thirds.” Photography has always been about the creative, not solely on the specific tools. Stick with people who support you, and are willing to let you be you, as a photographer! There’s more things in life to worry about.

We met in front of Riverside Church. While we waited for the rest of the group members to meet us, I went inside Riverside Church. I had absolutely no intention of really going in side, but I did anyway. Only to kill time, and because architecturally speaking, most Catholic/Protestant churches are a photographer’s dream (whether you’re an atheist or not). I’ve never been to Grant’s tomb before, it was an interesting visit. I am so sorry I decided not to bring my prime lens. I couldn’t take a lot of the shots I wanted, because I was not prepared. Oh well, shit happens right? Despite not being prepared for that particular shoot, it did not stop me from having a wonderful time with everyone. For the most part, we had nice weather, and after we finished with Grant’s tomb, we pretty much walked down Riverside Park for the remainder of the photo walk. I didn’t realize there was so much too see in Riverside Park; it was almost as though it had many worlds within a world. I was very fascinated by the various activities, cultures, ages, races, and even some species.

We even walked by a wedding in progress. I don’t care what kind of photographer you are, no one can pass up an opportunity to take a wedding photo LOL! It’s funny, normally I’m an extremely shy person, but when I get a camera in my hands, it just changes me! I guess many people who are in to photography is that same way, that’s why we like it. 🙂 If you ever needed a place to shoot photographs, I’d say Riverside Park would be it for sure (Central Park definitely for sure too). I didn’t even know Riverside Park had a basketball court! Wow! that was news to me! You know, it’s a shame that some people break their necks to travel outside the city, but there exist so much life and culture here in our own back yard! I know NYC can be nerve racking to live in, but, I don’t think there is any other place in the world, were you’d find more people from different cultures than NYC. I’ll have more pics to post later on. Enjoy.

 

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Civil War Reenactment | Photo Walk 2014

I went to a very interesting event on June 8th called “The Civil War Reenactment.” Read more about the organization here. The event was very near “Maple Grove Cemetery.” Although they did not actually do reenactments at the location (NYC would not allow them to fire off their guns), there was lots of learning and mini story telling. I learned so much, including finding out that there were women that also fought in the civil war. I know it may sound stupid to some, but you just don’t hear about women wen it came to the civil war, it was easy to assume it was fought by all men. Then again, fighting has always been a male dominated act throughout history. I even learned about their clothing. The same manufacture that made the uniforms for our men during the civil war, is the same one that made the clothing for the event. No part of the clothing design was changed, many of the props appeared to be original too; visually making it the best historical experience they could make it (minus the reenactments). After the event we went to a local restaurant/bar and relaxed.  I also noticed that, despite the event was extremely small, there were hundreds of photo opportunities! There were quite a few of us taking pictures, yet each of us got very different shots from the same event. This is what individuality is all about. I had a wonderful time that day, and I also got to meet several friendly and positive people there too. Hope you enjoy the photos.

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About Using Stock Photos

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I’d thought I would just take a moment to talk about the benefits of using stock photos. There are many benefits from both the photographer and user standpoint. Many people  don’t think about it much but, I’ve talked a little bit about copyrights on my vintage blog. I am grateful that I’ve done so much reading on the public domain; because indirectly, it gave me lots of insight in to the very complicated world of copyright. The internet has changed copyright laws tremendously; and copyright isn’t just about someone trying to “steal” a movie. Copyright is so much greater and complicated than that. Sometimes we can commit infringement and not even know it; which is also one of the reasons I chose to no longer use “reprinted articles,” or articles that are “open source,” or “creative commons text.” The internet has become so massive that we can’t always trust “user contributed data.” A good example of this is sites like archive.org.  Users are allowed to upload content; some users deliberately upload copyrighted material, some users assume something is public domain cause they found it on the internet. This is NOT the meaning of public domain, and careless bloggers will not care until they get their first Cease and Desist letter. Then your running around messaging people asking them what should you do? Take the time and look through my resources, that’s what they are their for to help. The problem with the internet is that we’re to easily tempted to copy and paste, simply because the option is there. A downloader of archive.org may or may not know something is copyrighted; but will try to use the content because archive is mostly a public domain website. It’s important to be aware of this if you plan on being a serious blogger, or if you are receiving high traffic. Remember, you’re not behind close doors, anyone has access to your website.

Stock photos are not full proof; in other words, they are not free from the possibility infringement/plagiarism. However, it is extremely unlikely. Another thing I should point out, if you ever get a copyright complaint, all stock photo sites have a record of the photos you’ve cuban-man-cigar-17498607purchased, so you can always show proof of license. Many stock photo sites have different licenses and conditions; make sure you read those conditions before you use them. The reason why stock photos are great, is because many licenses will allow you to modify the photos, which would allow you to create transformative work. Most licenses also allow you to pay for the image one time, and have unlimited usage, and no expiration. Both bloggers, graphic artists, and people in print media benefit heavily from using stock photos.

In terms of the photographer standpoint, you can sell all your high quality photos just sitting in your computer. This is not a quick “you can make thousands of dollars a week” game. It’s not like that at all. Depending on the type of photographer you are, and or the photos you possess, some photographers barely make any money. However, the more photos you possess, the greater chances you have to make a little profit. There are literally thousands of stock photo sites, each site requiring different things from it’s photographers. Some only look for specific types of photography; some make their members go through a long approval process; some will only accept if you have at least 1,000 images or more to upload (high quality), some sites go through an integrity check on every photo, and if it fails you’d have to re-upload again. Different sites have different commission rates, some only pay a flat rate; Some sites want their photographers to be exclusive, some sites don’t care; some require a release letter, some may not. There is a lot to look for; and like I said, it’s not like you can sign up for FotoliaComp_51953594_8sMVtgOntywroneoANq5e65MbXhlBZpA100 of these sites and start making money. It’s a process, and you must read all the requirements and legalities before you commit to a stock photo site.

Many companies are buying more and more stock photos, because equipment, photographers, props, and time cost too much, it is much cheaper for a business to just buy a stock photo and use it for their employee handbook for example.

A few things to keep in mind. Be careful of what you shoot! Don’t shoot logos and trademarks, that is considered infringement because they charge licensing fees to use them. If your at a museum, it is a good idea to ask if the subject you’re about to shoot is copyrighted; yes believe it or not, you can be prohibited from selling any likeness of a display within a museum. Any building that isn’t a landmark, you’d probably would need a release letter. Be careful of shooting anything that is recognizable products, such as cars, boats, backpacks, store signs, even designer napkins that are specific to a particular manufacture or company. These are just a few things to consider when wanting to sell your images as stock photos.

I am not going to go through all the stock photo sites, because they are just too many. However, there are many sites you can google to get an idea of what stock photo sites are best for you.

© 2014 ShadesOfSepia.com

My Visit To The Soho Arthouse In NYC

Yesterday night, I visited the Soho Arthouse in Manhattan. Every year, Mindy Veissid, Sepia Prince, and Lourdes Merson of Art Of Intuitive Photography organizes an art gallery show for her students. All photographers who submit photographs go through a jury panel.  Two out of five of my photographs were judged and selected to be part of last night’s event. It was a wonderful event. It was my first gallery I’ve ever been a part of. I was shocked of how big the turn out was! Everyone was incredibly nice and supportive. I am so happy that I decided to participate. I got to meet Sepia Prince, we’ve talked for quite a bit. Sepia is such a wonderful person, we clicked immediately. I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling it is to meet someone who not only loves photography on the same level as you do, but also talk the same lingo and be able to relate to each other philosophically about photography. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to meet his wife, but I’m sure we will meet again in the near future. I also met a woman that was so such a pleasure to meet, you couldn’t help but to smile when she talked to you; just because her energy was that positive. She told me about a women she knows that does incredible things with flowers. I’m definitely getting in contact with her, I’d really love to see what she’s done! I did manage to get some pictures, but unfortunately not a lot. Unfortunately, I did not bring my DSLR so I just used my cellphone (yeah, I know, but it’s better than having no pics to show you).  Because of the crowed, I couldn’t take pictures the way I wanted to. But I think I’ve got enough pictures to give you a sense of what it was like there. As I learn and improve more on my photography artistically, I plan to do more of these galleries. They are really fun, and you meet a lot of positive, and friendly people.

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Quotes From The Soho Arthouse In NYC

I’d like to thank Art Of Intuitive Photography for making all of this possible. Just in case, if you’d like to see our photographs live at the gallery, they will continue to be on display until May 18th. Please go on Art Of Intuitive Photography to get address information.  I’d like to share some quotes that we’ve written. The question was “What does Intuitive Photography Mean To You?” I feel we all gave such interesting and inspiring answers, and I would like to share some of them with my visitors:

“Intuitive photography is capturing a moment. It’s a slice of time that causes the mind to craft a story or invoke an emotion to make it relate-able, even if the reality isn’t known.” -CK Lowry.
“Intuitive photography is an observation point of my own photographic process, making me pay attention to what I am doing.” -Pico Garcez.
“What does intuitive photography mean to me? It’s about quieting the mind; it’s about abandoning all technical rules and camera jargon for just a moment, long enough to see the story in your subject.” -Anthony Heywood
“Intuitive photography is entering a moment, having your heart captured, your imagination ignited, and your soul stirred – inviting the viewer to enter that singular moment.” -Connie Vasquez.
“Intuitive photography means seeing the world through different angles and unconventional perspectives. It means giving less obvious interpretations to the everyday images in our lives. Taking the common and making them uncommon. Taking the ordinary and making them extraordinary.-Walter Schuppe.
“Intuitive photography is the instantaneous knowing of what speaks to me externally, merging with my internal sensibilities. The ultimate culmination occurs when the shutter is pressed.” -Sepia Prince.

Rules, Rules, And More Rules.

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I just wanted to write a quick article about photography rules. Have you ever heard of “the rule of thirds?” If not, you can simply use Google to search more information on it. In essence, “the rule of thirds” is one of many photographic rules that deals with a photo’s composition. This widely practiced rule simply means, that the subject your focusing on must take up 2/3 of a photo (or half). By using “the rule of thirds,” your showing the viewer what you as a photographer is focusing on (the subject of interest in the photo). This is also one of the reasons why photography teachers stress cropping on every photo. Some photographers are strong believers of this rule, and encourage other photographers to do the same. Well, the reason why I brought up this subject; I want to illustrate to my readers that this rule isn’t etched in stone, or doesn’t apply to ever photo, and or that there are exceptions to this rule. I found the above photo that actually won a recent photo contest. The photo is very beautiful, yet simple. But the reason why I’ve picked this photo was because, not only did this photo win a contest, it does NOT follow “the rule of thirds” rule. How do I figure? Well, if I use “the rule of thirds” logic, the subject of interest in this photo is the sky, however it’s not, it’s actually the bird on the wire (which covers only 1/3 the photo). So, If I was unwavering in my “beliefs” that you MUST use “the rule of thirds,” this would have been rejected and viewed as a bad composition/incomplete photo. As I’ve always said before, learning the fundamentals of photography is extremely important, you can’t get away from that. However, if you focus too much on every single rule that “you’re supposed to do” in photography,  you’ll never be free to think clearly enough, and be your own individual photographer, and NOT a follower.

© 2014 ShadesOfSepia.com

Do You Still Use Your 35MM Camera?

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Do you still use your old 35mm camera? Do you have an Android smart phone? I downloaded a very cute and inexpensive app a couple of weeks ago; although I realize I don’t need it, I still think it’s a nifty thing to have. It’s called “Light Meter Tools”, and you can find it on the Android market. The main features of this app are measuring the estimated ISO, Aperture, Shutter & EV. You can measure using your cell phone’s built-in camera sensor, or you can measure the light illuminating from the surrounding area using the “camera feature” of the app.  This would have been essential back in the day, because it can really take some of the guess work out of figuring out the correct exposure (on 35mm cameras). You can measure with zoom (if your phone supports zoom), and it even has the ability to recalculate if you’re using a natural density filter. I think this is a great app for newbies to experiment with, and learn how to take better pictures with your old film camera. It has a few other bells and whistles. Here is a link to the product on Google’s Android market. Please note, it is not necessary to use this app along with a DSLR camera; I recommend this strictly for old meterless 35mm cameras.; you may be better off spending that money to get a real professional light meter if you wanna go that route.

© 2014 / ShadesOfSepia.com

What Is The Story In These two Photograph?

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Example 1

Remember when I’ve said that a photographer’s photographs always tells a story? I was thinking of some good examples and I think the above photos explains it perfectly. Gaze on the two stock photos above and try to figure out what each of them are tying to tell you. If we study the example 1, the mood of the model suggests that you’re a construction worker and he has assigned a job to you that you’re not going to like, but it has to get done nonetheless ’cause nobody else can do the job. However, by simply adding a small amount of Gaussian blur to example 2 , it now suggests that something major has happened with the equipment onsite, and he not only accuses you of carelessness, but also the reason for equipment malfunction. I could have also done another photo blurring all his fingers/partial fist, then changed it’s perspective a tiny bit; I guess we could then interpret the photo as saying “I want to blame you, but I know it’s me.” I could have also changed the background to give the atmosphere a different mood. I guess this is really no different from talking with some and reading hand gestures and facial expressions; because we all know that a person’s words and gestures don’t always tell the same story.

Example 2

Example 2

So, if you can understand that each photograph has it’s own story, then you’ve reached the most basic level of understanding as to what photographic art really is. While it’s also true that not every photograph will have a story; but the ones that do will leave a strong impression in viewer’s mind the longest because he/she can connect with that photo with some kind of relevance and meaning. Having every Photoshop filter known to man installed in your computer will not teach you how to tell a story with your photograph (although it can help enhance it if a story already exists). Telling a story can only come from the creative side of yourself, the intuitive side of yourself, the feeling part of yourself; and the part of yourself that’s willing to take risks in shooting subjects that society looks away from; finding the beauty within each subject. While understanding lighting and how light effects the quality, the mood, depth, perspective, and sometimes even the shape of a subject within your photograph is important, the best camera in the world cannot capture emotion in a photo if there is none. Technology is here to improve our creative artistic abilities, NOT to take the place of artistic expression. This is the difference between a Photographer, and someone who takes pictures.

© 2014 Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com

It’s Not As Easy As People Think

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These days, it seems that many are dubbing themselves as a photographer, but what does photography really mean to them? The more people I meet, the more I realize just how many different ideas are out there in terms of the meaning of photography. Computer technology has changed traditional photography, (both positively and negatively) quickly I may add. As a result, there are very mixed attitudes from professional photographers. One common complaint from traditional/professional photographers, is that somehow cellphones are indirectly lowering the value of photography, because the picture quality on smart phones have improved exponentially. Now everyone has become zealous “photographers”. Some go as far to say that cellphones are taking some jobs away from educated photographers. However, I say that the other side of the coin is, try to blow up a photo taken with the latest cellphone, you’ll discover that the quality is no way near up to the standards of any DSLR camera, neither do you have the flexibility. I think what scares many photographers (particularly news photographers for instance) is that cellphones today are easily accessible, and ready to snap a photo the minute something is about to happen, then submit it to any news station. A perfect example of that are Weather and Traffic news stations. I can understand the irony in that.

In terms of photographic art, many feel that their is so much imagery of selfies, and buffoonery on popular sites such as twitter, facebook, flickr, etc, that quality of art has been overshadowed. Believe it or not many professional are of the opinion that these site actually dumb down the importance of real photography. Unfortunately, I do understand that to some extent. But, personally, I do make a distinction between taking a picture, and taking a photograph, they are not the same.

I think there is another dynamic to this piece many bloggers/photographers are not discussing, that is the assumption that photography is easy (and I do think new cellphone technologies are partly responsible for that). There is a lot more to know about camera than people realize, which is one of the reasons a lot of people spend hundreds, and perhaps thousands of dollars for a “good camera” to only use it in automatic. That’s like spending $6,000 on a multimedia gaming computer, only to sit and play Solitaire on it. DSLRs are so powerful and most people don’t use not even half it’s potential, cause they think they don’t need to. However, if you want to make the most of the money you’ve spent, yes you should. Knowing you camera will help you overcome common problems that being in automatic mode can’t always resolve. Increase you shutter speed and you’ll be able to capture your daughter jumping in mid air; but if it’s too fast, your photo will be darker. Widen your aperture to reduce bokeh, but more light will go into the lens. Your at a dinner party, the environment is very dark, Your ISO is at it’s full capacity and you have grain in the entire photo; do you know how to correct this on the fly? I think this is what makes the difference between a “picture taker”, and a “photographer”.

© Yogi / ShadesOfSepia.com