Street Artist – Photo

I’m by no means a travel photographer.  When I travel, I’m a photographer, but really just another tourist on the street with a camera.  On many trips, I’ve worried about taking a “pro” camera with me, fearing it would make me stand out.  I’ve since learned that I can carry a 1D Mark IV (not that I own one) with a 24-70 lens on it and most folks probably wouldn’t bat an eye.  Many tourists these days are equipped with SLRs and pro quality lenses, and usually the ones with the tiny point-n-shoot cameras stick out to me more than someone with a quality kit.

However, there is always a time and a place for a simple solution.  When I visited Florence, Italy several summers ago, I stumbled upon the lady at the top of the post working on recreating a painting in chalk on the street.  As soon as she noticed I was carrying a point-n-shoot camera, she looked up at me, smiled, and posed for a photo.  I obliged, fired off one frame, and left her a tip.  As soon as I did that, she went back to work and ignored me.  Luckily, in my other hand, I had my Holga, and did a quick-fire shot.  The Holga drew no attention to me whatsoever, and I captured her actually working, rather than posing.

To be sure, neither of these photos will win any award, but I much prefer the image that doesn’t quite scream “tourist photo!”

Holidays in NYC — Photo

NYC-Holga-0006

The second time I visited NYC, I had the pleasure of coming during the holidays, right at Christmas.  The weather, for a North Carolina native, was bitterly cold; it was windy, the sky was gray; the streets were gray from salt.  In short, New York City was everything you would expect a north eastern city to be in winter.  But, as anyone who has ever visited New York City during the holidays knows, it was so much more than describable.  There was truly a magic in the air: the stores were decorated unlike anything I had ever seen before; the people, while in a hurry, were polite; and NYC all dressed up for the holidays is truly indescribable.  There are many festivals and events throughout the year that take place in parts of New York, but all of New York prepares for the holidays.

When I lived in North Carolina, the last two years I won my apartment complex’ balcony decoration contest.

Dismantled TreeWhen I moved back to the east coast last year, I was in an apartment in New Haven and our tree was so large it literally had to be taken out in pieces.*  In fact, the folks from Rockefeller Center called demanding I return their tree.

You won’t be surprised to learn that when it came time to look for an apartment, a fire escape of my very own to decorate was on my list.  I got it that fire escape, and you bet it’s decorated.  Now, every day when I walk around the city, I get excited that the holidays are here.  If you’ve never been to New York during the holidays, make a point to do it, you will not regret it.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to post some of my favorite images from my Christmases in New York.  This one was from my first Christmas in New York, and was taken by Rockefeller Center, just before Christmas.  Rockefeller Center at Christmas is crazy — but something that must be done.  When people see this photo, they’re always drawn to two things:  there are two Santa’s in this picture (I didn’t see that when I was taking the photo) and the bus on the back with “Rome” advertised.  So many people see it and say “oh boy, New York in December, I would definitely want to go to Rome!”  Not me… there’s no place I would rather be.

* For reference, here are two photos of the New Haven tree in the apartment.  That’s me standing next to it, trying to decorate the top.  I’m 5’9″ tall (okay, 5’8.5… but I round up) and I’m standing on a 3′ step ladder.  That was a big tree.

Fully Assembled Tree
Mike putting lights on the tree

That Old Time Religion — Photo

Old Time Religion

I’m sure the hymn “Old-Time Religion” has been sung in this church a time or two.  This is a little street-side house of worship in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I took this photo on 4×5 film with a ZeroImage pinhole camera while vacationing in the area a few years ago.  The church clearly has been around, but has weathered the years well with face-lifts as needed, but you can be sure it’s seen a Sunday Morning or two.

The lyrics to the 2nd verse of “Old-Time Religion” are “It is good for the Mourner…” There are days when I come home from shooting, and I mourn quite a while.  Luckily for me, there was no mourning to do the night I processed this shot.

Red Daisy — Photo

Daisy

I debated a while on whether to post this photo or not.  My feelings for this photo are mixed, as are a lot of the photos I’ve taken.  The trouble is I know how much thought, planning, effort, and technical “try” I put into this shot.  For a studio photographer, these things come second-nature.  For me, this was a PITA – but a learning experience.  The challenge is simple (and easily solved, now that I know how): get proper exposure on the flower without washing out the color of the background.

My debate comes in when I try to separate the emotional (all the work) from the art (all the uhm… art) of the shot.  I’ve sold this photo several times, so apparently at least a few people like the photo on it’s own merit.

Passed By — Photo

Passed By

I was going back through my recent photos and noticed that I haven’t posted any black & white photos lately, and it seems like a good time to do so.  Not only is this black & white, but it was shot on real film.  That’s not digital, for the kids out there.  This is a shot taken near Wallace, ID just off the side of the road.  This is a shot I found while driving around aimlessly and just stumbled upon it.  While I don’t think the shot is all that compelling, I really like the story it tells to different people.

There’s no telling how long this tree stood before it gave way to the water that surrounds it today.  The things this tree stump has seen and the way this one stump managed to survive the encroaching waters is a story I would love to know.  As it is, trees don’t talk, so I’m left to make up stories for this tree.  Personally, I think the tree fought and fought to live even in the face of certain death.  Even now, the stump remains as a reminder of the fight.  I rather like that.

For those wondering, yes this really was shot on Polaroid 665 film.  :)

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