The art of seeing

It's all about the light

Sometimes you find the light, and sometimes the light finds you. Be ready. 

During an eight-day shoot in Italy, we stopped one afternoon in Siena. My knees were hurting, the mid-day light was bright and contrasty, and so I wasn't feeling it, but after a bit of mumbling and grumbling I trecked on. And wow, I'm happy I did! 

Walking through the narrow streets of this ancient city I discovered one visual surprise after another. The light bounced and reflected off surfaces as I had never seen before. Shadows cast with sharp definition and contrast formed complex compositions. Because of the orange tones of the buildings, all light in the open shade tunnel of the streets were void of the usual blue cast. It was bright, warm and soft light all at the same time.

Just when I thought it couldn't get better, serendipity stepped in for a grand surprise. We saw two women coming down the street, and my traveling companion recognized one of them as his cousin! What were the chances? Add to that the women stopped to greet us right in front of this fantastic reflection of light. Sometimes, the light finds you. Chiao!

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The Beauty is in the Details

If you always carry a camera you never have to go out to take pictures. 

Coming back from YM Camera in Boardman, OH yesterday, my friend Marc and I spotted this beauty, just waiting for our attention. The old Dodge was a pallet of aging layers of paint with a patina only a photographer could fancy. Small details are my love letter to this vintage vehicle, a splendor of Detroit's auto industry, once upon a time.

I could imagine being on the open road, cruising down Route 66, AM radio blasting Buddy Holly, while the hula girl was dancing on the dash. Oh, the memories that must be in this graceful Detroit chariot. 

From a technical standpoint, I had my standard kit with me, the one I call my "Walkabout." The one I bring on most daily trips here and there, is a Fujifilm X-Pro2 body, 18mm f/2, 23mm f/2, 50mm f/2 and one of my favorite lenses, the 55-200mm. I pack the kit in a Domke 805 bag. It was the 55-200mm lens I used on all of these images. 

The circle of life – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

The circle of life – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

Hula girl, dancing on the dashboard – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

Hula girl, dancing on the dashboard– Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

The Ram  – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

The Ram – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

A badge of honor  – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

A badge of honor – Fujifilm X-Pro2 w/55-200mm

Seeing

I see the world in graphic shapes. Squares and rectangles. Lines. Light and shadows. Adding a human element gives scale to my scene. The dynamic range of the Fuji sensors allows me to see into the darkness and retain detail in the highlights to reveal more detail. It's all there for the taking, the light, the shadows, and the shapes. Foreground to the background.

Fujifilm X-Pro2 | 12mm f/2.8 Zeiss Touit  

 

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Andre and Me

To know where you're going, you must know where you've been.

I've said it before, studying the history of art and photography provides you a broader view of the world. Filed away in the recesses of your mind will be snippets. Fragments that can be inspiring, even without consciously knowing.

In the case of "Oil Platform, 1992," I didn't realize the relationship between my photograph and one by Andre Kertesz, "The Balcony, Martinique, 1972," until several years later. Are they the same? No. There are subtle similarities, yes. Do I remember seeing the Kertesz picture before I made my image? Now, yes, then, probably not consciously. I'm sure it was always there, logged in my brain, bouncing between the synapses. Maybe a spark came through that day, or perhaps I just recognized an intriguing alignment of elements – lines, ocean, shadow, clouds, and colors. But whatever it was, seeing the similarities makes a case for studying art and the history of photography. You never know when you'll find a spark.

Oil Platform, Gulf of Mexico, 1992 – Terry Clark

Oil Platform, Gulf of Mexico, 1992 – Terry Clark

The Balcony, Martinique, 1972 – Andre Kertesz

The Balcony, Martinique, 1972 – Andre Kertesz

Always looking for pictures

Always be looking.

Leaving the opening of my friend Julie Kosser's senior show last week on the north side, the sharp brilliance of sunset strafed across the buildings in the alley. The chiaroscuro of the scene just begged for a photo. Always carrying a camera, I happily obliged. 

Other than a good set of eyes, a handy camera, and accurate metering there is nothing special about the technique of this image. It is, as they say, f-8 and be there. Being there, present, aware and ready to go is the key to success.

Always be looking and always ready.

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