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Participants take a smoke break during the High School Rodeo at the PA Farm Show as a horse being led in to the building waits patiently for his rider.
horses, cowboys, rodeo, farm show, black and white
Good eye! You are excellent at catching human elements in your photos. You would make an excellent photojournalist — have you done that in the past?
Thank you, Diane! In the early 70’s I moved to Mexico City with three friends and my four year old son. They were all graduates of the Chicago Art Institue, a graphic designer, an illustrator and a photographer. The only skill I brought to the table was the desire to learn photography and I was willing to work. We planned to be the rock stars of advertising, a one stop for all a client would need. It was the 70’s if you know what I mean. From an early age every birhtday/xmas i asked for a camera in vain and poured over Life Magazine, National Geographic and any other mags I could find at the corner newstand looking at the photos, thought they had some magic. We got to know the photo editor for AP in Mexico City, The Queen of England was making the first ever visit to Mexico by a Queen and he asked if I wanted to go out and shoot it. He couldn’t pay me but if I came back with a photo that got used on the wires he’d pay on the use. I would have done it for nothing but he gave me a Nikkormat with a 50mm lens ( I think), a quick lesson on how it worked and sent me out. I ended up getting a photo ( which is a whole other story) that got a lot of play around the world and became a stringer for AP in Mexico. Still paid based on how well the photo did but that didn’t really matter as much as the experience I got and the exposure to the photojournalists I got whenever their was a big event and they flew in to cover it such as The Pan American Games, the Pope’s first visit, etc. Hope that wasn’t too much information but I guess the short answer is yes photojouranlism style photography is what I like best and i am very comfortable shooting people without imposing on whatever it is they are doing.
I can really tell in your work that (a) you were a photojournalist or (b) you had a natural talent for it. In my next life I would want to be a photojournalist if I could ever get to handle the underbelly of society.
There is not that much of the underbelly really unless you include politicians. LOL If you mean things like Haiti, disasters, the poor, unfortunate, that can be hard emotionally. I always found when i was behind the camera it somehow insulated me from my surroundings in a strange way. Once I was taking photos of a chemical fire in an outdoor storage area fillde with barrels of highly flammable materials.I was driving by, stopped and followed the Mexicn firemen in. They fight fires differently in Mexico then here, they go the heart and put it out rather than containment. Famous for their machismo, black helmets that look like the romans might have worn them, they are colorful. I was standing on a stack of barrels trying to get a shot of one fireman close to a wall of flames spraying it with his hose and two other firemen sparying him to keep him cool, suddenly they turned and aimed their hoses over my shoulders, I turned and a 6 high wall of barrels behind me had exploded into flames, maybe 15’ away. I retreated quickly, they laughed and continued fighting the fire and I continued shooting. After I returned to my car and suddenly I couldn’t stop shaking and realized what a close call it was but your adrenalin is running, the view through the camera insulates you from your surroundings. Same thing goes for things like Haiti, when you stop, you feel the guilt and struggle with should I have stopped shooting and helped but as long as that camera is in front of your eye, your adrenalin is running and your framing and shooting, it is almost instinctual, reactive. later I always seem to remember what I was thinking or trying to do but while it is going on you’re just detached. The photo I took of the fire made the front page of the LA Times. i was pretty proud of that while at the same feeling pretty stupid for putting myself in that danger especially because i was a single parent of a 6 year old boy at the time. Suc is life when you are 24.
And BTW, are you now doing digital photography? What method are you using to convert to B/W? That is one of the first things I also noticed is how good your B/W is. I experiment with it (I have a Nikon D80/CS3) and it looks like crap so far.
Yes, doing digital, D70 and CS2. I have read a lot about converting to B&W and some people use the channel mixer and guess lightroom seems to have a good way to convert where you can use a dropper to control the grey tones and I have tried others, all are too complicated for me. Don’t really like messing on the computer. So what I do is convert to greyscale under mode and basiclly use the curves tool. Sometimes in the curves tool I’ll hit auto to see what it does but usually I go first go to the eyedropper click on the black one and find in the photo what is the darkest black area I can find and click it. If it isn’t pure black you’ll see dark areas go deeper black and the image will pop a little, then I go to the white eyedropper and find an area that is the whitest and click the eye dropper on that and see what happens. Sometimes if I want more black I’ll click on an area that isn’t quite so dark and see what it does. Then to finish I go to the curves graph and grab it in the middle and move it diagonally a little up and down to see what that does, seem like I tend to lighten it with that a lot of time and then darken by playing with the lower dot. What I am aiming for is a pure black somewhere in the photo ( I think it is key to B&W) and a clear white and as many tones of gray in between as the photo has. In digital as opposed to film you have to be careful of losing details in the white or bright areas so I tend to underexpose a little, with film you had to be careful not to lose the detail in the dark areas so I tended to underexpose a little. Of course you want to start with a good exposure and recoginize when you are taking the photo where the extremes of dark/black and white/bright are.Sometimes it forces a choice to give up detail in one or the other but at least that is your decision at the moment you click the shutter. I shoot manual exposure most of the time and it makes it easy to under/over expose with one finger on a Nikon without taking your eye from the viewfinder. If I am shooting action I might shoot on aperture or shutter priority depending on the light but even then I try to determine the best exposure that gives me shallow depth of field in sports for example and a shutter speed that is fast enough to stop the action and stcik with it. The only exceptions might be if I am outside and there is a lot of action going from shade to sunlight then I’ll shoot footbal for example aperture priority at 2.8 and shutter at 400 to 500 depending on the age of the kids. Once again more than but hopes it helps. Bubble-mail if you have more questions, be glad to help.
One more thing on B&W, even with the best possible exposure sometimes you need to give up some detail. I find myself trying to get too much detail in too much of the photo even when that detail isn’t essential to the photo. It tonally flattens the photo, takes away contrast and the image doesn’t pop in my opinion. KInd of just looks grayish all over. There is always the other side and you can create too much contrast. It really is different then color. I personally don’t like HDR, understand why many do but for me it increases the dynamic range so mush that it flattens the image tonally. Now in color the colors themselves disguise it somewhat but not to my eye, it usually looks washed out tonally to me. I try not to do anything that takes a scene beyond the tonal values that the eye can see live, in person whether it is color or B&W but I think in B&W especially low contrast, dynamic range extending hurts more than it helps.
What good, fascinating, instructive comments! I’ll save this page as a favorite or email it to myself. Thank you!
And don’t be afraid to bubblemail if you have any questions. Everything I have read has said that going to mode and using gray scale is the worst way to convert to black and white but for me it really works and is easy and from theresepia or any kind of toning is easy and quick to. Tony
Admired the shot, by the way, which is how I landed here in the first place.
Thanks Ainsley, glad to be a member of your fine group! Tony
Great capture ! Body language can speak as loud as the most expressive face !