Monday, May 25, 2015

St. Louis Blues

I took a road trip down to St. Louis. It's an easy 3-1/2 hours from the southern suburbs of Chicago. It was more of an oasis or pit stop on our way to the middle of Kansas to pick up my sister's new little puppy. Nonetheless, we had a night in St. Louis so I decided to go out and shoot the skyline.

I first decided that I wanted a view of the skyline from across the river on the Illinois side of the Mississippi. So, I cross the Eads Bridge to East St. Louis and find the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park. It's right next to Cargill (a food distribution service that uses barges as transport along the Mississippi) and Casino Queen. I googled areas to photograph in St. Louis, around St. Louis, and this spot kept popping up.

Here's the thing: The idea behind this vantage point is awesome. I wish Chicago had one of these look-out towers/platforms in some of their locations. The park is very clean and open. But, the view is obstructed by telephone wires and Cargill's loading platform. I mean, these wires and platforms really take up much of the skyline view.

That's why, in my opinion, this spot was empty. I know East St. Louis has a bad rap, but if this vantage point tower wasn't giving off obstructed views of the skyline this park would be bumpin' with tourists and locals alike. I know I'd see more photographers for sure. But, hey I give them an A+ for the idea and effort. Also, the Gateway Arch park and riverfront were under siege with construction, but I feel that it's going to look way better than the riverfront used to look.

I am posting the image with obstructed views and one that I cleaned up. I'm not really excited about either of the images, but figured I'd share the view just so you know what it is I'm explaining.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rocky Reflections

Reading articles online makes me a skeptic. Writing articles online makes me a hypocritical jerk because of my first sentiment. With every article I read I fall victim to skepticism. I'm constantly met with a different version of myself because of it.

The articles we read at some point contradict one another and have us second guessing our initial response to stimuli. In these articles we're usually told that something is bad for us, or that something is good for us. We're told that we should make better choices and that there are no bad choices. We're basically told sweet nothings to give us something to think about over time. 

I don't publish photographs as much anymore because I'm inside my own mind. I'm not concerned with what others think about me, but I do care about what people think about my work. I only want to post my best work. I could do quantity over quality, but quality stands for endurance. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Filters. Filter this!

Here's the down low on using and purchasing filters.

If you buy any filters at all make sure you invest some money into what you're purchasing. If you're using expensive or quality made lenses you're not going to use cheap filters. That's the equivalent of purchasing a Ferrari and putting on seat covers you purchased from Autozone. You just don't do it. Or you do because you don't give any fucks and don't want mustard on your Ferrari leather.

Here's the thing: You paid good solid money by purchasing a nice lens because you wanted the utmost clarity you could afford (we're talking about wide angle lenses in this scenario.) Why diffuse that clarity with cheap filters?

I carry 3 filters in my bag. I carry a polarizer (which I admit to being cheap) and I'm ashamed of it. I carry a Lee Soft Neutral grad filter, and I carry a B+W 10 stop filter. Those are my essentials for now. The polarizer is from Calumet photo. They said it was a B+W polarizer with their name attached to it... So far, it hasn't been awful, but I have to imagine it's not the best.

Below is a photo from Saganashkee Slough out in the Palos area of Cook County Forest Preserve. It's my photography oasis for fucking shit up. Basically, it's where I go to test out my filters, compositions, colors, and whatever else I decide to experiment on. I used a 10 stop filter. A 10 stop filter looks like welding glass. If you don't know what welding glass is then let me explain. It's a high coated piece of glass that looks like it's limo tinted. The idea is that it stops light from penetrating to the sensor of your camera so that it almost bleeds into the camera instead of pouring in.

See the clouds below, and how they are silky smooth and kind of ghostly in their movement? That's the effect of a long exposure with a ten stop filter. The longer you expose the greater the movement. It's almost like a cotton candy effect.

There is a science behind long exposures, but what I've found is that by experimenting with your focal lengths, filters, and camera settings you get the best idea of what to expect. See, the equation using all those variables will produce an idea, but it won't paint the entire picture. The biggest unsolved variable remains to be the natural light, time of day, and atmosphere. That's why I've found that by messing around with various long exposures on different settings have given me the best results.

I'll go over the other two filters in separate blog posts soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Look the Other Way, Stupid

Here's an image from Death Valley National Park while standing atop Zabriskie Point. This isn't your typical view from the point because, well, I'm an idiot and had no idea what Zabriskie Point was when I showed up. You live and you learn, and then you try to right your wrongs. Or some shit like that. I'll be prepared next time.

Either way, point your camera towards the best light available.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Photographer and the Beach

Silhouettes on the beach are timeless. This was taken over three years ago at Fort Meyers Beach, Florida on a road trip with my grandpa, aunt, and her significant other (pictured below with his 70-200mm f/2.8 tamron lens.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Views from Adler

In these harsh winter months I go through my archives quite a bit. I'm looking for a diamond in the rough. That's the concept of scouring the libraries in my Lightroom collection anyways. I process a lot of my images, and then do nothing with them. Nothing at all. They sit in dated folders on my hard drives. Waiting. Waiting for me to browse through them one day and revisit their memories. It's like putting your head into that bowl in Dumbledore's chambers in Harry Potter. 

Very rarely will I find an image that I've processed and end up liking it today. I usually end up re-editing the image and then seeing if I like it after I've re-processed my work. I mean just the other day I published a Mono Lake image from California that I took in 2012. Why? Because for the last 3 years I've hated every single version I edited. The main reason for that was because I was in the wrong location to photograph the Tufa Towers, but hey... it's all part of the equation. 

Do you edit and then save the files only to re-edit them later? Here are some images from Adler that I've edited more times than I'd like to tell. Why? Mainly because I was looking for something that I didn't see at first. 

Below is a screenshot of unprocessed images in one of my many "to be edited" folders. Don't ask me how I name my images. Usually a television show or music is playing and one of the words or phrases ends up resonating with me. There are a few images below that I've published, but still feel unfinished... 

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Madhouse on Madison

Here's an image from a Blackhawks game I attended earlier this year. The Madhouse on Madison never fails to disappoint. I used a quick filter setting in Lightroom and then made some minor adjustments in Photoshop.