Photography

Of all my interests, photography is arguably the most accessible. I need at least a few free hours to go on a motorcycle ride, or to go shoot a rifle, for instance. But I can (and generally do) carry a camera with me most everywhere I go - including to work. And it only takes a few seconds to pop off a frame or two. So it - photography - can pretty much always be there for you, if you want it to be.

There's something very special about being able to capture an instant of time, a slice of life. I've always been entranced with old pictures. You stare at the image and realize that what it captured that day is long gone. The people are dead. The places where they lived, the things that they thought, the situations that they lived through, the hopes that they hoped, the dreams that they dreamed... are all gone. All that remains is this tenuous image, the tiniest slice of a moment in time.

In a world of flux and change, one where a relative handful of years after we're gone we'll - most of us - be so unknown as to beg the question of why we ever lived in the first place, there's a glimmer of immortality that is captured in a photograph. A ray of hope that it all wasn't for naught.

Good photography is magic.

 

I should note that this website is full of photography. But the galleries you'll find under "Families & Friends" and "Motorcycling" are as much about recording particular people and events as they are about good photography. If I take a bunch of pictures at a family get-together or on one of my motorcycle trips, I'm primarily focused on capturing that event for posterity. The quality of the photographic display in those cases is clearly secondary. Said differently, I'm far more inclined to allow redundant, technically deficient, or aesthetically lacking images in those areas where there is a family or friend involved - where there is a personal emotional connection, in other words. The editing of images in this section will be a bit tighter.

 

Yearly PAW's (Picture a Week):

A Leica photographer named Kyle Cassidy came up with the idea a few years back to select and post a single picture, every week, for an entire year (see Kyle Cassidy's PAW). Kyle's notion was that the regularity of public posting would prompt amateur photographers to actually get out there and take pictures, as opposed to reading about taking pictures, thinking about taking pictures, and talking about taking pictures. And because the images would be held up to public scrutiny - and potential criticism - the expectation is that you'd have to bring a bit of care and discipline to what you shoot.

The downside to doing a PAW, of course, is that regularity thing. One image a week doesn't sound like a lot. But assuming one wishes to have at least a handful of images from which to choose, you have to make the time to pop at least a few frames. Every week. And since most of us have reasonably routine lives - we pretty much do the same things, go to the same places, and see the same people, every day - maintaining any kind of freshness after the first few months (when presumably you've finished shooting examples of all the normal places, things, and people that you generally encounter) can be a challenge. I mean, how many times can you take a picture of your cat or your wife or the Starbucks on the way to work or that tree in your back yard, before it all starts to become awfully trite? No, to make it work you're forced to think a little bit harder, see things in a little bit different way, and do some things you might not otherwise do.

Which is all part of the point, of course.

2015 PAW

2014 PAW

2013 PAW

2012 PAW

2011 PAW

2010 PAW

2009 PAW

2008 PAW

 

Fox News 5 Visits Warrenton

The local Fox News affiliate here in Washington, DC visited old town Warrenton on a lovely July morning. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. Here are a few pictures.

 

 

Favorite Images - 2014

A video slideshow (mp4 format, 1080x1920p) of some of my favorite images from 2014.

 

 

Favorite Images - 2013

A video slideshow (mp4 format, 1080x1920p) of my favorite images from 2013.

 

 

David Seymour (Chim) - DC Leica Store Gallery Opening

David Seymour, better known as 'Chim' to his contemporaries, was one of the best-known photographers of the mid-20th century. He was a legendary photojournalist and he co-founded, along with Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and William Vandivert, Magnum - the famous photo cooperative. Alas, following his death while covering the 1956 Sinai Crisis Chim's photography has not remained in the public conscienceness as strongly as it deserves. So I was delighted to hear that the DC Leica Store was going to present an exhibition of his work. Here are a few images from the opening.

 

 

50-Year Anniversary of the March on Washington

This week marks the 50-year anniversary of the famous civil rights march. I got up early and drove in to see if I could get a few pictures. All the way in I debated both whether to use my Leica M (color, with the option for black and white) or Leica Monochrom (black and white only); and whether to shoot with a 35 or a 50mm lens. I finally decided on the Monochrom, matched with the 50 Summicron APO and a medium yellow filter.

The Mall was packed, as I expected. But the weather was perfect - one of those very bright, low humidity kind of days. A great day for shooting.

The police-restricted vantage points very much limited one's mobility and hence the kind of shots one could get. Getting close to the Lincoln Memorial (where the speakers were) was impossible. So it was mostly a game of finding select images from within the crowd.

One thing that surprised me was the ubiqutous presence of Trayvon Martin placards and signs. Remarkably, they heavily outnumbered representations of MLK. Trayvon Martin clearly has become a cultural icon within the black community. That, I think, speaks sadly to the black experience in America and how the African-American community still perceives itself to be treated unfairly.

 

 

Ducks in DC

"Do you have your good camera with you?" Mitko asked. And so began a lunchtime treat. A mama duck had laid and hatched her eggs in one of those tiny raised-bed patches of grass on the sidewalk adjoining 21st Street. Right in the heart of DC. The intrepid mom then decided to march her new brood several blocks, crossing K Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The little episode brought out the best in people...

 

 

Terri Weifenbach - DC Leica Store Gallery Opening

When I received the email from the DC Leica Store announcing the opening of Terri Weifenbach's gallery at their store, I took a look at her website and came away unimpressed. Lots of color. Lots of bokeh. Very little depth of field. And tenuous, rather amorphous subjects. In spite of those reservations, I decided to attend anyway. I'm glad I did - her images have much greater presence in print than they do online. I came away impressed. Here are a few images from the evening.

 

 

Loss - Five Images

The subject of loss is one I'm frequently attuned to. Here is a short sample of five images that reflect upon it.

 

 

Leica M Monochrom Samples

Seven sample shots...

 

 

Craig Semetko Lecture and Exhibition

I love many genres of photography, but of them all my favorite is street photography. A year or so ago I bought a monograph from a new artist in that area, "Unposed," by Craig Semetko. I very much enjoyed his unique street shooting style. Fast forward to September of this year and Eric Oberg, the general manager of the Washington DC Leica Store, mentioned that Craig would be the next artist (following Jacob Sobol) to be exhibitied in the store. I was delighted. And so it was that Craig opened his exhibition with a couple of lectures during the annual FotoWeek DC. Here are a few images from that opening (along with a handful of miscellaneous street shots taken during the dinner break).

 

 

Leica Akademie Monochrom Workshop

Leica Akademie is hosting a series of one-day workshops on their new black-and-white only digital rangefinder. When it came to DC I took the opportunity to attend. Here are a few images I made during the day.

 

 

Musings on the Leica M Monochrom

A few thoughts regarding Leica's new, black-and-white-only digital rangefinder.

 

Leica M Monochrom Gallery

I don't often fixate on the equipment with which particular images were made, believing that aspect to be far secondary to the image components themselves. In this case I"m going to make an exception. The recent (August 2012) release of the Leica M Monochrom - a digital, black-and-white-only camera - has excited many in the photographic community. Even as Kodak looks to sell its film division, raising more and more questions regarding the (universally available) viability of film as a photographic medium, the Leica M Monochrom holds the promise of keeping alive the black and white ethos that has been central to photography's voice over its first 150 years. Given that interest, I'm posting this portfolio of select images taken with my M Monochrom. I'll be adding to it over time.

 

 

Peter Turnley NYC Street Photography Workshop - Final Portfolio

Peter Turnley NYC Street Photography Workshop - Extended Portfolio

Peter Turnley NYC Street Photography Workshop - Introspective

In June 2012 I made my long longed-for return to New York City, attending one of Peter Turnley's street photography workshops (http://www.peterturnley.com/). During the seven days there I took something over 800 images. The three galleries above are the picks from that selection.

The Final Portfolio is a gallery of fifteen images selected by Peter. He did the editing. The good news (for me) is that I was in instant agreement with him on two-thirds of those. He and I have a similar - though not identical - sense for which images are strongest. Had I been editing these myself, alone, I have no doubt most of these images are the ones I would have chosen.

The Extended Portfolio is a gallery of forty images - a slightly expanded view of the imagery I captured. The edits were all mine.

Of the images I took during the week, a tiny handful were not made for the workshop, they were made of the workshop. A few quick captures of my fellow attendees... and Peter doing his thing. The Introspective is a small gallery representing these images.

 

 

Of Haves and Have Nots

This was a couple-hour street shooting session - work I did in conjunction with a Leica Akademie street shooting workshop - in and around the 'Occupy DC' protest down at McPherson Square. Had the protestors truly been disadvantaged I'd be able to point to the discontinuity, the contrast, between the images I captured in the city blocks adjacent to McPherson Square (the haves), and the protestors themselves (the have nots). Alas, I was unable to draw any such truth. (Which is not in any way to suggest that I don't fully get the very legitimate questions being raised by the 'Occupy' folks regarding the banking cabal, Wall Street excess, big business cronyism, and the abject failure of even the most basic regulatory mechanisms. I'll be the first to acknowledge that capitalism as we like to think of it, and common sense as it relates to things like executive compensation, have both been tortured beyond recognition.)

What I can say with pretty fair confidence is that the protestors are mostly young people from middle class families and they've found a cause around which to rally and from which they're fashioning a grand adventure. Just like those of us in my generation did forty years ago. May they look back on it many years hence with the same wistful fondness as we baby boomers do today with our own Woodstock era.

 

 

Own the Night

Reflections on the Noctilux. This was originally published on my blog (February 12, 2011). I wanted to also post it here on my main website in order to retain its accessibility.

 

 

The Plains at Night

The Plains is a small, picturesque town not far from where I live. I stop there frequently on my bikes while coming home from points west. Or sometimes I'll just stop by in the truck and walk around the intersection that serves as the "main drag," taking a few pictures. What the place lacks in size, it makes up for in character and history.

Here is a small web gallery of a few images I captured one cold winter night.

 

 

Cherry Blossoms, Washington DC, 2010

Working in DC has its advantages. One being that when something happens, like the cherry blossoms being in bloom, it's not too hard to get down to the Mall and the Tidal Basin. Just walk on down. And since I usually get to work by 6am anyway, I didn't even have to get up earlier than usual.

And so it was that on the Friday I determined to go down there, I brought a bag with a bunch of my Leica gear - M9, 35 Lux ASPH, 50 Lux ASPH, and my 75 Cron ASPH. I also brought my M7, a few of my last remaining rolls of Kodachrome 64, and a tripod. By the time I got to work I had decided to keep it simple... I shoved a spare battery and SD card in my pocket and picked up the M9 with its mounted 50mm lens, leaving everything else.

Simple is good.

Back in the office by 8:45am, I worked the day and then did a reprise, walking down once again in the evening. Beautiful day.

 

 

New York City, March 2010

Despite living only a handful of hours away, I'm sad to say I that as 2009 drew to a close I had never been to New York City. Well, better late than never. All it took was a little serendipity.

Thorsten Overgaard (link here) a professional photographer from Denmark whose work I admire, announced that he would be holding a photo seminar there in early March. I figured what the heck. If I signed up it would compel me to make that visit I had too often put off.

And so I did, and it did.

It was great meeting Thorsten and the rest of my crewmates. It was terrific spending so much time thinking about photography, talking about photography, and actually doing photography. And New York is an amazing place. I definitely will go back.

Here are some images from my little 4-day trip.

 

 

Of Lenses and Cameras

On not letting the perfection of gear become an obsession

 

 

The Film/Digital Divide

A few thoughts on the much-overdone film vs. digital debate.

 

 

Jeff's Darkroom in a Box

Don't have a darkroom? Neither do I.

 

 

Black and White Film Developing

The process of developing black & white film is actually quite simple.

 

 

Film Developing in a Digital Age

Acknowledging that film gets alloted but a portion of my photographic time these days, I try to simplify my darkroom process to make it a bit less time-intrusive.