Getting to the Point in Pittsburgh

Trying to get my sea legs back and get out there to start shooting again. It’s amazing how rusty one can get being away from something too long. I know I need to brush up on my compositional skills a little, especially when shooting in wide angle, so I purposely sought out lines to practice with. I figured a nice walk around the Point State Park area in Pittsburgh be a good place to explore.

Enjoy!

Mistake(n) indentity

The one thing I do almost constantly is to try and identify the mistakes in my photos. In turn I try NOT to do those same mistakes over (although I often do). It can range from simple Photography 101 stuff such as using the wrong shutter speed or aperture for the given subject, to composition errors, or choosing the wrong lens. I may not make technical mistakes too often but I know I make plenty of artistic ones.

Sometimes I only have one lens with me and I HAVE to choose it, so I have no choice if it’s the “wrong” lens. But when I carry limited gear I try to visualize photos that would work with what I have on me. There have been times when I was only carrying a wide angle lens and I saw plenty of opportunities for great telephoto shots and had no choice but to pass on the photo. But there have also been a number of times when the photo I took with the lens I had on me was the perfect photo and I couldn’t imagine taking those photos with any other lens. I have had two winning photographs published that were taken with an old Super-Takumar lens that I happened to have on my camera at the time I took the photos. In both cases I don’t think if I had a different lens, and especially a zoom lens, that I would have taken the photos the same way, and achieved the same output.

As for todays photo, I took it with a slow consumer zoom lens. The lens. like all consumer zooms, works best when stopped down a little from maximum aperture and I tend to use it that way, often with good results. In fact it is my used lens since it is so versatile. However, where I went wrong here was in not opening up the lens a little more (and slightly sacrificing quality) to lower my ISO a little. This was shot at ISO 3200 handheld and I could have gotten away with at least ISO 1600 which would have improved the overall quality greatly. If I had given myself maybe three extra seconds to think about what I was doing at the time, I could have upped the image quality with  ease. Say what you will about modern image sensors and how great they do high ISO’s, I’m still not a fan and I like to shoot as near to native ISO as possible.

It’s a done deal now but one that I will hopefully remember next time. But then, maybe I should just have faster lenses in the first place. I’m working on remedying that right now.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

The longer I stay away…

….the less I have to say.

Again. not too many words this time around. I’ve been keeping busy and trying to take photographs whenever I can. Even during a vacation getaway I still found myself not concentrating on photography the way that I should. Having deadlines always gets me motivated, so I imagine I’ll have to self prescribe some for myself. We will all benefit from that.

Here’s a gent I “met” in South Miami Beach. It cost me a couple dollars for the photo shoot but it was worth it. He was a funny guy and didn’t mind posing at all. I would have preferred a more natural shot but I let him do what he wanted. I didn’t really care, I was on vacation.

I think his red hat and scarf set off the outfit so I had to go color on this one.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

Things I saw in a park on a Spring day

I saw flowers and birds and trees, and I photographed them. But you’ve seen all of that, here are some different things I saw.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

Creative cobwebs

There was a period when I stopped playing guitar for a while. I just got caught up with a number of things and was working a gazillion hours a week with little to no free time. When I finally got around to playing again, I knew what I was doing but I could immediately tell I was horribly out of practice. I played the right notes but they’re just weren’t clear. Even more telling, my phrasing and rhythm were just plain bad. I needed to woodshed and I knew it.

Getting back into practicing photography after what seemed like an endless deep freeze of winter feels the same to me right now. I just wasn’t into going out and shooting during the lousy winter months, fighting the cold winds and awful roads. Besides, winters around here aren’t very pretty, more mud and frozen rain than beautiful snow draped mountain scenery. The city streets aren’t much better. Plowed snow ends up taking away valuable parking spaces up until the spring thaw. So I thought I would wait until I was good and ready.

I’m ready now, but I feel that I’m not very good at the moment.  All of that time away from a viewfinder has made me a little rusty. I always sort of took pictures in my mind as I was driving around. Just visualizing how I would take a photo of something, if I was taking a photo of something, even though I was just driving by. Kind of keeping the mind working at least. But the actual physical process of finding a subject and taking the photo takes a little time for me to “get in the groove’.

For a first outing, I came across some antique stores a little late over the weekend, just as they were closing. So I was forced to shoot into windows from the street. That’s something I like to do anyhow but the bright sunlight, although a welcome sight, made for some contrasty light. I just had to shoot with a wide-angle lens right up against the glass to eliminate reflections but that also limited what I could shoot and compose. As usual I worked with what I had, in subject matter, light, and camera gear and hope for the best.

I hope to start practicing on the art a little more in the next few months and break down those creative cobwebs.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

Fat man in the bathtub

And I’m sure he would have the blues if he was in this tub.

Just another one of the many old bathtubs found throughout rural areas. This particular one has a spring emptying into it, most likely used for cattle at some point.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

I can’t show this photo without some Little Feat

Not a poet and I know it

Enough haiku silliness, time to get back to normal photography.

I’m starting off spring with a nice texturally image of old wood and black rubber. I was drawn to this scene because of the old tire that the tree grew around. Although you can’t see it in this photo that is a real 15′ tree, with branches and everything, that the tire is hugging. Judging by that nice wide whitewall it looks like the tire has been around for a while.

This wasn’t an overly colorful scene and I immediately knew it would make a good black and white image because of the textures in the scene and the contrast of the black and white tire. The angled broken barn door only enhanced an already nice rural setting.

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

Drops of winters end (more bad haiku)

Drops of winters end

Adjacent thorns nearly miss

Inverted sun rays

 

Don’t worry, I’ll start writing normal again. ;-)

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

Sunday photo haiku (because I can’t think of anything else)

Arboretum trees

Showing me their cypress knees

A woodland village

 

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

People who need people

I have been looking at a lot of photography lately. And I mean a LOT!  It is my season to enter competitions and, in turn, reviewing the results of past competitions. The one thing I noticed is that judges really like photos with a human element. That’s really great considering I rarely have any people in my photographs. Probably because I don’t photograph around people very often. When I’m in a city environment there’s usually too many people and in order to avoid “crowd” shots, I tend to focus more on details and architecture. When I’m in rural environments I look for just about anything to photograph but people are often few and far between.

Don’t get me wrong though, I do like some people shots. I like street photography only when they are well composed and show the interaction of the person with the environment. I do not like the random “camera at the hip” shots of folks walking on the sidewalk. I just don’t get those. I also don’t care for straight on portraits too often. I do like portraits that show a little bit of the environment, especially if it’s an “exotic” person and environment (for Americans that’s just about anyone from and in another country). The close-up of the craggily face just doesn’t do it for me, although I have done that kind of shot in the past.

With that, I am going to make an attempt to add some humans to my photography this year. I’m not doing it to win any contests, I’m doing it as a self challenge to broaden my scope. How I am going to go about it I don’t know. I am not going to copy any kind of style, I’ll just wing it as usual but I kind of know what I want. I actually “saw” a few good photos the past year that would have included people but I never followed through on them. In my head I’m already there.

So, here’s looking at you (maybe).

 

© David Guidas

© David Guidas

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