Shooting vicariously through others

My photography output has been awfully low these past few months. I think I have shot less than I have in years. Why? Just a combination of things – first the usual suspects such as work and home, followed by the total lack of anything to shoot. I know, I have pretty much created my “style” around shooting anything and everything I come across but the anything and everything I have come across lately just aren’t yelling out to me, “shoot me!”. No amount of “good light’ can help around these parts.

I desperately need to take a vacation and get out of my usual environment to find  some fresh perspectives. It won’t take much, I’m not asking for Paris or Venice, although those places would be sweet, I’m think more like somewhere that’s just not here. Heck, Cleveland could work for me! I could happily walk down some strange cities streets and shoot away at anything I see. New lines, new angles, new light, everything is new – to me.

We’ll see how the vacation goes. In the mean time I have been clicking the shutter but my subjects are usually weeds and cows, with the occasional wild turkey. Not too exciting and far from what I want to photograph. Not only in the sense of subject matter but even more so in the sense of creativity. I’ve always liked shooting somewhat ordinary things in new ways and I haven’t been doing much of that at all. My creativity is on hold for some reason.

In the mean time I have been enjoying the work of others, I’m finding inspiration out there and it helps. There’s lots of great work floating around the web. But every time I see a photo that I like and think that it’s similar to what I would have shot I just want to be out there shooting instead. Time to get out of town!

Looking at details

As I mentioned in past posts I am going to occasionally critique my own work on this site. I am critiquing to not only confirm what I already know what is wrong with some of my photos but hopefully to help you better understand how photos can be improved through thought and composition.

My first photo is a simple tropical plant photo. I took the shot at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and I liked how it resembled  fireworks in the sky. A classic looking up perspective shot. Nothing fancy. Exposure and focus seem to be spot on, so no problem there.. Where I could have improved the shot was in composition. Although subtle, if I rotated the camera slightly to the right and zoomed out a bit I could have better fit both plants in the photo and that would have eliminated a lot of the blue sky on the left which would have balanced the photo a little better.

Thorny

I can’t even rotate the image to better balance it because I shot it too tight. Which brings me to another rule (for me) that I broke. I only took a single photo. If I shot a number of photos at different focal lengths (or in this case, orientations) I would have had more to work with in post-processing. If I am shooting a still subject I almost always try to shoot varied compositions . I’m usually correct in my first shot but it cant hurt to have backups just in case!

 

Cubism

In my last post that I titled a whirlwind of activity I found that I failed to mention any activity. Since the post before that one, my old computer died and I had to get a new one and start all over with installing programs, getting used to Windows 10, reinstalling programs, getting aggravated with windows 10, finding workarounds to the new “helpful” operating system, reinstalling programs again, and taking a break from it all.

My photos, of course, are on separate hard drives but I have to start my Lightroom library all over again, I think. I still haven’t transferred data from my old hard drive that will hopefully bring back some familiar items, such as my browser favorites, my Rhapsody catalog,  and, fingers crossed, my Lightroom library. And the computer broke down the weekend that my home central air conditioner threw a fan blade and I had to wait four hot days before it could be repaired.

I have also been changing around some camera gear. I’m still using Fujifilm though I did spend considerable time checking out other systems. I seriously though about “full frame” (I dislike that term, by the way) but the sheer size of those monsters turned me off. I know the Sony A7 cameras are small but the lenses are still big. Besides I just don’t like the feel of them. I do like Canon and thought about the 6D but in the end I still found Fuji offered me the best all around image quality coupled with a smallish system and great lenses. It just works for me! I ended up selling my XF10-24 zoom and in turn purchased the XF 14mm 2.8 prime. The zoom was great and I kind of miss it even though since I sold it I haven’t had a scenario where I actually needed it. But I found on a recent trip that the 14mm is a stellar lens. It’s small, sharp, focuses pretty close, and in most cases is wide enough for me with that classic 90° angle of view. Plus the 14 has a marked aperture ring and that works for me as the readout of the aperture on the LCD is too small for quick glances.

Finally, as of last week, I purchased the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera body. Although I was getting used to my X-T10 I still had some handling issues with it due to its diminutive size. I had to turn off just about every function button on the body so I wouldn’t accidently hit them while shooting. So I made a 2.5 hour drive to a store in Columbus just to hold the X-Pro2 to see if it was a better fit for my hands. It was. The larger body coupled with the left side viewfinder gave my right hand a lot of room to work with and it just nailed it for me ergonomically. The focus point toggle was icing on the cake and I bought it them and there. I’ll give a user review on it in the near future.

Okay, that’s it for the activities, now a photo. I shot this photo of an old water fountain while walking around Pittsburgh one evening. I thought it “had something” when I shot it and I tried a few different angles and perspectives to bring out something abstract. In the end I don’t think it worked out. I do like the reflections of the “cubes” in the water and the textures, but that’s about it. Maybe it’s too balanced  or maybe too close. I don’t know, do you?

Fountaim of Old

© David Guidas

 

 

 

A whirlwind of activity

I know it’s been over a month since my last post and honestly I never realized how fast time was flying by. I surprised I still have a few visitors every day because it would appear that I abandoned this site. But I’m still here! Well, for the time being at least. I have an idea for another site more geared to my photography and gear and with a more serious, less stupid, name than whatipic.

I originally started his site as a showcase for my 365 photo project back in 2011 and I figured I could also use the site to talk about my other passion, guitars. The name was derived form “pic” as in picture and “pic” as in picking a guitar. What-I-pic. Get it? Yes, I am that brilliant! At first I was posting every day and developed somewhat of a following during that time but as the years rolled on I got a little more lapse in posting and the photos maybe not as creative. I’m not too concerned about the posting regularity but I am having a difficult time getting back the creativity.

I find my current photography to be technically sound but lacking in a certain, to use the cliché, x-factor. It may be missing because I am not sure what that “x-factor” is but I think I know it when I see it. I’m just not seeing it. The thing that keeps me chugging along is thinking back to my early film era days of photography and remembering the photography that inspired me. Back in those pre-social media days you never really saw too many photographs from any one photographer. You saw their best work and that was it. No websites, no blogs, no Instagrams or Facebooks, just whatever some magazine decided to show. If you wanted to see more you bought that photographers book, if they had one, or visited the library to research them. In most cases you only came across the same photo that you were already aware of. If I only end up with a few good photos that people like, then I should be okay.

But I find myself these days seeing a gazillion photos almost every day and most of them are really just peoples snapshots. I see more photos of complete strangers families than I have ever seen of my own family. Somebody will post photos of their kid on a camera forum and, although it may be technically perfect because he shot with a $3,000 camera outfit, it’s still just a basic picture of his kid. And that goes on and on and on. Plus I feel like I’m obligated to respond and say “hey, great shot!”. Self editing goes a long way in my book.

Please don’t get me wrong, I do see a lot of truly great work out there and a lot of it does inspire me. Inspire me not to copy but to free my mind think in different ways. I am not a street photographer but a good street photograph can inspire me to view urban scenes from a different perspective than I would normally. I am not a landscape photographer but a wonderful landscape photo can inspire me to think about and wait for that perfect light, instead of snapping away in the moment.

Anyhow, if you got this far you probably realized that I am not a writer so I’ll attach a picture and shut up. I got carried away this post so my next post I am going to put up a few of my recent photos and critique them. Yes, I am my own worst critic.

Down by the River_sm

 

 

Greetings from Little Havana

The real Havana has been in the news a lot these days but I, being a mere normal working American, can only come as close as the Miami neighborhood of Little Havana. Not quite the same but a pleasurable place nonetheless.

My wife and I enjoyed a few days in Miami Beach, just kicking back and trying to escape the dull Pennsylvania weather for some sun and warmth. We generally just stick around our South Beach hotel and just travel on foot but sometimes we get a car for at least one day, just to stretch out a little and explore. I wanted to visit the Leica Store in Boca Raton, so we took the short drive down and did some window shopping around the Miracle Mile, visited the Leica store, had a nice late lunch and then headed back towards South Beach for the evening.

Since we practically drove right through Little Havana on our way back to the hotel and there were plenty of parking spaces available along the streets during the late weekday afternoon, I thought it would be a great time to walk around and grab some photos. The place is colorful and lively and I had no problem exploring and taking photos. Most folks were accommodating and are probably  used to tourists anyhow, so the camera wasn’t a threat. Since I’m generally not a “people” photographer, I prefer architecture and details, I focused more on the colorful facades and signs then waiting out perfect subjects to walk by. I know, I know….people are the favorite subjects in travel photography, but I just can’t get around to shooting them yet. Someday I’ll be comfortable in shooting people.

I traveled light, using only the  Fujinon XF14mm 2.8 lens for all of these shots. I had my XF35mm lens with me also but I didn’t use it as the 14 proved quite to be versatile as a street lens.

 

Casino Records

© David Guidas

Cigar Staple

© David Guidas

Cigar Store Drumming

© David Guidas

Colon

© David Guidas

Dominos

© David Guidas

La Esquina de la Fama

© David Guidas

Leaf-a-phone

© David Guidas

Little Havana Mural No.2

© David Guidas

Little Havana Mural

© David Guidas

Little Havana Street Scene

© David Guidas

Miami Smokers BBQ

© David Guidas

 

 

 

Drop those greens!!

As I have been traveling along rural roads I have been noticing some nice wild flowers and how they contrast so nicely with the surrounding greenery. The colors are beautiful and some of the flowers are incredibly tiny. Whenever I had the opportunity I tried to grab a quick few shots of the flowers. Although I loved the colors I knew the contrast of the flowers against the green grass and leaves would make for nice strong black and white images. During processing I pushed the envelope a hair more to really accentuate the contrasts.

I know I have been slow in posting but I’ll be on holiday the coming week and I’ll try to post some different subject matter to keep things interesting around here. Later.

Roadside Flowers 1_sm

© David Guidas

Roadside Flowers 2_sm

© David Guidas

Land of a Thousand Flowers_sm

© David Guidas

That big bright light, those colors!!

Yes, it’s Springtime in the northeast USA. It has also been a while since I’ve been out and about with my camera to simply take some photos. And I have to tell you, it feels good after what was a mild winter, but a winter nonetheless.

Although I was shooting some spring blossoms here and there, which is almost a ritual every year to get me back in the groove, I really haven’t stepped out for the sole purpose of photography for some time. I have a ton of ideas this year and I hope they can come to fruition. It will be a matter of time and place and I hope they are in synch at least once in a while.

So, a beautiful day for a drive and my wife suggested we drive to the park and see if they have any flowers in bloom. A simple enough subject that doesn’t move too much and will help me ease into shooting objects. The flowers and blossoms were out, to a degree, but not too spectacular. Of course I have no fear and always take such things as a challenge anyhow. Throw in the fact that my ultra wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses are both in for repair, I narrowed my challenge even more. I had only my Fujinon 18-55 and 35mm F1.4 lenses on my Fujifilm X-T10. Decent glass by any measure but I couldn’t go for the extremes. I probably missed the telephoto zoom more than anything but in the end I am happy with what I shot.

Although I really want to get back into the black and white groove, the Fuji colors keep pulling me in. Or maybe it’s just the post winter wonder of seeing actual color in the landscape. I do have a few black and white flower shots from today that I’ll share next post.

I know it’s been a while but see you next time around!

Walking in the Park

© David Guidas

Sunshine

© David Guidas

This One's Open

© David Guidas

 

Doll or dull?

I really haven’t been getting out to shoot as much as I should lately. I really feel like I’m getting a bit soft and I constantly need to keep my “eye” in shape. The up and down weather, being busy with the day job, and my lack of travel outside of the home area has taken a toll on my creativity, I believe.

So to keep with sort of the theme from the past couple of posts here are some shots I took recently in some antique stores. I was shooting almost anything I came across without paying much attention to what I shot, just concentrating on compositions and lighting. Later on after reviewing the work from the day I found that I shot a number of old baby dolls. Considering I was using my Fujifilm camera the colors looked stellar and I almost posted them here but I though the dolls looked better in black and white. A bit more of the “creepy” factor that everyone likes.

All shot with the Fujinon XF35mm F1.4R

Doll 1_bw_sm

© David Guidas

Doll 2_bw_sm

© David Guidas

Doll 3_bw_sm

© David Guidas

Doll 4_bw_sm

© David Guidas

Doll Parts_bw_sm

© David Guidas

Stuff on shelves

As promised, in what seems like a long time ago, here are some color photos from my antique shop safari. I have added a few textures during processing on some of the photos which, in my opinion, took the photos in a slightly painterly (I don’t like to overuse that term but I can’t think of anything else) direction.

I hope you like them. Time is short right now so I don’t have much else to say. But I hope I can expand on a few thoughts for my next post.

Blobs_sm

© David Guidas

Bottles of Old_sm

© David Guidas

Shots_sm

© David Guidas

Treasure_sm

It’s the little (junky) things

I was able to hit some antique stores over the weekend to do a little still life hunting. As regular readers will know, one of my favorite places to shoot is at antiques stores, sometimes just shooting the window displays from the street. The endless found “still life” scenes in the store displays, and by displays I mean just thrown about, are fun to browse and I like the challenge of trying to make some sort of composition out of them. The junkier the store the better. Serious antique folks probably wouldn’t be pleased with me poking around with a camera so I try to stay on the lay low.

I tend not to disturb anything since it isn’t my property and I like the sometimes weird juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated items on display.Lighting is my biggest challenge, as most stores are barely lit, especially in the dark crevices of piled up stuff, so I have to stay near the windows in most cases. A fast, single focal length lens and a camera that can shoot higher ISO’s is almost a must. I only had my Fujinon 18-55 zoom with me on this outing and, although it’s only f2.8-4, it is decently sharp when shooting wide open. Still, a 23mm or 35mm F2 or F1.4 would work even better.

I’ll start off with a few black and white shots and I’ll follow-up on the next post with some color images.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 999 other followers