Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Persistence - Cupertino Bridge

Marabel Morgan said, "Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time." The shot above took me a long time to get. I knew this bridge was a great subject the first time I saw it driving under it on the freeway.

The first time I shot it, six months earlier, I had just gotten my Canon 5D Mk II. I did not have my wide-angle lens yet and really knew nothing about the camera. The image (middle Left) was a good one, but not that exciting to me.

I went back again recently with my 17-40mm lens, tripod and shot the bridge at night using a 20 second exposure at f/16. I decided to emphasize the cables rather than the triangles. The cables in the back were very dark and there was significant lens flare around the back triangle support. (Image Pre-Photoshop Lower Left) Using some Photoshop skills I acquired in school on masking and levels I corrected the lens fair and the overexposure on the triangle. I then brightened the cables in the back. The image is still not perfect, but it is getting more perfect.

A teacher told me that Ansel Adams didn’t like one of his early images on the contact sheet. But as he learned his craft he went back to review the sheets and realized he now had the skills to print as he had envisioned. Harry Callahan was known to return to subjects again and again until he got the shot he wanted. Persistence, it seems, is another tool that we photographers should always keep in our camera bag.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Scar Portrait

People with scars are the subject of my current portraiture project. My friend Renata, who is a dermatologist and is very comfortable with her scar, which she received in a skiing accident, inspired it. I wanted to show Renata’s strength and how the scar really makes her even stronger and more interesting.

This was shot with an Alien Bees B800 on the left using a 43-inch shoot-through umbrella. Another B800 with a grid pointing just above the scar on her left arm. Finally one B800 lighting the black background. Camera was my Canon 5D Mk II at f/10. 50mm focal length.