Finally, I present the last of my Chicago images. Not necessarily for the master’s project, but for me: Elizabeth and I lived in Chicago for a time, but I never really carried a camera with me because I was concerned about keeping my equipment safe at our apartment in Hyde Park. I figured the less I had, the safer we were (and we never had a break-in). But this project gave me an excuse to walk around downtown and the Loop with some of my better gear. Frankly, the 5D Mk. II and a 50mm lens would be a great combination, with a wide-angle lens and a telephoto as two accessory lenses, but I really needed to have the 24-70mm with me that day as I was working on my project, and needed the flexibility that it provides. The next time I go to Chicago with a camera, it will just be for me, and the equipment choices will certainly reflect that!
Chicago and the river that bears the city’s name are a large part my project about Asian carp: the river is a conduit through which the fish are likely to find their way into Lake Michigan. (In all fairness, they have already found alternative routes that take them into Lake Erie.) Here, then, are a few more photos of this city that is the seat of so much controversy.
While making a long walk back to Union Station from Navy Pier, with a detour to Water Tower Place (some detour, I know…my legs are still burning a bit) I happened upon the Wrigley Building right after twilight. The image about would have been better if I had taken my 24mm TS-E with me, but I had borrowed my dad’s 24-105 f/4L IS because it’s lighter and smaller than my 24-70. and I only wish that the couple in the image below hadn’t been standing right by those beverage containers. You can’t have it all.
They’re photographic clichés, but everyone I know seems to respond positively to silhouettes. On my last morning in Grinnell (4 Oct.) I decided to take a (slightly) different tack on an old idea: blend architecture and pictorial, but have architecture remain the subject, not the person walking through it. To achieve this, everything beyond a few “feet” in the image is soft.
Normally, in a situation like this, either a photographer would make everything in focus by stopping down to maximize the depth-of-field, or would focus on the place where people were moving in and out and let everything else fall out of the DOF. I wanted to try something a little different. Does it work for you?
Lens envy is something every photographer experiences, and sometimes it’s made worse when a lens you love is replaced with a newer, more expensive version. I suppose this is what people who have iPhone’s go through every June.
About five years ago I purchased a Canon 24mm f/3.5L TS-E lens for its ability to control perspective…that is, I wanted to get a view looking “up” at a building without the lines converging. And it was a small, albeit dense, lens, so it was pretty easy to slip into a camera bag and take it along just in case a landscape or architectural situation demanded it. But it had its flaws, chief among them being that the tilt (also known as swing) movement comes from the factory 90 degrees from the shift (rise and fall) movement. That means that if you want to use shift to get a higher perspective, but also tilt the lens downward, then you’re out of luck unless you send the lens in to Canon to be altered so that they’re on the same plane.
On September 11, 2010, I left Durham, North Carolina to get to Racine, Wisconsin by way of Chillicothe, Ohio. Last Sunday I departed Racine for Columbia, Missouri, by way of St. Louis. Since then I’ve lost a pillow (it will be returned), been slimed by a Silver carp, photographed a levitating Kim Komenich at the 62nd annual Missouri Photo Workshop in Macon, Missouri, and played tourist at my Alma mater. My odometer cracked 27,000…not so happy about that, and I’ve also had my share of meals on the road. Things will slow down soon, but not yet…
Who says you can’t make a good picture in the middle of the day?
Over the weekend Elizabeth and I found ourselves in St. Louis for Independence Day, partly thanks to a hotel deal through Hotwire.com. While I’ve been going to school at the University of Missouri for two years, and have spent some time in St. Louis in that time, I haven’t actually gone up to the Gateway Arch since a seventh-grade field trip back around 1997. Frankly, I can’t even remember if I took a camera (taking a 35mm SLR was something I was never too keen to do back when I was in middle school). But I do remember going up in the arch and feeling the structure sway back and forth in the wind. Fun! But it’s still standing there. Unfortunately, getting up to the top of the arch is harder than I can recall from all those years ago: you have to go through a magnetometer, your bag through an X-Ray, and rangers are standing by to pat you down. We actually tried two days in a row to go to the top, and both times the line for tickets was either painfully slow or, on the second day, not moving at all because the eight (eight!) employees behind the ticket counter weren’t selling tickets. C’est la vie. Continue reading “Looking up at the Gateway to the West”→
While I had been up to the top of the lighthouse in Racine, Wis. before, when presented with the opportunity to go up to the top of another lighthouse in the Outer Banks, specifically the Currituck Beach Light Station in Corolla, N.C. (pronounced cuh-ra-lah, unlike the car by Toyota), I just couldn’t resist. Sure, it was $7 per person, which is a bit steep, but Elizabeth and I were able to set our own pace. There were no “groups” that went up–there are landings after every flight of stairs, so people can pass in both directions. This is decidedly different from the lighthouse back home, which was much narrower.
In the end, these are my two favorite images. Note that they’re both surprisingly sharp given an exposure time of 1/20 second. If I had taken the Olympus PEN EP-2 along for this trip, I suppose that wouldn’t have been so great a feat to have a sharp image at such a slow shutter speed, but the Panasonic Lumix G1 does not have built-in image stabilization (instead, they put the stabilization mechanisms in the individual lenses, like Canon and Nikon). That is a decided advantage of the Olympus method for image stabilization, but I like having the flip-out screen on the Lumix that the PEN series lacks. To each their own.
How is it that only just now did I find Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s “The Ruins of Detroit?” I know I am not even close to the first person to link to their Web site in awe. Nevertheless, I feel it’s important to direct people reading this to their gallery. It’s a collection of images of “people without people,” and reminds me of Stephen Wilkes’ Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom, which has been a great inspiration to my own landscape and architectural photography (landscapes of buildings, really).
Of course, the subject matter between my own work and that of Marchand and Meffre or Wilkes is entirely different. It is their style that is particularly wonderful because there is a great deal of self-expression in the image, but the style invites the viewer into the image. The photographs are not difficult to read. Quite to the contrary: the haunting–and hauntingly beautiful–photographs of Marchand and Meffre communicate clearly the dire conditions of Detroit.
And that the images are well-composed documents of light and shadow doesn’t hurt matters. While some may argue that ugly subjects must be made to look ugly for them to affect social change, I believe that people are too-often beat over the head with message-laden ugly images, and become desensitized to them. What Marchand and Meffre offer is a fresh perspective that invites viewers to see the beauty of the decay before realizing the ugly social ramifications of spaces like these in urban America–scenes like these belong on movie sets, not on our streets–and what it means for the thousands of people who aren’t pictured.
After scratching my head for a while to figure out what I was going to do for my final project in Staff Photojournalism, I realized that I should expand on the month-long architecture project that began back in October and ran in the Missourian last week. And unlike the other slideshows this semester, I made this one at home, using Premiere Pro (the school only has Final Cut Express, which, unlike it’s bigger brother, cannot handle square pixels, meaning that all images are warped). All comments welcome!