Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Trip, A City, Some Thoughts part 1 of 2

I generally post without much thought as to the needs of the viewer. Indeed, I often think contemplating your audience too much affects an art form in a negative way. It's the reason I prefer candid portraiture the large majority of the time. It removes artifice.

All this said, while on a trip to Los Angeles over the last week I had the thought that someone out there might like me to explain why I chose one image out of 20 that I might have taken. And someone out there might like me to explain why I composed the image and shot it in the way that I did.

For those who care about such things, every one of these images was shot with a Canon 60d, mounted with a 1982 manual focus 28mm f2.8 lens by Soligor.

So with that in mind, here is post 1 of 2 of my favorite 8 images from the past week, in no particular order. Below each image will be an explanation of how/why/etc.

This was an unplanned shot, in that I didn't know that there was going to be construction workers right next to the Universal Studios lot tour.
The lot tour was a nice way to relax for 45 minutes out of the heat. While most everyone was watching for celebrities coming out of any of the buildings on the back lot, I was fascinated by the idea of construction workers, going to their jobs every day, laying concrete and putting up walls like anywhere else, but in this case it is occurring day in and day out in Universal Studios. It must be a bit odd.
I saw a few construction workers very near the open sided tour bus. I framed up several of them as we passed, but this one presented the best combo of contrast between light and dark, framing of the face with the light, and a nice eye-draw via triangular lines on the left side of the frame, while the blocked out right side of the frame created a nice base.
I don't think this worker ever realized I had taken his photo.

This one almost feels like cheating. This was indeed a photo opportunity presented by the tour itself.
This is the part of the back-lot tour where they go through the set for Psycho. An actor is seen putting a body into the trunk of the car as you stop in front of the set. He then approaches the tour bus, knife in hand, as you speed off.
It's honestly all a bit silly.
But, cinema in mind, I tried to frame this like a movie still. The top of the building matches the pictures upper limits, the left side, matching the falling stairs. The primary figure in the image is on the right side within the rule of 3rds.
It was mostly luck of the draw that we chose to be on the ride at this hour of the day, when the sun would be behind the actor, giving a perfect rim light to his hair and suit jacket. Not to mention that neat little glint of light off the top of the open trunk.
Beyond those items, it was a matter of the crop being wide (I wanted to go wider, but some of the objects to the far left of the frame ruined the illusion of cinema), and of timing the primary figure's walk towards the camera.

This image, as well, was shot with cinema in mind. While in Universal I couldn't resist lots of candid shots of my fellow tourists, and the employees.
I noticed the sun was going down in the direction of one of the streets on the upper level of the park, so I walked down a little ways to place the brightest spot in the middle of my frame. Then I watched for interesting people to walk through it.
These folks were the 3rd ones to walk through the frame. Just before they got to the highlighted area, they put their arms around each other, and I had my shot.
It's the cheesy final image of a romantic comedy. They're quite literally walking off into the sunset.
Once again, timing, a wide crop, and the naturally occurring light all played into the creation of this image. Like most of my favorite images from this trip, no one in the frame was aware I was taking their picture.

This image moves away from the cinematic techniques of the other frames.
This was shot while this older gentleman and I were travelling in opposite directions on the gigantic escalators in Universal. I was tired, towards the end of the day, and looking down the line of people, this man seemed to mirror physically what I was feeling mentally. Sleeves unbuttoned, but not pulled up, tired expression, and forward lean on an incline. This is the man who has climbed up a mountain, and then realized he has to do it again because he left his car keys at the top.

Because of that I left the frame tilted to match the slope of the escalator. I almost lost the frame, though. The blur at the left side of the frame is a person's torso as they pass directly in front of me, everyone around me completely oblivious to the fact that I'm taking their photos. With the lens' manual focus, I had only a split second to reframe, focus, and shoot. I'm happy with what I got.

I'll put up part two in the next few days.


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