Friday, August 6, 2010

Random shots

Whenever I leave the house, I have a difficult decision to make. Which camera? Which lens? What possible photo opportunities may pass in front of my lens today?
True, it would be boring to know exactly what pictures I was going to make. That’s why I don’t think I’d enjoy trying to make a living from producing images for brochures.
However, it would save me some time each morning if I knew whether “wide” or “tele”. So I usually end up taking my 28-105mm because it’s light or the 28-135mm because of the range. Or I go ahead and screw on the 100-300mm and prepare myself for some detail work.
What I’ve put together here is a collection of snapshots that would have gotten away, had I not had my camera with me.
One day I had three photo assignments planned, but walking through town I saw that David Hasselhoff of Baywatch fame was signing his autobiography in a bookstore. I went up and took some snapshots of the event. I think some people were actually thrilled to see the aging star, and everyone was taking pictures!

Sometimes a spontaneous idea or the sighting of an interesting shape or pattern inspires me to take a picture that doesn’t become anything special until I process it. Jim Palik, a friend of mine who has taught me a lot about photography over the past year and a half, believes that a lot of people are taking good pictures out there, but they don’t know how to post-process the pictures to make them look their best.
I’m still learning. And I limit my post-processing to whatever I can do with Adobe Lightroom 3. Someday someone will teach me how to use layers in Paintshop Pro or Gimp and a new world will open up to me. I do have ideas for my upcoming exhibition that I know I can’t realize because I am too limited in my knowledge of Photoshop techniques right now.

This picture was made as I was taking the children to school in the morning. We always walk by a bookbinding factory which invariably has huge semi-trailer trucks loading up in the parking lot. I had never had the opportunity to take a shot from this angle, though, and I liked the way the light disappeared in the long body of the trailer.
In the post-processing I applied the “grunge” look to it: 100% contrast, recovery, fill light, and clarity. Then adjust the brightness and black clipping to suit your needs. The saturation also needs to be brought down about -20. I have this look in a preset now so I can just scroll over it to see if an urban picture or even a portrait I’ve taken will look good all grunged up.

The granite used several places in town serves as a great background for grunging. Throw up the contrast and the clarity and you’ve got an urban picture.
Of course, you can also go the other way and try to make a picture look more painterly - even if the subject is far from the fields of Southern France.

Our train station is going to be torn down, the tracks put underground and the face of the city changed forever. I recently walked through the station - which I first saw 30 years ago - and opened myself up to photographing whatever caught my eye. The coming and going was certainly an interesting theme, as was the waiting.

This scene is typical because it shows someone waiting at the end of the platform so as not to miss the arriving visitor. I observed the scene as it unfolded and was lucky enough to be there to capture the happy ending, too.

A lot of construction is going on in Stuttgart. Everywhere I go I see construction cranes. They are difficult to photograph because either they don’t fill an entire frame because they are so long and thin, or they are difficult to capture entirely in one frame because the surrounding buildings don’t permit it.
This image appeared at the Friedrichsbau. I noticed the interesting reflection in the window and liked the way it made the crane look almost organic.

Part of looking is noticing connections. I was doing my “daily photographic push-ups” the week leading up to the Worldwide Photo Walk and the Christopher Street Day Parade when I stumbled across this composition. Are those the young, attractive, hetero couples sunning themselves in recliners at the cafĂ© while the lesbian couple feeds french fries to their child? The sign above them promotes the “wishful thinking” theme of this year’s CSD: Hetero marriage is the same as homo marriage - That would be nice!

The previous day this good looking young man caught my eye just sitting there as symmetrically as can be.

Symmetry and patterns often catch my eye. I may get sick of the patterns in the future and want to create more organic, slanted looking images, but for the time being order is in. At work we’ve just had solar panels put on the roofs and the buildings have been cleaned and windows painted. Scaffolding was up for most of the summer. I missed several great shots of the men taking it down in the rain, but this pattern stared at me the entire time the World Cup was going on. It made me think of the South African national flag.

One last snapshot before I sign off today. I was leaving work and had just turned the camera on when I saw this meter maid (the Germans are also looking for a word suitable for men who do the job; in English a "meter man" is something else!) about to ticket an Austin Mini. I love the way this turned out!


  1. OKay Jim. First thing I did was turn on the computer and find your blog - through Claire's blog. LOVE IT. So sorry I have been missing it. Amazing connections. Too much for words at this point - with the limited time I have right now. PROBLEM: I can't find an easy way to become a regular follower. I WANT TO FOLLOW. Lead me, lead me. I'm sure there are others out there too. The photos are fantastic - and so are the thoughts and ideas. Lots of food for thought - photos for thought, words for thought whatever. If I can figure out how to sign on......and yes, I have been following the WRONG Jim Martin photo blog. I was wondering when you were last kayaking in Hawaii. Oh well.

  2. OKay. I think I might have signed up by email now. Still no "follower" though!