Thoughts on Photography – Chance
Whether I’m shooting street photography
or abstract lens-based art
, the element of chance is always an important factor. I generally start with intention in a loose way. There are things that I want to achieve and capture. But since I’m not able to predict the weather or what will appear in front of my lens, the element of chance takes part in the process as well.
It’s too easy to get disappointed. You wanted a long exposure of the skyline at dusk and it rained that day. Or it rained and you wanted long shadows. Or or. . . Fill in the blanks. I guess I’ve become flexible. I shoot in almost all weather. I like to shoot everywhere and just about all the time. That said I’m urban through and through. Urban photography requires flexibility of body and mind. Living in a big city or shooting one is about chance!
Chance also implies change. Like being a shapeshifter. Adapting to the environment. Photography never bores me. You could say that I love it! And I give it my everything. Or at least I always try. I almost always come home with a handful of keepers. I shoot because I am. What it all means I don’t know. But photography is a way of life. How cool is that? I consider myself lucky to do what I love. It took me many many years to get here and I still have a long way to go!
From Issue 23 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here
Street Photography Tips – RAW vs JPG
Perhaps the biggest debate in the world of digital photography continues to be RAW vs JPG. The big difference between the two is that with JPG the processing is done in camera. While RAW processing takes place after the fact and with software on a computer. Both come with advantages and disadvantages.
I’ve been shooting RAW for almost 10 years now and I swear by it. A RAW file can be compared to a negative in film photography. When you process a RAW file a JPG is created leaving the RAW file in its original state. Processing is an entirely different activity and it has its own learning curves just like processing and printing in film photography. I don’t find processing difficult and maybe that’s because I’ve been doing it for so long. But when you shoot RAW you don’t have to worry about messing up your negative. (I will talk about processing in a later issue.) As I learn new processing tricks, I can go back and reprocess older photos.
I do actually shoot JPG from time to time for various reasons. Recently I’ve been in the mood to shoot square again. Yes, I can crop square after the fact. But that changes the composition. Shooting square means composing square and in my cameras it also means shooting JPG.
The above photo was composed and shot square as a JPG. But I didn’t give up shooting RAW to do it! I decided to try something new! I’m shooting RAW + JPG simultaneously. I didn’t do any post-processing to the photo. While I am often happy with the results of the in camera processing, it doesn’t give me the option to later process as black and white without data loss. Shooting both RAW + JPG is an experiment for me at the moment. So I haven’t made a decision about the results yet or how long I will continue to do so. If I forget, ask me how I like shooting in both formats.
If you’re not ready to get into processing your photos, but you think that maybe you will in the future, it’s a good thing to shoot both. If you’d rather shoot just JPG you can save your original photo and only process a copy of the photo.
The thing about RAW vs JPG is that RAW files contain more information. They capture more of the raw data that the sensor records. As well. it means that you can also print your photos larger if that’s a consideration. Yes, RAW files take up a lot more space on your hard drive. But hard drive prices have been coming down and I think that it’s worth it to have a negative of my photos.
From Issue 38 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here
I’m very excited to announce that my latest article is in Inspired Eye magazine! It’s a fabulous magazine. Thanks to Don Springer and Olivier Duong. https://www.theinspiredeye.net/street-photography-magazine/
Photographer Profile – Robert Frank
Robert Frank (1924- ) If you haven’t seen his book The Americans, run out an buy a copy or borrow it from the library! It is an amazing collection of photos that has changed the definition of photography in general and more specifically street photography.
Frank is Swiss by birth and has been living in the US most of his life. He emigrated to the US at 22 and became a fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar in New York City. But he wanted to do more with his photography. He spent 2 years traveling and took 28,000 photos for The Americans which includes 83 of those photos. It is a series which is iconically American. Perhaps the fact that he was new to America had something to do with his uncanny ability to recognize that which truly is American. We often take for granted the things that seem so familiar to us. To turn the ordinary into the extraordinary is the definition of art.
Many of his photos break some of the unwritten rules of photography. He does things with photography that were new and novel at the time. And his photography is still very relevant. I am always inspired when looking at his work. Oh and by the way, The Americans is published by the incredible Steidl press. You can see a streaming documentary about Steidl which includes segments on working with Robert Frank in creating The Americans as well as a number of other photographers. I hope that you will have a look at his work.
From Issue 9 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here