Using Manual Focus

As time goes by, I find myself trying to wane off all automatic features offered on my camera. Shooting on Manual, AV, or TV has been the most rewarding educational experience I’ve had as a photographer. It’s helped me improve my composition skills while giving me complete control of my creativity. Manual focus, however, seems to have become my Achilles heel, especially, and almost exclusively, when it comes to night and low light settings. My focus here was the far-off Queen Anne Cell Towers, which have been an image I’ve attempted to take for some time now. At the same time, my attempts have rendered results both good and bad. It’s the sharpness of my manual focus that always seems to be the judge.
Looking at the shot below and being reminded that it was taken without the balance of my tripod makes me appreciate my growing sense of patience. I wholeheartedly recommend learning all the options your camera offers. Using those tools and getting off manual modes with not only help you grow as a photographer. It will also help you create your unique vision.

A Solitary Moment

Like many, I enjoy the solitary feeling that photography lends me. Adding people to the equation, no matter the relation or lack of, can bring on unwanted stress and, in some cases, anxiety as someone who worked in and ran a studio years ago. I often felt overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety. Feelings that went with booking sessions and trying to get people to arrive on time, allowing for the rhythm it usually takes to complete the cycle of a photoshoot. I learned a lot during those days. A lot more about myself, patience, and making others feel as unaware of the camera and the hot lights. More about relationships than I ever did about technique or studio lighting. There are times when I miss those days. Many of which where I’d approach things differently. However, to be honest, it’s not often.

And while taking pictures from my balcony or from the roof might get redundant. The fresh air, the colors, and the feeling of being on top of the world have lasting qualities and rewards. Here’s hoping we can all find our peace and refuge.

Window Seat

“Location, location, location” and “Just look at that view.” are perhaps two of the most repeated terms in real estate history. As someone who often chose location over the view. I’ve had the somewhat common experience to have faced alleyways, brick walls and even have an eye shot of a great big Burger King sign. However, moving to our current home we’ve often turned our attention from the television to either go out on the balcony, up to the roof deck or just saddle up to the windows. It’s true that time often allows us to take even the most beautiful things for granted. However, I can’t recall a day when I didn’t race to the window or balcony to watch the sun go down. The reason for composing this shot was the positioning of the boats and the dramatic manner in which the sun was protruding through the clouds.

Try, fail, try.

Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the features on my camera. Experimenting with long exposures and mapping out areas where I’d like to put my ideas to work. Being that the symptoms of my sorta/kinda diagnosis have consistently worsened in recent weeks and months. My wife has become warier of my jetting off in the wee hours of the night without her.
So one night, just before dusk. We drove down to Seattle’s International District, where I immediately realized why, when it comes to photography, it’s almost always better to go it alone. After passing up a half a dozen spots that she deemed unsafe. We settled for Dr. Jose Rizal Park. A nice place, but one I had taken pictures from at least a dozen times. From her continually telling me to move to spare people from having to simply sidestep me. To telling me where to focus and complaining about why I had chosen to take long exposures and her getting cold on a brisk June night. Needless to say, I did not have the opportunity to take many images or follow through with any ideas I might have had. Instead, I spent the ride home explaining camera settings to a woman who, more than not, refuses to take any pictures. Overall, Dr. Jose Rizal Park and the overpass that leads you there are great spots to capture the city of Seattle, I-9, the sunset and T-Mobil park, I highly recommend visiting.

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Local Escapes

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It’s Sunday and I’m still trying to finish a music review that, by all means, should have been finished and submitted this past Friday. After writing chapters extolling the virtues of this particular artist and their thirteen-song opus. Still, I hang on word, a sentence or the right description that will close out this upcoming release. Words that will allow me to finish and submit . Words that will allow me to go on with my life and maybe, just maybe, die a happy man.

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Knowing that, once again, I would not find the right words to properly articulate my feeling on the subject. I loaded up the mini cooper with my camera and bag of lenses I would not be using and drove to nearby West Seattle and Seacrest Park for a few photos of downtown Seattle. Though the sky was blue and the sun was shining bright. It felt as if this was one of the coldest days I’ve experienced here. Still, the chance of a blue sky and a clear day in Seattle is hard to pass on.

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Using the Tools at your Disposal

Last week as we travelled the winding roads and peeks that  the colorful canvas of New York’s upstate beautiful landscape. Stopping often to enjoy the orchards and farms that served as the areas fuel for our bellies as well as a chance to stop to stretch our legs and breathe the mountain air.                 Though Autumn’s colors were still in their infancy. The browns, oranges and greens were more than us city dwellers had seen in a long time. As my wife loaded up on fresh veggies, fruit, apple cider and those delicious donuts. I took my lens to the skies and shot what I could while battling the harsh mid day sun. As we settled in at home that night and looked through the images I shot.

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My better half seemed unimpressed with the skies lack of pop. “Plenty of blue, but where’s the contrast? Where’s the pop?” “Where’s the Drama?”While I agreed, I felt the need to defend myself, noting. “There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.” While my defense was just enough to keep me from having my came confiscated. It made me think aloud, “Why am I not using my filters?” Soon after, I dug feverishly through the containers of photo gear I rarely use and found a small assortment of filters that have gone unused for over a decade. Amongst them I found a polarizer I purchased at University Place while living in NYC in 1994. The next day, like magic, the clouds came out and danced with delight. Not having the time to drive upstate. I headed downstairs and took what you see below. Not bad, considering I hadn’t used a filter since I was a young sex machine in the 1990’s. Perhaps it’s time to start using them more often while attempting a return to my old (yet younger) self.

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