Finding Shadows

After watching Sean Tucker talk about Shadows, I wanted to see how I have used shadows in my street photography this year. Not just really high contract images, but actual shadows to highlight a subject. I love using very high contract and shadows whenever possible, but the small towns I shoot in, just are not heavy in shaded areas. Overall, I find it easier to crush the blacks and make an image very contrasty, and I will do a blog entry for that soon.

Below are a few of the images I found this year, that use shadow. As I reviewed my work, I can see more shadows being used later in the year, as my skills improved.

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Dad's Restoration Project

My dad has been a geek since his early teenage years, with a love of all things ham radio. He supported the family by owning a small business that sold ham radio equipment. I grew up around dusty old ham radio equipment. I can still remember the unique smell you get from these antiques and seeing my dad work on these antiques bring up a lot of childhood memories.

He is retired now, but he still has a love for radios and radio equipment. He recently developed a passion for morse code keys, the history behind them and restoring these little communication devices.  Most of them come to him covered in grease and dust. He takes each one apart and restores them back to working condition. 

Just a sample of over 100 in my father's collection. 

Just a sample of over 100 in my father's collection. 

Many of the 100's he has collected were made in the early 1900's and 1940's.  Below is a small handful that he has already restored or are in different phases of restoration.

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The graphics on this box are really amazing. Inside is all the original documentation and equipment, in original condition. 

The graphics on this box are really amazing. Inside is all the original documentation and equipment, in original condition. 

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This device uses a punch tape to transit sounds. It was used for training. 

This device uses a punch tape to transit sounds. It was used for training. 

This was a military device, still waiting restoration. 

This was a military device, still waiting restoration. 

Another still waiting to be restored. 

Another still waiting to be restored. 

Nevada City Dark Tourism

I always find cemetery shooting to be a challenge. I don't always know what compositions will work best to bring out the details of the old headstones and statues. This week I decided to try shooting with the Fujifilm 80mm macro lens and I think it was a perfect choice.  I think this will probably be my goto lens for future cemetery visits.  A few samples are below.

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Long Exposure on the South Yuba

I recently purchased a Lee Filters ProGlass 10 Stop filter. This impressive Lee Filter is designed to eliminate pink color casting found in many other 10-stop filters.  I am very happy with the results produced by the filter on the Fuji X-T2. I didn't have to spend any time changing white balance in lightroom or tweaking the image to remove unusual pink colors. 

South Yuba River in Nevada City.  13 second exposure. f/16. ISO 100. 16mm lens. Mid day sun. 

South Yuba River in Nevada City.

13 second exposure. f/16. ISO 100. 16mm lens. Mid day sun. 

When using the almost totally black 10-stop filter, the Fuji X-T2 is able to accurately calculate exposure time with the normal light meter. I didn't need to spend any time calculating the exposure time before shooting, unlike using the Nikon D810, which requires the use of an exposure conversion chart. I was also able to compose the shot and lock focus, without removing the filter from the camera.  Just one more reason why mirrorless is ahead of DSLR cameras. 

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Tulip Gardens in Nevada City

For one month a year (in April), you can visit the Crystal Hermitage gardens in Nevada City. These impressive gardens feature around 17,000 tulips and flowering trees in a beautiful hillside location, about 25 minutes from downtown Nevada City. 

Fujifilm 16mm lens. The building in the background is a small church. 

Fujifilm 16mm lens. The building in the background is a small church. 

The gardens are visited by 1000's of people and it seems like everyone is taking pictures with either cell phones or full size DSLR cameras.  With all of the colors and different types of flowers, you can imagine why it is so popular.  

Fujifilm 16mm lens

Fujifilm 16mm lens

Fujifilm 16mm lens. Only about 60% of the tulips are flowering when this image was taken. 

Fujifilm 16mm lens. Only about 60% of the tulips are flowering when this image was taken. 

Fuifilm 16mm

Fuifilm 16mm

If you are a Macro shooter, these gardens are a great opportunity to get close to some flowers and maybe a few bugs. 

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens.  In addition to flowers, you will find status and water features. 

Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 Maco lens.  In addition to flowers, you will find status and water features. 

The National Hotel

The National Hotel in Nevada City is the oldest continuously operating hotel in California.  It was recently purchased with a plan for total renovation. When you see the pictures below, you will understand why it will cost upwards of $2 million to re-open the hotel.

The hotel offers some of the best views in Nevada City and the public balcony is a great feature.

The hotel offers some of the best views in Nevada City and the public balcony is a great feature.

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The hallways remind you of The Shining.

The hallways remind you of The Shining.

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These rooms were available for rent only a few weeks ago, and the bedding looks about 20 years old.

These rooms were available for rent only a few weeks ago, and the bedding looks about 20 years old.

Everything in the hotel rooms is currently for sale, $25 for the bed

Everything in the hotel rooms is currently for sale, $25 for the bed

I always like a sink next to my head.

I always like a sink next to my head.

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One of the bigger rooms.

One of the bigger rooms.

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Nikon vs Fujifilm

Yesterday I returned to the Empire Mine State Park in Grass Valley, California to test out my new Fuji 18-55mm lens. I wanted to see what a Nikon D810 image (shot last year) looks like vs a Fuji X-T2 image from the same location. 

Shot with a Fuji X-T2 with the Fujifilm 18-55mm lens. Handheld with a high ISO.  Edited in Silver Efex Pro. f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60th. (testing the OIS). 

Shot with a Fuji X-T2 with the Fujifilm 18-55mm lens. Handheld with a high ISO.  Edited in Silver Efex Pro. f2.8, ISO 5000, 1/60th. (testing the OIS). 

Shot with the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 24-70mm lens. Tripod.  Edited with Silver Efex Pro. f18, ISO 400. 15 second exposure. 

Shot with the Nikon D810 with the Nikon 24-70mm lens. Tripod.  Edited with Silver Efex Pro. f18, ISO 400. 15 second exposure. 

While the composition and editing are a little different, I think this is an interesting comparison of these systems. I prefer the high contrast found in the Fuji image.  Which image do you prefer? 

Small Town Street Photography

When you think about street photography, most people think about New York, London or maybe even India.  You think about the busy big city.  I don't really have access to the big city, I have access to small California towns with only 3,000 to 12,000 people. That is small. But I have been able to find an endless supply of photo subjects. 

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What we do have in this small community is festivals and tourists.  With tourists, the populations can grow by 10,000 or 20,000 people in a single weekend. This has helped me to develop my skills in an area of photography that is totally different from my traditional landscape photos.

Everyone dresses up for the Christmas festivals. 

Everyone dresses up for the Christmas festivals. 

I have been doing street photography for about a year and during that time, I have started to develop my own style, that involves wide lenses and in many cases close up candid captures. 

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I have found some of my inspiration has come from London Photographer Craig Whitehead who is a master at finding unique angles, shadows and reflections. These are harder to come by in a small town, but I am always looking for something new on these tiny streets. I have also been inspired by the high contrast documentary style of Kevin Mullins.

Father and Son Time

Father and Son Time

It's the unique moments that you can capture with street photography that i like the most.  Being able to capture something that no one else can duplicate later keeps street photography interesting.  

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If you want to see more of my street work, follow me on Instagram