It’s all right there in the title.
My “Look” and Why I Like It That Way
About my look, or photographic post processing style… It’s changed over the years, from a more documentarian style where I’d simply correct colors to taste and crop when needed, to my current dark aesthetic. It really developed from a combination of my camera history, my life experiences and finally letting my honest self be reflected. Let me explain each of those 3 elements and then bring it all back together.
Back in the Saddle (Again) and the Return of Pier 62
Volunteered for Kate on a photowalk to the Seattle waterfront recently. After spending the past few months doing lonely portraits to practice using strobes in 1, 2 and 3 light configurations, it felt good to go out and do some of the type of photography I'm most passionate about.
So, why did I volunteer and for what? Since Seattle is still under a pandemic lockdown that limits group sizes to 5 people, I chose to help by leading a group so more people could participate via proxy groups.
Pier 62 reintroduces a location and perspective that's been missing since it closed for reconstruction. While somewhat pedestrian, the addition of new attractions and changes to the skyline have given it more value when compared with similar locations, both old and new. However, like those other locations, it offers a limited perspective and thus limits its overall value, long term, as a photographic location. It's one that will become over saturated by the end of the summer as a landscape and cityscape destination, even during a time of reduced foot traffic due to the pandemic, but will easily persist as a street, tourist and especially portrait photography location for years to come. Once the new waterfront master plan is completed, Pier 62 could become one of the premium destinations for environmental portraiture and street photography, due to its prime location, identifiable backdrop and potential for high foot traffic.
Keekwulee Falls, Alpine Lakes Wilderness
My friend Craig and I have been planning to hit Keekwulee and Snowshoe Falls on the way to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Mt. Baker/Snoqualmie National Forest for 2 years now and it's never come to pass. However, I recently was able to hit Keekwulee Falls with my girlfriend last weekend.
It would've been better with more water, say after the spring thaw or between autumn rains, but that would also make it far more difficult to reach as you have to ford the very stream the waterfall is upstream of. Despite the unimpressive flow, the granite formations were spectacular. There were also enough pikas running around and whistling to fill a Disney movie.
Single row panoramas have always seemed to thwart me. Either the scene was never appropriate or they wouldn't stitch for one reason or another. After getting the stuff I needed to establish the nodal point on a couple of my lenses, I decided to give it another go from Kerry Park.
That monochrome feeling.
High contrast scenes tend to work well when processed in monochrome format. I'm especially lucky since Fujifilm's film simulations are such great emulations of their popular film stocks. Their Acros simulation is especially good with high contrast, moody scenes and I've been processing more and more of my landscape shots with it.
A few of the high contrast shots I took while in Forks took especially well with the Acros film simulation.
Early Tulips at Roozengaarde
After a day's break from the trip to Forks, Craig and I took advantage of a break in the rain to hit Roozengaarde in Skagit to photograph the tulips before the festival began. About half of the tulips were in bloom and the daffodils were still out, though they looked ready to wilt. Fortunately the weather and time of day seemed to keep most people away. This also gave me a chance to use my Leofoto tripod on different terrain. Again, things just happened to work out for us as the rain held off and the clouds helped give the photos a dramatic, almost ominous look that contrasts with the burst of colors below. Too bad the stiff breeze prevented any chance of getting a longer exposure, but that's fine. For tulips, it's all about the colors.
The Second Day at Second Beach
Day 2 at Second Beach. Unfortunately, this time we hit high tide and quickly discovered the beach was a lot less interesting when the tide is in. We managed to make do, despite shooting over 200 shots, again, trying to chase waves that weren't hitting the shore as intensely as they had the day before. At least having my tripod allowed me to get some long exposures as the clouds were moving on shore fast and thick.
A Sudden Burst of Activity
Funny how things tend to happen in spurts. I spent the past week in Forks and Mount Vernon to get some camera work in. Craig and I went to Second Beach on the Quilayute reservation to photograph the seastacks just off shore. After a day of recovery, we went to Roozengaarde to get some early shots of the tulips before the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Despite the weather forecast predicting rain for the week, we were fortunate to get some breaks in the rain that were long enough to get all of the shots we had planned for, and then some.
Seattle Living Up to Stereotype (Glazer’s Queen Anne Photowalk)
Cold, wet... a lot more rain fell than originally expected when I left the house. It was an absolute mess but Fujifilm proved to me how well they sealed the X-T3. Combined with the 16-55mm ƒ/2.8, the combo remained water-tight in steady wind and rain with no attempt at protection. Because of the weather, I was obviously a bit low on inspiration, but figured I'd post what I got for the sake of others who took part.
Silent Night. #snowmageddon #seattleplayedout
Normally in Seattle, we'll get a couple of inches of snow per winter. This winter, the snow showed up both late and in force, dropping 5 inches of snow on downtown in a single morning. This is on top of a few inches earlier in the week plus a few more inches a day later. As the snow begins to melt from slightly warmer weather bringing rain in the 24 hours since, I've managed to get a few photos processed that reflect the views around downtown in the early hours, shortly after the snowfall stopped.
I walked around downtown at 4am capturing the empty city streets and landmarks between Chinatown and Pier 66. While not very significant compared to other parts of the country, and even the region, the snow was one of the largest single accumulations in recent history for downtown.
Super Wolf Blood Moon Whatever… 2019 Western Hemisphere Lunar Eclipse
The first three were taken before the penumbra even reached the moon. The weather had just begun to clear but a few clouds still managed to cross the sky before clearing moments before the Earth's penumbra began to cast itself upon the moon's surface. The full moon's glow and reflection on the passing clouds created an eerie look that was just too good to not photograph. All three were bracketed shots but the second is an HDR stacked in Lightroom. The first and third were fully recoverable from single images at the proper exposure.
Glazer’s Photowalk: West Seattle
It'd been a while so I decided to attend the Glazer's Photowalk on Sunday, Jan 13th in West Seattle. The weather cooperated despite being in the bowels of winter but it was a bit TOO sunny, creating harsh shadows and contrast for the outdoor exercise. I chose to shoot with my 85mm equivalent, the 56mm ƒ/1.2, allowing me to keep some distance between me and my subjects while permitting me to fill the frame with subjects should I choose to do so. The large aperture also allowed for shallow depth of field shots. To do so, I used a 6-stop ND filter, giving me the ability to shoot with a shutter speed that prevented motion blur despite the bright, cloudless skies. It also gave me enough leeway to add blur by drilling down the aperture only a bit.
Bhy Kracke Park was a failure, Kerry Park less so
So I had this vision in mind: I wanted to get a photo of the Space Needle superimposed on Mt. Rainier. Now that I have the 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 lens from Fujifilm, I'm able to get this shot... if it's even possible. I've seen others who've composited the Space Needle onto a photo of Mt. Rainier, or Mt. Baker, and even Mt. Hood (uh, wtf?) and the results always look less than stellar, mostly because I've lived here most of my life and I know those shots weren't possible using the angles they'd chosen of either object.
I wanted to do this for real, all in camera, so I consulted a map and looked around Queen Anne hill and settled on Bhy Kracke Park.
I went back and took a fresh look at some of the photos taken during my vacation in Long Beach, WA. Decided to process some of them with the Acros emulsion courtesy of Fujifilm and Lightroom. As a peek into my process, I normally shoot in the default Provia simulation but rarely use the OOC jpegs. My preference is to manually post process from a RAW file converted from the original RAF using X-Transformer. The first step in Lightroom is to add a Fujifilm emulsion, either Provia or Astia for portraits, or Provia or Velvia for landscapes. If the photo calls for it, I'll then return later and apply the Acros emulsion once all other adjustments have been completed.
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