May 2013 Challenge: Street Photography, Black and White, Frontyard-Backyard

June 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Another mixed month as the themes range from easy to hard. Street photography takes a bit of courage, especially if you want to engage with someone before the shot. Casual talk and friendliness will go far in trying to get permission to photograph a stranger. Just be honest and most people will accept your intrusion. If you say it's for a photography assignment, you'll even have a better chance. If you give them a card and tell them where to see the photo, they'll most likely jump at the opportunity.

The Black and White theme photos are much easier to negotiate. Removing/processing a color photo is pretty simple with most software programs. Tweaking it to get the best skin tones, sky, etc. is a little harder. Some of your cameras may have a Black and White mode setting that takes most of the work out of it. Both my Nikon D90 and D5100 have menu choices that include Monochrome, although I've never used the feature. I'd rather adjust everything in Photoshop Elements.

The Frontyard/Backyard theme photos were the easiest to take this month. No stress, no playing with photo editing software, no nothin'.

So let's see what the results were from those happy campers who submitted their pictures.

 

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I'll go first this time. May was a busy month for me, as I added way over 1000 pictures to my file folders. We enjoyed the Lodi Street Faire and National Rail Day in Sacramento: I purposely was thinking Street Photography the whole time at both events. When you have a plan, your eye is going to be looking and planning for those unique captures. And when you are in crowds, most folks don't even know or care if you're taking their picture. Lots of fun spying on them, too.

This first photo at the Lodi Street Faire was a situation begging that I record it. The local Mr. Popular was doing some perpish things when the police were called to investigate. I was waiting for Barb to come out of a second-hand store, and was standing by the door with my big camera in tow. Mr. Popular was ranting about someone following him and demanding that I trail him and take pictures of the perceived tail as the police arrived and started questioning the guy. They checked his pockets and convinced him to leave the Faire and not come back. While they escorted him to the nearest alley, he kept wanting me to take pictures of him. Just another day in the life of a street photographer, I guess. Pretty fun experience, I do admit.

I converted this shot to B&W as well, to give it more of a newsy look - something you might see in a 1960's magazine. This silhouettes the main characters and draws your attention to the action in the center. The color rendition is just too busy and distracting. That's the genius of B&W - it simplifies and amplifies at the same time.

 

 

My second entry is also in the Street Photography genre, as well. Sitting on a planter box in Old Sacramento waiting for Barb to get and eat an ice cream cone, I fired away as nonchalantly as possible at a number of characters. I really was taken with this boarding couple as they sauntered along the boardwalk. Reminded me of the old days for some reason.

 

 

 

My third offer is another Street Photography shot with a twist. It is taken from the hip while a skateboarder was walking in front of me at the Lodi Street Faire. I worked it in color, then tried it in B&W to accentuate the kid's expression and hair. Guess I could have kept the color in the balloon, though. Shooting from the hip is always fun. Just hold your camera at waist level and hope for the best.

 

 

 

The last entry is in the Black and White category, also. Don and I got up early from our comfy hotel beds at the CalNeva Resort in Lake Tahoe after our first night there and walked down to what they call Speedboat Beach, about 1/4 mile away to check things out. There were plenty of clouds for some great sunrise shots, so we stayed for about 1/2 hour, shooting different angles, compositions and color. The huge boulders at the shoreline were awesome (one of the reasons I wanted to stay at the north end of the lake). This boulder silhouette is much more striking in B&W than color. I purposely darkened everything while dodging the clouds to make them stand out more. This may be a little too dark for most tastes, but I didn't want to distract from the drama going on in the sky.

 

 

 

 

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Next, we'll look at John's submissions, the first being a B&W close-up of a friendly crab. He says, "Hello from the Beach!  Attached is my contribution from a photo shoot today, B&W and public.  Shot at Chaney's which is my usual surf spot at the very end of Studios Drive.  Cooper is trying to scoop up the crab using a nice abalone shell we found." John didn't tell us the rest of the story, so you'll have to imagine it. My guess is that Cooper carried it to a safe place and let it go.

 

 

 

John's Street Photography entry converts the street into a nice walking beach rife with people and pets. Everyone's bundled, so it must be pretty cool yet. One person (at least) is taking a photo. I'm counting ten dogs here. No cats. I like the mist, which gives the photo a softness, and the linear striations of wet and drier sand in the foreground. And is that kelp on shore, or a lot of unbagged doo-doo?

 

 

 

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Ginnie's entries include a nice still life Black and White of lilies in a pond. Again, there is power in simplicity and accentuation that pleases the eye. The lighter colored pads in the foreground balance the darker ones in the back. Thanks, Ginnie.

 

 

 

"Try it. You'll like it" is the title of her second entry, which was taken at the Paso Robles Festival of the Arts event at the city park. Looks like plain ol' popcorn in the bag. The boy doesn't look too impressed.

 

 

 

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Harry, back in Kentucky, sent me a few photos from his latest adventure at the Indianapolis Speedway. He says, "I had the opportunity to go to IMS for practice and qualifying for the Indy 500. I finally found a good place for shots on the 2nd day - gosh this place is like really huge and did the best I could. My kingdom for a good super tele.  Race car photography is a totally new experience for me not the standard landscape or still life. Hope you enjoy." Wow, Harry! Wish I could have been there with you.

 

  Harry

 

 

 

 

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Don rounds out the entries for May by really stretching himself in the Street Photography category. He tells us, "Okay Dave, you've done it....forced me out of my shell. Janet and I went downtown looking for subjects. The park was virtually empty, so I drove over to the train depot. I had seen this homeless guy over there before, but never interacted with him. I introduced myself, and after assuring him I had nothing to do with law enforcement he agreed to a few pics. His name is Bill...."Dollar Bill". He was given this name by a co-worker because he was always borrowing a dollar for a beer. This was taken through the front wheel of his bike. I did a couple of versions on this one." Don, both of these compositions work and have their advantages. The first gets more of the bicycle in, which frames Bill perfectly. The second zeroes in on his face, expression and belongings - a little more personable. Thanks for both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don also found a willing 'victim' at a local restaurant in Paso Robles. "Kerby was our waitress at Monteverde's Restaurant on 13th Street. It was her first day on the job......she got a good tip."

 

 

 

And our last offering is another one of Don's girls. "We also went across the street to the Cheese Shop to sample some cheese. Since this young lady was gracious enough to let me take her pic, we came home with some bread and cheese." Good man, Don. You win the prize for most money spent to enter the May Challenge. Ha!

 

 

 

 

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So that's it, folks. Thanks so much for making this a fun month of shooting (at least for me!). Hopefully, we've learned a bit more about our cameras, how they work and what they're capable of.

The June Challenge themes will be "Vacation Photos," "Clouds," and "Summertime." Take your pick or mix them as usual. Enjoy.

And if you want to, send me a note with your picture with details on where you were, why you took it, the camera you used, what you did (if anything) when you processed it, etc. As you can see from above, adding a story to the picture is a great addition.

Happy shooting and remember to give God thanks that we can have these opportunities to enjoy His creation, our families, friends and each experience He blesses us with.


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