Monday, October 31, 2011

new york in b&w

I have just experienced the first snow storm of the season this past Saturday!  Living in the east coast pretty much means you'll get hit with snowfall many times a year, so I am bracing myself for the worse that's yet to come...

Before the snow storm hit, I was already in New York for my photography class.  The week prior, our instructor Brad has asked us to try portrait shots and these are what I came up with. I didn't have much time to do the homework during the week and so had to arrive in New York early enough to take some street portraits before the start of the class.

And of course, I wasn't expecting rain (and certainly not snow later on)!  I got so used to the sunny and colorful New York in the past few months and was disappointed with the weather condition.  Luckily I got some unexpected shots and they end up being some of the best photos I've ever done.

It's difficult to take street portraits.  I didn't want people to think I was rude or intrusive and so I really missed a lot of good candid shots.  I know if I want to do more street photography in the future, I need to be more confident and less self conscious about the whole process.  Brad showed me a video on Bruce Gilden and it really cracked me up!  I felt so much better after learning about what he did to people on the streets.

On a separate note, I've turned these photos into black and white, simply because I've just learned B&W conversion in Lightroom and was very eager to hone my skills.  This really ignites my interests in B&W and I hope to do more of this from now on.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

still life

This past weekend my homework assignment was to create still life photos.  I didn't want to go home taking boring practice shots so thought I would walk around 5th Avenue and check out the new UNIQLO flagship store as well.

It's hard to shoot 5th Avenue with the still life concept in mind.  I mean, it's a place full of fast moving cars, enthusiastic tourists, and aromatic hot dog vendors!  So taking still life shots would probably be the last thing a photographer wants to do.

After walking a block or two, I realize that the store display windows are wonderful subjects for this exercise.  They're full of glitz and glams and are very attractive subjects indeed for a non-new yorker like me!

I have to say that this is the type of photo I am comfortable with and I've developed an eye for interesting subjects and composition.  Now I really have to start venturing into the unknown by experimenting different shots and stretching the creative mind - so that eventually, I can find my own unique point of view.

"To remain static is to lose ground." -- David Packard

Sunday, October 23, 2011

to stumble is to learn

Last Saturday I had to do some last-minute homework assignment before going to class, so I decided to get to the train station earlier and take some photos there.  It was a nice sunny morning, so what could be better than taking some photos of the platform and the passengers, right? In my mind I could already see the images.

After taking a few shots, to my horror, I noticed that things were barely showing up on my camera's LCD screen!  Every photo was literally pitch dark.  I mean, I know I have a lot to learn and practice, but really, how could I possibly have photos that are so drastically different than what I saw in the viewfinder?!

It was too early in the morning for me to comprehend what had happened and so I took some extreme measures - switched from aperture priority mode to manual, and cranked the ISO setting all the way up to 1600.  And to my relief, photos are starting to show up.  But I still couldn't figure out why and was totally demoralized!

So as it turned out, I set my exposure compensation to -5, which means all my pictures are completely underexposed.  This of course was corrected with the help of my wonderful instructor Kate.

I guess the moral of the story is, always pay attention to the data in your viewfinder because your camera is smart enough to give you the warning signs and you better believe what it says.  Oh and also, it's inevitable that you have to stumble a few times before you know how to shoot properly.  I guess that's just part of the learning process.  The good news is, after the incident, I know I will never make the same mistake again.

Here are few of the photos taken that day.  Luckily, I managed to salvage them with some simple Lightroom adjustments.  But the reality is, some shots were impossible to recover and those picture-perfect moments - of people chatting happily before boarding the train, were lost forever...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

new beginning

I've been taking digital photography since 2003 but was mostly using Canon PowerShot G series.  The cameras are great but I know I will need to move on to DSLR one day if I want to progress as a photographer.  So after the first digital photography course using my second-hand Nikon D70 (thanks Dad), I've decided to set up this blog to document my new journey.

These photos were taken last weekend in Manhattan and honestly, I am not sure if they can be considered as a set of cohesive work.  I was also debating whether I should showcase a set of 5 or 6 photos as opposed to 3.  But I find that if I can convey a short and sweet message with 3, I should leave it at that.  Plus, this will allow me to post more often, which means I am more likely to commit to this project longer!

So here it is.  My new beginning.  I definitely want to thank ICP for having great instructors and facility for people to learn photography.  It's definitely a dream come true for me.  I have already registered for another set of class starting this coming weekend.  Can't wait to learn more and of course, create more!