The "Off Season"

I started digging through the archive this afternoon, looking for some photographs that I could contribute to an exhibit that a friend is helping to organize and at the same time trying to fend off some serious post-holiday, winter blues - I'm cold and its dark, and I'm having a hard time remembering that I grew up on Cape Cod where they have been having this weather since Thanksgiving and right about this time of year the sun sets at 4:30 in the afternoon. 

But I did grow up there, and I do miss it - maybe not the lifestyle or the living - but the land and the way  everything eventually takes you to the ocean.

Growing up on the Cape I don't think you really experience the "off season".  You are at the beach in the summer, and then you are in school, and the beach and the summer became memories, and that is the cycle.  After I graduated from college, I started taking photos when I went back for the holidays., and I discovered the quiet deserted beaches, the bordered up summer homes, the empty  restaurants with chairs tipped upside down - all of it. 

These were taken on a particularly beautiful day - cold and foggy, a day when you arrive at the ocean and couldn't quite see that it, but you knew it was around you.  Maria, looking over my shoulder, thinks that they look like old slides - maybe even sepia tones, funny to be nostalgic for something that you never experienced growing up.  But I think that is the effect of visiting such a place and rediscovering things that  you probably should have know all along.


Frank Smith - Ledroit Park, Oral History #2

I've started working on an oral history project with a neighbor, Robert Sullivan, in the DC neighborhood of LeDroit Park.  Although LeDroit is only just a handful of blocks (located north of the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and Florida Avenue) it has a very long and rich history dating back to the late 1800's.  The aim of this project is to document some of this history by making audio recordings (Robert) and photographing (my part) interviews with long time residents and then to develop a web site where excerpts of these interviews can be heard and where these photographs can be show.  Until then ...

Frank Smith was the second of these interviews.  Mr. Smith is a long time civil rights activists, a former city councilman, and is the founding director of the African American Civil War Museum.  The interview lasted about 2 hours which allowed lots of time for me to photograph but also to listen - both equally enjoyable.

I photographed with 1 to 2 off camera flashes and small umbrella mods and also with available light.  The later I converted to B+W, because the available light was a mix of fluorescent and regular incandescent bulbs that created a strange cast.  More photos here.



Sh-o-o-o-o-es !

A friend of mine found out last week that I do all of the photography for the on-line stores for Hu's Wear and Hu's Shoes, both located in Georgetown - I was flattered when she told me that she had just assumed that all of these photos came directly from the designers.  So, to dispel any linger doubt, this is how I spent Saturday afternoon. 

Did you all know you can make quick contact sheets in PS?  Just look under File/Automate.



My friend Adam was willing to sit for me last week before he headed off to San Francisco and then to Eqypt.  I've photographed him before, but not in a formal setting.  These are shot with my 6x7 Mamiya - a very satisfying camera to work with when doing portraiture.  I have some B+W shot with the 4x5 that are out for processing - After Christmas they told me, lots of film being shot these days, and I don't mind waiting for it.  But it would be nice if it came sooner.

There is a bit of PS in post, but only to clean up a few spots on the film and to do a bit of work on the color and levels.  The lighting (background fall off, contrast, etc.) was the product of my strobes and a bit of soft filter (photos one and 3) over the lens. 

I am going to have to talk a bit about my color correction / selection at some point.  Maybe when I figure it out for myself.  For now I'm enjoying the shifts in some of these images, maybe the product of my use of the scanner and my attraction to Matisse's paintings.  It seems to me the filter and the color have the effect of unifying the subject and the background, and allowing the background to become a three dimensional player - a space that the subject exists in.


4x5 portraits

I've been sitting in on a large format photography (4x5) workshop these last few weeks.  Beer, pizza, comrades, cool cameras and last week a very nice portrait session with Natasha.  Here are my 2 shots from the night.  Both are happy accidents, but with a little split toning in post these two Polaroids are, in my mind, quite intriguing and worth repeating.


















and to work on my metering, and because I had some 8 year old Polaroid quick load film sitting around, I did a couple self portraits after class.

From the second image, I'm happy to learn my meter is working very close to spot on.  The second image was also shot with a DIY haze filter to soften some of my hard edges.