A look back at 2014, Part 2

I will remember 2014 as the year I embraced monochrome photography. Much as I love colour, I have become totally enchanted with black and white pictures.

Light, lines and moments —  I found myself shooting those a lot this year, consciously and unconsciously — and black and white is ideal for bringing out the best of those kinds of images.

I have also started studying some of the masters recently, and was lucky enough to receive a signed print by famous Magnum photographer, Elliott Erwitt, which now hangs proudly on my wall, and which I will cherish forever.

I joined a few groups that share black and white photography and have been so inspired by the work posted there.

I have a feeling 2015 will also be a black and white kind of year!

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Taken by pictures…

big faceLR

 We do not take pictures — we are taken by pictures.

Ernest Haas

scene in the snow

 

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…the strong desire to take pictures – is important. It borders on a need, based on a habit: the habit of seeing. Whether working or not, photographers are looking, seeing, and thinking about what they see, a habit that is both a pleasure and a problem, for we seldom capture in a single photograph the full expression of what we see and feel. It is the hope that we might express ourselves fully – and the evidence that other photographers have done so – that keep us taking pictures.
Sam Abell

 

 

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Converge…

manhattan steel-for blog

 

Still on my New York City kick {smile} I’m joining today with The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Converge.”

Not only does this image convey “convergence” to me, but so does the experience of New York.

“To come together from different directions; to meet.” That is what happens here.

Different people with different habits, preferences, beliefs, attitudes, practices, backgrounds etc. etc. coming from very different places meet here in a huge, diverse city like New York; they rub up against each other, sometimes to positive effect, sometimes not, sadly.

Much as I like to surround myself with the cocoon of the comfortable, the easy and the familiar, I also like to voyage out to see what life is like in very different places. I like to be challenged by what I experience. Just as change can be energizing, so can confrontations with difference.

The truth is we all have to come together and get along somehow in this world. Being unable to identify with the lives and ways of those who are not like us can set us up to judge, objectify and ultimately hate and hurt those who we consider “the other.”

The vital need to stay open and strive to find common ground in our common humanity is one thing that New York City will always symbolize to me.

Other posts on New York City:

The City is Like Poetry

Central Park in Black and White and Colour

 

The city is like poetry…

empire state LR

A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.

E.B. White, Here Is New York

 

Maria Popova of Brainpickings calls Here is New York by EB White one of the best books about New York ever written. 

Her post here also includes an incredible series of black and white images of New York by Berenice Abbott. Well worth having a look.

Central Park in Black and White and in Colour

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Last fall, I did a 7-part series in this blog featuring images of New York. It’s such a visually rich city and I had such a good time shooting it that I was thrilled to have the chance to make another trip this fall.

Last year I signed up for a photo safari called “Iconic New York.” It was a great fun to discover key spots in Midtown Manhattan with fellow photographers and get tips to improve my photo skills. You can read more about it here.

Me and my sister on the Bow Bridge. Photo by Rob, Photo Safari leader.

As I was going to be travelling with my sister Elena this time, who enjoys photography as much as I do, I suggested we sign up for another safari — this time in Central Park, a place we both love.

Ever since my very first trip to New York back in the early 80s, I’ve been an enthusiastic fan of Central Park. I appreciate its enormity, its diversity, its intelligent and beautiful design and the way it is open and accessible to everyone.

Public green spaces are vital to liveable city life — and Central is one of the most exceptional examples in the world of how that works. New Yorkers love it — and so do visitors from all over the world.

Our group met at the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace and concentrated our first shots around that area. Leader Rob, a professional photographer, offered useful pointers and suggestions before and after we made our images. I particularly enjoyed discussing composition with him. He gave us demos and also gave us plenty of time to wander on our own.

There were four of us in the group, which turned out to be very congenial — two Canadians (my sister and I) and a man from Australia and a woman from New Zealand.

We then gathered under the arches and practised shooting in low light and high dynamic range situations.

After that we moseyed on to the Bow Bridge, which proved to be a great vantage point for shooting the boaters on the Lake and the Loeb Boathouse. The day had been forecast to be rainy, but we did not get one drop. It turned out to be gorgeous with lovely light.

Before we parted 2 1/2 hours later, we also spent some time in the famous tree-lined Mall.

Elena and I spent the rest of the day continuing to explore areas of the park we hadn’t been before (such as the Ramble) as well as returning to spend more time around the Bethesda Fountain.

This is where I made some of my favorite images — and happened to look up just at the right time to catch a young couple ready to kiss. It was a “decisive moment” as Cartier-Bresson would say.

The whole area was packed with people taking pictures and enjoying themselves and the excellent free entertainment. It was obviously a magnet for romantic wedding pictures as everywhere we went we saw brides and grooms posing together. To get my images with fewer people in them, I had to be patient and wait for just the right time.

The colours in stone and tile work under the Terrace are beautifully soft and subtle, which makes for lovely colour pictures, but the stone arches and interesting architecture and light also suits black and white photography perfectly.

So I did both.

It was a still a bit early in the season for the really vibrant fall foliage (not to self: go a bit later in the fall next time), but there was enough of a change to make the background scenery pop a bit.

I found that alternating between my wide angle zoom (24 to 85 mm) and my telephoto zoom (70 to 200 mm) gave me a good variety of focal lengths to capture the images I was drawn to.

These are only a small group of my images of Central Park, as you can imagine. I just may have to do another post on this very special place!

smooch

I surprised myself by being fast enough to capture this “decisive moment”.

arches band

The Terrace arches in black and white.

bride

With their beautiful light, couples flock to the Bethesda Arches for wedding pictures.

bubbles

These giant bubbles must have looked magical to the little ones. Hey, they looked magical to me!

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The Loeb Boathouse reflected in the waters of the still Lake.

elena

My sister focusses her camera on some of the beautiful details of the Arches.

sherry and rob

Elena took this one of me and Rob discussing a shot.

Prince Edward County in Black and White

Today’s post features some recent explorations in black and white photography.

I recently went on a delightful sojourn with my family in Prince Edward County, Ontario — a wonderful rural region around Picton which has become very popular for its amazing food and wine and hospitality.

Hundreds of images later, I have only managed to process a few. I’ve joined a wonderful Facebook group that focuses on black and white photography, and this has encouraged me to work on one of my very favorite forms of photography.

So here is a just small taste for now…

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