I don’t know that I’m your typical gearhead but I am a gearhead nonetheless. After working my way up the Canon hierarchy from a Rebel XT with a kit lens to a 30D to a 50D to 5DMkII with a bevy of L-glass, I now find myself smitten by small, point-and-shoot type cameras. The evolution followed by devolution has paralleled my primary shooting interests as they moved from primarily landscape to a mix of landscape and street.
As I began hitting the streets of New York, I went out with my 50D or 5DMkII with a 17-40 or 24-70 lens. It worked. It definitely worked. But the kit was big, bulky and very obvious. I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb as I moved around the city in search of meaningful street images. I longed for something smaller, lighter, more compact and much less conspicuous.
Here is where the gearhead part of me kicks in because I will research options until, as the saying goes, I get completely tangled up in my own underwear. Coming to a decision becomes a painful process as I check and recheck specs, reviews, etc. But I say I am atypical because once I do come to decision and make a purchase, I quickly forget all about the specs and reviews. I forget about the sensor size, the number of MPs, and virtually all the other details about the camera as I focus my attention on the camera as a tool in my hands. Heck, sometimes I even forget the model number which can be embarassing when another photographer asks what I am using.
But then I return to the typical gearhead mode as I continually am looking for next great little camera for my kit. So what’s in my street photography kit right now? Two cameras. The first is a Canon Powershot G1X – my “big boy” little camera. It feels great in my hands. As a Canon shooter, I am comfortable with the controls, menus, buttons, etc. It has a very smooth zoom range of 28-112mm. It is fast and has minimal shutter lag. It controls noise pretty well up to ISO 1600 which is about as far as I push it. (Okay, every once in a while I will go to 3200 and still am satisfied with the noise levels.) And it has a larger sensor… not APS-C but getting close. Virtually all the street photography I have been post on my website (www.edvatza.com), on Facebook and elsewhere has been shot with the G1X. I recently completed a series of four very positive portfolio reviews of prints made up entirely of images from the G1X. And I have a 16×24 black & white print on exhibit in a juried show that was shot with the G1X at ISO 1600. Pretty darn good, I think.
But I felt I needed a back up to the G1X… another small, hopefully even smaller, point-and-shoot that would deliver big boy results. So back I dove in the reviews, etc. As an exclusive Canon shooter, I felt very uncomfortable with the prospects of moving away from Canon. But the more I read, the more I seemed destined to break the Canon bond. And when time came to make the decision, I moved away from Canon and from most of the other brand names that seem to quickly jump to mind… brands like Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and so on. My choice for a back up to the G1X is none other than the Ricoh GR Digital IV. Everything is relative but it is much smaller that the G1X. Still it seems to have everything I was looking for in a street photography camera. Oh there are limitations to be sure. It has a smaller, 10MP sensor. The lens is a fixed 28mm (35mm equivalent) wunderkind. But it is fast. And it shows very little if any shutter lag. And it still produces excellent images at ISO 800 and even 1600. I haven’t used this camera often as of yet but the work I have done with it has pleased me greatly. Much of the work I have posted here under Ed Vatza Photography on Facebook the past two weeks was shot with GRD IV. I haven’t had the opportunity to blow up some prints from this camera as of yet but I am optimistic that I can easily get up to 16x24s from it’s files.
So my street fightin’ photography kit right now consists of the Canon Powershot G1X and the Ricoh GR Digital IV. The two cameras fit perfectly in a very compact Tamrac bag with enough room for back-up batteries and SD cards. And away I go.
But now I am feeling the bite of the small camera bug once again. Man would I love to get my hands on a Leica M. Anyone out there have a spare they would be willing to give me because I sure can’t afford to buy one. But there is another camera that I can afford that is intriguing the everliving daylights out of me. And that is the Ricoh GXR. Compact. Mirrorless. Interchangeable lenses and more. The lenses aren’t just lenses. They come as self-contained units that include the lens and the sensor. Each unit is customized for the specific lens. So you have one camera back and as you switch units, you are effectively creating different cameras. This is unlike anything I have ever encountered in a compact camera or DSLR, for that matter. I haven’t pulled the trigger on this baby yet. But I keep researching and everything I am finding is positive. It may prove hard to resist. Who knows? My street kit may soon expand to a threesome!
In the meantime if any of you out there have had any experience with the Ricoh GXR, please drop me a line. I’d like to hear your first hand experiences.
For most of my photographic life, I have been a landscape photographer who worked very hard to create images that minimized human influences and eliminated people from my photographs. Then more recently I turned my creative attention to urban street photography where people play a critical role and live and breathe in almost every image I make.
In most instances, the people I photograph do not know they are being photographed. They are in public places (on the streets, in the parks, etc.) and this type of “street” photography is perfectly legal. On the rare occasions when my subject realizes that I am about to photograph them, I will cordially ask if they mind. If they say no, I will grab an image or two even though the image is not nearly as candid and natural as when they are unaware of their picture being taken. If they say yes they would mind, I will defer to their wishes and move on. Because of the very nature of my street photography, I do not go up to the subject after photographing them and ask them to sign a release. And this is the point at which some have questioned what can and cannot be done with such a photograph sans a release from the subject.
I have always believed, based on everything I have heard and read, that I could do almost anything with the images taken of people in public places. It is my understanding that I could post the images online, hang prints in a gallery, include the images in a book or other publication and, indeed, even sell the print as a work of art. What I could not do is sell rights to the image for advertising or other commercial, as opposed to artistic, purposes.
So I started to research this question more fully and found a book entitled “The Law (in Plain English) for Photographers” Third Edition by Leonard D. DuBoff and Christy O. King (Allworth Press, New York, 2010) to be very helpful. Let me state right here that I am not a lawyer and I am not attempting to dispense any actionable legal advice here. I am only reporting what I have learned based on my research as a photographer. You are responsible for making your own decisions.
Are releases a good idea? Yes, they are. DuBoff and King say:
“Use of a photograph without written consent always raises the possibility of a lawsuit based on violation of some aspect of right to privacy. The surest and simplest way to avoid right-of-privacy suits is to obtain a release from the subject of the picture.” p.64 (bold italics mine)
A release is a good idea if you can get one signed. However, even a signed release is not foolproof if the subject wants to challenge it. Also the release is, in effect, a contract and the subject should get something (even a nominal payment) in exchange for signing the release allowing the photographer to use the images. Just something to think about.
But is a release absolutely necessary? Apparently not as the case below indicates.
“New York law prohibits use of another’s likeness without consent for advertising or trade. A 2006 case, Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia, concerned the photograph of an Orthodox Hassidic Jew”… whose “image was shot by a professional photographer one day when he was walking through Times Square. This photograph was exhibited at a gallery, along with others, and a catalog of the exhibition was distributed. The photograph was also included in two reviews of the show, and ten editioned prints of the photograph were sold. The court held that although the photograph was sold, the use was artistic rather than commercial and did not violate New York privacy laws.” p.61 (bold italics mine)
So, at least in New York (where I happen to do most of my street photography), the law is on the photographer’s side. You can take a photograph on the street, you can hang the print in a gallery, you can use the print to promote the gallery show, the print can be used in published reviews, and the artist can sell the print all without getting a release signed by the subject. This does not violate New York’s privacy laws.
Now I also had specific questions about the use of these images in a book. A book of street photography meets the artistic requirement referenced above. But there is further support:
“… the First Amendment protection that modern courts apply to
‘newsworthy information’, which includes educational or informational material, as well as current events, makes it unlikely that photographers depicting matters of public interest will incur liability for public exposure. Where the information disclosed is true, the First Amendment freedoms afforded to the press almost invariably outweighs an individual’s right of privacy.” p.53 (bold italics mine)
So if the book is artistic and educational, which I would hope it would be, it seems perfectly fine to use images taken on the streets and other public places without the subjects’ knowledge and for which you have no signed release.
Let me reiterate, this is the understanding I am working under. You are responsible for making your own decisions as to how comfortable you are using images you have taken and for which you have no signed release.
I love flowers. I love to look at them. I love to smell theme. And I love to photograph them. I find them beautiful; I find them sensual… words that may seem strange coming from a big hulking guy like me.
What has always attracted me the most aren’t the fields of flowers stretching as far as the eye could see but rather the intricacies of the single bloom. For this reason, I have almost always turned to my macro lenses when photographing flowers.
For years, I have gotten up close and personal with flowers of all kinds. During the winter months, I worked with cut flowers in my dining room. In the spring and summer, I worked with wildflowers filling the fields, woods and meadows. And year around, I would head to gardens such as Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA to photograph their exotic blooms.
I worked hard at capturing every detail of the flower – the petals, the pistil, the stamens, and the stems. And I think I did it well. But I never felt that I had anything unique, anything that everyone else shooting flowers didn’t have. So I started to search for a different way of looking at flowers. And that search has lead to my “Soft Petals” project.
As I stated above, I find flowers to be very sensual and I wanted to capture that sensuality as best I could. I had seen the work of others using the Lensbaby with the Soft Focus optic. I loved their results and decided to start working with that. I liked the look. It was moving me in the right direction. But it wasn’t quite there yet. I needed to get in even closer to what I considered to be the sensual essence of the flower. So I turned to the Lensbaby Macro/Close-up lenses and attached those to the Soft Focus optic. The +4 macro lens alone still didn’t get me close enough. But the +10 and the combination of the +10 and +4 definitely did.
And the result was almost exactly what I was looking for. The macro filters pulled me inside the flower and the soft focus optic, while not providing me with every detail, did envelope me in the soft, sensual, creaminess of the petals. Thus was born the Ed Vatza Photography “Soft Petals” project.
The following are examples of “Soft Petals” images made using the Lensbaby Composer with the Soft Focus optic and stacked macro lenses.
Note that I said the results were “almost” exactly what I was looking for. But they came up a little short. I definitely got inside the flower and I definitely got the softness I was looking for but I wanted the ability to isolate a single part of the flower and still get that part (a stamen, for example) razor sharp. I felt there was still more work to do. So while working with the Lensbaby combination, I kept looking for other alternatives. And I found what I was looking for as a result of a conversation with a sales representative at one of the big New York photography superstores. I went there planning to buy a Canon Soft Focus lens. But conversation with the representative led me first in the direction of soft focus and diffusion filters and then, upon further discussion of exactly what I was trying to accomplish, in the direction of center spot filters.
I have to admit that I had never heard of center spot filters. And I’ve never been a big fan of Cokin but I thought I would give them a try. Instead of a new lens, I left the store with two Cokin center spot filters – the 060 C. Spot Incolor 1 and the 071 C. Spot WA Incolor 2.
After a bit of experimenting with different lens/filter combinations, I settled in on a combination that I really liked and more importantly that gave me the exact look I was seeking – sharp where I wanted it and creamy soft everywhere else. That combination is the Cokin 071 “wide angle” center spot filter on a long, in my case a Sigma 150mm, macro lens stopped down to around f/16. I could move the filter around placing the center spot wherever I want it. It would be sharp in the center spot while the surrounding areas, even in the same plane of focus, would go sensuously soft.
The following are examples of “Soft Petals” images made using the Cokin Wide Angle Center Spot filter with a long (Sigma 150mm) macro lens stopped down. It is the look that now defines the Ed Vatza Photography “Soft Focus” project. I like it… a lot… and hope you do to!
Himalayan Blue Poppy
Ed Vatza is an Eastern Pennsylvania-based photographer, speaker and workshop leader. In addition to his “Soft Petals” project, Ed is also working on four other photographic projects including “Morning Becomes Electric” (sunrise photography); “Contrasts” (B&W photography); “Simplicity” (photominimalism) and the “Manhattan Project: Alone Among Millions” (street photography). Ed has spoken to clubs around the region on topics such as “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: Great Images from Your Own Backyard” and “Morning Becomes Electric” and is currently working on a presentation entitled “From Landscape to Street” which covers the application of landscape photography skills and techniques to street photography. He also leads photo workshops in places such as Acadia National Park, the Hudson River Valley and the aforementioned Longwood Gardens.
It is time, actually the time is long overdue, for me to re-energize my blog which has laid relatively dormant for way too long.
A Bit of History
Some of you may recall that I began with a blog entitled “It’s My Nature: Photography by Ed Vatza”. I posted almost daily, sharing new images, random thoughts, etc. The blog eventually evolved into a website (www.itsmynaturephotography.com) which several years later morphed into www.edvatza.com. For the record, I continue to own the itsmynaturephotography.com url and it will seamlessly take you to edvatza.com. Along the way, I discovered Facebook, started a page there and started posting on almost a daily basis. With the website and Facebook taking up chunks of my time, the blog sort became the ugly step child and was ignored. I would post there in fits and starts but never have gotten back to a regular posting schedule. Until now!
Why Bring Back the Blog?
Good question. I’m glad I asked. I have things to say, ideas to share that just don’t fit on Facebook or on my website. I want a venue to talk about workshops I have led recently as well as upcoming workshops. I want a venue to share special techniques I have been developing over time. I want a venue to talk about the projects I am currently working on, where they came from and more importantly where they are headed in the future. Yes, I am writing some of these things for me. But I also truly believe they are things that can be very helpful and very interesting to you as well.
What are Some of the Topics that I Want to Share?
Some of the topics I will share here on my blog are ones that I have been asked to share as a guest blogger on other sites. I think it is time to share my thoughts on sunrise photography and my “Morning Becomes Electric” project. I am a morning person and love to shoot sunrises. I want to share some of what I have learned over the years including the best times to capture vibrant sunrise colors, what to look for when planning your early morning forays, the use of HDR for sunrises, the use of filters such as the the reverse GND to accentuate the color, and so on. I also want to share what I have been working on with my “Soft Petals” flower project including the use of the Lensbaby Soft Focus optic and particularly the Cokin Center Spot filters with macro lenses. I want to share my thoughts on utilizing the skills acquired as a landscape photographer for street photography. I want to talk about “devolution” in terms of the gear I use for street photography – moving from the DSLR to a Point-and Shoot. And that just scratches the tip of the iceberg.
Well I did say that I want to talk about me a bit too. I’m not going to lie about it. There are some exciting things happening here at Ed Vatza Photography. More workshops are coming up this Fall along the New Jersey shore, in the Hudson River Valley and back up in Acadia (ME). I have one and maybe two exhibits that I am working on in New York City. I’m being invited to write some guest blogs. I will be speaking at camera clubs around the mid-Atlantic region, and so on.
So Stay Tuned!
I will be adding new blog entries on a weekly basis… sometimes more frequently. I hope you will find my posts useful, helpful, and interesting. And if you do, please let your photo friends know. I will be forever grateful. Take care, my friends. Til I see you again!
“Not every image we create is going to be iconic and we shouldn’t expect it to be. But every image we create is another small part of us and part of our journey toward becoming the photographer we want to be.” – Ed Vatza
Lately I’ve started to think about my continuing body of photographic work in terms of ongoing, broadly defined projects. Each project, there are four, is distinctly different from the others. And each project represents a style or a subject matter that I love to photograph. Oh I still photograph other things that fall outside of my four projects but I feel that the four projects define who I am as a photographer as much as I define what the nature of the four projects are. I believe this so strongly that it is my intention, in the near future, to totally revamp my website around the four projects. I will eliminate the myriad galleries I have added and added to over the years and organize my new galleries around the four projects. Maybe just maybe, I will add a fifth gallery with select images that don’t neatly fit under the four projects (travel, for example) but we shall see. So what are the four projects on which I am so focused?
“MORNING BECOMES ELECTRIC”
The first project is entitled “Morning Becomes Electric”. Those of you who have followed my work for any period of time must know that I am a morning person. I love the early morning hours and have for as long as I can remember. As I write this, it is 5:00 am and I have already been up for an hour. Many write of the golden light that comes with sunrise. I, on the other hand, greatly prefer the vibrant colors lighting up the sky in the hour and minutes before the actual sunrise. Nothing beats watching as night becomes day and sky becomes electric. The period between civil twilight (dawn) and sunrise, that 30 minutes, is my most favorite time to shoot. Actually, I like to arrive at my destination earlier than that and take advantage of time between nautical and civil twilight (roughly 30-60 minutes before sunrise). The sky is continually changing as morning tries to lighten up the night and night tries to hang on for just a few minutes longer. “Morning Becomes Electric” is my attempt to capture what I see during that electrifying period. And what I see, what my eyes see, is color… bright, vivid, saturated, bold color. That is what I try to capture in camera and try to enhance to match my vision in processing. “Morning Becomes Electric” will continue to build on images like the following.
Bar Harbor (ME) 091111
Belmar (NJ) 111311
The second project that I continue to work on is simply called “Contrasts”. This project encompasses all my black & white work. I chose “Contrasts” for the title for obvious photographic reasons… contrast is such a critical element in black and white photography. It’s not that every black & white image “must” have bold blacks and bright whites and strongly contrasting elements in order to be successful. However, we must always consider contrast even if all we are dealing with in an image are myriad shades of gray. But the obvious is not the only reason for entitling this project “Contrasts”. I tend to also look for a play of contrasts in the subject matter I choose to photograph whether they be contrasting lifestyles, contrasting architecture, contrasting time periods, etc. Here are a few examples.
Eastern State Penintentiary (PA) 022511
Berks County (PA) 112711
Eckley (PA) 121711
The third project that I continue to work on is entitled “Soft Petals”. I love flowers… all kinds of flowers from tiny wildflowers (that some call weeds when they infiltrate their lawns) to the many hybrids found in private and public gardens. For years I have photographed flowers trying to get every little bit of detail possible out of my images. Then an epiphany. While the detail was wonderful, it wasn’t the detail that I loved. It was color, broad swaths of color, soft sensuous colors. It seemed there were two directions I could go. One was to broaden my view from the macro to the wide angle and look to capture patterns of color across an entire flower bed or garden. The second direction, and the one I chose, was to stay macro… to stay up close and personal as it were but to soften the focus to the point where I could capture the soft sensuous colors while only maintaining the absolute bare minimum of detail. And thus was born “Soft Petals”.
And last, and in this case least, is a project I simply call “Simplicity”. For the last year or two, I have been really enamored with my take on minimalist photography… minimizing the number and complexity of the compositional elements while continuing to have the composition tell a story. This project is my attempt at showing visually that less can be more.
And there you have it. My four projects: “Morning Becomes Electric”, “Contrasts”, “Soft Petals” and “Simplicity”. Look for changes in my website that will expand upon these projects in the not too distant future. And…
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
“2012 Creativity, Composition, the Camera & YOU!”
with Ed Vatza
(Additional Workshops may be added)
March 11 Orchid Extravaganza at Longwood Gardens (PA) $95, limit 10. Come celebrate Daylight Savings Times and the impending spring of 2012 among the orchids, lilies, hibiscus and other beautiful flowers of Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. We will meet at the Longwood parking lot at 0830 so that we can get our tripod passes, if you need one, and be ready to enter at 0900 sharp. We will spend the morning indoors in the conservatory. Tripods are permitted until noon at which time we make our way across to the Terrace Restaurant for some lunch and friendly conversation about the morning’s activity. While this is the end of the formal workshop, participants are welcome to return to the conservatory sans tripod or wander the grounds for the afternoon.
April 15 The Covered Bridges of the Lehigh Valley, $75, limit 12. Get your taxes done early and spend the dreaded April 15th Tax Day photographing the covered bridges of the Lehigh Valley. This is a half-day workshop. We will meet at 0700 at Bogert’s Bridge in the Lehigh Parkway (Allentown, PA). And we will finish somewhere between 1200 and 1400. In addition to Bogert’s Bridge, we will photograph Wehr’s Bridge, Guth’s Bridge, Geiger’s Bridge and Kreidersville Bridge. The emphasis will be on seeking new and unique ways to view and photograph the bridges, working the inside of the bridges as well as the outside, the use of HDR in covered bridge photography, and compositional variations such as fisheye images.
April 29 A Day at the Beach, Ocean Grove, NJ, $125, limit 12. Be forewarned, we will be meeting at the Ocean Grove Fishing Pier at 0500 on Sunday morning so if you are traveling some distance, you may want to come on Saturday and stay over. The goal is to work the sunrise from civil twilight (0528) right through the actual sunrise at approximately 0600. Following sunrise, we will have the opportunity to photograph the shoreline and boardwalk/promenade areas before moving on to shoot the beautiful Victorian homes and hotels of Ocean Grove. Around mid-morning we will head to Spring Lake (aka the Irish Riviera) where we can check out the oceanfront mansions, grab a late breakfast at Who’s on Third (separate checks) and spend some time photographing around the actual lake in Spring Lake. We will end the day in Sea Girt where we will have the opportunity to photograph the quaint Sea Girt lighthouse. The North Shore (what this area is called) ponds may still hold some wintering ducks so bring your long lens if you have one.
May 18-20 Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area (PA) $395, limit 10. The Delaware Water Gap NRA parallels both sides of the Delaware River in northeastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey. We will have the opportunity to photograph sunrises over lakes and the river and an abundance of wonderful waterfalls throughout the Water Gap area. We will have the opportunity to work on our HDR skills at the old Zimmerman and Slateford farms. As you would expect from workshops of this type, there will be field instruction and classroom time with daily critiques. Software will be discussed where appropriate. Activities and content can be modified to meet the needs of workshop participants. Workshop will begin at 6:30 PM on Friday May 18 and end at 4:30 PM on Sunday, May 20. Participants can expect to be in the field for sunrise (approx. 0545) on both Saturday and Sunday. We will break for lunch and an afternoon work session and critique before heading back into the field on Saturday. On Sunday, we will break for a late lunch and a final critique and wrap up.
June 5-9 Lupines & Acadia National Park (ME) $595, limit 10. This is your opportunity to experience unique areas of Acadia National Park with a workshop/tour leader who know this area like it is his home. Ed has vacationed in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area since the 90s and is one of two destination experts for Acadia National Park on travel website – Trip Advisor. June is lupine time in Maine and we will have ample opportunity to photograph fields of purple, pink and white lupines. This will be a great time to break out those wide angle lenses as well well as the macros and we will spend some time working on wide-angle close ups of the fields of flowers. We will work the rocky shoreline and cliffs along the Ocean Drive in Acadia; explore Schooner Head; photograph sunrises and sunsets from various locations inside as well as out of the park; spend a beautiful morning exploring the first light on Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond; look for that special shot of Bass Harbor Lighthouse; and explore the ruins of Bar Island. Weather and tides permitting, there is the possibility walking across the bar connecting Bar Harbor to Bar Island (exposed for a 3-hour window surrounding low tide) and pulling a Gilligan and stranding ourselves on the island until the next low tide.. On the island, there would be opportunity to photograph the village of Bar Harbor, the mountains of Acadia, lobster boats, the ruins of the single solitary house that was built on the island by Jack Perkins and a meadow full of lupines. But be forewarned, the island is uninhabited, has no facilities, and no food. We would have to rough it for the day bringing our own food and finding a spot in the woods (so to speak), if necessary. Finally we can spend some time visiting the harbors in the villages surrounding Acadia such as Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and Bernard. Once again, classroom sessions and exercises will focus on the creative process and refining our abilities to see compositions more creatively. We will also cover aspects of sunrise and sunset photography, HDR photography, macro photography and photo-impressionism. Software will be discussed where appropriate. Activities and content can be modified to meet the needs of workshop participants. Workshop will begin with a group dinner (everyone pays their own way) on Tuesday evening, June 5 followed by a classroom session and will end with a critique session on Saturday evening, June 9. On most days, we can expect to be on our way before sunrise (approx 0445 this time of year on the coast of Maine). We will break for lunch followed by an afternoon classroom/critique session and a rest period. We will regroup in late afternoon and be in the field through sunset (approximately 2015).
July 28 Water Lilies at Longwood Gardens (PA) $95, limit 10. Some of the most beautiful water lilies I have ever seen call the outdoor ponds at Longwood Gardens home. Here’s you opportunity to meet them up close and personal. This is an opportunity to break out those macro lenses, teleconverters, and extension tubes if you have them. If not, don’t worry. I’ll show you some tricks to making great water lily images either way. We will meet at the Longwood parking lot at 0830 so that we can get our tripod passes, if you need one, and be ready to enter at 0900 sharp. We will spend much of the morning in and out of the conservatory. Tripods are permitted until noon at which time we make our way across to the Terrace Restaurant for some lunch and friendly conversation about the morning’s activity. While this is the end of the formal workshop, participants are welcome to return to the conservatory sans tripod or wander the grounds for the afternoon.
September 28-30 – Sandy Hook & the North Shore (NJ) $395, limit 10. The photo opportunities along this stretch of New Jersey coast are boundless. Sunrises over the dunes and ocean. Sunsets over the bay. We’ll photograph three very different kinds of lighthouses (Sandy Hook, a tower; Navesink/Twin Lights, a fortress; and Sea Girt, basically a beach house with a lighthouse on top). And we will have the opportunity to hone our skills on the WW1 ruins of Fort Hancock with the Mortar Batteries and Battery Potter. Classroom sessions and exercises will focus on the creative process and refining our abilities to see compositions more creatively. We will also cover HDR photography and photo-impressionism. And while not the focal point of this workshop, Sandy Hook and the North Shore are excellent for bird photography. So if you have a long lens, feel free to bring it along. As you would expect from workshops of this type, there will be field instruction and time for daily critiques. Activities and content can be modified to meet the needs of workshop participants. Software will be discussed where appropriate. Workshop will begin at 6:30 PM on the 9/28 and end at 4:30 PM on 9/30.
October 10-13 Autumn in Acadia (Acadia National Park, ME) $525, limit 10. We return to Acadia for the fall foliage. This is your opportunity to experience unique areas of Acadia National Park with a workshop/tour leader who know this area like it is his home. Ed has vacationed in the Bar Harbor/Acadia area since the 90s and is one of two destination experts for Acadia National Park on travel website – Trip Advisor. October is fall foliage time in Maine and we will have ample opportunity to photograph the colors of autumn. This will be a great time to break out those wide angle lenses as well well as the macros. In addition, there will be many long lens opportunities. We will work the rocky shoreline and cliffs along the Ocean Drive in Acadia; explore Schooner Head; photograph sunrises and sunsets from various locations inside as well as out of the park; spend a beautiful morning exploring the autumn colors at first light on Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond; and look for that special shot of Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Finally we can spend some time visiting the harbors in the villages surrounding Acadia such as Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor and Bernard. Once again, classroom sessions and exercises will focus on the creative process and refining our abilities to see compositions more creatively. We will also cover aspects of sunrise and sunset photography, HDR photography, macro photography and photo-impressionism (perfect for capturing those autumnal colors. Software will be discussed where appropriate. Activities and content can be modified to meet the needs of workshop participants. Workshop will begin with a group dinner (everyone pays their own way) on Wednesday evening, June 5 followed by a classroom session and will end with a critique session on Saturday evening, October 10. On most days, we can expect to be on our way before sunrise (approx 0615 this time of year on the coast of Maine). We will break for lunch followed by an afternoon classroom/critique session and a rest period. We will regroup for sunset (approximately 1730).
October 19-21 Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson Valley for Halloween (NY) $395, limit 10. Maybe, just maybe, we will encounter the headless horseman of Legend of Sleepy Hollow fame. This is your opportunity to visit the historic Sleepy Hollow cemetery and the resting place of Washington Irving. Don’t be fooled. This is one huge cemetery and the names of those resting there reads like a who’s who. Monuments, statues and mausoleums are there to be photographed. But don’t think this is just some cemetery tour. There is much, much more to see, do and photograph including Sunnyside, the Washington Irving Estate; Kykuit, home to four generations of Rockefellers; the historic Philipsburg Estate and the 1883 Lighthouse on the Hudson River right in Sleepy Hollow. There may also be time for a foray into Rockefeller State Park for some nature photography as well. there is so much more than the grave site of Washington Irving as well as the mausoleums of some Classroom sessions and exercises will focus on the creative process and refining our abilities to see compositions more creatively. We will also cover HDR photography and photo-impressionism. As you would expect from workshops of this type, there will be field instruction and time for daily critiques. Activities and content can be modified to meet the needs of workshop participants. Software will be discussed where appropriate. Workshop will begin at 6:30 PM on the 10/19 and end at 4:30 PM on 10/21.
Participants are expected to have a working knowledge of exposure (f/stop and shutter speed) and should know how to operate their equipment. Please bring along the manual for your camera. For multi-day workshops, bring a laptop computer with RAW processing and image editing software in order to prepare images for critique. Any film shooters are encouraged to borrow a digital SLR to make images for critique sessions in order to maximize the workshop learning experience.
Please note that the actual program could change based on weather and other conditions beyond the leader’s control. Flexibility is the key. Most full days will begin before sunrise and end well into the evening. Again weather permitting, we will be out in the field in time to shoot sunrise and take full advantage of the wonderful early morning light. We will take an extended break for lunch and personal time and resume in the afternoon possibly shooting through sunset. (getting earlier in the Fall). After dinner, we will gather for classroom time and critiquing.
Payment Policy: The workshop fee is for instruction only. It includes admission fees where necessary. All other expenses including transportation, accommodations, and meals are the responsibility of the participant.
A 50% deposit is required to confirm your registration after receiving your registration forms. The full balance is due 45 days prior to the start of the workshop.
Cancellation Policy: Deposit and balance paid will be fully refunded if cancellation is made prior to 45 days before the workshop start date. No refunds will be given if cancellation is made less than 45 days before the workshop start date.
The workshop leader reserves the right to cancel any workshop if there is insufficient registration. If so, any deposit paid will be immediately refunded.
Rain refund policy: Presentations and critiques will continue as usual if it should rain. NO discount for one rain day. Two rain days = 10% discount on next workshop. Three rain days = 15% discount on next workshop. Only applies if rained in for the full workshop day, not including the opening night presentation or the final half day of the workshop.
To register or if you would like more information about my workshops, drop me an e-mail at: email@example.com
Before getting into the events mentioned in the title, I feel I should address the simple question of “where have I been the past couple of months?” I wish I could respond with a litany of exotic places that I visited in order to create epic photographs but, alas, that was not the case. But it was a strange albeit rewarding time nonetheless.
I started to write an explanation but it got way too long way too fast. So here is the quasi-Twitter version…
Hospital, doctors, tests, found nothing, I’m fine.
ArtsQuest Member’s Art Show – juried, three prints accepted, sold one, success.
Week in Acadia, always great, got some great images.
Catch up at day job, never fun.
Prepare for exhibit of work, 12 prints, 12×18, matted & framed.
Hang exhibit; most difficult conditions; looks great.
Go to NYC for PDN/Photo Plus.
Which brings us to the present and the events in the title of this post. The Lehigh Valley is really blessed to have an organization like ArtsQuest. They run the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA with it’s galleries, artists-in residence and superb art education programs for children and adults. They recently opened Steel Stacks on the site of the now closed Bethlehem Steel plant which features multiple venues for music and visual arts. And they run events like the 10-day Musikfest festival that has been going for more than 25 years now.
InVision is the brain child of Janice Lipzin of ArtsQuest. It began somewhat modestly last year with a three day event with guest speakers and artists. I attended and found it very enjoyable. But Janice had bigger plans… much bigger plans. And this year’s event is the next step in that plan. The event begins this evening (Thursday, November 3) with a “Slideluck” Party at Steel Stacks. There will be a continuously running video slide show of photography by national, regional and local artists as well as ample opportunity to mingle, network, socialize…whatever you want to call it. Then events continue on through Sunday with presentations, book signings, workshops, portfolio reviews and a venue where photographers can bring work, share it with others and talk about it.
In conjunction with InVision, November has been designated Lehigh Valley Photography Month and there are more than 40 venues (ranging from galleries to restaurants to bars to B&Bs and beyond) exhibiting photographic works from national, regional and local photographers. I am one of the artists featured. My exhibit entitled “Current Images of the Past” is hanging in the Asa Packer Room (wall of rock and mortar) in the Sayre Mansion Inn in Bethlehem, just up the hill from the Banana Factory. The Sayre Mansion Inn (beautiful; historic; large B&B with 22 rooms) is located at 431 West Third Street (corner of Third and Wyandotte Streets) in Bethlehem, PA. Please stop by, if you are in the area, and view my work. They are for sale, by the way! And while there, pick up an InVision brochure and visit the other exhibits running through the month of November.
This is a sample of the work on exhibit.
This is the third in an irregular series of random musings by this ol’ photographer/artist.
“REALITY. What a concept!” I remember George Carlin using that line in his stand up routines must have been back in the 60s.
And yes, what a concept reality is. I have alluded to some of my conversations regarding reality in my earlier musings. I have commented as to how my images represent reality as I see it. To which a very dear friend responded “I have no real objection to your enhanced photography… But I do object to you saying those photographs are your “view of reality.” If they are, you’re in real trouble.”
Now let me hasten to say that, as an artist who expresses his creative vision through the photographic image, I don’t always seek to portray a literal reality, whatever that is, in my work. But my subjects are real. The visual elements that I do capture on film, er… make that in pixels, are real. My vision is real. My images are real. My finished, processed product is real.
The only thing not real is reality itself. Ah, what a concept!
We all have slightly differing, I think, conceptions (there’s that word “concept” again) of what constitutes reality for us. And obviously we use that concept to interpret what is before us. And we believe that others should share the same conception of reality. And that is where things begin to fall apart.
I have experienced the virtual door of reality swinging both ways in recent days in regards to images I have presented on Facebook, photo sharing websites, and at photography club activities.
As one example, I have offered up faux color IR (infrared) images like those below.
Clearly those images are not literal interpretations of reality. But the subject is real. The visual elements I have captured are real – the lines, the shapes, the textures and so on. And the vision, images and finished product are equally real. But from the moment I picked up the IR-converted camera, I knew I was going to be capturing a somewhat different vision of reality. Some say there is a fine line between creativity and insanity. I am trying my best to stay on the creative side of that line.
What I find interesting is that discussion of images like these still are couched in terms of some sort of reality scale. The first image above is more “surreal” than the second… suggesting the second is somehow more “real”. The second is described as more “believable” than the first… suggesting a better fit with the viewer’s concept of reality. And so it goes.
But as I said, I have experienced the door swinging both ways recently. What happens when an image captures a squeaky clean, photojournalistic type of reality but does not fit with the viewer’s concept of reality? Here is a case in point.
I have entitled this photograph “Cultures Meet on a Country Road”. It doesn’t get any more “real” than this. And yet, I have had this image described as somehow “not real” because the modern day cyclist does not belong there. It has been suggested that I should have shot the image without that cyclist. (I have a hundred such images from that day.) What can I say? Our views of reality do not coincide. And let me hasten to add, that is perfectly okay!
What do I conclude? There is no universal reality. Reality is not real. Reality is a concept. And as such your (concept of) reality and my (concept of) reality may not agree. They don’t really have to. But at the same time, I do hasten to add that there should be some underlying common ground lest we end up like Congress.
So to borrow a line from the Dave Mason song…
“There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”
Or returning to George Carlin…
“REALITY. What a concept!”
Would you like the opportunity to further develop your reality and ways to better express it in you photography? Of course you would. So why not drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll put you on my mailing list for information on upcoming 2012 Ed Vatza “Creativity, Composition and the Camera” Workshops.
This is the second in what will be an irregular series of random musings by this ol’ photographer/artist.
Sometimes I find myself just sitting back and wondering… wondering how many of you have a bag of tricks like I have a bag of tricks? My bag of tricks is an old Domke bag that I have loaded up with things like two infrared (IR)-converted cameras; Lensbaby Composer and Scout lenses with a variety of optics and various accoutrement for my trusty iPhone.
Yes, my bag of tricks is rather full. But I don’t see myself as an iPhoneographer like TeriLou or an IR photographer like Mark or a Lensbaby photographer like Kathleen – all of whom, I must admit, are absolutely brilliant at what they do. I will admit though that I sometimes wonder how you can put all (or most) of your eggs into a single creative basket, so to speak. But I am also open-minded enough to allow everyone to follow their own creative path. In fact, I openly encourage it.
But me? Well I am just a plain ol’ photographer with a couple of cameras and a couple of lens and my bag of tricks – a bag full of my toys, my specialty tools that I may not use as often as some but I will happily use when the situation calls or the mood just strikes me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being able to express my creative vision with a wide variety of tools – traditional and non-traditional. My job as just a plain ol’ photographer is to capture what I see in a way that fulfills my creative vision. I don’t know if you see what I see or that we share the same creative vision. In some respects, that’s not even important. I do my thing and you do yours. That’s what is so great about the creative process.
So yes, I love making IR images like this.
And I also thoroughly enjoy working with my Lensbaby when the situation seems right to create images like this.
And it is always fun to play with iPhone images like this.
But at the end of the day, the IR cameras, the Lensbaby lenses, the iPhone are all just just tools (just like my Canon 5D Mark II, 50D and assortment of Canon and Sigma lens are just tools). They are toys in my personal bag of tricks. They are not the end. They are means to an end. My creative goal is not to create an IR or a Lensbaby or an iPhone image. My creative goal is to capture what I see before me using any and all of the tools I have at my disposal. And so I wonder…
(If you think you would like to work on your personal bag of tricks, keep in mind that I will be devoting a half-day in all my 2012 multi-day workshops to developing your skills with the tools in YOUR bag of tricks.)