Abstract images come in all forms. There is a great place in Rockport that just begs you to look for unusual images. The outside of the Cape Ann Tool Company is just such a place. The orange insulation is starting to degrade after many years and has turned into a really cool place to look for abstracts.
Last Thursday I was with clients from NJ and we were waiting for late afternoon light on this building which is the best time to make images of it. As we got there the heavens opened up and we had to wait about 15 minutes for it to clear before we could shoot. What we got was exactly what I was looking for, great shadows and super contrast.
Cape Ann Tool Company after rainOutside of the Cape Ann Tool Company at Pigeon Cove in Rockport, MA. The water and the light created some great opportunities.
Abstract-1Cape Ann Tool Company outside walls abstract.
Abstract-2Cape Ann Tool Company abstract
Photo graphing the abstractOne of my clients from NJ photographs the abstract outside walls of the Cape Ann Tool Company.
As many of you know I find it very therapeutic to get out early in the morning and go for a short walk with a camera. This morning I went out with the Sony a6300 and the Sony/Zeiss 16-70. This is a great range for general photography and this lens is really nice. It is very sharp with great contrast.
The image above is one of those images that give me a sense of order with all the shapes, lines, windows, etc. I have passed by this image a few times but the light was not right. Today it was really nice.
I loved the way the light played across the back of the RAA and the door in all it's purple color. The shingles even though they are mostly gray also had some color. The light is what makes this image for me.
The steeple on the UU church in Rockport has been reconstructed and is now straight and beautiful. I have photographed it a number of times but it's always with some interesting clouds which were in evidence today. I was able to pull them out with Silver Efex Pro plugin in Lightroom.
Finally - this shot of a snowblower chained to a spiral staircase reminded me that snow is not far ahead with it in the forecast for this weekend. The camera and lens performed well. However I have noticed that the a6300 eats batteries. It does not seem to matter if the camera is off or not. When I finished my shooting this morning it was down to 50%. I started out shooting at 75% and only made a few images. The camera was off for some of that time. So a word to the wise have plenty of batteries with this camera. The lens seems to be a soft in the corners wide open which is bothersome. This image was at about 50mm in 35 terms at f4 and is soft at the bottom corners. Note to self, shoot above f4.
Last Friday I put myself on the schedule to photograph the phenomena known as Bernie mania. Here in Massachusetts it is gaining steam but honestly I think Hillary has it wrapped up. But, since I'm a political animal of sorts I wanted to see what kind of folks showed up for this event. It was interesting standing there watching who showed up. Old left wing liberals 60-80+ (throwbacks from the sixties) came in fairly early, on time for the most part. Then later on the young folks seeking better economic equality came in. It was an interesting mix. Great folks nun the less. As a documentary photographer I was disappointed in the photographic opportunities. There just wasn't much to shoot. There was a band playing and they turned the lights mostly off so things were kind of dicey for available light shots. I brought along the Sony Nex-7 and the Leica 35 Summicron looking for some interesting candid shots but I was not real happy with what I got. I will post some later. The shot below I like. It's of a woman checking her phone under the Bernie banner. This shot was made with the Canon 5D mk3 and the 24-70 f4 L. The ISO was an amazing 10,000, shot at 1/160s at 4.5 with a focal length of 33mm.
One thing I really don't like to do is to parachute into a story and try to come up with decent photos that tell it. This was the case when working on a story about Meg Worrick a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who inspires by doing what she can while dancing. She is involved with a dance class in Marblehead which has been a big part of her life. She arrives in a wheel chair and has to climb 17 steps to get to the dance studio. Each step rise has an inspiring word on it that helps her get to the top. Unfortunately for me I was not there when she did that so I missed the beginning of the story. I did however get her practicing with her dance friends and that was inspiring to see. I used the Canon 5D Mk3 with the 24-70 f4 IS and the Canon 7D mk2 with the 100 f2. Here are just a few of the images I made. This is true community journalism at it's best. I will post the story and more photos when we publish it in Wicked Local Marblehead.
The journey for this image started around Thanksgiving this year more specifically Nov. 25. I was driving home from an assignment in Newbury when the moon made a spectacular appearance. As I drove home along Rt 133 it was dominating the landscape around me. I did not have a tripod with me so I didn't stop to make a shot of it. As I got closer to Gloucester and it started to rise higher and make spectacular imagery everywhere you could see it. People were stopping and taking photos with their phones which at 28mm is kind of useless for various reasons. I vowed at that moment that I would not be caught off-guard again.
So I started to look for ways to figure out when this would happen again. I found an app for my phone that does just that. The Photographers Ephemeris. Click on the link to see how fantastic it is. So back to the story. A photographer friend and I were talking about how cool it is and discovered that the next full moon was on Christmas Day and would be coming up right between the Thacher Island Twin Lights. So I started to plan my photo shoot for the day before and Christmas Day. The app tells you all you need to know about when the moon will rise, when it will set and for the sun as well. It also gives you the line of sight from any location and where the moon or sun will rise or set in regards to your location. So I set up for it on the day before Christmas as a test. It was going to come up an hour earlier and the luminescent values would be more in line with each other. I waited but the cloud cover kept it hidden for to long. So I decided to try to get the moon going down early Christmas morning since it was going to line up near Annisquam Light but again the cloud cover did not let me see it.
Christmas Day was not looking very good weather wise so I was hoping and praying for a Christmas miracle! The sun was out most of the day and when I headed over to Good Harbor Beach to get set up I was disappointed to see that there was a light cloud cover in the horizon. The crowds of people walking on the beach negated any parking close so I decided to drive back to Rockport and see how the horizon was shaping up close up. So I went over to Eden Rd. in Rockport to check it out. It looked to me as though it was getting lighter so I quickly drove back over to Good Harbor getting there at about 4:45 PM with moonrise being at 4:56 PM. I got set up behind my car with the Gitzo tripod and Really Right Stuff ball head holding my Canon 300 f2.8 L with 1.4 tele extender. I used my Canon 5D MK3 in live view on manual with auto white balance set as I knew it was going to change rapidly and I would not be able to keep up with it. I also shot this image in Raw format in Adobe 1998. As the light started to drop my hopes for a great shot were starting to fade as the appointed hour started to arrive. My initial calculations for location were correct the TPE was right on the money. If the cloud cover was not in play the moon would have started it's rise at the North tower and when fully visible would have been nicely placed between the two. But as luck would have it the clouds obscured the initial rising but when it did come up it was really nice. The shot below is the first image I made. You can see how the moon has already progressed to the right past the point where I would have liked it. It's already fully above the horizon but obscured by the clouds.
Here is another shot as it started to come up and brighten the sky a bit more.
Here is the final shot or one of many but the one I like the best without any image merging.
Moonrise over Thachers IslandThe full moon rises over Thacher's Island in Rockport MA on Christmas Day 2015. Post processing in Lightroom was able to calm down the brightness value of the moon enough to show some of the features. This is only possible because the image was made in Raw and the latitude of the new sensors is unbelievable. I was still not really happy so I tried merging some images that were very close but bracketed a couple of stops on either side. The only problem with the following image is that the red light on the south tower did not merge very well. I had to do some work in Photoshop to optimize things a bit but the image prints very nicely. Merging the bracketed exposures made a huge difference in tonality of the image.
I know some of you will like the un-merged shot better and in some ways I do as well. I have made prints of both and the merged shot is clearly better.
About this time of year I start thinking of where I am going and where I have come from with my photography. It's an interesting trip that brings me back quite a ways. My son Andy visited us this past week leaving on Monday but we had some great conversation. Portland Oregon time of course 3 AM. One of the things we talked about was where technology has taken us and how it has improved things for us but also how it has messed us all up. Here is a quote from Albert Einstein:
"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."
So even though I sit here at a computer typing this which will eventually go out on the web I still wish we were a bit less advanced. As I have said before even though more photographs are being taken by many more people and mostly by the camera in their phone they really have no idea what they are doing besides stopping the action in the vertical format. If more people would study the photographic process, the way the image is made, they would appreciate it more. Most people don't appreciate the images they make because they are saved on their phone or dumped onto their computer never to be seen again. My congrats to those of you who have made a print or two or put your memories in an on-demand book.
For a couple of years now I have been using a digital Leica M camera because it allows me to think about what I am doing. I focus myself and really pay attention to my exposure because to me that is important. Framing the image is second nature to me now after almost 40 years behind the lens. But the art of focusing and exposure are key elements that most certainly should be well thought out. In today's world these elements are the furthest things from people's mind. The most important thing is the cute selfie face! Ugggh!
So the next time I have mommy or daddy with a camera ask me at a sports event what I have the camera set on my reply will be:
I set my camera on "M" for Master, I'm way past "P" for professional! The rest is up to you figure it out.
So that's my New Year message! Put the dam phone down and pick up a camera, focus it yourself and determine what the exposure is by using the Master Mode! M
Vines in Fresh Snow, Halibut Pt. State ParkAfter a fresh snowfall I went out to Halibut Pt. State Park in Rockport to see some incredible snow covering everything. It was an experience that I won't forget.
Recently I had the opportunity to photograph two sets of elderly twins and one half of a third set. These folks were meeting on a street in Beverly where they all grew up. We were doing a story on how five sets of twins lived on this street at one time back in the fifties. I brought my Leica along to photograph them as they talked about old times. I used the 35mm Summicron and shot wide open at f2 for the gorgeous background it gives. You know that Leica look. I also shot with the Canon 5D Mk3 and the 24-70 for my usual news images but I was looking for something different with the Leica. One thing I noticed right away was that the women were all talking with their hands. So I keyed in on this right away and tried to get that one unusual shot. Interestingly enough I mostly used the Leica shots of them talking. The one shot that ran on Page 1 was made with the Canon as it was a group shot made at 24mm showing the street. Here is the one image I really like.
Two more that really show off the Leica's cool DOF.
Twins meet againEllen (Sheehy) Marchand talks about the old days on Dearborn St. as her sister Johana (Sheehy) Fessenden, right, listens. Will Rogers, left, and Linda (DiStefano) Coyne also listen to the conversation. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson
Getting a chuckleEllen (Sheehy) Marchand talks about the old days on Dearborn St. as Will Rogers, left, breaks up in laughter while talking about the old days during the early 50's on Dearborn St. in Beverly. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson
This morning while I was waiting for the post office to open I went down to T-Wharf to see if there were any photographs to be made. As I pulled in I immediately noticed that a crew of men were blasting out the old mortar in the bricks of the Town building at the beginning of the wharf. Looking against the light (my favorite thing) proved to be the best way to shoot it. I had all my Canon gear with me but I pulled out the G15 with a polarizing filter on it to make the shot. An interesting framing opportunity came up with a leading line going in to the guy working and then leading out with the building in the background and then coming back in with the the top of the building and the houses further in the background. Thus forming a kind of "Z" pattern. Something I always look for when looking at subjects to photograph is leading lines or perspective as it leads your eye around the frame.
This past week I had the opportunity to photograph a great stage actor rehearsing for "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater. Actor David Coffee has been playing the part of Scrooge for the past 22 years at the theater. My wife and I have been to see the performance a few times and Coffee's performance is always unforgettable. He seems to tweak his performance every year so it's just a little different. I was sent over to the theater to make some shots of Coffee as he rehearsed so I brought along two cameras. For some reason I thought I was shooting some shots of him talking with a reporter so I brought my Leica along to get some nice portraits. When I stepped into the rehearsal area with the play going on it brought me back to the actual performances I had witnessed in the past. What a privilege it was to be there to see how it all comes together.
I really wanted some shots of Coffee's many facial expressions but I did not have my long lens with me. So I decided to shoot the rehearsal and let the chips fall where they may. Changing it up on the fly as they say. The Canon 5D MK3 with the 24-70 f4 L was the main camera and making images with that camera is effortless. Once I had made enough images with the Canon I switched over to the Leica. I first used the 35 Summicron then started using the 50 Summilux wide open at 1.4. Shooting with the rangefinder is a joy. I find that it brings me back to my formative years as a photojournalist using my Leica M5 and the 35 mm Summicron. Could I have made these images with the Canon? Sure. But it would not have been as much fun focusing myself, wherever I wanted, in any part of the frame without moving the focus point around. The images in this set are of Coffee interacting with the Ghost of Christmas Present in the finale of Act One.
Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA.
Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Mr. Scrooge, touch my robe! Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA.
Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Scrooge, David CoffeeActor David Coffee rehearses the finale of the first act "The Boar's Head Carol" in the play "A Christmas Carol" at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA.
For Bert Stanley, 96, Veterans Day 2015 was quite something different than in past years. Because this year he had just returned from Honor Flight New England on November 1st which took him to the nations capital to visit the WW 2 memorial sites. There was so much history in this mans face. I just had to make some interesting portraits that told his story without words. I pulled my reporter over to listen to Bert's story. 100 missions in a B-24, wow.
Photographically I had a real problem. The hall I was in was lit like a dungeon and the light coming from the windows was dim as it was very cloudy. So I quickly looked around and found some display cases that were lit from underneath. Bert and the reporter leaned on the display case to talk. I had both the 5Dmk3 with the 24-70 f4L IS and the 7Dmk2 with the 100 f2. So with the help of the display case light I started shooting waiting for some moments that would give me his personality. You can see in his aged eyes the thoughts of experiences past as he recounted his trip to DC and the bombing missions he flew.
God bless all our veterans, the reason we are free is because of their sacrifices. Thank you Bert Stanley for bringing your thoughts to us and for your service to our Great Nation!
WW ll Vet Bert StanleyWW ll Veteran Bert Stanley, 96, took part in the New England Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Nov.1 and talks about the experience with the Reporter after Veteran's Day ceremonies at Abbot Hall in Marblehead Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson
Canon 5D MK3 with Canon 24-70 f4 L IS
WW ll Veteran Bert StanleyWW ll Veteran Bert Stanley, 96, took part in the New England Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Nov.1 and talks about the experience with the Reporter after Veteran's Day ceremonies at Abbot Hall in Marblehead Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Wicked Local Staff Photo / Kirk R. Williamson
Canon 7D MK2 with Canon 100 f2