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Monday, December 25, 2017

About Venice Beach "Street Photography" As Seen By Me

Maybe I should call it "Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk Photography" because at Venice Beach, I'm not shooting on a street, but much of it is on Ocean Front Walk or just adjacent to it, or on the bike path.

Everyone who does street photography has his or her own way of doing it.  Some will approach the intended subject and ask - but once you interact with the person, that will change the way the person will look.  This isn't right or wrong, just a choice.  Does candid look better than posed?  Or is capturing someone in a fleeting moment of passing time more accurate?  The only ones who can answer that are the eventual viewers of the photo.

I use my best judgment at the time.  If it's a celebrity, I will sometimes shoot first without asking because I want that memory and some celebrities do not want strangers to take their photos.  I guess after all those Paparazzi photos, I can understand that.   Some have been rather rude, and others have been wonderful.  I asked Randy Newman and he was one of the nicest celebrities that I have met.

With Micheal Landon I shot first, then asked - I was on skates, and he said he wasn't going to stop walking, but was good with me shooting if I could keep up.  Both of these were shot with a Nikon FTn film camera with no control over the lighting.

Shot while I was skating backward - which is why he was smiling - in a parking lot by Ocean Front Walk and Rose Avenue. 

This one was shot without him knowing it - on Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach.

The following photos were shot with Carolina, who I was going to shoot before asking.  I was trying to get into a good position to get her and the background I wanted when she came up to me and asked me where Venice Beach was.  Secretly photographing her was no longer an option, LOL.  After talking with her for a little bit, I told her I was the unofficial Venice Beach photographer and that I had to take her photos.  She agreed.  Here are a couple of those results shot with Nikon D610 digital camera:

I try to capture beauty in my photography - there is enough ugliness in the world already.  I want to add beauty, happiness, fun, etc.

Any time you see a photo of yourself that I shot, and for whatever reason don't want it online, let me know and I will always delete it.  Keep in mind that if you are at Venice Beach, there are probably more people taking more photos than anywhere else in the world and posting them online.  Not to mention news crews from time to time.  So if you're with someone you shouldn't be with, doing something you shouldn't be doing, or are supposed to be home sick from work, beware!  Part of Murphy's Law - your photo will be posted somewhere that someone who shouldn't see it will.   Remember, if you are in the photo, it captures a fleeting moment in time of your life, one that may never come back, so enjoy it and treasure the moment.

This n That - Thoughts on Things in General

Because the end of the year is fast approaching, I thought I would make this list of things worth thinking about.  Some of these things may be a bit pessimistic - well, you can skip the first 9 on the list, LOL.  Otherwise, hope it gets you to think about some of these things.

1.  Fake news (aka false news, lies, incomplete news, etc.).  It seems that every day there's a news story that is fake.  I heard an interview with Alan Dershowitz (a Harvard law professor) who contradicted much of what had been reported in the news recently regarding constitutional law.  In the past week, there was a fake news story on CNN that caused over a 300 point drop in the stock market.  In the past, fake news stories caused the U.S. to go to war.  So yes, the news can be dangerous.  What can you do?  Research, try to determine the motivation and source for the report, and then try figure out what is logical and what is common sense.  And try not to let your own biases get in the way.  Or maybe just tune it out.

2.  Vaccine news is worse - as vaccines can, and do, kill and permanently injure people.  I heard that the flu vaccine is only 10% effective this year.  If I was a betting man, I would bet the truth is that it is zero percent effective.  After reporting that, they said to get it anyway because they said it may lessen the effects of the flu if you get it, which perhaps would be laughable if it wasn't dangerous as there are many possible side effects.  What they failed to mention is that the vaccine increases your likelihood of getting some other upper respiratory infection and that in the following year, if you get the flu, it would probably be worse than it would have been without the vaccine.  About the only thing it will really help is their bottom line.  If you do the research, you will find that in the U.S. vaccines are killing more people than the diseases they are supposed to prevent!  You can find that out from VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) and CDC.  For example, from 2005 - 2015, there was 1 death reported from measles, but there were over 100 deaths from the vaccine (perhaps much higher as many cases don't get reported or are attributed to something else, like SIDS).  Please do your research and if you want the truth, make sure it's from independent sources.

3.  Thoughts and prayers to all those who have been on the path of all the California fires.

4.  It's time for everyone to get back to others in a friendship that is not based on who they like or don't like in government, but who they are as people.  Everyone will see the good or the bad in how things should be run and will have their own opinions, and you may disagree with those friends and fail to see how they can possibly believe what they believe, but if by their actions they deserve respect, then you should respect them and their beliefs, even though you may strongly disagree.  What I'm reading about in this country these days is sad.  Whether it's politics, religion, or even sports, those who disagree with you or your beliefs are liable to cause you physical harm or dismiss you as a friend, regardless of whether that person was totally awesome and would do anything to help you in your time of need.

5.  Medicine and prescription drugs - it wouldn't surprise me if prescription drugs was a big cause of the physical harm mentioned in number 4, not to mention the cause of many or all of the mass killings.  All the drug ads on TV - do people listen to the side effects?  Can cause suicidal thoughts, aggressiveness, violent behavior, etc.  And maybe combined with all the chemicals in the food? 

6.  If the government can forcefully and experimentally inject people with toxic substances (aka vaccines), then this is no longer a free country.   The latest numbers I've heard is there are now 73 vaccines on the CDC schedule and 1 in 38 children is autistic.  All they can say is, "We don't know what has caused the exponential increase in autism, but it can't be vaccines - we showed that in our study, the one where we threw out the results of the subjects that may have shown a link.  It certainly can't be all those neurotoxins and retroviruses we're injecting into your kids."  Well, they might say that if they were being honest.  As I always say, if they deny the cause, how can they find the cure?  Remember when they said cigarettes were good for you and DDT was safe? 

7.  If people don't wake up, see what is going on, and learn to get along with each other,  then those old cartoons that show someone with a sign saying, "The End is Near," will be right.

8.  One doctor predicted that if we continue on the same path (regarding vaccinations, GMOs, pesticides and herbicides, and medicine) we'll be extinct within 50 years.  I give it 75-100 years, but I've always been optimistic about things, ha ha.

9.  When I first heard about health care reform (aka Obamacare), I thought it was going to be about how to stay healthy, not mandatory insurance.  You know, how to avoid getting sick - like a healthy organic diet, exercise, supplements, good sleep, things that work.  Instead, it was about how to pay for sick care.  This leads me to #10:

10.  Now that I've gotten some of the negatives out of the way, what can people do?  Use the internet and do your research from independent sources.  Eat a healthy diet of organic whole foods without chemicals and sweeteners, take supplements that support our immune systems (or if needed, that support your joints, heart, brain, etc.), get along with and help others, get a good nights sleep, boycott GMOs and vaccines until vaccines are actually made safe and effective (in independent studies!), and do your research on all these things.  Do these things and you won't have to worry about so-called health care (sick care) or health insurance (except for genetic problems and accidents).  It's what I do and it has worked well enough for me.  Which is to say I no longer get sick.

11.  Fires have been in the news a lot lately, along with the catastrophic losses people have experienced.  If I owned a house in a fire-prone area, I would build a shelter on my property similar to the old bomb shelters or tornado shelters and keep all my important things there.  If they had a lot of money, make it safe for people to stay in to ride out a firestorm, plus they'd have a place to stay if the worst happened and they had to rebuild their house.  Is there a fireproof material that you could use to cover your house (similar to the tenting they use for fumigation)?

12.  Numbers 10 and 11 lead me to this - prevention and planning ahead are always best.  You can't control what government is going to do, or what may happen in the future, but you can control your response to it more effectively through researching things now and being ready for whatever may happen.

13.  Contact your representatives and let them know what you like and don't like.

14.  Don't forget to go out and enjoy yourself.  Every day.

15.  And finally, if you've gotten this far, LOL - since this is a photography blog, here is why I enjoy photography.  I do it to preserve moments in time, moments that we might otherwise forget, and moments that mean everything to us.  I also do it to preserve beauty.  And sometimes, to see the unseen - either something that was visible for an instant or that you may have missed when taking the photo.  In the below photos, I was shooting the surfers.  When I checked the photos, I saw what looks like a rocket - never did find out what those were.

And for a moment in time, a family photo shot just before Christmas many years ago, and which I used on my Christmas card this year - that's me on the right with a beard, camera (Nikon FTn) on a tripod with a timer:

I used this last photo on my Christmas card this year.  So happy I have this memory.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Computer Monitors, Calibration, and Editing

I came across this article on Computer Monitors and thought I would add my thoughts on this (I might have already done this in another post).

Unless you're a commercial or advertising photographer, printing from home, or perhaps entering a competition, there should be no reason to choose any special monitor nor calibrate it, assuming it gives you at least a somewhat realistic looking image.  If you're sharing your photos on the internet, there is no way to know what kind of monitors others will be using, so even if everything is perfect on your end (because you've spent many hundreds or thousands of dollars on equipment), it probably won't look the same on their end.

What if your color balance is off?  Maybe you shoot jpg images and have the wrong color balance set, or you shoot RAW.  If you use Lightroom, there is a color balance eyedropper - just click on an 18% gray area in the photo (or at least close to that), and it will adjust your color balance.  If there is no 18% gray area, you may need to bring an 18% gray card with you and photograph it under the same lighting conditions as the photos you are shooting.  What I am doing is shooting an 18% gray card, using the eyedropper to correct the color balance, then making a preset and naming them something like "Noon Sun," or "Midday Shade," etc.  Then when my photo is shot under those conditions, I just click on the preset and the colors will be very close to where they should be.  That has worked for me for posting to the internet.  For example, here is the same photo - as might have been shot with wrong white balance, used eyedropper on gray concrete, and used noon preset in Lightroom:

Much too green

 Used the eyedropper on the concrete just to the right of her head - because the light in the photo actually lit the concrete, and it's close to the 18% gray, this is probably the closest to being correct, although can use a little more work.

From Noon Day Sun Preset (note:  it wasn't noon, so color is probably a little off)

Once you get close to the correct color, you can play with the sliders in Lightroom (or other editing software) for an almost infinite number of variations.

How about prints?  Even the cheap labs have given me excellent results.  But if you're having a 40x60 print made, you can have the lab do a test first on a small section or small size of the image to check and see if their color settings are what you want.

If you are shooting for a client, remember that colors are subjective.  One person may like cool colors, another maybe warmer colors - although probably not the green one above.  Maybe they want actual skin tones, maybe they want to look suntanned.  Maybe they want vibrant colors, maybe subdued or pastel colors, or even black and white.  But if they want colors identical to the original scene for an ad, with in-house printing, then they would spend the extra money for monitors and calibration, not to mention the best cameras and lenses.

The moral of the story - you don't always need the absolute best to get the end result that you (or your client) want.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cynthia Gable, Jockey Club, Palm Springs

Around 1980 or so, I was the photographer for the Jockey Club in Marina Del Rey.  In July 1980 or 1981, they had their annual get together in Palm Springs and hired me to photograph that event.   Don't know why they picked July in Palm Springs - every day was 112 degrees!  But anyway, there were lots of wonderful people to photograph, including a TV star from The Young and Restless and a guest star from Three's Company.  I no longer remember their names, but do remember Cynthia Gable, who I had been told was Clark Gable's niece, and which brings me to the reason for this blog post (well, besides posting some photos of some of the people I met there).  I shot lots of photos of Cynthia - she was happy to pose for me and we had some fun with the photography.

After returning to LA from Palm Springs, I got together with her, and she gave me some transparencies from another photographer to have made into prints.  I had the prints made, but she moved and I have never been able to locate her since then.  So much has happened since then with the advent of the internet.  I found the first person I ever knew outside of my family thanks to the internet, as well as some other old friends who I hadn't seen for years and who had modeled for me.  I had hoped to find Cynthia, but no luck with that.  I  still have the prints she had asked me to make for her.  It would be great to get them to her and I'm sure she would like them.   Plus she would probably be happy to have the shots I took of her while at Palm Springs - nice memories.

They say that everyone is connected to everyone else, I believe, in six degrees of separation, meaning that if I ask someone to ask someone they know, and this is done six times, the sixth person will know the person I'm looking for, at least at some point.  So if anyone knows or can connect with her and give her my information, that would be amazing and astounding!  Below are some of the photos from that July trip to Palm Springs.

 Cynthia Gable - Nice and cool inside, relaxing after a long hot day!

 Cynthia being interviewed by the Young and Restless star.

 Out by the pool at 112 degrees.

 One of two ways to stay cool.  Either this or in the pool.

This last shot is one of the ones that she had given me (shot by another photographer) to have prints made for her.  I still have them.

 The Young and Restless star.

 No one knew who she was - turned out she wasn't part of the event.

 Of course, I had to have one photo with me in it.

 The guy in the middle was an extras casting director who got me extra work in Messenger of Death with Charles Bronson.  I had done some headshots for him.  The girl on the right ended up doing some modeling for me.

 The guy on the far right was the one in an episode of Three's Company and may have been in the Young and Restless.  Had a nice conversation with him later on.  

Hard to believe these were taken 36 years ago.  To say it's a long shot this will connect me with Cynthia Gable is probably an understatement, but who knows.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Daylight Savings Time

Something a little different to write about today because Daylight Savings Time ends tonight in all the places that have it (celebrate it?).  Some places don't have Daylight Savings Time, such as Arizona and a few other places.  Depending on where you are in your time zone, there is about an hour difference between the extreme western edge and eastern edge of the zone as far as what time the sun rises and sets.  I'm in Los Angeles, so today the sun sets at 5:57 pm PDST.  Tomorrow it will set at 4:56 pm Pacific standard time (PST).  And on Dec 22, it will set at 4:43 pm PST - much too early!  But in Phoenix, on Dec 22, the sun sets at 5:25 pm - so not quite so bad.

What effects can the change from PDST and PST have on people?  There have been reports of more car accidents, increased workplace injuries, 5% more heart attacks, longer cyberloafing, increased cluster headaches, and increased pain within days of the changeover due to the changes in circadian rhythms.  Sounds sort of similar to jet lag.

A few years ago I decided not to celebrate the end of PDST.  I never liked it getting dark so early. Plus there are the other possible side effects listed above, although I don't recall ever having any of those problems.  What's the worst thing that could happen?  I would be an hour early for something but it's easy enough to remember what the actual time is when I have an event coming up.  And there are some things I want to go to an hour earlier, too, so now I can easily do that.  What I like best is that it wouldn't get dark until almost 6 pm even on the shortest day.  As long as I'm aware of the change back to PDST, I won't overcompensate causing me to be late, which has never happened.  Some people may think what I'm doing is odd, but it has worked well for me for the past three years.

If you have children or a large family, it would probably be too confusing to stay on Daylight Savings all year.  I'm not suggesting you try this, only that it works for me and might be something to think about, depending on your location in your time zone, your situation, and your preferences.

Meanwhile, don't forget to change your clocks tonight - turn them back one hour (remember, spring ahead, fall back)....or not, ha ha.

Because this is a photography blog, I suppose I should have some photos, no?  All were shot at Venice Beach - on the bike path near the art walls (Carolina) and one at the art walls.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Digital Photography or Film?

There are arguments to be made for both.  I think it really doesn't matter because it's the end result that matters.  Besides, I would imagine that most people who view the final image will have no idea how it was shot and probably not even think about that.  Are people really going to look at a beautiful classic image of something (a landscape, portrait, action sports shot, etc.), and think, "Gee, was that shot with film or with a digital camera?"  I doubt it.  If it's a great shot, I certainly wouldn't care.  Each one might give a slightly different rendition - maybe a little more silver here, a little more shade of gray there, more or less grain, etc., but it's really the final image that counts.  Each person will see it differently, anyway.  Side by side you might see a difference, but by itself as the only copy of the image and without another duplicate image shot with another medium, will anyone really care how it was shot?

I started photography long before digital was even a thought (I used to worry, as more and more photos were shot, about what would happen if we ran out of silver).  When I learned photography, my camera was manual only - no autofocus, no auto exposure, no auto white balance, etc.  You wouldn't know for sure if everything you shot was going to look good (you couldn't check the back of the camera) and be exposed right until after it was processed, and even if you got everything right, but the processing wasn't done right, you wouldn't get a result you could use.  For example, here is a photo of Van Cliburn (the pianist - he was giving a concert and talk at SUNY Fredonia) - everything was good as far as exposure and focus, but I had made the mistake of using chemistry that was mixed by someone else, and it wasn't done correctly.  This was the result:

I had taken a bunch of photos of him.  This was the only one I could salvage.  It was shot during a break in his amazing performance.  If I had had my current digital camera back then, I have no doubt I would have had some wonderful photos of him.  He was not only a great pianist but a wonderful person.  Meeting and talking with him was like talking with an old friend.  This was shot with a Nikon FTn and most likely plus-x film.

The point of this article is this:  with today's digital cameras, I get almost no photos that are out of focus or that are exposed wrong and with excellent colors.  For example, I shot the below photo with the Nikon FTn (film), but had forgotten to change the ASA of the film, and so metered the scene wrong (for the whole roll of film).

We were both up in the tree.  Never got the chance to reshoot it.  It was shot with Kodachrome, I think ASA 25.  I thought I had 100 ASA in the camera.  This was the best I could get out of it.

With digital today, it's pretty difficult to mess up the exposure, but even if you do, and you've shot with the camera RAW setting, with post-processing editing software, you can probably not only salvage it but get a pretty good image out of it.

Another advantage to digital is the ability to shoot in low light without a flash or strobe, which keeps getting better.  Not to mention shooting perhaps 1000 photos on one memory card.  And if that scares you (maybe the card will get corrupted and you'll lose all your shots?) with some cameras you have can have two memory cards and can record each photo on both cards for safety.  RAW and jpg images won't fade over time, cost next to nothing, and I've probably left out some other benefits.

Considering the viewer won't notice the difference, and with all the benefits, I'm all digital these days.  Now you only have to worry about lighting and composition, and depending on the subject, perhaps posing and expressions.

The photo below was shot at the Muscle Beach weight pen at Venice Beach of a beautiful young lady doing a split. I happened to be walking by, and although the lighting was not ideal, got this shot of her with a Nikon digital camera.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Where Is Venice Beach?"

As I was wandering around Venice Beach today, as I often do when I'm not playing paddle tennis, that was the question I was asked by a beautiful young skater (see photos).  I told her she was standing on it (Venice Beach - or perhaps skating on it?) and then had a nice conversation, including that I was the unofficial Venice Beach photographer - I expanded that from being the unofficial Paddle Tennis Photographer, both of which are true and sound like a good title to have.  I've been shooting photos at Venice Beach since 1980.  I gave her my unofficial card and hope she will get to see these photos, as the link to this page is on the card.  The came out pretty good even as unofficial photos.  I also told her she should check out the paddle tennis courts and try playing.

My favorite one!

She asked me if I shot posed photos.  I usually don't because I want more relaxed realistic looks.  However, these were sort of posed in that she knew I was taking them, but because she was actively skating they were more candid then if she had been just standing still.  Below is one photo that does look a bit more posed even though she was rolling by - which would you prefer if that was you, the ones above or below?  I prefer the more candid.

I'm glad Carolina found Venice Beach and after asking me where it was and found out that was where she was, too.  Got some nice photos and met a wonderful person.

NOTE:  If you should stop by here, Carolina, and would like the full-size file, please let me know.  Also if you would like to shoot some more photos.  Thought these came out great!!!