Saturday, December 20, 2014

"All I Need is a Baguette"

I don't normally carry large lenses with me when I travel. Between what the airlines will allow and what my back will tolerate, I'm usually limited to something which is smaller and lighter. Now, that's not altogether bad as it forces me to learn the strengths and limitations of what are - in effect - my primary lenses. And it probably lends to some creative decisions as well. But after a while, one gets tired of living between 16-105mm and so, for my October 2012 trip to Paris, I had decided to break out the big gun - the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS. Now, if you're into photography, you have some idea of how big and heavy this thing is. For those of you who aren't, here's how big and heavy this thing is - about a foot long and it weighs about 3.5 pounds (which is a lot when you're hanging that on an already heavy camera). Oh, and like all big Canon lenses, it's off-white and not black - so it stands out.

Which is what I was doing when I walked onto the Metro platform at Cluny-La Sorbonne.

The plan was simple - head to the right bank of the Seine vers Place de la Concorde and gets some shots of the Eiffel Tower at sunset/the blue hour. Then get down to the Veme Arrondissement to meet some friends for dinner. Easy.

Now, one side effect - sometimes negative but usually positive - with carrying heavy camera gear out and in the open is that you tend to attract attention. And so it was in this case as an elderly Parisian gentleman noticed my rig hanging off my shoulder and exclaimed, "Buh! C'est grande" with his hands spread apart to indicate just how grande he thought my lens was.  I laughed (this happens a lot) and said something to him in French - probably nothing more than "oui" - and kept waiting for the Metro, which soon came because this was Paris and not Washington D.C. (seriously, terrible subway in DC). By the time the train arrived however, we had started conversing a little; nothing substantive - he'd correctly identified me as tourist (though I always insist on "guest" rather than "tourist" - je ne suis pas tourist, je suis invité) and was providing me some suggestions on where to shoot. Now, it wasn't much more than what one could get out of Lonely Planet, but I can't fault Parisian politeness (and, as an aside, it's worth noting that in several trips to Paris, I've yet to meet a rude Parisian) and so we continued to talk until the train arrived at the platform. When we got into the car, we discovered it was quite full and so we pulled down the fold up seats next to the doors and continued to talk.

Now, at this point, I should back up and describe this gentleman so you'll understand why, the entire time I was talking to him, I was thinking "I have to get a picture".  He was an older man (seventies? eighties?) wearing a black wool overcoat, over an oatmeal colored, wool sweater. Drooping eyes and a neatly cropped salt-and-pepper mustache. And to top it all off, he was wearing (of course), a beret. In other words:  a Frenchman right out of central casting.

As we shot through the tunnels under the 6th and 7th Arrondissements all I could of was how to ask this guy for a photo. Surely doing so would violate some unknown rule of French etiquette? On ne doit pas etre mal eleve. But finally, mine was the next stop and I broke down:

"Excusez-moi monsieur, mais est-ce que je prends un photo?"

"Bien sur" he said with a slight smile.

I leaned back as far as I could (remember, I still had a long lens on the camera and we were sitting about three feet away from one another) and snapped off a shot. I looked at it on the back of my camera and then showed it to the man as we pulled into my station.

His reaction? In French: "All I need is a baguette."

I laughed all the way to Place de la Concorde.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Healy Hall and Georgetown University, Re-revisited

A few shots of the Alma Mater. Hoya Saxa.

Of Gloom and Doom
A view of Healy Hall from the Key Bridge.
Healy Hall

On the Mount
Georgetown University in the fall.

Okay, so the Tombs isn't really part of Georgetown. Then again, it sort of is.

The Gathering Storm
Healy Hall again.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Shooting the Secretary: The Photos PL TEXT

All right sports fans, I've written about my experience in photographing then-Secretary of State Clinton during her visit to Senegal in 2012. However, I've still never posted my wrap up of that series - well I still haven't and this is not that post. However, I did always mean to have a separate stand-alone post of just the photos which came out of that day. So here you go. And if you want to know about the stories behind how these photos were made, well you can go right here:

Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Planning and Preparation
Part Three: The Health Clinic
Part Four: The Presidency
Part Five: The University
Part Six: The Hotel

Hillary Clinton at a Malaria Clinic in Dakar, Senegal. 2012.

Hillary Clinton at a Malaria Clinic in Dakar, Senegal. 2012.

Hillary Clinton at a Malaria Clinic in Dakar, Senegal. 2012.

Hillary Clinton the Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Hillary Clinton gives a speech at a university in Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Hillary Clinton gives a speech at a university in Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Guests listen to Hillary Clinton's speech. Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Hillary Clinton gives a speech at a university in Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Guests listen to Hillary Clinton's speech. Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Hillary Clinton meets with members of the US Embassy, USAID, and Peace Corps. Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Peace Corps volunteers after meeting Hillary Clinton. Dakar, Senegal, 2012.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Focus On: Cincinnati Bread Factory

It was a Sunday morning in Cincinnati and while I'd had a great time mixing in photography with exploring the city, this morning would be dedicated solely to photography - specifically railroad photography. But while driving from one shooting location to another, I just happened to come across this great urban industrial site. With no one around (Sunday mornings in industrial areas are great for photography, in my experience) I could take my time exploring the scene. One thing I liked most of all was how the building was constructed with multiple "panels", all of which offered something different and all of which were essentially pre-framed. See for yourself:

Buckeye 004

Buckeye 011

Buckeye 010

Buckeye 009

Buckeye 008

Buckeye 012

Buckeye 015

Buckeye 013

Saturday, October 11, 2014

From My Position: 18th Street Bridge

The 18th street overpass in Chicago is easily one of my favorite photo locations in the City - a great view of the skyline and a great contrast between the glamor of the city (especially at night) and the grittiness of industry. To be honest, I probably shoot here too much as there really are only so many angles you can take. But it's easily accessible and the light is always different. And so, I keep going back.

One of my earlier shots from here. Can't get this much negative space any more (see below).

Chicago Plate 061
How much do I hate that security camera pole? Can't shoot wide here any more (and since it's at the height of the overpass, I'm pretty certain it's more about recording who's up there and not who might be in the yard).

Chicago Plate 052
The three-quarter shot.

Another night shot. Notice how I now have to zoom in more from my shot in this series.

Chicago Plate 082
Sunset (sort of). A time of day which I'll need to explore more here.

The Silver Streak
For the number of times I've shot here, catching trains actually operating is fairly rare.

The view to the south.

The Job
The Chicago Architecture Foundation wound up using this as part of its "Chicago, Model City" exhibit.

A tighter shot of the St. Charles Air Line bridge. Probably should have a separate entry on this thing - to me, this bridge is as much of an iconic part of the skyline as the Sears Tower.

Chicago Panorama 01
Moved across the river, but still on the bridge, this is a 12 shot (almost 180 degree) panorama. The park in the foreground used to be another railroad yard.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

I've Got a Bridge in Kentucky to Sell You.

Not much to say about this one - the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky. If it reminds you of the Brooklyn Bridge, well that's because the guy who designed this, designed the Brooklyn Bridge as well (and this was built first - during the Civil War as it happens).

Anyway, a very cool find in a surprisingly cool city (Cincinnati, that is). Plenty more shots from that place to come.

Buckeye 001

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Focus On: The C&O Canal

As should surprise no one who's read this blog or followed my photos, urban industry is a particular interest of mine. Unfortunately for me when I was living in Washington D.C., our nations capital never had much in the way of industry and what there was is largely gone. Fortunately, what little bit there had been had (in part) been clustered along the C&O Canal in Georgetown and while it had all been refurbished by the time I moved there in 2008, the area still maintained a little bit of an industrial feel. It was an area I shot many, many times over the next two years.

Which Way to Ohio?
One of the first photos I shot after moving to D.C.

Title to Come
Possibly the best photo I took during my time D.C. Certainly my favorite photo of mine from D.C.

Version Inversion
From my short lived infatuation with Infrared Photography.

Originally I had wanted to shoot the canal in all seasons, but after my first winter I quickly learned that the canal is kept dry during the winter months making for a boring photo. The Snowpocalypse of 2010 helped me out here.

Three Snaps Up
From some angles it has an industrial feel and from others it has an almost antebellum look.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hipster Holocost 2010

Much like the Goose Island Bridge or the Kinzie Ave. drawbridge, I've always thought that the Ashland Ave. drawbridge is another distinctive part of Chicago. Unfortunately, unlike those other bridges, there are far fewer vantage points from which to shoot it. After getting frustrated from trying to shoot from the middle of the other Ashland Ave. drawbridge - and having the vibrations from crossing traffic throw off my shots - I moved off to the north side of the bridge to shoot from solid ground.

There had been heavy rainstorms earlier that day which can usually make for dramatic sunsets but in this case, the solid cloud bank just sort of produced a weird sunset. But I didn't have a good shot of this bridge before, so at least I checked this off the list.

Hipster Holocaust 2010

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Focus On: Goose Island Bridge

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific railroad bridge at the north end of Goose Island, where the rail line crosses North Ave. is - or was - in my opinion one of the most distinctive elements of "Chicago" in the City. I've been passing this bridge as long as I've been alive and while much (if not all) of the industrial character of the neighborhood has changed drastically, it has always remained.

Well, not quite - a few years ago the city renovated the bridge to make it more friendly for pedestrians to access Goose Island (something that would have never been necessary for large parts of Chicago's history). While I'm not a huge fan of the renovation - I prefer my industrial age artifacts to be suitably aged and weathered - it's far better than if they'd torn the bridge down or replaced it with something else.

The Proctor and Gamble factory and the other industrial behemoths of Lincoln Park aren't coming back, but at least this is still here.

Goose Island Bridge
When I got into photography seriously, I knew this would be one of the first places I'd want to shoot.

Chicago Plate 083
The bridge today after the renovation.

Chicago Plate 086
Trees and high tech industries on Goose Island. Historically unthinkable.

Chicago Plate 078
City in a Garden indeed.

Chicago Plate 077
The view from the refurbished bridge.

Chicago Plate 084
If this is still active rail, I can't imagine that it will be much longer.

For further information on this bridge, check out this link.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Making the Sausage

I've written previously about standing around waiting for the light to come together for my shot of St. Peter's Basilica but what I didn't show was one of things I did to keep myself entertained until the light changed.

Not much to say about this shot except for the two things I think I'd do differently next time. First, I think I'd unclip my strap from my camera bag so that I could step back a little farther - there was really no reason to stay clipped in, in retrospect. Second, I would have left the back screen on its "normal" settings - normally it's full of histograms and other data, but I changed it for the shot, thinking it would make for a better photo. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn't - probably should have shot both ways to be sure. One of these days I'll remember to fully work a scene and not just take one shot and call it a day.

Making the Sausage

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

From My Position: Ashland Ave. Station

One of my favorite locations to shoot from in the City, this neighborhood is, sadly, rapidly gentrifying. Probably not too much longer before low-rise industry (or what's left it) is replaced by condos. But for now...

Chicago Plate 071
Looking eastbound towards the City.
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Old Chicago. Well, older Chicago.
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Old Chicago at sunset.
Sans titre
Water towers and truss bridges make for a classic Chicago scene.
Sans titre
Not all shots are on the horizon.
The World Needs More
A noble sentiment, perhaps.