Outer Banks: Kickin’ It Old School With 35mm Film, Pentax K1000

Many months ago I decided I wanted a photographic challenge, and so I picked up an old Pentax K1000 manual SLR camera off eBay. The plan was to start shooting with some Kodak TRI-X 400 black and white 35mm film. However, the film and the camera sat around for months unused. Then came a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a Thanksgiving vacation, and along came the big Nikon D7100, small Sony RX-100 II, and yes, the Pentax K1000. I was determined to finally use the film camera. I haven’t shot with film since the early 1990s, and even then I shot with automatic cameras. The Pentax K1000 is fully manual. However, there is one handy feature in the K1000, and that’s a built-in light meter in the form of a simple needle that appears on the right side of the viewfinder. Put the needle in the middle using a combination of aperture and shutter speed, and your photo “should” be properly exposed, notwithstanding the look you are going for in a particular scene.

Since film costs money, and since good developing isn’t exactly what I would call cheap (I recommend The Darkroom), I was determined to change my mindset when shooting with film. I can’t just snap away hoping to get a good shot. I really needed to put some thought into each shot. And with that, I actually only shot two rolls of film the entire week.

Here’s one of my favorites.

Whalehead Club decorated for Christmas. Corolla, North Carolina - Outer Banks

Whalehead Club decorated for Christmas. Corolla, North Carolina – Outer Banks

And here’s another angle of this impressive structure.

Whalehead Club decorated for Christmas. Corolla, North Carolina - Outer Banks

Whalehead Club decorated for Christmas. Corolla, North Carolina – Outer Banks

Whalehead is a historic home located in Corolla, North Carolina and was built by Edward C. Knight back in the 1920s. It was his “duck hunting” home away from home. Now completely restored, it is open to the public for tours and other events, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Sometimes when you shoot with film, you get happy accidents that create neat effects, something you’d never get with a pristine digital photo unless you decided to add it in “post.” Take for example the photo below of Bodie Island Lighthouse, with film flaws and a curious but beautifully placed light leak.

Bodie (pronounced "body") Island Lighthouse - Outer Banks, North Carolina

Bodie (pronounced “body”) Island Lighthouse – Outer Banks, North Carolina

I’m always looking for lines and shadows, and as I was walking the boardwalk in Manteo, North Carolina, I spotted this neat intersection of lines and shadows created by the boardwalk and a bench not quite enjoying the shade of a tree

A bench on the boardwalk in Manteo, North Carolina

A bench on the boardwalk in Manteo, North Carolina

And finally, I look for juxtapositions, sometimes blatantly obvious, like the Full Moon Cafe basking in the bright sun.

Full Moon Cafe & Brewery - Manteo, North Carolina

Full Moon Cafe & Brewery – Manteo, North Carolina

Overall, I’m quite satisfied with many of the 70 black and white film photographs I captured during my week in the Outer Banks.

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Philadelphia Street Photography – Happy Hour

Philadelphia Street Photography - 0986

I guess you can call this “happy hour” in Center City Philadelphia. I love some of the expressions here. The guy with the hat and the glass is the star of the show, but I also like the guy with the beard to the left and the woman just beyond the guy with the hat. The look on her face is interesting. She clearly finds something amusing with this street scene, and considering I moved through this scene multiple times before taking this photo, I can fully understand her expression. It was a curious and lively crowd to say the least. But I can’t forget to mention the young man in the foreground, and I like that the depth of field in this shot puts him slightly out of focus, detaching him from the scene. The guy with the hat is the star, but the young man with his back to the camera is the mystery.

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Photography Composition: Use Leading Lines To Anchor Subject

Valley Creek - Valley Forge

In the photo above, you have a classic example of the photographic compositional element known as “leading lines.” The banks of the creek as well as the trees on each side form lines that lead your eye to the edge of the visible creek. In this photo the viewer’s eyes are led from the bottom/middle of the photo to near the top.

Leading lines can perform the simple function in the photo above, in essence becoming the subject of the photo, or part of the subject itself. But leading lines can serve to anchor your main subject in the frame, like in the photo below:

Philadelphia Street Photography - 0943

In the above photo, and starting from the bottom left of the frame, the viewer’s eye is led by the long shadow to the main subject. But there is also a secondary leading line that is the lighter colored pavement. And last, the starburst (sun rays) can also be considered leading lines that serve to anchor the subject from the top of the frame. This is definitely not a conventional (whatever that means) leading lines photograph, but it still illustrates the use of lines and flow in the composition, leading the viewer’s eyes to the main subject. But as I said, leading lines don’t always need to anchor a subject, the line or lines can be the subject, as is the case here:

Valley Forge - 0335

The trail is both the leading lines element and the main subject of the above photo.

And here is another example of leading lines that anchor the main subject, although in this photo, the leading lines are likely to lead the viewer’s eyes away from the subject (depending on where your eyes first hit the photo), but in this case it makes for an effective and interesting composition:

Knox Quarters Stables - 0348

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Philadelphia Street Photography – And Quick Redbubble Metal Print Review

Philadelphia Street Photography - 0943

I decided to eschew naming (most of) my street photography photos with nifty names. I think it’s best to leave it up to the viewer’s imagination. If I name a photo, I’ve imparted my judgment and biases onto the photo. While that is fine for many types of photography, one aspect of street photography that I like is that it captures a slice of life and the human condition, but it doesn’t always offer the viewer the entire context. Obviously this is a true statement of photography in general, as you never get to see what is outside the frame. But the stage for street photography is busy and chaotic, which means there is much more going on outside the frame than inside.

And if you have perused my Street Collection, you probably noticed I like starbursts and long shadows. All of my street photography outings so far have been in the last few hours of the day, and that is with purpose, as can be seen in the photo above. That doesn’t mean I will never shoot on the street at an earlier time, but I think capturing the long shadows of late day will continue to be a signature of my street photos.

And finally, I wanted to let you know that I ordered the above photo as a metal print from my Redbubble profile. When I get it, I’ll let you know my thoughts with a mini review.

UPDATE, May 10, 2014 – Review of Redbubble Metal Print:

I received my metal print from Redbubble yesterday. I will add a few photos of the packaging and the print itself later today, but I wanted to get a quick review posted while the thoughts are fresh in my mind.

Packaging and Shipping – It shipped via UPS ground from California, so for me that means it took the full 5-days. I believe it shipped two or three days after I placed the order, so it was a relatively quick turnaround. The package itself is a flat box, and inside the metal print was very securely attached to a strong piece of cardboard with clear (quite strong) plastic and packing tape. I can’t overstate how well secured the print was to this piece of cardboard. It wasn’t going anywhere. There was also some packing paper crushed up in the box to cushion the side where the metal print would have otherwise been exposed to the outside box. Just about the only thing I can think of that would have been better, would be to sandwich the print between two pieces of cardboard before boxing. However, I believe their method of packing the metal print is sufficient and should rarely if ever result in any damage unless the shipping company bends the box severely.

The Metal Print – I have no prior experience with metal prints, as this is an entirely new product experience for me. I’m impressed at the detail level of the print on the metal. I chose matte instead of gloss (as I usually do for prints), and the starburst in the above photo is really silky smooth in appearance, and the details of the pavement and the people and buildings in the distance are quite sharp. I expected this print to work out well, and I must say it surpassed by expectations. As for the construction of the print, of course the print is just a sheet of aluminum. Attached to the back of the print is a smaller box also constructed of aluminum mounted to a sturdy foam. The box is in the middle and biased toward the top and is 1/3 the surface area of the print. This box serves as the mounting plate and the standoff that will create the floating effect when the print is hung on a wall. And attached to this box are four plastic standoffs to protect your wall and allow the print to lay flat on your wall. The overall package is that of a high quality piece of art, and I really feel it could work in any decor because of its minimalist appearance, but anybody who likes a bit of industrial design in their decor will greatly appreciate a metal print or two for their study or den.

UPDATE #2

Here are the photos I promised (click each photo to enlarge). You can see the packaging, the back of the metal print, including the foam/aluminum box for mounting, and the front of the print.

Redbubble Metal Print #1

Redbubble Metal Print #2

Redbubble Metal Print #3

Redbubble Metal Print #4

After looking at the print thoroughly under high light, my only negative critique is that there is a slight green cast, especially when viewing the print at an angle. The green tint seems to mostly disappear when viewed straight on, and is not really noticeable when hung on a wall and observed under normal home lighting conditions, even at fairly extreme angles, at least without something else to compare it to. But even in the review photo above you can see it has a slight greenish cast compared to the original photo at the top of the blog post. Granted, I did not correct the “review” photos for white balance, so this effect may or may not have been enhanced by my camera’s auto white balance.

I think this slight color cast is probably inherent to the printing process, since (I believe) Redbubble uses a CMYK color printing lab, which means they aren’t printing black and white prints using a black and white only print method. From what I’ve read, seeing a bit of a color cast in black and white prints is not unusual when printed this way. I figured I would mention this so that you are aware that a slight color cast is possible with any black and white prints rendered via a color lab, and this is not just limited to metal prints.

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Redbubble: Giving This Artist Community Another Look

Redbubble is not just another online place to showcase and sell your photography portfolio or your digital art, it is also a social media platform created by artists, for artists. I joined Redbubble in January 2011, uploaded a dozen photos, and then pretty much forgot about it. But in the three years since, I’ve managed to sell a couple of cards, a few prints, and just this week, a framed print. It was this most recent sale that got me motivated to take another look at Redbubble, update my profile, and upload more of my photographs.

redbubble-david-k-sutton

I now have nearly 40 photos uploaded to Redbubble, including 8 (as of writing) select street photography photos, the first time I’ve made any candids available for sale. Most of the fine art photos that I’ve uploaded to Redbubble can also be found for sale on my Smugmug page, although a few unique photos are available exclusively on Redbubble.

From this moment forward I plan to be more active within the Redbubble community, discovering works from other photographers, and getting some insight into their techniques and processes. I also plan to buy some artwork from other artists for my walls. In fact, I have a growing list of “favorites.”

What makes Redbubble special is the community of fellow photographers and artists. With my admittedly limited experience so far, Redbubble just seems more supportive of artists and their creative endeavors than other online galleries. It seems the enthusiasm and spunk so evident in how Redbubble is operated is infectious, attracting likeminded individuals to show their work, and participate and encourage others. But I will also be playing around with other online services. In addition to my longstanding Flickr page, I will be participating in the launch of Crated, and I just started building my profile page today after receiving my invite. Crated is a new online artist community that looks to compete with Redbubble. So stay tuned for more information about that.

Please check out my Redbubble profile, and if you are a photographer, give Redbubble a try.

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