Category Archives: Photography

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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Is Street Photography A Violation Of Privacy, Or Ethics?

Reflect Upon

There’s no question street photography is polarizing. Some, myself included, see street photography as an art form, and a means to document city life and society at a particular place and time. There are others who see street photography as an egregious violation of personal sovereignty. So is street photography appropriate? Is it ethical? And is it okay to post street photos online without permission from the subjects?

Because I practice street photography, and because I post street photos on this blog and on Flickr, I think you know where I fall on this subject. But there are some who think street photography is a clear violation of privacy, and others who take it a step further and believe it is (or should be) against the law. And candid photography is against the law in some countries. But in the United States, and many other democracies, there is no presumed privacy in a public space. While in public, photography of random people is legal, and that includes children. And there are some who do understand the law, but who argue just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And I do have some sympathy for this viewpoint, but I believe this is a highly subjective issue for which there is no clear and concise answer.

Some people have no problem taking photos of anyone, including children, even if the subject is in an embarrassing or compromising position. And I’m not here to argue against that kind of photography, as everyone needs to check their conscience on their own terms. But for me, at least right now, I’m uncomfortable photographing people in a way that would subject them to potential embarrassment if they discovered the photo online. I’m also uncomfortable with photographing children (as the main subject), but that has more to do with avoiding confrontations with parents. But I’m not here to judge fellow street photographers who have no such self-imposed limits. And while I might have my own personal limits, I do not believe there should be any enforced or defined limits for others. I live in a free country, and I want it to stay that way.

When it comes to posting street photos online, I actually make no such distinction. What I mean to say is, if its fine to display street photography at an art gallery, then its fine to display it on the internet. People need to stop fearing technology.

But unfortunately we live in paranoid times. Much of the fear of others is unwarranted, and the perceived risks in society overstated. Your local news broadcast deserves much blame in creating an overly suspicious public, but government is also to blame for overreacting in the name of national security.

Because of our overwhelming panic and despair, increasingly our so-called free society is becoming a police surveillance state. Yet amid all this anxiety and dread, we also live in a time when nearly everyone has a camera at hand. So it would seem by participating in modern society, you are tacitly offering your consent to be photographed. It is against this backdrop that the street photographer, a person who is capturing images for the love of the art, risks confrontation, and being labeled suspicious. But it is the lens of the surveillance state that we should fear, not the lens of the artist.

Street Photography in a Paranoid time — By walking out of our homes we essentially consent to be filmed and watched and photographed by any number of entities; at least a street photographer is making photos out of some interest in art or their fellow human being. – UtahN8 (Nathaniel)

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