Friday, September 28, 2012

A Chance Encounter

When you are walking about, looking for something great to photograph, don't discount the nooks and doorways.  In my last blog I wrote about the surprising find of a stairway that was very appealing to me.  Well, here's another "find."  Recently I was rushing to a luncheon meeting near Grand Central Station.  I usually walk from Penn Station (32th Street and 7th Avenue) to my Manhattan destinations with camera at the ready, so to speak.  This day I was running (literaly) late, camera tucked away.  Yet, my eye caught the cherub carved doorway on a 32nd Street doorway.  I stopped, all time suspended,  because the beauty of the carving with the etched glass door and brass hardware was so wonderful.  I was transfixed: transported to another era, the Gilded Age.  Grabbing my camera, I began to shoot.  I arrived at my meeting 5 minutes late (no matter, the chairperson came 15 minutes late!), but with 40 photos of this exquisite NYC architectural detail.

NYC Architectural Detail

Art genre: Black & White architectural detail photograph

Complimentary decor: Art Nouveau, Baroque, Eclectic

Photography tip:  Capture details on details for more interest.  The cherub's face would make a nice architectural detail photograph, but the inclusion of the brass door handle and sign, the etched glass door and the stone wall create textural interest.  Never use a flash on glass if possible.

Location: West 32nd Street, NYC

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking Around in Two Parts

Part I- I'm writing a photography guide that I'm using for a workshop shoot I'm planning to give in Coney Island for the Center of Photographic Art: Huntington, NY.  Throughout the guide I write "look around."  I mean that whole heartedly.  Photography is looking through a lens.  In most instances it is good if the photographer looks around before snapping.  Either way, looking is the first step.

Part II- The photograph for this post has a little NY story you may like.  One day I was caught in a torrential downpour while walking to my friend's printing studio in NYC Garment District.  I ducked into a building that houses a well known fabric store, Mood (Project Runway).  The colors and textures are fabulous there.  It is a visual delight to see bolt after bolt of shimmering cloth.  But what I really found interesting was the warehouse style stairway that I took down after I visually gorged on the wares at Mood.  Staircases in general are structurally interesting.  This one was marvelously rectangular,  angled, 1930's-40's style.  I could see George Raft or Humphrey Bogart climbing to the top!

Garment District: NYC

Art genre: Sepia art architectural photograph

Complimentary decor: Modern, Contemporary

Photography tip: Angle up the stairwell.  Make sure there is some ambient light (sky light/ artificial light) because a flash here would blow out your light values.

Location: West 37th Street, NYC

Monday, September 24, 2012

Guest Matthew G. Beall Fine Art Photography

Matthew G. Beall is a multi-talented artist/photographer living in Ulm, Germany.  I am fortunate that Matthew G. Beall Vision Driven Fine Art Photographer shares his thoughts about photography here: 
Taking a picture involves very little effort and no creative vision. Let's call these snapshots, which are basically a record of an event or subject. Although it may be a pretty image, it is still a snapshot or, if you'd like,  a recording of what was in front of you. There is nothing wrong with that, but it lacks intent i.e. vision, creativity and workmanship. Making a fine art photograph is completely controlled by the artist. This is intent. The final result is the vision the artist is expressing to the viewer.  It is the "reality" of the artist, not reality itself. It is art.
                                                         First Image is a Snapshot:
Matthew G. Beall's Studio: Ulm, Germany

Denver Wrap It Up: Matthew G. Beall Fine Art Photography

Fine Art Combined: Matthew G. Beall Fine Art Photography

Friday, September 21, 2012

Natural Forms

I am continually amazed by the forms nature provides.  While walking down a street in New Hampshire, I saw a tree stump  that seemed to be growing horizontally.  On closer inspection, oddly rippled and striated fungus was sprouting from the bark.  The tiered shapes are amorphously beautiful in their organic forms.  Natural shapes can provide a wealth of inspiration.

Natural Forms

 Art genre: Sepia art photograph/ Nature Study/ Botanical

Complimentary decor: Any

Photography tip: Look for details that may provide interesting forms/ shapes.  Create your composition around central theme of details.
Location: Congress Street: Bethlehem, NH

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Learning by Teaching

It is true that when you teach, you learn.  These words were certainly true this evening when I had the great pleasure of teaching a class in Architectural Photography at the Center for Photographic Art in Huntington, NY.  I thank each and every person who attended!  You all were terrific!!

Teachers, ALL!

Influences: Roebling

As a child, I was passionate about going to Manhattan.  I still am!  My Dad would drive us across the Brooklyn Bridge into the city I was sure was OZ.  Siting in the back seat of the Rambler, I could only see the bridge, not the skyline of NYC.  My association of the Brooklyn Bridge with literally bridging the East River's Brooklyn shore to the its magical Manhattan one is a powerful influence.  John A. Roebling began building the Brooklyn Bridge in 1867.  He created a visual and practical wonder that had an enormous impact on me in the visual impressions the great bridge presents and in its link to beyond.

John A. Roebling: Genius Behind the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge of My Childhood

To Oz
These photographs courtesy of the NY Public Library

Monday, September 17, 2012

Desgning a Photograph

Like anything else, photographs are designed.  By that I mean that the photographer tells an interesting visual story that keeps the eye of the viewer traveling around the entire image.  Just as with every good design, all of the parts come together in one pleasing and stimulating whole image.  In each of my architectural and art photographs, I attempt to narrate a story that will both enhance my subject and capture my viewer.  These post office boxes are presented as a design of repeating forms with some wall detailing.  I especially like the signage as it compliments the antique look of the piece.

 Art genre: Sepia art photograph

Complimentary decor: Traditional, Colonial, Early American, Art Deco

Photography tip:Try composing on the diagonal with repeating forms for a more dynamic image.
Location:Main Post Office: 34th Street and 8th Avenue, NYC

Friday, September 14, 2012


Layers are an intriguing concept in most fields.  Think, if you will, layers of taste, layers of clothing, layers of feelings.  In photography there are layers, too.  Layers of light streaming through the aperture.  Layers in post production, for example Photoshop layers. There are also layers of seeing when a foreground image frames a middle or background image.  This "see through" perception has been used for centuries,  drawing the viewer into an image slowly with sights that appeal to the eye along the way.  My layered photograph was taken in the magnificent Japanese Garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  My childhood was beautified by these Gardens.  I revisited the BBG with my own children and am now delighted to accompany my grandchildren to this Brooklyn oasis.

A View of Serenity

 Art genre: Sepia art photograph

Complimentary decor: Any

Photography tip: Layer a photograph by capturing a "see through" foreground image, such as a window or a doorway.
Location: Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Influences: Berenice Abbott

 Berenice Abbott was an enormous influence on me when I was growing up in the 1950's in Brooklyn, NY, as she is to this day.   I have been enamoured of New York City and passionate about photography all my life.  The photographs that Berenice Abbott took of NYC in her lifetime are wonderful records of NYC as well as marvelous photographs.  Abbott's book, Changing New York is a much loved reference of mine. And, through her genius, Abbott brought Atget to light.  Many thanks, Berenice!

 Jefferson Market Court, southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and West 10th Street, looking north from southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and West 9th Street, Manhattan.

Creator: Abbott, Berenice, 1898-1991 -- Photographer

Additional Name(s): Federal Art Project (New York, N.Y.) -- Sponsor

Created Date: October 21, 1935

Medium: Gelatin silver prints

This photograph and information regarding it courtesy of the NY Public Library

Monday, September 10, 2012


The exhilaration of taking photographs may be consuming when I am on a shoot.  Frequently I am caught up in the moment, clicking away.  It is a wonderful feeling when I am capturing images: exciting, creative, challenging to get the right angle.  Later, when I am downloading my pictures into the computer, I begin to notice details that were unobserved as I shot the images.  Beautiful elements of the whole image come into focus.  Details are often the "finds" that can be considered stand alones or can be emphasized in the larger photograph.

NYC Post Office: 34th Street

NYC Post Office: Ceiling Detail

 Art genre: Sepia fine art architectural photograph, fine art architectural detail

Complimentary decor: Traditional, Colonial

Photography tip: Consider the details.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Composing with Light

Light is a key element in any photograph.  Composing around the subject of light can be both challenging and exhilarating.  I became an artist because I loved the way light interacted with everything it illuminates and I wanted to try to replicate through my images light's beauty and power.  There are two important principles in any composition.  One is to perceive and then express where the light falls.


Art genre: Sepia fine art architectural photograph

Complimentary decor: Traditional, modern

Photography tip: When working with light, try not to allow the light to overtake the composition.  Light is very powerful and it can "steal" the image.  Allow other values, such as darks and midtones to be equally represented.

Friday, September 7, 2012


With a shutter click, photographers record what they see through the camera's viewfinder.  Later, the photographer may enhance an image by cropping; converting to sepia or other monochromatic value; manipulating the photograph in various ways.  I was struck by the repeating forms when I saw the original image in my viewfinder.  After downloading my photograph, I emphasized the repetition of the arches in my sepia photograph of this NYC building.

Repeating Arches   

Art genre: Fine art architectural photograph

Complimentary decor: Any

Photography tip: Emphasize repeating forms through values.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


In the midst of busy Brooklyn, NY is the sanctuary of my childhood: the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  Still, serene, sublime the gardens offer a marvelous place for reflection or simply a stroll among the beautiful plantings. 

Water Lily Pool: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, NYC

Art genre: Fine art photograph

Complimentary decor: Traditional, Country, Romantic, Victorian

Photography tip: Create a sense of distance with converging lines.