There are basically two ways to do URBEX. One is by gaining illegal access to a shoot location, the other is by gaining access lawfully. As much as I love the work of my fellow shooters who sneak into various places they really shouldn’t, I’m not inclined to take such a risk. Not just because I can get busted but because I can’t be certain that I can protect myself against all of the hazards and risks to my personal health and safety if I were to enter a place that no one knows I’m there.
So, I am thrilled when the Ontario Heritage Trust puts on events that enable the public to legally explore edifices that would otherwise be inaccessible to the average person. Doors Open Ontario is such an annual event in which the “Trust works with communities across the province to open the doors, gates and courtyards of their unique and most fascinating cultural sites so you can explore the stories inside.”
I like to check the Trust out each year to see if they have spots that I’d like to venture into. Good creative opportunities. Gordon Pim, Senior Web Communications and Marketing Specialist for the Trust tells me, “While the Ontario Heritage Trust coordinates the province wide Doors Open Ontario program, we have no say in which buildings are opened . . or even which communities participate. We invite all communities to participate each year, but it’s up to them to decide if they have the infrastructure and volunteer base to support an event. Once registered, the communities are then the ones that select the participating sites. The Trust doesn’t play a role in that process.”
In any case, there are still forbidden places in Ontario cities that I’d like to see someday.
Openings are spread out over much of each year. Registered spots in my city of Hamilton are always open during the first weekend of May. Two locations that I toured for the 2018 showcase was the Cannon Knitting Mills, and the Gibson School. Both are old, and virtually unused buildings that are earmarked by Stinson Properties to be converted into lofts.
I was overjoyed walking around in the knitting factory at 134 Mary and Cannon Streets. Especially the dark ground floor parts that are partly flooded by rainwater that leaked in. I spent hours shooting in there on the first day of the opening and went back the next day with a few radio slaves and a couple strobes.
That’s how I made this panorama. Another image that I’m inviting critique on. I’m especially interested in finding out what others think this picture might be good for.
There were many other pro and amateur photographers that captured this rusty and dusty old belt-driven lathe but I’m pretty sure that I’m the only one who lit it up like this. So, I’m pretty sure that I’ve made a unique image.
This picture is comprised of two lowlight images stitched together in Adobe Lightroom. Each with the following settings:
When I photographed the lathe on the first day, I liked the warm, natural woody and rusty colours that I picked up but I felt the image would be best conveying the coldness of the dark warehouse. So, the next day I reshot with a white balance set to tungsten to bring out the natural blue light wavelengths, and while firing a single off-camera Speedlight at ½ power.
As you can see, I placed the strobe on the floor between that lathe and the wall instead of trying to light the accessible side of the lathe. I directed the flash up against the far side of the machine so that it would reflect and scatter upward and outward on the brick wall. The combination of long exposure and reflected backlighting creates a 1930’s cinematic appearance. Like you might see in something like James Whale’s ‘The Bride of Frankenstein’. That’s what this lathe is like to me. An intriguing resuscitated corpse that is still of value.
As I shot the lathe just after midday each day, I wanted a strobe effect to counter the overwhelming but needed brightness of the nearby doorway to the outdoors.
The rest is post-prod in Lightroom to create not quite a true panorama but a shot with a very wide aspect ratio, alter exposure, contrast, shadows, clarity and sharpness.
Self-critique? Sure, I wish that the sharpness was sharper. I seldom trust the AF feature on a lens, and even less so in lowlight conditions. So, I think I overcompensated in the manual focus.
I’m not sure that I’ll keep the title. I feel it’s a bit long-winded. “Once Progressive” is another possible name. I’m always looking to celebrate the heritage of people who have worked or still work hard with their hands or with machines and equipment that still require human elbow grease. That too is a part of the story in this picture. You can tell me what you think or if you have any other suggestions. Have fun!
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Gavin Taylor, Bruce Farrer, Werner Koenen and all other members of the London Camera Club in beautiful London, ON for having me give a presentation on street photography on April 19, 2018. I’m always excited to introduce others to the genre, and it was a pleasure to do so with such a warmly receptive and thoroughly interested audience.
I am also thankful to all of you MOF readers and prolific street photographers who have taken an interest in The Unrepentant Flâneur’s Guide to Street Photography and written me asking for more entries. I’m afraid; however, that it was only a 12-part blog series.
I’m very pleased that the series is still garnering attention. The series was a lot of fun to do, and I’m still willing to discuss street photography (SP) here on the main blog. It’s due to receiving more urging from readers, why I feel I have been persuaded to start this ongoing series.
In my blog-based street photography project Hammer Home, you can see what’s discussed in either series put into practice. I am always willing to discuss SP generally there too, of course.
For those who know me well enough, I’m far more partial to trees than flowers. Every now and then, nevertheless, I’ll find a flower worth admiring. That’s how I came to make this shot. Kim and I were cruising through North Carolina when we saw literally thousands of these sunflowers growing wild along the highway.
It had been a long day of road tripping, and the sun was getting ready to go down when we came across these. Of course, we had to pull over.
I’ve said it before that if you really want to draw a line between street photography and urban photography, and it’s completely excusable if you regard them both as exactly the same thing, then you would put emphasis on places and spaces as main subjects. In street photography, it is the people in those places and spaces that are made to stand out.
The difference, as just expressed, is really ultra-simplifying things. Such a literal description gives no consideration to the fact that street photography reflects how people naturally conduct themselves in and interact with their environments, while urban photography highlights a curious state of being for places or spaces where people may exist.
I find that the challenge in photographing the urban scene lies in trying to see familiar locations with a fresh eye. I aim to show how a mundane place or space actually has a profound importance that ought to not be taken for granted.
This shot is of an old inner-city suburb. I don’t live there, I never have and I doubt that I ever will but I’ve travelled down this street nearly every day for many years. From passing through so often, I have become familiar with the long-standing aspects of the avenue and intrigued by the aspects that have been far less static. All of these things have connected me to this place emotively, and I am inspired to try my best to capture it and the presence of the people who live there, without literally showing any of them in this case, in some impactful way.
I shot this old block sentimentally, showing what I feel indicates its neighbourhood character, with the hope that I can cause others to relate to it with similar affections.
Someone may look at this and know of a place a lot like it. A favorite place or a resented one. Personal memories may surface that brings out either a healthy respect or even logical disrespect for the virtually breathing location depicted. For those like me, some earworm will probably start playing in their heads, and that will be their theme song for the place or, at least, its image.
I do reflect on my town a lot. Sometimes I fear that you get sick of it but what can I do? It’s not like I’m going to shut up about my city anytime soon. I like to show off “The Hammer”. It gets a bad rap from outsiders and citizens alike.
I once had a small exhibition in which some guy in his twenties was absolutely shocked about the picture I made of Hamilton’s Gore Park fountain. He was a lifelong citizen but he never saw the beauty that the city of Hamilton actually has to offer, especially in the downtown core where this fountain is. This is the inner city where people expect nothing but loss and degradation but there are substantial efforts by citizens and City Council to improve all of the downtown areas, starting with the core.
If I were a tour guide , I think I would make it a point to show off Hamilton’s core, as some already do. I’m pretty sure that the core is my favourite part of this city, other than my own home. There are times when this town can really dazzle you.
That’s exactly what a woman in the vicinity said to me with a chuckle when she spotted me photographing this character.
FINAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY CONSIDERATIONS
Here it is, the last part in this blog series. For those who have read all of the preceding posts, I thank you and I hope they have been informative. Experience has shown me that there are many people seeking out wedding photographers, and aren’t sure how to go about it or what to expect.
For anyone who has yet to read the preceding parts or need to review any of them again, you can link to them from here:
• Part 1 The Question of Divorce When Considering Wedding Photography
• Part 2 When to Search and Book?
• Part 3 Average Pricing for a Professional Wedding Photographer
• Part 4 All About Engagement Photography
• Part 5 Pre-Wedding Event Planning and Coverage
• Part 6 Consultation on Wedding Day Photography
• Part 7 Final Wedding Photography Considerations (here you’re are)
This final post is about associated wedding photography possibilities that could actually be your first or only considerations in having wedding-related portraits done. It’s also about making sure that you consult on an output that you’re looking for because wedding photography is an investment.
The options could be a lot of fun in creative expression or they may clash with your sense of propriety or economic limitations. It all depends on your personality and sense of responsibility, as most things in life do.
Morning After Photography
You may have already heard about this trending by now. I wrote a bit about bridal boudoir in Part 4. Well, this is a relatively new version of it.
It seems to have started back around 2011 or 2012 when super talented, super creative, ultramodern New York-based photographer Michelle Jonné began offering portrait sessions to couples that gave the impression that the consummation had taken place.
The audacity to do this not only indicates that Jonné is not only creative and risk taking in business but also a visual artist. Not all great artists push or question existing social or political status quo but it is quite common for artists to do so in one way or another. Jonné’s an artist, and of course I mean that as a high complement.
Like bridal/engagement boudoir, morning after photography does not feature people actually having sex or even simulating sexual intercourse. It is; nevertheless, the creation of erotic images that definitely suggest that newlyweds have passionately unleashed their physical desire for each other after they’ve tied the knot or are about to. Even though there’s a chance that after a very full wedding day, a couple won’t actually have the umpf to do the deed.
How far can you go without being sleazy? There’s no nudity associated but actual or implied nudity is conceivable. As racy and exciting as the outcome can be, the shots would be considered absolutely boring for any genuine purveyor of X-rated material.
Yeah, right! Like, what for? Who are you going to show these pictures to, grandma? Probably not. Chances are that the shoot and the occasional review of these special glamourous boudoir shots will be long-lasting, fun, vanity-serving experiences just for the couples who dare pursue this opportunity. Maybe images would be shared among very close likeminded friends. Maybe you’d be inclined to go much further than that. After all, we now live in a time in which all kinds of people post far more sexually provocative, and frankly weird and obscene pictures of themselves all over the Internet. I’ve heard that some want to prove that marriage doesn’t mean bed death.
The argument is understood. While we live in a world in which increasingly more are willing to say; “to each their own,” it still seems like photographers and prospective clients should draw a line at what should be photographed and shared for the sake of propriety and common sense — whatever the latter means these days. As long as there will be a need or want for it; nevertheless, “to each their own,” will still win out on this one.
It must be said though, that posting racy images of yourself online — even if there’s no nudity, can still result in others judging you harshly. You can still lose your job, and getting caught up in a scandal that others will make into a mission to never let you live it down. So, think very carefully about the consequences of showing off something so beautiful but risqué.
The adversity may not even be due to you or a friend of yours publishing the photos. As with any wedding photography or portrait assignment, it is an intellectual property standard that the photographer gets to own and use all images as he or she sees fit. Worldwide, there are release clauses built-in to all such agreements. So, if the photographer self-promotes by using any of these pictures, you could still be spotted somewhere in a seemingly compromising position.
A possible way around this, is negotiating with your photographer to amend an agreement so that only you will have the right to publish such images anywhere, anytime. The chances of such a negotiation succeeding are slim but not impossible. It’s worth it to ask! If success is possible, do expect that any chance of receiving a discount on such photography will go straight out the window.
Morning after photography still isn’t a major trend. In fact, it has become more used in fashion-related editorial photography. Morning after shoots, nevertheless, is also not showing any sign of disappearing altogether, and likely because of the editorial work. There’s just enough of a demand that other photographers have begun to present the option to clients.
Despite the name, a morning after photography shoot is most likely conducted several months after an actual wedding day and honeymoon, and even under a separate agreement apart from that for the actual wedding. Probably by then, you will have shared your truly most intimate moments alone with your significant other. As you should have.
Am I willing to push this creative and social envelope with clients? Yes, but I’m disinclined to mention it during a consultation. It’s my same approach with bridal boudoir. Clients who seriously want to express themselves this way will request it without any prompting. Just don’t think that anything goes with me. If you request something that breeches even my boundaries of decency, I’ll be sure to diplomatically let you know.
How does a couple go about getting up the nerve to do this? You have to get your head around what it takes to approach your photographer with ideas for such a shoot. The creativity starts with you and is to be pushed by you, not your photographer. Committing to it seems, to me, to be a considerable test of your relationship with the one you’re about to marry or have already married. Before even going to consult with a photographer, you have to get together with your partner and openly come to terms with your respective sexual fantasies and fetishes because these might be what you want a photographer to help you dramatize in pictures. You have to share these thoughts and feelings with each other first, and without ever making each other feel dirty, depraved or ashamed for having such desires. Of course, unless you like feeling dirty, depraved or ashamed. Some couples do achieve this sexual honesty in their private lives while many others simply can’t.
Whether you’re a boy or girl, gay or straight, you may want to see your man looking like a clean-shaven Wall Street stock broker in slacks, suspenders and expensive leather shoes or a beastly, sweaty, brutish mountain man in filthy coveralls with an unkempt beard down to his chest. Perhaps you fancy your girl in glamourous lingerie, pearls and the highest stiletto heels or as a tough cop who has responded to your call about a possible neighbourhood prowler on your wedding night. Just maybe, you like the idea of simply waking up next to your new mate feeling their skin against yours as you embrace, and sharing body warmth. That sexy, seductive and protective type of warmth that signifies that you belong to each other exclusively. All of these possibilities are only just the beginning. How much further it goes all depends on what you are willing to acknowledge turns you and your mate on, and what you’re willing to dramatize before a photographer’s lens.
I think this is what it really takes for you to pursue a morning after shoot. Apart from that, you have to find a photographer who can forever be respectful of your erotic, romantic, creative vision that comes from a place of genuine love for the uniquely special person in your life.
Trash the Dress Photography
Love it! Its roots are not in wedding photography but in editorial bridal fashion photography, and it goes from mild to extreme. It has grown into a permanent feature of wedding photography, and it is requested by women who want to symbolically burn the bridge between their single and married lives (sometimes that means after a divorce), have a good time doing it, have no intention of keeping an expensive gown that they’ll wear only once, and have no intention of handing their dresses over to someone else for any reason.
The only drawback to it, for someone willing to get rid of their wedding dress, is the environmental impact. You may think it a waste to not give or sell the dress off to someone else who may reuse it. Style can be everything to a bride, however, so if you’re sure that your dress will become outdated or worse, cursed, after you’ve worn it, you might want to consider remembering the best of having the dress by trashing it glamorously!
Due to it’s origins in fashion, trash the dress (a.k.a.: “burn the dress”) portraiture usually depicts only the newlywed bride but sometimes the groom is right in there too.
It always has its own shoot day sometime after a wedding, if there’s a wedding at all. Many photographers quote full price for this as an item separate from the actual wedding package. I’m actually considering offering discounts or rebates on wedding photography packages to clients who are determined to go through with it. I welcome feedback on that.
It’s a funny term I know, and it does cause confusion. The name is more than likely derived from the artist’s proof which, historically, is a representational print of artwork – the digital age has expanded on the concept because not all artist’s proofs are printed now. In one brief sentence, a wedding photography proof is a representation of the final wedding portrait.
Digital photography was created by Kodak in 1975 but it didn’t become commonplace until the 90’s. I started learning photography as a kid back in the 80’s when analogue film was still king. For those who actually don’t know, back then all film negatives were chemically processed the same way. The pictures from the developed negatives were first printed as small images on common low-cost photographic paper as contact sheets or as larger prints. These first drafts were the proofs, and they were checked with magnifying glasses to see which images would be selected for special enhancements and retouching.
The negatives were used to make final prints of the chosen images on higher quality photopaper with all necessary enhancements in place. Wonderful work by highly knowledgeable and skilled photographers and darkroom technicians were made this way for a century.
Digital photography involves the use of cameras that record information on digital media (sometimes even on analogue film which images are later digitized), and the use of computers to review and critique the initial images as they were recorded for selection for editing. Digital photography also involves the proofing stage, and the editing or retouching of those images by use of computer software like Photoshop and Lightroom to produce the final images.
Notice that with the advent and growth of digital technology, minimal money and no materials have to be spent to give clients a tantalizing idea what they’re buying because proofs no longer have to be printed. With that in consideration, wedding photographers now have several means of proofing wedding pictures to clients for approval, including the old-fashioned way of printing everything. The means of proofing relied on may impact why you choose to hire one wedding photographer over another.
Proofing is when clients can really contribute to analogue or digital post-production decisions. A client may see their proofs and think that the exposure appears too dull or dark, and advise the photographer to brighten the images up a bit before printing anything into final individual pictures or albums.
Online wedding photography proofing has become a leading way for photographers to allow their clients to preview their pictures. This is because the service features easy to use integrated slideshows, and password access to accounts allows friends and family to weigh in on the decision-making. Orders can be made online, and files can be e-mailed depending on data size.
There are downfalls to online proofing. Accessibility to accounts are time-restricted so, if you happen to be away, in the hospital or anything happens to prevent you from logging in to scrutinize your pictures during the viewing window, you won’t get that chance. This online service costs money to the photographer that gets transferred to the client. Online proofing can be fairly inexpensive on their own but added to all of your other wedding costs, it could blow your wedding photography budget.
Seeing your images on your computer screen or smartphone display can also cause issues due to respective resolutions. After getting your photographer to brighten your pictures up to your satisfaction, you may find the final prints look too washed out or so colour bold that your eyes hurt.
You may also have to preview images that are proof marked or watermarked against photographer copyright violations. That’s right, as aforementioned, even though you pay for your pictures your photographer still has legal rights to own the images and use them as he or she feels fit.
Proofing by CD, DVD or e-mail is still done. You still get to see them on screen but are still susceptible to making post-production errors due to screen resolution misinterpretations.
Proof books have come a long way aesthetically. They’re now beautifully hardbound like a finished album but their pages are still printed in contact sheet arrangements with gaudy image numbers. Each proof is also small, so you better get yourself a good quality magnifying glass. The final album will look much better but you need to use the proof book to make selections for the final wedding book.
Printed proofs are also still done, and are still typically 4×6” size. That size is better than what you have to deal with in a contact sheet, and your colour, shade and detail resolutions will be true. It’s easy to select which shots you want made into final portraits. Of course, printing costs more than looking at images digitally, and you usually have to keep paying the photographer for additional prints.
As a potential wedding photography client or even as a photographer, what’s your preference?
The Flip-Side of Providing References is Continued Contact
By the way, just a parting question regarding business etiquette. It would be interesting to see what the majority responses would be, if there are any direct responses at all.
Do you like the idea of your wedding photographers wishing you happy anniversary every year after your wedding day or do you just want us to leave you alone after all business has been concluded?
None of us materialized out of thin air. We were all born from someone’s womb. For those of us who are truly blessed — which is most of us, those wombs belonged to mothers who love us with all of their might. For those of us who are doubly blessed, we are also the offspring of fathers who also have the highest hopes for us. All of this faith put into us from before we’re even born.
What do we do with it? All of that love and adoration. Even if we don’t turn out exactly how our parents wanted us to, which of us at least comes close to honoring our parents hopes in some way by making sure that we do decent and honorable things with our lives?
Which of us keeps this respect in mind as we go about day-to-day?
Which of us uses this respect as a guide?
What’s it like for those of us who don’t?
DRY MEDIA FOR FIGURATIVE ILLUSTRATION
Fundamental to illustration or the creation of virtually all other 2D visual art is drawing. The ability to draw reasonably well is still very important, even if most or all of your art is computer generated. Drawing is where I started all the way back at the nursery school age. Everything else came afterward.
Sketching and drawing reveals the ability of an artist to recognize form and texture, and develop creative vision.
As a toddler, I would use magic markers, biro pens; anything that I could get my little hands on, to mark and scribble on paper or the walls in the home. Mum kept a picture of me doing exactly that. Wanna see it? Take a look at my artist’s statement. Real drawing for me; however, began when I was old enough to use dry media.
Just as it sounds, dry art media includes crayons, chalk, pastel, charcoal, pencil crayons, metalpoint styli (goldpoint, silverpoint, copperpoint) — amazingly beautiful and expensive drawings can be produced with pure metals, and my all-time favourite graphite pencils. Associated dry media are erasers (plastic [white], rubber [pink], gum and kneaded), erasing shields, smudge tortillons, blending stumps and soft brushes for sweeping away eraser crumbs.
You can draw on any marking surface that will accept the chosen media. When working with graphite, I prefer white papers and show card stock. I prefer cold press stock with medium tooth. Say what?
During the manufacture of hot pressed stock (HP), as opposed to cold pressed, paper is passed between hot glazing rollers. Finished hot pressed stock is nice and smooth. It can even be a bit shiny. Cold pressing, on the other hand, is when stock is directed between cold polished rollers. Cold pressed stock can have varying rough textures to sight and touch. The graphite work I typically produce depends on a somewhat rough texture — medium tooth, in order to bring out visual textures like brick, hair and even smooth metal with gradated shading.
I like the look and feel of working with this media. It helps me to develop my artistic voice. Whether you’re reading this as an artist or not, you should choose some media, experiment with it a bit, and then try to express your thoughts through drawing.
Just a Bit About Graphite Pencils
I don’t want to get into any big explanation about graphite pencil types. That’s been done before by many artists. Quite simply hard graphite, a form of carbon with a silvery-grey luster in certain light, is given an H grading by manufacturers. H to H9 is the softest to the hardest of the hard graphite grades. They produce light silver-greys to very light silver-greys in that order. Between the H (which I tend to think of as 0H although it should probably be thought of as 1H) and 2H there is a hard F grade graphite. I prefer to think of F as 1H but in spite of my preference, that’s not what it is. F is F!
On the other side of H, is the intermediate grade of HB that pretty much everybody who doesn’t do everything by computer or smartphone is familiar with. The first of the soft graphite grades start at B, which I think of as 1B. The softer the graphite, the higher the number in the grade all the way to 9B. 9B doesn’t really look all that grey but black.
I’m most likely to use everything from HB to 4H in my work. Rarely do I use graphite outside of this range.
Another type of graphite pencil that I enjoy using sparingly is aquarelle or water-soluble graphite. It’s great for rendering leather, the skin on a dog’s snout or an eagle’s talon.
As we’re nearing the end of 2017, I thought I’d summarize my year, and make a sincere request. Well, I’ve been entering a new educational, creative and marketing phase in the fine art aspect of my career. One that’s a bit more forward in the art community where I live. I have a lot on the go right now. Maybe too much but it’s a welcome challenge.
Creatively, one of my projects is putting together a photography series of sepia and similarly toned photographs. So far, most of the work consists of landscapes but I’m not sure if that will remain the case. I’m keeping developments somewhat spontaneous. Every now and then, I’ll post one of these “experiments”; like this one above (which is a reworked oldie), and some drawings and paintings.
An artist should always be confident in his or her work but it can be useful to receive critique. A long time ago, I used to ask for some but well-intentioned people seldom want to give you that constructive criticism when it’s requested and deserved. So, I stopped asking. I’m trying again.
I’m certainly not inviting insults. Just real and helpful feedback. If you’re an artist, art collector or art critic then great. I definitely want to hear from you but you really don’t have to be any of these. You just have to know what you like from what you don’t, what you can use from what you can’t and be willing to share your honest opinion. I can take it!
If you don’t want to comment openly on a post, certainly contact me discretely through my About page. I’m very much into conversations about the visual arts and artwork — mine or someone else’s, so whether your response is directly on a post, through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or whatever don’t be surprised if I even have questions for you.
Do not fear, it will be of great benefit to me. I’m always looking to grow.
2D visual artist specializing in illustration, photography and graphic design.
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