Smoke Break

 

Smoke Break for Chef

This week I’m going to take a little “Smoke break” from my typical Wednesday blog post. I will leave you with this photo taken on the streets of Madrid. Next week expect me back with a post on judgement!

Print, Matte, Frame, Repeat

Long Walk

Picture of El Morro in Old San Juan Puerto Rico

 

Print, matte  frame and repeat. In the digital era people often wonder why I still bother to print out my work and go through the time, effort and expense of printing. There is a pigment ink printer and its expense cartridges, paper, buying mattes, archival mounting tape, lint free gloves and frames. Not to mention all the time spent actually doing it.

Well for me the print is an important part of my photography. I just don’t think the process ends when the files are uploaded to the computer. If you stop there you are missing an important part of your work. An image popping off of luster paper for the first time in its full resolution and perfectly sharp is a thrill. I have spent the last few days printing work to exhibit and sell at the Hablamos Espanol Expo in Elgin this weekend, I can tell you that it is still thrilling seeing your work to completion. I am willing to maintain my own printer because it allows me complete control of my artwork, from start to finish it is up to me!

Make sure you print your photos so you can see it, feel it and display it with pride. Amateur  Pro, or just someone taking photos for fun printing will bring new joy to your photos.

I will try to post up some photos from this Saturday on my twitter account @GdotArroyo.

Chicago Bench

Chicago Street

 

I love my home town of Chicago. It is one of the best places to just hang out and shoot street photos. This photo was captured near Millenium Park. I noticed this gentleman sitting on a bench early in the day. He has a unique style that I wanted to capture. The fact that he made this incredible facial expression when I pointed the lens in his direction just added to the photo. Remember to be observant and always look for the characters who make up our daily life.

My Maier Obsession

Yashica 635 TLR

Its official I am obsessed!
Obviously I am obsessed with photography. That is a simple one, but I am coming to realize I am obsessed with a a women. I love looking at pictures of her, but really I love looking at the photos she took. Her name is Vivian Maier, and I am not a bit ashamed that I am obsessed with her. If you know the Vivian Maier story keep reading, if not go here and read this first. The story is incredible, yes, but that is only a small part of why I am writing this. Vivian Maier’s photography is incredible. This past weekend I had a chance to check out the Vivian Maier’s Chicago exhibit at the Chicago History Museum, most of the prints I had seen at one point or another, impressive, what I expected. What I wasn’t expecting was around the perimeter of the room. There lies the reason I am obsessed with Vivian. The exhibit has photos from complete rolls of film. 12 shots (a complete roll of 120 format film) taken at different locations and points in time of Chicago’s history. I am amazed at how many flawless shots she was capturing in a row. If you have ever seen the contact sheets of most street photographers you know that it typically takes a photographer a few attempts before nailing what Henry Cartier-Bresson calls the decisive moment. Besides the single moments that have made Ms. Maier famous, the mastery she proves in 12 shots has left me speechless. I wish I was able to capture or express the emotions I felt checking out what is one of the greatest photographers in Chicago’s history, but alas I can’t do so with words. I will try my best to capture those emotions with photos as I continue my journey in photography.

Thank you Vivian Maier for being an inspiration to me!

My wife doesn’t thank you for me wanting a camera similar to what you used.

Entre

Door in old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Entre

 

I love old San Juan Puerto Rico. The diverse  cultural influences on the oldest city in the United States really makes this city a photographer’s paradise. Ever corner you turn, or small cobblestone street you go down provides you with tons of photo opportunities. I can’t wait to head back this summer if I can and hope to share a lot more photos.

Wing Walker

 

Most photographers get into photography because they are passionate about it. What drives this passion? Fun. It is important for me to have fun when out shooting. This past summer my daughter and I attended the Waukegan Air Show and had lots of fun taking photos of the airplanes. I was able to use the high speed motor drive of my Canon 7D to really take some exciting aviation photos. This being one of my favorites. This photo is all about having fun and capturing exciting moments. I can’t wait until the show next year.

Malaga

 

 

Every photographer  runs into difficulty when they travel. The trip will never go exactly as envisioned, but if you are prepared then you can make the best of any situation. For example the image above. Last spring while visiting Spain, my family planned to visit the Alhambra palace. I had visions of getting their early in the day and staying late to photograph all day into dusk at the palace and fortress. Well, that is not what happened. The union workers of Spain decided to hold a general strike  the day we planned to visit. Every for of travel, restaurants and stores we shut down. Luckily by early afternoon, most of the protests had calmed down (yes I photographed the protests) and the Alcazaba in Malaga was open. The fortress is beautifully preserved, and I’m glad that I was able to explore it. At first disappointed, I was able to capture a lot of photos that I really love. The “Malaga” photo shown above is one of my favorites, Catholics and Moors, Man and Women, Old and New, Light and Dark are all included in this photo.

This shot is being exhibited on January 25th at 4th Fridays at the Starline art show. If you are in the Chicagoland area, it will be worth the time to join this fun and casual art show. Click here to find out more.

Why I still shoot film

You have probably read all about why film is better than digital or digital is better. What ever side of the fence you fall on this post is not about that. This is why I still shoot film.

Film makes me a better photographer. It has limitations; number of shots on a role, set ASA number, frames per second, and more. I add limitations to that as well; I use set lens focal lengths and manual focus cameras. How do these limitations make me better? Well I’m glad you asked. Having a limited number of shots forces me to be a more deliberate shooter. I need to make sure that the subject is one I truly feel strongly about. This goes hand in hand with a set number of frames per second. I cannot rely on my camera’s speed to capture a moment, I need to anticipate what will be happening. Having a set ASA number pushes me to have a steady hand, at times I need to be able to use a slower shutter speed than I am typically comfortable with. In order to have the shot be sharp I need to be able to hold the camera still. Limiting the focal length forces me to look at the world differently. I know I cannot zoom in with my feet staying still, I have to move to compose my shots. The last thing on the list is manual focus. Having to focus the lens by hand allows me to recognize focus points faster, sometimes an autofocus lens just cannot pick focus correctly and I know this will not slow me down.

Those are the practical reasons why I still shoot film. On to the non-practical. When I was young my father taught me how to shoot with a Canon AE-1. I learned everything I know about photography from him and Canon. I still know the layout of that AE-1 like the back of my hand. Shooting with film also holds a special nostalgia for me. There is something special about the wait. Not knowing if your photos will be great, or that you captured the precise moment in time is magical. I also enjoy the feel of vintage cameras. The old metal and leatherette is something that you need to experience if you haven’t had the chance to.

I don’t shoot solely on film and appreciate the speed and ease of processing digital. I just hope we never lose the opportunity to use film for photography even if it is solely for the nostalgia.

Some Inspiration

 

For Christmas this year I received a couple of great gifts. Two books; Vivan Maier Out of the Shadows and Street Photography Now. I think it is important for me to include these sort of items in my Behind the Shot blog. I am always looking at great photography and love to see and learn from other photographers. Since it is winter here in Chicagoland and I don’t get along with the cold, this is a great way for me to pass some time.

A 300SL the Sky and a Plane

I love classic and vintage things. There is something about the way they are built and designed that will never be replicated. I collect and use vintage cameras, have owned vintage motorcycles and cars and drive a ’73 BMW 2002 almost daily in the summer time. One of the vintage events I regularly attend an event called Coffee and Classics, this is a casual gathering of mostly vintage european cars. This past summer I took my father out with me to one of the events. It was great spending time with him along with checking out some great rides. It was also my first time out with my Canon 7D.

Enough with the back story. When this 300SL turned down the street almost everyone took notice. When my father and I went to take a closer look, I almost pushed him out of the way to get this photo. I noticed the clouds reflecting of the polished paint and heard the jet overhead. I almost missed the airplane, but managed to get myself in position and snap this photo. When I have my camera with me (almost 100% of the time ) I notice things more, my eyes are open to light and reflections and I am always thinking of composition. This photo is was a great opportunity to enjoy multiple

2012 was a great year, I can’t wait to see what opportunities 2013 will bring. Happy New Year!