Category Archives: Photography

Recent Photography

Photographically speaking, this has been a busy month.

 

Streetfoto San Francisco

For the second year, Ken Walton did another job of organizing Streetfoto San Francisco, a weeklong, multi venue festival of street photography that included workshops, contests, photowalks, lectures, and other activities. I wasn’t chosen as a contest finalist again this year, but I viewed the exhibits, and attended a few presentations, and to my eye, Ken has refined the event, and hit another home run. The speakers that I saw were engaging, and there was a peppy three person panel who did a “speed dating” critique of projected images, that was brutal in its criticism, but stimulating and thought provoking just the same.

 

I am looking forward to next year’s event.

 

http://streetfoto.org/

Oakland Museum of California

I have always had a soft spot for local, or regional museums, and The Oakland Museum of California* is no exception. They are currently exhibiting “Dorthea Lange: The Politics of Seeing”, a powerful and moving exhibit that presents the work of this pioneering 20th Century photographer. Her work during the Great Depression is pretty well known, and “Migrant Mother has been on everything from postage stamps to T shirts.

Lange’s social conscience didn’t stop when the Depression ended.. After the Japanese Bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US Government targeted people of Japanese (along with others) descent, rounded them up, and put them into Internment Camps, or “Relocation Camps”.

Dorthea Lange was there, documenting this injustice, and the photos present another sad chapter in our County’s history. In display, there are documents and pictures that tell of grade school children who recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the US, and were then sent off to the Camps. The irony of this dehumanization is heartbreaking.

 

As I read the daily news, I can’t help thinking about how reactionary we are getting here in 2017.

 

 

Yesterday, on what was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, we went into San Francisco to visit Pier 24**.

How hot was it?                                                                                                                                        Well, as we left the BART subway station, we followed this guy across The Embarcadero to The Ferry Building, the centerpiece of the row of Piers that make up San Francisco’s Historic Waterfront-

He must have used a bucket of sunscreen.

 

The Pier 24 show, titled “Grain of the Present”, exhibited some of the mid (20th) Century photographers whose work was descriptive of the world as they saw it-neither Documentary nor Journalism, but more expressionistic in nature.  The show was complemented by a handful of contemporary photogs who continue working in this style.

 

Alec Soth

   

 

    

http://alecsoth.com/photography/

 

Vanessa Winship

    

 

http://www.vanessawinship.com/projects.php

 

Latoya Ruby Frazier

 

http://www.latoyarubyfrazier.com/

 

 

For notetaking purposes, I took some snaps of both the Lange and Pier 24 exhibits with my phone- None of these images are mine (except the naked guy), and  I don’t mean for them to be anything more than visual reminders.

 

 

 

*http://museumca.org/

**http://pier24.org/

Focus is Overrated

The last Sunday in April was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

Like everything else, pinhole photography sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t, and most of the results can be mediocre (including my own).

I am attracted to alternative photography, not because of my contrarian nature, but because it is about experimentation, and the unpredictability of experimentation is vital to what we do. In order to progress, you’ve gotta try stuff.

When shooting film, there was always an element of unpredictability. Even if you were a seasoned photographer who carefully composed your shot in the viewfinder, there was still an element of serendipity in every exposure. Maybe less so in the climate controlled studio, but this is certainly true out in the real world, with all of its moving parts.

Diane Arbus is said to have commented, “I never have taken a picture I’ve intended to. They’re always better or worse”.

I probably haven’t shot film for close to 10 years, but on the last Sunday in April I happened to have a borrowed camera with film, so I bought body caps for the film and digital cameras, and made a couple of pinhole lenses.

There are calculations for this sort of thing, and someday it might be fun to sit down and calculate aperture and focal length, but the experimentation is part of the fun-especially with digital, since it doesn’t cost anything to make the exposure (there is also that instant gratification thing).

Pinhole Day is for everybody, as long as your image is lensless  there are no limitations or restrictions (maybe pinhole porn wouldn’t be appropriate, but….).

 

Here are a few of the shots from that day, they are mostly unsatisfying,

Black and White film

Black and White film

Black and White film

Color print film

Color print film

Color print film

Digital

Digital

Digital

 

but the one I submitted to WWPPD is kind of fun-

Digital

 

WWPPD is not about any one participant, it is sort of an instant community of enthusiasts, and I think the best way to enjoy the site is to just go to the site, and start scrolling-

http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2017/index.php?page=1

 

 

 

 

Rayko Photo Center provides a stimulus to the Bay Area photography scene that is immeasurable. Aside from providing rental studio, darkroom, and digital printing access, they offer a wide variety of classes and workshops in traditional, digital, and most important (in my view), alternative processes. I just finished a terrific Critique workshop with a very generous instructor-J. John Priola*. This was a very good experience, and if I can muster up enough work, will take it again-John is an excellent facilitator.

During this time, Rayko announced that their Gallery would be closing- a huge blow to our community. San Francisco has always had a vibrant photography scene, and there are a few galleries that are photo specific, but they tend to cater to the Art world, and the “specialness” of that world. In the time I have been going to Rayko, their gallery, under the direction of Ann Jastub, has produced thoughtful and engaging shows, including the current and final exhibit-

10TH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL JURIED PLASTIC CAMERA SHOW

Like other Hipster trends, there is an element of the plastic camera movement that is just another form of “coolness consumerism”, but  this is different. This is a juried show, and it isn’t about coolness, it is about creativity.

And it sings.

I asked permission to take note with my phone.

The work ranges from images that are photographically interesting

to being photographically interesting with a dose of plastic camera quirkiness,

 

and then to more experimental works of conception and process. My favorites were by a pinhole shot by Andy Mattern

and two images where Robert Schneider reversed the lenses on his Brownie Camera

 

 

Also on display were images from past years,a Holga panorama by Veronika Lukasova

 

Aline Smithson, who apparently used this set built from Legos

Robert Holgren printed this starfish in sections on tracing paper, then stitched it together with staples,

 

and this beautiful print from Michael Borek

The rest of the gallery space is generously devoted to print rack where students can sell their work at very reasonable prices, and a very engaging collection of antique and unique cameras and accessories. The value of this display should not be taken lightly, for inside of every gearhead is an appreciation of all of those knobs, gears, and especially the lenses.

I went through this show twice yesterday, partly because it is so captivating, and also inspiring.

But I also wanted to just hang out, and absorb that great Rayko Photo vibe.

*http://www.jjohnpriola.com/

 

 

 

 

123 Images-Carquinez Bridge at Sunset

There are more images in the 123 series, but this is the last one I am going to talk about here.

San Pablo Avenue pretty much ends where the Freeway entrance to the Carquinez Bridge crosses the Sacramento River. The road itself continues past the Freeway, but the street name is changed as it becomes part of the City of Crockett.

I couldn’t figure out how to take an interesting picture of this bridge. When crossing it, there is something I have always liked the C&H Sugar building, and this caused me to want to include that building in my photo, so I started looking for a vantage point. Just before this bridge/Freeway junction, there is a “scenic view” turnout overlooking the river for at least 180° East and West. This offered possibilities, but in order to get my desired point of view, I had to climb over the parking lot guardrail and then the heavy brush obscured a clear view.

Shortly after, I was reading the user manual for my camera, and the page on shooting panoramic images used a bridge as an example.

em5-manual1

 

I like panoramic images. Because there is so much accumulated information, a lot of detail is brought out, and because the lens position changes during the exposures, there is a perspective shift that can visual interest to even a mundane picture of a bridge. I have attempted a numberof panoramics, with various successes stitching them together.

I drove back out there, and just to the East of that Vista Point is the Dead Fish Seafood Restaurant. As I pulled into their parking lot, I found a small private road that dipped down practically to the riverbank.

I grabbed my tripod, walked down, and started scouting for a good vantage point. I came to a flat spot that presented me with the viewpoint I wanted, and the setting Sun was low enough to light up the C&H building, but rapidly heading towards the horizon. I didn’t have time to think about setting up a tripod or all of the “best practices” for shooting panoramic images. I just started shooting.

I took about 50 images, thinned them down to 35, and loaded them into the stitching software.

35-pic-screen-shot

Frankly, I didn’t expect much, there was just so many lines and angles to fit together.

Stitching images together accumulates a lot of information (the finished file is 131MB and the final image is 4½ feet long)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

so it took a long time for the software to do its thing, but it did it well-surprisingly well. Because the Sun was setting so rapidly, the individual photos got progressively darker by the time I got to the far side of the river, so we had to use some gradient lightening in order to even up the final image from left to right. This too, worked very well. Except for a bit of cropping, there was no other editing done to this image.

I was so pleased with the results, that I kept the jagged image edges created by the stitching software.

carquinez-bridge-at-sunset-resized

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

My position that this image is a partnership between the software and me, and the hand of the software needs to be recognized as much as my own.

 

http://www.jimmyreinaphoto.com

 

123 Images-Liberty Behind Bars and American

I wrote about these two images before, They were both taken on the same July 4th-Indepenence Day in the United States, a day for flag waving, fireworks, and politicians making speeches about freedom and Democracy with a capital “D”.

I shot this image four or five times over the course of a year, and was never satisfied with the results. Because it is inside a building, most attempts would give me enough shadow detail. I needed enough light coming in from the late afternoon Sun to illuminate it for me. But that same afternoon Sun created a ton of glare and reflection off of the window glass. On this day, I think I found the remedy to those problems by pressing the end of my lens directly on to the glass.

Liberty Behind Bars

Copyright 2016 Jimmy Reina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The irony (to me anyway) is that the photo was taken on July 4th and the tablet that Lady Liberty is holding is inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence- July 4, 1776.

Liberty Behind Bars

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

 

I got the shot, and as I drove away on San Pablo Avenue, I found this second situation. In order to get the whole image, I had to make a U turn and shoot from across the street. I am an old Alley Cat, and street life generally doesn’t faze me, so normally I would park and wait for a break in traffic so I could walk out into the street  and fill my viewfinder with the image. However, this corner is about as funky as can be, and the small grassy area where I had to park was filled with quite a cast of characters, most of them probably harmless, some of them probably homeless, but there were some bad dudes there (the City of Oakland has since closed it down by fencing it off). I took the easy way out, and just rolled down my window, and clicked off a few frames.

American

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

Here’s the inside joke. Aside from the American Flag, the car is a Rambler American, something that may only be obvious to a 1960s motorhead like me.

American

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

It has been said that the Statue of Liberty really is the symbol of the beacon of hope the United States represents to immigrants. There is a poem about this hope displayed there, the most famous lines from it are-

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I have to say that “Liberty Behind Bars” seems to take on new meaning with the actions the Trump Administration took this week.

 

www.jimmyreinaphoto.com

 

 

 

 

123 Images-Horse Mural and Troy Orvil

I am showing these two images together because not only are they connected geographically, but the attempt to shoot one led to the discovery of the other.

As usual, I was cruising San Pablo Avenue looking for interesting material, when I saw this horse mural.

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

I took several shots of it, but the land was fenced off, and I couldn’t really get the head on, wide angle shot I wanted.

This mural may not look that impressive in the photo, but when you are standing there, it is quite something to see. The fenceposts behind it are 4-6 feet apart, which would make the mural wall over 100 feet long.

Like most of my work, I let this image marinate for awhile, revisiting it from time to time to see if it had staying power. At the time, I was in a camera club, and I knew that if I were to show this image to the members, the first comment would be a criticism that I was just “photographing somebody else’s art”. I couldn’t argue with that position, but that really wasn’t why I liked it. Although it is a bunch of man made unnatural rectangles, to me it fit in with the landscape.

Months later (post rainy season, grass was now Green), I decided to return to the scene, and get the best shot possible. That road in the photo is San Pablo Avenue, and I drove up it to the next driveway, and asked permission to hike down into the gulley in order to get the shot I wanted. The property owners told me that the mural wasn’t on their property, but I was welcome to try. It was pretty steep, and overgrown, and when I made it down to the bottom, there was another fence that prevented me from getting anywhere near close.

My younger, more rebellious self would have just hopped the fence, and kept going, but these days, I try to have more respect for other people’s property, and besides, I pictured some rancher chasing me through that gulley with a camera flapping and a tripod over my shoulder.

I retreated, drove further up the hill, and asked another neighbor who the landowner was. He gave a bit of background on the mural and the local artist who created it, and told me that the property owner lived across the adjacent road.

I drove back around to the end of a secluded, one block long dead end street, wrote a note with my contact info, requesting permission to climb the fence, and asking the property owner to call me.

I put the note in their mailbox, turned around, drove to the end of the block, and saw this other mural at the rear of a back yard. I thought it was a bit of interesting folk art (with the same stretch of San Pablo Avenue in the background), so I took a couple of shots through the open passenger window of my car. This took less than a minute.

TROY ORVIL

Copyright 2016  Jimmy Reina

It was only when I later looked at the image on my monitor, did I see the body in the foreground.

I can’t look at this photograph without thinking of those American Civil War battlefield photos taken by Mathew Brady.

I am proud to say that this photo was just chosen to be in a Street Photography show at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, running from February 3-March 10th, 2017.

Here is a link for more info—–

https://lacphoto.org/lacps-third-annual-street-shooting-around-the-world-exhibition-2017/

 

I went back to the horse mural, and walked along the fence in front of it, and took a shot that I am pretty pleased with-

Horse Mural

Some days the fish don’t bite, other days, they jump right into your boat.

 

www.jimmyreinaphoto.com