Tag Archives: Street Photography

Street Photography

The photographic landscape has been changing, and I’m feeling a bit disoriented.

 

I try to not think of things categorically, but it seems to be a human trait- What do you photograph”, or “What kind of photographer are you”. I don’t do landscapes, and I don’t do portraits. Because I am a trained photographer, I like to think my Travel photos are (technically) a bit better than average, but my Family pics are just as goofy as everybody else.

But when I am consciously trying to make a picture,  I think of them as Observations- a Point of View that hovers between Documentary and Journalism -what Walker Evans called Descriptive Photography.

A few years back I read an article about a Street Photography book that had this Matt Stuart photo on the cover

http://www.mattstuart.com/photography/tqzpf859421njkn58ppuql6y0xaw5b

I looked into Matt, and he appeared to be a guy who walks around with both a camera and a particular view of the World, and is pretty good at using one to capture his impression of the other.

About the same time, along with the rest of the World, I discovered Vivian Maier, one thing led to another, and this whole “Street Photography” thing started to take off for me, with Cartier-Bresson, Winogrand and others. Street photographers are folks who carry camera around with them to record the World as they see it. Street Photography seemed to be a non-categoric Category, one that felt good to be in-it was observational, and you couldn’t predefine the image.

I hung around Street Photography for a few years, scoured Web Sites and got a sense of who was doing what. The discussions were what could be expected- approach, attitude, privacy, and so on. Fortunately, for a field that is gear obsessed, Street shooter conversations about equipment were minimal. Photography for these folks it is about the intersection of place and time (or timing)-not gear, and not prescribed rules.

I recently read a quote that expressed this quite well. I apologize for not including my source, I don’t recall it-

“I don’t know whether this truncated elephant with arm unmanned was a one-shot or a whole roll.  I just know it was right.  And it illustrates what goes on in the photographer’s mind when he’s being totally unconcerned about composition, almost.  He’s being almost totally concerned about subject.  What comes through is the subject.  What comes through the subject is the way of seeing.” —Jonathan Brand wrote these comments on composition and subject in his Popular Photography Critic’s Choice column about Garry Winogrand’s photograph of an elephant’s trunk, exhibited at the 1964 Museum of Modern Art show The Photographer’s Eye.

I decided that I was a street Photographer.

 

I entered a few competitions-

2016

Streetfoto San Francisco International Street Photography

http://streetfoto.org/sf2016-contest-finalists/#single

2017

LACD Street Shooting Around the World

https://lacphoto.org/gallery/2017-street-shooting-around-the-world-exhibition-winners-in-show

Meanwhile, I was noticing a trend towards formalizing Street Photography into a genre. Many street photographers who were gathering around the Internet water cooler started forming groups, or collectives. This seemed a good thing because their purpose was to critique and help curate each other’s work.

Others created self-promoting websites that seem to have evolved into large mirrors of their own self worth. There started to be Fanboys who wallowed in didactic conversations.There was some talk of Gear-“you have to use 28 or 35mm, you have to get up close”.

There were Rules.

Street Photography turned into a category.

Oops!… I Did It Again

“A Kiss on Sunset Boulevard” was also chosen by Juror Gus Powell for the current “Street Shooting Around the World ” show at the Los Angeles Center for Photography-

https://lacphoto.org/lacps-fourth-annual-street-shooting-around-the-world-exhibition-2018/

Coincidentally, I was in LA for the opening of last year’s show-

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

and I was walking over to a Wine Bar that I had discovered on Sunset Boulevard. I was in the crosswalk when I saw this couple making out in this alcove of the Amoeba Records store. The traffic light was changing, so I really only had seconds to take this shot and get out of the middle of that six lane street.

 

This show runs through March 18th.

 

Upcoming Photo Show

I am pleased to announce that my photograph, “A Kiss on Sunset Boulevard”, has been selected for a juried exhibit at The Richmond Art Center.

 

In Focus: Current Photography, opens this week, and runs through March 8th, here is a link to the Art Center Exhibition page-

 

http://richmondartcenter.org/exhibitions/in-focus-current-photography/

Copyright 2017 Jimmy Reina

 

There will be a reception at for the photographers at The Art Center on February 3rd from 2-5pm, I hope to see you there.

 

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/

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