Wine Country Workers in Winter When the temperatures reach a balmy 15-18 degrees Fahrenheit for 24-48 hours, it’s time to harvest grapes for ice wine. Chateau Chantal is a winery on Old Mission Peninsula and they do wines extremely well, in fact, they’re one of …
Month: November 2019
Bump-n-Run When the Manistee County Fair Bump-n-Run came to my attention on an online calendar of events, I knew there were busted metal and brave drivers in my near future. When there are no paying photo assignments coming your way or if you simply want …
An Adriatic Escape
The growling bass of the ferry’s diesel engines were rumbling so heavily it was felt in the chest. As the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik was slowly becoming smaller and smaller after our departure, the sun was beginning to set which cast a low, warm glow upon the mountainous mainland. The horizon of the Adriatic Sea included views of the tree-dense Elaphiti Islands (Deer Islands), a small archipelago. One of the islands, Sipan, included the town of Sudurad—our port for disembarking. If it weren’t for the ferry’s slow speed, it would’ve been almost impossible to process the surrounding beauty.
A transport van waited and although it was difficult to leave Sudurad, what awaited us at our final stop in Šipanska Luka was calling. In sharp contrast to the ferry’s slowness, our van driver was wasting no time making sure we made it to our hotel quickly. Along our short route we passed a classic ’60s Renault 4—possessing imperfections in the best way possible—as well as fields of olive and fig trees. We descended into Šipanska Luka and once we exited the van, it was quiet, peaceful and an idyllic spot to call home for a week. It was perfect.
Šipanska Luka, population: 150-200, is a small fishing village located on the Adriatic Sea—it was not uncommon, throughout or explorations on the Elaphiti Islands, to see men and women mending fishing nets. When we opened our hotel shutter to the right, all we heard was silence in the village. When we opened the other shutter, the Sea was in view; we could’ve thrown a rock in it, we were so close. As far as noise—even calling it noise seems too strong a word—every once in a while a scooter would cruise by. In the mornings one could hear a rooster in the distance.
In the mornings, fisherman would return with their catch and the village cats would congregate in order to receive their share. Their appeasement was reached through one small fish tossed to each cat. The cats—each seeming to have their own territory, somewhat—weren’t so numerous or rude as to be obnoxious; in fact, quite the opposite. They’d approach with a confidence and nobility that made you feel lucky to be in their presence—true cats.
The beaches were rugged and rocky but not completely inhospitable. To enter the water, water shoes are a must in order to protect the feet from sea urchins and rocks. The Adriatic is extremely salty so floating is effortless, which is a treat. There’s an outdoor outfitter on the island so if bicycling, kayaking and snorkeling are your jam, then check out Huck Finn Adventures. Koločep and Lopud are two other islands among the Elaphiti Islands. They are also worth checking out as their scenery and culinary offerings are varied and extremely breath-taking.
Fresh, perfectly-prepared seafood was suggested and rightfully so. At one establishment we were dining at, with a black and white cat doing leg figure-eights of course, a fisherman brought a still-dripping bag of lobster to the chef. There are of course a variety of other food offerings. Almost every restaurant has a water view which can spoil a person real fast. One of our favorite places to eat was Konoba U Balda. We had the chance to speak with the owner multiple times who’d mentioned he was in a branch of the military before deciding to open a restaurant so he could spend more time with his family. We’d see him riding his bike around the village, sometimes with his son on the handlebars for extra fun.
Šipanska Luka cast its spell successfully on us. Locals would say there isn’t much to do, with one individual commenting, “It’s either the bar or bocce ball,” as far as nightlife. That sounds perfect to us.
Tech Notes: My camera for this voyage was my Canonet QL17 GIII. I chose film for this trip more for the camera than for the film characteristics. This camera is small, unobtrusive and very sharp. If a quick turnaround on the photos isn’t required, I can’t recommend this camera enough and I’ll write more about it in the future.
Let’s raise our cameras, whatever they may be, and give each other a pat on the back for venturing out into whatever weather conditions we’re facing and making photos. This isn’t directed at only those of you in cold climates either. Sahara-like heat with stifling …
French photojournalist and street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson coined and mastered the ‘decisive moment’ in the storied districts of Paris and throughout the world. With a body of photographic work that includes images oozing with form, geometry and composion, it’s a portfolio to behold, to say …
Starting out as a street photographer and fly-on-the-wall photojournalist, it took me some time before I realized the beauty and importance of portraiture. Once my eyes were opened to the power and fulfillment of portrait photography though, I couldn’t imagine going back to a time when I didn’t love it. Photographers like Dan Winters, Diane Arbus and Arnold Newman have proven how captivating and timeless a portrait can become.
A planned portrait is fine and provides numerous opportunities for photographic development. In fact, photographing friends, family and acquaintances can be very helpful while learning portraiture. Sometimes though, there is an element that draws one individual to another which is wonderfully spontaneous. There may be a trait or characteristic that is magnetic and you feel a portrait of that person or people must be made, if possible. The moment and subject is passing in front of you and you don’t want to miss your chance at a fantastic portrait. Don’t ignore this feeling, make a portrait, or at least try. Here are five tips I’ve learned and continue to use while making portraits.
Step 1- Approach: What you notice about someone or how you feel can be extremely varied. It may be something grand like someone has a unique hairstyle or it could be that someone is situated in the perfect light. The first step is to approach the person. This may be no problem at all for you and if that’s the case that’s impressive. For the vast majority, approaching someone we don’t know can wrack the nerves. There are going to be voices in your head that suggest you stop, turn around, hide, anything except try to talk to whoever it is you’re going to talk to. This is perfectly natural. Accept this and realize that the only way to capture a portrait of whoever it is, will be to approach that person. Then put one foot in front of the other until you do it.
Step 2- Be Honest: Once the approach is completed, make your opening short, concise and most importantly, be honest. This will improve with practice. What works best here is to introduce yourself, say you’re a photographer and request the making of their portrait. If they say ‘no’, respectfully move along and be proud of yourself for trying. If someone asks, “Why?”, tell them. If you like someone’s style, explain it. The most important note here is that it’s something YOU genuinely saw that made you want to make a portrait. If you are truthful in your response, it will show in your demeanor and you’ll have a better chance of earning trust.
Step 3- Be Ready: The most challenging part can be to receive permission for any amount of time to make someone’s portrait. This is an honor and should be treated as such. Your subject may be in a hurry so it’s helpful to have a potential location picked out ahead of time. Make sure your camera is turned on, the lens cap is off, battery charged and the settings ready. Minor adjustments are obviously fine but the point here is to be efficient with time. As an aside note to this, I sometimes use a rangefinder. I become excited about using a film rangefinder (and I explain this) and this is almost always infectious to the point that my subject will become excited/interested as well and a quality, quick portrait session results.
Step 4- Be Calm: It’s photography so unexpected things can happen. You’re the photographer though so roll with changes, be cool and be confident. Tell yourself that you’re going to make a kick-ass portrait; believe and achieve. It sounds corny but it’s true and works.
Step 5- Practice: It’s all about the practice here. It will become easier the more you do this. Before you know it you’ll be ready to approach people and make portraits. Sure, they may refuse. That’s okay, because it’s the subjects who accept a portrait of themselves that make it all worth it.
Notice, in the title and throughout the post, I didn’t use take a portrait of a stranger. This is because stranger has the word ‘strange’ in it and it seems off-putting. Also, it truly is an honor to capture someone’s portrait and I feel that making one implies a collaboration between the photographer and subject. Whereas, ‘taking’ feels like just the photographer at play here. This may be the case, or feel like the case, but in order to get MYSELF in the right headspace before doing this, I tell myself I’m making a portrait of a subject. It works for me.
Now go forth and try to make a portrait of someone you don’t know. It’s extremely rewarding.
Reality is always extraordinary.Mary Ellen Mark
Photojournalism. To some, the word conjures images of heartless paparazzi, or maybe flash-bulb blasting members of the press sharpening their elbows as they fight for position while wearing trench coats and fedoras—with hatband ‘press’ card for proper measure—and most-likely some type of tobacco vessel in …