"For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human, himself nature, part of nature within natural space." Paul Klee

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivation - Natural Light

Here are two pictures from the weekend that were motivated strictly by my love of natural light. Altho' I love bringing out the umbrellas and softboxes to create light it's the natural light that's my teacher and muse.
The top picture of my son Stefan playing the bass was snagged in about 2 minutes. I was on the couch watching the Giant-Dallas game, my son was in the next room practicing when he came around the corner to show me a new riff he was working on. There was a bright shaft of sunlight streaming in from the second storey window producing a blinding rhomboid of light on the carpet. When Stefan stepped into it - it looked like a stage spotlight. I said, "stop - don't move". I grabbed the camera and took a few snaps. Now if I had taken this pic without the flash his face would have been totally in the dark but I knew I had to compensate for the bright back light.  With the game on the line there was no time to lose. I just toggled up the on-camera pop up flash, quickly dialed in 1/4 power (remember those pop up flashes are adjustable - full power would have been way too much as he was only about 5 feet away) and snapped about 4 shots. After he showed me the nifty riff I went back to the game...all in about two minutes.
The second pic was taken on Saturday. I was working for TSS photography...we shoot a lot of kids sports pictures. There were three photographers with asssistants. Each assistant preps the client and holds the reflector/shader if necessary. I noticed that Maria's reflector was catching some early morning sunlight and caressing her face. Maria was working with the photog next to me. So I grabbed about two shots and then went back to my clients.
Both of these shots were just from paying attention to the light - watch the light - when you see something special - grab your camera. It's the light the makes the picture!
A word about assistants - if you ever have the luxury of working with an assistant = there is NO
substitute for a good assistant. Not only do they keep your workflow smooth but the real good ones
know what you're looking for in shading - what to leave lit and what to cover. An appreciative tip of the chapeau to Maria, Amber, Taylor,  and all the great assistants everywhere.
Click image for bigger.

Keep watching for that special light - and thanks for stopping by.   

Friday, October 26, 2012

Revisiting Bokeh

In my photo classes I teach the optical effects of not only lens selection but also the different spatial effects that occur at certain f stops or apertures. "Bokeh" is a Japanese work meaning "soft brush stroke" or "softness" depending on which author you're reading.
You can see in this portrait the area in the background is completely out of focus producing a lovely bokeh effect almost like a soft backdrop in a studio. The trees in the background are about 20 feet away. Bokeh is produced by using the larger apertures on your lens. That's why photographers love lenses with f-stops of 1.4 or 1.2. Lenses with large f stops are great for available light work as well. These lenses produce extremely effective softness when used at the wide end. That said, your depth of field becomes very critical in that there's not much leeway in what's in focus or out of focus.
In this shot of Amber, my focus is centered right on the eyes - you can see the depth of field just by looking at the earring on her left, the back strand is already starting to go soft. Everything beyond that just goes "bokeh". This particular image was made with an old Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lens - the aperture here is just that f.1.4. This lens works on any of my digital cameras only in manual mode so again focus is all up to me. This is my favorite portrait lens not only because of the way the glass reads but it works on any of my digital cameras. The DX sensors give me an effective lens of 75mm perfect for portrait work.
Depending on what lens you are using bokeh is possible to varying degrees. I have a Nikkor 18-135mm lens f3.5 - f5.6. I can achieve a fairly nice degree of softness when used at the longer length say 135mm with the f-stop of f5.6. I just need to step back about 12 feet in order to fully frame my subject and be aware of how far back the background is. So take out your lens set and start playing around with the big side of the apertures - anywhere from f1.2 to f5.6 depending on the focal length.
Thanks for stopping by.         

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Black and White is just cool!

I get excited everytime I revisit my old negatives. There's just something about black and white I find very appealing. Maybe it's the unreal/surreal nature of it - perhaps without the color I can concentrate more on the subject. It's just seems to be timeless. Shooting color with a digital camera and then desaturating in post is not the same thing.

One of these days I'm going to set my digital camera to black and white, tape over the LCD
in the back so I can't chimp, expose the way I used to...looking at the light and guess-timating ..which actually worked most of the time. ISO set to 400 to mimic Tri-X. Anywho, it'd be a fun experiment.

Both of these were shot in the '75-'76 time frame while I was attending photo school at the Art Insititute of Boston. The conversation in the street is downtown Boston probably around Summer and Washington streets. The Pilgrim House is in Maine, can't remember where exactly...maybe around Biddeford.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


This morning I had the old itchy shutter finger and put on some hiking boots and went traipsing thru the local lagoon which is conveniently situated about a mile from my house. You really don't have to go far to find nice photographic subjects if you just take the time and scout around a bit.
These are my four selects from the half hour shoot. The constants are: Nikon D80 camera with the 18-135mm lens, camera set to VIVID and manual control with f5.6 and 1/45th of a second set. Camera is on a Tiltall tripod for all shots plus I used a 5 second timer to trip the shutter so I wasn't even touching the camera when the shutter clicked. I was trying to get the steadiest shots I could. There was an ever so slight breeze.   I love the delicate little curls and swirls of the petals.
The only variables are the top two shots are at ISO 100 and the bottom two are ISO 200.
The stark yellow/white flower is just bringing the tripod down under the flower and letting the sky blow out in the background.

I hope you are enjoying your photographic journey...and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few From Sunday

Yesterday (Sunday) I was working with Jon above shooting kids sports portraits. Jon had on this great straw hat and I had to grab a shot of him. It was a very sunny day, I had slathered on the sun screen and was sporting a baseball cap. Jon's hat was more interesting.
I shot the pix in color using the sun as a back light (you can see it shining thru the hat). In one hand I held the camera in the other a white reflector to bounce a little light back into his face.
The black and white conversion was simply done in the camera's menu with a little added sharpness in photoshop.
On the way home, the sun was going down and I was looking for some color mixes. Since the setting sun was providing the orange glow I was on the lookout for some complimentary colors. The Kolache stand on 620 looked good in the setting light especially with the umbrella tipped over adding a beautiful splotch of red. The yellow sign says, "Smile You're on Camera."..and there I am with
my camera...sort of a self portrait. (a tip of the hat to Harold Mante)
The fire hydrant was just over in the next yard and I loved the faded colors mixed with the warm glow in the background.
Both the color shots are straight from the camera which was set to VIVID, the only other thing
I did was change them to web size.

Thanks for stopping by....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tethered Boat

Another picture from my treasure trove of old negatives. Shot in Cape Porpoise, Maine in the mid 70's using my trusty Pentax Spotmatic with the 50mm lens on Kodak Tri-X film.
Back then all you had to do was select your f-stop and shutter speed and take the picture. Nowadays, whew!...with white balance, ISO changes, checking histograms, chimping the back of the camera, spinning dials..aaarrrgghh! ....it was oh so simple back then. I'm really thinking about buying a 35mm developing tank, some D-76 developer, some stop bath, and pulling out my OM-1.
Thanks for stopping by.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I recently had a discussion with a former photography student about composition. Because the class was basically an intro or primer to photography, I covered mostly the how and whys of camera operation. Due to time constraints my class discussion about composition was brief and cursory.

That said, I did tell the class that "if it takes you a while to practice the mechanics of the camera that's ok. Take your time. But in the meantime, if you start to compose your shots better - using basic design guidelines - paying attention to the placement of objects, the visual weight and arrangement of those objects -your pictures will improve 100 percent right there." I then went on to explain some of the basic design guideslines, rule of thirds, design stems, etc.
Back to the student -  the student requested some other sources of design information for further study, so these are three books that I recommended:

1. Composition - Arthur W. Dow - although written in 1899 it's a classic. Mr. Dow was
also a mentor to Georgia O'Keefe.
2. Pictorial Composition - Henry Rankin Poore
Both of these books are about 10 dollars each.
3. The Photographer's Eye - Michael Freeman - costs a little more but focuses on photography,
a favorite book on my shelf.  

So today I'm passing this along to anyone who's interested.

Hope your photography is keeping you busy and thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Strange Coincidence

Yesterday I was looking at old negatives again looking for something of interest when I came upon two rolls shot during a demonstration in Boston, probably September or October of '75.  I published the post, dtd October 4, 2012.
Later while I was perusing my regular sites I saw an article mentioning that Boston was re-visting the whole busing issue which has been in place for about 20 years. From what I've read they want to cut back. Today I found this article in the NYT:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/education/new-boston-busing-debate-4-decades-after-fervid-clashes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

The article is dated 4 October 2012, a total coincidence. Not a big deal, but just for a moment I thought it was weird.

If you scrutinize the middle photo, you'll see Ted Kennedy,  Michael Dukasis, Mayor White, and other dignitaries all in a row.

Click image for bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.

The secret service/undercover guys and the Boston police were also in attendance.    If you note the angle of the photos is "looking down" that's because I'm perched on a fence - don't remember how I managed to perch on a fence and take pictures but the "agent" in the bottom pic is looking right at me wondering why I'm perching and pointing a Pentax at Joe P. Kennedy II seen almost in the middle extreme left. That's Ted Kennedy standing next to him back to camera.                        All photos ©2012 Andy deBruyn

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A History Revisited

Sometime in the early 70's, the city of Boston passed a law that required "forced busing." This didn't go down well. There were race riots, sadly some people died, and it took years for Boston to recover and adjust. The famous Stanley Forman photo was taken a couple of weeks prior to this event. If you are not familiar with this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph you can google/images "stanley forman the soiling of old glory."
 I took these in October of 1975 (I was attending the Art Insitute of Boston for photography). This particular day was a march of reconcilliation...trying to calm the waters. The political hierarchy of Boston walked together with the regular folks. I have some pictures of Mayor White and some of the Kennedy clan, I'll have to scan those and post.
As you can see on the woman's shirt, "Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin." That seemed to be the mood of the day.

I believe that's reporter Jay North of a Boston affiliate interviewing an attendee.

 It was also an opportunity for others to express their beliefs as the man in the bottom frame.

Shot with the Pentax Spotmatic using Ilford FP4 film, scanned on an HP8180.

The Usual Waiver - These do not necessarily reflect my political views, I was just there as a witness.

Thanks for stopping by.