Suspect Photography

words and images from david george brommer

Tag: harley davidson

6 Tips to Make Great Photographs with the iPhone 6

This shot was taken while I was at a stop light sitting on my Vespa. I looked up and the drama of the clouds struck me. I slipped the phone out of my pocket pointed it straight up and make this shot. It looked good in color, but the B&W was more dramatic.

This shot was taken while I was at a stop light sitting on my Vespa. I looked up and the drama of the clouds struck me. I slipped the phone out of my pocket pointed it straight up and make this shot. It looked good in color, but the B&W was more dramatic.

When you leave home and hit the road, be it for work, play, or pretty much anything you set out t do, you should always carry a camera. There is a photographic axiom that says, “What is the best camera? The camera you have with you!” and that is undeniably true. The camera you will sling over your shoulder is going to change over the years and a new camera can stimulate you and put you into a photo-taking mood by simply being new. The technology changes, and even the great masters used a range of cameras across thier careers.

Taken at dusk on a bridge over the Arno River in Florence. I pushed the saturation to give it extra punch. I also shot this with my trusty Fuji XPro1, but made the same shot with the IPhone so I could tag and share it by the time I steppe off the bridge.

Taken at dusk on a bridge over the Arno River in Florence. I pushed the saturation to give it extra punch. I also shot this with my trusty Fuji XPro1, but made the same shot with the IPhone so I could tag and share it by the time I steppe off the bridge.

But sometimes you leave your camera at home because it’s just too heavy and cumbersome. Compositions and photo movements abound, just because you don’t have your camera with you doesn’t mean you aren’t seeing and the photo opportunities are not present. Three things you don’t leave at home that are non-negotiable are; keys, wallet and mobile phone. The camera & phone combo may be the greatest technological achievement of the 21st century because it allows us to always have a camera with us, and the ability to share our images.

Keep your eyes open when walking and when you see something interesting, bam! You can capture faster than you can call your mom. Construction site for Hudson Yards project in NYC.

Keep your eyes open when walking and when you see something interesting, bam! You can capture faster than you can call your mom. Construction site for Hudson Yards project in NYC.

My only ‘photo-phone’ experience so far has been using the Apple iPhone, so if you are going to call me an Apple fan boy, go ahead, I accept that moniker because I believe in the iPhone and started off with an iPhone 3 in 2007. The first photo I took was a homeless person in a atm bank lobby. Later I would shoot what might have been the first IPhone wedding of NY fashion designer Michele Korn using only the IPhone 3. I fell in love with the device, simply because it was always in my pocket! Dutifully I went from iPhone 3, to 4, to 4s, skipped a 5 and got the 6 early in 2015. The progression has been upward, but the 6 was a big leap in quality from its predecessors. All images shown in this blog post were taken this year with the IPhone 6.

Still Life with the IPhone, you bet! This was a homage to Edward Weston's pepper. I added the cherry tomatoes to give the image a set of balls ;-)

Still Life with the IPhone, you bet! This was a homage to Edward Weston’s pepper. I added the cherry tomatoes to give the image a set of balls 😉

So here are my 6 recommendations:

One- Wipe you lens off each time you go to make a photograph. That lens is tiny, and you need it as clean as can be to maintain sharpness. A finger print will substantially soften the image and lower contrast. An actual smudge or what we call “schmutz” in New York will diffuse your image to the point of total failure. Use your t-shirt, a tissue, or whatever you have handy. Of course a micro fiber is the best choice. My wife Barbara keeps her iPhone in a micro fiber pouch to protect it in her pocket book from scratches and that makes a great way to keep the lens smudge and scratch free.

Nikki Sixx on tour with Six AM. I was about 15 feet back and did cropped in post. The colors were awful as most concert photography is, so I just converted to black and white.

Nikki Sixx on tour with Six AM. I was about 15 feet back and cropped in post. The colors were awful as most concert photography is, so I just converted to black and white.

Two- Be touchy. Your phone does have auto-focus and auto-exposure, but it can get fooled. Compose your image first, and then tap on the subject of your photo. Once you have a focus and exposure lock, you can then drag your finger up or down to adjust exposure. Very useful for backlit subjects and in that case, touch up for + exposure. This will come handy when you are shooting at the beach or in a snow scene.

Little_round_top

View from Little Round Top over the Valley of Death at Gettysburg, PA. This is a great example of working the exposure. I tapped the cannon and then had to further adjust the exposure due to the setting sun in the photo.

Three- Capture with the standard camera setting. Don’t bother with the HDR mode, it’s better to adjust your image later in a post-processing app which we will talk about later. The standard photo is a 4:3 ratio which will give you a standard image. You might want to consider shooting in square mode if you plan on using instagram, since instagram forces you to use square compositions. This will save you having to crop later and perhaps missing a part of the image that you wanted in or is needed for the composition. Getting it as close to perfect in the capture, then fine tuning later in post is a great rule of thumb.

I saw this composition across the street and waited about 3 minutes for the traffic to clear. Look close, they are all on their phones! I corrected the perspective in Snapseed to make the lines all straight.

I saw this composition across the street and waited about 3 minutes for the traffic to clear. Look close, All but one (who is eating) are on their phones! I corrected the perspective in Snapseed to make the lines all straight.

Four- Turn the flash off. Yup, unless it is really dark, like the inside of club or outside at night and you are shooting a subject less than 7 feet away, the flash (which is really a led light and not a flash at all) will make a crappy photo. There are three settings, off, on, and auto. By default it’s on auto out of the box, you will want to set that to off. I never ever use the flash function, I hate the way it looks. A trick to use if you must shoot in the dark, is have a friend hold up their iPhone and use it as a flash light. This way, the angle of light gives shape as opposed to your flash right next to the lens making a flat over exposed image.

Go ahead, be that person who posts their food, but make sure it looks good! If you can't shoot your dish in good light then just don't. Use the table cloth to add to the ambiance, feel free to arrange the salt shaker and utensils so it looks good. Never use the flash!

Go ahead, be that person who posts their food, but make sure it looks good! If you can’t shoot your dish in good light then just don’t. Use the table cloth to add to the ambiance, feel free to arrange the salt shaker and utensils so it looks good. Never use the flash!

Five- Use minimal if any zoom. Any zooming you do by pinching the image will digitally zoom it, and it’s better to just do that in a post app. I advocate if you are good with composition to use a little bit of zoom if you can’t physically get closer, like a shooting a building across a busy street, but really cropping should be done in post to maintain quality. When you have to 8 to 12 megapixels like the iPhone has, you have plenty of pixels to crop in post. Also, your focus can be tricked if you zoom heavily.

Street shooting with the IPhone you never miss a shot. Just keep an eye on the street signs so you don't get a ticket ;-)

Street shooting with the IPhone you never miss a shot. Just keep an eye on the street signs so you don’t get a ticket 😉

Six- Use the best app ever invented, and that is Snapseed. Invented by Nik and then acquired by Google, Snapseed does it all. I love Snapseed because it’s free, and it’s spectacular. I used to advocate Adobe PS Express and Camera bag but Google has super charged Snapseed into a beast of an app. And did I mention it’s free? Every image you see on this page was captured with the iPhone, then opened up with Snapseed and edited. I suggest you subscribe to this blog, I’ll be posting a Snapseed tutorial soon.

NY Harbor from a tall building in Battery Park. the Drama filter in Snapseed just really brings out the rays of light and clouds.

NY Harbor from a tall building in Battery Park. the Drama filter in Snapseed just really brings out the rays of light and clouds.

Well there you have it. Six tips to make you iPhone experience rock. Keep shooting!

~David

The house I summered in when I was a kid in the 70's. Bradley Beach.

The house I summered in when I was a kid in the 70’s. Bradley Beach.

ArmsLength

And lastly, my two favorite things to shoot, Barbara my wife and the Raven Wing my Harley Davidson.

wooden bridge and harleyvespa

Of Indians, Landscapes and Pooping Dogs

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

All things being equal, The Sky, The Moon and the Mountain.

I found myself roaring through desert canyon land over a hundred miles an hour astride a 1810 CC Indian Chief Vintage. I had companions; a lithe young photographer who specializes in portraits blazing alongside in a huge Harley Davidson, and the other just as opposite but more magnetic, a night photographer completely ecstatic as he was rolling on an Indian Scout. Oh, and there was a King with his Queen on another big Harley Davidson Road King, of course.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

The strategic tilt is executed in the Valley of Fire. I loved the shadows from the bushes.

We cut a road that allowed sprits to pass over as we became ghosts leading each other into the Valley of Fire. In this baptism I would attempt to solve a puzzle of the landscape photograph. Not to capture a good one, but to make a great one. One that will undeniably NOT have a strong centralized subject found as a singular element, but rather as a whole would sustain the image.

Like Malcom said, Life finds a way.

Like Malcom said in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”.

The Indian was taking us there clad in chrome and distressed leather. I had one camera, one intention, and lots of questions. The camera was a versatile Sony RX10 that held a long range Zeiss lens that would deliver my vision, and the questions would be in my self critique. Would these images stand up to my own Occam’s razor?

Cliffhangers of Zion

Cliffhangers of Zion

Teaching alongside Bob Krist, Michael Melford, and Ralph Lee Hopkins, this National Geographic trio spoke about the “Pooping Dog” in the image. Of course not literally (but hey it could work if not reeking of ‘lowbrowness’) but metaphorically as an element that is identifiable as the subject and plays an interesting role in the image. The pooping dog tells the story and narrates the message of the image. The pooping dog has a bark and a bite for the image to be successful. Without a pooping dog, the image is flat, lifeless and not fully accomplished.

The Valley of Fire.

The Valley of Fire.

In my critique classes, I frequently admonish beginners for not having the pooping dog in their images. But what happens when you are in a gorgeous landscape, the light is right, you have the time and tools but no pooping dog? Can you still make a compelling image? The challenge of landscape photography is that.

Valley of FIre

Valley of FIre

I found the answer to be what I suspected: if the aesthetic of the image is extremely strong, and the execution dynamic enough, then you can avoid an obvious and demonstrative main subject. The photograph becomes its own gestalt that moves a viewer.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

The Three Horses of the Valley of Fire.

Did the Indian take me there? Was I able to channel my inner Ansel Adams and execute a formidable American Landscape? I guess i shall have to continue on the road to see if I did.

The Road to Upper Zion

The Road to Upper Zion

~David

Environmental Portraits, Location and the Importance Of Background

Yesterday I went on a motorcycle ride with my outlaw biker brothers (and fellow photographers) out of NYC and into Long Island. I brought along my trusty Fujifilm Xpro1 looking forward to shooting some portraits during the ride.

I wanted to shoot pretty wide open to get a blur going on the background, but it was mid-day and quite bright so f4.0 was about as open as I could go. I also wanted to show off the bikes, so I would be further back then my normal portrait shooting distance, thus increasing detail in the blur. The background would have to be considered and thought out as importantly as the subjects. As a matter of fact, I can’t emphasize enough a good background! I like to treat my photographs in three layers, a foreground (in this case the front of the bike), the middle layer (the subject) and the background. I place the emphasis in portraiture on the middle and the background; they are certainly the most critical of the composition, and finding a good foreground being a bonus.

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

18 f 2.0 2500 sec f 4.0

First consideration on the background is keeping the horizon in a third. Never ever cut the horizon in half! In this portrait of Joe Otto on his big 1100 V-Twin Cruiser I made sure I lowered myself to ensure the horizon was placed 1/3 to the top. Notice the pavement line that leads your eyes up to the center of the image, and also the blurry car in the far top left, centered between grip and mirror. These background details are tiny, but are elements that ensure the portrait is pulled off with a compositional perfection.Relationships of shapes in the image should also be identified and included, the shape of the headlight mimics Joe’s helmet, so the included that in the crop.

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 4000 second f 4.0

 

In this next photograph of the Kingpin I found a background that has strong elements such as the board walk planks and the sign. While composing the image I would use the Bayside Marina sign to frame Kingpin, while being very careful where the light fixture in the upper left would be placed. During the composure I then noticed the second light fixture and made sure it didn’t touch the subject. I was conscious of the horizon cutting the frame, but the framing overided that consideration and I placed the Kingpin and his Honda RC51 Sportbike in the bottom 2/3 of the frame. By placing the subject in harmony with the planks, all the lines in the image push your eye to image right. F4 ever so slightly blurs the signage, but the intent look on the Kingpin holds the viewer’s eyes around the center of the image.

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

35 f 1.4 shot at 2000 second f 4.0

 

Jason took off his leather and underneath he sported a plain whte T with a v-neck. I thought of Marlon Brando in the Wild Ones and liked his casual pose over the handlebars. His HD Sportster Roadster is a new acquisition, and he loves it, the gesture in his left hand shows that. I asked Jason pose in this spot, due to the shade the tree to camera left affords. I like the texture from the cucoloris effect as well, not too strong, not too light. The rocks in the background mimic the bad-ass attitude of the Harley Davidson while the line of the path draws you across the image nicely. Horizon neatly placed in the top third with a hint of clouds.

All the images were shot jpeg with the b&w style applied, then imported into Snapseed with my ipad workflow used. Ride on readers, and keep a sharp on the background (and potholes for NYC riders!)

~David

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