Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Other Side of the Island

The Charm of New York's Neighborhoods

Skyscrapers. High-rise apartment buildings. Landmarks, lights, and sights - New York has it all. Tourists flock to Times Square and Rockefeller Center, stroll along Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, and aim their cameras at the Chrysler Building and the World Trade Center. The grandeur can be intoxicating. The experience, unforgettable.

New Yorkers and frequent visitors enjoy the famous sights just as much as the tourists do. But there's a more intimate side of the city - neighborhoods that retain the charm and character of decades past. 

I love to photograph New York. A big part of that adventure is discovering the city's hidden secrets, lesser known places that still catch the eye and captivate the imagination.

a photo of classic new york architecture
City In Motion - Classic New York Architecture

The photo above shows a style of architecture that I have come to appreciate while meandering through the busy streets of Manhattan. These four or five-story building typically feature shops on the street level, apartments above, and intricate iron fire escapes.

The fa├žades can be quite colorful. I love how direct sunlight - which hits this row of buildings for at most only a few minutes per day - brings out the colors, textures, and details.

My first attempt at this shot didn't work out well. I realized afterward that I had forgotten to put a memory card into the camera. The images vanished as soon as I turned the camera off.

I returned a week later, wedged my tripod between a couple of parked cars (one of which was waiting to pull out!), focused, finalized my exposure settings carefully, and clicked six or seven shots as cars passed by in various patterns. I like this one the best because of the even distribution of the passing cars across the frame.

Unfortunately, these lovely buildings are disappearing. Each year, many of them are torn down to make way for large and more modern structures. I look forward to photographing more neighborhoods like this one - before they all disappear.

Camera: Nikon D800E
Lens:     PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, November 23, 2013

City In Motion - The Inspiration Behind The Photographs

Reflection and Possibility

Urban photographers like to work with reflections. Modern cities are endowed with a generous supply of glass panes and shiny surfaces.

One evening in the summer, I noticed a black marble wall. I pulled out my camera and experimented with shots of the reflections of passing people and the vehicles.

a photo of the Empire State Building in New York City in Motion
Empire State Building - New York City in Motion

It was an interesting idea, it presented technical challenges. There wasn't much light at that hour, and the dark surface absorbed most of what was available.

Even with a highly sensitive modern digital camera, I was struggling to set a shutter speed that would freeze the motion of my reflected subjects. 

My mind began to search for solutions. I considered trying again with extremely fast lenses and using special noise reduction software.

And then I said to myself, "Stop!"

I realized that I was thinking in a habitual ways. I was solving the same problems in the same way, using the same thinking that I had been using for years. It was time for a break, time to set my automatic responses aside and approach the problem from a new perspective.

a photo of Grand Central Station in New York City showing Motion
Grand Central Station - New York City In Motion

What if I couldn't freeze the motion of passing objects? What if I let them blur on purpose?

Legendary photographer Ernst Haas used motion blur creatively in his images. Search online for a copy of his photograph, La Suerte De Capa, captured in Pamplona, Spain in 1956. It's one of my all-time favorite photographs in part because it defies common practice. Instead of freezing the motion in the frame, Haas enhanced its impact on the final image. 

I began to the see a possibility. I didn't necessarily have to fight to freeze my subjects. If I cold capture motion effective in the frame of a still photograph, I could use it to show the dynamic pace of life in New York City.

Empire State Building: Nikon D800E, PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5

Grand Central: Canon EOD 5D Mark III, TS-E24mm f/3.5L

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New York - City In Motion - 11/12/13

See the World. Differently.

Well, the date is finally here, and after three months of shooting, I am proud to announce the debut of New York - City In Motion. 

a photo of an intersection at night in new york city with traffic trails
Busy Intersection - New York City In Motion

This collection attempts to capture the dynamic, fast-moving pace of New York City in creative ways using the unique qualities of still photography.

a photo of a football kickoff showing the players in motion in new york daniel south photography
Forty Yard Line - New York City In Motion

I'll be writing extensively in the coming months about the making of this collection and the inspiration behind the images.

To view the entire collection in high resolution, please click here. 

Thank you as always for your continued interest and support!

Busy Intersection: Nikon D800E, PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5

Forty Yard Line: Canon EOD 5D Mark III, 70-200 f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 11, 2013

Color. Outside of the Lines.

City In Motion - 11/12/13

a photo announcing the upcoming new york city in motion photography exhibition by daniel south

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

See The World. Differently.

City In Motion - 11/12/13

a photo announcing the upcoming photography exhibition new york city in motion by daniel south

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sun Dial and Tribute Beams


The massive, seven-foot tall sun dial was designed by sculptor Robert Adzema. Its location on the Hudson River provides unimpeded views of Lower Manhattan.

Sun Dial and Tribute Lights, 9/11/2010

Blue tribute lights beam skyward each year on the 9/11 anniversary. Visitors line up at the edge of the river to pay their respects and snap photos of the lights and the New York skyline.

It's amazingly quiet here at dusk in mid-September. There's a prevailing sense of reverence and an appreciation for the value of life.

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS 

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 5, 2013

National Parks in Peril

Casualties of Governmental Gridlock

The United States government is in the midst of a budget crisis. The National Park system was one of the immediate casualties. Rangers have been furloughed, concessions have been shuttered, and these beautiful parks are now closed to the public.

a photo of grand canyon national park at sunset by daniel south
Grand Canyon at Sunset

Hopefully, the crisis will be resolved shortly so that the parks can return to normal operation.

a photo of a mountain lake in yosemite national park
Yosemite National Park from Tioga Road

When the issues have been resolved and the parks are once again receiving visitors, please make it a point to spend some time seeing one or more of these amazing national treasures.

a photograph of zabriskie point at sunrise in death valley national park
Zabriskie Point Sunrise, Death Valley

Nature should not be held hostage by bickering bureaucrats. Unfortunately, the political process does not always consider the costs and consequences of short-sighted decisions. It might be a good idea to visit our National Parks before they are thrust once again into operational peril by self-serving politicians. 

Grand Canyon: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

Yosemite: Nikon D800E, 24-70 f/2.8G AF-S

Death Valley: Canon EOD 5D Mark II, 70-200 f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Red Cube And White Tile

The Search for Fresh Perspectives

Red Cube, a familiar New York landmark, was created by sculptor Isamu Noguchi in 1968. Its location just one block from the World Trade Center complex draws a lot of tourist traffic.

Is it possible to capture a unique view of an object that is photographed hundreds, perhaps thousands of times every day? Creativity is a vast universe. Why not give it a try?

After snapping some rather mundane shots of Red Cube, I decided to look for a more interesting perspective. Young men were skate boarding in the area, and I took a few shots with them in the frame, but nothing special materialized. Daylight was beginning to fade, and I hadn't captured a single decent photo.

a photo of the red cube statue in new york with a white tile
Red Cube White Tile - New York

I noticed that one of the plaza tiles was lighter than the rest. Perhaps the original tile had to be replaced by a newer, less weathered slab. When I walked over to the white tile, I noticed that the line adjacent to it (to its right in the photo above) led directly toward the center of the cube.

When I noticed this geometric relationship between the tile and the cube, my creative mind launched into a virtual orgasm. I couldn't wait to take the shot.

A wide-angle lens would make all of the lines in the plaza to converge toward the sculpture, effectively linking cube and tile. I mounted a special tilt-shift lens that would prevent the distortion of vertical lines and keep both the tile and the cube in sharp focus. (This feature isn't available on most lenses).

I leveled the camera on the tripod, focused and metered carefully, spent a few minutes fending off a polite but unhelpful security guard, and captured the shot seen above.

Red Cube and White Tile is one of my favorite images of Lower Manhattan. It took a bit of time to get all of the pieces lined up and in focus, but the final image turned out even better than I had anticipated. The lone white tile and the convergence of lines toward the center add an interesting dimension to an oft photographed object. 

As with all of the photos on this blog, you can view larger, more detailed versions on my website. Please click the link below. You'll find this image in the 28 Days Sharper Portfolio 

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II (tilt and fall movements applied)

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Low Light Photography

Cool Nights Warm Colors

When I began to take a serious interest in photography, I ran down to my local bookstore looking for guidance. There I found one of my favorite how-to books: "The Complete Guide to Night and Low-Light Photography" by Lee Frost.

I spent many hours reviewing the beautiful photos and studying the text that accompanied them. Chapter by chapter, I learned about cameras and lenses, films and filters, and the all-important color and quality of light.

I began to understand, for instance, why the camera's internal metering system would fail to properly expose most low light conditions. Mr. Frost presented a variety of techniques to help compensate for this limitation. (Remember that this was during the film era when photos weren't instantly displayed on the back of the camera.)

To this day, I love shooting in low light conditions when the world slows down and the colors take on a vivid and dramatic character.

a low light photo of venice at dusk
Venice At Dusk

Special thanks to Mr. Lee Frost for writing so eloquently and informatively about low light photography. You inspired me to see possibilities where once I saw only darkness.

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pretzel Girls

Capturing The Moment

As a rule, I avoid photographing children whose families I don't know. Society has become hyper-sensitive to any activity that could be construed as child exploitation. And for good reason.

Having a cute-kid-holding-a-lollipop photo in my portfolio isn't worth the hassle if the parents get the wrong idea. In most cases, I see the kid, but I just keep walking. There are plenty of other subjects.

Children doing something interesting in a group, however, is generally a safe exception. I think of it more as shooting the activity than photographing any particular person. I don't care who is doing the activity; it's the activity itself that's interesting.

When I noticed this group of young ladies eating soft pretzels on the steps of Federal Hall on Wall Street, I made a quick decision to grab the shot. The camera was on and hanging from my neck, so all I really needed to do was positioning myself, frame, focus, and shoot. It all happened in three to four seconds.

a photo of a group of young girls snacking on pretzels in new york city
Pretzel Girls - New York

The lady on the right moved into the frame just as I was getting ready to shoot, but I managed to capture the photo of the kids before she impeded the shot further.

This is one of my favorite "people in the street" shots. It's colorful, fun, relaxed, and relatively unique. It's not often that I see six nicely dressed children eating pretzels together. I'm very happy that I decided to take the shot in the fleeting moment when it was available.

'Pretzel Girls' was part of 2012's 'Summer in New York' photo exhibition.

 Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright © 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, USA!

America The Beautiful

a grand canyon sunrise photograph
Daybreak at Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Happy Independence Day! Please support our State and National Parks!

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lens: Canon 70-200 f/4L IS

Wishing you great light and meaningful moments!

Copyright 2013 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved