Pedestrian Study #1, South Lee Street

Pedestrian Study #1, South Lee Street
Pedestrian Study #1, South Lee Street. Nikon D200, Nikon 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/640 sec.

I’m trying some new concepts with my street photography. The idea of parking yourself on a street corner and waiting to see what happens is certainly not new to street photography (in fact it is about as old as the genre itself), but it’s not something I’ve done often. Usually I have the kids in tow and they are not all that patient (can you blame them?), so I can’t park myself for long.

The other day, I was able to stay in this spot for about 5 minutes and I would just wait for folks to walk by. I was realizing that the light worked particularly well when they would turn their head towards me, but usually they were focused in the direction they were walking. I thought it would be the same with this woman, but she happened to turn her head at almost the last possible moment before disappearing from view. In turn, I was rewarded with this photo that I feel captures the feeling of a fleeting moment, one that will soon be lost forever.

Man Feeding Birds, Old Town Waterfront

Man Feeding Birds, Old Town Waterfront
Man Feeding Birds, Old Town Waterfront. Nikon D810, 50mm f/2 K, ISO 64, f/5.6, 1/400 sec.

Initially, I was interested in capturing the movement of the man throwing bread crumbs to the gulls, who would in turn catch the crumbs in midair. Later, as I was reviewing photos from the day, I became fascinated by the interplay between the lines that could be drawn between the gulls in the air and the shadows cast on the pavement by the trees just out of the frame.

One of my favorite black and white toning tricks is to pull down the blues so that the sky and water take on a more dramatic look and bump up the overall contrast of the photograph. This really brings out the texture of the clouds in the sky, as opposed to the sky looking like a boring mass of gray paste.

Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway

Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway
Stone Bridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway. Nikon D810, Tokina 17-35mm f/4 @35mm, ISO 64, f/16, 3 sec.

There are many stone bridges along the GW Parkway. The one in the photo above is located near one of my favorite sunset spots, Riverside Park. This vantage is located about halfway down an unofficial trail that leads to a rocky beach along the Potomac River.

In order to capture the full range of detail against a backlit sky, I hand-blended three varying exposures together in Photoshop. This is the same idea as shooting HDR (high-dynamic range), but with much greater finesse, control, and, ultimately, a more realistic photograph.

Impressions, Old Town Waterfront

Impressions, Old Town Waterfront
Impressions, Old Town Waterfront. Nikon D810, Nikon 200mm f/4 AI, ISO 64, f/8, 6 sec.

Lights from the dock, restaurants, and boats shimmer in the waters of the Potomac River.  An exposure time of six seconds allows them to blur and become colorful patterns against the deep blue of the twilight sky reflected in the water.

Looking Up, Alexandria Waterfront

Looking Up, Alexandria Waterfront
Looking Up, Alexandria Waterfront. Nikon D200, 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/9, 1/250 sec.
Ever play Mystthat computer game from the 90’s? Yep, the creepy one where you always felt like someone would be behind you even though no one was there. Anyway, this photo reminds me of that game.

This was shot in one of the gazebos that is located at the end of one of the docks out on the Potomac River. Always look around you. Up, down, left, right. And, if you’re playing Myst, behind.

Street Performer, Old Town Waterfront

Street Performer, Old Town Waterfront
Street Performer, Old Town Waterfront. Nikon D200, Nikon 60mm f/2.8 AF Micro, ISO 100, f/4, 1/250 sec.

I’ve tried making pictures of this particular performer in the past, but had never come up with something that I liked. He twirls a baton and I’ve tried to capture that action. The main problem is that he’s usually standing in front of a bunch of trash cans, so it’s not the most flattering background.

Yesterday, I realized that what interested me most about him was his face, and to a lesser degree, his hat. So I asked him if he wouldn’t mind me coming in close for a portrait. He speaks very little English (as far as I can tell) so there was a bit of pantomiming on my part to get him to understand what I wanted him to do.

I like this shot the best out of any I’ve taken of him so far, but I’d like to try more in the future. He has a great face, and is quite an interesting character.

Artist Mark Parmelee, Alexandria Waterfront

Artist Mark Parmelee, Alexandria Waterfront
Artist Mark Parmelee, Alexandria Waterfront. Nikon D810, 50mm f/2 K, ISO 64, f/4, 1/1600 sec.

The Old Town Waterfront attracts musicians, artists, and street performers of all types. That’s part of the reason why I keep going there with my camera—you never know what you’re going to get.

As a street photographer, there are times you want to remain innocuous, even invisible. When it comes to artists and performers, I often feel that is the wrong approach. If the tables were turned, I know I’d feel uncomfortable working on my craft if I could feel the presence of a photographer lurking around me. So, as is the case with a lot of my photographs of performers, I introduced myself and asked if he wouldn’t mind me taking a few pictures. Unless the person says no (which is rare), it allows me to feel comfortable to shoot many different angles and moments. It also sets the artist at ease knowing that I’m not a total creeper!

Finally, for me, it’s about creating a connection. You never know where these connections may lead, if only to a pleasant exchange between artists.

Yellow & Blue, Alexandria Waterfront

Yellow & Blue, Alexandria Waterfront
Yellow & Blue, Alexandria Waterfront. Nikon D810, 50mm f/2 K, ISO 64, f/8, 1/320 sec.

This is why I try to carry a camera with me whenever possible.

Street photography is often frustrating, but at times opportunities just fall right in your lap. I doubt this girl purposefully parked herself right in front of these umbrellas that perfectly matched her skirt, but I am glad she did it! The sky was also a lovely shade of blue, providing a nice color contrast to the scene.

George Washington Middle School, Mount Vernon Avenue

george-washington-middle-school-mount-vernon-avenue
George Washington Middle School, Mount Vernon Avenue. Nikon D200, 35mm f/1.8 AF-S DX, ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125 sec.

Architecture has always been a passion of mine. I am fascinated by the way lines intersect and branch off to form other shapes and patterns. The feeling that these two parts of the building converge somewhere that we can’t see is very interesting to me. Walk a little bit further to the left and it’s a completely different feeling.

I also love the way the trees filter the late afternoon sunlight, casting undulating patterns on the buildings. Once again we see the marriage of architecture and nature, if not necessarily intentional.