American Classics Car Show, NHRA Museum, Pomona, California 21-Oct-2012.
A mature couple taking in the scene of shoppers passing through, children frolicking in a water fountain and families enjoying a band concert at The Shoppes, Chino Hills, California. I’m not sure if this would not have been better rendered as a straight black and white image, but I thought the added paint like texture and brush strokes with this oil paint treatment better suited the subjects and the feeling of having withstood the tests of time this couple gave me. What do you think?
This scene could be somewhere in the United States, or not. When I was thinking about the image and what to title it, the image conjured up quite a few dramatic scenarios in my mind. Are they looking for something or someplace? Are they checking if they have been followed? The woman is protective of the baby, the man seems nonchalant with his hands in his pockets. What are they gazing at? The mark on the woman’s left arm has me somewhat baffled, I did not put it there. Is it some sort of tribal marking?
What potential story is triggered in your mind when you view this image?
Southern California is diametrically opposite of Manhattan, in New York City. Southern Californians live in their cars, New Yorkers live on their streets. The real estate is more spread out in Southern California compared to Manhattan and in terms of street photography, New York photographers live right in the Mother Lode. Compelling street images are an order of magnitude harder to come by in the L.A. area, then the streets of New York, but I believe it is still worth the effort, so with some inspiration from Mark Garbowski, I have become a little more aggressive with my street photography.
The scene above is the east end of Mercantile Place in Old Town, Pasadena, California. Mercantile Place or more like a wide alley way that extends one block from Raymond Avenue (seen in the background) west to Fair Oaks Avenue. Old Town is the revitalized old commercial district in Pasadena, and is now home to various boutique type retailers, restaurants, bars and a multi-screened cinema. When we visit the area we like to use a parking structure that is adjacent to Mercantile Place (you can see it as the monolithic wall in the background of this image), so Mercantile Place is always on our route to or from the car. I like the way the canopy of trees frame this shot, the structure on the immediate left in this image is the patio for Lucky Baldwin’s pub, the structure on the right is a side entrance, trying to entice gullible passers by in to the local Scientology center (note the “open house” sign). I think we can surmise from the image that this couple has neither booze nor crackpot cultism on their minds.
As I have refined (read improved with study and practice) my post processing skills I have looked back and given some of my images a second chance at life beyond my disk drive. This image was captured in September of 2010 when I was just beginning to explore HDR photography, and it did not make the cut in my mind as a color HDR to share with anyone. However I find the subjects and their positioning relative to each other compelling as a theme (the interaction of humans with each other and within the context of the environment they find themselves). I believe tableaus such as this are enhanced in the black an white medium. A book that I read 50 odd years ago has always stayed with me, with its compelling, classic image of people created by masters of the genre, “The Family of Man“. If you are enthusiastic about capturing images of people in life and you have not seen this collection of images, I urge you to get a copy of this book, it really had a profound effect one me in terms inspiring me to be a creator of similar images.
Processing this image was not complex at all. I converted the Nikon raw color files to .DNG’s in Lighroom, used Silver Efex Pro 2 to do the black and white conversion, using the Wet Rocks filter, tweaking overall exposure, contrast; blacks and whites a bit. Then applied a medium cyan tone and the black border in SEP. Used the adjustment brush back in Lightroom to slightly darken the street light in the background, do the sharpening and minor noise clean-up.