“To the promised land” (the parking structure) adjacent to Mercantile Place in Old Town, Pasadena, California. I am beginning to think of Mercantile Place as being the crossroads of Old Town since I mined so much material from this location. The large building in the background is the Scientology complex, I’m wondering of the large door in the back is used by Xenu and the other space aliens to avoid any paparazzi who might be stationed at the front of the building.
Or maybe the woman is saying “If we go this way we can avoid those crackpot cultists”.
This gentleman seems to be a regular fixture on Mercantile Place, I’ve seen him two out of the last three times we were there. I don’t know his story, the feelings that this image conveys to me is of a person who may have had a hard life, toiling outside among the elements for many years, someone who might be down on his luck, but who is tough and perseveres through life. I asked for permission to photograph him before I took this shot and a couple others and he accepted $5.00 I offered him after getting the shots. The second time I saw him, he said hello and was without the crutch. If I encounter him again, I think I will work up the nerve to try and engage him in conversation (I am still shy after all these years). I am fascinated by the color and lines in his face and would really like to learn his story.
As originally captured the image was quite flat looking in comparison to this final rendering. I did initial adjustments and cropping in Lightroom, then used Color Efex Pro to lighten the center and darken the edges, enhanced the center/edge contrast back in Lightroom, added vignetting, and did sharpening and noise reduction.
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.
We are back at the Loring Building one more time this week. Gasoline is currently going for just over $5.00 a gallon in Southern California, so this mode of personal transportation and parking is relatively thrifty. I am not sure how well this fellow will do on a day when the temperature reachers triple digits, it was in the 60-70 range the day this image was captured.
I used the Wet Rocks Silver Efex Pro filter on this and added a cyanotype tone and the black border. Did a little burning in on the stone column on the right with the adjustment brush, then sharpened and noise reduction in Lightroom,