Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week 37: No Trespassing

I decided that this week's theme was going to be 'No Trespassing', or more appropriately, how I learned to ignore no trespassing signs. While taking photos this week I learned a couple of things:
1 - A fence with a no trespassing sign really means, come in, there's something really cool inside.
2 - Dead ends often end with long since forgotten treasures.
3 - To find lots of really cool photo opportunities, you need to step outside your comfort zone and take some risks.

In a couple of weeks I'm going to be shooting my first senior pictures. I'm a tad terrified, mostly because I have no idea where to go and what to have him do. Today was an attempt to figure out that first part. I had a couple of ideas for locations, but in general I just started driving and keeping my eyes peeled for anything that might be interesting.

I found this first location while trying to figure out how to get to the top of the big KS sign in Manhattan. I've always wanted to see the sign up close because I was curious what it was made of. I started driving up this hill and saw a little turnoff with a gate and a no trespassing sign. I probably sat there for five minutes trying to gather up enough nerve to go in. Eventually I sucked it up and went exploring. And the below photo was what I was rewarded with.

There was just random furniture and appliances strewn about this clearing at the top of the hill. I especially liked this chair. There's something fascinating about a dilapidated chair sitting out in the middle of a grass field.

At this point I had to do some climbing. I was on part of the hill, but I guessed the KS sign was further up. There were some tricky sections, but eventually I came to the top of the hill and found some sort of radio tower. The fascinating part of the tower were these light-bulbs strung across the whole structure.

Then what do I find, more no trespassing signs. This one I decided to obey. 

I couldn't get a good picture of it, but I did eventually find the giant KS sign. If anyone was curious it's carved out of the rock on the side of the hill and painted white. Not as exciting as I had hoped.

After climbing down the hill I started driving into the country. After a couple of random turns I came across a dead end sign and decided to see what was at the end. Sure enough, another fence and another no trespassing sign. Not to be deterred, I climbed around the fence and set off to explore. I should note that every place I went today looked fairly abandoned, so I felt somewhat confident that I wasn't going to run into anyone.

After trudging through some forested areas I came across another clearing and an abandoned piece of farm equipment. I really love old abandoned equipment. The rust and the grease makes for some great color and contrast in photos. 

Driving again, I came across these culverts and liked the way they were stacked and the patterns they made. 

This location was incredible and I have to go back because I only explored a tiny bit of it. I was nervous going to this one. I spotted all of these abandoned cars and random equipment across a field, from the road. In the photo below you can kind of see my car in the lower right. I knew I would be very visible crossing the field, but decided it would be worth it.

The first thing I came across were a couple of semis with lots of random old toys, clothes, and any other trash you can think of. A lot of it was strewn across the ground and I half expected to find a dead body mixed in with everything. Note to self, if I ever need to dump a body, this is the place. 

Hanging out of one of the doors of the semi was this old rotting doll, partially crushed by a box. This is quite possible my favorite picture from the bunch. It took me a couple of tries to get the shot that I wanted. Originally I was trying to get its face in the shot, but it just wasn't working, and I actually like this angle much better. 

One of many abandoned vehicles left in this field. 

Wanted to add one more to this post that I took the day after writing this.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week 36: Candid Strangers

I went to a wedding this past weekend in Michigan. I was hoping to get some good photos, but it just wasn't working. The area we were in wasn't great for photos and the weather was dreary and there were no leaves on the trees. Just not very good all around.

I decided I need to try something new. I've always wanted to do street photography and take candid photos of strangers. The only problem is, this terrifies me. I'm a pretty shy person, and I find it really hard to take photos of friends, let alone strangers. But I decided I needed to get over this fear and just do it. So, in the Flint airport on the way home, I decided to give it a shot.

I was still pretty cautious and mostly took photos of people I knew probably couldn't see me, but I still learned a ton. When I do landscape photography I've learned that every photo needs a subject. You can't just have a beautiful landscape and call that your subject. There has to be something else that draws you into the photo and then the landscape is what makes it beautiful. I'm realizing the same thing with street photography. The person you're taking the photo of isn't the subject, you need something more, an emotion, an interaction with another person...something (still trying to figure out what that something is).

When you take photos of your friends I think it's easy to get lazy. You treat them as your subject and people like the photos because they know the people. But show the photos to a stranger and they're probably not interesting at all. Taking photos of strangers forces you to take that extra step to make your photos interesting and tell a story. I think coming to that realization will make my photos much better in the future.

This was the ballsiest photo I took, he was sitting at a table right across from me and could have looked over at any second. It was kind of exhilarating. 

This lady just looks kind of bored. Something else is needed to make this photo interesting. 

I really liked the sun in this one and the color of her hair. Still not really a subject though. 

I think that this one is halfway to being a good photo. This guy is interacting with the bartender, but the guy seated at the bar is blocking her. I think if I was able to get her in the photo as well it would have been much more interesting. 

This is my favorite. This guy was pretty photogenic and I managed to catch him in a smile. I really love candid shots of smiling people. People usually look so miserable, especially in airports, that it's nice to see a smile every now and then. 

This is a random shot from the wedding I was at. The ceremony was outside, but the reception was held in this heated barn. Pretty nice.