Bill Cunningham – A Gifted Street Photographer

Author:  K. Meng Tay

Bill Cunningham died last week at the age of 87.  If you have never heard of Bill Cunningham, you are probably not alone.  He was a photographer, a very successful one for 50 years.  New York City (NYC) named him a living landmark.  The French government honored him with the Legion of Honor.

His usual spot is at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, just outside Tiffany’s in NYC.  His subjects are everyday people who walk past that corner.  He tried to be invisible and discreet.  But, when people recognized him, they want to be photographed by him.  He was unmistakable in his blue French worker’s jacket, khaki pants and black sneakers riding a bicycle through town.  His subjects included almost anyone who is someone in the fashion world, whether it’s NYC, Paris or London. They included Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Anna Wintour (editor of Vogue magazine), Diane von Furstenberg, etc.

However, what makes Bill so successful was his photographs of everyday people.  He’d pick a fashion topic and take a series of pictures to highlight his focus.  Most people never noticed him and that’s what differentiated him.  Here is a playlist of some of his photographs from the New York Times:

Bill Cunningham Playlist

What can we learn from Bill Cunningham to be a successful photographer?

  • Tell a story. This is what makes Bill stand out.  While others see people walking the streets, Bill finds a theme and then spin a story around it.  Photography is just a bunch of pictures if there is no story.
  • Passion.  Not only was he telling a story but he was passionate about the story and his subjects.  You can tell by listening to his voice and it showed in his photographs.
  • Be singularly focused on one subject. It’s better to be a Master of One then be a Jack of All Trades.
  • Dare to be different. It’s easy to get carried away by all the beautiful landscape photographs in magazines and websites but Bill picked a topic that he loves and keep working on it.  Some people may have laughed at him early in his career but just read all the accolades he received.
  • Expensive equipment does not guarantee success. Bill used only a simple 35mm camera.  I don’t know if he ever upgraded to digital cameras but I don’t see him carrying a zoom lens or a tripod.  And he rides around the city on a bicycle.
  • Humility and Simplicity. Bill was a very humble and modest person.  Because of his character, he made many friends, including some in the high society of NYC.  He refused to be in the spotlight himself.  He did not think that he is better than his subjects and therefore, they willingly allow themselves to be photographed.
  • Money is not everything. He tore many of the checks that were given to him.  He refused payment sometimes.  He could’ve been wealthy if he wanted to but instead he lived in a studio apartment with one bed and filing cabinets of his photographs.
  • Patience and Timing. He must have researched his subjects and waited for the right moment.  As any professional photographer will tell you, timing is everything.

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the success of Bill Cunningham, especially if photography is your livelihood.  For those of us mere amateurs, we can only hope that someone would even look at our pictures.

Here are some more articles about Bill Cunningham in the New York Times:

Bill Cunningham, Legendary Times Fashion Photographer, Dies at 87
Bill Cunning on Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham Looked for Subjects. And They Looked for Him.

 

 

 

 

 

Adobe Lightroom: Making Photos Look Great Again

Author:  Megan Galope

Have you ever taken a photo on a trip, and then once you’ve uploaded it to your computer, wondered why exactly you took that photo? You must have seen something to want to capture the scene, but on your computer the colors and lighting just look, well, blah. It’s very tempting to throw these photos out. Before you do, however, it may be worth playing around with them in Lightroom to see if you can figure out exactly what you saw in the first place.

I recently took this photo on a trip to the Tetons in Wyoming. Looking at it just after importing it in Lightroom didn’t thrill me.

Photo1

So I decided to see what I could do with it. Just using the dehaze slider made a big difference:

Photo2

Tweaking the exposure and contrast brought out the sky and mountains a bit more:

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Decreasing the highlights and opening up the shadows made an even bigger difference:

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A few more tweaks to clarity, vibrance, temp and tint gave me this:

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I then used the adjustment brush to bring out the pine tree a bit more:

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Here are the before and after versions of the same photo:

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Lightroom helped me remember why I took this photo in the first place!

To learn more about Adobe Lightroom, Arizona Highways Photo Workshops is offering Adobe Lightroom 101, 102 and 103 courses. Each course is one day and is instructed by photographer Suzanne Mathia. You can find out more about these courses here: http://www.ahpw.org/workshops/.

Megan Galope is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

 

6 Little Travel Tips

Author:  David Huffman

There are plenty of articles about travel photography providing advice on what equipment to bring, how to pack, etc.  I’ve even written my share.  So, just returning from a month in New Zealand, I thought I’d offer a few that made my trip more successful.

  1. Figure our what you use most, and if you’re out on foot for the whole day, don’t take all your kit with you because it will tire you out. The toll thistakes is either bringing you less fun or causing you to forego some sights or activities.  My all-in-one lens is my favorite.   My system this trip included 2 full frame bodies, 20mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8, 1.4x teleconverter, speed light, 24-120mm f/4, 80-400mm f/4.5 and DX-format compact 28mm fixed lens camera.  Without my tripod, all in one backpack, this weighs 22 pounds, which I find too much for a full day up-and-down hills trekking.  Analyzing my pictures, I find that about 85% are with the 24-120mm lens, so that is my “go-to” lens for most days.  I also have found a good way to carry the second body with the 80-400mm, which leads to my second tip.
  1. Use a cross-shoulder camera strap, especially if you are carrying more than one body. The second body and long tele zoom weigh in at over 4 pounds, and carrying a second body brings its own complications for being ready for that quick shot.  In the attached photo, you can see that I’m using a Jobi strap attached to the tripod foot (Kirk brand) on the long lens.  It balances well and I can quickly get to it to grab a fleeting image of an animal, bird or scene.  I find that carrying the 80-400 in addition to the 24-120 makes me more aware of a wider range of images and the compressed perspective of the longer tele adds image variety.
  1. Carry a plastic rain hood for your camera. I purchased two of these for less than $15 and have been using them for years.  They are a little awkward to shoot with, but keep your equipment dry when you really need it, and they can stuff away in a small pocket.FullSizeRender
  1. Photographers love pockets, and I’m no different. The black jacket I’m wearing is the Evolution from ScotteVest, and it has about 30 pockets.  I develop a routine so I know where the lens caps, spare batteries and memory cards, sunglasses and micro-fiber cleaning cloths are kept, and I can safely hide money and passport inside. It’s waterproof and the hood and sleeves zip off to make a vest.
  1. Don’t be a photo snob, carry a compact camera along with your DSLR or mirrorless system. I’ll drop the heavy stuff back at the room when we’re ready for dinner.  At the end of the day when the light is gone, I can use my Nikon Coolpix A for fun shots of streets and restaurants and make no excuses for image quality because it has a DX crop sensor instead of the smaller ones.  The lens is a fixed 28mm f/1.8 and has an excellent sharpness rating, and the camera offers full DSLR controls with a similar menu system to my other cameras.
  1. Back up your images every day or two. I’ve found that using a Sanho IMG_0211ColorSpace UDMA device is my best choice.  It is light weight, about 4x6x1 inch in size and I’ve installed a 1TB disk drive.  The screen and firmware handle all the functions and the battery has good life.  I even carry the WiFi dongle so can view the images full screen on my iPad.  This combination is lighter than my MacBook Pro and I’m not risking that computer while I’m away.  You can find this device listed on my website.  It is also pictured here.

David is a Photographer, Author, Instructor and Trip Leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.  Visit David at http://www.HuffmanPhotoArt.com.

David Huffman
Cell 602.703.2191
Visit HuffmanPhotoArt.com
Your Path to Better Photography

Pleasure and Privilege

Author:  LeRoy DeJolie

This month marks a significant milestone in my photographic career. It was 20 years ago, this very day when I conducted my very first photographic workshop as an Instructor with the Friends of Arizona Highways Photo Workshop, (AHPW). Our objectives back then as I recall was and still remains true to this day. It was designed to take our participants to special places, off the beaten path, somewhere in Arizona and provide each and every participant with unrivaled experiences in photography. Over the years,  AHPW  immersed participating photographers, whether they be novices or professionals, to new and exciting places to experience and photograph true nature, wildlife and various cultures at its finest.

Being a second generation of photographers in my family, I have always been fascinated with the History of Photography as much as by the technical process of this new digital age. However, I am still more inclined to wander down this odd photographic journey with my large cumbersome equipment, because this is where my passion lies. I don’t expect things to change anytime soon.  After pondering long and hard, I would love to be remembered as a photographer who examined the compelling and intimate art of landscape portraiture.  Sometimes the best portraits are often as much a reflection of the maker as they are of the subject.  I love to focus on the elements that make a landscape portrait compelling, such as types of film, lenses, composition, the various types of lighting, metering and the environment.  As an instructor, I also love how I can also address strategies for working with participants and suggesting methods for making emotionally resonant photographs to keep for a lifetime.

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If this simple message were to be totally comprehensive, it would take many pages and countless hours to write but no message is ever complete without first recognizing the support that I’ve had the special pleasure and privilege to know and work with over the years.  Here’s to the unsung heroes, my colleagues who assisted me sometimes under adverse conditions. I have no hesitation in conveying to you that each one of you is intimately attached to teaching and fostering the photographic growth of each of our participants, as I am. Your contribution to our programs over the years are a great part who the Friends are today.  Thank you John Frelich and Meng Tay, my Trip Leaders on our recent trip to Hunts Mesa.  You both connected immediately with our participants as well as helped each reach their full potential and expectations. My hat is off to you!

In closing, alongside each Volunteer Trip Leader are the ‘Behind the Scenes’ personnel who operate a small office, but have one of the biggest missions. To the office staff of AHPW including Executive Director –  Roberta Lites,  Logistics Manager – Holly MacNaughton and Administrative Support,  Madeana “Mindy” Towne, I truly value your contribution and the many hours you provide to ensure each participant’s exceptional experience. You are no doubt committed to serve. You make an enormous impact to this Organization and I am humbled to know I have your full support. Once again, Thanks-A-Million.

LeRoy DeJolie  –  Photographer

 

Keys to Photographing Wildlife

Author:  Megan Galope

There are many keys to photographing wildlife, including being in the right place at the right time, configuring your settings (higher ISO and open aperture to make sure you have a fast enough shutter speed), and a long telephoto lens. But possibly the most important key is patience.

I recently attended the Arizona Highways Photo Workshop in the Grand Tetons to photograph wildlife. We spent quite a bit of time driving around to find the animals, and at times were very lucky. One evening, we saw many cars parked on the side of the road, which usually means a large animal is nearby. It turned out to be a grizzly and her cub. When we first arrived, they were quite a ways in the distance. We tried getting some photos, but nothing to write home about.

wildlife1

They didn’t appear to be moving in our direction, but with a little patience, we waited to see what they would do. And it’s a good thing we did! Before we knew it, they were crossing the road right in front of us.

wildlife2

Later we went looking for the elusive fox. We finally found one hiding out in the sage brush. She had some kits with her and kept fairly well hidden for a while. Again, my photos of the fox were not all that great.

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But after a little time and patience, the fox came into an opening so that we could get a much better view of her.

wildlife4

Having patience while photographing wildlife can make a world of difference.

Megan Galope is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

 

 

Top 10 things to bring to Africa

Author:  Christina Heinle

Going on safari in Africa is a great vacation for photographers and non-photographers.  The opportunities for photographs and fantastic experiences are endless.  After my trip to Zambia, Botswana and Naimbia, I put together my list of top 10 things to bring to Africa.

  1. Have a camera with a zoom. I know this may seem like a DUH..OF COURSE item but I can’t tell you how many people on my African tour (granted it wasn’t a specialized photography tour) were taking pictures with their cell phone wishing they had a camera with a zoom.
  2. Bring mosquito repellant and repellant clothes. Ok, another DUH…OF COURSE item. I had one pair of bug resistant Exofficio (please link https://www.exofficio.com/) pants and long sleeved shirt and I used Jungle Juice repellant. (please link https://www.rei.com/product/799529/sawyer-jungle-juice-100-insect-repellent-98-percent-deet-25-fl-oz) The trick to any repellant is to apply it under all your clothes before you get dressed. My girlfriend only applied repellant to visible skin and the mosquito’s had a buffet all up and down her legs. Clothes were not going to stop these mosquito’s from their fine dining.
  3. Bring cash in small currencies and dated AFTER 2006. The bills dated after 2006 is something real merchants and businesses care about. I look a plane flight over the Okavango Delta and they only took cash dated after 2006. In Zambia by Victoria Falls, the street merchants take dollars (and don’t care about the dates) but you don’t want to hand them a $20 for a $5 item and ask for change.  They will talk you into buying something more. They are quite persistent and crafty. And don’t let them fool you, their brother back in the village didn’t teach himself to paint, their cousin didn’t hollow out the stone and the husband didn’t sand the salad tongues till it was smooth and shiny.  It is from China, just like the same salad tongs at the next street vendor.
  4. Carry your own toilet paper in a ziplock plastic bag. The restrooms were hit and miss as far as cleaniness and workability. One thing most of them had in common was no TP and the one thing you don’t want is to be stranded on the toilet bowl without a roll.
  5. One thing I used frequently were baby wipes. These are so handy and have multiple functions. From wiping down a toilet seat, cleaning hands and feet and wiping up small spills, these were invaluable. I used baby wipes more than my hand sanitizer but wouldn’t go anywhere without both.
  6. Bring a refillable water bottle and buy a 5liter bottle of water to refill the water bottle. Environmentally this is the smart thing to do and also insures you have ample water for drinking, rinsing hands and brushing teeth.  Many areas in Africa the water is safe but do you really want to take that risk?
  7. While in Africa I bought a small purse to wear diagonally across my body to hold the passport, credit card, debit card and some money. Originally I was using a small pouch that fit on my pants but that became a hassle to access and was uncomfortable. I moved it to my camera bag, which I almost always had with me but then I was digging for it continually.  My girlfriend had a small crossover purse and so when I saw a small, flat yet colorful purse, I bought it. Everything was easily accessible, light weight and non-bulky that I could leave it on while sitting in restaurants, traveling in the bus and didn’t have to worry about someone stealing it while I was wearing it. I love it so much that I continued to use it upon returning home and will use it for all travels.Africa_checklist
  8. Your medications. I put my medications in a small plastic bag and put the prescription label on the plastic bag. Make sure you go talk to a travel clinic to discuss medications required as compared to your primary care physician.  Your PCP isn’t a specialist in the areas you travel to and won’t have the vaccinations in inventory. I used Passport Health,(please link… https://www.passporthealthusa.com/) which has locations across the United States.  You sit with a nurse and go through the trip itinerary and discuss the vacations and medication needed.  Passport Health had all the vaccinations on hand and I was able to get my shots right there.  It’s best to talk with someone as soon as your trip is schedule because some vacations require multiple injections over the course of weeks/months to be fully effective.
  9. Bring clothes that are easy to wash and dry. Stick with quick drying, light weight clothes that are easy to hand wash and quick to dry. Stay away from jeans. I brought a little bottle of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap that I used for hand washing, washing clothes, bathing soap and even shampoo.
  10. And finally, bring plastic hangers. My girlfriend brought two hangers which at first I thought how stupid but quickly changed my mind to that’s the best idea ever. Having hangers helps with drying clothes after hand washing or getting wet, letting clothes air out or shake out the wrinkles. She said she always travels with them and I can now see why.

Christina Heinle is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Wedding Photography is a Wildlife Event?

Author:  Greg McKelvey

First off, I am not a wedding photographer and clearly have +1000% respect for those who are. As such, please do not mistake anything I have to say below as recommendations to those skilled Nuptial event photographers. Dealing with the expectations of the Bride, the mom with the visa card, mucho traditions and an event with no do overs all aimed at a wedding album for the ages, This is not my skill set.   To get people to smile with their eyes open in good like looking like they are having the time of their life is a down right difficult.   I have, however, helped on a few weddings by being the lens in the background trying hard to get the candid photos that the professional often does not have time to get.  While the pros are capturing the pre events, walking down the aisle, rings and kisses, maids, grooms, first dances, flower tossing, cake cutting, entwined champagne glasses, and in-laws / outlaws posed photos, there is a lot going on elsewhere.  As the pro tells the group the lens is on focused on to, on the count of three squeeze together, look up with eyes open, and turtle your face toward the lens (The Hanson Fong “this makes even the oldest neck look firm again” trick), there are friends, grandmothers, kids and the like watching or having punch or doing just about anything. The candid images are my focus.

Frist time I helped, my successful capture rate was not all that good. An image with one person with eyes open, manageable light, good expressions telling a story is hard enough. If any one of the four critical aspects of a good image is missing and the story is not told.  The more critical components you are looking to capture, it might be more than four, the harder still it will be.  Put two people in that same composition and the math warns us that the chances just get harder and harder. While the Pro is asking the family to try again, the candid chances just slip form away.  No do overs!   If you want to do the calculations of the odds to get a great candid photo, go for it; it will be a staggering many factorial for sure.  So?

 I have been fortunate over the years to have several skilled photographers mentoring my efforts to improve my camera skills. When I learn a new technique, it is a real challenge to both master it, and look for other places I might apply this new knowledge.     For example, not long after learning how to photo stack macro images of the beetle, I found myself at the Tonto Natural Bridge and remembered the stacking. Why not take three or four images with different focal planes and stack them.  Dang if it did not work!

Ceremony shot 3 of 5 natural light Color image processed as monochrome in Photoshop

Ceremony shot 3 of 5 natural light Color image processed as monochrome in Photoshop 

Recently the daughter of some very special friends was married in Sedona. 150 or so folks. Receptions, wedding, dinner, breakfast, they put on one of the happiest and special wedding I have ever witnesses.  The bride’s mom asked if I might take a few candid shots.  Wow and honor that I was happy to accept.  As luck would have it many of the events were outside with cloudy natural softbox conditions.  Lots of good light!  Luckier still is that I had just returned from a bird photography shoot in Texas. Leader Bruce Taubert has taught me well of the years how to control the background, keep the subject in tack sharp focus and capture enough images of moving object to improve the chances of preserving the award winner.   AI Servo, controlled depth of field, rapid fire; these are the tools of the wildlife folks.

Before the wedding as people are drifting toward the church, I see my first opportunity, Brides Grandmother and her oldest son walking up a path toward the Chapple.   Out pops my camera and before they can see me, snap goes the shutter.  Felt great until I saw the result, Grandma’s eyes were closed. Oh Foooo.    Click goes the preverbal idea light bulb in my old head and I start to tell that darn camera what to do!!   Changes the settings to AI Servo, rapid fire (10 frames per second if I want), limit the depth of field, fast enough shutter speed to stop the action and, in my case, I set the ISO to automatic.   From there on out I have more keepers.  The wedding pro came over after hearing several bursts and ask what I was doing.  I presented my case with a quick review of the 10 shots I had just taken.  We both liked on, number 4 in the series.  She whispered “wow and how do you do that”?  My answer should have been “take a wildlife workshop from Dr. Bruce”, but I showed her on her camera both the settings and the custom functions. I heard the rapid fire a few moments later.

        

I submit to you that Candid photography is a lot like Wildlife photography.  While it is not respectful to talk about a wedding as a wildlife event, cameras setting tailored for the fast and furious — do work. A few weeks later an I use the same settings to capture graduationmy Grandson’s graduation with honors from High School!

I am no expert, yet it worked for me.    Just suggesting!