Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

I hope everyone has a fun and safe celebration tonight, and my wish is that we all improve our lives and those around us by a greater margin than we managed in '07.

There are a few older photos waiting to be posted, but I want to push this one to the head of the line.
Yesterday I finally got this particular View of Texas out of my head and into my camera.
I've long been an advocate of planning and doing research to get better photographs.
When combined with luck and skill, impulsiveness and attention to detail, you can truly combine the best of both worlds--right and left brain.
Yin and Yang?

For example, this old and abandoned electrical power station sits in an area I frequently visit (or at least check periodically) whenever I'm shooting downtown.
There's a lot to like about it--crusty and tall and industrial, with many different textures.
But until yesterday it has never been photographed by me, not even once as a test.
The reason for that is simple: I knew it would take some real work to get it right, and I wasn't fully prepared before now.

The side that's visible from the local streets are in complete shadow unless it's morning, and I don't exist in the morning.
The western side which gets afternoon and evening light is closely bordered by the San Antonio River, and beyond that is fencing around the old Lone Star Beer brewery with even less public access.
So there was no easy way to get a well-lit shot casually, but a few weeks ago while hunting for a specific nearby mural I spotted an access route to this angle--but I also saw that I would be close, meaning a vertical shot with no zoom and lots of sky and lens distortion.

For two weeks I kept all this on the 'to do' list in my head. (Other photos of mine have had to wait for years).
Then on Christmas Day I stepped outside and looked at the beautifully stretched and wispy high cirrus clouds we were blessed with, and made a few test shots in infrared.
The results after processing were amazing, and I was tempted to post them here had it not been for a decided lack of a subject in front of those great clouds--so a purely technical exercise entered the equation at just the right time.

On Saturday when I woke up the Xmas Clouds were my desktop wallpaper (a timely reminder) and when I looked outside they were back!
And I had the afternoon to kill on my own, with our good car.
Checking the radar and visible light satellite imaging on the internet confirmed that the conditions would hold for a few hours, so no need to hurry and screw myself out of the lower-angle sunlight which always looks better.

I packed up my gear and cruised downtown, and was quickly denied hitting the train tracks first by the traffic mess of the AlamoBowl®, and went after Plan B: the abandoned CPS power plant next to Roosevelt Park.
Parked in the nearest lot, took my monopod as a visible warning against the undesireables who were around (they don't know exactly what it is, but can sense that it can't be good) and hiked out to shoot.

Attached the needed IR filters, checked exposure, removed an ND4, checked again.
Sat my ass on the dead grass and shot a few dozen, adjusting exposure and CP filter orientation a little but mainly just enjoying the experience.
At this point I know it's going to turn out nicely, I'm just living in-the-moment and letting the clouds move across behind the scene since you never know when they might improve or detract by minor differences in placement.

It got almost Zen-like.

Then I shot some color photos just in case...
They stink compared to the infrared/black and white versions.

I spent another hour or so in various places before going home, and got some more nice views, but the whole time the power plant experience was Tingling in my head.
It's easy to recognize this feeling now because every other time I bagged a possible portfolio-worthy shot the same thing happened.
A feeling that I can't wait to see them onscreen but have to force myself to forget about it and make the best use of my time on-location in good conditions.

I sincerely hope we all Tingle a few times in 2008.


laanba said...

Wow. I can't believe the amount of work you put into one photo, but the results are certainly worth it. This is an outstanding photo.

I love that tingling feeling. I usually get it when I'm really enjoying a photo shoot and I have discovered when I'm really enjoying being out, the weather, the subject and the company that it shows in my product.

Happy New Year!

Bruce said...

Congratulations Keith; all your planning really paid off. Isn't it strange how sometimes we just "know" what the best shot of the day will be. Even in the tiny viewfinder, it's somehow obvious.

KeithAlanK said...

Thanks you two.
It truly IS obvious when something is going to be special, and I love that feeling of knowing without having to see it on the big screen at home.
I read where you talked about not being 'into' a shoot recently, laanba, and you were right--mood affects everything even when all the other pieces are in place.

Thiên said...

This shot is awesome Keith. I love b/w and have really enjoyed this and the infrared SA river post also. I was really struck by the images. Very wonderful.

Thank you for stopping by and commenting on the Seguin DP. I am glad you did since I now can enjoy your photos and photography information also. I'm just a newbie so I am trying to learn from others like you. Have a good evening.

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