The Shadow Photographers #7: Ali “Waxy” Waxman

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Hey there street photographers! Today I have a very special treat for you guys: Ali “Waxy” Waxman in the next segment of the street photographers. I have interacted with Ali online and I have been constantly impressed by her work. Based out of Pennsylvania, Ali has an extremely unique style to his shots, experimenting with various flash triggers (for extremely fast exposures) as well as long exposures that lead to interesting results. Look for his exhibition information at the end of the article!!!

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Q. Nice to meet you! A brief introduction?

A. My photography work explores the relationship between a consumerist desire and daytime ESPN.

With influences as diverse as Timmah Sinclair and Halsman to Building Crusher and Peter Yumi, new insights are generated from both simple and complex structures.
Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the mind. What starts out as vision soon becomes finessed into a dialectic of distress, leaving only a sense of dread and the dawn of a new reality.
As subtle forms become undefined through frantic and personal practice, the viewer is left with a new agenda of the undefined of our era.
Q. What got you into photography?
A. I am a second-generation photographer. I acquired my technical expertise at the side of my father (whom I’ve never met), a renowned “glamour” photographer in NYC’s heyday.
I refined my technique and expanded my creativity while shooting sports teams for Hershey Schools, weddings and pushing the limits of my equipment and squeezing out every bit of creativity in them.

Q. You have a very, very unique style of street photography. What’s the story behind it?

A. The shaky face project began at the cross streets of Second St and Walnut Sts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A somewhat juxtaposition of life. On one side, there sits a Hilton Hotel where Jaguars and Mercedes are being valet parked. On the other side of the street is home to the bus station. Where people beg for money and the homeless are fed by the food not bombs kids. Kids that are seriously struggling themselves, but giving everything they have for those less fortunate.

I enjoy shooting both sides of the street. And because my daughter was cast in a play not far from this cross street at Open Stage of Harrisburg, I had to be there twice a week for her rehearsals.
Let me tell you, getting complete strangers to allow me to photograph them is challenging enough…having COMPLETE STRANGERS shake their face like a dog shakes off water has got to be the hardest thing to do. EVER!
Because, this is not an isolated environment. I approach people at the bus station…where there are loads of people… Or getting out of their BMW’s….where the valets are waiting for their keys…
AND…I get a lot of people who tell me to piss off…OR…a lot of get that camera out of my face reactions…but I also get the coolest people ever to comply.
It’s getting them out of their comfort zone. Letting them go nuts of a few minutes…and I am so thankful I am there to capture the zaniness!
Q.Why the strange expressions?
A. I encourage the people I shoot to let loose for a few minutes…to relax all the muscles in the face and then shake it crazily from side to side.
Q. What is your most interesting story from shooting strangers on the street!
A. One time, I took my daughter with me to an area near a train station. I wanted to get some shots of people waiting for the train. So, I set up near the platform and began randomly shooting…
Quite soon after I began, I was approached by what looked like someone who worked on the trains. He was dressed in a florescent jumpsuit and was wearing a hardhat. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was taking pictures…
He then asked for my passport. (not sure why he asked for that rather than some form of ID)…and that made me crack up laughing. He was really mad that I laughed at his request and got loud with me…
He insisted I give him some ID…
My daughter looked really scared and intimidated by him. I responded by asking him for ID…I told him loudly, “I don’t know who you are too…If you show me identification, I will do the same.”
He was so shocked by this, he walked away.
Moments later, he returned with his ID in his hand. I then showed him my drivers license and told him, I mean no harm…just want to take pictures…
He was much more calm and asked me how long I was going to do this…I knew it was not a good scene, so I said I was wrapping it up and would leave in a few minutes.
He said that was okay and let us stay.
I used this as a tool to teach my daughter that just because someone tries to intimidate you into something, they are not always what they appear to be. You should always ask for their ID as well.
Q. Describe your workflow real briefly. From shot to website, what’s your process?
A. After importing into Lightroom, I usually do all my major changes and corrections there. Then it’s onto Photoshop for finishing touches. I also heavily use the nik collection as well. Fantastic plug ins for PS!
Q. What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A. Currently, I am digging shooting sports in a creative way. But, I also love portraits, street photography and photographing my family!

Q.Your use of long exposures are very interesting. How exactly do you use them?
A. This technique was taught to me by an extremely talented photographer names Os Ososment. I simply created my own niche. When shooting my entended exposures, I like the use of props, and try to get an image of the subject acting way out of their usual personality.
These are difficult to shoot and take a lot of time to get it just right.
Q. Your weapon of choice? (camera, lighting, etc.)
A. I shoot Canon. My lenses include a 30mm 1.4, 60mm 2.8, 70-200 2.8 and 10-22mm. As far as lighting, I use a novatron light kit and my flashed are 430exii and 580exii. I also use triggers and remotes…
Q. If you could give just one piece of advice to budding street photographers, what would it be?
A. Develop a thick skin. And learn how to defend yourself. People are crazy on the street!
Ali has an EXHIBITION COMING UP! Make sure to check out his work directly if you’re in Pennsylvania! You go and mention my name now, so I can get brownie points.
EDIT: I, for unfathomable reasons, referred to Ali as “she”. That has been fixed, sorry! *shameface*
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&&Phil
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5 Tips for Street Photography for Beginners from Kai of DigitalRev

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5 Tips for Street Photography for Beginners from Kai of DigitalRev

I was rummaging through old Digitalrev Learn posts (which, you should totally check out by the way), and found this handy link about street photography for beginners. Aside from his nothing-less-than-sarcastic, crude, British humor, the advice is somewhat humbling and realistic. Take a look.

The Shadow Photographers #3: Oracio

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Today I’m pleased to introduce to you Oracio Alvarado. A street photographer-based out of LA, Oracio has been both a fellow photo-talk buddy and street photography enthusiast. I first met Oracio through a Google hangout and through the exchange of facebook information, we were both acquainted.  Since then he has provided a lot of advice and has reviewed a lot of the content I’ve posted up here. Oracio doesn’t heavily edit or process his photos, but leaves much of the work to the camera. Rather, he focuses on interesting subjects and depends on them to make (or break) the photo. Without further ado, I introduce Oracio Alvarado.

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Q. What got you into photography?

Ever since I was young I have always been interested in painting, drawing, sculpting, but photography always seemed to call to me more. When I was around six years old I got my hands on my first camera, a Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic Camera, that was the point I realized I really enjoyed getting out of the house and just shooting photographs.

Film photography, at the time, gave me a sense of surprise since you wouldn’t be able to see the results of what you photographed for sometimes weeks at a time. Not having a quick view at the photograph I took helped me to develop an eye for composition and a “feel” about when to take the shot. Learning to shoot on film has definitely helped me out in the long run. I am by no means an expert and still have a lot to learn.

Q. How would you classify your style?

My style of street photography would be considered, “Classic.” I’m not an in your face type of photographer. I tend to stand back and look at a situation or scene. My goal is to capture a moment in time that speaks to me. The main factor about being a classic street photographer is about being able to take a scene and use composition to make the shot amazing.

Q. What’s your philosophy of street photography?

I’m not sure if I really have a philosophy regarding street photography, but I have a quote I created to explain what I do.

“I move like a ghost, in and out of peoples lives, capturing fleeting moments with my camera.”

Q. As an avid user of the Fuji X100 and the iPhone, what do you feel are different advantages and disadvantages of each platform?

As photographer Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

That being said, the Fuji X100 is a decent camera for street photography, but one the disadvantages that camera is the auto focus speed is terrible. While zone focusing is an option, I prefer to let the camera focus for me so I don’t have to think about it. Since the X100 is so slow at focusing, there have been many lost shots. Auto focus aside, the camera takes excellent photos. It’s also nice to carry around and shoot people with since it’s such a retro and small camera, it doesn’t scare people when you point it at them. The X100 is also great in low light situations. You can crank up the ISO and you will get nice shots with hardly any noise.

As far as the iPhone camera goes, it’s just great having a device with you all the time that can take some amazing photographs. The pros about using an iPhone is that you can use countless mobile photography applications to help you take a good shot, process it and share it on the fly. One has to remember that the iPhone is still a phone and the camera is not great in low light situations, nor capturing scenes with a lot of movement; pictures tend to come out blurry.

Q. What was the most interesting project/photo shoot you’ve had?

There really haven’t been any interesting projects or photo shoots that I’ve had yet. I’m ready and willing to take on something that will leave a lasting impression.

Q. Any interesting episodes from street shooting? (doesn’t have to be photography related)

One of the most interesting things to come out of shooting street photography is meeting so many new people; from other photographers to random people on the street. There is definitely a nice community of street photographers all around the globe. Having the ability to talk to them, compare our work, and most importantly getting feedback from them has been incredible.

Q. I saw your occupy LA shots. What was it like shooting in that atmosphere? Do you feel like your photos do it justice?

Shooting at Occupy LA was definitely a great experience. It’s one thing to listen to the media portray the Occupy movement, but it’s a whole different thing to actually go to the protest site and see what’s really going on. Occupy LA was a very peaceful event compared to other cities around the US. There were different classes about politics, money, agriculture, etc. going on around the protest site. It was great to see that people weren’t just there to waste time, but to make a change.

When I first arrived at Occupy LA I thought that people would be bothered by someone taking their photo, but that wasn’t the case. The photos I took at Occupy LA were just a way to document what was going on inside the protest site. I think as far as that goes the photos did it justice, but I’m sure there could have been more that could have been photographed.

Q. You shoot mostly in black and white for your street photography (X100), is there a reason for that?

I actually shoot all  my photos with the FujiFilm X100 in color and during the post-process I decide if I am going to keep the photograph in color or convert it to black and white. I will usually leave a photoraph in color if there’s some story that is being told by the color in the photo.

As far as the reason why I convert my photographs into black and while it’s all about feel. I love the look and feel of black and white images. They tend to have a more classic/vintage look to them. There are also amazing black and grey tones that can be brought out in a photograph that help it tell a better story.

Q. What gear do you use?

I’m currently using the FujiFilm X100, Nikon D7000 and my trusty iPhone. For street photography I stick to the FujiFilm X100 because it’s less intimidating to the people I photography than the larger Nikon D7000.

Q. What advice would you give budding photographers?

Take your camera with you everywhere you go.  Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot.  Lean how to use your camera (read that manual). Also, learn to compose your shots and eventually you will do it without even thinking. Once you get that down, you can focus on learning everything else.

You can find all my social media links at http://about.me/oracio.

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As usual, Comment, Like, and Follow for the latest updates!

&&Phil

Steve Huff & I Review the Fuji X-Pro 1 (AF update)

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Well, not really. Steve Huff did a comprehensive review, and it’s very well written. You should check it out, it mentions both its merits and the quirks/AF woes in deep detail.

On the other hand, I FINALLY managed to get my hands on one in my local Camera store. I’ve got to say, I’m impressed with what Fuji’s vision was in creating the X-series. I’m not surprised that Dpreview came away impressed, the construction of the camera looks good. But Steve Huff is dead on in saying that it feels cheap, or at least lighter than it looks.

I tried to test for Steve huff’s quirks, but strangely I had no trouble with the on/off operations, and controls were responsive. I’m guessing uncleared SD cards usually pose this issue, and I had that same problem on my X100 before I sold it.

Give me some time to play around with this, I’ll be back later to test its AF..

*AF UPDATE 1

Shooting in the bright lighting of the camera store, the AF felt responsive. I tried it in street situations, and it quickly picked up focus. Raising the camera to my eye and quickly pressing the shutter button grabbed it excellent focus. I was using the 35mm f/1.4 lens.

But the trouble began in the narrow, dimly lit hallway of the store. Even with a much smaller focusing distance compared to the X100’s lens, I couldn’t get it to focus on a vase. It took 4 tries. No street photographer focuses 4 times on a subject. By then you’ll have already missed your shot.

In twilight (7:30pm), Steve Huff’s observations stuck as well. In hunts, misses, hunts, misses, and then maybe nails it on the third shot. Realistic street movements/actions including: raising the camera to your eye for immediate shots, or shooting from the hip are completely unreliable, primarily due to the lack of any image stabilization. For some reason, Leica glass never seems to suffer from this IS; it may be the electronic sensor that is more prone to movement. I don’t know, I have no technical knowledge in this area.

Unfortunately they didn’t let me take out any samples from the card, but this was more than enough to convince me that the X-Pro 1 needs a severe update to the AF. I went into the MF mode just to see what it was like, but the similar focus-by-wire design is still close to unusable. I’ll see if I can sneak out some images later.

Come on, Fuji. You can do better.

&&Phil

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A Great Explanation of Depth of Field!

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DOF? What is that, Defense-Offense?

Well, no. It stands for Depth of Field. You might have heard the term being thrown around, but aren’t sure.

This video explains the technicalities behind DOF quite well, have a look!

The Shadow photographers #2: FiatFlux (Justin Kwon)

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In these series I hope to introduce some of the most compelling street (and non-street) photographers who have inspired me to start or keep shooting. The double entendre is that Street photographers tend to experiment with and work with available light (which tend to be shadows), and also tend to stay hidden out of “popular” photographers (dominated by studio photographers, landscape photographers, etc). I hope that you will enjoy discovering these hidden talents as much as I do. Remember, there is always a street photographer near you, somewhere…

Today I have the honor of introducing to you a friend of mine, FiatFlux (or, Justin). Although not strictly defined as a street photographer in a traditional sense (i.e. people), I see a lot of elements of street photography in his photos that inspire me- timing, coloring, and juxtaposition. A very interesting character, and a Pentax gear geek, we get a peek into the mind that loves to toy with the latest in digital developing.

Q. What got you started in Photography?

A. a gift from my dad. Back in high school, my dad bought me a film slr… I think it was pentax mz-60 or something… don’t quite remember… didn’t shoot much since films can be quite costly and didn’t really like going to photo huts a lot… so it kinda phased out… went back to guitars, other instruments, and music.

Then I came to Berkeley. First year, the usual. A lot of drinking and playing games in the dorms. Then second year, decided to pick up something new. So I decided to pick up a dslr. Bought a used Pentax K100d and it started there.

Q. What subjects do you like to photograph most? What interests/inspires you when you’re out shooting?

A. Anything that happened to be around me. Events that I’m involved in, parties that I am at, taking a day off at the SF piers, etc. As much as I like studio shots, I like to mettle with the viewfinder as little as possible.

Anything that seems interesting at the moment, I’ll take a picture of it. That’s the beauty of digital cameras. Don’t have to be frugal with shots. You can take many photos as you want without worrying about getting another film.

Q. What is your philosophy behind your creative process when shooting/developing photos? Any rules you abide by?

A. Stay as far as possible from the project. Don’t mess with or try to adjust/arrange it.  From there, go as crazy as you can. Once I take the shot in the natural state, I like to tweak it around. Lightroom ftw. Different white balance, saturation, highlights, etc etc. You can come up with a photo that has totally different vibe/ambiance to it. If you don’t like it, just reset it and start again. Of course, there is also a chance I like the photo without any adjustments, then just keep it the way it is. It’s all personal preferences.

Q. You cross-process (color) your photos in a very interesting way. Any reason for this? Fondness for vintage colors much?

A. I like messing around with everything. People, photographs, magic tricks, poker, etc. It just seems more interesting to me. Or more dramatic?… I don’t have any specific reason for it. I just do it.

Q. How do you identify with the phrase “street photography?” Or do you not? And either way, why?

A. I generally think everything in a VERY simple manners. It tends to get rid of overthinking and complicating it in my own head. So, street photography = photos taken on the streets. Not in studios, or film sets. Just on the streets. How and/or What the photographer sees the world around him/her at that moment. So I guess I do take street photography. But I rather not try to think about it. That would be me classifying it and then it would get defined and stuck in that mentality, blah blah blah. You get the idea.

Q. What gear do you use?

A. Pentax. With a lot of old school manual lenses. Yes, I know. PENTAX? Why??? I had Pentax Film SLR so I just naturally went on with it. A lot of my friends do have Canon, and others Nikons. I’m definitely the minority in that category. But as many Pentax users will tell you, its color tones have something about it that other brands just don’t have. Many do jump over to Canon and Nikon for full-frame. But they either keep the original Pentax as a sub-camera or do get rid of it but end up missing that color tones. Eventually, they come back or buy another one. It’s a strange relationship. Plus, I love the older manual lenses. Yes, I have to manually focus every shot, but you get used to it rather quickly. Then it becomes just more fun and forces you to really focus on the viewfinder to get what you want.

Q. You seem to like photographing food a lot. Why?

A. I’m a meanie, so to speak. or a jerk/asshole to be precise. I like to mess with people, just because I can. Not in any harmful way, but in ways that are amusing… probably just to me.

Apart from being a jerk, I like eating good food. I yelp and google around to find good food that people around me don’t know about, or only few know about. I go eat the food, take pictures of the food, edit them to make ‘em look more delicious, then upload them. When it’s 10pm. To make people hungry and just to tease/torture them with delicious food.

And no, I’m not joking.

Q. Any interesting episodes/happenings from your shootings if any?

A. I bought an OLD but a rare lens but it had a considerable amount of dusts/particles. There weren’t any shops that I could go to clean the lens because it was old and there wasn’t any shops that knew how to deal with the particular lens. Ended having to look up online for the blue prints of that lens, and tried to clean the lens myself. Long story short, it worked. It took me a whole weekend. Had few mini heart attacks. Not a pleasant memory. Lesson of the story – Don’t try to clean/fix lenses yourself. Find a shop that can do it for you. If you can’t, just use the lens as is. It will save you a lot of time, effect and stress.

Q. Anything you want to share/advertise (website, twitter, portfolio, etc.)

A. facebook: /fiatflux

Twitter: @fiatflux88

Thanks for reading this post…

As always, talk to me on twitter, or like me on Facebook to keep up with the latest Shadow Photographers.

&&Phil

Andy Bond: A Tourist in His Own Town (Leica Blog)

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Andy Bond: A Tourist in His Own Town (Leica Blog)

The Leica Blog is always an interesting forum for different users of Leica, like myself. I recently discovered Andy Bond on this website, and am in love with his work. I appreciate that he mixes his opinions between digital and film, and introduces strange juxtapositions. Have a look.