Besides photography, one of my other passions is cooking and baking. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I’m always baking some type of cookies or cakes. I use baker’s tools like piping bags and scrapers to make them look like they were purchased from a bakery. People often tell me I should bake professionally, but I have little interest in doing that. I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I knew I had to do it. I also have an extensive collection of cookbooks and a filing cabinet full of recipes, categorized with folders devoted to specific meats, vegetables, and of course, sweets. However, I would never consider myself a chef. A cook, perhaps, but never a chef. Unless I’m intimately familiar with a dish, I have to follow a recipe. True chefs don’t “cook by numbers.” They instinctively know how to combine obscure ingredients to produce the most spectacular dishes. I love watching cooking competition shows on the Food Network. I always marvel at how chefs are able to take an odd-ball collection of ingredients like a banana, a pork chop and a cup of cashews, and combine them into award-winning, gourmet masterpieces.
I started to wonder how I could apply that same concept to photography. It’s really not that difficult to create an amazing photo of a great subject in the perfect light. But, what if your subject is less than stellar and your lighting is awful? As a personal challenge, I set out to find the most unremarkable subject and to shoot it in the worst possible light.
Photography in the winter can be tough. Exposures can be tricky; your equipment needs to be handled differently and if you’re not dressed appropriately, your main concern is usually getting inside as quickly as possible. Another common issue is finding color. Many winter photos almost look like they were shot in black and white. I’ve written articles in the past about finding color in the winter, but they were primarily geared towards finding it the natural way. This article is more about thinking “out of the box” and creating whimsical, fantasy-like images, purely for artistic purposes.
Another month has come and gone, but unfortunately, things haven’t changed that much. Most of the country is now on full or partial lockdown. Each day tends to blend right into the other. There were many things I had planned to shoot this spring which will now, undoubtedly, have to wait until next year. But, that’s a small price to pay compared to the medical superheroes who are fighting on the front lines every day. With field work indefinitely postponed, I thought it best to remove the batteries from all my equipment to prevent corrosion. Nowadays, I spend most of my time working in Photoshop. In my last article, I touched on adding texture effects to old images. Since so many of us are still confined to our homes, I decided to expand on this technique as another way to take advantage of this unprecedented downtime.
Life is unpredictable. One day, it can be business as usual, and the next day everything can be turned upside down. The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak has effectively done just that. Whether only slightly, or dramatically, all of our lives have been changed. At the time of this writing, only a few major US cities have been placed under total lockdown. Here in New York City, although still open, for all intents and purposes, it’s basically shut down. Walking around town is like being on the set of an apocalyptic movie. Many people are working from home and most businesses are shuttered – replacing the normal hustle and bustle with an eerie stillness and silence. The New York Botanical Garden – my oasis for nature photography – has been closed until further notice. I was looking forward to trying out some new techniques on their spring collection, but that will obviously have to be put on hold. It occurred to me that as more places are put on lockdown, many people may not be able to leave their homes for the luxury of engaging in nature photography. I was in the process of putting together an article about photographing spring flowers. But, due to the current situation, I decided to set it aside for now and write something a bit more poignant.