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Tuesday, July 03, 2007



I've been trying to work in some informal portraiture lately. Here are two of what I think are my more successful attempts.

Portraits were what originally impelled me to take up photography. That is, I was so dissatisfied with my high school yearbook picture that I was sure I could learn to do a better job. Not realizing that the problem was the raw subject material and not the fault of any photographer, I prevailed on my friend Roger to teach me about photography. Once I got in the darkroom and became fascinated with the ability to make images, any images, I soon forgot about portraiture.

People pictures, other than those of cute, small children, have never been my strong point. I don't think I really want to go through the effort to be a really great portraitist, but I'd like to at least get better at photographing family and friends.

Composition is my strong point, so I've been looking out for opportunities to combine composition and informal portraiture.

John G at WorkI really like this photo of my friend and co-worker John. First of all, I caught an expression that I think really represents John well. He is pleasant to be around, collegial and professional with a good sense of humor - a real mentch. Second, from a compositional point of view, I like the way the swoopy curve of the desk balances the placement of John on the right side of the photo. Overall, I think it turned out to be a decent "environmental" portrait of a happy software developer.

Ben on Lake MuscocaThis next photo is, of course, our son Ben. He's an easy one to photograph, as he usually doesn't mind mugging or posing for the camera. In this case, he was just relaxing on my brother-in-law Peter's boat during our recent visit to Toronto. I thought the boat's wake on this beautiful day was a photogenic backdrop for a portrait, and the way Ben was leaning made for a more interesting photo.

OK, it's not Annie Liebovitz, but a good start.

Speaking of Annie Liebovitz, I recently took a long look at her much-heralded new book, A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005. Frankly, at $75, I don't recommend it. Many of the photos, maybe a fourth of them, are quite compelling, but the layout is not very good - many fine photos are splayed across two pages, ruined by the gutter. Further, I question if the other three-quarters of the photo are worth publishing.

Some have complained that most of the photos are just what you would find in a family album - pictures of Liebovitz' parents, cousins, and her lover Susan Sontag, over the 15-year period. I would defend her to an extent here - some of the family photos are excellent, both in the emotions they convey and in their photographic quality. But many, many more are not so good.

There are probably more photos of Sontag than any other subject in this book. A few are quite good, but most seem to be only of personal interest to Liebovitz, perhaps to Sontag's family, and maybe to Sontag fanatics. A number of these are just downright bad photos - blurred or poorly exposed.

The book also includes some landscapes, many spread across two pages. These latter ones aren't ruined by the gutter, because Liebovitz' landscapes, at least in this book, are unimpressive - perhaps they have meaning to her, but I question that they have any wide appeal.

As a photographer, Liebovitz is a bit of a puzzle to me. Here's what I wonder: she is a very talented portrait photographer, but if her photos were of ordinary people rather than celebrities, would we be all that interested and make such a fuss over her?

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Shark Mouth

USS Torsk - Baltimore, MDA closeup of the shark-mouth painting on the bow of the USS Torsk, a WWII submarine permanently on display at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

Monday, June 04, 2007


Little Bit of Something in a Lot of Nothing

300 E Lombard Window Washer HeroWay back three years ago, I wrote about a number of photographic rules-of-thumb, or useful clichés that I tend to look for and use in my shooting.

One of them is a little bit of something in a lot of nothing, and that's what I saw the other day walking down Lombard Street as one of those heroic window-washers worked his way down the side of a twenty-something story building.

This image doesn't quite fit in that category as, say, a single rose in the middle of a large, fresh field of snow, but you get the idea.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Parking Space Number 35

Parking Space Number 35


Main Street T-Shirts

Main Street T-Shirts - Annapolis, MD

Friday, February 16, 2007


Mr. Ben Rosenbach - Amazing Student

Ben Rosenbach - Amazing StudentIt's official - Ben's interim alma mater Anne Arundel Community College acknowledges Ben's true nature (click on the photo for a larger view if you can't read the address on the envelope.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


250 W Pratt at Night

Warren's encouragement prompted me, on my way back to the Light Rail yesterday evening, to stop and take some photos of one of my favorite buildings in Baltimore.

I used my new little GorrillaPod, wrapping it around a signpost across the street from the building. I set the self-timer on my Canon A620 to 10 seconds, which was enough time to damp out the vibration from me pushing the shutter release.

Rotated and cropped slightly to produce the dark triangles of "negative space" at right and at top.

Contrast slightly adjusted and converted to B&W with Picassa.


250 W Pratt - Again...

250 W Pratt Street - Baltimore, MDIt's the photo-architectural gift that keeps on giving!


250 W Pratt - Abstract

250 W Pratt Street - Baltimore, MDWhen it comes to skyscrapers, Baltimore is an architecturally impaired city, but there are a few exceptions. This is one of them, one of my favorites in Baltimore, 250 W Pratt Street.

This 1986-vintage, 24-floor building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. It's 360 feet tall (110 m), and its half-ziggurat profile and handsome banding make it a real standout any city would be proud the call its own.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Presenting...Kristin Jansen!

Umbrella & Awnings - Toronto - Kristin Jansen ©2006Uncle SteveR is proud to present some photos by his amazingly talented niece, Kristin Jansen of Oakville, Ontraio.

As you can see, Kristin, who is in her last year of a Nursing degree, has a superb eye for composition, pattern, color, and shapes.

I would like to take some credit, even some genetic credit, for her great talent, but alas, I can't - she's my wife's brother's daughter. Eggplants & Cukes - Toronto - Kristin Jansen ©2006I didn't even know Kristin was interested in photography until we were visiting with her family this past July. Sister-in-law Sue mentioned it to me, and the next day, Kristin and I got up early and went to Oakville's picturesque harbor on Lake Ontario around sunrise. She used my camera and came back with some excellent photos.

Leechees - Kristin Jansen ©2006Since then, Kristin bought her own camera, a Sony SteadyShot DSC-H2, and is making good use of it, as you can see here. About an hour ago, she showed me some of the photos she's made since I was last here, and straight out of the camera, they just knocked me out. She didn't have any photo-editing software yet, so I suggested that we download Picassa from Google, which we did, and we quickly ran the images you see here through Picassa for some minor cropping and levels adjustment.
Green Wrought Iron Fence - Kristin Jansen ©2006
I coulda easily picked another half-dozen or more photos, but one can only take so much genius at a time. So more to come from Kristin later on. Hangers - Kristin Jansen ©2006Actually, I'll try to talk her into putting up her own photo-blog - why not?

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