I visited Austin for the first time during a work trip last spring. Naturally, I enjoyed the city immensely. But I was disappointed with my photography efforts; I didn’t have much time after being in a conference all day, and I just didn’t seem to know how to approach it. I got very few decent photos. Recently however, I went back and had another look at the set and started playing around with different crops. I realized that many of the shots look better in a 16×9 aspect, which seem to give them a cinematic character. I am now working up a small series based on this.
From last night, December 28, 2011. No rain yet this season, and so the sunsets continue to be colorful. I guess there is just a lot of stuff in the air that makes it go orange. It is not healthy, and everything could use a drink, but at least we get this as a consolation.
I managed to get some shooting in yesterday and today, and so made good progress on my project to photograph all of Albany’s commercial streetscape. In fact, I managed to finish off the north side of Solano Ave between San Pablo and Peralta. I even went into Berkeley a bit there. Where is that border anyway?
This leaves the south side of Solano as the big chunk left to do. But it’s a hard one, since the building fronts are virtually always in shadow, except for the sunrise and sunset during a few weeks around the summer solstice. Of course, I can just leave them dark. Or I could shoot for exposing the storefronts and not worry about blowing out the sky and surrounding objects. I’m not about to try HDR on this one section, so let’s not go there.
I suppose I should consider Solano on west side of San Pablo as well, but that feels more residential down there. Perhaps just the first block would suffice to call the project truly complete.
This is the last shot I took yesterday before stopping for the day. This is processed in Lightroom with a Velvia preset I found somewhere, and that I have adjusted a bit, actually dialing back the contrast and intensity a bit. As you can tell, I’m continuing to experiment with the look for this streetscape series. It’s hard to decide what to settle on, in part because a given look doesn’t really work equally well on each shot. Also, I have at least three different process approaches that I like and can’t decide between. Even black and white is really attractive.
I want the series to have as consistent a look as possible, but I suspect that it is going to be hard to achieve on account of the quite different light conditions under which the various stretches of streetscape get shot. They are getting shot a couple weeks apart with the sun in a different place, different whether and sky, and different time of day. Moreover, it takes me a couple hours to shoot a half mile, and the light changes pretty dramatically just during that time.
Today was such a day of photography, it was almost like work. It started this morning with Albany Cub Scouts Pack 3 Pinewood Derby. That was over three hours of shooting. Then, after a little lunch, I went out to make some progress on the Albany Commercial Streetscape project. I started shooting the east side of San Pablo at the El Cerrito border and made it down to Solano Ave, before it was time to get home. My guess is that this is about half the length of it. I was pleased with the progress made today in terms of quantity. It remains to be seen what was accomplished in terms of the images themselves. Right now, I’m predicting that the two liquor stores are the most interesting subjects on the side. I thought I’d play with this one in black and white, even though I keep saying that the series won’t be. Maybe I’ll have to rethink that, too.
This is another shot from the Albany Streetscape set but not selected to be included, since I took about three shots of this view. This is the southern end of the bowling alley, where the bar is. I have to admit I like these in black and white, and it is making me think more and more about picking up a medium format film camera of some sort. I’m not sure whether I would produce the Streetscape project in B&W. I like rather like the color. I suppose it will depend on what kind of feel I can get with color, especially printed.
Also, one of the reasons for staying away from B&W is to stay away from overtly calling attention to the “photography” and focus on the documentary aspect of the project. And since the genesis of the project is an examination of the notion that the commercial streetscape is a 1950’s streetscape, I don’t want to prejudice that examination by suggesting something one way or the other in the treatment of the work. The B&W does that.
Interestingly, I have never really been in the bar despite living within a few blocks of it for almost 10 years now. I always end up further down the road at HTC or Mallard. I’ll make an effort to visit this year.