13 February 2011

Lion Dance in Chinatown 2011

For the first time, I experienced the Lion Dance in Chinatown, then went to Dim Sum with my sweetie. It is a very cold 30 degrees, but it was well worth the cold fingers, nose and ears. There was an excitement in the air, and the children were peering around the corners wondering what the fire crackers would signify. I found myself peering around corners in anticipation.

Lion dance is played on the beat of drums. The music beats synchronizes the motions and steps of the performer. Evolution of latest technology has added a glowing color in New Year festival. According to Chinese fables, Lion dance is creation of wise counselor, who formed it after getting words from god, "A lion would protect them from evil". Another story reveals that lion dance is symbol of victory of villager against evil lion (reference).

I captured some great motion shots, and some stills. I was trying to capture the looks on faces, but because of the short intervals it was very hard. Needless to say I got quite a few images and it is certainly out of my comfort zone. Following are some of the images that I captured during this wonderful experience! I hope to see it again next year.

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08 February 2011

Focal Point achieved WITHOUT the Schindler's List approach

There is a way to shoot an image of substance, with great composition and interesting subject matter and a very clear focal point and movement, without using what I call the "Schindler's List" approach. What is this you ask? Good question.. here is a still from the Spielberg's 1993 beautifully filmed black and white documentary:

What do you note in this image, and this is something that carries throughout many points in this historical film? The little girl in the red coat. We see her walking hand in hand with her neighbors, then we see her walking in a war strewn lonely street alone, walking around a corner.

In 1993, this was a brilliant way to bring our attention to the importance, and symbolism of this child. How small she is compared to the masses, the war, the death... Brilliant ... in 1993... in this movie!

Here was are in 2011, and I will say now that photo editing software is so prevalent in so many households, and the DSLR (Digital single lens reflex) cameras are easily accessible for the right sized paycheck. As they say in the commercials "I do not NEED to know how to take a good picture.. the camera does it for me".  Well, and NOW on their computers with the right software package the fingers over the edge can be cloned out, or the neighbor's kid throwing a rock in the background can just look as though he is now smiling and waving at the poor defenseless victim off frame.

Sadly, this "style" has run amok... It is used by students, people with the new software, all of those new camera people deciding they are professionals now doing this. I am reminded of the school portraits I saw when I was in maybe 5th grade with the child's portrait and then a silhouette up in the right corner. Boy did I want my school to do that.. THANKFULLY prep school strikes again.. it was a public school phenomenon..

On to now... enough of this diatribe...

In my Photo Basics classes, aside from teaching the basics to file organization and workflow and basic photoshop, I also attempt to teach composition, color, light, focal point, f.stops, shutter speeds, ISO, what the sensor actually does.. But MORE importantly.. composition and how to actually take a dynamic image and get the results you want through the LENS and NOT through a photo editing application.

One of the projects I assign is Use A COLOR as the subject. It is the main focal point. I want them to shoot in areas where the color they choose is the focal point. BUT.. the caveat is.. NO PHOTO EDITING SOFTWARE desaturation of the rest of the image to make the one color the focal point. USE YOUR TALENT!!! USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD COMPOSITION!!!
After I see a few heads drop thinking.. oh wait.. now I have to actually be good at this? They they scamper off to shoot their assignment .. (ok not really scamper)

Sometimes you get a student who STILL decides that they cannot create a satisfying and dynamic well composed image WITHOUT STILL using the desaturation option.. then there are those that REALLY get it and work and get wonderful shots.  But, I want to show how the two can look done well.. and done like someone who cannot think out of the paper bag (as it were...).

Here is the image that was submitted. The color is pink, she had a series of 5 final images, all of which made the color the focal point successfully. The composition followed the "Rule of Thirds" (a little link to explain...) and was  successfully quite dynamic as it was shot. There was a little dust removed from this image and a little bit of rotation done to straighten the ground.
Michelle Martin © 2009 Color Study

This is a gorgeous image in my opinion; the web does not do it justice. Now, on to the "I really do not want to make an effort thinking about composition and I have a camera that does it all for me, and then Photoshop is COOOOOL!!!!" image. Note how the warm summery feeling created by the colors and the environment and color choices are now missing.
How I ruined Martin's photo - I'm sorry Michelle!
Now if you note.. this is an advertisement for a pink dress and a vampire in a bland world. The image has now become flat and a run of the mill.

I would LOVE to see some folks do this assignment and show what they come up with. I KNOW there is raw talent out there.. BEFORE the grips of the photo editing software out there..

Let's see them!

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03 February 2011

Amelia Merriam

Today was a day filled with excitement, hope, beauty, and love.

Amelia Merriam * Born 1/31/11 * 6 lb5 oz, 18.75"  * 2011 © Elisabeth Neville

I went to one of the MGH hospital branches to go and meet one of my closest friends since high school, which says a lot since she is one of the bright lights of those times, new daughter. Jen and Steve looked wonderful and were glowing. 32 hrs of labor from start to.. well.. the C Section. Yes, one more reason why I am happy to be the "auntie" instead of the bearer of my own children.

Amelia was 6lb 5oz and born on Jan 31, 2011. She entered the world perfectly.. All fingers and toes perfectly formed. A little tiny perfect freckle on the side of her left foot.. (Just like mine.. coincidentally...) Holding her made my stress fade and my heart swell and each breath seem that much more important. Amelia's smell is the perfect little baby smell. Her skin is soft as powder and the hair on her head fine and blondish brown and as soft as her skin.
2011 © Elisabeth Neville
Every photograph I took of her did not seem to capture all the beauty that was peacefully laying in my arms. Her eyes, though still the early gray color and unable to see much more than shadows looked around and she tried to focus on anywhere a sound or vibration started or subsided.
Steve picked his daughter up and was making the whooshing sound that Amelia had been listening to for the past 9 months. There is nothing more beautiful. He is already in love with this little princess.

2011 © Elisabeth Neville
I gush from my hour or so with this new little family and I look forward to many times with these three with my camera to capture how they all grow and develop with each other. I know Amelia will be a beautiful little brilliant leader of her time. I am excited to have met her today, and I look forward to a long relationship watching her grow into the woman she will once be.

Welcome Amelia!

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02 February 2011

February 2011

Here it is already 2011 and ALREADY February. WOW.. I need to get cracking on some of these projects. What are the projects you ask? (Oh wait.. no one did..) Well I will share them anyway!
New project.. Need to get the folks together..
Organizing work
Finishing frames
Getting grants for possible school

yup... I am still waiting.. I am hoping the happy outcome will be seen on here soon, but.. who knows. It is really out of my hands at this point. I have done all I can do.

BUT, I have started cooking, and I am having so much fun in the kitchen again. and yup.. my weight has gone down. In a little but I am off to the gym!
more later!

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