Theme: Alleys by Craig Roberts

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I've long held a fascination with back alleys, wondering what secrets they kept from the front fascades they present to the public. Exploring them almost feels like an intrusion, being somewhere you shouldn't; the grafitti code for the stories of the streets, the air permeated with the raw and pungent odors of humanity.

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I'm drawn to the material textures of the buildings, looking to find balance within the barred windows and doors, the intrusion of nature, disgusted as it attempts to reclaim the land.

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These pathways are no longer just for interurban transportation and garbage collection - for some this is a microcosm of their existence: their bedroom, bathroom exposed to indignant views. This is their source of commerce, and even food - their survival. 

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Theme: Tabletop Photography by Craig Roberts

Blue Light Leica

Our recent monthly theme for the local camera club was tabletop photography; I actually began my digital photography path cutting my teeth on a small 2ft square table set up in a utility room, amongst the furnace, hot water tank and various stored boxes, making images for my online auctions. Back then my setup consisted of a 24" x 36" piece of gray poster board that I fashioned into a sweep against one wall, two drafting lamps with articulating arms on either side, which allowed me to move them around for the best positioning of the shadows and my 3megapixel Kodak point and shoot positioned on the tripod.

Fast forward to this and the setup wasn't much more high-tech; since I no longer had any strobes, softboxes or even flashes available to use, I improvised with a combination of long exposures and LED lights to "paint" the subject camera. The base is simply a storage trunk I made use of while my background, again, was no more than a piece of black art board, this time swept against a roll of white seamless hung from a mini boom arm on a c-stand.

The first image file, with exposure lightened considerably and set to monochrome to illustrate the basic setup. Each subsequent layer was masked & painted in to strengthen areas of sharpness, color and focus.

The first image file, with exposure lightened considerably and set to monochrome to illustrate the basic setup. Each subsequent layer was masked & painted in to strengthen areas of sharpness, color and focus.

My idea for this image was to have the camera back-lit, and I had 4 acrylic ice cubes with blue LEDs that I lit and placed behind the model camera, to create the enveloping glow. I made a handful of images moving the cubes into different positions to broaden the glow, then used them in a couple of files to pain the front of the camera. Finally I used a small white LED light-pen to paint the front of the camera and focus highlight some specific areas. All in all, it took 15 minutes tops to set up and shoot. 

Once I had all of my files in Lightroom I exported them out as layers to Photoshop, then proceeded to adjust the individual exposure, mask each layer and then selectively apply them back to the base image. This allowed my to choose areas that had been selectively light-painted to create a stronger cohesive image. Some final adjustments to contrast and color gave me the completed image, however I noticed that when I printed the first time, the overall look was darker than I was looking for - two subsequent printings later, each incrementally lighter (and brighter) gave me the final printed image I was looking for.

Theme: Cars & Car Details by Craig Roberts

The theme chosen to represent this month, Cars and Car Details, falls into an area that I have a great affinity for ~ especially for vintage automobiles. While I can never claim to be a car-guy, I do certainly admire the older vehicles from the 30's through to the edge of the 70's; current cars don't generally draw me to them often, and when they do its only because they have features they've borrowed from those other past designs. Respecting those great engineers and designers who were able to bring their visions & classic design elements to light, I've spent the past few years focusing my attention and images on the finer details that I see when looking at these cars: headlights and tail lights, chrome grills, emblems, hood ornaments, hub & gas caps and even those absolutely imposing profiles. I've always appreciated the amount of sweat equity folks put into restoring their vehicles but am now enjoying those survivor vehicles that retain their original paint and patina, texture and battle scars.

The great thing about vehicle photography is the car community is vast; most owners are happy to exhibit and share their vehicles (and stories) , and with your subject parked and captive you can definitely take your time making creative images.

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Theme: Beautiful Blur by Craig Roberts

In the process of learning and developing our photography skills there is an enormous amount of time and effort spent on fundamental techniques, only to sometimes throw that out the window in the name of artistic creativity and a unique photographic vision. I shot the images below during a local bicycle race, the Fraser Valley Gran Fondo back in July with the express intent of creating compositions of 'beautiful blur'. Whether it is athletes in motion, vehicles or even the subtle movements of a stand of maple trees moving slightly in the fall/winter, it is the deliberate nature of making these images that elevates them from poorly timed (and planned) out-of-focus pictures to an asthetic approaching "art" .

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And of course, this image made from my previous post regarding the Lynden WA fair:

Tilt-a-Whirl in motion, Northwest Washington Fair 2014

Tilt-a-Whirl in motion, Northwest Washington Fair 2014