Friday, December 9, 2016

Photographing NYC Cityscapes Without Sucking The Big Apple :: Part 2

Bringing today, to you, a way outta the box, particularly from [Part 1], er um, a special Part 2 of this 3 or even 4 part series helping you to create an New York City landscape that you give more hashtags to than your grandmother has skin tags. . .


Way off topic but that's how we roll here. Actually, it may be right on track for this photographic/literary adventure on which you are about to embark. Shall I bullet point or just release the diarrhea from the mouth? Let's do the latter. Or is it later?

Hoping to keep this post coherent. No, not drunk, yet. No. Fact of the matter is, today, like your typical cliche Yipster family (imagine the Griswold's have melded with the Yuppie couple, the one with Julia Louis-Dreyfus,  next door), while our daughter is napping, wife and I are working side by side on the couch. Laptops in laps. The aroma from our Ethiopian coffee beans and sounds of Veep reruns create the ambiance. Such dorks. Friends, don't be too quick to judge. Typically, I either wire in at a local cafe or shackle myself into the studio; my fortress of solitude. Having said this, let's rip into this. 

Wonder how may people I drove away with that. Good. Like Kim Jong-un you can masturbate over the bombs I'm about to drop.

Excuse Me, Is That An Elephant In The Room Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Ok, two sexual metaphors back to back. I'll try to restrain myself going forward. Doubtful but I'll give it my best. People. I never said this was a G rated blog. Anyhow, through analytics I can tell you that most readers here are between 25-45, so I think we are safe.

Back to the elephant.

This is in reference to the [Part 1] post. Talk about different styles! Holy moly. In fact, both the [Part 1] skyline photograph and this one are so much different than each other and together they are very different than the entire body of work at, the main page.

So what?

Let me not beat this to death while enlightening you at the same time.

As photographers, newbies for the most part, we frantically search for that "look" that we want to emulate. And that's great. I used to fucking love the crazy work of Dave Hill and a few others that I can't even remember their names. They were kings and queens of post processing. Out of camera and in the can were mottoes these artists certainly did not abide to.

As I grew, those that I praised were of much different styles. Less in the digital darkroom and more time behind their cameras focusing on nailing that moment in the moment rather than creating it after the fact. And there's nothing wrong with either way. Don't get confused. It was just the "look", the style that made me emotional. Oh, those artists? Jarvis, McNally, Leibovitz, Hobby and others.

Then, although visiting their pages, just not as obsessively, I began to stalk less and create more, finding my way into a groove and without even knowing, growing some sort of personal style.

Sort of?

As artists, I think if you think you've hit the Ah-Ha moment and become content with your work and your style, like a shark, if not continuously moving forward, you die. But it's in our nature. We all continue as creatives to search for the answer to the question that was never asked but somehow know is there. Trippy.

Here's an opinion of how important I think the growth, honing and ever evolving styles of any artist actually are. Grab rocks now as I'm sure some of you will want to stone me after this brief editorial within an editorial.

Kurt Cobain. Nirvana. And it wasn't me who hypothesized this. But on some levels it may have some truth. You already know where I'm taking this don't you? Was it stagnation as an artist that drove Cobain to off himself? Friends, I loved his work. He was a game changer to say the least. BUT, was he in a rut? Was Kurt Cobain unable to progress?
On the flip?
Call me biased but let's use the dude that inspires me photographically, creatively, not with a camera but with his guitar. Jack White. Talk about outside the box. White, on a list with the best guitar players ever, works to be an innovator of the music industry every single day. Yo, this cat doesn't only do it forward, he does it backwards, sideways and on its head. When you rock out by using a guitar fabricated by hand via a few strings and a wooden box, you know your pushing walls out in every direction, simultaneously. No joke, Jack White once traveled around the US knocking on random doors and performing entire albums at peoples' doorsteps. Think of Christmas Caroling on cocaine. And this was already after he'd made his name in the industry. 
You don't have to be better, but you gotta be different.

And how to do this? Experiment. Fail. Rinse and repeat.

As if the shot of the Empire State Building in [Part 1] wasn't enough for a single afternoon of flipping my style on its head than today's photograph of abstract discussion certainly does not disappoint.

The Photo Of The Day

It's the same shot, just posted twice for easier reference.

Instead of shitting brilliant yet conceptual literary nuggets on your head for your brain to absorb through osmosis, let us reverse engineer this fucker.

I may curse a lot but studies show people who do are smarter and more creative. Hey, don't shoot the messenger. ;)

Hmmm. Maybe a list (you all like lists) of how it plays different in the world of not only Midtown Manhattan Cityscapes but also in the world of Michael Anthony Murphy (no ego involved).

  • Different #1 :: Let's knock out the personal differences first. Not to bore you with me talk but so you can get a better sense of the intentions of this entire article. Refer again to [Part 1] and notice how different the two shots are, not only composition but development of said RAW file. Then, if you already haven't pop over to and use both photographs to compare and contrast my body of work. I'll wait. Ok. Back? The cityscapes are total misfits aren't they. I mean if its a stretch to call this one a cityscape, I'll give you that and although today's photograph may be more of a fit since there is humanification (I made that word up just now) involved, yes. But the style in which the RAW file was produced might not make it play well with the others in the portfolio. Or would it?
  • Different #2 :: As already mentioned, so far from the norm, it may even be a stretch to label it as a cityscape. And as you should now know, that's good. To the naysayers I say, well, you can imagine what I'd say. Look at it like this. That binocular thing? Iconic of viewing landscapes. Speaking of iconic, probably safe to say that unless you've been living in a cave for the last century then you'd probably recognize this cityscape in a nanosecond. Win. And shit. If you've ventured to The Top of the Rock, the three leveled observation deck on top of Rockefeller Center, then you may even recognize those giant glass panels, or that old binocular thingy, or that tiled floor, or that soffit or fascia or whatever it's called just beyond those big panels. As for the humanification factor? That's my wife and child. Besides bringing some literal life into the composition, it helps, as ass backwards as it may seem, to help the viewer get a sense of scale. Win. 
  • Different #3 :: Speaking of that composition, let's look at the elements within. Let's agree that if this were entered into some photo competition being judged by conservative judges, I don't think it'd win. Rule of thirds? Eh, out of whack. Faces of the humanificiation element? Nope. Backs of heads. Lens flare some can take it or leave it. I can take it in small doses. No fake flares in post. Only natural. This is the real deal. That reflection of the tiled floor jutting out over the skyline? Such a no no but I'm all over that like white on rice (you soooo thought I was gonna be crude and rude). Now the big glass panels. Boy oh boy when the fam and I made our way onto the observation decks, myself and others, before making to the higher, more recessed, glassless level, were pressing our lenses between the seams of the panels, trying to get clean shots. Basically, I don't think they Windex the panels all day long and can you imagine how many greasy hands and faces press up against the panes on a daily basis? I mean they were pretty clean to the untrained eye but a photographer certainly will notice any fingerprint or nick on the glass. I felt limited on creativity while aiming between panes. Like a mantra, I'm always repeating "different" to myself when creating. Well, you all see the result. I decided to use the panes as purposeful elements in the shot. Pretty neat huh? So glad I took the approach since I think they are a huge player in "making the shot." Do you agree? 
  • Different #4 :: Not obvious to most but the RAW file production went wayyyyyyy further than I push any photographs these days. I mean can't say never but for the most part I try to nail it in camera and keep the Adobe Camera RAW adjustments to a minimum; putting not much more than the Michael Anthony Murphy flava photo. 
Damn. I didn't even go down the [Part 1] photo. It's cool. No worries as that post is an entity in an of itself, in collaboration with this unified series. Yes, that entire sentence totally nullifies itself. I'm a smart ass, what can I say? 


I know some of you are drooling for stats. Ok. Ok. Ok. 

Camera :: Suzy Greenberg (aka Nikon D5)
Lens :: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED 

That's it on the gear. No sticks. No strobes. I mean the Feisol quick release plate is permanently screwed into the bottom of Suzy's butt but as it didn't play, I didn't say. 

Shutter :: 1/320
Aperture :: f/11.0
ISO :: 360 (go ahead, double dog dare you)
White Balance :: 5500 degrees Kelvin although pushed to 6500 in post (Daylight to Cloudy)

Post Production :: Only in Adobe's Camera RAW editor. Even more rare than the amount of tweaking done on this photograph is my exporting and adjusting in Photoshop. 

Fundamentally, besides dialing in WB and exposure to taste, it was the Clarity and Dehaze that were crushed more than usual. Anticlimactic? Hey, it be what it be. Oh. Here you go. I had spent eye crossing hours using the straightening tools getting every plane, X, Y, Z, just right as all three were whacked. 


Can't do nuttin' for ya man. Besides being a classic by Public Enemy, it, today, is a truism that with I must bid you adieu.

[PART 1]

[PART 2]

[PART 3]

Until next time . . .