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The Colors of Charleston

31 10 2012

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Charleston, SC. This is a bustling waterfront city in my home state with a fantastic market and tons of little shops scattered around.  Like many modern artisans, the folks selling there goods in the market are super funny about people taking pictures. Frankly, as many of you know, if you’ve got it in public we can snap it, in fact here’s a great article about that, but I don’t like to step on peoples toes so I tell them who I am, a bit about the blog, and they usually let me take a few snaps. Frankly, if they don’t appreciate a little publicity, I’d just as soon not give it to them. :O

I’m staying true to the title and with this first post I’m sharing the most colorful pictures from my visit. I like this shot because despite many of the pieces being similar, the colors help them to contrast each other really well. The background got a bit washed out but because the foreground held up so well and stayed so vivid, I actually like what it adds to the shot.

You all know I like to get low and close. The patterns on the handles of these swords worked really well for this shot.

A classic bed and breakfast on meeting street. Less color than the trinkets but a pink building downtown deserves a photo.

The wire keeping this sign from being stolen really makes this one. It’s simple but the sign really has a lot of character. I’m learning that for the sake of photography, my taste finds that most subjects get better with age.

I love the hand painted items in the market. There’s something special about walking through tables full of things not made in factories but on front porches instead.

I hate to send you off to wikipedia instead of another blog but here’s a link you should click. These glasses depict an actual place in Charleston called “Rainbow Row.” Here’s an excerpt from wiki: “After the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the early 1900s, Dorothy Porcher Legge purchased a section of these houses numbering 99 through 101 East Bay and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the “rainbow” of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name.”

The final shot and one of my favorites from the day is this beautiful spread of scarves. After years of shooting complex shots and intricate arrangements I’m still amazed by how simplicity masters every art form.

I shared today’s post of an ocean front town on purpose. Many people have faced hardship in recent days thanks to mother nature. If you would like to donate to help Hurricane Sandy victims, here’s the Red Cross relief page.

Thanks for visiting and reading the blog. I’ve missed our regular interactions but life has been pulling me in every direction lately. Have a wonderful week and God Bless!

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Old Fences, Bridges, and Stumps. Star Fort Part 2

8 02 2012

I’m going to pick up here where the last post left off. A ways further down the path I decided I wanted to shoot the fence line. It had a really nice symmetry to it. At first I stood a ways back and focused on the building so I could see the entire fence line but it didn’t feel like a picture of anything in particular. One of the things I like to think about when I’m shooting is “what is my subject here?” Not all pictures have to have a single subject. Sometimes you have enough good in a picture it can just be appreciated as a whole. But a great way to make a picture more interesting is to draw attention to one interesting part of the image by getting in close and let everything else be supporting elements.

In this shot I put the focus squarely on the end of the closest fence slat. The texture had nice variety and the overall color really helped make the mood of the image a bit more rustic. Variety and non-uniformity are two great features of old and rustic architecture that don’t come naturally any more. When you do see it in modern architecture, it looks forced. A big focus of today’s post is going to be mood and color. Pay close attention to the next two pictures, I’m going to be telling you a little bit about white balance.

The above and below shots are the same subject, same time of day and nearly identical settings except for the white balance. White balance is the way your camera tries to make whites appear white regardless of the light source. When it affects the “white balance” the full color spectrum follows suit though. The trick is that while the human eye can adapt to different light sources nearly perfectly, the camera again falls a bit short. In the top picture, the camera tried to push some blue tones in to offset the rust which it thought was appearing reddish because of the light source. For me, the rust is a major part of this picture so I really didn’t like when my camera turned this rusty steel bridge support into a modern blueish grey.

For me, artistry is more important than accuracy, so I play around with features like white balance until I see what I want in my images. I went into the shooting menu on my camera and found the white balance setting panel. I switched to “cloudy” which was mostly true and pushed the selector a notch or two to the left to warm the image up. That made these two nearly identical images have two entirely different feels.

Under The Bridge

Beside The Bridge

Once I got across the bridge (and out from under it) I shot a few snaps of an old rotted stump. This is an example of what I was talking about before of a decent picture that has no real hero. A little perspective change and I could have brought the focus in tight on the clover, or a small patch of bark and changed the whole feel of this image. I still like it, but it could have been better. It’s important to look at your pictures and try to figure out how you could have improved them. It’s frustrating to catch yourself doing something wrong (or at least not perfect) but the fact is we all still have lots of room to grow. Not to get too Biblical on you but Paul once called himself the worst of sinners. He was a great man but he recognized his short comings and realized that since he knew better, he should be better.

My goal is to learn more so I’ll know better more often and will eventually improve the areas in photography I’m still weaker in. My hope is that some will learn from my mistakes and others will teach me new ways to improve with every post. Thank you for stopping by. It’s great to hear from all of and I really look forward to your comments on my blog and your posts on your own. Don’t forget to follow the blog and like the Facebook if you haven’t done so already. If you twitter, @96arley is my name and I love to hear from all of you on there too. All that social stuff’s in the sidebar up top. Have a great day and God Bless!