Andre Cantelmo Photography: Blog https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog en-us Andre Cantelmo all rights reserved andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:14:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:14:00 GMT https://www.andrecantelmo.com/img/s/v-12/u919039508-o674641781-50.jpg Andre Cantelmo Photography: Blog https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog 93 120 Kancamagus Scenic Byway https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/12/kancamagus-scenic-byway One of the great drives in the United States, and designated a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Department of Transportation is named the “Kancamagus Scenic Byway”, or the Kanc as locals refer to it.  On your map it might simply be called NH112. The eastern portion of NH112 runs 32 miles through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway and is the section of 112 known as the Kancamagus Highway. This wonderful road opened in 1959 when two stretches of road were connected, and was paved in 1964. This two lane highway attracts people from all over, especially in the Fall when the trees are in full color. The Kanc runs through the White Mountain National Forest and follows the Swift River valley.  If you are a camper, then you'll love the fact that there are six White Mountain National Forest campgrounds right on the KSB, (Kancamagus Scenic Byway). They all have bathrooms, drinking water,open fireplace, and picnic tables available. They are as follows; Hancock Campground, Big Rock Campground, Passaconaway Campground, Jigger Johnson Campground, Blackberry Crossing Campground, and Covered Bridge Campground. In addition, you can find lots of off KSB campgrounds available. Dogs are allowed on leaches at all times, and no alcohol is allowed.

Sabbaday Falls, Rocky Gorge, Lower Falls and Champney Falls are the most popular of the waterfalls along the KSB. Rest assured that there are many more, most with no names and waiting for you to discover them. If you are smart, you'll dress for hiking. This means a pair of good hiking boots and sensable clothing. This short blog is aimed in the direction of photography. My recommendations work for me and by no means are the only way to approach this subjectmatter. I prefer to travel as light as possible without leaving necessary equipment behind. I always take a tripod on these types of hikes. I will be using small aperature settings and longer shutter speeds most of the time. My wireless timer and remote control is a must for me. Once I've framed my shot, hands free shooting lessens movement with slow shutter speeds. I also carry a B&W 6 stop solid Neutral Density filter. This allows me to use shutter speeds of ½ second or slower. I also pack a circular polarizer. I do not use filters much these days, except for the two above mentioned ones. Most of the time I pack my gear into a photographers vest and leave the bag in my truck. The two lenses I love most and rely upon are Nikons, the 18mm to 105, and the 70 to 300mm. In addition I have a macro lens for closeup work if I see something I want to capture. Make sure you have a sturdy camera strap attached, and looped around your neck to check falls.

Pay some attention to the clothing and personal items you choose. With me, no matter the temperature I always wear long pants to cut down on scratches and insect bites. Even in the deep shade I consider a hat necessary. It keeps all kinds of things out of your hair. Obviously, dress for the season, with comfort and flexiblity in mind. Bring drinking water also, you will need it. I stay away from soda and any other drink that does not quench my thirst. Another item I do not go into the woods without is a Leatherman multi-tool. It has almost any gadget that I might need unexpectedly.

The choices that I make as far as what comes with me on a hike are based upon comfort, appropriatness, flexiblity, and necessitity. For me, I want my attention focused on looking around me and keeping my mind on what will eventually wind up in the viewfinder. I have spent too much time in the past managing stuff, and missing a composition that was in front of me. I travel light because I want to spend time looking around at all the colors, textures, and compositions. I stop frequently, and take in the sights and sounds around me. One composition I make a point to look for is an open spot near water, with perhaps a branch or boulder that I can place in the foreground. It takes looking and moving around for the photo to take shape. I move the tripod frequently and check the viewfinder making sure to look all around the edges of the frame for unwanted elements. As stated earlier, small aperatures, and slow shutter speeds my choice here.

There is a difference between a hike involving a group of friends or family, and one with photography as its main purpose. Both are rewarding, but require different enviorments. Time spent with the people you love on a nature trail is valueable and will be remembered long after your trip is over. Solitude in a forest with the purpose of capturing a landscape for your home is also a rewarding, and time well spent. There are plenty of photographs to be captured in all seasons if you are motivated.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) hiking landscapes photography travel waterfalls https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/12/kancamagus-scenic-byway Wed, 06 Dec 2017 21:39:28 GMT
Nikon and the Entry Level Camera https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/11/nikon-and-the-entry-level-camera One of the fringe benefits of reaching the birthday count that I have achieved is the view. Perspective is everything, they say. I'll set my time frame by revealing that my first camera was a Brownie Hawk eye. A bit later, thanks to my Dad, I began my passion for darkroom work. At first, I was Dad's assistant, then eventually worked alone. As you might expect, these days I'm a digital devotee. My SLR gear is all Nikon. In my pocket, sits a Samsung S7. While my SLR equipment is my favorite gear to use, I do not walk around with it twenty four seven. In those moments when an image presents itself and I'm without serious gear, my phone is right in my pocket. To refer to this wonderful gadget as a phone is to mislabel it. More accurately, it is a handheld computer that can make phone calls.

 

Just recently, Nikon announced that it is closing its China factory that manufactures entry level point and shoot cameras.  In a single year, Nikon’s expected digital camera sales will be 24% lower than the previous fiscal year, with compact camera sales being the hardest hit.  Camera manufactures are all having issues with this slice of the camera market. Entry level cameras have been largely replaced with cell phones. Most of us carry our cells everywhere we go. They are always with us, and can produce very clean snapshots. The digital SLR product market is about to change also. Rumor has it that by 2020 mirrorless cameras will overtake the DSLR market.

 

Change is always with each of us, and so too with corporations. More and more we live in a society where everything seems temporary. The slideshow of life seems to click by faster and faster. The skill that gives us a bit of insurance against the shock of change is to be flexible. Nikon could have been more flexible. They should have seen the writing on the wall and adapted to this market shift. It would appear that the cameras that will survive, are the ones that offer something that the cell phones can't deliver. To that end Nikon is making a large investment in its next issue, the Nikon1. The new factory which will be built in China is 93,000 square meters, and will have 10,000 workers.

 

In my early years of creative photography, I eagerly fell in love with my latest camera acquisition. I tend to hold onto my gear, so I am nowhere near an early adapter, however each issue of new and improved gear did make photography better in lots of ways. At one point, as the pace of change increased in speed, I found myself becoming annoyed at the cost of staying up to date. I then started my transition of beginning to not be so emotionally invested in what gear I owned. My attention focused increasingly on the image I committed to paper and frame. It's amusing to think about my relationship with camera gear, and so obvious that what is in the frame supersedes the tools that created it.

 

The skills that are most important to me are not newly discovered. They are the same today, as they were years ago when I was using my cherry wood 4 X 5 field camera. Issues that I've worked at for a long time like, stay flexible, be open to what is in front of you, keep my camera always ready to shoot, look for effective compositions, keep my attention focused and on task, and keep my gear clean and ready to go. Nowhere on that list is there anything about my gear limiting my potential. The most important tools are imagination and vision.  At some point soon the cool gear I now use will be obsolete, and the next change will wait in the wings. If I pay attention to what is really important then my photographic skills will be sharp and up to date. As long as I can get a sharp, crisp, clear, and well composed image into a frame the gear I use is secondary to the image. I have no idea what camera I'll be using five years from now. It matters less than the creative side of my work. I'll just have to keep up to date and stay flexible.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) dslr entry level cameras mirrorless cameras photography and change https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/11/nikon-and-the-entry-level-camera Thu, 02 Nov 2017 18:08:32 GMT
Live an intentional life, the power of photographs https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/9/live-an-intentional-life-the-power-of-photographs Every once in a while, life places you in a situation that serves as an epiphany. You recognize those moments by how suddenly and intensely they pass over you. Just recently one such moment arrived in my life in the form of the passing of a dear lifelong friend. I began my friendship with Edna, through my then girlfriend and now wife of fifty years, Patricia. We were quite young, in fact Edna was just fourteen at the time. Our friendship lasted a lifetime, and along the way gathered a rich patina of color and flavor.

Across our society, each of us has our own way of saying goodbye. Up front, is the extreme sense of loss. My life will be diminished by not having Edna in it. Even as I attempt to console the family, I know deep down nothing I might say will ease the grief. Arranged carefully around the funeral parlor are photographs that mark a lifetime. On a monitor, photographs dissolve one into another, with Edna's favorite ballads as a soundtrack. In this room full of emotion, it is the photographs we cling to.

The significant events that pass through our personal calendars are often marked with photographs. These photos gather their worth as a result of the passing of time. Often a casual photo, will not be thought of much at first. Decades later, it sits in a frame in a funeral parlor. There is Edna, and her father standing in front of a vintage automobile. It looks like the photo was taken in a rush, almost an afterthought. Now it helps mark her life. Another photo, in a back yard, Edna seated with two other people, all in the clothing styles of the day, sparks a brief smile even as we morn her loss. The slide show continues on the monitor and tears run down my cheek.

The job of selecting photographs for Edna's funeral was taken on by a small committee of which I was part. A brief search, and several boxes of photos found their way to the kitchen table. We worked our way to the bottom of each box, as we sorted through the memories that made up Edna's life. The emotion that coursed through me is difficult to describe. I felt hollow and empty, and yet still was able to smile at our foolishness captured by the camera. What a miracle it is to freeze a moment onto a piece of paper. Each of us selected our favorites. There is always one photograph that speaks to the person who selected it. The one special photo that shows the Edna we loved.

Every family has boxes like these, filled with treasure. Among those treasures there are a few that have become badly damaged and need restoration. I selected one photo of Edna that shows her full of life and optimism. It looks like a studio shot with professional background and lighting. Her pose looks natural and relaxed, her expression one that is familiar to me. An expression that I know well. Looking into the image only serves to increase my sense of loss. I cling to the photo despite the sadness. On the hard drive of my computer this image waits for me to restore it. I've started, however it's a tough go for me.

Moments pass, and are strung together bit by bit. Most of us have a casual relationship with the present moment. We tend to value the past, or anticipate the future. We live our lives in present time. Everything that happens, only happens in the present. Those casual photographs that you snap today, will gather value as the years pass. One day a rather small grouping of images will define your life, and will be treasured by people who love you. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is to live each day with awareness. If you become aware enough, you'll realize that you are surrounded by miracles, and people you love. Live an intentional life

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) memorial snapshots personal historic photos photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/9/live-an-intentional-life-the-power-of-photographs Fri, 01 Sep 2017 04:00:00 GMT
Fresh Eyes, Noticing What Is All Around You https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/8/fresh-eyes-noticing-what-is-all-around-you An idea or message behind a photo is what is referred to as creative vision. It adds meaning and depth in a photo. When a photograph is creative, it elevates ordinary objects. Our world is full of objects that take up space around us, we are also surrounded by the negative space between all those objects. When we make a photograph that is creative, we use the unique parts of ourselves to juxtapose the positive and negative and create a composition.

 

I am an observer of the world around me. Not only do I constantly look for objects to photograph, I observe human behavior. One particular type of behavior that fascinates me is the way children look at our grown up world with fresh eyes. I gave my young grandson my cell phone camera to use for a short while one day. The only instructions I gave him was to take photographs and not break my phone. About an hour passed, and I sat with him to see what photos he created. In all there were two of them that stood out as photos that I'd print. One, a photo of a door knob was shot from his eye level. It showed his world, from his perspective. He filled the frame rather well, and the photograph was composed vertically. The other photograph was a floor level view of his dogs face as she slept, her face filling the frame horizontally. His chances for success were increased because all concerns about equipment were non existent. His only concern was what was on the LCD screen.

 

There are lessons to be learned from this exercise. There is a difference between how an innocent child views their world, and the way adults do. Chiefly, we have memories and assumptions carefully gathered throughout our lifetime. Over time we have given meaning to information as we ingest it. Visual stimuli gets judged as good or bad, and we change our thoughts and behavior to become more efficient or to protect ourselves in some way. A child may look at an object and be fascinated with all the different colors and shades.  An adult might be concerned with a schedule and being on time, and bypass beauty right before their eyes. Presence is the difference between these two approaches. The mind of a child lives mostly in the current moment. Adult minds much less so. A child has a well developed sense of curiosity. I'll state the obvious here and say, the more curious you are, the more you will notice, the more you will learn, and the more meaningful your experience of each day will be.

 

The world around us is filled with wonderful things to look at and enjoy. Ordinary objects, with texture, tone, color, and shape. Our world, right where we live is full of richness. Our challenge is to slow down, look and listen. This process is one that takes time to learn, and cannot be rushed. We might notice a meadow as we drive by, however stopping and really looking brings us a visual treat. So many different shades of green, and oh look at all the texture and shapes there are. You have just been given a gift of awakening. Many of us find standing on a beach and looking into a vast ocean inspiring and even meditative. We've taken the time to slow down, stop, look, and listen. We have given ourselves a gift. The gift of a wonderfully beautiful sky, deep blue ocean, white foam at our feet, a sandy shore, and the rhythmic sound of the waves Take the time to really wake up. Notice what is all around you. Photograph it and spend some time with your work and think about how it makes you feel. Attach that feeling to your work, and next think about what you can do to enhance your message. People experience photographs on many levels. It is a representation of some thing, it conveys emotion, or a message, and successful images pull you into the composition and enhance your experience. You are more awake.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) creativity photography presence slowing down vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/8/fresh-eyes-noticing-what-is-all-around-you Tue, 01 Aug 2017 20:15:00 GMT
The Power of the Frame https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/6/the-power-of-the-frame Long ago, I trained my self to think in terms of visualizing framing my subjects. Practicing this skill has served me well over the decades. At this point in my development it has become a reflex that I rely on without much effort. This was not always the case, as I had to practice to acquire this skill.

Looking at a scene, being attracted to parts of it, and composing a photograph in my viewfinder took practice to learn to do well. I spent more time in the darkroom than in the field when I began my journey of photography. In those days I printed contact sheets of every roll of film I exposed. I studied those contact sheets and refreshed my in camera editing. I readily saw the progression of thought that each frame captured. I was fortunate in that my Dad was an accomplished photographer of seascapes. He emphasized to me the importance of spending time studying each frame I exposed, and why I chose that composition. He showed me that I could use two cardboard L's to practice crop images on my contact sheet to improve the composition by eliminating unimportant elements that did not support the subject. I then took a marker and drew a frame on the photograph that I would print out later in my darkroom.

Placing a frame around a subject gives the image power. It eliminates visual elements that distract from the photographers vision. The approach that has always worked for me was to think in terms of what can I remove from the scene to make it more powerful. Our eyes focus on an object of interest, but they also include everything in the periphery. Our brain has the ability to block out what we don't consider important. This is a survival trait we've developed early on. The camera, on the other hand, will render all that is included in the viewfinder. When I began creative photography I was frequently surprised by the scope of what I included in the viewfinder when I edited my shoot. Learning editing skills payed off, and as time went on my “keepers” outnumbered the rejects.

As time progresses, the framing skills you worked hard at teaching yourself begin to form patterns. These patterns reflect how you tend to visualize the world in your viewfinder. Other people recognize this as your style. It is the frame that is the one element that brings everything together. The power of the frame strengthens the decisions I've made about things like, depth of field, color or black and white, wide angle or close up, composition, and other things as well.

The way I decide to frame an image changes the way the viewer of the photograph interprets that image. By selective framing the photographer has the power to imply meaning to their work that otherwise might not even be present at the time it was captured. This is extremely liberating, and emphasizes the fact that things are not always the way they are, but how we see them can be fluid and subject to manipulation. Framing a photograph facilitates a photographer's vision, however, the person viewing the work also contributes to the process and its interpretation, they in essence become a partner in the process. There once was a time when people considered a photograph, evidence of truth. The common accepted thought was, “the camera never lies”. Well truth be told, the camera always lied, it is just easier these days to pull off a lie. A wonderful inspiring landscape can be a distortion of reality. A photograph created to produce an emotion. It does not have to be accurate. Evidence photographed to be part of the judicial system must be accurate, as should scientific or journalistic work. The simple act of framing a photograph is not as simple as one might imagine. All of us that work behind the camera have opinions, biases, and sometimes an agenda. How we frame an image is affected by our individual humanity. The power of the frame is underestimated, quiet, and overlooked.     

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Framing editing photography style https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/6/the-power-of-the-frame Fri, 30 Jun 2017 19:22:00 GMT
As photographers, light is fundamental https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/4/as-photographers-light-is-fundamental Sunlight supplies plants with the energy they need to make sugar. These sugars are turned into starches and supply energy to the animals that eat them. Plants turn light into food. Visible light is just one part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The electromagnetic spectrum extends from the low frequencies used for radio waves, to the high frequencies used by gamma rays. In the mix we find infrared, as well as x-ray. When we think of light, we think of the frequency of visible light, however, because humans are a clever bunch, we now have ways to “see” in frequencies that our eyes are unable to. In my view, this is magic. It is also very revealing. When a photographer creates a landscape in infrared light we are treated to a mystical other worldly piece of artwork. When scientists look into the Universe with infrared or x-ray they are treated to information previously unavailable.

As photographers, light is fundamental to our art. We time our images to the “Golden Hour”, that special short period of time when the Sun's light works its magic. I once stood atop Mt. Cadillac, in Acadia Pk. Maine, and watched a sunset along with a group of about seventy five others. It was a particularly dramatic show, and when it was over a round of applause was well deserved. The Universe did a good job that evening. This moment atop a mountain is the result of magic also. The light that washed over my face, and warmed it, and treated my eyes and camera to such drama began in the center of our Sun, ten million years ago. It took that long to work its way to the surface of the Sun, and when it broke free, another eight minutes to reach my face on the top of that mountain in Maine. I am overwhelmed by being so lucky to enjoy this magic.

Lets think about that sunset for just a moment. As the Sun touched the horizon and sat there for just a few seconds I was watching an event that was already eight minutes old. Also to be accurate, the Sun really does not set at all, the Earth is rotating. Another fact that we gloss over is that I am looking back eight minutes into the past. When the weather is clear, sunsets are a common occurrence in our lives. Lots of us don't even give them a second glance. There are those of use who’s awareness is strong, and from time to time they park by the side of the road where I live and sit and watch the Sun go down. They then calmly drive on to finish their day. Their day became just a bit more special, because of their awareness and willingness to enjoy the present moment.

We photographers capture special moments. Rather, we record reflected light that bounces off of those moments that demand a frame around them. Light enters the lens on our camera, is modified by all the glass inside the lens, and reaches the eye of the artist. Awareness and skill are necessary for the decision to press the shutter release button.

The skills necessary to be a creative photographer can be learned over time. The truth be told, you can learn 80% of what is necessary to be a photographer in a few years. The last 20% will take you the rest of your life. The creative skills that make our work special are another story. Creativity takes imagination and awareness. The skill of observing the flow of life, looking inward and observing our own emotional response to what is in the viewfinder requires concentration and patience. We cultivate the skill of being observers, and blocking out all the distractions that fill our day to day life. This is called being present in the current moment. The best of a long list of photographic artist are very good observers of the flow of life. They are imaginative, and creative. They have the skill to be so present, so in the moment, that they see things the unskilled are unable to, until a frame is placed around their work, and asks us to “here look at this”. Underlying and supporting this form of art is the visible light that so many of us take for granted. This is magic, a miracle, and should stop us in our tracks just for a brief moment to really see, and not just look.  

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photography golden hour imagination visible light https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/4/as-photographers-light-is-fundamental Sun, 30 Apr 2017 21:24:11 GMT
Dorthea Lange, Iconic Photographer of the Twentieth Century https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/4/dorthea-lange-iconic-photographer-of-the-twentieth-century Edward Steichen referred to Dorothea Lange as The greatest documentary photographer in the United States. Dorothea referred to her own art, “I just photograph things as they are”. She was a rebel in her time, worked spontaneously and in difficult conditions. She was inquisitive and sought to reveal the truth of how things were, she photographed the reality of her times.

Dorothea was born in New Jersey at the end of the 1800's, and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. At an early age she became a very skilled observer of the rich life on the streets of New York. One skill she taught herself was to hide in plain sight, to be an observer without influencing a scene. Early on she was employed at the studio of Arnold Genthe, where she learned darkroom skills, and honed her early photographic style. After World War I, she began to travel and found herself in San Francisco, where she took a darkroom job with a Dry Goods store. Some connections with the photographic community surfaced and it was not long before Dorthea opened her own studio. In her studio days, she thrived on commissioned work, photographing families. It was at this time her style began to emerge. Imogen Cunningham was an early and important influence on her developing style.

The Stock Market Crash that began the great depression turned out to be another influence on her maturing style. From her studio, life in the Depression years of San Francisco offered up plenty of emotional subject matter. She created “White Angel Breadline” one of the most famous photographs of the Depression. Dorothea also perfected her work style in these years. She would start out, pick a direction, and without much planning look for her subjects. She would engage her subject in conversation, and as a result capture emotion as well as composition as she worked. Her Farm Security Administration photographs would become her most important work. Her composition “Migrant Mother” defined the Thirties, and in my opinion is her most important photograph. In Nipomo, California, at a campsite full of out-of-work pea pickers. The crop, destroyed by freezing rain; there was nothing to pick. Dorothea approached one of the idle pickers, a woman sitting in a tent, surrounded by her children, and asked if she could photograph them. Lange exposed six frames. One of them, Migrant Mother, became the icon of the Depression, and one of the most famous images of the 20th century. With her children cowering for protection, hiding their faces, the Migrant Mother gazes distractedly into the distance and perhaps the future that is so uncertain.

In 1965 Dorothea developed inoperable Cancer. This prompted her to review her life's work, and mount an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. She would spend precious time editing forty one years of photography. She believed her life's work was in fact an autobiography, and  this exhibition completed her life's work.

If you are unfamiliar with Dorothea Lang's work you have missed the work of a great photographer. Her work is full of emotion, depth, and is well composed. In an era that produced a good share of excellent photographers, Dorothea stands out, and is a treasure. I was fortunate to see her work at an exhibition many years ago, and the rich tones, and impeccable composition are mesmerizing. Dorothea Lange is not only a photographic treasure, she belongs in that handful of most influential people of the 20th century. 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Depression era Master Photographer Migrant Mother Photography black and white https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/4/dorthea-lange-iconic-photographer-of-the-twentieth-century Sat, 01 Apr 2017 19:12:17 GMT
Port Clyde, Maine A Historic Mid-Coast Fishing Village https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/3/port-clyde-maine-a-historic-mid-coast-fishing-village Port Clyde, a small wonderful harbor, rests on the central coast of Maine, specifically on the St. George peninsula. In the 1800's Port Clyde was busy with timber, granite, and fish canning. If you are partial to Nautical scenery, Port Clyde is a gem of spot. This is a quiet place to slow down, and absorb the history and beautiful seascapes. There are plenty of wonderful subjects to photograph, however we'll get into that in just a bit. The best experience is had by quieting the mind, and opening up the senses. The sights, sounds, and even the aroma of the Atlantic set the stage. This wonderful spot that faces the Great Atlantic Ocean has been the residence of people like the Wyeth family, Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, Steve Thomas, ("This Old House"), Kenneth Noland, (painter), and artist Greg Mort has a summer studio there

 

Nautical landscapes are plentiful here. The Marshall Point Lighthouse is a good spot to watch and photograph the sunset, however people who know Port Clyde know the best sunset views are from Turkey Cove. The Port Clyde General Store is picturesque and fun to visit, and if you are a boater it has most things you will need. Lately, I look for quiet places, with attractive light, a sense of history, and lots of good subject matter. You will not be disappointed with your visit. Here you'll find fishing shacks, docks, lobster boats, and classic New England fishing village architecture. A Photographer with a good eye, and the mental ability to self edit will come away with good shots. If not careful, your images might end up a bit on the cliche` side. That is why it's important to slow down and really look at what is in front of you. You already know that the best shots involve timing. That is as true here as everywhere else. Especially when it comes to the light. Coastal Maine can go from bright Sun to fog rather quickly. If you find a subject worth capturing, then it will be worth the wait to get the light just right. As I walk and explore the area some subjects seem to want to be color. I open up to these opportunities and even make notes on my phone for post processing later. Then there are subjects that seem to want to be Monochrome, my first love. Again, if you slow down, look with your emotions, and be patient, there are wonderful photographs to capture here.

 

The Village Ice Cream Shop and Bakery is in the heart of Port Clyde. Many people around my age have fond memories of "The Malt Shop" experience. In our youth we enjoyed Ice Cream Sodas or a Malt. Do not go to Port Clyde without having visited this old fashioned malt shop, you won't be sorry. There is no Walmart or McDonald's in Port Clyde. For many visitors, this is a step back to a simpler time. If you enjoy photographing people, and are polite, and patient, there are lots of great faces on the fisherman that work the waters off this coast. The Monhegan Boat Line dock is where you will find the Elizabeth Ann and Laura B. A day trip to Monhegan Island is a trip back in time to a fishing village/artist colony. There are very good reasons why this island treasure attracts so many artists, and you will fall in love with this place very quickly.

 

Port Clyde remains primarily a working harbor, filled with the rugged boats of local lobster men and fishermen. It is an excellent place to visit, that has avoided becoming touristy. The scenery and atmosphere is very intoxicating and photogenic. If you decide to spend some time here a great place to stay is the Seaside Inn, a twelve-guestroom inn, in an 1850 sea captain’s home overlooking Port Clyde Harbor and Muscongus Bay.  

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Fishing Village Historic Landscape Maine Nautical https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2017/3/port-clyde-maine-a-historic-mid-coast-fishing-village Wed, 01 Mar 2017 16:25:19 GMT
Vision, Emotion, and the Fine Art Photograph https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/12/vision-emotion-and-the-fine-art-photograph  

In recent blogs, I have talked about the value of snapshot photography, the unplanned capture of our personal story. This activity is practiced worldwide, without formal training, and is the personal record of our lives. Fine art photography is a little more difficult to define. Rather than attempting to produce a realistic rendition of a subject, fine art photography seeks to reveal the creative vision of the photographer, a more personal view if you will. The line that defines creative photography from scientific or commercial work is more of a zone than a border. One example of a scientific photograph that exists in both worlds is the famous photograph “Earth rise”. The photo of the earth in the distance, with the moonscape in the foreground. This wonderful photograph has changed the way we humans think about the planet we inhabit.

 

When information is being communicated to an target audience, it is most effective when accompanied by photographs. Dimension and validity are enhanced by the addition of photographs. Advertising most effectively uses images to create desire for a product. The general public is well aware that often the live product does not match the product image. Enhanced color, texture, tone and angle add sex appeal to everything from food to political candidates. Scientific photographs bring us to places we might never have access to. We glance at a photo and are at the peak of Everest, the great Barrier Reef, or the surface of Mars.

 

Fine Art Photography involves the artistic vision and emotion. When a successful photograph is produced, the viewer is connected to the artist by shared emotional experience. This shared experience may seek to motivate the viewer towards conservation, for example. This was the case in the work of Ansel Adams. Ansel's work was very deliberate, very well executed, and very emotional. His technique was key in helping to communicate his message.

 

Fine Art Photographers make choices about what my subject will be, what is in the viewfinder, and other creative decisions. Later in the editing process decisions are made on which frame best conveys my message. In the photo editing software, decisions about brightness, tone, and other visuals are determined and effect what the print will look like. The photographer uses common objects to communicate an emotional point. The casual viewer looks and sees a photo of an old abandoned barn for instance. The educated viewer might see a human story of hope and dreams turned to personal tragedy, and briefly share the emotion of whomever inhabited that space. When we spend time really looking into an Adams print of Yosemite Valley. This breathtaking photograph fills us with feelings of awe and peace. It might even motivate us towards conservation.

 

Photography is very democratic. Most people today have the ability to produce photographs. Camera manufactures promote the idea that the gear is responsible for the work. The casual enthusiast might purchase a camera and dabble at creative photography. When in time it becomes clear that talent, knowledge, and vision are a rare commodity, then the brief romance with creative photography wanes. You would think this would increase the value of the fine art photography market. It has not had that effect. The mindset is that if only I had professional gear, I could produce the same photograph, so why should I pay good money to purchase a photograph? The camera manufactures use this belief to market their product line. I personally know photographers that I refer to as gear heads. They chase after every upgrade, thinking there must be an advantage to owning the latest model. The truth is that the creative process is personal and introspective. The Fine Art Photographers first look is inward. It is a process pursued alone in our own heads. The subjects that we frame are devices to communicate thoughts and emotions. It has been said that when you look at the body of a photographers work, it is all autobiographical.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) artistic vision creativity emotional vision fine art photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/12/vision-emotion-and-the-fine-art-photograph Thu, 01 Dec 2016 19:42:13 GMT
Photography and Our Inner Critic https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/11/photography-and-our-inner-critic Critique, the word inspires all sorts of emotions. Creative people love and hate that word. In the interest of keeping this blog entry on point, my comments are centered around photography, however I am sure there is universal appeal to the points I'll make. Each of us approaches our creative process differently, and with different goals in mind. Right now I will confine this discussion to Fine Art Photography. This process begins with the photographer looking inward, and examining his or her emotions that are triggered by what is in front of their lens. Here it is important to slow down and get an accurate read on how you feel about the subject directly in front of your camera. If you react significantly then technique takes over and the process of composition, design, and analysis begins. As an experienced photographer, you know to capture many angles and perspectives for the editing process back at your studio.

 

Post processing begins on a light box, perhaps in Adobe Lightroom. Your whole shoot sits before you on screen. The evaluation process should be methodical and true to your original emotional vision. Your inner critic surfaces and takes over. The easy stuff comes first, exposure, sharpness, and other technical standards are easy to judge and correct or reject. Once the shoot is winnowed down, the second tier of editing begins. You begin to look for the frame that echos the emotion you experienced at the moment you pressed the shutter button. It's quite difficult to be objective with our own work. We are literally emotionally attached to it and are not neutral. There is a tendency for us to like most of the work we produce. Logic tells us that great photographs are a lot less common than the good, fair, or poor ones.

 

Success requires us to slow down and look, “see” into our selected keepers at a much deeper level. This process could go in a few different directions. If we have a strong well developed inner critic we tend to find stuff few others will even notice. This is positive to the end user that is most important, ourselves. Our work should be exactly the way we want it to be. It's at this point we begin to notice small details that are just a bit off. An awkward reflection, or a tree branch where we don't want it, weird shadow effects, and other more subtle elements of our composition. Some or most of these unwanted details can be dealt with in our photographic editing software.

 

So now we reach the point where we want a physical print from the capture we just spent a good amount of time editing. Either we print it ourselves or send it to a professional lab service. Before we do that more decisions are needed. Decisions about paper surface, contrast, size, frame or no frame, and if we want to mat it or leave it without mat or frame. When we decide to print our own work, then a test print is just the start. Our calibrated monitor and printer has to give us exactly what we envision. Sending our capture file to a professional lab requires we previously set up printing defaults and even ordering some test calibration prints so we can judge what differences there are between our printers output and the pro labs output. At each point in this process, from the first moment we select our subject and look through the viewfinder, through each step, and on to the finished work, we have to deal with that inner critic that lives in our heads. This sometimes friend and sometimes foe guides us to make wise choices that affect how our work will look. Our first obligation is for our work to be exactly as our vision wanted it to be. When we get to showing our work, either in a gallery, or some other exhibition space then the public viewer gets to be the critic. We all know that can go in any critical direction. This is fine. Why? Because the first critic, (ourselves) is content with our piece and can rest with any comments that might come our way.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) criticism editing evaluation lightbox methodology photography visualization https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/11/photography-and-our-inner-critic Fri, 04 Nov 2016 15:44:57 GMT
Insights found along the Photographic Road https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/9/insights-found-along-the-photographic-road It was the late seventies and I began the transition from casual snap shooter, to attempting to make creative photographs. I was persistent and patient. Two qualities that I've learned, serve me well. Since I tend to be an organized type person, I also kept tract of the methods and habits that produced the most improvement for me. There is nothing earthshaking here, just good habits that jelled with the way my brain works. I suppose the first tip is always work with your genuine self. This will produce the most progression in your skill level because you will stick with the process.

 

Photographers fall into a few major groups. There are the “image-centric”, the “gear-centric”, and the third group is a blend of the first two. You will find photographers of all skill levels in every group. I have found that for me, expensive top of the line gear does not translate into great photographs. You need very good gear, not the newest and most expensive.

 

Next I'll state the obvious, find a subject you love, and get out of the house and shoot it. Even when your field trip yields nothing, you are still better off for having the experience behind the camera.

 

You will have a difficult time being your own critic. Being objective is difficult when it comes to your own work. In addition, you'll need to learn how to edit a shoot and cull out the few good ones. Also, you are neither as great, or as awful as you think you are. If you work behind the camera for fifty years you'll still be a student of sorts pushing your personal envelope of skill.

 

There are some really good photo editing software programs available. Never let yourself think that you can turn a poor photograph into a great one in post processing. The time behind the camera is critical, make the best image you are capable of, and don't under shoot a subject. Getting the image “right” is very important.

 

Some types of photography require a tripod. Get a decent one, preferably with a ball head, take the time to adjust it so that its stable and level. Also have backup gear of the critical stuff because when you least need it to happen, some important piece of equipment will fail you.

 

Expose yourself to great work. Go to galleries, get a book or go online and study the masters of photography. It is really OK to admire a few greats and study their work. The intent is not to copy, or become a groupie, but to study their technique.

 

Keep this process of creative photography in perspective. This is a journey, and there will be times when all goes so well you'll think you've arrived, and other times when the best you can claim is that you spent the day behind the camera. It's all part of the process, and the process is a lifetime commitment to the art that you love.

 

You will find people that admire your work, and love it, but never offer the market value to purchase it. Thank these people for the compliment, and resist the free photo habit. Giving away your work seldom benefits you, and very rarely translates into a sale. You are undermining yourself and the industry. Keep the free photos to a scarce minimum. It is not the camera or other equipment that is responsible for the work, it is your skill. A highly skilled photographer can create very good photographs with almost any camera placed in their hands. Never sell yourself short.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Creative Photography insights tips https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/9/insights-found-along-the-photographic-road Sat, 03 Sep 2016 18:43:30 GMT
Appreciation of Professional Quality Photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/8/appreciation-of-professional-quality-photography I recently upgraded my cell phone. My old phone developed lots of glitches and overheating issues, so it became time for change. My new Phone is a Samsung Galaxy S7. Here are the specs. The phone packs 32GB of internal storage that can be expanded up to 200GB via a micro-SD card. As far as the cameras are concerned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 packs a 12-megapixel primary camera on the rear and a 5-megapixel front shooter for selfies. Pretty amazing right? This gadget fits nicely in my pocket, it's a phone, calendar, contact list, web browser, and does lots of other neat stuff. It also has replaced the handheld snapshot camera. Cell phones and their cameras are everywhere, and almost no event that transpires goes unphotographed. The day of the film snapshot camera is gone. How has this passing of film to digital effected us?

 

With film, we were limited to 24/36 exposures per roll. Also limiting our shot selection was the cost of development, and the trip to our nearby film lab. A benefit of film was that we held in our hands paper prints of the event we photographed, and saved them in various ways for later viewing. With digital photography the only thing that limits our shot count is our ability to save the files. On average, our personal shot count has risen dramatically. My guess is that the number of prints that get printed and saved is a much lower percentage than that of film. Also I suspect that the way people save digital files varies greatly and leaves many digital captures at risk of loss. The ease of making a photo with today's cell phones encourages photo making, at the cost of understanding what it takes for a camera to make a photograph. The obvious response is "who cares?".  Most people are interested in the image, not the tech stuff that made it.   My observation of personal photography, (family snapshot photos), is that there is a tendency today to photograph an event, rather than live the event. The proliferation of casual photo making has had a numbing effect of sorts, a lessening of appreciation of professional quality work. There are also advantages to working digital that are undeniable. We are limited only by our imagination as to how to use our images. Post processing has become easier, and the result is that the quality of our work has improved dramatically. We are able to share our work widely anywhere there are internet connections, we can produce hardcover book albums that are coffee table quality, and tell stories in new and innovative ways.

 

As with any advancement in technology there are benefits as well as trade offs. Digital capture and printmaking have made photography an everyday event. We photograph ourselves doing all sorts of everyday activities, including the meals we eat. We also document life events extensively. What we've lost I believe is the appreciation of professional quality photography. It is common to hear remarks about work being "Photo shopped", even when that is not the case. The photographic skill that was developed with years of training gets diminished, it was the software or that expensive DSLR right? I don't hear much talk about what paintbrush was used to make an oil painting. The tendency is to be reluctant to purchase a well done image. Ironically, we are exposed to and use photographs more than ever, and at the same time devalue it. In the early 1960's the age of the fully manual camera came to an end. It was common before that for photographers to use cameras that did not have light meters. Focusing skills were important, as well as knowledge of light and shutter speed. Tripods were a must for any serious photograph due to slow ASA (ISO) film speed. When ISO speeds increased without image degradation, the camera left the tripod for the most part. The style of work changed to a more casual and organic type composition. Working digitally has also changed photography for the good as well as to its detriment. This transformation is ongoing and increasing in speed. My hope is that somewhere along the way well made professional quality images are valued for their significance as art.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photography cell phone cameras digital film cameras snapshots https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/8/appreciation-of-professional-quality-photography Tue, 02 Aug 2016 16:43:35 GMT
Sabbaday Falls, Waterville Valley New Hampshire https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/7/sabbaday-falls-waterville-valley-new-hampshire I recently visited a little gem of a spot in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Just off Route 112 (Kancamagus highway) Sabbaday Falls is a beautiful short hike, that is rewarding for all those who appreciate nature walks. The purpose of my visit was photography, and these falls do not disappoint. The 0.3 mile hike is short and accessible to most people. There are benches along the way they offer a good way to slow down and take in the details of this very beautiful area. The trail is cinder and well cleared and marked. It is up hill, so a measure of common sense is useful. If you are not a regular hiker, here are a few heads up suggestions. You'll need, good comfortable shoes, water, and clothes appropriate for the weather. The falls itself consists of three tiers. If you are time flexible, then I'd suggest following the weather and timing your visit during the time of year when there has been some rain.

 

I was looking for photographic subject matter, and there was plenty. In addition to the three major tiers, there are lots of places where moss, rocks, and water create wonderful compositions. Being sure footed is necessary if you want to get up close to the stream bed. I like to use slower shutter speeds for this kind of subject. In this regard, there can be compositions that are 3/4's shade and frequently have a blast of bright sunshine. The contrast ratio can be unpleasant. I prefer a light cloud cover to even out the contrast levels. You might want to bring a Neutral Density filter to help extend the shutter speed. There are trees growing out of the small gorge vertical face, and the green stands out from the Basalt Rock background. Near the parking area, there are picnic tables where you can enjoy a peaceful lunch. Scampering around the tables are Red Squirrels, and lots of Chipmunks. They clearly associate humans with food and are not shy. If you are patient and motivated they would make good subject matter.

 

These days I like to travel light. I use a photographic vest and only take what I really need. A good sturdy tripod that is flexible is a must. My two favorite lenses are; a wide angle zoom, and a telephoto zoom. In addition I carry a macro lens for closeup work. I usually avoid filters, however I do carry a polarizer and a neutral density filter. The most useful thing you can include and bring with you is patience and the ability to slow down and really look at what nature is presenting to you.

 

Sabbaday Falls is 74 miles north of my hometown. The drive is pleasant and relaxing. This area is the kind of place I'd photograph in all seasons. It's a subject that reveals more of itself the more you look. I will go back in the fall and capture the rocks, water, and foliage.

 

It took thousands of years for water to carve out this small gorge. The vegetation that lives there has adapted to the environment and the result is the perfection that nature offers. In addition the sounds of water and songbirds are relaxing and restorative. If you plan your trip mid week, and around the vacationers it is a very meditative experience. My most successful photographs are the ones that capture the essence of my subjects. This is accomplished and made easier when I slow down, look, and listen. My visit to Sabbaday Falls was restorative, calming, and energizing. If you visit and bring the right frame of mind, you will make successful photographs, and leave feeling rejuvenated.   

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Kancamagus New Hampshire Sabbaday White Mountain National Forest photography travel waterfalls https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/7/sabbaday-falls-waterville-valley-new-hampshire Tue, 05 Jul 2016 19:53:10 GMT
The Family Snapshot, Our Personal Historical Thread https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/5/the-family-snapshot-our-personal-historical-thread On the table in front of me sits a photograph. More accurately, a snapshot made in haste, a record of an event only vaguely remembered. This particular photograph has power, it stirs emotion and memories. This past April, it has been 12 years since my Dad passed from this life. Yet, there is his face, frozen in that fraction of a second shutter speed moment. As long as that photograph exists that moment remains very real. We all have snapshots of loved ones. All of us have experienced that instant when we've casually flipped over a snapshot, and felt a rush of emotion, and a longing to be with a loved one long gone. This is magic. Even though I understand the process of making a photograph, even after all these years, it is still magical. A recent visit to an Antique shop brings me to a corner where a table holds piles of snapshots. On this table lie memories, dreams, love, loss, and celebration. These are orphan photographs to be sure. Unknown faces stare out at the future with their best clothing and stiff formal poses.

 

Some have short notes written on the back, or even across the image, "Aunt Elizabeth at Niagara Falls". I study the image to try to age the scene, looking for an automobile, or perhaps dated clothing to set the year. More importantly, I wonder how did so many snapshots become unwanted enough to land on this table. Maybe even now there are family members wishing they could have saved the pictures from this fate. Looking into the faces captured in silver is fascinating to me. Their eyes might offer a clue for me to look deeper into this slice of history. So many contain formal stiffly posed adults, with a young distracted child looking off camera. Others have black paper stuck to the back, this photo once sat in an album. They are proof of a history unknown to me. Here is one of a young couple on a beach, looking happy and relaxed. Were they both happy with their relationship? Endless photos of Christmas gift opening, and holiday feasts. How good was that wonderful Turkey sitting center table?

 

This table in the back corner holds so many strands of history that seem to be lost. Every once in a while I'll come across a photo of a place I recognize. It's Time Square take a look! I scan closely all the store fronts, buildings, and cars to place the year. So much has changed, yet some things are recognizable. They dressed so formal back then. These days we are much more casual about our dress code. A shot of Yankee Stadium shows almost all the men in the stands in suit and tie. The more I browse the more fascinated I become. Then there are photographs of the great war. The conflict that killed more humans than any other, WWII. Some battlefield photos are scattered and mixed with homecoming enlisted men. Mothers and Fathers with ear to ear smiles for a returning son. One table holds the human experience.

 

This table holds a treasure of experience that is orphaned, disconnected, and out of context. They are lost to the people that could give them their true meaning. I keep wondering why and how? Here's a wild thought, could software and facial recognition match people and families? It would be a monumental task. I read that after violent storms and other natural disasters, some people gather scattered photos and post them so others can find them. At the very least we should protect our documented history. It might be a good idea to dig out that box of snapshots once a year and have some fun with the kids. Its a good laugh and bitter sweet trip through the box. Best of all, us older family members can place context and meaning for the younger ones. The historical thread can remain connected from past to present. Another thought fascinates me, these rushed, casually snapped photos are given more meaning as time passes. The instant when the shutter is released, passed so quickly, little thought to personal history came to mind. Hindsight gives meaning and value to the family snapshot.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) History photographs snapshots https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/5/the-family-snapshot-our-personal-historical-thread Sun, 01 May 2016 19:56:18 GMT
The Selfie, Social Media, and our Changing Society https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/4/the-selfie-social-media-and-our-changing-society The selfie has turned into a world wide activity. What are the reasons so many people participate in this activity? What does the popularity of this activity say about our society? What does it say about our self image? A good place to start this discussion is at the end. Social media offers wide distribution instantaneously. If the end destination did not exist, then the selfie would be less popular. Almost everyone has the ability to post a photograph to an online site as it happens. This can be a great communication tool to stay in touch with family and friends. It also has psychological implications.

 

The first reason people post selfies is that it offers proof of our basic goodness and humanity. Being photographed with cute animals, children, and being involved in outdoor activities shapes how others see us. This poses the question, why should we have to prove our humanity? That is a large subject to cover and I'll touch on it a bit below. Second, photos involving risky behavior can be proof of bravery. Third, photos of selflessness are a personality enhancement.

 

Life was slow and measured in our recent past. People sat and read books, (the paper analog kind), and many had personal stationary and wrote letters to friends and family. Information traveled much slower than it does today. Nowadays we watch unfolding news as it is happening, on a world wide stage. Products are displayed on screen in our homes, informing us on ways to improve ourselves. We have a multitude of standards to measure ourselves to see how we stack up. It is common place today to photograph yourself in an activity, post the photo to social media, and all before you've ended the day. This has the effect of making celebrities of us in our family and friend circles. It is a counter punch to the impersonal assaults we subject ourselves to daily. Our generation was raised to think of ourselves as special and unique. We are reminded all the time that we are less than that. Many take photos of themselves participating in risky behavior. We've seen the images of extreme skiing, base jumping, and climbing cliffs with minimal gear. We have the pictures to prove our bravery. People will photograph themselves doing almost everything, and post it somewhere these days. It's as if we are offering proof we exist. People adopted the selfie to enhance their style, just like their clothing choice, or tattoos and hairstyle separate them from the pack, so does the selfie to some extent.

 

Selfies can be positive as well as negative. The need to separate oneself from the masses and stand out is made easy by way of the selfie. It is an easy personality enhancement. How we see ourselves is directly related to how we perform in the society we are part of. It is not always narcissistic, rather its how we define ourselves. It is now easier than ever to control how others see us. It is a common practice to use the cell phone camera as we once used a hand held mirror. It is because of social media that we now are able to interact with hundreds of people all at the same time. Not that long ago we interacted with other people either in person or via land line telephone, a much smaller number of interactions. These days one photo post equals many interactions and that photo can be altered with software filters. We present our best self, a self portrait that we control and approve of.

 

There are two sides to this issue, as with most issues, and balance is the sweet spot we should land on. Anything we obsess about becomes a problem. It narrows our view of what lies in front of us. We develop tunnel vision, that's why being obsessed is generally not a good thing. It's now easier to present a public image of ourselves that differs from an in person experience. That difference might open some doors for you, and on the other hand present you with a situation you have to live up to. Never before has it been easier for friends and family to keep their lives closely woven together. We watch the flow of life of our loved ones as never before. At a time when economics sometimes create great distances between us and our friends and family, we now get to watch their day progress. We get to see our grandchildren in their favorite pajamas from hundreds of miles away. It is not the same as being there though. The expressions on their faces are stuck in a moment in time. Reading the emotions of our friends and family is a much more close up and personal experience.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) photography self image self portrait selfie social media https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/4/the-selfie-social-media-and-our-changing-society Sun, 03 Apr 2016 16:34:55 GMT
The Relationship Between Images and Photographic Equipment https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/3/the-relationship-between-images-and-photographic-equipment The most valuable tool you will ever own is your brain.  It is a very complex organ that merges technical knowledge, imagination, organization, design, and life experience.  If you can quiet your racing thoughts, and clearly see what is in your viewfinder good things happen.  

My thoughts and feelings towards the tools I use to make photographs works for me.  I respect their wonderful engineering, high quality, and ease of use, and view it as an extension of my mind and hands.  At the same time, I have a healthy disrespect for the gear I use.  I value and protect my equipment.  I take excellent care of my stuff, but in the end its just a set of tools.  My priority are the images and to a lessor extent the equipment.  I would not hesitate to own the proper gear I needed, however once I own it, I separate myself from the frenzy of new improvements and model numbers.  Its been said, that Adobe Photoshop cannot make a great photograph out of a bad one.  This holds true for camera gear as well.  Expensive stuff does not guarantee great photographs.

I spend a lot of time thinking about images.  What is significant enough to want me to put a frame around it?  Spending more time thinking about making a photograph and less time thinking about gear, puts the emphasis where I want it to be.  It gets my mind focused on framing an image and creating just the composition I want. I do recommend spending time familiarizing yourself with your gear and how it all works to get the tech stuff out of the front of your mind.  Become knowledgeable enough to not think about the tech stuff. My friends and family frequently ask me how they can make better photographs.  Typically, the conversation goes in the direction of purchasing new equipment that can make a better photographs.  They make the rookie error of placing to much importance on gear.  On occasion I take them outside and each of us use the same cell phone to make a photograph.  What becomes obvious very quickly is that they need to eliminate visual clutter and frame their work for a cleaner design.  This works with any camera.  It takes a bit of desire and consistent work, but everyone can improve their photography without necessarily getting involved with a new purchase.

Henri Cartier-Bresson is known for capturing the decisive moment.  Being in the right place at the right time, being ready both equipment wise, as well as mentally alert.  He used quality equipment, however his focus was not on his tools, it was on the moment at hand.  Following are two quotes that emphasize his mindset. 

 To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.

In my photographic career I have gotten to know all types of photographers.  Some are so focused on equipment that they are a walking dictionary of model numbers and new issue gear.  Their approach to photography is from the technical side.  Others I've known are always looking and seeing.  Being with them means you are focused on  the light, texture, and composition, and those things are the topic of discussion.  People will gravitate towards the discipline that appeals to their nature.  Being true to my inner self, means that what winds up in the frame is my focus.  I find that filling my head with all the new gear the industry can come up with takes my focus off where I want it to be. Being more present, more involved in the moment right before me, and seeing deeply into my surroundings makes me more alive and aware of the world around me.  With my work I am essentially saying “here look at this, isn't this wonderful?”  After all, we only live in the present moment.  It is really all we have to work with.  We live our whole lives in the moment we are in, not in the future that is yet to unfold.  Nor in the past that is unchangeable.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photography concentration equipment image making keeping perspective https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/3/the-relationship-between-images-and-photographic-equipment Tue, 01 Mar 2016 21:13:33 GMT
Evaluating and Rating Personal Work https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/2/evaluating-and-rating-personal-work These days I find myself thinking quite a bit about my personal photographic style. I am going through my archive, evaluating and rating my previous work. This very quickly leads to questions like, who am I? Why do I gravitate towards a specific look? What common elements are present in all the subjects I photograph? These questions are valid to ask of my personal work.

As I have gotten older, I've narrowed my focus. I want a clearer image identity. How I produce an image has much to do with style identification even with differing subjects. When I am looking through the viewfinder, part of the process is finding subject elements to eliminate from the image. I ask myself how much can be removed without loosing the shot? Along with this decision things like angle and distance become part of in camera editing. The final image begins to take shape, and I visualize the finished image. My successful images have a lot in common. They have good strong composition, clarity, and express my emotional response to the subject. Good technique is important, however I believe it is also necessary to open a door to the heart. I want my feelings included in the image. I am aware that everyone responds differently to images, and that is fine. This work that I classify as personal is reflective of my emotions and reaction to what is in the viewfinder. My process does not end with the camera. There are wonderful tools available for post processing images. These tools add to the control I have in my creative process. The image that I visualized back at the shooting site comes to life in the post processing phase of image making. Successful photographers all have work that they elevate to a special category known as their best work. This top tier of work becomes defining. Often when editing we look for images that have similar defining characteristics. This is how a personal style comes into being and takes shape. This process has more to do with the creative process and less to do with choice of subject. A photographer with a well developed style can be recognized even when choosing differing subjects. Every once in a while someone will see and react to my work in a way that tells me they've understood my point of view. That is a very rewarding moment. As wonderful as that moment is, I like to move past it quickly. It is seductive to start thinking about shooting for a desired reaction. The work I make public on this portfolio site is very personal. I do not want to loose the connection with my inner self that drives my creative process.

My style, reputation, and how people think of my work is reflective of the tip of my creative "iceberg". Like an iceberg, most is out of sight. The work I choose to show and make public defines my creative self, as does the work I choose not to show. The flow of life is constant much like a river, and change is always with us. Within this flow I place a frame around significant compositions. There is always a subtext, always a back story, always the work is autobiographical. When someone falls in love with an image, and can see beyond the surface into a deeper meaning, that is a wonderful moment. It is energizing and inspiring. Every now and then it happens, someone "gets it". My inner drive toward the next image comes from a deeper part of me. When I am successful at shutting out the noise and clutter of an average day I can access that place within me. I have, by now, developed good habits to tap into that place. While I value constructive evaluation of my work, and all are free to form their own opinion, the most important critic I have to please is myself. If I am working on an assignment for a client, then I challenge myself to make them happy while keeping my image identity up front and obvious. You can view a representative sample of my work in the galleries on this site. My hope is that you will carve out a small block of time where you can sit uninterrupted, and look beyond the surface into a deeper understanding.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Personal Photographic Style Photography Portfolio Self Expression https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/2/evaluating-and-rating-personal-work Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:58:09 GMT
Saint or Sinner 2016, Self Expression and the New Year https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/1/saint-or-sinner-2016-self-expression-and-the-new-year It's 2016, the year is fresh and new, and we should have flying cars by now. Way back in 1955, the ten year old Andre spent time with his buddies thinking about the future. We were very confident and self assured, we were sure that flying cars would be the norm by at least the year 2000. It is easy to look at today's trends and extrapolate well into the future. Our predictions did not take into consideration one small factor, human behavior. Human nature has the tendencies to run the gamut from saintlike to sinner.

 

Perhaps there is something flawed in our approach to our own future. Logic tells us that we only can affect circumstances in the current moment. Our past is unchangeable. We can look back at it fondly, or with anxiety, but it is what it is. Our future, can take many paths, resulting in a wide range of outcomes. We either decide or not decide, and embark on a path of circumstances that are unknown to us. Every January, I get this overpowering urge to reform my diet, work patterns, or get more organized. I am not alone in this annual surge of self improvment. It is society wide I suspect. It is not long before the realization sets in that change for the better is elusive at best. Evaluating a change that has long term consequences is daunting. My approach these days is short term. Forget the life changing decisions, lets think of only today.

 

There is plenty of room for improvement in my life, however I am limiting this discussion to photography, specifically my personal work. My best work is more than can be described by a set of rules or formula. It evolves from emotion, imagination, experiential, and technical inner landscape. I will make the decision each day to nurture and care for this inner space. Avoid thinking to much about acquiring or becoming dependent on photographic equipment. I already have plenty of gear to help me express myself. Value the creative process. Great ideas or photographs sometimes reveal themselves in stages. Editing my work with a critical eye, looking for parts of compositions that stand out, trusting my instincts, and being patient will work. Exercise seeing compositions even when I am without a camera, and it's OK to take visual notes with a cellphone. They are not intended as final, they are just notes, relax and enjoy the process. Concentrate and be more aware of the present moment. Tunnel vision is a human trait that has helped us survive over the millennium, for me it is counter productive as far as personal work is involved. I am part of an ever evolving environment, stay open to the energy that is all around me. I am still amazed by what we categorize as “the small things in life”. My youngest Grandchild, age 5, uses a cellphone to make photographs. His subjects are captured from his perspective. That being low to the ground, unbiased, free form, and without hesitation. Not surprisingly there are some keepers that I'd frame. His approach is pure childlike enthusiasm, and yes technique needs a polish, but that will come later. Primary is encouraging love of life, joy of seeing, and self confidence.

 

2016 begins with a fresh clean slate. After a brief evaluation, setting clear priorities, and deciding to be more present, I am optimistic. On other fronts, I will eat more salads, less sugar and fried food, and get out and walk more, (with a camera). Also, I'll trust my instincts, stay away from self doubt, try not to take criticism seriously, and be open and observant. Getting out to local galleries to look at the current work being done is also important to me, I will do more of this. The beginning of a new year can be just another day, or a new beginning. It's a good thing I have this chance to reboot the brain once every twelve months. Happy New Year everyone.    

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Imagination creativity openness personal work photography present moment https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2016/1/saint-or-sinner-2016-self-expression-and-the-new-year Tue, 05 Jan 2016 18:21:20 GMT
New Hampshire brings a change of lifestyle https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/12/thoughts-on-andre-cantelmo-photography-relocation We can always count on change. The one constant that remains with us all our lives. As a young person, flexibility can be a major asset. As our lives get more rooted and complicated change becomes more of a challenge. No one I know looks forward to going through everything they own, wrapping it, boxing it, and moving it. That is just how my wife and I spent our time this past year.

 

Ever since our children were young, we've vacationed in New Hampshire. It is an easy state to fall in love with and that is just what we did many decades ago. I never imagined myself living here. Both of us were born and raised in New Jersey, and lived there always. It goes without saying we have many friends and family, as well as professional, and personal interest that keep us busy. The process of deciding to make our move to the Granite state evolved very slowly, then took on an energy all its own. Little by little, events fell into place, and everything became aligned for our decision to be made very easily.

 

Living in New Hampshire brings a change of lifestyle, energy, and activity. Patricia and I are sharing a home office (family and friends warned us about this), however we enjoy each others company and are confident this will work. Life is pleasantly slower here, just what we both need right now. The change from New Jersey to New Hampshire also brings a change from suburban/city to rural farmland. We both are adjusting to a new skill set needed to make life easier.

 

Getting unpacked, organized, set up, and dealing with all the boxes and packing material have been energy and time consuming. A new experience for me was changing drivers licenses and registrations in a relaxed unhurried atmosphere. I have yet to plan my first shoot, but I am confident that it will be sooner rather than later. I have a new pallet to work from, that I am eager to explore. The New England coastline, The White Mountains, rolling farmland, and some classic New England architecture have me very excited to get started. Yes, I do know it gets cold here. Many of my friends and relatives voiced concern about the weather in the weeks leading up to our move. I already researched clothing options and the product line has never been of such high quality and efficiency. A very knowledgeable young man at an outdoor gear store spent lots of time with me. Together we made choices that will work for my activity level.

 

In the coming months I will explore this new, yet familiar landscape. As per my usual practice, this blog will reflect my experiences, emotions, discoveries, and opinions related to things photographic. My vision oriented brain always has me looking around and making mental compositions. Within an hour and a half of my home in any direction I can find fresh new subject matter, textures, light and culture. I have always loved the look of historic cities and towns of New England. In addition, coastal New England has a pallet I never get tired of looking at through my viewfinder. The White Mountains lie in wait just a short ride north of where I live. I look forward to exploring these subjects as well as others, so check in regularly. Your comments are always welcome. You can reach me via the contact page on this web site.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Changes Moving New England New Hampshire https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/12/thoughts-on-andre-cantelmo-photography-relocation Tue, 01 Dec 2015 22:30:00 GMT
Rutgers Gardens https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/8/rutgers-gardens July in New Jersey brings hazy, hot and humid forecasts one day after another. Pale skies, with an atmospheric haze that can ruin any photograph that includes it. It gets hot in New Jersey in July, and I believe that it is the hottest month here. Lawns turn from a fresh green to a pale hue and require a watering schedule. Every once in a while, I find myself wanting to get creative with a local project. This involves searching through my personal collection of local points of interest. This search can lead me off on a tangent or even a second generation tangent. One lead leading to another and another I soon find myself in unexpected territory. July's search led me to the Rutgers Gardens. The Rutgers Gardens is a self sustaining operation that relies on community support for sustaining its operation. It is open 365 days a year and its mission is to promote appreciation and information about horticulture and its relationship between human health and nutrition and plants. The website can easily be found via Google by searching “Rutgers Gardens”.

 

My description can only begin with the caveat that even with a GPS, this is not easy to find. It is truly a hidden gem, set in the middle of densely populated section of central New Jersey. There are major highways nearby, as well as heavily traveled local roads all around it. It is worth the search, and once you quiet your mind a bit, you are in for a very rewarding walk. The gardens are divided into sections. There is a Shade Tree Collection, Shrub Collection, Bamboo Forest, Azalea, Holly, and Rhododendron collection. You will also find plenty of colorful flowers, ornamental grasses, and an Evergreen collections, some species are very rare. One section flows naturally into another and it does not take long to become completely immersed in getting “lost” in nature. The staff and volunteers do a wonderful job with making everything work together. It is a well designed layout. Colors, texture, shape, and all well balanced.

 

I especially liked the Bamboo Forest. There are wood bark paths that wind their way between these majestic specimens. Bamboo is a member of the grass family, but it is difficult to stop yourself from thinking “trees”. Green is a wonderful color that I find very soothing, and Bamboo offers many shades of this calming color. Walking through these giants is so relaxing, you easily forget where you are. I recommend a tripod here, with a lower ISO setting. You'll want to capture everything and minimize the digital noise of very high ISO settings.

 

On site there is also a small lily pond. My timing was just right in that I was treated to the sight of wonderfully golden lilies. A few small frogs make their home here, and can be easily photographed. As always, slow down, don't just look. Take the time to see. Not far from this spot, is a stand of Sunflowers. They are always fun to photograph, and as usual the colors are striking. The gardens offer quite a visual treat. The more you slow down the more you will see. I also enjoyed the changing aromas from one section to another. From Pine, to floral, and on to spice.

 

I have always loved Nature. When I was younger I did not slow down enough to have as deep an appreciation as I do now. These days the intensity of colors, sound, textures, and light are a treasure to me. I've come to understand that I am not separate from the natural world, I am part of it. I have also found that whatever state of mind I bring to my hikes affects the intensity of my experience. If I am in an agitated mood it takes longer for me to be in the moment. If I can leave the stress and busy schedule of everyday life on the shelf for a while then my hikes become transformational. The intensity of the experience is higher and more fulfilling. The task at hand then becomes getting my emotional interpretation in the frame of my camera.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Nature New Jersey awareness field trip horticulture outdoor photography seeing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/8/rutgers-gardens Sun, 02 Aug 2015 17:06:55 GMT
Mary Ellen Mark https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/6/mary-ellen-mark Her work was exhibited in galleries and Museums, she published 18 books, and in the photography world everyone knew her.  Mary Ellen Mark, a world class Photojournalist and Documentarian passed away May 25, 2015 from a blood illness involving bone marrow failure.  Born and raised in Elkins Park, Pa. a suburb of Philadelphia Mark began her relationship with Photography at age nine with a Brownie Box Camera.  With a BFA in painting and Art History from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in Photojournalism, and a Fulbright scholarship she began her lifelong work of giving voice to people whose lives were lived at or near the fringes of society.

 

Mark had a reputation for getting close to her subjects.   Her work included subjects such as the Vietnam War protests, Woman’s Liberation movement, and social issues that included, homelessness, loneliness, drug addiction, and prostitution.  She traveled the world with her cameras that varied from time to time from 35mm, medium format, 4 X 5, and a 20 X 24 Polaroid Land Camera. In a Times of London interview she stated, "I'm for the underdog. I certainly feel that it's a land of unequal opportunity. I'm interested in having people feel for the people I photograph. It's an unfair world."  This theme was a constant in Mark's work, and it brought her to subjects in Mexico and India for her "Man and Beast" exhibition of April 2014.  Her photographs always perfectly printed explored her lifelong passion for photographing animals in circuses with their trainers.  This exhibition explored the subtle humanity of animals and the darkness within humans. Mark was able to freely explore her subjects because she photographed from the inside out.  She immersed herself in the subject matter and gained trust as well as understanding.  This ability allowed her subjects essence to be captured on film.  In the mid 1970's Mark worked on a series of photographs entitled Laurie, ward 81.  For this project Ms. Mark moved into an Oregon mental institution. Her stay there allowed her to blend into the surroundings and remove the camera as a distraction resulting in very powerful photographs, expertly printed as usual.  These straightforward stark photographs could have only been made because of the trust her subjects had in Mary Ellen Mark.

 

I admired Ms. Mark and her dedication to her work.  It is still rare that a person can follow their passion, and make a living doing what they love.  Mary Ellen Mark was very good at her work, an artist.  She intended her work to spur on social change, attitude change, and acceptance of life lived on the fringes of society.  It has been said the only thing we can count on is change.  Ms. Mark's work attempted to direct that change and encourage compassion and justice from the fortunate to the less so.  We are diminished by her absence, as are the subjects she chose for her life's work.  They have lost their champion.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Documentarian Mary Ellen Mark Photjournalism Portraiture black and white film social change https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/6/mary-ellen-mark Mon, 08 Jun 2015 01:08:44 GMT
Thoughts on The Auschwitz Album https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/3/thoughts-on-the-auschwitz-album I recently viewed the online album that is referred to as the Auschwitz Album. It is a chilling experience, looking at page after page of photographs of a crime that I cannot find the words to describe. The first book I viewed I found at, http://www.yadvashem.org. The second album, a record from the viewpoint of camp administrator Karl-Friedrich Höcker, left me equally speechless. This link; http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/laughing-auschwitz-ss-auxiliaries-poses-resort-auschwitz-personnel-1942/ shows the leisure photographs from the guards point of view.

 

The first series of photographs, documents the handling of prisoners that were deemed unfit to work. This group consisted overwhelmingly of women and young children. Waiting in long lines, their faces reveal nothing of the horror that waits just ahead. You see Mothers holding their youngest children, and older siblings holding the hands of their younger brothers and sisters. They look calm, innocent, and unafraid. The photographs, taken by camp guards, are without any emotional point of view, and are documentary in approach. Someone took the time to compose, focus, and adjust depth of field. Someone also gave no hint in those photographs that all of these people would soon be gassed to death. I was born the week after WWII ended. As a “baby boomer” it was impossible to grow up and not know the history of World War II. Looking at these photographs today leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach, and at a loss for words.

 

The second album, “Laughing at Auschwitz” documents the leisure time of the camp personnel. Here are photographs of the men and women who worked at the camp and made it function. You move from one photo to another, essentially looking at what might pass for vacation photographs. Male and female, smiling, laughing, relaxing, eating blueberries, and playing the accordion. These images were produced to document and preserve, to make a record, and were proudly assembled into an album. There is even an image of Karl Hocker lighting candles on a Christmas Tree.

 

Learning about WWII and the Holocaust in school gives a generalized knowledge of the history of one of the most deadly events in human history. Estimates are that a total of 55,000,000 humans died as a result of WWII. Taking time to view the images in these two albums gives a much closer look, a look in intimate working detail. I find myself struggling for words that can accurately express my thoughts and feelings. I wonder about the disconnect from humanity of the person behind the camera. That person calmly and efficiently created a historical record. That person composed, focused, and adjusted the light meter of their equipment. Someone went into a darkroom and developed those negatives. Someone took the time to arrange the photographs in these two albums. How is it possible for humanity to betray it own kind on a scale such as this? What does it take to get someone to suspend their ethics, morals, and humanness to this extent? These two albums are a small part of the archive that exists documenting the Holocaust. In addition to all the photographic evidence there is the personal testimony of survivors, as well as the eyewitness evidence of the liberating armed forces that entered the camps.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Album Auschwitz documentary photographs https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/3/thoughts-on-the-auschwitz-album Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:30:00 GMT
How much authority do we give to a photograph? https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/2/how-much-authority-do-we-give-to-a-photograph From time to time a movie I've watched sticks in my head and hangs around for long periods of time, decades in fact. Zelig (1983), a Woody Allen film is such a movie. In this film Mr. Allen's image is inserted into real life historical footage. Along with cinematographer Gordon Willis a masterful job was accomplished long before the digital manipulation we are familiar with today was available. Fading and even scratches were applied to the stock to give it a realistic look. Good reasons exists for why we find these images so believable. First we have a deep seated belief that photographs are an accurate rendition of a moment, we trust photographs. This trust persists even though we all know photographs are often manipulated. Secondly, we judge photographs as truthful when they confirm our beliefs. The third reason is that we are not very good at telling a well done manipulated photograph from one that is not. Lastly, our minds are very good at retaining visual memories. Long after the textural context is forgotten, the image remains in our memory. Perhaps this trait goes all the way back to our pre-language ancestors, and their survival strategies.

 

The internet is full of manipulated celebrity photographs. While most are not very skillful in technique, a few are so well done that only a reverse internet search can reveal that it is faked. Proving an image is faked is not easy, but it is possible. Proving an image is truthful is much more difficult. When we enter the political arena, the potential for manipulated images influencing public opinion is very high, and rewarding if you can pull it off. As stated above, images tend to be retained in memory even when we know they are inaccurate, as long as they confirm a belief we hold dear. The times we live in make capturing and transmitting photographs very quick. The citizen photographer is everywhere and images of events appear on the nightly news in lightning speed. The process that news agencies use to vet the accurate image from one that is not can be a weak link in the publishing chain.

 

Photographers have always manipulated their work. That is what makes them creative. Camera angle, lens choice, depth of focus, and contrast are some of the first controls that are available to the photographer. Lets not forget the stories of Mathew Brady allegedly moving bodies during his Civil War years work to make his photos more dramatic. The darkroom process is where lots of other tools come into play also. These days programs like Adobe Photoshop make manipulation a cleaner process, that can yield very convincing results.

 

There is lots of research being done studying human memory. It seems that the way we remember things can be unreliable. All you have to do is ask a detective about witness reliability. Our senses take in a lot of information, then as it sits in our short term memory vault it can change. Photographs can jog the memory into recall, however what if the said photo is not accurate? How much authority do we give to a photograph?

 

This is where I am supposed to tie up this blog with a bit of wisdom. There is not a lot that I see we can do about the way we perceive the images that flood our minds. Its been said “question everything”, and that is most likely a wise suggestion. When looking at images, keep in mind that the creator of the work has a point of view, as do whomever is editing and publishing it. Skepticism is another tool that should filter your intake when viewing documentary photographs. Stand back for a second and observe your thinking process. Your intuition will sometimes cast a doubt that something seems just a bit off. Don't be so eager to dismiss that little spark. Let it register in your mind for another day.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) image manipulation memory perception photographic accuracy https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/2/how-much-authority-do-we-give-to-a-photograph Thu, 05 Feb 2015 20:37:45 GMT
The Contemplative Photograph https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/1/the-contemplative-photograph In the past few years, I have begun a practice of slowing down and allowing stillness to be a part of my life. This is a result of always having something urgent that needs tending to nagging me from inside my head. I suspect that there is a law that states that all empty space must be filled with something, regardless of its inherent importance or value. The times we live in require management and maintenance. All the gadgets that are designed to make my life simpler, paperless, and free up time have fallen a bit short on delivery. Multiple email accounts need attention, my cell phone is always with me, and stuff just keeps popping up like prairie dogs heads from their holes. Sadly I have plenty of company that share this daily experience.

 

The photographic compositions I am drawn to have stillness, spaciousness, and a sense of peace about them. Ordinary objects take on new meaning, on a surface level they are familiar and common. Their simplicity draws me to spend time with them. I am drawn into the photo and the more I look the more I see. Composition, light, tone, texture, and color touch a place in my mind that has a familiar feel to it. Photographs of this type only happen when the artist slows down, quiets the mind, and lets the moment unfold. Not all photographers work this way. Subject type often determines work practice. Some subjects require fast pace camera work. For the sake of discussion I limit the scope of this blog to the contemplative photograph. We all experience the inner chatter our minds seem compelled to flood our consciousness with. Bits and pieces of everything in our memory pop up like random pieces of a puzzle, fade away only to be replaced with another bit of chatter unrelated to the first. At times it seems like I am in the company of a person who just can't stop talking. Not a fun way to spend a photographic field trip, and not helpful in seeing the unfolding moment right before you. Slowing down your personal pace, and stillness of mind elevates concentration. The effective use of space in a composition often enhances the feeling of stillness. Also helpful is minimizing equipment. I often use just two lenses, and live with my choices. I Give myself time to be quiet and observe what is around me. This stillness often seems like nothing is happening at first. When I allow the quietness to be, I begin to notice compositions I might have missed. Subtle things, wonderful things, are all around me if I slow down, think a little less, and allow for a more natural process to take place.

 

Years ago I needed to produce a series of slides for a lecture. The topic of discussion was visualization, and developing productive shooting habits. I found a rusted trash container in a State Park I was photographing, and slowed down long enough to see the rust pattern had formed a face. It was not noticeable immediately, only revealed itself when I became quiet enough to see it. Then I could not UN-see it. I made a series of shots starting at wide angle, to show the overall area. Then over the span of six slides, I narrowed down to eventually show only the face, obvious to everyone. Keeping my mind centered on the present moment enhances concentration and sharpens visualization. On another self assignment in northern Arizona, I was hiking in the desert just at sunrise. The quiet and stillness of that morning was unlike anything I've ever experienced back east where I live. The Sun broke the horizon casting long shadows across the sand and sagebrush. There was no sound of the wind, birds, or any other creature. The sound of my breath was the loudest sound around me. With total silence, shifting shadows, and the aroma of sage I became immersed in the moment, nothing else existed. I was more alive than I had ever been, my senses the sharpest. The chatter box in my head, the pressures of the future, and regrets of the past all vanished, I was so focused I was barely aware of my camera. These rare moments are wonderful. They do not have to be rare. With some training, and discipline being in the moment is available to us all. We become our true selves, unencumbered by that chatterbox in our heads. I'll end with a quote for you to think about...“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up” – Pablo Picasso

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) awareness being in the moment concentration photography vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2015/1/the-contemplative-photograph Thu, 01 Jan 2015 18:00:00 GMT
The First Digital Camera, and How it Changed Personal Photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/12/the-first-digital-camera-and-how-it-changed-personal-photography It is 1975, and the Vietnam war is ending. The year end close of the Dow Jones Industrial Average is 858. Gasoline costs 44 cents a gallon, and new cars average out at just over $4250.00. If you were in the market for an average house you could expect to spend $39,300.00 for it and your average salary to pay for all this would be $14,100.00. In pop culture, Bruce Springsteen releases his "Born to Run" album, and the movie "Jaws" was keeping everyone out of the ocean.

Meanwhile, in Rochester, NY the photographic powerhouse Eastman Kodak was conducting research on the first digital camera. An engineer Steven Sasson was given the task. He produced a camera that didn't use any film to capture images. A CCD would take on that task. It took just 23 seconds to record the digital image. Storage was accomplished by using a cassette tape to capture the image. Viewing the image required removing the cassette tape from the camera and placing in a custom made playback device, which would display it on a conventional television. The 8 pound camera recorded a 0.01 megapixel black and white image. It took until 1991 for Kodak to release the SLR DCS-100, which retailed for $13,000.00.

These days almost everyone walks around with a cell phone that can make very decent snapshots, and some can produce good 8 X 10's. Our world has become very public, and very photographed. When I was shooting film, I used four types. Black and white 2 1/4 roll, 4 X 5 sheet film, 35mm color slide, and 35mm color negative film. The two types of black and white film were processed in my darkroom, the color film was sent out. In order to stay organized, I set up a simple file system by date. Given just a bit of time, I could find anything I shot. It was all there in hard copy that I could touch with my hands. I most likely would never print most of what I shot, but it all existed as a shooting record. The world of digital consumer photography, (non professional), produces more potential images than ever. It is common to see several friends and family members all recording an event simultaneously independent of each other. It is not unusual for hundreds of captures to be produced at a single event. I often wonder what happens to all those images. Some of them are posted to online sites like facebook, flickr, snapfish, shutterfly, and others. Their final use, runs the gamut from sharing with friends and family, to making photo books. My best guess is that more than half of the images produced stay in digital capture form and never get printed. They are stored on CD's, DVD’s, memory cards, hard drives, and online backup sites. Some of them get deleted either on purpose, by accident, or because of drive failures. Another potential issue is file format. In ten years will that digital capture open with future software? Will the capture rest in storage and remain corruption free and open on a future date?

If you are an image conscious person with an eye on the future, then I would suggest making prints of your most important images. Mind you, I mean just the most important images. The ones that you would be upset to loose. Archival inks and papers are available to purchase online if you want to print your own photographs. Professional labs make very nice photographs these days, and you can order archival papers if you want. I would order two copies of each, and dark store one in archival storage envelopes and boxes. This insures that the images that are most important to you, the ones of major life events, are available in the future. While not common, it is not all that unusual for me to be asked to restore a photograph of a loved one, and that photograph is the only one in existence. Think in terms of leaving a family record for future generations. Put another way most of us enjoy looking at one hundred year old historical photographs. Be proactive and create a small archive of essential family history, with labels. The size will be determined by how involved you wish to get. It could be as simple as a dozen of the most important images safely stored in archival envelopes, and place in archival boxes. These supplies are available online and can be easily found through Google or other search engines.

At the present time we live in a culture that is saturated with still and moving images. At times it can almost be sensory overload, attempting to digest everything that comes at us. Our social lives are photographed more than ever, and this can lead to image fatigue. There is a temptation to devalue our personal photographs, to take them for granted so to speak. Mixed into all those photos are a small percentage of images that should be preserved. A record of the family tree for example, weddings, births, and life accomplishments are some examples that come to mind. I am not one to make New Years Resolutions, however January is waiting just off stage left to make an entrance, and it seems like a good time to start a project such as this.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) First Digital Camera Photography family photographs preservation https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/12/the-first-digital-camera-and-how-it-changed-personal-photography Thu, 04 Dec 2014 16:49:02 GMT
Is There Still Such a Thing as Privacy in the Age of the Paparazzi? https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/10/is-there-still-such-a-thing-as-privacy-in-the-age-of-the-paparazzi There is a new word, (it might not officially be a word yet) that has found its way into my vocabulary. Grandocide, a word that describes the process of degrading a famous persons looks, reputation, or image. Our society is fascinated with fame, and the creation of new celebrities. We place them on top of a mountain, then the process of character assassination begins. In the beginning it starts slowly. If the celebrity in the cross-hairs is wise and smart they can manage their press coverage, and in effect manage their public image. The less savvy get to see their off moments, awkward body posture, and cellulite in full color at the Supermarket check out counter.

This type of photography exists because there is a market for it. A very healthy market in fact that is very lucrative. From time to time stories about photographers behaving badly make the news, especially when something tragic happens as a result of a Paparazzi chase. These chase scenes take place as a result of the high financial reward for getting "the shot" and having it first. It's easy for us to sit back and pass judgment, to quickly decide on the ethics these photographers are lacking. The blame does not stop there unfortunately. The national sales figures for "Entertainment" magazines is high. Our society seems to have a very large appetite for gossip and supermarket tabloid shallowness. We are a society of Gawkers. Astonishingly, we easily accept the fictional copy that accompanies these photos. The competition between entertainment publishers sometimes runs right over what might be referred to as facts. Character assassination is not confined to the entertainment industry. One only needs to turn your head towards politics to view another version of this national form of entertainment. For now I'll restrict the scope of this blog to entertainment only.

There was a time when "Hollywood" had what is referred to as the studio system of actors and actresses. Well paid photographers were on staff or contract to produce beautiful publicity photographs of the stars. Today these photos are considered art. They exercised full control over a stars public image. No embarrassing moments made the national tabloids. In fact, if someone published a story that was detrimental to a star's image and perhaps career, they did not get any more information on that star or any other in the studio's control. In a gradual process over several decades a market was created and thrived, a market based upon rumor, innuendo, and catching an embarrassing photo moment. We are the consumers that provide the finance that drives this market. Why is our society mesmerized by this? Is it the same reason we slow down to look at a car wreck? The digital age brings photographs and stories of this type as close as a mouse click. Its all right there, the next click away. As viewers should we be making an ethical choice to stop clicking on images of the next celebrity train wreck? Ansel Adams is quoted as saying "In every photograph there are two people, the photographer and the viewer". This puts the responsibility right on us. We provide the market by the choices we make.

Famous people by definition lack the privacy that the not so famous enjoy. This issue is a tricky one to sort out. On a professional level publicity is important to celebrities. This publicity helps make their profession possible. Information about their lives is used to market their image and the entertainment products they are responsible for. As a human being, celebrities should have some parts of their lives off limits. They have a right to expect some degree of personal space. Certainly, their children should be off limits to the Paparazzi frenzy. They are not the stars, nor do they have a choice in the matter. Relaxing privately in their back yards is not an unreasonable expectation. In my opinion, there is an "on" and an "off" that is a reasonable expectation. Celebrities are on when they do anything that can enhance or market their product. They are off, when conducting their day to day living activities. These days the line between the public and private have been blurred for famous people. We all can recall examples of public figures that will resort to any means to get publicity. Closing points to ponder from Susan Sontag; In 1977, Susan Sontag suggested that, "in teaching a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing"(On Photography). Ms. Sontag's text invites us to think about questions of power, and the relationship between subject, photographer, and viewer.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Paparazzi celebrity ethics of seeing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/10/is-there-still-such-a-thing-as-privacy-in-the-age-of-the-paparazzi Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:30:00 GMT
What is Beauty? https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/9/what-is-beauty What is beauty? Is there a standard by which beauty can be determined? Journalist Ester Honig sent a photograph of herself to editors in eighteen countries plus the European Union. She requested that they edit her photo to make her beautiful. Looking at the resulting photographs is fascinating. They differ in skin tone, bone structure, makeup, and apparent ethnicity. Viewing the images brings to mind very quickly, questions about how we identify ourselves. Is our place in the society we live in affected by what we look like? There is the old saying, "you never get a second shot at a first impression".

The standard for photo post processing is Adobe Photoshop. This highly complex software can do most anything the artist's imagination conjurors up. Only the skill level of the editor limits the results. The fact that different cultures have different concepts of beauty is not surprising at all. What did surprise me was how Ms. Honig's ethnicity seemed to morph from country to country. Another obvious fact that jumped out at me was the wide range of skill levels of the editor from photo to photo. In most photographs, her skin was given the soft treatment. Lenses in today's cameras are very sharp and can reveal every pore if that is what is wanted. Quite a few of the images were processed to add what seemed to me as to much makeup. This is my personal bias that given a chance to edit, would have been given a lighter treatment. The shape of her face also changed from country to country. At times rounder, then at other times longer and thinner. Her hair did not escape the editors brush. Here geographical preferences seemed obvious, and helped her image adopt the local ethnic preferences. Some editors of more conservative cultures added clothing to her bare shoulders. From my point of view, and of course this is also a bias, the Photographs from Bulgaria and Italy seemed to enhance the image to local beauty standards, and at the same time remain most accurate. In no two photographs did her skin tone match the "before" photograph provided by Ms. Honig. This could be due to monitor calibration, or lack thereof. The possibility exists also that this could be an edit choice.

According to Dr. Gordon Patzer, who has concluded 3 decades of research on physical attractiveness, human beings are hard-wired to respond more favorably to attractive people: “Good-looking men and women are generally regarded to be more talented, kind, honest and intelligent than their less attractive counterparts.” Patzer contends, “controlled studies show people go out of their way to help attractive people—of the same sex and opposite sex—because they want to be liked and accepted by good-looking people.” Even studies of babies show they will look more intently and longer at attractive faces, Patzer argues, (Wired for Success How to fulfill your potential by Ray B. Williams). In my opinion, it seems that what we perceive as beauty is a mix of culture and biology. There are opposite forces pulling against each other at work here. On the one hand, we strive to treat everyone the same, at the same time our preferences of beauty are shaped by where we live and develop in our younger years. The media, entertainment and fashion industries play a big role in shaping societies opinion on beauty. Social and cultural influences can vary from liberal to very conservative.

It just might be time to question your own concept of what is beautiful. This is not a radical thought here, just a nudge to be more open minded. As the saying goes, question everything. Ask yourself, am I 100% invested in the media's version of beauty? Walk around with that thought, and work on being open and conscious with your opinion about beauty. The standard set by the advertising, entertainment, and fashion industries is an illusion. Real people do not look like that. In fact, the people in the media do not look like that.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photoshop beauty culture regional bias https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/9/what-is-beauty Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:59:29 GMT
Stuck in Time, https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/8/stuck-in-time  

Recently I've been spending lots of time with a family restoration project. The photographs are black and white on double weight paper, and were produced in the middle 1940's. As you might expect, the images have lost contrast, and there is visible yellowing. What is so fascinating to me about these images is that I was very very young at the time these photos where made. In these photographs, stuck in time are my Mom and Dad, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even my sister.

 

A consequence of photographic restoration is spending a lot of time looking at the same image at high magnifications. In most of my restoration projects I do not know the people in the photograph. My focus is on the tools and techniques I use to pull out as much quality as possible. The same is true with this batch of work, however an added element is that I am seeing family members at a young age. On the screen aunts and uncles forever in their twenties are frozen mid gesture. Clothing and hair styles rendered in black and white give a classic movie effect to the scene. World War II has been over for a few years, Swing music is still popular, men wore double breasted suits, and style was still king. When I zoom in to repair some damage it is easy for me to get side tracked and try to figure out the food on the table, or the label on a bottle of wine. Then there is the out of place expression on a face, that sparks my curiosity. My memory wants to keep its reference point. There is a face that is familiar, who is that? Some family members were always adults weren't they? Yes, there's Mom and Dad looking so young. The urge to talk to them across the decades can't be resisted. Grandma and Grandpa sitting on their living room couch, behind them a floral wallpaper I never committed to memory. Further into the project a bedroom dresser that I remember well. The color and pattern of the wood always fascinated me. I wonder what happened to it?

Now I'm back to being a photographer, and I'm guessing the camera that made these shots was either a Speed Graphic or a Crown Graphic. The slow film and lenses produced a shallow depth of field, even with flash bulbs. When you fired the flash they'd give off a pop and turn gray. They remained very hot for a while, you needed to be careful when you touched them. Returning to the restoration, this image shows quite a bit of damage at high magnification. I am grateful for Photoshop, it will do a good job in a much shorter time than a darkroom restoration. I've done a few of those and have no desire to turn back the clock to those days. As I progress through all the images real progress takes place and there are now more images restored and archived than there are to the end of my project. Still, I've saved the really damaged one's till the end and my work will only get slower. Damage ranges from bits of missing emulsion, to water damage, to lots of white specks and scratches. The worst is when damage goes through a persons eye. Repairing damage that travels through a face and eye is challenging because the person needs to remain looking like themselves.

 

Regardless of years of experience, this process still seems like magic to me. Especially when I am holding a well done restoration in my hand, the people and composition come alive and look so real. It's no wonder that some primitive people thought that to photograph someone was to steal their soul. Just for a second imagine being transported back to the mid 1940's and attempting to explain the digital capture and storage we take for granted these days. Imagine trying to explain that almost all of us here in 2014 will carry a gadget in our pockets, that is a telephone, camera, address book, calender, and can give you directions how to drive anywhere. Oh, and is also good at Solitaire. Zooming in on a Chemical process photograph, with each tap of the key the image gets bigger and soon begins to fall apart. Get close enough, and all you see is an abstract pattern. Zoom out far enough and there are people who are part of your personal history, captured on film, forever stuck in time.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Restoration personal history photoshop preservation https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/8/stuck-in-time Tue, 12 Aug 2014 19:43:18 GMT
Selfie https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/7/selfie It was inevitable really, that I would sooner or later get to commenting on the current "Selfie" trend. If you are at all connected to digital media, and since you are reading this online I assume you are, then you've experienced the selfie. You either posted one or enjoyed photos of your friends, relatives, and strangers. Not that long ago, portraits were a formal affair involving skilled professionals, expensive lighting, and your Sunday best clothing. Portraits themselves have become less formal in our era, and once digital cameras offered high quality images and affordability everyone became involved.

Lets go behind the photo and take a look at the psychology that may be behind the current trend. We all look at ourselves in the mirror. Each morning there is that person looking back at you. Mirror images however, are a distortion. They are live and moving for one, and second that face is reversed. A photo is oriented correctly and is a still image. We have come to accept the mirror image as the me I am familiar with, and the photo as an image that we are less familiar. Maybe less comfortable with for reasons to lengthy to go into here. The mirror as well as the photo are reference points for our approval or criticism. We groom our self image via the mirror, so we can present our best selves. We observed ourselves in photographs and either approve of or maybe not. The difference is the mirror image is transient, the photo is sort of permanent and public. With the popularity of the selfie a dynamic is in play, social comparison. It is not long before we start comparing hairstyles, clothing, and activities. Even if we don't verbalize them, questions bounce around in your ego. Am I thin enough? I should really cut my hair you know. Where Is that? That's a great shirt, I should get some new clothes. By the way, the selfie is not new, they go back to the 1800's thanks to mirrors and self timers.

Humans have an instinct to connect with others. We are social animals always aware of our self image, and where we are on the social comparison scale. This is true when you are posing for a selfie, or if you are Pablo Picasso posing for Arnold Newman. We are clearly subject to pack behavior and rank within our pack. This is not a bad thing, it just is who we are. Our social structure is an element in how we survived as a race for so long. The selfie falls into two general categories. The public selfie and the private selfie. Social media via the internet is the major arena for the public selfie. Its here we get the social news of friends and family. It is a good way to connect, especially over long distances. It is also lots of fun. The private selfie is a much more complicated matter. Since the camera has been available to the public, private photography has been practiced. The onset of digital media streamlined the process so anyone can make private photographs. This phenomenon has been in the news, and will continue to be, concerning legal and privacy issues. It seems as if the genie is out of the bottle so to speak in this respect. So much so that international borders are no barrier.

The social environment changes constantly. The selfie will change with societies attitude towards it. We find ourselves complaining about and enjoying the public selfie both at the same time. Issues concerning the public and private versions of this social activity I think are symptoms of our psychology, not technology. We humans will continue to try to understand ourselves and our motives. The key to understanding is linked to our powers of observation. One thing is for sure, our social environment is always changing.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) photography psychology selfie society https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/7/selfie Tue, 15 Jul 2014 18:52:49 GMT
Mathew Brady, Historian and Photographer https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/6/mathew-brady-historian-and-photographer One of the pleasurable pursuits the wife and I share is hunting antique and salvage shops for hidden treasures. The best places resemble a cluttered attic. All sorts of things from America's past rest here waiting for discovery. Recently I rescued a book from a dust pile. "Mathew Brady, Historian with a Camera", a book by James D. Horan was just sitting there waiting for my hands to dust it off. Mathew Brady worked from a Photographic Gallery at 359 Broadway, which was above Thompson's Saloon in 1859. In the pre Civil War years Mr. Brady entered his Daguerreotypes into competitions which were very popular at the time. These were the early days of Photography when the first aerial photographs were made, with the glass wet plate process. In 1860, Abe Lincoln made his way to the studio on Broadway and sat for a portrait by Brady. This is the phase of Brady's career, which would change from commercial to war correspondent in 1860-61 as the Civil War began. Brady had a burning desire to document the war and knew that it would be very dangerous and expensive. There would also be technical problems with capturing the war on the wet plate process. Imagine what that would have looked like. Mr. Brady, his assistants, a heavy horse drawn wagon, darkroom tent, and several hundred very fragile glass plates, traveling over dirt roads that were not maintained much if at all. Imagine also the challenges the intense heat and cold weather would present inside the darkroom tent.

There are some wonderful photographs contained within this book. The first photo that caught my eye is a copy of a daguerreotype of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype. This faded and scratched image dates to 1848. A photograph of Samuel F.B. Morse at the age of 75. Morse was Brady's first instructor in the art of daguerreotype. The next page reveals photographs of Presidents Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and James K. Polk all photographed by Brady. Moving along through the pages past a who's who in American history, we find a rare photograph of the Capitol building without its dome, and another one of the wings of the Capitol building nearing completion. Next a full page photo of President Lincoln, sans beard, taken in Brady's New York Studio on Broadway. The war years bring Gettysburg battlefield photographs and fallen soldiers of both sides, portraits of Generals that led the troops, and an interior shot of the inside of Fort Sumter.

Before the invention of photography, humans either depended upon artists to render images, or their imagination to see what something looked like. The early years of photography brought magic to communication. You could look at a photograph and right before your eyes, an accurate rendition of a President, landscape, cityscape, or battlefield scene. Men like Mathew Brady were chemists as much as artists. They had to be very dedicated and committed to their craft considering the effort involved in moving about and dragging everything with you. Portraits of the day look very stiff and artificial due to the lack of any speed in capturing an image, and motion was nearly impossible. Then there's the glass plates. Travel over dirt roads with ruts, stones, and in bad weather ice or mud must have been a nightmare. It made me think of the lost images. What great photograph did we not get to see because it did not make the journey home?

We are quite privileged to live in the age of digital image capture. We enjoy instant image feedback, high quality lenses, and image editing controls we could only dream of just a few years ago. Just over one hundred and fifty years ago getting a photographic portrait done involved lots of effort and time. Photography has evolved into a more casual process. There are cameras everywhere we go in the form of cell phones. Every event in our lives is documented and published via a social network almost in live time. This unique phenomenon can be a good thing, but clearly there are some photographs that should not have been taken let alone shared publicly. As a society we are becoming more visual. My hope is that we also become more skilled in understanding and appreciating photographs. I certainly hope that we never forget the pioneers of our art, Mathew Brady being one of the better known early photographers.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Brady Civil War photographs Historic Mathew Photography wet plate process https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/6/mathew-brady-historian-and-photographer Tue, 03 Jun 2014 20:09:15 GMT
Photo-shopped https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/4/photo-shopped Among my friends, neighbors, and family I have assumed the position of being the go to guy for all questions photographic. I generally consider this a good thing in that I enjoy helping people take better photographs. I also like helping them use their equipment to its full potential. I am by no means a camera snob, that is to say in my opinion a decent photograph can be taken with most equipment today. There are limits to what equipment can do, and the better the gear, the better the potential photograph can be. A good cell phone camera with 8 mega pixel resolution can make a very decent photograph of say 5 X 7 inches. When you get up to 10 or 12 mega pixels and you know what you are doing, and take care in making the shot, a very decent 8 X 10 can be produced. This assumes that your lens is clean, horizon is level, you are careful framing the shot, you watch for edge and background distractions, and have selected the proper white balance. When we begin to talk about advanced amateurs and professional photographers the discussion changes. The digital SLR'S they use are engineered for producing quality images. Its not only about mega pixels at this level. Issues like lens quality, file format, shutter speed, sensor size, and a host of other settings to numerous to mention here affect the image capture. After the captures are on the memory card, photographers then process the session. This is referred to as post processing in the industry, and this is the point where the road to a framed work of art splits into many branches.

Some photographers work for minimal time in post processing. They will adjust the contrast and brightness, do some minimal cropping, tweak the color, and remove a distracting spot here or there. There goal is to spend their effort on the capture. There work demands that an expertly produced photograph arrives where its intended and looks good as quickly as possible. Sports photography and photo journalism are two examples of this type of work.  Another way of working is to produce a good capture where all elements correctly reproduced, however the camera is just the first step in an extensive post production edit. It is planned,  going into the process there will be plenty of work done to the image to make it stand out in some way. Either for fine art, or commercial end use. In both cases, a talented photographic artist controls all the variables to produce the desired end product.

As consumers we are flooded with images every day. These days the quality of the work we see is very high and quite dramatic. We have become accustomed to these images, (and video) and it increasingly takes more and more drama to get our attention. The images we look at have become hyper-real. Sunsets are more dramatic than life, fashion models are thinner, taller, and have smoother skin than life, and those plates of gourmet food have super real color and make our mouths water at first glance. Our view of the world we live in has become dull and apathetic. We are over exposed to the dramatic image, so much so that real life seems a dim version of the images we are exposed to. There is another side effect that has made its way into our consciousness, we label all outstanding images as being "Photo-shopped".

I make it a point to look at lots of photographs from many different artists and disciplines. My appreciation for the fine image covers different styles and subject matter. I hold no prejudice in whether an image is heavily edited or very lightly tweaked. What determines if an image works for me is my initial reaction and the emotion stirred up by the artists work. I am a bit saddened when I hear someone refer to a work as being "Photo-shopped". Its as if there is some magical program that can transform a camera image all by itself. Implying that the photographer is somehow less talented because of post processing. The most important aspect of viewing an image is, does it make you think, move your emotions, or question a belief. Talented photographers are responsible for the whole process of creating their work. From image capture to post processing and framing, their decisions make the finished piece either successful or not. Consumers of images need to view images with a bit more openness. Photographs are different than "real life". Even what looks like a straight image is still edited in some minor ways. Many people love a fine black and white print, and look at them as if they are a purer form of photography. The world is not black and white, you are looking at an abstraction. When we look at and enjoy a painting, we bring an openness to our conscious mind. Our expectations do not hinge on how close to reality the artist was able to get. In fact, it was the invention of the camera that freed painters from realistic renderings, and allowed for abstractions. When you view photographic work bring a sense of openness. Allow time to be with an image and look inward at the emotions it stirs in you. The photographer that signed his or her name to the work is responsible for what you are looking at. Their selection of the tools used is of little importance in my opinion. Comparing the image to real life is of little importance unless the work is meant to document reality, and that is a whole other topic for this blog.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) awareness creativity photography post production vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/4/photo-shopped Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:00:31 GMT
The Facinating Lure of Impermanence https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/3/the-facinating-lure-of-impermanence I make it a point to review my own work on a regular basis. From time to time, I go over my "keepers" and deconstruct the work I've done. I look at patterns in subject choice, and anything else that links the work. Its a good way to keep my creative GPS calibrated. There is something about abandoned and decaying architecture that always gets me to squeeze the shutter button. The question that comes to mind is why am I so fascinated by it, especially when our society puts high value on all things new?

The most obvious reason that comes to mind first is the form and textures that can be found in abandoned buildings. Steel, brick, wood, plaster, and ceramic materials all begin to change as soon as maintenance ceases. They take on additional unintended color and textures, each material at a different pace. Surprising results take place when two substances that once sat side by side in harmony, now sit as polar opposites. If you look and concentrate enough, you can find rust and soil marks that resemble faces, dogs, cats, and other objects. Painted wood surfaces change very fast. Peels and blisters catch stray shafts of light and wonderful textures are the result. Colors fade and loose saturation, while at the same time taking on new hues born out of the decay. It is a challenge to work at such low light levels with bright shafts of light piercing the room. Here the challenge is contrast control, and getting detail in the dark areas while taking care not to blow out the highlights.

Another element that draws me to these decaying gems is the very fact that they are no longer considered of value. I think about the optimism that went into the planning and construction phases. Skilled craftspeople and long hours went into this creation. This building had purpose and dreams built into it from the ground up. Now, reconstruction and preservation costs rule its future. These days it takes a person of vision and stamina to take on a preservation project that can take decades, with fund raising the governing force at work.

I enjoy the surprises in store for me once I am inside one of these gems. There are forgotten objects, still sitting right where they stood when the door was last shut tight. A cup sits on a bathroom sink, an antique labeled aspirin bottle on a shelf, old shoes in a closet, and pots and pans in a kitchen. Many years ago I was fortunate enough to gain access to Ellis Island just before the reconstruction began. In those days the Department of the Interior administered the site. I was in a section of the basement when I discovered an ironing board still set up, and right next to it a sapling tree growing in the light of a window. Walking around and exploring revealed a chair with a coat draped over the back and a pair of gloves sitting on the chair. How long have they been there? Who left them there? Later that same day I found myself walking through the Great Hall. Keep in mind no reconstruction had yet begun. As I walked this wonderful room the only sound was the echo of my footsteps, above me a ceiling of the most impressive tile work. The deep silence broken only by the sounds of the building, and distant New York City. All four of my Grandparents walked through here, as did my Mom. I was shooting film at that time and I vividly remember the loud echo of my camera shutter as it bounced off the walls and ceiling. Standing very still, being very quiet, I swear I felt the presence of those brave people who passed through here with their dreams.

The allure of abandoned buildings is strong in me. There is no escaping the photographic potential evolving as these building constantly change. My artistic side will never tire of the color, texture, form, and play of light within decaying buildings. There are obvious questions that arise also. Does our society place enough value on our own past? Are economics going to continue to be the force behind whether these buildings survive or not? Have we evolved into a society that sees everything as disposable? Are we willing to forget our past?

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Ellis Island abandoned buildings architecture photography preservation https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/3/the-facinating-lure-of-impermanence Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:26:09 GMT
Thoughts on Photojournalism https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/2/thoughts-on-photojournalism In the November 2013 issue of Popular Science, I learned that the Chicago Sun Times is in the process of laying off all of its staff Photographers. The paper plans to use news wires, freelancers, and photographs taken with cell phones as source material. This has me thinking just how they would go about making this work. They would need a collection point somewhere in their office, as well as a method to edit incoming data. In addition, a filtering system is needed to check the validity of incoming work. Someone would still need to post process the work that is scheduled to be published. This involves things like resolution, size, sharpening, etc. The technical aspects of this process are not that difficult and they do not have to re-invent the wheel to get this to work. What grabbed my attention is the level of accuracy and truth attached to the incoming work. Committed and dedicated Photojournalist are a special breed of Photographer. They place themselves into an unfolding newsworthy situation, and then begin the process of covering the event. In the front of their minds, is the goal often referred to as "the shot". They silently ask themselves, what one image tells this story accurately, can sit on the front page, and communicate story content to the reader? From experience, they know somewhere in that shoot there is an image, and they work for that shot. Friends often ask me, "why do those photographers need fifty shots of the same subject?" The answer lies in the content of the story, and mining out just the right image that will accompany the text and illustrate the storyline perfectly. A staff photographer builds a trust relationship with his editor who knows the quality and truthfulness of the work they produce.

 

I am both a photographer, and a consumer of photographs. I know that photographs can distort or reveal the truth, and that the integrity of the person doing the editing determines how this all works out. In the pre-digital photography era, the general public was less knowledgeable about the darkroom techniques used to enhance photographs. Credit was given to photographs as being truthful. This credit was not always deserved. In the field of Photojournalism a code of ethics is applied, both with the shutter button, and at the editor's desk. There have been instances where careers were threatened because an object that "cluttered" the shot was removed. The times we live in challenge this time honored work ethic. There are plenty of examples where the one thing missing from a news story seems to be ethics. This trend is not new. There always were organizations and people who claimed to be news people, but had other priorities than truth on their minds.

 

Truth is a very difficult quality to recognize. All of us take in information through our five senses and our brain processes that into thought. Because of family, biology, and experience we all develop unique personal filters. We all have a personal viewpoint that colors how we process information. If we are seeking the truth about the world around us then wisdom tells us we need many sources of information. We need to remove our emotion as much as possible when we compare these sources in search of the truth. This process is not an easy one nor is it something we humans take to that eagerly. Our mindset is that the truth should not be that hard to recognize, it is however, especially

these days. The unsung hero's of journalism work for the most part, known only to those who make a point to find out who they are. They sometimes take risks most of us would not. If Photojournalism is compromised in the name of budget concerns, the truth will be even harder for us to find in an homogenized news cycle.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) budget cuts newspapers photojournalism staff photographers truth https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/2/thoughts-on-photojournalism Sun, 09 Feb 2014 20:28:41 GMT
Realistically colorized historical photos https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/1/realistically-colorized-historical-photos Early January has brought snow and single digit temperatures to central New Jersey this year. These conditions have made it easy to postpone photographic field trips until the weather gets a bit more civil. I stumbled across a photographic project on the internet that involves taking historic photographs that we've become familiar with as black and white compositions, and coloring them with the goal to make them as realistic as possible.

 

Photographs of Abraham Lincoln 1865, Charles Darwin 1874, Albert Einstein 1939, Ann Frank 1942, and Charlie Chaplin 1916 are among the group of 36 others. A fascinating transformation takes place when photographs we have in our memory as black and white compositions, become modern and up to date with the addition of color. Our brain plays tricks on our perception and now these subjects belong to our time. Its as if they had just sat for a portrait recently.

 

I remember watching “Victory at Sea” as a boy. This documentary series all filmed in black and white depicted World War II, with dramatic orchestral background music. If you let your imagination run a bit, it was as if people in that time lived in black and white. I have always loved film from the 1930's and 1940's. In my mind, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, and others of that era were and should only be black and white. This self imposed delusion was gladly embraced by me, even though logic would suggest otherwise.

 

Spending time with these photographs has a wonderful effect on long held beliefs and opinions. The photograph of Mark Twain circa 1900, is riveting. Seated in a leather chair, in a garden, surrounded by green, white hair covering his ears, legs crossed, and looking very much like a college professor he becomes more alive than I've ever imagined. It is as though he just took a short photographic break from a garden party to satisfy some photographer. The Mark Twain of my school years, the literary Mark Twain has been transformed into a contemporary. Abraham Lincoln, seated by a table, red bow tie, blue jacket, gold watch chain, and longish hair is no longer the man on the five dollar bill. He has been transformed into a man of our time. Charlie Chaplin no longer the man of silent film, now looks very much like someone you'd meet in Greenwich Village, NYC asking for directions to the nearest coffee shop. Looking unusually modern with longish hair, collarless striped shirt, and suit jacket, he is a contemporary.

 

Black and White photography is an abstraction. Tone, texture, light, and composition work together to convey a message with powerful emotional appeal. It leads the viewer to spend time with the work and contemplate the artist's message. Because we do not see the world in gray scale, any photograph rendered in black and white takes on an aura of fantasy. Black and White or Monochrome photography is my medium of choice. Because we see in color, we've attached emotional value to various colors. The world of advertising knows this very well and uses this to attract our attention. Some colors are soothing, some exciting, some out of place colors disturbing. Our relationship with historical figures, becomes an abstraction, when we are exposed to their black and white images. Graphics on a textbook page are not always emotionally approachable. This project involved taking images that most of us have already been exposed to and will recognize, and making those images modern, approachable, and in effect more real. No longer are these historical figures textbook graphics. This marvelous work makes them more human. If you'd like to view these works, here is the link, http://indulgd.com/realistically-colorized-historical-photos/

36 Realistically Colorized Historical Photos Make the Past Seem Incredibly Real - See more at: http://indulgd.com/realistically-colorized-historical-photos/#sthash.VaugSKSg.dpuf
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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) black and white colorization historic photographs review https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2014/1/realistically-colorized-historical-photos Thu, 09 Jan 2014 18:04:41 GMT
Purchasing Fine Art Photographs https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/12/purchasing-fine-art-photographs What exactly do I purchase when I buy a fine art photograph from the maker? On one level you are getting ownership of a creative work of art that will enhance your life. Hung in the proper light, a quick glance or lengthy stare instantly transports you to another emotional state of mind. Something about that work moved you to want to own it. Perhaps it sparked a memory of a time, place, or person dear to you. A memory that might not have occurred had you not had that work of art hanging in your home. It is an instant emotional journey that is always available. There is much more to that photograph than you might realize or see. A good metaphor to illustrate this would be an iceberg.  What you see in the matted and framed work is just a small percent of a large undertaking.

 

Good Photographers do a lot of editing. I would love to give you a percentage of how many shots it takes to produce a "keeper" however, that figure varies based upon the type of subject, lighting conditions, equipment considerations and other variables. Before I reach the point where I clean the glass on a framed matted fine art photograph, I've experienced failure, success, experimentation, lost time, repeat visits for better light, and so on. I can arrive at a shoot site only to discover that the composition I want is no longer the same as when I first saw it, access is now restricted where it was not previously, or the weather is not photogenic any longer. I sometimes do a bit of shooting, but I know I need to make a return trip if this is a strong enough subject matter. Lost time is not unusual when doing this type of work. Here is where you are buying time. In that framed work you fell in love with, is the time it took to get things just right. You are buying the frustration, as well as the joy when it all comes together. It is all in that framed fine art photograph hanging in your Living Room.

 

Photographers love to show their Portfolios to people. Keep in mind, that you are looking at the tip of the Iceberg. Lots of frames, and many miles have gone into the making of that work. The first edit a photographer makes is with his finger on the shutter button. That instant is a reaction to an emotion that needed to be made. A piece of heart and soul is right there in that moment. The artist's sensitivity went into that frame and will continue to go into that work until it is post processed and called finished. You are buying a piece of the artist heart and soul.

 

Photographers invest a lot of time in making a framed work of art that they sign their name on. Acquiring the raw image takes time and expense, editing a shoot over and over to get the best shots out of the pack takes time, getting your emotions into the finished work through post processing takes time, keeping your software skills up to par takes time, and then there are the equipment costs. When you buy an original fine art photograph from an artist, you are buying the artist more time to do something they are passionate about. Your purchase is an endorsement that keeps the creative juices flowing so that the artist can put a frame around a composition and say here look at this wonderful moment. We do not ordinarily think of our spending habits as a vote, but they are just that. Purchasing an item is telling a vendor "I'll buy more of this". Purchase quality, and the style you love, and more will be available to enjoy. We live a fast paced life. Your home should be an environment that is restorative, and a place where you feel good spending your time. If you already are a collector, that is wonderful. If you have not begun yet, then decide to start the process now by looking for work that speaks to your emotions.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) collecting fine art photo collection photography producing fine art photographs https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/12/purchasing-fine-art-photographs Fri, 06 Dec 2013 21:20:57 GMT
Gus Cantelmo, A 100th year Memorial Tribute https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/11/gus-cantelmo-a-100th-year-memorial-tribute Gus Cantelmo 1913 - 2004

October 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of my Dad's birth.  Gus Cantelmo was born in 1913, the same year the Internal Revenue Service began collecting income tax.  We never let him forget that little tidbit either.  He loved life, music, photography, fixing things, and most of all his family and friends.  There were times that I wondered if there were anyone he didn't know.  Everywhere we went we bumped into someone and a conversation resulted.

Dad introduced me to Photographic Art at a very early age.  As soon as I was old enough to follow directions, I found myself next to him in the darkroom.  My first job was to agitate the trays of chemicals when he placed the exposed paper into solution.  I am now 68 years old and never remember  my Dad being without a camera or darkroom.  I learned to love the aroma of fixer and never thought of  it as an unpleasant smell.  As the years passed and I grew, I assumed more responsibility, and so began the many decades we'd share photography together. 

Dad's technique of choice was Black and White Photography.  He was dedicated to a school of work known as American Pictorialism and admired  Adolf Fassbender (1884-1980) who was one of its leading champions in those days.  I remember Dad working with paper negatives, charcoal, chemical bleaching, and extensive re-touching, to get a soft painterly effect.  The end result was an idealized, optimistic photograph with strong compositional design.  Often he'd choose Ektalure X, one of his favorite papers to print the final version on.  I remember that paper as having a slight canvas textured surface that worked to enhance the effect he was aiming for.  Dad's subject of choice was the sea.  He photographed many other subjects also, however could not resist the call of being next to the Ocean.  He explored the Northeast Coast of the United States extensively, and loved the commercial fishing industry of Massachusetts to be more specific.  Those were the days of wooden Lobster Pots and lots of hand labor.   Vermont was another place he loved very much.  His subjects varied from old churches, farms, Maple Syrup production, and the logging industry, all rendered in the Pictorialist style.   Dad loved all phases of photography.  He had a way of loosing himself in the moment, and whatever was happening right then was all there was.  The same held true in the darkroom.  I can recall Mom calling for him to eat dinner over and over, he'd always answer “I'll be right there”.  He was very generous with his photographic knowledge, always being eager to help anyone with questions.  

When I think of Dad, and I often do, the image that comes to mind instantly is one of him standing on the edge of land, facing the Atlantic Ocean, sunshine lighting his face,  twin lens Rollei flex around his neck, and looking out at the horizon.  I have such a photograph of him and regard it as one of my favorites.  I am very grateful to him for very many things, most of all for teaching me to love life enough to stop and take a good look at things.  He taught me how to see light, detail, and subtleties.  In his last years, I was teaching him  the finer points of digital imaging.  At ninety, he was looking ahead to the future, and still excited about being alive.  Oh, for just one more photographic conversation, just one more field trip, just one more session together, and just one more hug.  Miss you Dad...

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Adolf Fasdbender American Pictorialism Gus Cantelmo Photography black and white https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/11/gus-cantelmo-a-100th-year-memorial-tribute Fri, 01 Nov 2013 18:38:19 GMT
Acadia National Park https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/10/acadia-national-park Acadia National Park

 

On February 26, 1919, a parcel of land, an island in fact, just off the coast of Maine was set aside and preserved.  Its name was Lafayette National Park.  The name is derived from the   Marquis de Lafayette, a supporter of the American Revolution.  Today we refer to this Northeast treasure as Acadia National Park.  The land area is almost 48,000 acres. 

I have spent a lot of time hiking, observing, and photographing this marvelous place.  So much time in fact that whenever I am there it feels like home to me.  Acadia’s eastern edge faces the northern Atlantic Ocean.  Winters here are cold and unforgiving.  Quick observation reveals a weathered rocky coastline that twists and turns into cliffs as well as more level terrain. The trees that hug the coast have evolved into survivors, twisted in places and dotted with multi-colored lichen.  A treat for the eyes is just underfoot in the form of tidal pools.  A mini environment filled with barnacles, small shellfish, green algae, and even an occasional crab.  Always there is the aroma of the refreshing sea air and the constant song of gulls as they ride the air currents hunting for the next meal. 

The range of light is quite variable and subject to change from hour to hour.  I can be in the process of making a photograph in dark blue skies and puffy white clouds, and the very next hour in a thick fog.  The abundance of subjects to work with makes it necessary to slow down.  Here is where you practice seeing, and not just looking.  Giving in to the urge to know what is around the next corner can cause you to miss the shot that is right in front of your lens.  An overlooked part of the park is the Schoodic Peninsula.  This wonderful section of the park is just north and east across Frenchman’s Bay.  Fog is frequent there and so are photographic opportunities.  In the off season, the crowds are gone and the photographer finds solitude and quiet.  With the distractions gone Acadia is at its best.  Walking the trails and climbing over weathered rocks is meditative and transformative.  The life you’ve left behind is distant, all that matters is right where you are.  Gulls call to one another, the aroma of the sea and the ever changing light transport you to a peaceful state of mind.

Just outside the park on Mt. Desert Island you can find small little fishing villages.  Lobstermen tend their boats and work on their traps.  You get the feeling that life has not changed much in a long time.  A brief conversation is both enjoyable and enlightening.  The challenge here is to work with this subject matter.  While beautiful, it’s also very well photographed.  If you can put your own unique vision on a composition, make it your own, and with a different twist, then the reward is there.  

Acadia Park always leaves me refreshed and renewed.  There is a timelessness present that quickly washes away the busy life you’ve left behind.  Especially when it’s just you the land and the wind, your mind and imagination are free.  The more you look, the more is revealed to you.  It is almost as if you have been transported back to an earlier time.  Just stand on top of Mt. Cadillac and let the first rays of the Sun to fall on the United States warm your face, just once.

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) acadia national park awareness field trip photography vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/10/acadia-national-park Tue, 08 Oct 2013 20:30:48 GMT
The World Trade Center https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/9/the-world-trade-center The day began as one of those wonderfully rare perfect days.  The kind of day you just can’t help but notice, especially here in the northeast.  Dark blue sky, accented with pure white puffy clouds.  The kind of clouds that took the shape of barking dogs, trees, people, and many other things from our imagination.  The icing on the cake was near perfect temperatures; boy it was great to be alive.  With breakfast behind me, I set out for a normal workday filled with deadlines. 

The events of September 11, 2001 became a focal point of change for me as well as my country.  It felt as if ice water were poured on our collective souls.  As a lifelong resident here in New Jersey, it is impossible to carry out your normal routine, drive around, do errands, and in short make a living, without seeing the twin towers sometime in your day.  They were seemingly simple in design, but had the property of changing color, hue, and saturation each day depending on the weather, some day’s fog obscured the tops and gave the impression that they went all the way to heaven.  When my son was a young child, we’d watch the construction of the towers from the top of one of our local hills here.  As a photographer, I just had to periodically spend some time and film shooting this amazing architecture.  They could not be ignored, and demanded attention.  The courtyard surrounding the towers attracted a diverse group of people, and sitting there just yards away from the globe sculpture made it feel like you were in the center of civilization.  If it is possible to love architecture, then I loved those towers.  Driving north on the New Jersey Turnpike the towers would come into view at some point or other.  I’d critique’ the lighting, judge the air quality, and clouds got points off for being ordinary some days.  After a while, I got the idea that they belonged to me, being my personal background, my backyard so to speak. 

Each September 11th is a sad day.  The people who lost family and friends will live with the grief that day brought to us and it will never go away.  All of us will live with the loss of people we knew, and the loss of those wonderful buildings.  I am not a sociologist, but I know what life felt like before the attack, and I know that it’s different now.  The events of that day are not something we talk about in our neighborhood that often.  It’s always there hovering in the back of our minds though.  The attack that day is personal to us.  It was in our backyard, and some of our tribe died because of it. 

Every once in a while, I’ll go through my stock photos and happen across one of the many shots of the towers, or Saint Nickolas Church, that sat dwarfed by the twin giants.    I smile briefly, and then feel the loss.  It still hurts.  It’s kind of a dull quiet hurt that never will go away.  I cannot call it ground zero; to me it will always be the World Trade Center.  

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) World Trade Center architecture awareness human interest photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/9/the-world-trade-center Thu, 12 Sep 2013 21:12:38 GMT
Digital Capture and Post Processing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/8/digital-capture-and-post-processing Recently, in an online discussion group I was asked if I used any of the in camera photo editing tools as I shoot.  I do not.  This got me thinking about why I make exposures the way I do. I've worked in a darkroom for many years producing my photographs.  In my film days, the goal was to produce a negative with a full range of tones.  This meant shadow detail, as well as highlight detail, and some specular highlights.  Working for a full toned negative forced me to have a methodology that was consistent.  I did not use a lot of filters.  The Yellow filter was my steady go to filter, with the red and green filters used occasionally. My goal being, to produce a working negative that contained what I needed for my printing session.

 

These days digital SLR's are a wonderful collection of creative tools.  I don't think that any aspect of digital capture is without a setting that can't be customized for the photographer. If I choose I can shoot in black and white, sepia tone, and color of course.  There are cropping tools in camera, as well as adjustments to saturate color, increase contrast, adjust brightness, sharpness, or make a neutral exposure.  You can customize how you use the camera controls assigning personal functions you use frequently to convenient buttons.  Your digital SLR can be turned into a very expensive point and shoot, or you can be all manual control if desired.  In addition, you can save your captures in different file formats.  This assumes that you know how those formats affect the quality of the capture.  There also is a function called a shooting menu, and on my camera there are four banks.  I've assigned bank A to Landscapes, bank B to portraits, bank C to sports/action, and bank D to point and shoot.  Each banks settings are unique to what is assigned it.  I use the point and shoot for family gatherings, and casual shooting.  There is quite a bit to think about.  All of those choices are made and set up ahead of a shoot.  When I shot film, the camera I used was all manual, (not even a light meter).  I chose which film to use, and set aperture and shutter speed by means of a hand held spot meter.  That's it.

 

My digital darkroom consists of Adobe Photoshop CS6, and Adobe Lightroom 4.  These two programs will do everything I need them to do.  When using my camera I use the file format called "Raw".  This is a very inclusive format that retains all the detail and information I could ask for.  To make life just a bit easy, I set up my camera to make a simultaneous small jpeg "sidecar" image for identification purposes.  The Raw format I consider my negative.  It is not meant to be a finished photo.  I save all session captures and back them up.  I open copies of the Raw file and begin my post processing using a non destructive edit process.  I'll explain my method in a later blog, but for now the short explanation is that Non-destructive editing is a form of editing where the original content is not modified in the course of editing—instead the edits themselves are edited by specialized editing software, (Photoshop and Lightroom). 

 

When I edited negatives years ago, the process was performed on a light box, (a neutral soft light table that is daylight balanced).  My digital captures are now edited in Adobe lightroom which has a light box like look to it if I choose.  The photographs I've made should be neutral in color, exposed for retaining maximum information, sharp, and well composed.  I avoided any in camera special effects, filters, or processes, so what I am looking at in Lightroom are neutral photographs.  This gives me artistic flexibility for any use.  There are many choices before a paper print emerges from the printer.  I work in a way that makes me comfortable with the process, does all I need, is not overly complex, and minimizes chance of error. I have much more control now than I've ever had in a darkroom.  The materials and tools available give me unlimited potential to express my creative vision.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) digital capture exposure photo tools photography post processing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/8/digital-capture-and-post-processing Thu, 08 Aug 2013 16:57:06 GMT
THE DISTANT SOUND OF RUSHING WATER https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/7/the-distant-sound-of-rushing-water
There is something about the pursuit of a photograph that I find calming, enjoyable, peaceful, and even spiritual.  This is especially true of my quiet work, less so with work that involves capturing action.  I find solitude walking through a landscape.  Listening to the sound of the breeze, breathing in the fresh air, becoming aware of the faint aroma of distant flowers, and enjoying the light as it changes. I feel more alive than ever at these times. I hear a distant sound of rushing water long before I see it.  Now my concentration is taking in everything around me.  The crunch of twigs on the forest floor, the rustle of leaves in the Summer wind, the changing temperature of the air as I walk along.  A small bird chases a larger one away from a nest, two squirrels dance around in an Oak tree, and the sound of birdsong fills the air as I walk towards the sound of this stream on a Summer day. 

I've been this way before. Following a familiar path, turning and twisting towards the stream, getting closer there is moisture filling the air. A Cooling and refreshing sound of fast moving water becomes louder.  One last turn, and I'm here.  There is a familiar convenient boulder waiting for me to sit and enjoy the show.  Recent rains have swollen the quiet stream creating patterns of white water spinning downstream.  Don't rush.  Just be here and enjoy this wonderful scene.  My eyes soon look for patterns and a composition, then a plan on how to frame it all.  I select a subject, then look for things to eliminate.  Issues with lens choice, shutter speed, and camera placement decided the shoot begins. 

Working my way downstream the first waterfall greets me with the sound I love so much.  I make the first exposures, the easy ones, then change lenses and viewpoint for a more creative angle.  Starting with a larger view, then working closer and closer, always eliminating just a bit more.  Near my feet the pounding water creates vortex patterns. Small plants vivid green in color reach out.  I love this solitude.  Today I am alone here, with nothing to pierce nature's song.  A decent size tree has fallen and added a new water pattern.  Sky blue and deep green reflections are a treat for the eyes. Time to move on, and downhill towards the next waterfall.  A small pool sits below the white water surrounded by wet jet black rock.  Somehow ferns have taken hold, growing to perfection, accompanied by the greenest of moss.  Not far off the remains of a structure, most likely a mill, decay slowly with the passage of time.  Who worked here and when?  A flour mill, or maybe a sawmill?  A short walk to a large flat boulder is just what I am looking for.  This wants to be a wide angle shot I tell myself.  Close to the ground, framing, looking, adjusting, and shooting, the aroma of moist earth is wonderful.

 Sitting quietly and enjoying my lunch nothing else exist but now.  All my senses seem to be sharper than ever, taking in sight and sound so perfect.  How long has this place been as it is? Knowing the answer I still wonder where all this water comes from, and how far?  I want to hold on to the serenity, and bring it back to the city in which I live.  What I really want is to capture this feeling in my photographs.  Hanging in just the right spot, matted and framed, the person viewing this composition should feel the peace of this moment.  Perhaps that’s to much to ask.  Thinking again no, its enough to ask.  Just be still, quiet the mind,  you will feel it.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) awareness field trip photography seeing the power of concentration vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/7/the-distant-sound-of-rushing-water Sat, 06 Jul 2013 16:35:53 GMT
Adobe Corporation Game Changer https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/6/adobe-corporation-game-changer In recent weeks, a steady and intense discussion has been ongoing among the professional photographers in the online network I belong to.  Adobe Corp.,  the firm that created and markets many software programs used by creative artist in producing digital products has changed the way they will make most of their software available to their customers.  Previously, professionals like myself would purchase software on a disc and install it on our computer.  The upgrade cycle ran in 18 to 24 months increments.  That is to say that a new improved version would be available for purchase at that time.  Depending on what new tools and improvements were in the new software we'd either make the purchase or choose to skip this upgrade and wait for the next one.  Their software is the number one sought after tool because, simply put it is the best tool.  This quality comes at a hefty price and is not a casual purchase.

There is a new business model now in effect.  While there are still a few programs available for purchase, most of their stable of products are now on a monthly lease plan ranging from $19.00 to $50.00 us dollars depending on the tools you require to perform your craft.  The software is downloaded and installed on your computer, (internet connection required), and it checks in and validates itself once a month with Adobe.  This new method of distribution is called the "Creative Cloud".  Also available is Cloud storage for your files if desired.

Emotions have been high in the ongoing online debate I've been witness to.  Two camps have emerged in the discussion.  There are those that are on board, are eager to have all the latest updates always installed, and don't mind the monthly cost.  On the other side of the fence are those that have been loyal customers for many years, and enjoyed using the best creative software.  In many cases they did not purchase every upgrade. only major ones.  They like the idea of having the installation discs on hand for re-installs.  They also feel taken advantage of by this new sales method.   The monthly cost for Photoshop only is $19.00, and you can make the case that  some of us spend more on coffee in a month.  That would be missing the point though, it is nineteen per month forever.  There are questions floating about concerning file format compatibility and other technical issues.  I suspect that these concerns can be dealt with.  

The larger companies in the creative world will benefit from this distribution plan.  The latest up to date program will always be available on their workstations.  They avoid installation issues, and smooth out their software cost.  The single owner professional serves as creative talent, software manager, and tech help.  They will absorb the monthly cost into their prices.  They will be the ones explaining to their clients why photographs cost so much.  Many of these single owner professionals will look to other companies for alternative software.

Adobe Corp. benefits by smoothing out the upgrade cycle and the cash flow.  No more peaks and valleys associated with new releases need be dealt with.  There will still be tech help available but not to the extent needed when boxed software is sold.  I suspect that the major reason behind this "Creative Cloud" distribution plan is that most of their products are very mature with most of the bugs worked out.  I also suspect that they've run out of the "sexy new tool" reasons to upgrade.  

As of now, I am running up to date Adobe software.  I am taking a wait and see approach.  My questions?  What happens when some future version of Windows no longer will run my version of Photoshop?  Will it be a monthly lease via Adobe?  Will companies like Corel fill the gap with a product that is up to snuff?  I don't know as of now.  I am working at staying neutral and open right now.  I just can't seem to shake the feeling of being taken advantage of by Adobe because of lack of choice.  They've given me no options.  A lot like some of the other non photographic companies I do business with.  We'll talk some more about this somewhere down the road. 

 

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Adobe Corel Creative Cloud Photographic tools digital editing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/6/adobe-corporation-game-changer Wed, 05 Jun 2013 19:20:32 GMT
"Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject." Eliot Porter https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/5/-sometimes-you-can-tell-a-large-story-with-a-tiny-subject-eliot-porter Sitting in the warm Spring Sunshine on a quiet afternoon, listening to the song of life, I am in awe of the beauty that is all around me.  The soft sound of the gentle breeze, the call of unseen birds, and the aroma of the blossoms of early May enforce the feeling of being reborn.  It is an especially beautiful time of year.  I want to capture it all in a bottle and save it.  I started to think about photography, and my personal choice of Black and White as my favorite pallet.  It seems counter intuitive to think in Monochrome, and it made me smile a bit. 

 

The early masters in my chosen craft had little choice in those days, it all was black and white.  These Photographers were Chemists, technicians, and most of all artists.  They trained themselves to "see" in monochrome.  Form, texture, shape, and the play of light is what motivated them to work their craft.  Many books have passed though my hands in appreciation of how the masters composed and created so many classic images.  There is something about these lovely silver prints that is compelling.  From shadow to highlights a full toned print communicates so much emotion and appreciation of subject matter. 

 

Life in our culture is fast paced and demanding.  So demanding in fact that our choice of visual entertainment reflects this fast pace.  Many of us have lost the ability to slow down, breath, and absorb what is right in front of our eyes.  What catches our eye and causes us to stop has to visually scream at us to get our attention.  Current day media reflects this by dazzling visuals, and editing. 

 

I am a contrarian at heart.  My natural instinct is to go against the tide, to swim upstream.  My choice and favorite medium is Monochrome.  There is a element of nostalgia in a black and white print.  There is also an emphasis on texture, shape, tone, and light.  My goal is to cause the viewer to stop and spend some time with my work.  A fine black and white print, matted and framed properly, hung in adequate light gives its gift over and over to the owner.  A brief glance can turn into a longer gaze, calm the mind, spark a memory, and a brief imaginary journey. I am drawn to architectural details.  Especially those that have some historic value.  I often think about the original owner, and what stories this doorway could tell if only it could speak.  In my Ellis Island work, I can imagine the hope and optimism of the people that passed though the Great Hall, for instance.  What went on in their minds as they passed the Statue of Liberty and entered the gateway to promisland America?  When did their fear give way to excitement?  The Great Hall is an imposing room to stand in.  The tile work and arches say to the new arrival, "you have arrived".  In my Eastern State Penitentiary work, you can feel the power of the structure.  I chose the tone range to convey a bit of the emotion the arrivals must have felt as they entered.  I am working on a personal project at the White Hill Mansion, in Fieldsboro, NJ.  This Revolutionary era home has a lot of stories, and even more questions to convey.  I chose a mix of Monochrome and Color both to convey my emotions of this historic building. Its been said that all of a Photographers work is autobiographical.  While I control what work I choose to show, how my work gets interpreted is out of my control.  It is not uncommon for me to hear unintended meanings attached to a particular photograph.  I encourage this by keeping my titles neutral. The following quote illustrates this point very well I think.  "Sometimes you can tell a large story with a tiny subject." -Eliot Porter

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photography awareness black and white photo interpretation seeing vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/5/-sometimes-you-can-tell-a-large-story-with-a-tiny-subject-eliot-porter Mon, 06 May 2013 18:27:01 GMT
Riding The River of Change https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/4/riding-the-river-of-change  

 

RIDING THE RIVER OF CHANGE

 

Ever so slowly the cold grey of the Winter season gives way to light. In small bits at first, then more noticeable, the Sun begins to warm the Earth. I visited family in New Hampshire this Easter weekend. Signs of change are easy to see. The first cracks of soil, bits of green poke through ever so tentative. Buds on branches that just recently looked dead to the human eye are everywhere. In the Greenhouses of Heron Pond Farm, trays of young plants are warmed by the Sun. It is an optimistic season full of the promise of light, warmth, and that marvelous green color I love so much.

I never get tired of the colors of Spring. After a long Winter mostly dominated by Grey skies, I am eager for the explosion of color that is just around the corner. My eye is especially attracted to all the different shades of Green. Warmer Temperatures, dark Blue skies, and the fresh healthy vegetation that will color our world soon, make a person glad to be alive. Melting snow, and Spring rain fill the streams with runoff, and provide wonderfull photographic potential. Just a short drive of a few hours brings the streams and hills of Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut to the lens of my camera. I am especially attracted to how the new green colors of Spring contrast against the textures of stone and wood. Add a little of just the right light, the sound of a rushing waterfall, and my mind is absorbed into the moment that Nature has provided me.

The rush of change this time of year in the Northeast corner of America is impossible to ignore. At this writting it is a quiet transformation. Soon, more color will fill nature's pallet in the form of Forsythia. I love it because it strikes the first blow to the grey of Winter, and because it belongs to the Olive family. Change is everywhere, especially inside of me. I see things more now than ever. Returning to a favorite photographic location with new vision, I see it differently. How long has the Moss covered boulder been there? Looking at a grassy field, there are textures, colors, and movement that is poetry. The sound of the wind in my ear is music. It is challenging to try to pack that emotion into my camera lens.

I've embraced a point of view, and worked it into my photographs. Absorbed and concentrating on the technique of producing a photograph can make you miss a few things. This becomes obvious when I return to a former shoot, and see it in a fresh way. My subject has not changed, I have. There is power in really listening and seeing. Seeing is different than looking. Seeing involves using your eyes, mind, and concentration to feel the essense of what your looking at. When you observe an emotion attached to what it is that you are seeing, the next thing is to feel all of it, and then try to get that into a photograph. This process sounds cumbersome and lengthy, but the more I use it the quicker it all happens. This is not however, how the people around me function. Like a busy beehive, everyone has their own stuff to do.

Artists, and I use this term broadly to discribe all creative endevours, put a frame around their subject. Stop and look at this! Beauty, suprise, irony, political point of view, and a host of other things are communicated through their work. The Artist comments on and gives meaning to the World around us. These words by Georgia O'Keeffe sum it all up very well. "I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for."

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Change Heron Pond Farm Photography awareness personal growth seeing vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/4/riding-the-river-of-change Fri, 05 Apr 2013 11:47:28 GMT
Ansel and Edward, American Treasures https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/3/ansel-and-edward-american-treasures Adams and Weston

 

In the early 1970's I began my romance with photography.  Those years were filled with first steps and miss-steps.  Even though I had my Dad, and other friends who were photographers to look to for guidance, I began to learn about the masters of this art.  Ansel Adams and Edward Weston were my favorites.  Two fascinating men, both individuals with very different approaches to the work they did.

Ansel and Edward met sometime in 1928 at a dinner of a mutual friend.  The story is that Ansel was asked to play the piano that evening.  They both brought photographs with them to show and talk about.  When the evening was over neither one of them was very impressed with the photographs of the other.  As the next few years passed they came to admire each other’s work.  Even though Weston was older than Adams and their work so different, they became lifelong friends. In the late 1930's they hiked into Yosemite together.  What a field trip that must have been.  Both men cultivated a strong sense of humor, and joked with each other frequently, over adult beverages.  Weston photographed Adams in Carmel, Ca. in 1943. 

Ansel's darkroom was orderly and efficient; Edward's was a stark contrast.  They frequently exchanged information about the latest in film, filters, chemicals, and paper.  Both men carried around lots of equipment, both used heavy view cameras with sturdy tripods.  Clearly, best of friends each had their own path and vision.  They respected and admired each other very much.  Ed Weston passed away in 1958 from Parkinson's disease.  Ansel thought of Weston as an inspiration and one of the greatest photographers of our time. 

Ansel was good friends with Ed Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation.  Adams used Polaroid film and clearly loved it.  He was a man that was not reluctant to use new technology.  It was the photograph that mattered.  His mind was a storehouse of information and very scientific, yet he remained the poet, the musician.  I remember the first time I viewed an Adams print in person, it was humbling.  I walked away amazed at what Adams had coaxed out of the film and chemistry. In those early years of my photographic work I as well as many other photographers sought to emulate Adam's work.  I carried sadness with me for years after Adam's death in 1984.

I am 100% digital in my workflow these days.  I am convinced that if alive, Adams would embrace the digital workflow. When working with a digital capture, I often think about the control offered with the software I use.  How remarkable Ansel's wealth of knowledge about the chemical process produced those wonderful photographs.  The time he spent in the dark, squeezing out every last tone and texture.  If anything I appreciate him more these days than ever.  Ed Weston, one cannot talk about American Photography without his name being mentioned.  To think that these two men worked together, helped each other, and were best of friends is remarkable, and a great photographic heritage.  They are both American treasures.

  We live in an era when time moves very fast.  It seems like each week something new is the hot thing to have.  We enjoy remarkable special effects in the movies we watch, and the clarity of high definition is a treat to the eyes. Even as all this art/science speeds past our eyes, take time to enjoy and appreciate these masters of photography.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Adams Ansel Ed Weston black and white photographic history photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/3/ansel-and-edward-american-treasures Wed, 06 Mar 2013 21:00:50 GMT
The Cinamatography of Casablanca https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/2/the-cinamatography-of-casablanca Every once in a while something comes along to slow me down and bring me to a complete stop. As of this writing it is the flu that’s responsible. My activities are near non existent, however I do turn to Television as a distraction. I treated myself to a late night double feature; Casablanca followed by The Maltese Falcon. These two movies are high on my all time favorite list. In this post I would like to briefly share a few points about my number one film of all time, Casablanca.

 

Casablanca is a 1942 romantic drama directed by Michael Curtiz. It was officially released in early 1943. No one involved with its production expected it to be anything out of the ordinary. It was just one of hundreds of pictures released by Hollywood during the years of World War two. The story is centered around Rick Blaine, (Humphrey Bogart), a man caught in a tug of war between love and virtue.

 

The Cinematographer, Arthur Edeson did a masterful job with his camera. Photographers use a well worn phrase, "the camera loves you". This was never more true with Mr. Edeson's camera and Ingrid Bergman. Most of the tight shots of Ingrid Bergman were from the left side of her face. It was said she preferred this angle. He used a gauze filter for softening, with care to get the catch lights in her eyes to sparkle. This is Film Noir at its best. In my opinion, his masterful use of the camera and lighting all come together in the Airport scene. Classically composed, wonderful lighting, and great mood dominate this section of the film. Ms. Bergman's face, with skin as smooth as a glass of milk, eyes filled with tears, and full of sadness, tenderness, nostalgia, its all there for Mr. Edeson's lens to capture. We see the airplane warming up in a background filled with fog, and Humphrey Bogart choosing virtue over love. All portrayed in a rich pallet of Black and White film. It does not get much better than this.

 

We are enjoying an era where digital capture and post production literally put magic in our hands. Anything our minds can conjure we can make happen. We have the ability to walk on water, and set it on fire if we want. We are in some ways like children with a new toy, fascinated by all that is possible. Many of the offerings available to us in the movies are full of examples of amazing visuals that rivet our attention and keep our eyes on the screen and are fun to watch. There will come a time when we will find it very difficult to keep raising the special effects bar. We'll keep asking ourselves how do we up the impact even more, for a public that expects even more with every release. Someone will come along, perhaps the next Arthur Edeson and merge strong emotion, great composition, riveting photography, and great special effects, and produce a masterpiece where all these elements come together in a balanced composition. We will have matured to the point where we want to feel real emotion and be drawn into the narrative, see ourselves in the characters on film, and are totally absorbed into the photography, and where special effects do not dominate the story but enhance it. We play out our cultural mythology on the silver screen. If a round table of Psychologist could deconstruct our cultural, mental and emotional landscape we'd be enlightened, with the things we value, based upon the contents of the cinema we love. Until then, "Here's looking at you kid!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Bergman Bogart Casablanca Cinema black and white camera effects human interest https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/2/the-cinamatography-of-casablanca Mon, 04 Feb 2013 18:18:58 GMT
New Hampshire at Christmas https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/1/new-hampshire-at-christmas Christmas in New Hampshire is wonderful. The cold crisp air and snow covered landscape remind me of the winters of my childhood. I am spending time at Heron Pond Farm, enjoying family and the beautiful rolling hills of southern New Hampshire. There is talk up here that Winters aren't what they used to be. There should be more snow, and in fact the locals have childhood memories of snowy Thanksgivings.

I have spent a significant amount of time here over the decades visiting this national treasure. Here in southern New Hampshire I make it a point to get off the beaten track. I love driving the curving two lane back roads. The scene changes as you travel from heavily wooded, to rolling farmland. Arriving at a junction where two roads meet, a small clutch of classic white clapboard homes is gathered together, accompanied by a church, maybe a firehouse, and of course the luncheonette. I enjoy going into these gathering places, where locals talk of their daily concerns. It is not long after you've began sipping your coffee that you'll be up to speed with everything that is going on. There are local construction projects, church business, road repairs, maybe a local fire, and talk of who is sick and not working. Sometimes the waitress does not even have to ask what a particular customer wants to eat. An unspoken agreement happens automatically. Food starts to arrive, without the benefit of a menu or even much talk. Conversation is easy here. Much easier than in the city where I'm from. In a room full of regulars, I stand out easily. A short discussion soon reveals I'm staying with family at Heron Pond Farm. A smile covers their face as they leave wish me well.

After a snowfall, the next day is full of sunshine. Bare trees form wonderful patterns and lines up against the snow covered fields. The cold air warms up just a bit around mid-day so it feels comfortable if you are dressed for it. Buy the way, the weather determins the dress code, there is a different fashion esthetic that is based on warmth. Under the right conditions, a dark clear blue sky accents white snow covered farmland, with a New England farmhouse tucked into a group of trees. These are the landscapes that have so often been photographed and painted that they reside in our collective memories of even us city dwellers.

These days, it is possible to get fresh grown vegetables even in Winter. The Greenhouses are working their magic, through the hard work of an ever increasing number of year round farmers. An increasing number of locals enjoy fresh greens and root crops, local artisan cheese, pure maple syrup, and a surprising variety of products. Winter is not what it used to be. Here the recent mantra is about supporting local agriculture. The connection between community and food production is visable and encouraged.

All this happens surprisingly close to major cities like Portsmouth and Boston, which have great places to eat and enjoy a varied offering of food, and cultural events. In the warm months you can sit in a coffee shop have and great cup of coffee, along with some pastry, and live music. If you are a Photographer like me a wide choice of subject matter is available within reletively short distances. There is the beauty of Franconia Notch, with its rushing streams and mountain trails. If you like the New England seacoast, then there is a rich history available to your camera lens. In towns that dot the landscape local artists exhibit their artwork for a population that enjoys supporting them with their purchases.

New Hampshire offers a very wide selection of subject matter for the photographer. The time tested obvious shots can still be found. The challenge here would be to photograph these recognizable places in a unique way to make it your own. When the light co-operates wonderful landscapes reveal themselves to the trained eye. The older cities offer architecture of great form and character. The seacoast is a particular challenge, in that it is well photographed and recognized. You'll have to work a little harder to put your own stamp on this rich but familiar subject. One of my favorite places for a refreshing walk and good photographs is Franconia Notch, where the rocks, moss, waterfalls, and textures offer a great pallet of color. If you travel to New Hampshire in Winter, the proper outdoor clothing is a necessity.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Human Interest Landscapes New England New Hampshire Winter photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2013/1/new-hampshire-at-christmas Wed, 02 Jan 2013 18:53:51 GMT
Hurricane Sandy and Restoring Our Personal Photographic Archive https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/12/sometimes-it-takes-a-disaster-to-define-what-we-value-most There are many ways in which people protect and store their family photograhs.  Some of us are very organized and methodical, others less so.  No matter where you are on the scale, a disaster like Hurricane Sandy gets your attention.  It takes no time at all, and a scrolling inventory is running through your head even if you do not suffer damage.  We think of what might have happened and what we could have lost.  First on the list is the health and safety of the people we love.  Once everyone is safe and accounted for, a damage assessment is next.  Most of us start a list in our heads that contain two catagories, replaceable and irreplaceable. If we've spent time going through the complicated and painful process of getting adequate insurance coverage, then the loss of our replaceable possessions will be minimal, and immediate sense of relief the result.

We humans collect lots of things that define our lifestyle.  Many of these things have great value, and add to our wealth. There are things we own that have very little market value, but are of great personal importance.  Our family photographic archive falls in this catagory.  There is a strong urge we humans harbor to be significant and stake out a sense of place.  Our family tree is one place where this is most visable, and our personal photographic collection is where our ancestors reside. This is where you introduce Great Grandpa and his 1936 Chevy Coupe' to a wide eyed child full of questions.  You gather every once in a while around a table to laugh and cry at photos that somehow still seem magical.  If you could only make these pictures talk! You shuffle through your history taking a trip back in time.  We really are part of a tree, that these paper treasures make real. 

The New York, New Jersey metropolitan area is slowly working its way back from Hurricane Sandy, the most powerful Hurricane in my memory.  As of this writting people are collecting lost photographs that are scattered due to the storm.  Some wash up on whats left of our beaches.  They are attempting to put their lives back together and their snapshot collection is part of the healing.  All of us know the value of these personal treasures.  They are Irreplaceable to whomever owned them.  We regret not taking more steps to keep them safe.  Our lives can be a hyperactive jumble of schedule, appointments, work, and leisure activities.  Its easy not to think about that box of family snapshots on the closet shelf. They were for the most part created on the spur of the moment by people with various levels of camera skills. However, its not the skill of the person who made the photograph that creates its value, its the content within the frame.  If I had to evacuate what would I quickly take with me?  My personal photo archive would be high on the list, right after the family go box. 

It is really important that you begin the process of finding from within your collection the few photographs that will represent your history tree.  You do not need to make this a major project.  It can start with just a small collection.  Some photographs in your collection will have become damaged.  Most damage can be repaired and photos restored.  The most difficult damage to repair is that which exsists on the face of the subject. I can restore a photograph that has faded areas, cracks and folds, missing areas, and print it in a warm antique tone on archival paper.  You could decide on a collection that has more photos but smaller, maybe 5 X 7's, or a wall with a few larger photos.  This project can be stretched out over time and thought of as an ongoing project.  It is less expensive than you think, and more valueable than you can imagine.  Give this type of project some serious thought.  Contact me and we can beging a dialog about your project.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) archival personal photo repair photographic restoration preservation value https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/12/sometimes-it-takes-a-disaster-to-define-what-we-value-most Sun, 02 Dec 2012 17:19:03 GMT
pdn PhotoPlus Expo Reflections 2012 https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/11/pdn-photoplus-expo-reflections-2012 Over the years, since the early 1990's to be exact, I have attended the Photo Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  I have been witness to a gradual change from a chemical/film based industry to digital capture.  On openning day, while waiting for the doors to open, I found myself thinking about how different the show is these days.  My recollection is that the Kodak booth was the largest in the hall.  Fujifilm being their biggest competitor had a booth that nearly matched Kodak.  There was Canon, Nikon, Hasselblad, Leica, Pentax, and all the major filter producers were represented.  You could browse Photographic paper companies, check out the latest in enlargers and so on down the line.  In fact I remember being facinated by a horizontal 8 X 10 enlarger with a liquid negative carrier.  What a great piece of engineering.

This years show ran from October 25, 2012 to October 27, 2012.  Sitting right in front of the main entrance was a booth as large as a small house, Nikon.  That was my first stop, since I use Nikon gear exclusively, I looked at the newest offerings.  While there I also listened to a professional photographer deconstruct an on location photo shoot.  He touched on all the preparation and planning that is necessary for success.  How to avoid potiential trouble and increase the ratio of "keepers".  It was then time to move on, so I visited the Zenfolio booth.  This is the company that hosts my web site.  I had an enjoyable conversation, and it was great to put a face on the company my web site is dependant upon.  A short walk brought me to the MPix booth.  They are a professional quality photo production company.  They will produce everything you might need in the way of photographs, from small prints to gallery wraps, to metal prints.  Their sales staff was very knowledgeable and a big help for me. While walking to another booth I wanted to see, I stumbled upon Carry Speed.  This firm makes what in my opinion is the best camera sling/strap in the industry for professionals or serious amateurs.  It prices out at $70.00 and is worth every penny.  A short demonstration covered all its benefits.  It is comfortable, strong, and quick to get the camera into any postition you might need.  This booth was very crowded.  Do yourself a favor and navigate to; www.carryspeed.com and give this product serious consideration.  The link will be posted on my links page.   

Next on my list was print media.  There were two booths on my check list.  I wanted to see up close the Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper.  It is beautiful, with no surface reflections at all and is rich looking.  I plan to get a sample pack and test it for myself.  I also wanted to see the paper being manufactured by Hahnemuhle.  This is very beautiful fine art paper.  I picked up a media sampler, and checked out where it is distributed, they do not sell direct.  I will give this paper some of my time and make some test runs.

Many things need to be combined in just the right way to produce a professional quality photograph.  Education, equipment, software, testing new materials, travel time, supplies, and lots of smaller things that never end.  Like any other business professional photographers factor these costs into their product.  While that is not surprising, every once in a while potiential customers question the cost of a photograph.  Some even hint that the camera is responsible for the quality work.  Those of us that work at a professional level are always aware of what it takes to produce our unique view or vision in the form of a quality photograph.  Spending a few hours at the pdn Photo Plus Expo brings home the knowledge of our production cost.  Being able to look at all the various componants that go together all in one place is enlightening.  There are many things that are packed into that piece of paper with the image on it.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) 2012 Expo PDN Photo Plus equipment photographic review supplies https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/11/pdn-photoplus-expo-reflections-2012 Sun, 04 Nov 2012 04:09:01 GMT
Securing Photographic Data https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/10/securing-photographic-data In and around my social circles, which include friends as well as family, I am considered the person to bounce the tech questions off of first.  Not that I am any kind of wizard mind you, its just that I might have a simple fix, and in the worst case senario I will point them in the right direction.  My computer skills began with a machine that by now sits in a electronic muesum somewhere.  It was an IBM XT.  It had a ten megabite hard drive.  You read that right, megabite not gigabite.  To put the size of that drive in context, on a regular basis I work with single photos that are hundreds of megabites.  In the era when photographs were processed in darkrooms preserving my work was a matter of archival storage.  That meant that the prints I made were chemically neutral, mounted on acid free matt board, and I stored them in acid free boxes with tissue separators.  Saving a fire or flood, my work was safe.  It was readily available also, right where I needed it

I am 100% digital these days.  My workflow goes something like this.  After a day of shooting the good, bad, and ugly all exsist on my compact flash card in my Nikon.  Everything gets downloaded onto my hard drive.  I create a folder and name it with a date number.  For instance, the first of October 2012 would be 20121001.  That in turn is followed by a brief explanation, so the folder name would look like this, "20121001_sunset beach nj".  These folders are sorted by Windows 7 in chronological order.  I then use software to echo my documents into an external drive, "Archive I".  This same software then echos Archive I to another external drive named Archive II.  My days shoot now exsist in four locations, my camera, my computer hard drive, archive I and archive II.  Only then do I format my camera memory card in the camera.  The two Western Digital externals 1TB each are now placed into a fire resistant safe box.

This system works for me because it is simple.  I like the redundancy, convenience and access of this system.  I would like to say that this system is "fool proof" but that is not the case.  The weak link in my system is me.  This system only works if I follow the proceedures that I set up in the first place.  It's just too easy to forget, or put off a synchronization when I'm busy.  Every once in a while fate finds a way to remind me how important it is to be disiplined about my process.  I can hear some of you now thinking, "why doesn't he just store his work in the cloud?"  That would make life more simple no?  Well yes, but I just feel very uneasy about my work out of my control, off my premisis and sitting on some corporations server no matter what their assurances are. 

I am very motivated to keep my system working as intended and here's why.  Sorting through my e mail one day I see one from FedEx informing me that my package was sent to the wrong address, and "Click here to track progress".  In a brief moment of complacency I clicked.  That set off a series of events that led me to eventually formating my hard drive and doing a clean factory reset.  Everything on my desktop was now gone.  I was not in a state of panic because of my external hard drives.  I did not loose any web addresses either because I use Mozilla Firefox and I have an add on called XMarks.  I am very impressed with how fast and clean Windows 7 was installed and up and running.  After a reinstall of Norton 360 I was back online in less than an hour.  A few clicks to log into XMarks and all my web addresses were back.  Plug in one of my external hard drives, and there are my photographs.  It costs a little time, but I sync'd my Archive I to my computer hard drive.  All was well.  Except I lost three photos because I put off a backup a bit to long. (remember the weak link yours truly?).  There was one glich that I did not forsee.  For some reason that I do not understand, (maybe the virus did it) all the data on my external hard drives was hidden.  After a nervous episode a few phone calls and the help of two friends I was helped to un-hide my data.  All was well, breath deeply Andre. 

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Preservation archive backup photo workflow https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/10/securing-photographic-data Tue, 02 Oct 2012 17:21:47 GMT
The chase for good photographs Part II https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/9/the-chase-for-good-photographs-part-ii Living with a Photographer can be challenging.  We have our own pattern of thinking and decision making.  I appear to most people as relaxed and peaceful, yet my mind is full of ideas, images, and imaginings. I'm fairly confident that I'm sleep deprived.  This, a side effect of spending years looking through a viewfinder of a camera.  I wonder about the next shot, the next shooting session, and the next surprise location.  Sometimes I wonder why I make the photographs that I choose to place in the camera frame.  I also am curious about my favorite style of music, Miles Davis ballads, my preferred choice of subject matter, old abandoned buildings, and my choice of Monochrome (black and white) photographic medium. 

There are subjects that demand to be photographed.  I react strongly and quickly to these and the gears start turning, my training takes over.  The skills that I've learned over the years begin to work on a composition.  I don't know or understand why I have such a strong reaction to a particular subject.  I may never know the answer to this, but I'm going to make this shot happen anyway.  Later in post processing another set of skills and tools are in play.  The goal is to remember my initial reaction and work to get that into the photograph.  I am very pleased when people react to and like my work.  Its an additional reward.  That being said, the initial motivation for producing the photograph was not for the reaction of other viewers.  This is personal work.  I am going to follow that inner voice, that keeps me on my path even though I do not fully understand the unconscious motivation behind it.  Its a lot like a canoe journey in a river of quiet water.  The journey is the destination.  There will be time enough for assignments.  I enjoy making photographs that bring to realization a much wanted and needed photograph.  There are times when I'll be asked to restore a damaged photograph, or compose a portrait.  I enjoy these processes also.  Within this blog post my primary concern is the motivation and direction of my personal work.  Some of the time it feels as though I am  observing myself at the same time that I am using my camera.  The common term for this is "being in the zone".  It really does feel as if time has slowed down.  It is a brief escape from reality, into a moment where nothing but my camera and the subject occupy my consciousness.  It is a Zen moment that I strive to achieve as often as possible. 

We humans get accustomed to our environment and tend to concentrate on the needs of the moment.  This is all to common, and necessary in order to survive these days.  However I am sure you all have times when you want to stop being on autopilot and just breath some fresh air.  Just a few moments to stop all the demands and "should do" intrusions into your time.  Even when I do not have my camera with me I am compelled to look around and compose photographs.  This raises my awareness to the light, patterns, textures, tone, and drama all around me that often becomes just background to our lives.  We live in a reduced state of consciousness, while around us the drama of life plays out.  We are surrounded by thousands of photographs that never get made.  Mostly small moments that can easily be passed over just because we need to keep going.  Seemingly insignificant objects can become magical in dramatic light or when their shape and texture are revealed.  As a photographer my path is to frame these moments, get them out of my viewfinder, and communicate to my viewers, "here look at this". You get to view and contemplate a small percentage of what travels through my viewfinder and post processing.  Someone once said that "all photographs are a self portrait of the artist".  In this respect you get to see through my lens.  The lens of my mind as well as my camera.  Yes, some photographs demand to be made.  If I am fortunate, some of you will connect to my images.  It is my hope that you will love them because I have to make them anyway. 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) Photography Zen moment awareness field trip through a viewfinder https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/9/the-chase-for-good-photographs-part-ii Sat, 01 Sep 2012 16:34:32 GMT
The chase for good photographs https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/8/don-t-pack-up-your-camera-until-you-ve-left-the-location When I pause to consider all the time I've spent in the chase for good photographs, I am surprised.  It is not just time behind the camera that is all consuming, it's also the prep work.  Maps have become a close and trusty friend.  I especially like topographical maps.  It gives me  a greater understanding of the area that I'm interested in, and the direction of the light.  These days computers have made map reading a pleasure.  I can zoom in via Google Maps and take a close look around, even at street view if it's available.  Even so there is always the unknown to deal with.  The photographs that Google uses can be a few years old.  There is nothing that can replace being on site and taking a look around.

Over the years I've developed a list of local places that I'll return to over and over.  I enjoy being there and I am able to dig out new and fresh photographs.  This post is not about those places though.  A new location presents challenges.  The first one is light.  Where is the light coming from, and is there anything blocking it.  A growth of tall trees can cast shade just where I do not want it.  While thinking about light, weather is always important.  Local conditions can vary quite a bit from the general area.  Another consideration is human impact.  Even in remote places there is sometimes unfortunate evidence of people being careless.  I'm the crazy guy you might see cleaning up an area to improve my photo.  Then there is what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said quite accurately;  "There are the things we don't know we don't know".  This means that I'm going to spend time looking around and getting a feel for this location. 

Whenever you are on location and looking for subject matter, there are things that pop out at you.  These are the obvious shots.  I'll make photographs of these areas and keep looking.  One thing I do often is make a wide angle shot of a subject, then I'll keep narrowing my viewfinder image little by little always eliminating something and getting closer and closer.  Digital capture encourages this approach, but even in my film days I used this technique. 

One phenomenon that I can count on from time to time is when someone notices me using a professional SLR.  This not only attracts attention, it produces a conversation that I do not have time for.  I am polite by nature and respect natural curiosity, but light waits for nobody.  Most of the time I use an honest approach and just explain that I need to get my shot before the light changes.  This works most of the time.  There is always someone who is unable to understand the obvious though.  I give them my business card and ask them to call or e mail me and I'd be happy to talk photography with them.  Sometimes, (rarely) this can lead to a photo op. 

As the day winds down I pretty much know if its been productive or not.  I'm not a big fan of viewing my work on the camera LCD screen but I take a quick scan.  If I like a shot, I'll check the histogram, and make sure the exposure for the shadows and highlights are within a good range.   I never pack away my gear while I'm still on site.  To often, I'll see a photograph while on my way back to my car.  This has happened often enough that I've learned to check my settings and make sure my camera is set for a quick photo.  Once in a while  the photo I get under these conditions is the best photo of the day.   When a trip to a location produces a few Portfolio grade photographs, I've had a good day. 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) digital capture field trip location photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/8/don-t-pack-up-your-camera-until-you-ve-left-the-location Sat, 04 Aug 2012 00:50:30 GMT
How we persceive and react to color https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/6/how-we-perceive-and-react-to-color It has been more years than I care to remember now, that I began my obsession with photography.  Early on I grew to love color slide film and as a result most of my color work was with reversal film.  In those days the standard was Kodachrome 25.  It had a reputation for being able to reproduce very accurate color, and was very archival.  I learned early on to expose for the highlights and let the shadows fall where they wanted to.  It had a downside and that was its lack of speed.  A tripod was almost always nearby and ready for use.  If I needed more speed than K25 could give me there was Ektachrome, an E6 process film that came in faster speeds.  Ektachrome had a different color pallet than Kodachrome, but was very attractive.  Then one year Fuji film came out with an E6 process reversal film called Velvia.  I as well as my other photographic friends loved the look.  The color would pop out at you.  Wonderful color that you wanted to look at and admire.  The colors were beautiful, however they were not accurate.  Looking at a side by side comparison of a Kodachrome 25 slide, and a Velvia slide was illuminating.  The K25 slide reproduced life like color that was accurate if properly exposed.  Velvia reproduced colors that were not what my eyes saw, but they were how I wanted to see my subject.  The emotional reaction to the Velvia pallet was what I wanted

As we journey through our day, those of us who are sighted accept that what we are looking at with our eyes is the real world.  We all agree that leaves on trees are green, and the sky is blue.  The colors of our individual world make sense to our brain.  When we talk to someone about a color we can agree for instance that a Fire truck is red.  Science has another opinion.  Each of us sees color in our own unique way.  The biology of our eyes is not identical from person to person.  Added to that, is the fact that our own brain processes the signal that comes from the photoreceptor cells in our eyes, through our optic nerve, and gets filtered by our brain.  Its then that we attach emotional meaning to the colors we are seeing.  Anthropologist study humans, their origins, physical characteristics, institutions, religious beliefs, and social relationships.  There is a growing opinion that our emotional reaction to color is imprinted on us.  Our survival depended upon us having the proper emotional reaction to colors that exist in nature.  Hunger drove early humans to quickly see the color of the animals they were hunting.  We perceive blue as the color of water, that has a positive emotion attached to it.  We are alerted by the color red, that color is the color of blood.  We've developed a strong emotional response to red.  Science now suggests that we are not seeing the exact same shade of color as those around us.  As a point of clarity I am not talking about color blindness in this instance.  People whose eyes are working normally and have no difficulty with color in their daily routine have their own unique color pallet.  Most of the time we are not even aware of the differences.  We refer to colors by the same name, and agree on their identity.  Our own experience in life adds to the way we react to color.  This is our own learned response.  It is very common for people to dislike a color intensely because of a negative emotion being attached to it.  Our brain seeks to attach meaning to what our senses are sending it.  The first step for me in creating a photograph is to really look at what my eyes are seeing, and listen to my emotional response to what I am looking at.  Once I identify an emotional response its time to start thinking about technique and how to get what I want inside a frame.  These days I no longer think in terms of film.  Its all digital capture now.  I have a workflow that gives me all the creative tools I can imagine, and adjustments that allow me to get just the look I want.  The next time you have a small block of quiet time available, take a look at my work and allow yourself to see what you are looking at. 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) react to color https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/6/how-we-perceive-and-react-to-color Mon, 25 Jun 2012 17:21:52 GMT
Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/5/photography-is-more-than-simply-taking-photos-it-is-a-philosophy-of-life Its been said that timing is everything.  This is especially true in the field of Photography.  Having my camera ready and in the right spot just when the light is right takes some sacrifice.  I can only speak to my own experience.  I've spent countless hours traveling to a pre-determined location just to be there for the perfect light.  Sometimes, the weather has other plans for me.  The moment will be delayed on this day.  Henri Cartier-Bresson, a legend in the world of photography is credited with this quote.  "Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again." 

Photography is more than simply taking photos, it is a philosophy of life.  As photographers we are observers first.  We live with a compulsion to observe the world around us.  Textures, patterns, composition, tone, color, angles, humor, tragedy, and many other things are all around us.  We capture light in a box.  It seems like magic sometimes.  Many of us love to browse historical photographs.  It becomes very clear after a short time that our world is constantly changing.  Always remaking itself, sometimes at a pace so slow we are unaware of the speed at which things vanish.  We celebrate the temporary, and capture a moment.  If we are successful we can say, "here look at this" and others will look and agree.  I have reached the age where many of my loved ones are no longer around.  On occasion we sit and browse the family photo archive.  There are smiles and tears of course, but always there is a longing to be back in that moment if only for just a short while.  What would I say to them?  Would just a hug and kiss do?  Would I warn them of the future?  Briefly, I am transported back in time.  The photograph has allowed a connection and sparked a memory.  The camera has captured a fraction of a second, preserved it, and in that fraction of a second a powerful emotion to be recalled at some future date, and this is magic. 

When I am in the process of making a creative photograph my first step is to observe how I feel about my subject.  Then with choice of lens, angle of light, and camera controls I attempt to get my emotion into the composition.  When I can do that, a successful photo makes its way into my portfolio.  I am also aware, that this moment is transitory.  Nothing is more dependable than change.  It is relentless.  Often, we allow ourselves to become completely engrossed in our current stage of life.  So engrossed in fact that we imagine it will go on forever, just as it is now.  Realization comes to us often in the form of an old photograph.  We laugh at how we looked, and sometimes envy our youthful appearance.  The more time that passes the more valuable our old photos become.  Very impressive for an exposure that took only a fraction of a second out of our history.

There is an abandoned house that I've photographed on more than one occasion.  I've captured different times of day and angles of light.  I've used different lenses and even a filter or two.  I do not know anything about the history of this building.  It was an ordinary building made special to me by its state of decay.  I have to admit to a bit of complacency, planning future shoots in different seasons of the year.   The day arrived when the light was just how I imagined I wanted it.  A dark blue clear sky, crisp clean air, and good sunlight to bring out some surface texture.  The surrounding vegetation was bright green and lush.  This should make for a successful color shot, especially in late afternoon when the Sunlight warms up a bit.  Upon arrival, what I found was an empty lot, leveled and used for different grades of gravel and mulch.  The previous sessions were all that was allowed me.  I can only imagine the history that disappeared with the house.  I am left with questions.  Who lived there?  When was it built?  Did a farm exist there at one time?  How many hopes and dreams went into the construction of this modest home on the edge of what once must have been a farm?  The images in my archive tell an incomplete story.  The frames I've captured tell part of a story that will remain unknown to me.  Our world continues to remake itself.  New things appear and replace things that are continually vanishing.  I will continue to celebrate the temporary with my camera and place my frame around a small part of my world.

 

 

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) photographers deal with things that are continually vanishing https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/5/photography-is-more-than-simply-taking-photos-it-is-a-philosophy-of-life Tue, 15 May 2012 17:17:17 GMT
Live Feed-The Running Photo Dialog of Our Lives https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/4/live-feed-the-running-photo-dialog-of-our-lives Live Feed-The Running Photo Dialog of Our Lives

Each day an endless stream of documentary photography is made available for us to consume.  This stream increasingly includes video from our personal devices as well as what we refer to as snapshots.  In fact it is difficult to walk about and not see someone photographing something.  Average people document the ever changing family landscape, the growth of their children as well as beloved relatives and family excursions.  At the end of the day, we turn on the nightly news and often see photographs or personal videos shot by someone witnessing a newsworthy event.  We've come to accept this as a part of our time, this is what we do as a society.  A large percentage of these photographs are made by people with little or no formal photographic training.  

It was not that long ago, in historical terms that no photographic records were possible.  We have artist's renderings of what some major personalities looked like.  Often these renderings were influenced by either the artist point of view, the benefactor's money, or political considerations.  In the Summer of 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was successful in producing what is now considered the first photograph.  This set in motion a remarkable change the public would have with historical facts.  We perceive the photograph or video as proof of reality.  As a photographer I am very aware that what photographs do best is lie.  Accomplished photographers know how to manage a composition with angle, light, perspective, and juxtaposition.  We refer to our process as making photographs, not "taking" them.  We have control over color saturation, contrast, texture, and can expand or contract the exposure zones our photographs display.  In a world that runs parallel to that of creative photography the average snap shooter points and clicks.  They document their running live dialog.  The better photos get printed and saved.  They do not need any knowledge of chemistry to get the photos they treasure.  They are a treasure.  We are all familiar with the aftermath of a major storm and the damage that is done.  Often the first things people look for are family photographs.  Some people even set up spontaneous clearing houses for finding the owners of lost photographs.  What was once a moment in time snapped up by a camera, often with little planning, now has become a missing or lost family treasure. 

People are unique in how they relate to their photo collection.  My Mom was very organized.  She created photo albums based upon categories.  There were albums based on Dad's friends, Mom's friends, Dad's family, Mom's family, and on and on.  I know of people who have their entire collection of snap shots loose in boxes.  It runs the gamut when it comes to our snapshot collections.  When I am asked by someone to restore an antique photograph of an ancestor, it makes me happy to know that a photograph is valued to the point that it will be restored, matted and framed.  It will become a family heirloom.   There are those, who are unenlightened as to the value of creative photography.  They make the mistake of thinking that a professional quality photograph is made with the same spontaneous attitude they used for the great family snap-shot.   Creative photographers spend a good deal of time working with all the details of their photographs. We use expensive software that takes time to master, to emphasize the story our work is conveying.  Our society is flooded with visuals attempting to get our attention, and in the process it is easy for us to become a bit numb.  Our visual expectations are being raised, it is difficult to impress us these days.  Slow down and practice seeing, not just looking, you might be surprised.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) creative documentary heirloom historical photography restoration https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/4/live-feed-the-running-photo-dialog-of-our-lives Tue, 10 Apr 2012 17:46:33 GMT
THE HUMAN EYE, CAMERA LENSES, AND AWARENESS https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/3/the-human-eye-camera-lenses-and-awareness
The Human eye is an organ that can distinguish between 10 million colors.   That does not take into account that some of us have what is known as  "taste" and others are challenged in this area.  Never the less, we are  blessed with having two eyes placed on the front of our heads. This gives  us Binocular vision.  Our two eyes work together with our brain for the  perception of depth.  This skill turns out to be rather handy.   Our eyes  have a pupil, which adjust how much light gets into our eye.  We can see  fairly well in bright Sunshine as well as darkness.  In a very short span  of time our eyes adjust to severe changes in light intensity.  A dynamic  range of about 20 f stops is possible in a healthy human eye.  {an f stop  is a precise measurement of the opening of a camera lens}   So far so  good.  I bet your impressed with yourself right about now.  I'll also bet  that you take your eyes for granted until there is a problem to panic  over.  Then there is something called peripheral vision.  Us humans can  sense movement while looking straight ahead.  Very handy if you are a  hunter gatherer, or driving your SUV on the turnpike.  The human eye is  often compared to a camera lens, and in fact is similar.  Similar, but not  the same.  You see our eyes are attached to our brain.  Once our brain  gets information from our eye, it searches its memory for something to  compare the image to.  We find objects either familiar or unknown based  upon our memory.  In fact your brain can fill in the blanks for you.  It  does this more often than you might think.  You are driving home late at  night, you are on your block.  You navigate your street with the full  knowledge of where the curves are, and where the potholes are too.  Often  you really do not see the detail, you just know where everything is and  your brain puts those puzzle pieces where they belong for you.  We also  have to ability to recall images from memory.  We can see a vivid image of  pure white sand and gentle ocean waves, blue sky, and gulls circling if we  choose to.  Don't forget our dreams, moving picture memories as real as if  they just happened.  Law enforcement authorities are very familiar with  just how unreliable eyewitness testimony can be. There's that brain again filling in the blanks for us. 

Camera lenses are wonderful inventions modeled after the human eye.  They  see lots of stuff.  They are very limited when compared to our eyes.  I  frequently change lenses when photographing a scene.  I'll use 300mm to  narrow and move closer to a subject, and then switch to an 18mm for a wide  view.  My eyes can do this with little effort.  I have to make a decision  about f stop for my camera.  Do I want everything in the photo sharp?   I'll then use a small f stop to gain depth of sharpness.  Do I want to  blur a background?  Then a wide open f stop is the answer.  My lenses  capture everything in their field whether I want them to or not.  There is  a difference between what my eye is looking at and selecting, and all that  is in the field of view of my lens.  When I make a successful photograph  it is because I've taken time to "see" rather than just "look".  Most  times my decision making process involves eliminating subjects from my  viewfinder rather than adding them.  This is due to the fact that my eyes  can zoom in and see a Cardinal in a tree for instance, appreciate its  beauty, be able to describe it in detail, and not know what kind of tree  the bird was sitting in.  My eyes did see the tree, and its leaves.  My  brain discarded unwanted information, and retained only what I was  concentrating on.

I walk several miles a day.  Its good for me.  Walking allows me to be  guilt free when asking for a second bowl of pasta. It also is an  opportunity for me to exercise my awareness muscles.  As I walk I  practice the art of seeing, and being aware of as much as possible.  It  also makes me thankful for the gift of vision.

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) awareness eye lenses photography seeing vision https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/3/the-human-eye-camera-lenses-and-awareness Tue, 13 Mar 2012 16:08:38 GMT
LIGHTSTRUCK https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/2/lightstruck  Cadillac Mountain

It is more years than I care to remember when I first was treated to the view from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.  In those days I'd make the trip to northern Maine to visit with family.  This is a special place.  In the warm months, sitting quietly and watching the Sun set is a well attended event, and even accompanied  by applause.  When you slow yourself down enough, your senses come alive.  The light changes ever so slowly, you can smell the aroma of the great Atlantic, and marvelous plants of all sorts seek shelter between the rocks.  Northern Maine is subject to sudden weather changes, and fog is common.  If the conditions are just right, a combination of Sun and fog can turn everything you see into artwork.  I've never tired of making this trip.  These days our five senses are bombarded with music, work noise, spectacular special effects in movies, and all the attention our personal electronics demand.  Our Sun, the star that makes life on earth possible, puts on a light show that is different each day.  Cadillac Mountain is a great place enjoy this event, forget about all the noise in your head, and once again realize how great it is to be alive.

Here is some information from Wikipedia about this Acadia Park landmark.

Cadillac Mountain is commonly believed to be the first location in the United States to be struck by the sun's rays each morning. Driving or hiking to the summit of Cadillac Mountain to see "the nation's first sunrise" is a popular activity among visitors of Acadia National Park. However, Cadillac only sees the first sunrise in the fall and winter, when the sun rises south of due east. During most of the spring and summer, the sun rises first on Mars Hill, 150 miles (240 km) to the northeast. For a few weeks around the equinoxes, the sun rises first at West Quoddy Head in Lubec, Maine, the easternmost town in the United States.[5]

 

 

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andre@andrecantelmo.com (Andre Cantelmo Photography) blog information light opinion photography https://www.andrecantelmo.com/blog/2012/2/lightstruck Thu, 23 Feb 2012 17:16:45 GMT