Sunday, November 22, 2015

Friday in Fells Point

Went out with Kevin and Rob to Fell's Point last night. It's become something of a weekly ritual for us, to wander out into the sketchy night of Baltimore and photograph at random in response to the scenes we walk past. Consider it the photographer's equivalent of sketching, a practice in seeing in a casual atmosphere with no preconceived goal in mind.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 19mm at f/4, 1/2" exposure. 

Per usual, we started off the night with a stop out to eat. The venue of choice was Dinosaur BBQ, a popular chain in the northern end of New England, but new to a region as far south as Baltimore. I'd never really been to a genuine BBQ restaurant before, and the place certainly impressed. Definitely a fan of their habenero hot sauce (I'm a sucker for the ultra-spicy). And although I'm not a huge fan of deviled eggs, the presentation called for a quick snap.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 31mm at f/2.8, 1/4" exposure. 

I really do love food photography. Looking forward to one day where I can actually apply it in a working fashion and use some more deliberate lighting.

After sufficient imbibing, we took to Fells Point with a casual eye for compelling scenes. Despite being warm for a mid-November evening, the air was still frigid. Rob was kind enough to lend me (a remarkably dorky) hat and gloves, else I don't think I would've managed to stay out as long as I did (which is to also say I don't know how he dealt with it sans hat and gloves... maybe I'm just getting "soft" these days).

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 12mm at f/2.8, 3/5" exposure. 
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 12mm at f/11, 15" exposure. 

I was primarily trying two different techniques. The first was slow handheld exposures, adjusting ISO in aperture priority mode to to keep quality higher with as low a shutter speed I felt I could handle in the moment (shutter priority seems to underestimate my steadiness sometimes). Second was use of keystoning, a JPG function of Olympus cameras basically mimicking the function of tilt-shift lenses via digital adjustment. It's a technique I've employed in DXO for my real estate work, and though I've tooled with it in-camera a few times I never really took the time to exercise the capability. It's pretty fun to use, though tricky to level off perfectly so for deliverable product right out of JPG files some finer adjustment would ultimately be required.

Our city wandering took us to a construction site beside a fenced off cobalt yard. It was a weird locale, with random people almost drunkenly wandering around the borders of the fencing. Deep down, the mischievous rebel in me wanted to explore the site beyond (the wholly ineffective) fencing, but alas the company likely wasn't quite as up to flying in the face of static authority. Not a bad thing necessarily.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 25mm at f/4, 2.5" exposure. 
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 12mm at f/4, 10" exposure. 

It felt like I was fighting ghosting and lens flare the whole night, unfortunately. Honestly, it often feels like I'm fighting ghosts in high contrast scenes all the time these days. I'm not sure if I'm just "doing it wrong" or if there is some greater fault to the coatings of my lenses (I'm not exactly gentle with my gear). After leaving the construction site we shot a few Hopkins University sites by the water, and it seemed like every shot fell victim to some blob of purple creeping in opposite a bright light in an otherwise dark scene.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 16mm at f/4, 1.3" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 20mm at f/11, 15" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 17mm at f/4, 1" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 12mm at f/4, 2" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 17mm at f/4, 3" exposure.

Moving over to the busier side of Fells Point, Kevin suddenly recalled a neat bar themed by the music of the late 90's and early 2000's, basically the music we grew up on. We all needed a bit of reprieve from the cold, so finding some temporary shelter wasn't a bad idea, but I've never had a good taste in my mouth for the more touristy parts of the city. Call it social anxiety, I'm just not a fan of the crowds and have difficulty not collapsing inward and becoming a cynical ass when surrounded by people. It's hard to keep my judgments in check, so typically I try to stay quiet.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 21mm at f/2.8, 1/5" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 30mm at f/2.8, 1/15" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 23mm at f/2.8, 1/10" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 30mm at f/2.8, 1/4" exposure.

(It felt a bit strange walking past this lady. I couldn't see her face or how she may have been feeling. Her attire didn't necessarily shout homeless, possibly just drunk, kicked out of the bar and passed out slumped on a bench. I've been there before, and it's not a good place to be. Didn't say anything, though, just kept on walking. Hold some regret for not saying something.)

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8, 28mm at f/2.8, 1/5" exposure.

The dive Kevin led us into was actually pretty incredible. A mostly open floor space with really awesome projected imagery and animations cast onto broken white wall panels. Simple setup, but paired with the ambient music of the venue I felt like I could have sat there for hours quietly watching and listening. Usually I hate bars for their crowds and my ensuing inability to relax without going over the top on drinking, but this place I could genuinely see myself heading to just to sit and relax. There wasn't a show that night, but I wouldn't mind heading back some time to see who might be playing.

Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, 7mm at f/2.8, 1/4" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, 7mm at f/2.8, 1/5" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, 12mm at f/2.8, 1/3" exposure.
Olympus OMD E-M1 with the M. Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8, 7mm at f/2.8, 1/5" exposure.

A pretty good night, all in all. After spending a couple weeks dipping into bars in the evenings and not actually accomplishing any photography, we got back into the groove of going out to shoot for sake of shooting. Felt incredibly good to get back on track with what our Friday night get-togethers started off as. Still, looking forward to longer days already. These frigid nights are murder.