Tag Archives: Portrait

A Tale of Two Horses

A Tale of Two Horses
A Tale of Two Horses

The Sunday following my birthday I took a road trip into Upstate New York’s wine country, the Finger Lakes Region. The sun was out; There was a cool breeze; Everything was blooming. The experience was even much more entertaining as my friends in this adventure, Lynne and Joe, decided to go off road and take the more scenic routes. This placed us square into a lot of America’s farmland.  It was here that I saw the two horses which became the title of this post – A Tale of Two Horses.

The landscape was littered with barns, fields of corn, fields of cows, and stables. It was on passing one of many roadside stables that we paused to observe a solid black stallion. He was very active and was causing a commotion among the other horses. He became even more frantic when I ventured close to the enclosure. Consequently, as much as I wanted to capture him and his unique beauty, I couldn’t.

Instead, I saw two mares which were huddled to one side of the pen. I found them to be more cooperative than the stallion but it was clear they were agitated by his movements. I liked the fact that they were huddled together and I think that presented a unique composition that I probably would not have gotten at any other time. But shooting theses horses meant I had to work fast as I had another male to compete with. I took several shots but none captured the beauty or the spirit of the moment as the one I captured here. Yes, it was a frantic scene but for a few small seconds, things were calm and I was able to capture the two horses in a moment which I thought flattered them both. In my mind, I  captured them in what I believe is a very charismatic and yet a simple, elegant portrait

Sometimes, you don’t get what you set out for. Instead, life surprises you and you get something better, more intriguing, more distinct than you had experienced before. That is pretty much what happened in this trip to the finger lakes. Although I started out trying to capture a story about a single horse, a stallion. I ended up with a lovely, classical shot depicting a Tale of Two horses.

Chicago Girl

Chicago Girl
Chicago Girl

Taking advantage of the nearly Spring like conditions present on Sunday I ventured into Midtown, Manhattan.  My goal was to visit the ICP – International Centre of Photography. But, I also decided to enjoy the day and explore the general area. It was through my exploration I came across the Chicago Girl.  Allow me now to digress and explain how I encountered her.

After taking time to visually digest the numerous photographs and journals of Robert Cappa on display at the ICP, I took the time to walk about and enjoy the ever hectic pace of the city, NY City.  I  chose to wonder about feeling confident in the fact that wherever I ended up, my smart phone would help me get out of it again –  provided it had sufficient power.  Five minutes later, after a pleasant stroll following the crowds of people walking about and making their way through the city, I landed in Times Square.  Or rather, Times Square landed on me. It never ceases to amaze me how much activity occurs at that one spot in Manhattan.  It is overwhelming, and it is not just the numerous tourists and vendors who trade in the area but also various performers – in costumes, with musical instruments, with flyers – all trying to garner some attention to what they are providing.  It is a Mecca of distraction, but in so doing it is also vastly entertaining.

It is among these street performers I met the Chicago Girl. I refer to her as the Chicago girl as she was handing out flyers for that well known Broadway play that goes by the same name – Chicago. And, like the actors who play on Broadway, she was handing out flyers while moving in a well crafted, choreographed manner.  That, I think, is what caught my attention – that she would put that much effort into distributing flyers. And, at that point, I couldn’t help but take photos of her in her street performance.

Because of the hustle and bustle of so many persons walking by, it was hard, no difficult, to capture her.  To make things even more frustrating, the one lens I could have used to have a more isolating effect – my 55-200 mm lens  – was left at home to save weight.  So, for a moment, I was fighting an uphill battle. That is, until, the crowd parted just enough for me to capture her and her alone on the street doing her usual performance. I caught the photograph in this post in an experience which can only be communicated as Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment”.

Without a doubt I really enjoyed my Sunday tour of the city. I enjoyed the visit to the museum, the crowds, the activity. I enjoyed the street performers and yes even the visitors made the experience welcoming. But, overall, I have to admit, the Chicago Girl made the experience all the worthwhile.

The Eyes have It

The Eyes have It
The Eyes have It

During the preparatory work for Thanksgiving, I took a photograph of a friends daughter. The part of the composition that really caught my attention at first was the back-lit area behind her as she was sitting near a window. But, this had another beneficial effect as it created a reflection on the dinner table surface and bounced a catch light into her eyes – hence the title “The Eyes have It”.

I believe there were other elements which helped this image besides the simple catch light. For one, there was the color of her hair which was more like fire embers. The color ranged from at times from golden yellow to reddish orange.

The other interesting element was her stare. This is just one of about three shots. But, it is the one where the eyes were directed straight back to the camera and, to me, gave the most dramatic effect. This, in combination with the catch light which reflected of her eyes, drew a lot of attention to her serious stare. By no means was she upset or unhappy, but I could tell in talking with her that she was exhausted from doing her morning jog.

The last element which I believe helped the image was the depth of field. Although very subtle in this image, it is noticeable on the curved part of the wooden chair she is sitting on that there is a soft blur that recedes to the window. This brings her to the foreground in a very prominent way creating a sense of depth to the image.

Of course the back-lit scene created by her proximity to the window also helped immensely in creating a minimalist, airy feeling by painting the background white. However, the combination of all the elements came together to create this rather simple but dramatic image which focused attention on the eyes. Thus, the title of the image – “The Eyes have It”.

Two of a Kind

Two of a Kind
Two of a Kind

It is amazing sometimes to observe some of our human like qualities being reflected in other species. In the same way we care for our young, that behavior is exhibited in other species; In the same way we may groom each other, that behavior is exhibited in other species; In the same way we  cuddle when it gets cold, that behavior is exhibited in other species. These characteristics are observed in numerous species beyond our own and in this photo I have titled “Two of a Kind.”

On a rather windy day, I visited the zoo and upon passing the primate enclosure, I noticed two monkeys huddled together near a viewing area of the enclosure. The wind was not whipping, but it was certainly cooler than it had been for a couple of days and these two monkeys had huddled together, embracing each other to keep warm.

It was not just the huddle that caught my attention as this is quite common among monkeys. But, it was the addition of the stare. The stare which was directed right back at me through the window pane of the observation area. In one instant, it humanized that moment. For that one moment, I no longer felt that I was looking at an animal at a zoo, but a species that was capable of caring and sharing. To be frank, words are not needed to describe how they may have felt and what they were trying to do as this was already conveyed through their actions and their eyes. It was a warming embrace that is expressed through nothing short of love and concern for the other.

In all species of animals, there are certain behavioral characteristics that resonate with us as we exhibit the same characteristics given certain situations. Consequently, their behaviors also communicate, without words, certain things that we ourselves do. Things that are expressed in this photograph of two monkeys, “Two of a Kind.”

A Girl and Her Horse

A Girl and Her Horse
A Girl and Her Horse

While I paused talking to a companion photographer, a golden glow caught the corner of my eye. I turned, peered down one of the openings to the stables stationed opposite to the NY State Fair Coliseum and caught sight of a young girl who was tending to her horse – in conversation. It was the yellow in her blouse that first caught my eye and I took a few shots which I considered technically ok, but nothing inspiring; But then, she turned in my direction. Right then, everything, to me, crystallized and I caught a candid moment of a girl and her horse.

I think my presence may have startled her somewhat as she quickly turned away when she noticed me on the far end of the stable. However, she didn’t run away. She instead attempted to appear busy and uninterested. But, every so often, she would pause and glance in my direction to see if I was still present. Although, I took many shots before and after that event, I think the most significant shot was just that moment when she slowly glanced in my direction and the light from a lamp behind her caught her blond hair, accentuating it with highlights.

For me, another equally compelling part of the image is the horse. It turned and looked up at me at just the same time as the girl did. In essence, the scene came across as if I had interrupted a private conversation and the participants turned to find out what the interruption was. But more importantly, through their glassy stares, they made me aware that I was not invited to this privy moment. Sigh! However, it was the capture of that moment which I found most meaningful of all the shots and the one I decided to share as a – A Girl and Her Horse.

Portrait of a Cowgirl

Portrait of a Cowgirl
Portrait of a Cowgirl

She was poised, alert and was unmistakably a cowgirl. While she ready herself for a competition in the warm-up pen outside of the NY State Fair Coliseum, I caught this portrait of a cowgirl looking off into the distance. Well it was more like looking onward at her approaching competition.

Besides her proud stance in the saddle, I think the other thing that caught my eye was her bright orange outfit with matching saddle cover. She definitely paid a lot of attention to detail and it showed. From her rhinestone orange and white blouse to her leather-like orange pants, she was dressed to impress. It is not certain whether her dress was enough to impress the judges. Unfortunately, I was not around long enough  through her competition to know whether her preparation paid off.

I had the opportunity to take other shots of her while she was waiting for the orange saddle cover to be placed on her horse. Although they were good, they were not as impressive as the one caught here. There was another time when I caught her in a shot and that was when she was in the coliseum putting her horse through its paces. If you were to view the previous photo “Patient Little Cowgirl” you can observe her as a blur swiftly whizzing by the little cowgirl. However, she was not the focus of my attention then. Here on the other hand, I giver her an opportunity to stand out on her own without the distractions of other riders in the shot.

I really enjoyed taking the shot but the one thing I wish I had gotten from that afternoon. If only I had an instant printer where I could print on demand, I would have tried to get her to autograph the portrait.

Rider Three Sixty

Three Sixty
Three Sixty

Prior to the July 4 weekend, I chose to get out to do some practice shooting with my new D300s. I hadn’t taken much time to review the manual as I was all excited about getting out and getting to use the new camera. One of the placed I had in mind on visiting was a horse show/exhibition which was being held at the NY State Fair Grounds.I shared my intentions with some fellow photographers of mine and that sparked the attention of one photographer, Lynne, who was available to accompany me for the shoot.

The atmosphere at the NY State fairgrounds was indeed different for me, there was a musky scent that filled the air; there was the  chanting and whistling of the crowd; there were the exhilarating  rush of the horse carriages; and, there were the focused practice rings where the riders were deep in concentration reading their horses to be taken into the arena.

It was in one of these practice rings I came across a rider which I can only refer to as three-sixty. After warming up with her horse, she took a stance which, with the beautifully lit background, crystallized into an image which I thought was worth of taking and which I included into this post. I was certainly taken not only by the posture of the horse and rider but the way the evening light struck the horse and emphasized the muscular structure of the creature. Further, I was also mesmerized by the back lit scene which helped to set the environment of the place.

If my memory serves me right, three-sixty went on to win her competition that evening and right now, I wish I had her contact information to share the photo with her. There is some romantic, yet beautiful atmosphere of the image which has made it one of my favourite photos of the year. Yeah, I like three-sixty.

The Ol’ Southern Belle

Ol' Southern Belle
Ol’ Southern Belle

Here is another image from what I think may become a series which I refer to as the Uncivil War. Pictured here is a portrait of one of the women dressed in the attire of what would have been a southern belle on the confederate side of the Civil War. And, being true to the nature of the women of that era, she had the accent and the attitude of one.

Unlike most of the reenactors at this event, she seemed to have more energy than anyone else. Personally, I wish I had more time to study her as I think she would have yielded numerous great photographs.

The Forgotten

The Forgotten
The Forgotten

While teaching a student some of the basics of photographing flowing water at a nearby fountain, I broke away from the student and the instructor – a friend of mine, Joe Inzalaco – to observe some of the other nearby sites and activities. I had noticed there was a small festival going on nearby Clinton Square celebrating the various groups of refugees who have come to recognize Syracuse, NY as their new home. I  also noticed another refugee of sorts, one who was displaced.

He seemed almost invisible, out in his own world and that is why the name, The Forgotten, became the description of this photo. I caught him walking past the festival in the background, making his way, alone, across the city which, like the refugees, he calls home.