Friday, July 21, 2023

Artistic Courage

Innovation vs. Imitation

What do the following legendary artists have in common?

Impressionist painter Claude Monet
Actor Cary Grant
Film director Alfred Hitchcock
And singer Tony Bennett, who passed away today at the age of 96

Granted, they are all well-known. Most people have heard recordings of Tony Bennett, seen films starring Cary Grant or directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and almost everyone has seen Monet’s paintings.

a photo or two steam pipes on madison avenue new york
Dual Steam Pipes - New York (2023)

But these artists share another quality, a quality that I would argue is the secret to their success.

They did not imitate others.

Monet didn’t try to paint like Rembrandt.
Tony Bennett didn’t try to sing like Enrico Caruso.
Hitchcock didn’t try to make films like Cecil B. DeMille.
And Cary Grant, well, he was in a class by himself.

We can learn from emulating others, but in order to reach our potential, we need to develop our own style. Have the courage to pursue your own vision. The world needs innovation, not imitation.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:        Fujifilm GF 20-35mm f/4

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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Sunday, June 25, 2023

Beekman Theater

Movies In The Dark

Many cinemas have closed in the city. Movies used play for months in Manhattan. There were enough theaters to accommodate them and plenty of people willing to pay money each week to see feature films on a big screen.

Streaming services and high-definition televisions brought the theater experience into people's homes. There was no need to pay twenty dollars a ticket for a cinematic experience.

And then the pandemic hit. Cinemas that struggled to stay afloat before Covid now faced even more daunting headwinds.

a photo of the closed beekman theater in new york city at night

Maybe the cinemas will stage a comeback. Maybe, like vinyl records, they'll pull a Houdini and enjoy an enthusiastic resurgence of interest and support.

Home theater systems are amazing, but there's nothing like watching a good film on a big screen, listening to a soundtrack on an array of large speakers, or laughing at jokes with a roomful of delighted movie buffs.

Sony a7R III
Lens:        Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Little Sur River Beach

Captive Beauty

Heaven will look like Big Sur or it will be a disappointment. At least the heavenly version won't have barbed-wire fences and no trespassing signs.

a photo of the little sur river beach at sunset california

All California beaches are public property up to the high tide line. Unfortunately, a number of beautiful beaches are surrounded by private property, which renders the beach area inaccessible.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:        GF 30mm f/3.5

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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Friday, December 30, 2022

Pacific Grove, California

A Cute Town With A Pleasant, Relaxed Vibe

Of the three municipalities on California's Monterey Peninsula, Pacific Grove has the most laid-back feel. It's a great place to explore shops and restaurants, enjoy a meal, a coffee, or an ice cream.

a photo of the red house cafe in pacific grove california
Red House Cafe

a photo of toasties cafe in pacific grove california
Toasties Cafe - Pacific Grove

a photo of shops and restaurants in pacific grove california
Pacific Grove Shops and Restaurants

a photo of the post office at pacific grove california
Pacific Grove Post Office

a photo of a colorful fire hydrant in pacific grove california

a photo of lighthouse avenue in pacific grove california
Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:        GF 45mm f/2.8
                GF 30mm f/3.5

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Levitating Skyscrapers

Structural Secrets Of Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards is a working rail yard. Passenger trains for New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad pass through here all day and most of the night.

a photo of the hudson rail yards and skyscrapers in new york city
Hudson Rail Yards and Skyscrapers - New York (2022)

The huge skyscrapers that they started building in this area a few years ago are built over those tracks. I don't know how they did it, but that was quite a trick.

A track trick. A trick with tricky tracks. A tricky train track trick. The trials and trackulations. Something like that.

Camera:    Sony a7R IV
Lens:        Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2022 Daniel R. South
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Monday, December 26, 2022

One Afternoon In Manhattan

Street Photography in NYC

I went out for a sunny stroll and caught some street shots along the way.

a photo of a cyclist in new york city
Mighty Quinn's - New York (2022)

a photo of a small moving van in new york city
Moving Van

a photo of a man pushing a shopping cart past a ninja martial arts store in new york
Ninja Warrior

a photo of a couple holding hands in new york city
True Love - New York (2022)

Camera:    Sony a7R IV
Lens:        Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.8

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Remembering Galen Rowell

Impact And Inspiration

My life changed on a Saturday afternoon in the late 1990s. While visiting the Carnegie Museum Of Natural History in Pittsburgh, I noticed a sign announcing a photography exhibition. I recognized the name of the photographer, Galen Rowell. I had read articles about him, but I had never seen prints of his work in person. It was an experience that I'll never forget.

I had never seen photographs like this before. The compositions were wonderful, but it was the color, the detail, and the creamy smoothness of the prints that struck me most powerfully.

I remember feeling puzzled, even bewildered. What I was seeing seemed beyond the capability of what a camera could produce. It was as though I had witnessed a magic trick that made me question things that I thought the I understood.

a photo of a new york city sunset from central park daniel south photograph

I came away from the exhibition with a strange fascination. I didn't just want to understand how he captured photos that looked like this, I wanted to be able to product images with a similar look. It became an obsession, albeit one with a positive purpose. My fascination kicked off a decades long journey of discovery.


Galen Rowell was a skilled climber and mountaineer who traveled the world photographing remote places for National Geographic. He climbed Everest and El Capitan. He photographed Nepal and Machu Picchu.

I didn't spend much time in wilderness areas. I lived in a heavily populated area and commuted into a large city for work every day.

Nevertheless, I believed that if I could study and learn Mr. Rowell's style of photography, with its brilliant colors, dramatic skies, and awe-inspiring light, I could adapt that style for use in urban areas. Sunsets happen everywhere; we don't have to venture into the wilderness to see one.

Sadly, Galen Rowell and his wife died in a plane crash on August 11, 2002, twenty years ago today. I am now the age that Galen was when he passed away.

I never had the chance to meet Galen Rowell or attend one of his workshops (which were always sold out!) but his creative vision, his artistry, and his masterful craftsmanship have inspired me since the day I first saw his prints.

Fujifilm GFX 100S
Lens:        GF 45mm f/2.8

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.
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