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Part of the Art's Center in Suzcho, China

Part of the Art's Center in Suzcho, China
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Behind The Lens


This photo was taken at the Art's Center in Suzcho, China while I was on tour with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in July of 2017. I play viola with the Detroit Symphony and am in my 50th year with them. In those 50 years I have traveled the world performing in most of the major concert halls in Europe Asia and America. This arts center in Suzcho presented me with some of the most interesting modern architecture I have ever seen.


After several hours of traveling from Shanghai by bus the orchestra arrived in Suzcho several hours before the concert at the hall. This gave me a chance to go out and photograph for a couple of hours in the early afternoon. There was so much interesting architecture to photograph that I had wish I had more time but I had to eventually get into my tails concert wear and perform the concert. Plus, I had no option when it came to choosing a time to shoot because I was on "Detroit Symphony Orchestra Time" not "Hart Hollman Time".


Although I prerfer very early or pre-sunset light the early afternoon light brought out shadows in the buildings structure that accentuated the curves of the building.


Because of the limited time I had to photograph I did not have time to use a tripod so all of my shots were hand held which in the full sun of the afternoon was not necessary for what I was shooting. When I shoot outdoors in situations like this I carry my Nikon D810 with a Nikon 28-300mm and a Sigma 12-24mm which covers most situations I run into in full light. I do carry a Nikon SB 900 flash for fill in flash but did not have a use for it that day. For this photo I used the Nikon D810 with my 12-24 zoom lens at 14mm set to f/22, ISO 200, 1/100th of a sec using the pattern metering mode.


Even though I ended up full time as a professional violist in a Major Symphony Orchestra I studied art at the Baum Art School and Muhlenberg College in Allentown. At both of these institutions I studied drawing, painting and composition which I apply to every photograph I take. The unusual angles and design of the Art's Center inspired the abstract artist in me. The curves and distorted reflections in the curved glass of the building created a world of possibilities to photograph. Also the shape of the building framing the other parts of the Center in the background added even more dimension to the photo. I could have spent a lot more time photographing this unique confluence of buildings but I had to allow time to change into my concert clothes and play a two hour concert.


I never ever put any photograph out for human consumption that I have not processed through Photoshop and or Lightroom, not even a snapshot I have taken "on the fly". I use every bit of art school training to make sure that the composition, color balance, the detail in the shadows and highlights (I studied Ansel Adams Zone System in the seventies) and the subject matter is presented how I want it to be seen. I make sure that the photograph represents to the viewer what I alone want them to see. I originally took this photo in color (Raw of course) then processed it in Photoshop Black &White using the sliders. Again whether in color or black&white I use my knowledge of the "Zone System" to process my tonal values in the photo.

In my camera bag

It all depends upon what I plan to shoot. I now use the NIkon D850 with a D810 ( always carry a backup for shoots you will only have only one chance at shooting).For outdoors I will carry a 12-24mm, 28-300mm, 20mm prime, 24mm prime, 50mm prime, tripod, filters, and a fill flash. For indoors I will carry a 12-24mm 2.8, 12mm 2.8 20mm 1.4, 50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.4, 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8 and a tripod. p.s. Extra batteries, always.


Have and idea and picture in you head of what your final shoot will look like. Create a story about the subject matter you are taking. Always ask yourself " Why am I taking this photo ?" Consider the lighting you want and the time of day. Consider the weather if outside and conditions you will be getting yourself into to photograph what you want. Just don't look at the "Big Picture" because some of the most interesting subjects are the "small things ". Above all have a passion and love of what you want to do. I am lucky because I have found that passion in Music as well as Photography. Finally, learn Manual! I started out in photography in the early 1970's and everything in Photography was Manual. There was no Auto so you had to think before each shot, no shortcuts. Pay attention, not to just the "Big Picture" but also the small "Details". This is exactly what I do when I preform music on my viola whether I am in the orchestra or playing a solo in front of the orchestra. This is called "Crossover" where different applications in the Arts carry directly over to one another such as Music to Photography, Applied Art to Photography and vice versa. Never stop looking for "The Shot"!

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