The Black Mask, 2009

There’s an infatuation with detail amoung photography snobs that I sometimes find counterproductive and often counterintuitive.  I began to notice this when I began displaying my work and began to hear criticism that there was  sometimes no detail in my deepest blacks.  I am an accomplished enough photographer that I can recognize this when shooting, editing, and printing.  I can shoot as to include detail.  I can light for the shadows.  I can manipulate in photoshop, NX2 and Silver Efex Pro!

If I wanted you to see detail in my deepest blacks, I would show it to you!

I have been coming from a place of darkness, visually, since I first began making pictures.  The idea of a darkness that can’t be penetrated, exposed or seen into seems to hold an appeal for me.  I am still looking for some of the reasons why, to be honest.  I believe that it holds a statement of my view of humanity and the nature of man and, possibly, a view of myself.  Beyond that I have very few clues.

There is a place in the world for pure black.

For those that would like to see detail in every inch of a photograph and cannot accept that black is truly meant to be black, I can ask:  “Do you really want to look that deeply?  Is your soul open and laid bare?  If you did see, do you think you would like it?  Are you ready to show the detail in your darkness?”

Ocean City, MD…2009

The end of the rock jedi at the inlet at Ocean City, MD is extremely slippery when wet.  I found out the hard way.  I was able to come away with several images to make my scars worth it.  The light is extremely good when it comes up over the ocean and it takes a while to get high enough in the sky to start making harsh shadows.  It gave us enough time to work for a few hours in some really excellent light. 

The place where land meets the open ocean has always held a symbolic power for me.  I think it has to do with the ending of one world and the beginning of another.  For me, it seems to somehow symbolize freedom.

I used one SB-800 for fill on this one.

Ft. Armistead, 2009

I’ve been called brave to shoot at this location.  But just because its frequented by cut-rate prostitutes and is a haven for gay sex trolls doesn’t really mean its physically dangerous….does it?  I guess I figured if no one was going to bother the whores, who the hell was going to bother me?  Armistead has an erie, haunted feel to it.  It just sort of lurks back in the woods, overgrown with weeds and trees.  Its been cast off by the government and left to rot, for the most part….another little slice of urban decay.  It really seems other-worldy in a way.  That’s what I was looking for in the series of images from which this one was chosen.  Like the feeling you get from Armistead now…Mystery and decadence….The feeling that there’s more here than you’re really seeing.  I really wanted to use Lisa’s strong physical presence in combination with the location and accessories to create an emotional response.  The character is mysterious and decadent….but also powerful with a hint of the tragic and dangerous.  A vampire?  I can’t decide.

Working Man…Baltimore, 2009

The raw, industrial power of this location draws me back to it more than any other where I have worked.  There is so much history and tradition of labor forced into such a small area…It is easy to come away with many great images.  The place just screams blood and sweat! 

Ron is one of the best models I have worked with…male or female.  he just seemed to know exactly what to do without being directed.  I love his steely, haunting look.

This was another exercise in shooting “street”.  OK….By now you’ve realized that’s how I shoot….Seat of my f’ing pants, really.  Not so much pushing the limits of ISO here, but an exercise in balancing the light.  I used a handheld strobe for fill, but had to be very careful not to obliterate the shadows.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you that an SB-800 overheats.  I blast away with mine all day long!

I can’t remember if this was a Photoshop B&W conversion with NX adjustment, or if I used Silver Efex Pro.

Ponca St…Baltimore, MD 2010

There’s a very popular strip club called Nightshift at the corner of Ponca and Holabird streets directly across from where this image was made.  It has absolutely nothing to do with this image. 

It rained almost the whole day that we were shooting for this session.  It was cloudy and not very warm when it wasn’t raining.  The day was a lesson in color balance and high ISO shooting.  It was liberating to just crank up the ISO and see what the results would be…Because there was no other choice.

I came up in photography shooting “street”.  In the days when I still shot film my favorite was Kodak T-Max 3200.  I’d go out at night with some friends and my Nikon F4.  We’d hit a local bar in Federal Hill, Canton, or Fells Point…Then hit the streets shooting using the available light from street lights and bar signs to create my images of them.  It was gritty and grainy.  High contrast…Low and moody.  But with a grain focuser in the dark room and the right printing filters I made images that I am still proud to show today.  Because of that background, I am not afraid to push the limits.  With today’s digital shooters I am always amazed at the aversion to what they call “noise”.  It is very similar to the film grain of the last era.  Sometimes I don’t find it objectionable at all in an image.  Sometimes I believe it actually adds something special…Perhaps the feeling of reality…that it’s not glossed over.  The beauty and style are all still there, but accentuated because you can feel that there is still flesh and blood.

Harley with Chaps

I guess nothing says power as much as a Harley Davidson.  The serious look, low angle and leather probably don’t hurt either.  Shooting in the mid-day sun did not hurt this image at all.  In fact, I think it helped.

This shot was made with my 20mm on a DX body.