Got out last weekend for the national photowalk organized by Scott Kelby. It’s a way to get photographers together and out into their community to see what they consider worth an image. We had a good turnout here in Omaha – probably 30 or so photographers meandering in small groups along a course recommended by the leader. Driving through the city, alert for traffic and pedestrians, it’s easy to miss the interesting architecture and items placed around the city. A stroll is definitely the way to think about a downtown area photographically.
Speaking of thinking, as a matter of personal discipline I carried only a film camera, forcing myself to actually look, think and then shoot. Experience has taught me with digital I’ll not only ignore my on admonition for intentional photography, but will end up with several versions of the same composition, as if one more push of the shutter will improve the picture.
Not only film but black and white print film (Kodak Plus-X 125), a new one I’ve wanted to try for a few months. I’m not as intimidated by exposure as I used to be, so I let the camera determine the shutter speed and kept the aperture around f/8 or f/11 to get some background blur and decent grain texture.
It is an interesting feeling, walking around and actually seeing, not feeling compelled to gaze at the world through a viewfinder. Not only what caught my sans camera eye but also what the other photographers were grouping around and pointing their lenses at for capturing. I like looking over others‘ shoulders, seeing what they are seeing and trying to imagine what they are composing. Sometimes makes mundane scenes you’d walk right past suddenly stop you and make you look more closely. After all, another person is seeing something there!
We started in a park dedicated to Plains pioneers, well designed and populated with bronze statues of covered wagons filling with families seeking a better life out west. Those attracted a lot of attention from the group as people vied for composition and lighting. The park is unusual in that the statues wander along streets, leading to a water feature with geese up on the light poles and splashing around in the water. Bronze geese, not real ones. Several people paused here to make images of the water from different angles. The sun was flashing in and out from behind clouds so the lighting was always opportunistic.
I stayed with a small group of natives, people who’d seen the downtown go from economic center to blighted eyesore to ongoing recovery. It was fun envisioning the landscape through their eyes, learning which buildings used to house old theatres or department stores, which structures are gone now and which have been reborn as condos or apartments. Lots of stories, hard to make pictures that do them justice.
Shot through my 24 exposures – not bad for a couple of hours on the street. Saw several other images but wanted to spend more time with them so perhaps later. They’ll still be there, waiting for my intentions.