NYC NIGHTS - Street portraits by Christian Webb

Took lil' bro' out last night to work on his photography. Teaching him about the constantly changing lighting conditions at night...and finding/using available light when shooting street portraits. Here are a few I managed to snag myself, including one of my apprentice! lol!  He got a bunch of great shots as well and had a BLAST meeting and hanging with people downtown. (stay tuned for his blog to see some of his work! ) #NYC #NIKONNIGHTS Christian Webb Photo-Ariana!Christian Webb Photo-BlondeChristian Webb Photo-BeardDudeChristian Webb Photo-Miriam&MaxChristian Webb Photo-Apprentice


Sunflowers & The Man by Christian Webb

Christian-Webb-Photo-Flowers-&-DirtOn my walk in Washington Heights this past weekend,  I came across a small bodega with a rather large assortment and display of flowers up front.  The sunflowers trumped all others and were truly a beautiful sign of Spring and great days to come. The man attending to the flowers was deep in his work when I took the time to ask his permission for a photo.  "Si" he said and continued with his work as if I wasn't there.  But then, out of nowhere,  knowing I was there,  camera pointed,  he suddenly put a flower up to his face, playfully hiding behind it and giving me a grin.   I laughed of course and thanked him for letting me bother him.  Wasn't until I uploaded the image later that evening that I appreciated his sense of humor.   Below is another crop.  (Nikon d800, 50mm) Christian-Webb-Photo-Dirty-Flowers


Photography Gear - How much do you need? by Christian Webb

Airport-Security-V-20-Rolling-Camera-Bag-6-Christian Webb Photo

There have been tons of debate regarding real photographers vs “fauxtographers.”  The iphone and assorted other camera phone using people usually getting lumped into the latter category.   I’m not going to get into that debate.  All I’ll say is this:  I think an image is an image, regardless of how it’s made.  You either like it or you don’t.  An image either provokes an emotion and has an effect on you or, it doesn’t. i dont' necessarily think that what type of camera or what brand or how expensive it is matters.    Period.  With that out of the way,  I want to get into a gear discussion here.  A quick blog regarding what it is you’re using and how much importance is placed on that gear.

John Lennon said “Give me a tuba and get ya’ something out of it!” ( Not sure about the accuracy of that quote, but Jack Nicholson in the Departed quoted it and I figure hey,  it’ll work here too.)  Point being that you don’t need a $3,000 camera body with a $3,000 piece of glass attached to it to make great images.   A simple point and shoot will do the trick if you’ve got the desire to take pictures of any kind.    That said though,  if your goal is to be a photographer, a serious photographer and you take the craft series,  there comes a point where you need to invest in that craft and purchase the right gear.   What is “the right” gear?   It’s really relative yeah?  What’s right for one may not be right for someone else.   In essence,  you want the gear that’s going to serve YOUR purposes as a photographer and your needs.   Example:  If you’re setting out to do wedding photography, you may want a macro lens to get really close shots of the rings.    You might also need a super-fast lens to use in low light situations such as  inside the church where most often,  flash is not allowed.   Add to that,  if you plan to do a lot of low light photography in general,  you may want to invest in a camera body that’s capable of producing usable images at high isos. (Nikon d800, Canon 5dMkIII etc.)

Regarding lighting,  maybe you want to shoot mostly in studio.  Some strobes and a variety of light modifiers would be part of your set up.  You could start with just one lighting set up but, over time,  perhaps you’ll want to expand your creativity and allow for more options by having a 2, 3, 4 light setup and a good amount of modifiers.  Speaking of which,  how do you plan to trigger those strobes?  Going to need a set of Pocket Wizards or other system for triggering flash.  What about location stuff?  Going to need a decent speedlight to start using flash off camera and a bit more creatively.    Do you want to shoot landscape?  A good wide lens might help.  Some ND filters maybe.  How about a really solid tripod?

I can go on and on here but I think you get the gist.    It’s not about thinking that having some piece of gear or expensive equipment is going to make you a better photographer.  It’s about recognizing the limitations of not having the right gear for what YOU want to do.  Overall,   I think if any photographer wants to take themselves serious, be it for pleasure or profit,  they’ve got to invest in themselves and their gear over time.   Funny thing is,  most photographers with passion find themselves spending all their dough on gear anyway.  It’s like crack!  Taking yourself serious and wanting to get better at what you do sort of naturally leads you to wanting more gear anyway.  There's nothing wrong with that and it's part of the process.   If you're not investing in yourself, your equipment and business,  then you're truly not looking to be serious.

So long as you’re buying gear for the right reasons, it’s all good.  Just never feel the need to buy the latest, greatest new gadget, light, lens or camera simply because you think you have to have it to improve your photography.   Understand your work, your goals and evaluate what you have and what you need, then, invest accordingly and make your gear count!


Concert Photography- STS (Sugar Tongue Slim) at the Blockley, Philadelphia. by Christian Webb

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo


So I'm not big on doing concerts/live performances.  I've shot maybe 3-4, but nothing too serious.  One of the few I shot was Atlanta/Philly rapper Sugar Tongue Slim aka STS.  It was a performance a couple years back at S.O.B's NY.  I wasn't prepared when I shot that night.  Had my Nikon D90 back then and ended up having only one lens on me - A 50mm 1.8.  This made for a limited amount of close shots I could get from a distance.    I got the chance to shoot one of Slim's performances again last night at a trendy spot in Philly called the Blockley.   This time,  I had my d800 and my 70-200mm 2.8.  (the 50mm and a 24-70 were in the bag along with the d90 as well.)  The 70-200 stayed on all night and pretty much gave me what I needed- A great, sharp, fast lens with enough focal range to get in for some decent close shots of the performance.   In these low light situations, shooting wide open is obviously mandatory along with jacking iso up to pretty high levels.   I shot all night at the same settings for the most part: Between 100th & 160th shutter speed,  f2.8 and iso 6400.   Even though the d800 is capable of producing pretty good, usable images at such high iso's,  I still figured I'd be forced to do some noise reduction in post.   To my surprise though, I didn't have to do anything.   Whatever noise shows up works well for the whole concert / live performance thing anyway.   I made a few exposure tweaks and some curves adjustments but that was it. All in all, definitely a better outing than my first.

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo


STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

This shot above  is probably my favorite shot of the night.   I cheated a bit with the final image.  Originally, there were  people in the crowd there bottom right. One of them was doing video and had an LED panel of light attached to the camera.  There was also half of someone bottom left right down below Slim.  When I saw the shot, I loved everything, but that bright, square light pretty much ruined the focus of the shot for me. So, I went in and just took the light...and of course the crowd members  in front and 1 in back out of the image altogether.  Worked pretty well I think.   I thought for a moment that removing the crowd would essentially affect the image seeing as how an artist on stage with crowd below usually adds the flavor of the scene.  Sometimes, gotta make decisions.  Below, is the original shot.  What are your thoughts?


STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo



STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo

Other than being an incredible wordsmith and master poet,  much of Slim's appeal comes from his stage presence and personality.   Definitely wanted to make sure I captured that in a few shots.

STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb Photo


STS-The Blockley Philadelphia-Christian Webb PhotoThis last pic is actually one of the flyers promoting the event at the Blockley.   The shot is from the first studio photo shoot I did with Slim.  Also happens to be the same image that NPR used on their web-site when Slim's Illustrious album was named one of the top 50 albums of 2011.