The Beautiful Rhythm Of Bordem by Doctor Awkward

How to Entertain Yourself for Thirteen Hours (While On a Train)

  1. Take some pictures! You have views of nature and the city right outside the window. If you didn’t get a window seat, you’re just out of luck. There are only so many pictures you can take of the guy who did get the window seat before it gets repetitive and creepy. Same with nature. Most trees start to look the same after, say, the first one.
  2. Mix whatever drink you have with alcohol. I chose tea and bourbon. The sugar in the tea softens the bite of the bourbon. Once you’ve done that, chug it. Trust me, there’s a lot of research that went into this. Should get you at least two hours of sleep.
  3. Maybe read a book, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  4. Come up with a five-year life plan. This’ll make you feel really productive.
  5. Get on The Internet. Fail-proof, every time.

Thirteen hours is a long time, mind you. There was some conversation between myself, Adrian, and Foster, but once I realized that my list really only covered about seven hours, I spent the rest of my spare time editing photos and watching videos on street photography. Which actually leads me to the final step:

6. Go back to step 5 and just stay there ‘til you get to wherever you’re going.

Les Troupes by Doctor Awkward

Every year myself and a few friends pick go on a photography vacation. This year we choose Montreal, Quebec Canada. Nobody from the group had been to Montreal, so this was going to be a new experience for everyone. Before I begin to speak on the adventure, let me introduce the troops.

First up we have Adrian Elliott aka The Whiskey God. Adrian is best known for his control and understanding of artificial light. I've seen him do amazing things with just a single speedlite. He has taught me more about light than I can absorb. Having Adrian on any expedition will show you that honesty is also one of his specialties. 

Next in line we have Foster White aka Foster. Foster is a well versed shooter, but his love and understanding of natural light shines the brightest. Watching Foster take a picture and then seeing the results gives you a greater appreciation of what an understanding of light can do for you. Fosters energy level is akin to the Sun, so be ready for nonstop action if you are around him.

This travel squad is packed with heavy hitting photographers. Photographers that I can call my friends. Now that you know the troops let me get back on track and tell you about this photo vacation and where it all started, the train ride.  

Whiskey Flavored Imagination by Doctor Awkward

I stepped off the bus and immediately the smell of sewage and exhaust fumes struck my nostrils. Light from advertisements and storefronts splashed across the pavement, I was walking through neon puddles, the city came to life through sound. The rasp of the bus’s hydraulics, the hum of Times Square from a distance, voices from somewhere and nowhere. 

In New York City at 5:30 AM, every block, every face brimmed with potential. And that was the mission, to capture as much of it as I could. I took a couple shots with my phone, but this was definitely Salvador’s playground.

New York is the bar that you forget you have to leave, where you just keep buying rounds. I had to close my tab, but I vowed to come back 

In Love With The Face by Doctor Awkward

T'was another dog day of summer. The clouds were on vacation and the sun dominated the sky. This was the sticky introduction to Trillectro. I showed up with my medium format looking through the waist level viewfinder capturing the first few hours of the event on film. I soon made the switch to my DSLR equipped with my favorite 35mm and ND filter. The only thing left to do was to find some fresh faces, which was not hard at all.

Festivals like Trillectro are giant candy dishes, and I go to see what kind of wrappers people decide put on. That kind of diversity, that individual choice, is clearly reflected in my camera roll. I ended up taking way more pictures than I can post to the blog, so tumblr will host all the overflow.

1601 W Main St (Across from Foo Dog) by Doctor Awkward

“you see the mural project started again?” was the text message that turned the flicker into a flame. I went on instagram and searched which artist was doing what and where. As I was scrolling, this image of a mans face forcefully caught my eye and wouldn't let go. This would end up being the first mural I would go see. I grabbed my some extra 200 speed film and headed over to 1601 W Main St. Upon arrival, I found two gentlemen with their digital camera artillery locked and loaded with intentions that mirrored mine– to capture the murals of the city.

Let's back up a few steps and get back to the mural. I turned the corner to see a tall, bearded white man with glasses, dressed in clothes covered with little splatters of paint. Onur was his name. He traveled from Switzerland to come be apart of the Richmond Mural Project. Onur greeted me with open arms and gave off this “free” vibe you would only understand if you met him. He even let me use the lift just to get a better shot of him painting (and I'm pretty sure he would let me use the lift even if I didn't have a camera). Apart from his generous and free spirit, his technique of painting the wall was minimal; he merely required a paint brush, a broom stick (he used this to extend his reach), and a liquid fertilizer sprayer to give the paint a dripping effect. 

I'm glad I received the text about this captivating mural because otherwise, I would have never had the opportunity to meet Onur the artist.

hashtag iphone only

Yashica Test Run by Doctor Awkward

It was a sticky afternoon in Virginia. It felt like I was walking behind a car tailpipe when I was outside. The sun was about two hours away from dipping below the horizon, the sky was painted strawberry-mango and the clouds were used to mix the two. It was beautiful outside and I had to take advantage of this. Now would be a good time for me to test out my ’95 spy camera: the Yashica T3. I've seen what others were able to produce with it online and today was the day I put the camera to a field test.

I had already planned to go for a jog, so I decided to pack up the Yashica for the adventure. We also picked up Jasmine along the way. She didn’t know it yet, but she would be used for a few of the test shots. I led the expedition, running and stopping to capture the sun wrapped subjects. After an hour of stop and go exercise, my 24 frames were filled.

Itching to see how the Yashica performed, I stopped by the house and stuffed darkroom supplies into my bag and headed to the studio reeking of expired deodorant. I got to the studio and the darkroom welcomed me with a chemical-aroma filled hug. I replied with a smirk upon entry. I slid on my black gloves, mixed the necessary chemicals, and began to develop the test roll. Fifteen minutes later, we had success! But I noticed something was different about this roll of film; it was purple when I pulled it out of the stop bath. I could still see the images clearly but only on one side of the film. That didn’t bother me because the Yashica passed the field test with ease!

Later on I asked a few friends why my film was purple and only printed on one side of the film. I came to find out that the film I was using was black and white C41 processing only. Which means I have to use special C41 chemicals when developing the film. I do not know much about the different chemical classes for developing film but I do know you need the right chemicals and temperatures when developing C41 type film. I didn’t have the discipline to read my film type before developing which resulted in interesting looking film. If I had read C41 processing only I would've waited to send off to the shop for processing. I'm just glad I was able grade the performance of the Yashica.

If you would like grade the performance as well here is link to my dropbox. Feel free to use, edit, or whatever you want with these photos.

Mika by Doctor Awkward

"Energy" is the word I would use to describe this lady by the name of Mika. Upon meeting her in the afternoon and until saying our goodbyes, energy was flowing out of her. This was my first time meeting Mika and it was evident that shooting her was going to be fun.

We went to her place of employment: "The Rec Center”, an eatery that has been around since 1940. When we first walked in, I was greeted with hugs and handshakes from strangers. I could easily see why she enjoyed working here. You get a sense of family right when you walk though the door.

Lynyrd Skynyrd began playing from the jukebox and the sound of billiard balls crashing was the new soundtrack to The Rec Center after hours. I was comfortable with my surroundings and started to capture the moment. I started off with film but soon had to switch to digital because my film speed was too low.

As the night went on, we got to know each other better and it showed in the photos. We started with some pool shots since she was already playing a game. We moved to the bar counter, the bathroom, and decided to settle down right beside the claw machine. It was giving off the most light in the room, so I decided to use that as the light source. We started to flow better at this point. This was certainly the turning point of the shoot, and it showed. When you have someone who is open about what they want to do in a photoshoot or how they want to see themselves in the photographs, it makes capturing them a lot easier.

Mika was nothing but energy, a tiny sun that bathed those around her, and I consider myself lucky to have caught a few of her rays.

No Peace Until Edited by Doctor Awkward

 

I took a nap the other day around 7 or 8pm; I don’t remember the time because I was nearly at stage 4 of the itis. My speech was slurred along with my blurred vision, and I knew if I didn’t walk back to my bed, I would have ended up sleeping on a concrete pillow. So I tried to focus as I teeter-tottered back to my bed and put this itis to rest. Finally I reached my destination and my face went crashing into the pillows and my body followed right behind.

When I woke up, I thought it was time to get ready for work (as I often do when I go to sleep early) but it turned out it was only 1AM. I thought “damn this itis”. The interruption of my sleep was irreversible so I gave up after an hour of trying by staring at the back of my eyelids. I knew I was going to be up for a while so I wanted to spend my time productively. I snatched up my Saturday night special (external hard drive) and laptop, and began to sift through old photos and see what I might have overlooked in the past.

I found a good batch of photos that stood out to me and I did some retouching. It’s always interesting what you miss the first time around or don’t deem good enough to edit. I’m pretty satisfied with what I ended up with during my battle with insomnia, and that is all that matters.

Since I started to go over old photos and folders im going to start posting some of my re-edits and photos I overlooked. Most of that will be on my Instagram and Tumblr, I dont think we need another blog post for that.

Cookout Snaps by Doctor Awkward

Originally told myself If I was going to bring a camera to these Memorial Day cookouts, I would only shoot film. That changed quickly since the sun was SHINNING and I was surrounded by many diverse flavors of melanin. I had black and white film loaded and wanted to capture the colors of the day. So I went back to the car, picked up the digital cam and snapped a few shots before the sun was tucked away. 

Explaining the Photo by Doctor Awkward

told myself "you should talk about why/how you took this photo," so here I am trying to keep my word. Funny thing about this photo is I was talking to another photographer while taking it. I was explaining to him how to take a better low light photo. In my previous post, I pretty much gave you the formula that just apply it to a real life situation. 

The room was pretty dark but the stage lights provided enough light for me to use a quick shutter so i can catch motion. My shutter had to have been no faster than 125, maybe. My ISO was around 2500, and the aperture was 1.8. I didn't just go up to the stage and start shooting without a cause. I had to get the vibe of his movements; I had  to dance with my subject to know where his next steps would be. You have to find their groove. So, I anticipated where he was going to be (in the light) and also paid close attention to the backup dancers on the side. I waited for them to make cool hand gestures, then hit the button, and the color photo is what was captured. If you get the camera settings right while shooting, you don’t have to spend much time in post-production. The image looks great RAW, but I decided to slap some black and white on top and call it a classic!

Utilizing The Shadows by Doctor Awkward

My  love for low light photography is bottomless! The mood a picture can bring when you have a black curtain of light wrapping your subjects face cant compare. Seeing stability fenced in by chaos is what I strive to capture. Now I wouldn't consider low light photography by any means technical, but I will say you should know the basic functions on your camera and lens to adjust the shot for when the shadows approach. There are three key ingredients for creating low light photos; mine would be to keep the ISO low (no noise), use a small aperture (prime lens work best), and slow shutter speed. The reason I'm confessing my love for the dark is to help you fall in love too. And we all know with love there will be times of frustration, but the pay-off is a feeling you can’t attach an adjective to. 

Let’s start with the ISO. Depending on your cameras capabilities, you’ll want to keep your ISO low enough so that you are not seeing ‘noise’ in your photograph. I would suggest testing this by going to the highest ISO on your camera and taking a photo. From that point, lower the ISO until there is little to no noise in the photo. I advise you to save that number for later because that will be your ISO threshold that you should set your camera to when lurking in the dark. 

Now that we have our ISO setting saved, we need to take a look at our lens. What’s the aperture? If you don’t know what “aperture” is, I suggest you consult Google or Youtube. Set the camera to the lowest aperture (mine is 1.8 on my 35mm). The only catch here is that when shooting 1.8, the depth of field is deep-seated, so you’ll have to be picky with what you want to sacrifice to create the photo. However I'm pretty handy with the manual shooting so I can isolate my style to the situation. 2.8 should be ok but anything higher than that you have to turn up the ISO or slow the shutter. 

Now to cover the shutter speed. It’s simple: the faster the shutter speed, the darker the image. It is also used to freeze fast-moving objects. The slower the shutter speed, the brighter the image- along with blurring any fast movements. The lowest safe shutter speed you can use is 60; you can do 40 but you your nerves have to be stone cold. If you are too shaky, try leaning on the wall, the bar, or even on your friend. Any rapid movements when using a slow shutter will be blurry when captured. That includes shaky hands.

Low light shooting is a bit of give and take with your camera settings, dependent on the grade of darkness. It will take time and effort to fall in love with the dark, but you have to have fun and enjoy it. Go walking at night and use your surroundings and try to capture the shadows. Push your camera to the limits, use a higher ISO for some grain or slow shutter for blurring moving objects. There are no rules to taking a photo, just have fun with what you are doing. 

Hands On With Love by Doctor Awkward

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I really dove into shooting film but I’m going to convince myself it was near the tail end of winter, sometime around March or April. I came across this instagram account NEVIIINX which only posted black and white photos which had a unique style I was attracted to. I noticed someone from one of the photos posted, so I sent him a DM asking about where he got his film developed since I had few rolls lying around. Fast forward through the exchange and he ends up inviting me to come develop my own film at the local darkroom! I was excited for this experience, but I was also nervous since I had never used a darkroom before.

Once our schedules synced up, I met him in the darkroom for some Developing 101. First, Nevin showed me the basic procedures to follow and the proper way to mix the chemicals. After the quick tutorial, it was time for me to hit the main stage and develop my first roll of film. I was hesitant because any slight fuck up could ruin my 36 shots, and all the hard work that went into taking those photographs would be erased. 

took a deep breath and went through the procedures that Nevin taught me (with the help of his guidance along the way). I got through the film developing process and the next moment was the moment of truth: “did I fuck up?”

I took the film out of the canister to find out that I did indeed fuck up. The majority of the roll was ruined because I wound the film on the spool too tight (swole people problems). Even though 28 of the 36 frames were ruined, I was still ecstatic because it was like magic seeing my roll of film come to life. As a rookie magician, I think I did pretty well preforming my first magic trick.

Shooting, processing, and printing film is the closest I’ve been to truly creating a product with my hands. Since I started shooting film, I’ve gained more respect for shooters before the digital era. You can’t just go out with your film camera spraying and praying. You have to take your time when you are shooting with film because rushing will only get you depressing rolls of film

For me, shooting film has taught me more about lighting and patience- taking your time to recognize (frame) or wait for an image. I’ve also researched street film photographers and went even deeper researching the photographers I was attracted to. Doing more research helped expose me to more shooting styles and learn the inspiration behind why people choose to shoot. If you are looking to become a better photographer, I challenge you to pick up a film camera and see how many good frames you can capture on a roll of film. Film photography is a challenge I’m enjoying, and I look forward to the pay off and joy it is bringing and will continue to bring.

Tests Shots With Vivian by Doctor Awkward

Recently picked up a medium format camera to work on a simple portrait project. I grabbed the polaroid back for the camera so i can run some test shots before i shoot. I didnt think this through but the test shots really didnt help me. reason being all the polaroid film is ISO 100. So, unless my film speed is 100 the test shots are really just shots, not a test.  

It was really simple using the polaroid, the developing process was beautiful. The instructions on how to get the proper exposure is on the back of the film. I notice I had to wait twice as long to a brighter image. Also I noticed I have to use a slower shutter than what my light meter was telling me. I don't have a real light meter so i use the app on my phone, its free! 

Overall I really like the how you can get the physical photo printed out your camera and get a feel of how the photo will look. This also helps with checking if your subject is in focus or not. I don't really understand the DOF preview button so i've been guesstimating and using the testshots as a was to guess the distance. This is only the beginning and it can only get better from here. I will REALLY try to blog as I embark on this portrait project and give you something to look forward to. After all I am doing this for you.  

These images were scanned so the quality is kinda poor. Looking to invest into a scanner after I sell some loose items around the room. 

The Pleasing Poncho by Doctor Awkward

The day was Friday and my boss let me leave early to enjoy the holiday weekend activities. The first stop of many would be the SO VA the Chill and Grill. Upon entering the function I met Jym, Claire, and some other beautiful people (i’m bad with names) hanging out at the side door entrance. Conversed for a few then escape with Jym to hunt for some sunlight to do a quick shoot. wasn’t long before the towering buildings turned into houses and the sun started to peak between the trees. 

This shoot was really quick, it took us longer to walk into the sun than to actually shoot. I think if you know what you want your shoot shouldn’t take no more than 5min (depending on the complexity). Just my opinion if shooting portraits or some other bullshit. Anyway natural light cannot be beat! find you a patch of sunlight and some beautiful people to compliment the sun rays. 

Street equipment by Doctor Awkward

Yesterday was the first day I got off  work and immediately grabbed my camera and went walking. I could blame the wonderful weather mother nature is blessing us with recently or I could just be falling in love. Either way it was a great feeling and could not let it escape me without taking advantage of it. Packed my "rented" Fuji XT-1 and my canon AE-1, filled my flask to the brim and hit the streets. There was no option but to shoot with the AE-1 first and let the natural light marinate on my film roll. Once the Moon chased the Sun out the sky I pulled out the XT-1.

Took me a few minutes to get used to the camera and all of the settings as it was my first time using the X-T1. Quickly could see the potential in the camera but could not find where to change the white balance, Fuji menus or not the greatest. Other than a frustrating menu I really liked the size and capability of the camera, still not set on purchasing one. Above images are from the XT1 and edited on the iphone.

Leftovers by Doctor Awkward

I have been shooting mostly film as of recent, so I have not been using my digital counterparts as much. When I am shooting though I am finding myself being more and more selective on what I like and what I consider complete shit. With that being said I have a few leftover pics that made the "ok pictures" cut.  

As I am writing this I'm realizing these are the only two pictures that made the cut. This could mean two things 1. i am shooting a ton of film 2. I have no good photos to share. Believe it is a combination of both, but working to improve both of those categories. Something that will be a fun challenge would be to use a flash my film camera. Think i am going to do some research and purchase a flash tonight. Anyways, wish I had more leftovers to share but these are the only pics that made the cut. Maybe you will start seeing some of my film photos, just maybe. 

Finding Foster by Doctor Awkward

Took a Trip to the nations capital where the fantastic Foster resides. Originally  was meeting up him to purchase a camera but had a change of heart and just ended up doing some street shooting with Him. We both had the same mindset of equipping the film camera. I went with the 35mm SLR and Foster grabbed his medium format camera. With no set goals in mind we hit the metro and started out journey to seize the streets.

All of these photos (for this blog post) were shot on my iphone, since i have to wait to get my film developed. My biggest takeaway from this trip/adventure is when shooting nothing else is going on but that. Foster brought this up on our way back home saying "When i am doing street photography I'm not listening to music nor txting. I'm dissecting my surroundings and looking for something to capture." 

I look forward to shooting with film and learning this new medium. having a limited amount of shots teaches me patience and not to go around shooting rapid fire. Also I will be shooting in black and white, which will change how I choose to compose the photo. The trip was good and really looking forward to see what comes from this film journey. 

Quest For Film by Doctor Awkward

The mission I had set my skills on was to be an ok film photographer. clearly they are still in basic training and not ready for war. The main goal of this film mission is to become a better photographer. To be able to capture a sliver of time, freeze it and make it look good. Film makes me slow down and really digest the scenery, consider different angles, and take all the action. 

if you are wondering if the photos are edited, the answer is no. The reason some of these photos are overlapping I think is due to the camera. At first i thought it was the film but it seems every roll of film overlaps when developed. it creates a cool effect SOMETIMES, others times it takes away from photo. Believe that is why I set myself on this mission to learn and use film. The uncertainty film brings is like a mini birthday party every time. Sometimes you get great gifts unexpectedly, and other times you don't get shit.  

I am quite please with the shitty images that were shot and developed. I learned something new from each roll of film used in the process. I also tried to remember to push my comfort zone while shooting. Anyway this is the first set of film and I will be posting more photos on my tumblr if any of yous is interested. 

Lip Scrubing by Doctor Awkward

Miss Melrose herself came and blessed me with her presences recently. Apart from the festivities that took place, this was a small interaction I was able to document with her. Miss Melrose is what some call "natural". Now I dont want to get into detail on how natural someone is or what the actual meaning is. I'm just here to take photos and capture the moment and have a good time.

This is just a small blog post to get the gears churning again and to also lead you back to my tumblr. Rest of the photoset is posted there, enjoy.

Digital Dumpster Diving by Doctor Awkward

Few days ago I was revisiting old pictures that were just sitting on my harddrive that i never really used. While sifting through the files i noticed a reoccurring theme in the pictures. Seems subconsciously i was doing this interesting "limb crop". 

now that i caught this notion of "limb cropping", I'm curious if this is something i will now go out and try to capture. Either way I like what happened accidentally and that is fine with me.  

Maybe i have a foot fetish....