My Photos — on display for the benefit of the world

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Winter Nightfall on Prospect Hill, Boston

 (DavidRaboin)

Looking west from Prospect Park in Boston

I try to avoid categorizing mys photographery, but if I was forced to choose, I’d probably call myself a travel photographer. Working as an airline pilot means that I’m always landing in an unfamiliar neighborhood. With my camera I try to capture how I feel about the place. This approach yields photographs that are partly about the location and partly about me.

On my most recent Boston layover I went on a couple of long walks. The area surrounding our hotel is an interesting neighborhood with huge old homes, steep hills, and a mix of commercial areas. Most of the homes are divided into apartments and the narrow streets are jammed with parked cars. It feels working class, but with Harvard only a mile away there are also some signs of wealth — a sushi restaurant next door to a body shop. My trouble with this neighborhood is there’s not a lot of space to make photographs. All the stories are piled up in a big messy jumble. It’s hard to photograph, but I think I finally solved that puzzle, or at least made a start. I was poking around Prospect Park where there is a nice view across the city. Rather than trying to capture the entire sweep of the vista, I went with a tighter frame. I wanted to convey the nearly claustrophobic layering of the neighborhood as well as a feeling of mystery. I left just enough background to give the impression of distance and sense of scale (talking about the photo at the top of this post) . The viewer gets a detailed view of the closest houses and from that information he can use his imagination to fill in the details of the neighborhood that fades out towards the top of the frame. I believe that a photo that activates the imagination is more memorable and meaningful than a photo that shows you everything.

 (DavidRaboin)

Vacant lot turned into makeshift parking lot

The desolation depicted in my travel photos isn’t a sign of my unraveling.  The hours that I spend walking around strange cities on my overnights are my only quiet hours. On my days off I’m busy taking care of the kids, catching up on house and yard work, and walking the dogs. I relish my quiet walks in these lonesome places.  Of course, if I stay out too long, the chill starts to creep in around the edges and I’m ready to get back home.

 (DavidRaboin)

I call this photo “Multi-Family Unit Thomas Kinkade”.  You can tell I’m ready to go home when my photos start looking sentimental. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Some Seattle Street Photography

 (DavidRaboin)

This semi-deserted street on the edge of downtown Seattle was a great place to play around with my new 50 mm lens. When I saw this guy walking up the street I hurried into position for this reflection shot. Notice how I caught his reflection against that sliver of white sky. I love it when a plan comes together.   

My Dad gave me a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens for my birthday last week and I’ve been playing around with it a lot. I had a long overnight in Seattle and I went for a long photo walk.  The Canon 50 mm stayed on my camera for most of the way and it worked great. The 50 is small, inconspicuous, and focuses fast enough for most street photography. After I acquire some more example shots I might put together a lens review.

 (DavidRaboin)

Want to add some depth to your flat street photos? Find a steam vent in the street and wait for someone to walk by. How did I get such sharp focus? Oh, I forgot that my camera was in focus servo mode from taking photos of the dogs the day before — happy accident.

Seattle can be hard to photograph in the winter. Low winter sun and general cloudiness means direct light rarely makes it down to street level. I look for contrast and colors, especially if I’m trying for gritty street photos. That’s a challenge in downtown Seattle this time of year.

 (DavidRaboin)

Here’s a Seattle street photographer pro tip: When you get cold, need to use the bathroom, and want a cup of coffee, head over to the Columbia Center. Just walk right in. There’s a Starbucks up on the 42nd floor that’s open to the public and it has a great view. I imagine you could get some fantastic shots up there at sunset or sunrise. (DavidRaboin)

Police motorcycle parked in front of a school bus in downtown Seattle

After walking the grey winter streets for over an hour and starving for color, I was totally sucked in by this scene of a police motorcycle parked in front of a school bus. This is one of those photos where I got a lot of strange looks from passerby. Here’s what happened…  I first squatted down, took a quick photo, glanced at the results on my camera’s LCD, was pleased and walked on. Then, a half a block away, I decided that I liked the photo so much that I better do a quick pixel peep to check for focus, and oh no, it was a little blurry. I must have shaken the camera when I pressed the shutter button. So, I headed back over to the motorcycle and took a new picture. This one had perfect focus but it lacked the magic of that first blurry pic. What was the difference? I did a quick comparison and found that magic motorcycle photo had a slightly different composition. It clipped the motorbike in just the right way. You wouldn’t believe how many pics I had to take to nail that composition again. The business people who roam the streets of the commercial district on a weekday morning gave me some funny looks.

 (DavidRaboin)

Construction continues on Seattle’s waterfront. Eventually the freeway will be underground and the waterfront will be more human friendly. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Alabama Hills and Lone Pine — A Photographer’s Paradise

 (DavidRaboin)

Maria helps Holden up the steep rocks of the Alabama Hills. We arrived in late afternoon and the light was failing fast. A snow storm up in the Sierras blotted out the last of the afternoon sun.

The Alabama Hills are a popular photography destination and they are even more renown for the hundreds of movies and TV commercials that have been filmed here. I always had an interest in visiting the Alabama Hills, but not a pressing interest. I try to avoid the heavily photographed areas. Online, I’ve seen way too many pictures of that famous arch with the Sierras framed behind it. Did the world need another photo of the Alabama Hills?

 (DavidRaboin)

Ella loved climbing around on the rock formations. The Alabama Hills are a great place to let the kids run wild. 

Within minutes of driving into the hills I realized that my internet based impression was totally wrong. The Alabama Hills area is huge with crazy rock formations jutting out in every direction. Now I know why so many films are made here, the mixed up landscape offers infinite opportunities. A person could play around with a camera in these hills for a lifetime and not run out of fresh angles and new ideas. This is a creative photographer’s paradise.

 (DavidRaboin)

Maria with Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney in the background

To compliment the desert landscape the Eastern Sierras rise up dramatically in the background. The evening we arrived a storm was moving through the mountains creating mysterious, ethereal, but difficult to photograph light. Our short family scramble to the top of one of the hundreds of rock formations inspired me. I wanted to shoot more.

I crept out of our hotel room well before sunrise the next morning. It was raining but I had to try another round of Alabama Hills photography. Without time to research something better, I headed for the rock arch. I drove out into the hills, parked in a primitive pullout, and stumbled a half mile through the desert by the light of my cellphone. I had plenty of time to contemplate my sanity as I stood in the January rain waiting for the sun to come up.

There wasn’t a sunrise, just a gradual lightening of the grey overcast. I didn’t get my cliché arch photo. I didn’t get any descent photos. By the time I got back to the van my clothes were soaked through.

On my way out of the hills, I saw a person running through the sage at top speed. He was angling towards me and started waving frantically. Should I stop? I did. He told me that he and is friends were camping nearby and their car’s battery had died. They needed a jump-start. I reluctantly volunteered to help. Even in the poring rain, their campsite, tucked up in a box canyon of red rocks, made me jealous. The jump-start took forever. It’s hard to find the ground connection on a modern vehicle. When we finally got the other car running the rain clouds started to break up. I drove out of the hills as the most amazing photography light came together. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to stop for more than a minute or two because I had to get back to help get the kids off to breakfast.

 (DavidRaboin)

After the rain cleared the light improved

 (DavidRaboin)

The town of Lone Pine could be a photography destination on its own. I didn’t even have time to look for photos in town but I stumbled upon this scene anyhow. It’s hard to beat morning sun with a background of storm clouds and, I have a rule that if I ever see a skull I must take a photo.

 (DavidRaboin)

Here’s Maria packing up our van outside our hotel room. Check out the fresh snow up on the Sierras.

Lone Pine, I will return again.

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Where I’m at this Winter

 (DavidRaboin)

Winter’s Veil, a thin layer of clouds glows in the late afternoon sun above the frozen farmland of Central Illinois

This photo of sunset above Illinois represents a milestone for my photography from a technological and skills point of view. You see, several years ago I wouldn’t have tried for a photo like this. Without the latest generation of camera equipment and top-notch editing skills, this scene wouldn’t translate into a workable photo file. There is only a tiny difference in luminosity between the glowing cloud and the farm field below and, without the best RAW file and the gentlest touch in Photoshop, this photo would turn into flat-mucky digital soup. I’m not trying to brag. It’s just hard not to be excited. From the beginning of anyone’s photography journey it’s always a struggle to capture what you see out in the world and make your photos look as wonderful as the experience. With this photo, I feel my powers gathering. Please don’t burst my bubble. Let me enjoy this moment of freedom. I know that soon I’ll feel that familiar bump as I slam back into my limitations.

 (DavidRaboin)

First flights of the day getting ready to launch after an all night rain — San Francisco International Airport SFO

The above photo is another milestone for this blog. Longtime readers might be able to figure out why.

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Stick Thief For Life

 (DavidRaboin)

Poor Jack. It’s a long, hard life when your adopted dog brother grows up to be taller than you, more handsome, and smoother with the ladies. Gatsby gets the most petting and hogs the limelight. But, possibly the cruelest blow is Gatsby’s stick snatching trick. And calling it “a trick” is giving Gatsby too much credit. Gatsby’s tactics are nothing but thuggery. Jack might have the heart of a lion, but that’s not enough when your meathead dog brother, whose questionable heredity includes several of the ugliest fighting dogs in South Charlotte, has high-power mandibles bred for maximum bite-force. Jack’s border collie cunning isn’t enough to overcome Gatsby’s brute strength. Jack hasn’t kept a stick for himself in seven years.

This is how it goes down. Gatsby is a coward. He is afraid to swim. Whenever a stick goes out into the deep water, Jack dutifully swims out to retrieve it while Gatsby waits in the shallows like some sort of degenerate crocodile. Jack is no fool. He knows what Gatsby is up to. While angling towards the shore, away from his nemesis, Jack adjusts the position of the stick within his mouth so that none of it hangs out on Gatsby’s side. When it’s a large stick, it’s always a large stick, Jack swims with his neck twisted, struggling with the asymmetrical drag of his oversize load. Rather than appreciate this show of swimming prowess, Gatsby, who can no longer control his beastly excitement, begins to bounce and thrash in the muddy shallows.  Does Jack hesitate? No. Like one of his brave border collie ancestors protecting the family’s flock from pack of marauding wolves on a snowy night in the Scottish Highlands, Jack emanates a noble growl as he approaches his uncouth brother.

 (DavidRaboin)

Winded from the long swim and facing a foe twice his size, it happens again, Jack loses his stick. And, every time, Gatsby showboats like a rookie scoring his first NFL touchdown, making several high-speed passes while holding the stick just out of jack’s reach, safely locked in his pit-bull jaws.

Jack, I’m sorry that we brought that puppy home with us all those years ago.

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!
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