Tag Archives: photos

Out and About – June 2017

I’ve not posted in what seems to me like years but perhaps to you seems a delightful age of peace and quiet.  Well, rejoice no longer!

Music at the Indy Canal

Lately I’ve tried to avail myself more frequently of the downtown Indianapolis Canal.  It’s a couple mile jaunt and boasts some of the most varied selections of people to observe that you can hope for in the city and even some live entertainment from time to time.

2017 Delphi Indiana

Last weekend I found myself in Delphi Indiana.  Of all the small towns in the area this one seems to have tried hardest to set itself apart from its peers.  It boasts a Wabash and Erie Canal interactive museum and a great system of parks.  This suspension bridge struck me as keenly allegorical.  It’s very small so even one person walking with regular footsteps can set up what seems like a pretty dangerous level of motion.  I shiver to think what a few people in-step could do to it.  It just goes to show how the force of things is multiplied with consistent and repeated action in anything we undertake in life.

2017 Delphi Indiana

And remember, jumping from the bridge is strictly prohibited.

2017 Delphi Indiana

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Chinese restaurant in town.  The sign reads:  “Dear customers, We’ll be closed for vacation for two month and we’ll be reopen on Aug 1st.”  This brings to mind a few thoughts.  Firstly, I assume this family is Chinese and has returned to their homeland for the summer.  I love the trust this speaks of for the community that they can just take off for months and that the town will welcome them back.  Also there’s a quaint sort of homespun quality to the homemade sign and simple message.  I really want to eat here on August 1st and see what the place is like.

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Photography Philosophy

It’s been my observation that photographers are an extremely varied bunch and that it’s difficult for any potential customer to know exactly what they’re getting when they look at partnering up with an artist.  Most people who go in search of photography services seem to think of the standard school pictures photographer who tells you to tilt your head in such and such a way and smile just -so- and only takes a picture once you’re positioned just how they want you.  I am not that sort of photographer.  In fact I might be more properly called a hunter than a photographer if that’s your standard of service.

Stoop Kids at Square Cat Records

As example I give you the shot to the right.  This photo of Stoop Kids in their Square Cat Vinyl show last November represents my hunter philosophy when it comes to shooting.  The entire show and their interaction with each other is summed up very neatly in this one photograph.  They are one of the most dynamic bands I’ve seen on stage and I was giddy to capture their souls.  Lead singer and bass player practically nose to nose while the saxophonist peaks out under the mic stand.

Philosophically, I truly believe that posed photography represents more of the photographer than of the subject.  When I shoot I want to capture the reality of what’s going on in a spontaneous and creative way.  Not cast my own thoughts and opinions on what should be onto the situation.  Your photos should be about you and who you are, not some aesthetic that some photographer prearranges for you.

Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band-Album Release Show at the HiFi 3-17-2Next we have Breezy Peyton of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from the HiFi in March of this year.  For this show we were packed in like sardines and couldn’t move without getting in the way of a lot of other people so we dutifully stood our ground just to the left of center stage for the whole show.  When I’m shooting, my absolute #1 priority is to make sure I’m not disturbing anyone else at the show or distracting from the entertainment.  If you’re lucky enough to get into a show then you’re a guest and you should act like one.  I refuse to use flash or supplemental lighting of any kind because frankly, flashes are annoying as hell.  If I can’t get a shot without getting in someone’s way then I don’t get the shot.  Simple as that.

I’m also not a fan of fancy post-processing.  There are some amazing tools out there that will let you make your photos look like just about anything.  But that is, frankly, a fraud.  The world is more than nice enough just as it is without a lot of augmentation.  Get the shot that’s there and if the light’s blue then bloody well make the picture blue.  It’s the photographer’s job to capture the moment, not create it out of whole cloth.

2016 Indiana State Fair Parkour DemoThe last point I’ll make is about capturing pivotal moments.  As example I give you this shot from last year’s Parkour demonstrations at the State Fair.  I love the expression of the guy who’s not literally walking up a wall.  This whole show was filled with amazing moments and you almost couldn’t click your shutter fast enough.  For me, this is the essence of “hunter photography”. Grabbing that perfect moment out of the air at exactly the right time and bottling it up for all to see is, in my mind, the whole point.

So that hopefully gives you a bit of a sense of my own personal philosophy on photography.  If you’d like to see more of my work please visit my site at RobSlaven.com or on Facebook (IndyLivePhotography | Rob Slaven Photography).

Contact me for photo ops in the Indianapolis and surrounding areas at IndyLivePhoto@gmail.com or in the comments section.

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What’s going on in Carmel…?

My youngest is doing a 4H photograph project so I got her out and about this Saturday to take some pictures.  No idea where she gets the idea that photography is fun…

First stop was the Museum of Miniatures in Carmel.  As always, we just stumbled across this place not knowing that it had previously existed.  I always say that the best trips are those whose plans are simple blank slates.  Sometimes you end up in a cornfield and sometimes you end up seeing tiny suits of armour…

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or playing a tiny game of chess

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or sitting in a really uncomfortable chair. I have to admit that I wasn’t very well equipped to look at tiny objects in a poorly lit environment behind glass but some of these vaguely suffice.

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Tiny loo, anyone?

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You have to admit, the level of detail on these guys is amazing. I’m tempted to go back with a tripod and take some much more solid shots if they’ll have me.

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You can never have too much armour.

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After the small stuff, we hit the streets and saw some real characters in the Arts and Design district.

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Catching up on some old news…

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And there’s always a friendly policeman to show the way.

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Spring is in the air. It’s time to water the flowers…

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I’ve tried to teach Izzy that the best photographs you take are those in which you’re least comfortable. Here she is getting the low shot.

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We always stop to listen to the music. Such as it isn’t.

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And we close with this dude who is…. well, have to admit, rather sinister.

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And that’s the day that was on March 21st in Carmel.

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Of National Parks and Classic Cars

Looking back on the past week or so I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time uploading slightly refined versions of photos previously taken rather than taking anything new. As much as I may enjoy looking back on old holiday snaps, I’ve come to realize over the years that no picture of crater lake…

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… can really do the place justice. While I’m reminiscing joyfully in my head about the place, the rest of the world just says, “oh. lake. Cool…?” Totally understandable. Those determined stalwarts who wish to may check out Crater Lake National Park, Diamond Lake, Oregon, and the Umpqua River. I don’t really expect you to necessarily do so, but as this blog is primarily dedicated to what I’m doing photographically, there’s your answer.

No, what I’m really here to chatter on about is the Zionsville fall festival. As the seasons turn here in Indiana we find ourselves ready to celebrate the coming onslaught of winter. I wandered out see what could be seen on Sunday of last week and ran into a classic car show. I’d rather forgotten how much I adore the visuals at these things. All the wonderful chrome details are just generally dazzling. I need to make a point to get out to more classic car events.

I just can’t get enough of these shiny, gas-guzzling old birds. Even when I was a wee lad I dreamed of owning a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Until, of course, I realized what it would cost to drive a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Ah well.

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And that’s the day that was, more or less. If you’ve got a classic car or anything else that needs photographing drop me a line. I’ll be there with bells on.

PS: Click any photo for a closer look and go look at flickr if you want even more photos.

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On portraits and “Tamelife” photography

If you look at my work at all you’ll notice that it’s quite a lot of random. When it comes to photography, if something sits still I’ll shoot it in macro. If it runs I’ll chase it and if it’s looking back at me then I’ll try to pretend I’m not really taking its picture. I tend to approach all my photography like I’m stalking a wild animal on the Serengeti, even if it happens to be the middle of GenCon and everybody will stop and pose even if you look at them funny.

Despite this general outlook, I still like the idea of taking people’s pictures because they want them taken. For years now I’ve put out the general message that yes I will take your picture, dozens of pictures, and give them to you if only you ask. You don’t even have to sit still because I’m accustomed to that sort of behavior in my subjects, though usually they’re furrier and faster than the average human. On a very rare occasion someone will take me up on my offer and I’ll show up and awkwardness will commence. Having done this a couple of times I’ve come to realize that portrait photography doesn’t really have all that much to do with actual photography, at least not as I define the science of the whole thing. I’m used to having to sneak up on my subjects and work for a couple of hours to catch them at their best whether they want to be caught or not. When you’re doing someone’s portrait though, they do something even more unnerving than run away. They stare back at you expectantly as if to say, “you’re the expert. so now what?” Somehow the desired answer of “Just go about your business and do whatever you’re going to do” doesn’t sit well with people.

This, I think, is a real pity though because it’s those absolutely frank and unposed moments that are most evocative. For example, a few years ago at the Talbot art fair I was behind a dad who had a very tired and very hot child in his arms and snapped this shot. It’s one of those absolutely raw moments but her eyes bore in to me even a year later. This is the sort of thing you get after you’ve let your guard down and stopped smiling the 3rd grade photo day smile into the camera.

I’ll wrap it up because I’m close to coming up on rant status, but I guess my real point is that the good shots happen after your hair is down, your makeup is smudged and you’ve forgotten anybody is taking pictures at all. It’s that moment when you look up and say, “Dad, is it time for lunch yet?” in your best and most expectant face. And that, I suppose, is the difficulty of Tamelife photography. Getting it to revert to its natural state so you can get the best out of it.

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Highlights from August So far…

Things have been quiet around this old blog lately but there’s certainly plenty going on in my head. As of late I’ve been remiss in posting but mainly because I’m going back through my entire photographic history and trying to be more organized and post everything to Flickr. So if you really want to see what’s going on then go check out Flickr. I promise fewer words, more photos.

In going through eons of old photos, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to be much more meticulous in my post processing. In the past I’ve just gone out, spent 7-8 hours shooting random things and then come home exhausted and spending as little time as possible in getting things up. This, as it turns out, is a mistake. After only a few days I started finding shots that I’d given up on and resurrected them from their graves. Take this one from Crown Hill Cemetery, looking up through the monument of James Whitcomb Riley.

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Before it was rather a washed out mess in the middle. It was one of my “This turned out OK but it could have been better” shots. Just a tiny tweak in post though and it’s one of my faves.

Also, after telling myself for years that I was going to go and really set myself to looking at the State Fair in detail I bothered to spend about 11 hours there for a daytime and an evening session. I’m not absolutely tickled with the results but they’re reasonable I’d say.

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Well, ok, I admit that I’m absolutely amused to the hilt about this batch. I spent an hour or so looking at the people trying to win $200 staying on the mechanical bull. Needless to say, the bull was undefeated but the expressions were timeless.

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I also did a bit of scrabbling about in the yard. This Praying Mantis was wonderfully patient with me on one weekend morning. Couldn’t have asked for a better subject.

Brown Praying Mantis in Macro

At any rate, you can find more of my randomness on Flickr. The photos from this post were from the sets below; feel free to poke around if you have free time.

Crown Hill Cemetery
2013 Indiana State Fair
Insects

Add me as a contact on Flickr and I’ll return the favor.  Always looking for more photos to thumb through in that 10 minutes first thing in the morning when I’m not quite alert enough to safely get out of bed.

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Frank’s Joyride – Reunion Concert

On August 3rd, Lafayette Indiana was treated to a reunion concert from perennial local cover band Frank’s Joyride. Since their formation 25 years ago, the band-mates have drifted apart to various parts of the country but they come together every few years to rock out in front of their fervent and fanatical fan-base. The band describes itself as “Sloppy and you never know when we’re going to come back. We’re the McRib of music.”

Musically, they’re a joy as they hit all the old standards with great enthusiasm. From a photographic standpoint, trying to get any good shots in this venue was a nightmare. Lighting was scarce and the lead singer had a red spotlight in his face the entire night which made post processing lengthy and deeply troubling.

Here’s our red spotlight victim; I finally managed to negotiate his beet-red face down to a cool and shiny magenta. Also didn’t help that I failed to realize early on that I should have been shooting at about 2 stops below my camera’s suggestion.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

The expressions here are wonderful as the band jams away. The guy on the left was perfectly lit in white the whole night.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

I never could wrestle this into anything but the rather psychedelic colors the camera picked up. I pondered a grainy black and white but in the end didn’t go with it.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

See! Like I said. Enthusiasm! He was in the red spotlight for this shot as you might be able to tell. I couldn’t wrestle him down much past a rather pink cast.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Unaltered, he just looks like his head is going to explode.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Sometimes you just have to take time to relax even on stage.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Eventually, they sent the drummer out to sing a song…

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

… but the other two are keeping a close eye on him.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

Moving away from the music for a bit, there are some great images just hanging about in the dark. This half-empty beer glass caught the light just so…

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

After a brief break in the music, the band was back with a vengeance.

From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert
From Franks Joyride Reunion Concert

After playing for 4 and a half hours, the band went back to their day jobs. Check them out when they’re next in town…. whenever that might happen to be.

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