Shooting at night is something that I haven't done frequently. I was particularly interested in the colors that can be achieved through long exposures as well as the mixture of ambient, window, and street light. It was a very calm experience and working with long, minute plus exposures slowed the process down even more.
While in Chicago I took some time to wander and explore the city with more intent. Having lived there for a number of years, the central loop is mostly un-inspiring for me, as it revolves around commerce and tourism. Lots of restaurants, hotels, and offices, the only escape seems to be east toward the lake. Crossing under the brown line I caught a glimpse of the American flag being worn by a seated woman who was having her hair cut. I was immediately drawn toward the scene, and introduced myself to the man who was cutting her hair. Josh Eudy runs an organization called Haircuts Hugs Hope, where he selflessly donates his time and skills by giving haircuts to those in need.
I saw how generosity can affect others, as these individuals had a noticeable transformation both physically, and emotionally; they felt better! Talking with one man, he mentioned that most people dont acknowledge he is even there, and that a large percentage of the time all he's looking for is a human interaction, someone to say hello, ask him how he's doing. Its a great reminder to me that one of the most valuable gifts we can give is our time. To be present with another individual and care about who they are and what they are saying.
In an effort to create finer black and white negatives and prints, I have been doing a lot of research and reading. Specifically Ansel Adams' book's and one that was gifted to me by a photographer friend of mine Lanny Linehan
Metering and exposure for me has mostly been a set it and forget it practice. I would use a handheld incident meter, test the overall light, dial the EV value into my lens, and start shooting. I wouldn't pay much attention to the highlights and shadows within the scene and where they were specifically falling. For the most part this has worked well and given me negatives that are workable for both printing and scanning. But I knew there had to be something more, some greater form of knowledge and practice that was capable of producing fine negatives and prints.
The zone system is one of those key phrases I have always heard kicked around by photographers, but something I thought was un-necessary and more specifically, out of reach, and time consuming to learn and practice. I was correct with one of those preconceived notions, time consuming to learn! I have read all three of those books twice through, shot numerous test rolls of film, and purchased a new spot meter (pentax spotmeter v). Although time consuming, the rewards are immensely fulfilling. I am exposing negatives and making prints that are closer and closer to what I am mentally imagining when photographing a scene. Being able to picture the final print before taking the image, and expose the negative accordingly creates so many possibilites. Here are a couple of images from the first test roll I shot using the zone system, I was very happy pulling these out of the fix.