I have done quite a few videos for my bicycle touring channel on YouTube, Edek’s Attic. For all of those, I had the luxury of editing the content after-the-fact. Live streaming is totally different. My first live stream was stressful. My first live stream was a virtual reception for my photo exhibit in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Once you click “GO LIVE”, you are on the air and you can’t take mistakes back. I have a lot of respect for television personalities who do this kind of thing for a living. Much of their success I suppose is experience. Some people are also good at riffing or improvising. That is not me.
So, I took a lot of time to prepare and rehearse. My script was initially nine pages of bullets and I planned to refer to them frequently during the live stream, if not actually read them. That turned out to be a bad idea because turning pages was awkward and reading took my eyes away from the camera. Eventually, that boiled down to one page of bullets for key points that I needed to make.
Using Open Broadcaster Software, I was able to record my dry runs and self-critique. My wife, Marne, also had a go at critiquing my performance. During my preparations, I probably did six recorded sessions, improving my presentation each time.
Even with the presentation perfected, there remained the mechanics of self-directing. There were introduction and credit videos to queue. There was an on-camera period for me and a PowerPoint slide presentation of my photos. All of this was set up in OBS ahead of time and transitions rehearsed. Managing all of the transitions during the live stream was another thing that I needed to do. At the same time, I was trying to concentrate on my presentation.
The result was a good first effort, although I only had seven live viewers. The recorded stream in now on my Edek’s Photos YouTube channel. I am hoping to add to my list of subscribers on the channel with this and other videos in the near future. I am planning videos on using Photoshop to develop video frames, creating basic videos using DaVinci Resolve, and understanding color management for photography.
On February 1, 2022 I will present the Love That Dirty Water Photo Exhibit Virtual Reception on YouTube to be broadcast live at 7 PM Eastern. “Love That Dirty Water” is an exhibit of my street photos that is currently showing through February 20, 2022, at the Jaffrey Civic Center, Jaffrey, New Hampshire. I will present my background, as well as a discussion of street photography, the exhibit at the Jaffrey Civic Center, and my approach to street photography, using examples from the exhibit. For photographers, I will briefly touch upon street photography techniques and equipment.
I will take questions via live chat during the broadcast. To chat with me, you will need to be logged in to your Google account. You do not need a gmail account. During the broadcast, a button to create your channel for chat will be displayed in the chat window.
After broadcast, the video of the broadcast will be available on my YouTube channel EdeksPhotos. You can also find my channel by searching YouTube for EdeksPhotos.
My wife Marne and I completed a fourteen day road trip that began on August 14 and took us from Chicago through Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. During our drive, I took over 450 photos and these selected images tell our northwest United States road trip photo stories. These are the shots from our trip that I like the most.
The first image is from the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. In the hills you can see the different colored layers of volcanic material laid down by 50 million years of volcanic ash deposited from volcanoes that were many miles away. By chance, the colors of the woman and her clothes mimicked the landscape. She might have lost her hat if it had not been strapped to her head since the wind was blowing hard.
At another stop, Mount Rushmore, we enjoyed our visit to the iconic sculptures on the mountaintop. There were two people with face masks standing apart from the other tourists who were there. When I look at the image, it evokes emotions of the pandemic. Both the young person and the older gentleman appear tense and disengaged from the experience. To me the image is a reminder of the damage the pandemic has done to the joys of life. The fear, real or imagined, guides the lives of many people. This is not a political statement, but a sad fact of life that we have all lived for well over a year.
During a subsequent day, we drove through Sturgis, South Dakota, and visited the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. Sturgis is the location of the largest annual motorcycle rally in the world. Just five days earlier, the 2021 rally ended, yet I was hoping to capture at least one image of people on motorcycles in Sturgis. The image that I captured shows the biker in the foreground wearing shoes that are nearly new and jeans that are spotless. Perhaps he is a pin stripe suit professional when he is not on the road on his Harley. Both riders sit astride similar Harley Davidson motorcycles and that one thing established the common ground between them. As a bicycle tourist myself, I feel that I have a love of traveling and the open road in common with them.
On the Olympic Peninsula, we stopped at a site that overlooks the town of Sekiu. We could not resist the urge to drive down into the town to look around. It appeared to be mostly a camping and fishing community. Judging by the boats, both commercial and sport fishing are done from the small bay there. From the beach I saw some interesting activity a few docks away from me. I walked to that location and I met two men who were filleting freshly caught fish. The fish were caught from their boat several miles west near the coast of Neah Bay. From the looks of it, they had enough fish for several meals.
One of our final stops on the Olympic Peninsula was Rialto Beach. As we walked toward the beach, we passed a man and woman who were donning large backpacks. I commented to them about the size of the loads that they carried. They explained that they planned to hike up the beach to overnight in the wooded shore that appeared to be about a mile away. The image on the beach was captured as they discussed final plans before hiking up the beach.
Remembering The Trip
As you can see, it was a great trip and we covered over 3300 miles, experiencing features of our country west of the Mississippi that are separated by great distances. Along the way there were many opportunities to observe people who were creating their own moments in those places. For me, these images almost stand alone to tell the story of those moments.
Please visit my Portfolio to see an additional selection of my street photographs.
My street photography article is published in the PSA Journal issue for August 2021. The PSA Journal is a monthly publication of the Photographic Society of America. Actually, you can download a sample copy here to see what the Journal is all about
In summary, I cover the origin of street photography and my own journey in street photography. Also, to illustrate my style and approach, I included select photographs from my library. Finally, I included the full, copyrighted article below.
As an avid and struggling street photographer, I have tried many means to improve and to be affirmed as a photographer. Street photography has been a major pursuit for me since 2016. During the past four years I have been a featured artist in an online zine, I have a first place in an exhibition at my gallery, and I had a solo show. I participate in as many print exhibitions as I can at my home gallery. These activities generally do not provide any significant or consistent feedback although I enjoy them.
An improving and affirming activity that I think works better is participation in photo competitions. Among the most comprehensive are competitions that are recognized by the Photographic Society of America and hosted by organizations all over the world. The name of the PSA is misleading because it is a worldwide organization, not confined to the Americas. Recognition earned in these competitions can be used to achieve PSA Star Ratings that I will detail a little later.
The PSA has six divisions that encompass pretty much all subjects and techniques. The divisions are defined in detail on the PSA web site. In a PSA competition, a division may include one or more sections with themes described in the competition rules. Usually four entries are permitted in each section. There are many exhibitions recognized by the PSA each month.
The PSA competitions award “acceptances” to images that satisfy the PSA definitions and aesthetic for a particular division as determined by a panel of judges. The judges also consider section rules for the specific exhibition. The very top images receive awards that distinguish them as the best of the exhibition. Acceptances are a meaningful way to encourage photographers who don’t score the top competition awards and to provide feedback that they are on the right track.
The PSA exhibitions are at the international level and you are instantaneously thrown into the pool with hundreds of professional and amateur photographers. Each section of a PSA competition can have a thousand or more competitors. A catalog of acceptances is published by the competition host that usually includes the images receiving awards. Some exhibitions publish all the accepted images on their Internet sites, but that is not done consistently. Still, I think that the system of awards and acceptances gives photographers feedback that is otherwise scarce. Based on a review of acceptance catalogs, I determined that acceptance in a PSA exhibition will place you in the 70th to 80th percentile of those competing.
Acceptances and awards from PSA competitions can be used to establish a personal international ranking maintained by the PSA. In the PSA Star Rating system, stars are earned according to the number of acceptances that you have achieved. One star requires 18 accepted images, two stars requires 36, three stars requires 72, four stars requires 144, and five stars requires 288 acceptances. Each unique image can have up to three acceptances in different exhibitions to qualify. That is, you can achieve 288 acceptances from 96 images. There are ratings above the stars that have additional requirements.
As a street photographer, I enter competitions in the Photojournalism Division (PJD). That division suits street photography since the PJD strictly limits the editing that can be done to images primarily to cropping and conversion to monochrome. That happens to be the tacit rule for street photography. Typical PJD competition sections are street, city life, and human interest that are very appropriate for street images. A PJD section can be done without a specific theme and that will attract a broader range of subjects.
The other divisions operate in a similar way and you will need to navigate your way through the PSA division definitions and specific competition section definitions to get comfortable with them. Select one or more divisions that fit your subjects and style. Enter the competition sections that best suit your work. I also recommend studying the Divisions and Stars/ROPA sections of the PSA web site. You can find all of the current exhibitions listed under the Exhibitions menu.
PSA membership and entry into the PSA exhibitions are not expensive. I recommend giving it a try as a creative outlet. You may find that you are good enough to place at the top and score an award. If you score an acceptance, you can be certain that you are better than average. If you score rejection, you have something more to learn and to achieve. That is a win-win-win in my book.
After a year of waiting due to the pandemic, my solo street photo print show will be up at the Arts League of Lowell in the Greenwald Gallery from 28 April through 23 May. This postcard is being printed to promote the show using the image that I decided to use as the feature image. I chose it because the Charles River and the Longfellow Bridge are prominent and the subject seems to be loving that dirty water.
The show title comes from the 1966 hit recording, “Dirty Water”, by the Standells. At the time, the river was famously polluted. It is no longer polluted, but the song still resonates with me, especially the words, “Love that dirty water; Boston, you’re my home”.
The show will include about thirty prints from my collection of Boston street photos taken since 2016 when I began to do street photography. My photos almost always include people and many are a playful depiction of life and diversity in Boston. Each has a story or a message behind it. They are in black and white as well as color, depending on the importance of color in telling the story.
My first Micro Four Thirds camera was a LUMIX DMC-GF1 that I purchased on eBay for $100 in 2016. That led to an upgrade to an Olympus Pen F in early 2017 and I was very happy with that camera for three years of shooting street images. A series of events led to my purchase of the G9.
The Pen F had a hard fail and I sent it to Olympus for major service that cost over $400. I do not blame Olympus for the failure since it is my street camera and received some rough treatment. It was never dropped, but it spent some time on the back of my bicycle getting bounced around in a trunk pack. The camera came back from Olympus in great shape and was taking pictures as well as it ever did. I am happy with Olympus service.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit and I began looking for a webcam so that I could experiment with streaming photo shows. My gallery was closed, my solo show was cancelled, and I was looking for an alternative. There were no webcams available. It is likely that many people had similar needs that were driven by the pandemic, including work meetings and school. All sources were out of stock.
I investigated using a digital camera as a webcam and found that the LUMIX line was especially popular for that purpose as well as for video production. The G9 with the latest firmware was for me the best compromise between the video capabilities and the still image features. It is primarily a still camera, but has video features that overlap somewhat with the LUMIX DC-GH5 that is very popular for web streaming and video.
There are plenty of reviews for both the G9 and GH5 on the Internet, so I will not try to repeat them. My rationale for buying the G9 and sticking with Micro Four Thirds included the reviews, but also my desire for a light camera that i could carry all day. While the G9 body weighs more than the Pen F, the combination of the camera and the preferred lens weighs about the same. I was using the M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 lens on the Pen F, a heavy and bulky lens. On the G9 I have a Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4 that has a much smaller footprint.
I had lots of reasons for the upgrade. My new street kit with the G9 is moisture resistant. Videos are impressive, assisted by effective Image Stabilization. In my opinion the auto focus for stills is much better than the Pen F and the shutter is more responsive. I can rip off back-to-back images much more quickly. I hooked it up with my computer and Open Broadcast Software (OBS) and got great results for web streaming.
I have had my G9 on the street a couple of times and am totally converted from the Pen F.
The image above is reduced resolution, but I think shows the excellent color and contrast rendering by the sensor and the LUMIX firmware. The image is straight out of the camera with only the resampling to 640 x 480 from the native resolution.
So far I am very happy with my choice and I consider it a significant upgrade from my Pen F. Many will question my judgement in sticking with Micro Four Thirds. The format has many limitations, especially in low light. Low light is not a problem for me since I do most of my street photography in daylight. For me the light weight and other street-friendly features close the deal.
The Olympus Pen F that I love for street photography is at Olympus for service. It has served me well for three years, but I am concerned about long term reliability and ruggedness. Since I have some expensive glass, an M. Zuiko 25mm f/1.2 lens, I am committed to Micro Four Thirds. They are easy to carry during a long day on the street because of the small size of the Micro Four Thirds camera bodies in general.
While the Pen F is being serviced, I have fallen back to my LUMIX DMC-GF1. It was the camera that I purchased used for $100 over three years ago to give Micro Four Thirds a try. For $200 I found a Olympus 25mm f/1.8 lens to go with it. That model was already eight years old at the time I bought it. At twelve megapixels it is a credible street camera as long as I don’t need to crop very much. It forces me to be more careful with my compositions. The shutter release is a bit slow, but I don’t use it to capture fast action or sports.
I took it with me last week to Cape Cod where I spent the day on my bike. It spent most of the day in the bicycle trunk pack because there was little activity on the Cape for this time of year. The camera came out of the pack near Brewster where I enjoyed a hot dog. It had been three hours since breakfast and I had forty miles to go. The hot dog gave me a protein boost to get me to Wellfleet.
After riding through the trail head at the end of the trail in Wellfleet, I decided to ride up the hill to a beach that was familiar to me. The beach parking lot is on a dune that is high above the beach. A precarious sand ramp leads from the parking lot down to the beach below. An old wooden life guard station rests at the edge of the dune overlooking the beach.
It was early afternoon and people were still arriving, leading to a steady stream of people on the ramp. Some stood at the edge of the dune searching down below for a suitable place to spend the afternoon. Nearly two years ago a 26 year old man was killed by a shark at this beach and a sign at the edge of the dune just above the Severe Bleeding First Aid Kit in the orange box reminds visitors of the danger. There were few people in the water.
It was a perfect day to be outdoors since it was warm and I was not in a hurry to go anywhere fast. The only sad thing was that there were too few people for really good street photography. Still, it was a great day to practice using my LUMIX GF1 again since I may be using it for a while. The image quality and color from the old camera are still great.
There are only a few of us who are willing to take the risk of venturing out into the city or even out of our homes. It is possible that we are the ones who feel the caprice of indefinite lock-downs and stay-at-home directives. Personally, as a cancer survivor, I would rather take some risk and live my life rather than give up a large portion of the time remaining in my life to fear.
Many of the people that I follow on Instagram are posting older work because they have suspended their lives. They are posting sad, dated retrospectives with hopeful messages about getting back to normal. I prefer to take action rather than wait for others to decide what is right for me and I refuse to suspend my life.
Depression often motivates me and my wife, Marne, will prod me when she feels me descending into Mordor. That is when I hop onto my bicycle and go for a ride. Rides into Boston have been a staple for me and for my street photography. I had a solo show of my Boston images planned for this month until the world stopped turning.
This year I have made two bicycle trips into Boston to date and both times I persisted in bringing my camera. During both of those trips I visited some of my favorite places in Boston. My style includes people in unique situations and my images almost always have a message or a story. My favorite places did not deliver as they have in the past since the density of people was low. High volumes of people guarantee a diversity of subject matter.
During both of those trips I found that I could do a documentary on homelessness during the pandemic. It seemed that the only occupants of the park benches in Boston Common were homeless and there were many congregated near the Park Street Church. More than half of the pedestrians in the canyons of the Boston city streets were also homeless.
Still, there were bright spots, such as the Esplanade where there was the usual traffic of runners, walkers, and cyclists. There was thin attendance at the Boston Public Garden. It is difficult to imagine people avoiding the place once the weather turns warm since it is already flourishing with the addictive colors of the trees and flowers. Even with the parking areas cordoned off, a few people from Southie cannot resist the lure of the ocean at Pleasure Bay and Castle Island. In the North End, Christopher Columbus Park entertains a number of people who have no trouble maintaining their distance.
There are plenty of trite reminders of our current predicament. The statue of former mayor Kevin White across from city hall has a face mask. The duck and ducklings of the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden are wearing face masks. It would not be so bad if there were crowds of real people wearing face masks walking among them.
In the North End at Christopher Columbus Park near the harbor I found a hopeful sign of life. A man and his eight year old grandson were flying a kite. The boy was retrieving the kite hand over hand while the old man wound the line on a card. We talked a bit and I learned that this was not the first time they had flown a kite at this location. The old man and I both had our faces covered and the boy looked at me curiously, probably trying to discern an approving smile. That is my best image from the past two outings.
I will take every opportunity that I can to return to Boston during the coming months to witness the transition into summer. My hope is that the people, the beer gardens, the pushcarts, and the food trucks come back soon. None of us can continue to live this way.
As a street photographer, I know that I will not be able to do a credible shoot for some time. My style almost demands crowds so that there is a diversity of people and activities. Not all activities are worthy of a street photograph. Street photography is similar to nature photography in that respect. It takes time and patience to find a worthy scene because my images are little vignettes that evoke an emotion or tell a story.
My images are immersive because I get close to my subjects and a crowd gives me cover so that I do not influence the action. Social distancing makes it impossible to get lost in a crowd or to get close to my subjects. The crowds of Boston themselves are temporarily gone and those people who remain walk in small groups and keep their distance from others..
Bicycle rides into Boston are one of the ways that I use to find street photography subjects and on Monday, 6 April, I took my first bicycle ride into Boston this year. I wore a bandanna over my nose and mouth. My goal was to determine the impact of social distancing on street photography. Usually, I ride to one of my favorite locations and linger, relaxing or eating lunch and waiting for something to happen. Monday was not a usual day due to the virus.
My bicycle trips to Boston often yield fifty to one hundred images of people enjoying life in the city. On Monday there was not a single scene worth capturing. Everywhere I went, people were trying to pass time outdoors on a nice day rather than indoors taking in more televised commentary on the virus. They were deliberate in their pursuit of exercise and fresh air and were not in a mood to stop and play.
There were lots of people as I approached downtown on the Esplanade, although they were trying to maintain a safe distance among them. Few were wearing masks or face covering, but it is still early in the epidemic and I imagine others will comply as they see their fellow citizen doing so. Everybody was on the move and nothing unusual was happening.
At the Hatch Shell I crossed Storrow Drive into Beacon Hill. From there I rode along the edge of the Public Garden and into the Common. There was a very low concentration of people distributed throughout the park. In contrast, the area across the street from the Park Street Church was occupied by thirty to forty homeless people who were guarding shopping carts carrying all of their worldly possessions, sleeping on the benches, or engaging in boisterous conversations. Social distancing is difficult in their world and I wondered how they managed to care for themselves if they got sick.
This part of the Common is one of my favorite places in Boston, but the typical flow of people was missing except for a few locals passing among the homeless who were occupying most of the park benches. The food trucks and pushcarts were also missing, one source for lunch during normal times. The people who staff the food trucks and pushcarts are also missing their source of income for the duration. The cheerful gatherings of people and tourist groups around Brewer Fountain are gone.
As I continued my ride from the Common, the streets of Boston were devoid of the usual crush of traffic and honking horns. I rode through areas that I would not usually attempt on my bicycle. Across from City Hall on Congress Street I stopped at the statue of former Boston mayor Kevin White. Someone had strapped a white face mask to his head, a reminder of the times to all who passed.
Surface Road along the Rose Kennedy Greenway was uncommonly safe for a person on a bicycle. I rode south and from there I turned left on Seaport Boulevard, my favorite route to the Seaport District and the South End because a bike path takes me well into the Seaport. I worked my way to Castle Island and Pleasure Bay where people seemed to be congregating.
The area around Castle Island been a particular problem for city health officials because crowds of people were gathering there on nice days and this was one of those nice days. The solution has been to block all curb parking around Pleasure Bay and to barricade the entrance to Castle Island. Even though there was no parking, there was a large number of people walking around the area, probably locals from Southie. I took up a position on one of the barricades to eat the lunch that I had with me. As I sat there at least ten cars drove up to the barricade and left discouraged.
After a quick lunch I also left, riding back through the Seaport, into the North End, and back to the Charles River for the bicycle trip back to my car in Bedford. I felt that hanging around trying to salvage my photo outing would break the rules of social distancing anyway. A man with a bandanna covering most of his face approaching with a camera pointing your way would be a bit intimidating. When I got home I had five or six images in my camera, none of which satisfy my standards. They are mostly the familiar scenes of empty streets that you have seen on the news. I enjoyed the ride, but miss being in the crush of people that makes street photography so much fun.