Downtown Dallas, TX In 35mm
Black and white street photos By Randy Stewart
REGARDING IMAGE SIZE IN THIS PUBLICATION This e-book has been optimized for most electronic reading devices. Not all readers will deliver intended format or image sizes due to multitude of available e-book platforms and digital devices. There is virtually no standardization among them. Please keep in mind that original shots averaged 6000 x 4000 and unfortunately, due to various device downloading restrictions, have been resized. Where devices allow, photographs may be enlarged for better viewing. In most cases, double tapping image on reading devices or clicking on desktop will enlarge photos. While great measures have been taken to insure consistent viewing across most electronic reading devices, some readers may modify original layout.
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During the 70’s, I recall my mother driving up to a Fox Photo Drive thru processing booth. She would either be dropping off those little 110 rolls of film or picking up that envelope filled with finished prints. I have a vague memory of placing the little film roll into an already filled out colorful envelope, licking, and sealing before handing to the lady at the counter. We would return in a few days and the prints would magically replace the plastic roll. Either way, we couldn’t wait to see what the lens captured. With the occasional finger captured in the upper corner of the photo, we’d pass them around and share the moments once again. I was too young to understand and appreciate what that little 110 camera was all about. Throughout the 80’s, 90’s, and into 2000 I saw cameras evolve with incredible technology and at price points any of us could afford. Still no real interest. My mother and Grandmother came to visit me and my partner back in 2012. Before driving them back to the airport we had breakfast at Dallas Market Diner where she reached into her purse for a tiny Olympus digital camera and asked me to take a photograph. That click felt good. I took a few other shots exploring the camera’s capabilities and took a full set of shots. I really liked what it accomplished and loved the subject of the photos! Told her how impressed I was with it and she simply said: “it’s yours since I’ll be upgrading anyway”. I spent a few months exploring my world with that little camera. Began to really focus on still objects and trying to create a mood with the finished shot. It was the beginning of a fantastic journey which would take me through facets of photography unknown to me. I soon decided I needed a newer model camera. A co-worker and camera enthusiast suggested a small Nikon digital zoom camera with clearance price of just a couple of hundred dollars. Off I went to make it mine. The obsessive photographing continued now with outings. If not driving, I was taking the shots from the passenger seat. If walking along pre-planned photo walks, I carefully scouted out architectural subjects and occasional passersby to include in my shots. That camera and I were inseparable and creating images that pleased me. A couple more years with that camera and I found myself noticing the DSLR camera technology producing great images and at the right price. In December 2015 I bought my first Nikon DSLR camera with added 35mm and 50mm lenses. Upon opening the camera box I realized I was overwhelmed with its capabilities and simply didn’t understand the technical marvel. I viewed many YouTube videos on the camera model, read the manual, downloaded a couple books, and still felt intimidated by the monster. Not at all discouraged, I knew I would continue to familiarize myself with the camera with my objective being great shots as I understood them. I also believed I would prepare to spend a couple thousand dollars more on some impressive zoom lenses.
I just thought it would be to my advantage to have such glass in my arsenal. Then came the hundreds of tripod models I thought I would need. Then discovered battery packs and other accessories. I was soon nose deep in wish-list ideas of what I just knew I would need to embark on this great journey. While continuing my exploration of my own camera, we attended a friend’s wedding downtown and couldn’t help but notice the wedding photographer’s agile work. To this day I’m not interested in wedding photography but this photographer was covering the event quite well. I struck up a brief conversation with him stating I liked his camera and we chatted for a couple of minutes about my interests. He told me he taught a class on shooting manual. Score! Took his card and two weeks later we met at my home. I explained I needed further understanding of my camera’s settings and would like to shoot in manual so I’d never have to return to Auto mode with no control. I would soon control those settings myself and post process my photos on my computer to my satisfaction. Soaked up all he had to teach in those two hours and began applying my new found knowledge with minimal effort. What followed over the next few weeks was total bliss. I would upload images to my computer for review in Adobe Lightroom editing tool and noticed most of the images were beyond my wildest expectations. I was excited about these new tools and continued to refine them one click at a time. I tried several free editing tools but in the end, all fell short of what was needed to create the photos I envisioned. Once I discovered Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor, I had all I needed to process my RAW photos into beautiful images. While processing a particular photo I converted the image to black and white. Suddenly I had a completely different image and reaction within to the same image. New details surfaced and discovered a new interest in my love for photography. I took a few other favorite color shots and converted them to black and white. I confirmed there was something really special about these same photos now in black and white. I thought they were good color photos but now were fantastic with the color gone. To this day into 2016, I process all of my photo walk shots in black and white. The photography catalogs continued to fill my mailbox to fuel my wish list of high tech super lenses that I just had to have. While waiting to save up for the gear and with my newfound love for black and white, I turned to photo books of the greats in photography. I poured over photo masterpiece favorites by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, William Klein, Eugene Atget, Vivian Maier, and Gary Winogrand. It occurred to me that not even with a tenth of today’s available technology, these photographers captured what we consider to be some of the finest and highly regarded images ever! Also noticed how much of their work was in black and white and 35 to 50mm despite the era. Continuing my avid reading and research into their work, I found a new interest and comfort in their style of photography.
This is where I discovered the field of street photography. There is much debate over what is and isn’t street photography, but I generally label my work ‘street’ if it is a public place, candid, and shot without subject’s permission when people are included. Other shots I’ve taken are what I consider a city or concrete jungle landscapes such as my Downtown Dallas photos. Many of these photos have few or no people but were obviously shot on foot in the street. Many have argued that street photography must have a human subject that tells a story. One of my favorite photographers mentioned earlier, Eugene Atget, considered by many to be the father of street photography had few if any people in his shots. We don’t label Atget an ‘architectural’ photographer despite city street architecture comprising most of his shots. Another great, Henri Cartier-Bresson, many argue is the true father of street photography with a mix of city street scenes and people in candid moments. A year into my downtown photo journey I discovered that my personal photography hero John Free of Los Angeles still used his 40-year-old Nikon camera! I was completely liberated from the mindset of having to upgrade equipment every thirty minutes. If fellows like him and other greats didn’t need to give into every gadget and latest models, then I stood a chance against my inferiority complex within the photography world. An occasional upgrade here and there is OK but as long as your craft is not governed by stacks of the latest and greatest within catalogs. I realized the importance of upgrading my own skills and mastery of my existing equipment. Far more important to deliver a quality photo through a thousand dollar camera than a bad shot through ten thousand dollars’ worth of equipment. It was time and practice I had to invest in my eye for better shots. Again, was elated to find a home in this realization. I didn’t spend much time trying to define the subject and categorizing the greats as much as wanting to step outside and shoot. However, I didn’t have Dallas in my viewfinder. Believe it or not, I had faraway places on my wish list where I was to capture these fantastic photos. I’ve read and heard from others in photography that we often overlook the wonder and beauty of our own backyard. Some of us photographers believe all would be better if perhaps we lived in Paris or parts of Asia. Then we would be on rapid fire capturing those million dollar shots. So what happened to make me take notice? Driving through downtown I stopped at a red light intersection of Houston and Elm St. literally a few feet from Dealy Plaza. This is the historic west end district which is the location of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I’ve stopped at this light before but usually catch a green light and able to rush right through all the daily tourist visitors. On this particular day, I waited at a red light and was granted the opportunity to watch so many curious visitors. Some pointing up at the corner window of the Sixth Floor Museum formerly a book depository. People carefully posing to have another take their photo.
Others on sidewalks to each side of X mark the spot on the street where the fatal bullet struck. This is a daily site at Dealy Plaza as people visit from all over the world to remember that day, that shook the world when a great President was taken from us. Slowly creeping forward through a green light I’d have to slow down again for the first time seeing a man, in the middle of the road, stand next to the second X heading north to pose for a photo. A lady on the west sidewalk was quickly framing him in camera to take the shot. It annoyed me and I almost honked at him and offer a few colorful words but he looked at me with a desperate face determined to get that shot. Suddenly amused I stopped and waited as the lady finally looked above her camera giving him a thumb up to clear the road. He turned to me and with the biggest smile and waved me by. During this brief red light moment, I came face to face with so many visitors for the first time. Many of these people are actually on vacation. They’ve saved up their money, booked flights and hotels, and on any given day, put Dealy Plaza and parts of Downtown Dallas on their agenda for the day. I thought about going back to mingle with them and capture their moments at Dealy Plaza. My mind then wandered up Houston Street to our Old Red Museum and JFK Memorial just around the corner. I thought about Main Street behind me and all the shops and hustle and bustle of our fantastic downtown world. My God, I had a photo project waiting all this time. With my front door just a mile from downtown, over the next two years, I walked along most streets of downtown Dallas capturing these very shots. Armed with nothing but a Nikon D5300 DSLR and fixed Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G I took a closer look at this world just a mile from my home. The finished photos captured some familiar sites to natives and some not so easily identified. In post processing, I rendered all the shots in black and white. There are no Photoshop effects with the exception of manipulating exposure, clarity, whites, and blacks. Such adjustments are expected since I shoot in manual and all photos are RAW needing final adjustments in post processing before rendering a finished photo on my computer desktop. Finally, the quality and size of these photos were originally 6000 x 4000 size images which added huge weight to final book size, download time, and download data cost per sale. Images have been resized to Kindle’s maximum allowed size with most displayed at 200+DPI without compromising photo quality. Treat this e-publication as a coffee table book and enjoy the photos! Photos were taken between 2014 and 2016 within a four-mile radius of my home and into the Dallas Downtown area. Feel free to contact me if interested in larger size images at email@example.com Flip through the pages and take in the sites at your leisure. I truly hope you enjoy the visual experience.
Now that’ you’ve learned a bit about me in the Introduction, I am still an amateur photographer living in Uptown Dallas, TX. This photo walk throughout Downtown Dallas, TX was first inspired with my intent to embark on a photo project of Dealy Plaza. Once inspired to continue my photo search throughout the downtown area, I knew the project would cover much more of the area. All photos were taken with a Nikon D5300 DSLR and Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens. Editing of RAW photos shot in manual was limited to adjustment of exposure, clarity, whites, blacks, and no photoshop effects. Final post processed photos rendered in black and white. While photographing the area, I aimed to capture what I encountered on that day with minimal staging. Despite it’s sky scraping appearance, my downtown is not as busy with people and the hustle and bustle of say, New York or similar cities. If the photo is void of people, it’s precisely as I encountered the scene at that moment. I’d also like to mention and vent regarding this, my first, e-publication effort. With no one to consult with, the task came with a huge learning curve requiring my ongoing research and untold uploading of latest draft. What a harrowing experience. But thanks to online publishers willing to share their experience and that good ole’ trusty Youtube, I finally figured out how to format this body of work which will work on most digital readers. The next and future books will only get better and easier to construct.
A special thank you to my Mom Anna who planted that seed when she gave me her camera. A special thank you to my partner Gregory for his fantastic support and making our life and marriage so very special.
A special thank you to the stranger in Dealy Plaza who made me wait for his photo opportunity and introduction to so many visitors to our city.
A special thank you to my personal photography hero John Free who inspired me to get out there and do it exactly with what I had available to me. You gifted me a new eye and attitude I’ll carry with me forever.
A special thank you to The Bee Gees, Jack White, Fleetwood Mac, Black Sabbath, and RUSH who’s music played for countless hours while I created this body of work on my computer.
Thank You for taking time to view this body of work. I hope you’ll enjoy what my camera captured during my photo walks.
VIEW MY DOWNTOWN DALLAS PHOTOS, WITHIN THIS GALLERY, IN BOOK FORMAT BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: