I had a Nikon 8008 back in the day.  I loved that camera, and I think at the time I was starting to make some progress with the mechanics of photography, if not the art of it.  I set it aside well over ten years ago.  I still have it, but I couldn’t tell you if it works.  I realized one day that I felt like I was walking around the planet with a camera stuck to my head.  Worse, the photos and negatives were, for the most part, just getting chucked into a shoebox or on a hard drive.  I also experienced moments where I thought everything had already been photographed (which just isn’t true).

Photographs need to see the light of day.  They need to be hung up on walls, clothes pinned to a Do-It-Yourself wire picture hanging contraption (I tried to make one once, but it didn’t work so well), WordPressed, displayed in digital frames, mailed to friends, or pinned to bulletin boards.  Sure, it’s fun to go back and look through photo albums.  I did that recently, and it brought back great memories, but I also felt like they were locked up and buried away.

This year I’ve started taking photos again.  I was recently part of a tech startup media campaign, and I was taking photos for our social media efforts.  I thought it was fun and challenging, especially learning how to use my Fujifilm X100T.  It is a beautiful machine, but I have a long way to go.  I have seen so many great photographers on WordPress, Instagram, and 500px, I figured that my blog might offer a good way of getting feedback and improving my skills.

I am struggling with shooting at night.  I am not using a tripod, and for some reason, I either don’t like using a flash or I’ve just never understood the best tactics for using one.  A little of both, probably.

The other night I went out and tried to get some decent shots of Durant’s, an iconic Phoenix restaurant and cocktail lounge.  The place is old school, steeped in Arizona lore and intrigue.  Frontier meets organized crime and Big To Dos.  I wasn’t thrilled with the photos I got, which prompted me to finally take the Lightroom plunge.  I’m using the trial version, but I think I’ll be signing up.

Let’s have a look at some of them.  If any of you photographers (pro, amateur, or aspiring) out there have comments or suggestions, let’s hear ’em!

Durant’s, Phoenix, summer.  Hot but clear.

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I was not systematic in my bracketing.  When I checked the results, I thought this was one of the more promising ones.  The Durant’s neon sign is fantastic in person, here it’s a little washed out.  I liked that the Cocktails Fine Foods signage showed up clearly, and that you can read the wording on the side wall leading to the parking lot behind the restaurant.  But I know I made some poor choices.

ISO 6400 (excessive no doubt)

-1 Exposure Compensation (can’t remember if that was intentional or an accident – easy to inadvertently turn that dial on the X100T)

f/5.6

SS 1/60

Outside Durant's

Same photo, post-editing in Lightroom.  I’m new to Lightroom, so I didn’t do much.  I adjusted some of the shadows and contrast.  I’m happier with the appearance of the edited version.  However, I think with my original shots should have been closer to what I eventually got in the edited version.

Composition wise, it’s not terrible.  But the left-hand side of the photo could use some work.  It was a little tricky with the maneuvering.  The streets were empty that night, and I stayed on the sidewalk, but I kept making sure I wasn’t about to get clipped by the side-mirror of a bus.

I’d like to go back and get a couple of shots at the “golden hour”, and then head inside for a martini and some discreet interior shots.  I would only do that if it were a quiet night at Durant’s.  It used to boast a clientele that was camera shy.

Here are a few more shots from the evening, but no need to comment on them!

Durant's

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