Monthly Photo Challenge: Urban Seasons/Cleveland — January 2016

Cleveland, OH: July, 2014 at dusk.


Welcome to a new year! As indicated in my last post, this year I will be focusing on urban photography. Besides expanding my skills by delving into new territory photographically speaking, I hope to learn more about this, my adopted city. I grew up in the south and am told I still speak with a bit of a southern drawl. Relocating to Cleveland, OH,  a city situated on the shores of one of our great lakes, Erie, is a culture shock to say the least.  I work in the city but at times still feel like a stranger. Choosing to focus on the seasonal changes in the city seemed like a no-brainer for me. Little did I know how very different nature photography is from photographing city sights!

Unlike the organic lines, lights, shadows and shapes found in nature, urban landscapes are a juxtaposition of straight lines, harsh angles, crisp shadows, and all things concrete and metal. As you will see, I found it difficult to frame shots that didn’t look wildly distorted, tilted, and/or contrasty. I intentionally shot some photos at angles to hide the fact that I couldn’t get a good perspective no matter how hard I tried.

Another challenge to me was simply where to begin. I quickly discovered that going out to shoot photos in the city bewilders me. There is simply too much of everything: buildings, interesting streets, storefronts, lights, automobiles, etc. This month’s post is a hodgepodge of photos from different areas of the city. The black and white photos of the bridges and tavern were shot in an area known as “The Flats.” The color photos (with b&w thrown in) were shot in “Little Italy” and “Cleveland Heights.” Going forward I will choose one area of focus and concentrate in that area or on one subject. Otherwise I will get flustered and too discouraged to see this through to the end. Yes, this year will be quite a challenge. I hope you will feel free to offer constructive criticism as the year progresses. This project is a work in progress and is truly a learning experience for me. In other words, HELP! 😉

The photo that heads this post was shot a couple of years ago from a lakeside park looking east toward Cleveland after the sun had set. My plan is to use this as the header of each post in this challenge throughout the year, unless of course I get something better.

I hope you enjoy this months photos. I have mixed feelings, but look forward to improving with each month’s post.

As indicated last month, with this 2016 challenge I will highlight one photograph to “play” with, try something new, or edit in some way that will help me grow as well as enhance the image. This month I chose to experiment with the image I shot looking through the front window of my car (while stopped at a traffic signal). The window was still frosted around the edges as I peered at the red car in front of me.

I downloaded Picassa, a free post-editing program that I think will enhance my post editing skills, experimented with it and the following photo is what I came up with. Of course I never wrote down the steps to achieving the following photo so can’t comment much on it. I just fiddled with a few settings and here you see the finished product. Next month I will take better notes. Let me know what you think.


My first post processed print using Picassa!

As you can see, I have a LOT to learn this year. I look forward to reading your comments and seeing your images, too. Have a great 2016!





17 thoughts on “Monthly Photo Challenge: Urban Seasons/Cleveland — January 2016

  1. A great take on the challenge, especially since you’re challenging yourself and learning new techniques. Great description of the difference between nature photography & city sights too! Best of luck with this project in 2016.

    1. Thanks CG. I had a challenging month trying to assemble this post. At times I was ready to run back to the familiar. But I plan to stick it out and see what happens. Hopefully I will end up with an interesting portfolio. Thanks for commenting. All honest critique is welcome. 🙂

      1. Alright, honest critique here we go:
        1. I.m not a big fan of the photo that you originally planned as a header of each post. There’s this glow around the buildings (it has a technical term, but I can’t remember it right now…). It’s also a bit flat, lacking contrasts. The same scene would probably look great during sunrise/sunset, or on a sunny day with some clouds.
        2. The picasa edit is not my favorite either. It’s too over-processed for my taste, but the original photo is nice.
        3. The rest of your photos are good. I like your B&W conversions, but my favorite photo is the one with the benches and trees in the park: it has great leading lines and composition!

        1. Ok, I get the header. It was an in-camera HDR shot late at night (or at least after dusk, two years ago). How do folks get such great night shots of city skylines? Can’t figure it out. But will keep trying.

          The picasa edit, yes, over processed. I cannot tell you everything I did to that photo because I was playing around with it and was trying every tool I could find. Actually I kinda liked it, but definitely a “beginner” project for me. Hopefully next month will go better (Hopefully by month 12 I’ll have a decent group of shots!)

          Glad you liked the other photos. The B&W shots in the Flats were actually shot in b&w. The other b&w shot in the park is converted from color.

          In all honesty I did not like this month’s post AT ALL! I am out of my element. Totally uncomfortable with it. But most new things I try in life go through a stage of discomfort in the beginning. I plan to stick with it, at least for six months, and see if I gain more confidence/skills/whatever to put together a decent portfolio. I truly had no idea how different this type of photography would be. New admiration for all photographers who do the urban stuff for a living.
          Thanks for commenting, and most appreciative for your honesty. Will keep working at it and taking cc seriously.

          1. To get great night shots of city skylines you should use a tripod and a long shutter speed. If you don’t have a remote for your camera, you can set the timer on the camera, so that it takes the photo a few seconds after you’ve pressed the button. That way you eliminate camera shake.
            I’m 100% sure that you’ll have lots of good shots to show in December!

    1. Purpleborough! It is good to see you. Thanks for taking a look and a few secs to comment. Glad you like the picasa photo. I like it, too, but GC had a good critique. I’m just learning so will be playing with it (and other stuff, too) throughout the year. Feel free to offer critique anytime. That is how I am learning. 🙂

      1. Going with what CG said, I have to agree that the original photo is much better than your edited version, but hey, that’s what playing with editing software is all about. Sometimes it works, other times not. I think what CG said about the header image is that you have ‘halos’ all around the buildings which makes it look peculiar. If you are posting galleries I don’t think you need a header image. As for the rest, I think you have done pretty well. Perspective is always a nightmare in the city so using different angles is a good idea. You have a good eye and focus on interesting details. I especially love the benches in the snow, but that’s no surprise is it! 😀
        Jude xx

        1. Thanks for you critique, Jude. This city shooting was way more of a challenge than I anticipated. I will get better with practice. As for the header shot, yeah the halo bothered me but I was so happy that I shot HDR that I overlooked stuff. Oh well, live and learn. As for the editing, I have a new program (for me) and I went wild with it. 🙂 It was fun. I wasn’t crazy about the original photo so I didn’t hold back with the editing. Learning the program and will be more focused/intentional next month. Again, thanks for your critique. I need all the help I can get with this new challenge. Have a great month. Hope to see you in February.

          1. I’m no expert photographer – CG is far better than me and especially in street photography, so I don’t critique unless asked (people can get very offended) unless something obvious jumps out at me. None of yours did other than the header and the edit, so I think you will do fine. And the fun of photography is in the learning, must be boring to always take perfect photos 😀

  2. Oh, forgot to say. PIXLR is a good free editing software for making changes to an image, they have several arty effects and I have used it to add a bit of ‘oomph’ to an image (and yes, it is easy to get carried away 🙂 ) you can download it from their site there is a desktop and a mobile version. It is also good for basic editing – straightening, cropping, resizing and adjusting contrast etc.

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