A 52 week photo project – Houston, Texas and Tuscany

To complete the ‘One picture a day’ photoproject, in 2016, showcasing pictures taken during our Saudi Arabia experience, I pushed myself to walk the Saudi streets with a camera on a daily basis. Working and living in a foreign country, not exactly the one closest to my hometown, was a great way to win my inner fears and limits. Technically I developed both shooting and post-processing techniques that helped me taking ‘difficult’ street photos (the ones you don’t dare to take because you are too shy) and making a visually pleasing and consistent portfolio.

With this 52 week photo project my goal is to frame the emotions of this new experience in the USA, living and working abroad, changing our life style. All  has been recorded and impressed in these 52 pictures and in the comments. The reader can scroll all the way to the bottom and start from the 1st of January 2018 or read it in reverse-chronological order from the 31st December back to January. For this project I was not obsessed by a color grading or stylistic consistency – and this might be a limit or an advantage as it allowed to better express each mood and situation without a limitation or scheme.

So, enjoy this project: I am already working for the next one!

Week 52 – Closing out 2018

181229_IMG_6986.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

This one closes 2018 in the best way: Marta’s first book is out! It’s only in Italian and she is waiting for feedbacks from the readers!

Artistic testimonial is our friend Gianpaolo: we already know that 2018 is just the starting point!

Week 51 – Signs

181229_IMG_6974_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – Sigma 35 f/1.4 ART

 

Week 50 – Relaxing

181229_IMG_6961_Luminar2018-edit.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – Sigma 35 f/1.4 ART

Relaxing and dreaming: our friend Emilio hosted us on his sail boat, showing us potential routes for our lives. In a future, somewhere.

Postpro in Lightroom: the atmosphere had to stay dreamy and quiet, a couple of gradient filters and manual color grading. Not too much.

Week 49 – I will be missing you…

181208_IMG_6802_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 f/1.2 L

Going back to Italy for Christmas: a separation of two weeks will be challenging. Augustina is looking at Marta right in her eyes with a candid expression that reminds me of mother nature and its wonders.

For this shot, impossible to be staged, I preferred the Canon EF 85mm to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2. The latter would have been a wiser choice due to it’s faster focus time, but the 50mm was too wide and wouldn’t fit the image I had in my mind. I stepped down to f/1.8 to have a minimum of focus tolerance while making sure most of the picture is blurred out leaving just Augustina’s eyes and face in focus.   ISO 2000 in natural light is not a problem and allows for a quick enough shutter speed at t=1/200s.

I post-processed the shot in Lightroom, first, giving the semi-melancholic look (tones of green and some secret stuff) and then finished it in Luminar.

The most difficult part? Capturing the eye-contact without invading the scene and breaking the magic of the moment.

 

Week 48 – A shot from the past

180429_IMG_5238_Luminar2018-edit.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

A shot from the past for this 2018 that’s about to die, gloriously as suggested by the background. The skeleton is Year 2018 and the Canon EF 50mm is just the right optic to frame the main sign of this bar in San Antonio. I chose the widest aperture to reduce some ‘complexity’ from the background and keep the focus on the main character. Quick post pro in Lightroom with some gradient and local lights and that’s it!

Week 47 – Tiny focus

180701_DSCF2098_Luminar2018-edit.jpg
Fuji X-T1; Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L (with adaptor)

This picture, minimalist, taken with a combination of Fuji camera and Canon lens with an adaptor and manual focus. Shot wide open at f/1.2 on the swimming pool bed and just some Lightroom here and there to spice up the blue of the water.

Almost nothing is on focus: sometimes we don’t need to see much to be happy.

Week 46 – Our week

180729_DSCF2247_Luminar2018-edit.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 56 f/1.2

We have just a few pictures of us: this one was taken several weeks ago and I want to post it on this week, when both Marta and me celebrate our birthdays! We were at a restaurant in Houston downtown when a very nice couple saw our cameras and offered to take us a portrait.

If you are curious to know where we actually went on that week, just follow this link!

Week 45 – Capture that moment

181103_IMG_6410_Luminar2018-edit
Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

Quick on the shutter button to bring this one home: at the Galveston bike rally 2018, lots of bikers, lots of bar tenders and drinks. Almost impossible not to steal some funny moments.

Now this pic is multi-layered, here’s how I read it and why I decided to shoot. First narrative plane: the guy (he’s been drinking, trust me), he’s finally handing a 5-er (not much uh?!) to the lady after a few minutes flirting. In reality that’s exactly the last fraction of a second when she had a sort of a smile on her face: immediately after grabbing the note the smile vanished. Second narrative plane: the sign, as if it’s speaking the mind of the guy at the right – a sort of competitor for the waitress heart.

The scene unfolds in 3, maybe 5 seconds, probably less: I did not have it clear in my mind. I only had the perception (gut feeling) that something ‘interesting’ was about to happen. Or, better said, something ‘interesting’ had the potentiality to happen. We had there a couple of males with high alcohol percentage in their bodies, we had a semi-naked waitress and a provocative sign. What I could not see was the guy tipping the lady: that was completely unexpected and the amazing speed of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L mounted on the EOS 5D mark III made the capture possible.

Week 44 – Beauty

181102_IMG_6253_Luminar2018-edit
Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

Beauty, in this title, is not referred to our cat Augustina. Beauty is the black wool rag in the background. It’s the name of it. When Augustina is melancholic she often grabs Beauty and carries it around our home, she meows in a particular way that we have not been able to fully understand.

The name infact comes from a clay sculpture that Marta did a few years ago: the face of a Saudi lady and the wool rag was the scarf. Beauty’s scarf almost immediately became Augustina’s possession: we tried to restore the situation and eventually we gave up after a couple of weeks. Now Beauty is Augustina’s immaginary friend, and is our friend too!

Week 43 – Dreaming

181021_IMG_6238.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

Vivid colors for this one: many adventures ahead of us with a new challenge – the sailing course – to fill-up even our week-ends and take away any available minute… In case someone wanted to catch the breath, recover from a stressful week or just relax. In this picture the organizer, exhausted, is taking a nap on a chair outside the marina.

Lightroom and Luminar for a quick post pro, mainly enhancing the image colors, and we are ready to go!

Week 42 – The super-busy

181021_IMG_6239.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

Drink, eat, relax… the Super-busy doesn’t stop, no relax, some food and minimum-required drink.

This one is just a joke but the picture was taken during a challenging time, high stress at work and also so many things to do in order to set up our ‘normal’ everyday’s life for both of us. The restaurant’s entertainment schedule shows activities Thursday through Sunday… at least they can take a break Monday through Wednesday.

Week 41 – Rusty

181021_IMG_6220.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

Rusty look for this one: an old truck showing the scars of time, the EF 50mm f/1.2 shot wide open is a master to highlight such details.

Week 40 – Coconut Stellar

181021_IMG_6209.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

A new restaurant in Bay Area, it’s Thai and offers a delicious coconut instead of the usual beers and soft drinks. Indoor shooting is never easy and most of the times the lights are less than attractive. Actually a mirror-less like the Fuji X-T1 is better suited for this purpose: lighter, smaller and easier to handle but this time I had the big Canon which, coupled with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 is not so cumbersome at all.

A funny expression for a mild black and white, shot wide open.

Week 39 – Stone Talk

180918_IMG_6107_Luminar2018-edit.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

It’s late September in Italy: Massa Marittima is beautiful and this shot, taken from a very unusual perspective, captures the beauty of the textures, the rich matter that creates a unique atmosphere with almost any type of light and weather conditions in this amazing square.

Week 38 – Back home, back in time

180922_IMG_6200 Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

Back to Turin, my hometown in North of Italy. A quick visit of a couple of days because work calls.

 

Week 37 – Alleys of Massa

180918_IMG_6142_Luminar2018-edit.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

A bit more of post production work for this one: shot in counter-light required some attentions to make it look acceptable. Luminar excels in this and is very easy to get a warm colorful feeling that your eyes receive in the real life but the digital camera just can not.

Week 36 – Emerald

180908_IMG_6100_Luminar2018-edit.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

Right in the garden outside home, coming back from walking our two cats, emerald grass and a white mushroom: reminds me of how much I personally like being immersed in the nature and how difficult it’s been staying in the desert for 3 years.

Lightroom and Luminar for a quick post pro: nothing fancy since the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro is the top in rendering the colors.

Week 35 – Kemah in a movie

180902_IMG_6063 Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 f/1.2 L

Cinematic effect almost out of the camera: I just used a custom filter with Lightroom to color grade shadows and highlights.  The rest comes as a result of a full frame camera and the EF 85 f/1.2 L.

Week 34 – 2517

180826_IMG_6007_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

Delicate contrasts and sky: this is just south of Nasa Parkway, the Marina a few minutes from where we live. A geometric game between the lines of the building and the picture frame. Luminar in post pro without exaggerating…

 

Week 33 – All of a sudden at the Park

180729_DSCF2299_Luminar2018-edit.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 56 f/1.2

Back to the Fuji after long time using my Canon for this shot, one of the firsts with the new Fujinon 56mm f/1.2.

We are in Houston, downtown, for this quick shot that Luminar helped me highlighting and improving the sky with just a couple of clicks.

 

Week 32 – Shapes in Shape

180818_IMG_5924 Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 f/1.2 L

A black and white at the park: where yoga courses are offered for free on a weekly basis. We are in Houston Downtown participating to a by-weekly free photography workshop offered by the Houston Center for Photography.

Week 31 – Time to Work

180731_IMG_5831 Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

A glorious shot: Marta’s work permit finally arrived!

Week 30 – Someone’s Cat went Silver

180728_DSCF2189_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 f/1.2 L

That’s her: Melinda who comes out very well when it’s time to portraits. More of her and how to get the best from pet photography in this one!

Week 29 – Stylish

180721_IMG_5676 Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

That’s Augustina in a strongly post-processed picture: sometimes it’s fun to break the rules.

Week 28 – Stranger

180709_IMG_5614 Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

A stolen picture of a stranger taken in natural light with the macro lens. Post pro in Lightroom using an analog film filter which I am liking more than my classic Kodak Trix emulation.

Week 27 – Lightness

180707_DSCF2138 Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23 f/1,4

Week 26 – Double Portrait

180701_DSCF2106 Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23 f/1,4

Week 25 – Do you remember that day?

180623_DSCF1994 Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23 f/1,4

Week 24 – Melinda

180422_IMG_4812.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 70-200 f/4 L

Week 23 – Augustina

180602_IMG_5549_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 f/1.2 L

Week 22 – Family ties

180602_IMG_5544_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 f/1.2 L

Week 21 – Street couple

180526_DSCF1950.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23 f/1,4

Week 20 – Macro

180513_IMG_5488_Luminar2018-edit.jpg Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

Week 19 – Painted Landscape

180513_IMG_5456_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 100 f/2.8 L

Week 18 – Portrait

180428_IMG_5203_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

Oh yes, it’s so easy to take portrait in Texas, particularly when the ‘models’ know you are  Italian: everyone is very open and this man with this ‘red chili hat’ had just what I wanted for my portrait collection.

Week 17 – Urban: San Antonio

180428_IMG_4997_Luminar2018-edit_W17 Canon 5D mark III – EF 24-105 L f/4

 

Week 16 – Looking for Cinematic

180422_IMG_4773.jpg
Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 L f/1.2

A shot with a cinematic look while waiting for our food in Baba Yaga: an historical Houstonian vegan restaurant loved by Marta and ok with me (they serve also meat).

Basic tone splitting in Lightroom, the rest is the Canon gear.

 

Week 15 – Details of Home

180330_IMG_4253

Canon 5D mark III – EF 50 L f/1.2

…details that bring back emotions from my home town…

Week 14 – Talis…Qualis…

180325_IMG_4190_Luminar2018-edit Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 L f/1.2

I can’t comment this one: but I am sure you know what I mean, don’t you?

Week 12bis – Back to those places of the memory

180325_IMG_4182 Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 L f/1.2

Time for Marta to go back to her childhood summer vacation home: the picture is taken right after she stepped into the yard and walks toward the house, I could shoot fast while she turned back to tell me something – this pic 100% NOT posed.

Week 12 – Back to Italy, for a while

180325_IMG_4177 Canon 5D mark III – EF 85 L f/1.2

Yes a quick trip back home, sometimes you can’t find inspirations other than in dummies…. this one worked for me.

Week 9 – Forsaken

180304_DSCF1643-2.jpg

Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 35mm f/2

“Abandoned and Forgotten were favorites in the past”

This was a theme for a contest: I thought the old flip phone side by side with a new iPhone could do the job…

Week 8 – Street of Galveston

180304_DSCF1639.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23mm f/1.4

Weekend in Galveston and the fmall Fuji X-T1 doing a great job walking with us the street of this beautiful town by the sea.

Week 7 – Fill the Frame

180407_IMG_4599.jpg

Canon 5D-III ; EF 50 f/1.2 L

 

 

 

Week 6 – Alternating Rhythm

180326_IMG_4192 Canon 5D-III ; EF 100 f/2.8 L

Week 5 – Ruggero’s choice for the week

180202_DSCF1134.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23mm f/1.4

A Texan close to what he loves the most (a part from his family): the state of Texas flag. Taken inside a restaurant: not a big deal for the small and handy X-T1 from Fuji.

Week 4 – Quiet Moment

180128_DSCF1099.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23mm f/1.4

for details on this one just send me a note… 🙂

Week 3 – Full manual

180202_DSCF1133 Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23mm f/1.4

Taken in full manual mode: this one comes straight from a Texan bar, more to come….

Week 2 – Color Harmony

180128_DSCF1106.jpg Fuji X-T1; Fujinon 23mm f/1.4

Week 1 – Look Ahead

180103_IMG_4154 Canon 5D mark III; EF 50mm f/1.2 L

Leaving 2017, embracing the change and move into 2018: this project starts here – let’s enjoy and have a great 2018!

 

2 Comments

  1. Kim Russell says:

    Beautiful photographs!! Thank you for being willing to share and taking the time to do so!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bravo, bravo, BRAVO!

    Liked by 1 person

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