I shot this photograph a week or so ago in downtown San Jose, California. I don’t particularly think of San Jose as a hopping night life city, at least compared to Austin, so I was happy to find this pocket of activity. I’m attracted to color and neon like a moth to flame. I magically gravitated here during a photowalk with my friend Dan. It’s in the city. It has color and light and that makes me happy.
I shot mostly in San Francisco during my last California trip, doing street photography with the Olympus E-P5 that was on loan to me. As much as I like this type of photography, a good urban landscape is what I ultimately desire. Using mirrorless, I was able to carry both a Olympus E-P5 and E-PM2 and a small tripod with no effort. In San Jose, I didn’t shoot much with the E-P5, I opted to use the E-PM2 with the wide-angle lens and a tripod to do HDRs.
Getting good color with neon and pulling in the ambient light almost always requires HDR, were I blend 3 exposures into one photograph. The technique works great for these type of scenes. It requires a tripod to keep the camera steady for the long exposures and to keep the exact framing between the 3 blended photographs.
There’s a funny back story too. Two well inebriated women curiously asked what I was shooting. They just didn’t understand why I would photographing here, with tripod. “I’m shooting the great color” I said to blank stares. They didn’t get it until I showed them the back of the LCD. The effect of the light and processing turns these scenes magical — they even look better than real life. My interest has trained me to seek these places out. Even if your town does not have a lively bar scene like 6th street in Austin, you can probably find a modest strip of night life like this place in San Jose.
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