On Becoming Friends With Minutia

By |2012-04-18T19:16:25+00:00Apr 17th, 2012|

I don’t care who you are – you are never done with a scene, not in a definitive sense, at least. Sure, you may be spent with a scene on a particular day but there is just too much variance that is both within and outside your control. You just need to open up your mind to see what those variances are.

For example, I took this shot in an alleyway in Boston that I’ve shot many, many times before. I shot it with wide glass, long glass, and covered the gamut of f-stops. I shot it in the sun, the rain, and in the darkness of night. And even after all of those shoots, I still walked away with this shot – one of my favorites from this scene.

Why? Because I embrace minutia. I do my very best to not take anything for granted. Even something like a corrugated water pipe.

So how do you go about enjoying minutia? The easiest way that I can explain it is to see at the focal length of the lens that you have mounted on your camera. A lot of times, I find that longer focal lengths work better here. If I remember correctly, I had my Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens on at the time, so I limited my field of vision to approximately that focal length. I forced myself to see in 50mm chunks.

So, when I happened onto this water pipe, I scanned it up and down in 50mm chunks and stopped at an area that I found to be very characteristic and visually appealing to me. And, like I mentioned, of all the shots I took in this alleyway, this is easily one of my favorites.

You just need to train yourself to appreciate the little flotsams of life and the rest will fall into place… photographically, as least. :)

In terms of processing
I processed this a little while ago, using PhotoTools 2.6 by +onOne Software. It was important for me to create a unique style that separates the pipe from the brick wall. As such, I applied the Cyberpunk and Just Enough Darkness effects onto the pipe and then turned my attention to the brick. For that, I used a small amount of Golden Hour Enhancer, Moulin Rouge, and a tiny amount of Just Enough Darkness.

In album Pic Picks Over The Years (1 photo)

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  1. Ron Wiecki April 17, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    yup, that's how you do it. the little things are what count.

  2. Manuela Azevedo April 17, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply


  3. Dave Beckerman April 17, 2012 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Whether it's little things or big things I find myself returning to them over and over. It seems strange to me, as it's not something that I can do with any other part of my life, but it seems that even things like the pipe and brick (I should post my take on this) are never the same.

    The lighting changes; the lens changes; you change; if you wait long enough a brick falls out; the pipe develops a different patina… It's really quite astonishing to me to look back at things I've shot for nearly 20 years and how different they are.

  4. Ivan Cabrera April 17, 2012 at 10:21 am - Reply

    After reading that you have shot this one many times, I guess I should reconsider how I see things, because I often avoid spots or scenes I've shot before. I guess I'm too hard on my self and my photography. Thanks for this eye opening words.

  5. Ryan Katsanes April 17, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

    I've got to get my hands on these OnOne tools! Brian, your image illustrates your point perfectly, well done!

  6. Brian Matiash April 17, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

    +Ivan Cabrera It's not something that you should be hard on yourself at all. Trust me, I can relate to you 100%. There have been plenty of times when I had to force myself to go back to a scene, like this alley, because I wanted to discipline myself.

    I think an important component that I failed to mention in the post above is that it helps to let some span of time elapse between the last time you shot a scene and the current one – unless there is some extraordinary variance that would make you have to shoot it again.

    +Dave Beckerman You make a very good point with your distinction of this practice in photography vs the rest of your life. It's something that I think I will put more attention to tonight. It is a very lucid point.

  7. Christopher Harnish April 17, 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Great detail in the brick. Love the post on this one too.

  8. Dave Veffer April 17, 2012 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Love the composition and processing here. There are just so many things that feel right about it.

  9. Ivan Cabrera April 17, 2012 at 10:40 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash Indeed, I'll look for a spot to visit on a regular basis, trying to capture it on diverse lighting and atmospheric conditions. Thank you for your kind answer.

  10. Murray Robertson April 17, 2012 at 10:43 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash and +Ivan Cabrera, I knew an autistic kid who focused for hours on a door hinge, totally loved everything about it. When we are making great art we need to learn how to do that. Meditate on the beauty. Get right inside it. Then figure out how to photograph it or draw (and paint) it or sculpt it.

    I really like that you keep on going back. With enough great photographs of this subject, you might do a show…

  11. Lou Horton April 17, 2012 at 10:44 am - Reply

    So true, it's very easy to only notice what we expect – it's a though we walk through a world of visual shorthand. One of the things that got me hooked to photography in the first place was the way it made me see past the familiar.
    Funnily enough, a long time ago I travelled through SE Asia alternating days with camera, days with sketchbook and days with nothing. It not only varied the visual frame but also the time taken to experience things.

  12. Ivan Cabrera April 17, 2012 at 10:45 am - Reply

    +Murray Robertson I totally fail to do that, but I'll start to make a change. What you say feels so right.

  13. Gino Barasa April 17, 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash – I like what you did with this image for sure. Maybe I would have applied some "Full Throttle Chunk" first and then drop some "Pant Load" on it and then over layed it all with some "Here Comes The Pain". Maybe finished it off with a little "Always Be Closing!".
    But that's just me.
    BTW – Thanks again. ;]

  14. Bogdan Szuta April 17, 2012 at 11:59 am - Reply

    +Brian Matiash , "We're not worthy, we're not worthy …." :) Thx for another great tip and picture.

  15. Chris Lazzery April 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    This. I dig this.

  16. Nate Parker April 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Awesome character +Brian Matiash, is this the alleyway between Newbury and Boylston? that's the best alley I know-

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