PODCAST: My Process – NYC Busker

In Creativity and Inspiration, Thoughts & Theory, Tutorials &Technique, Video podcast, Within The Frame, Workshops and Events by David35 Comments

While in New York I went out with a brand new 24/3.5 Tilt/Shift lens to see what kind of damage I could do. I’m preparing to take this lens as one of my primary lenses for the Iceland trip and wanted to start the learning curve now. I had some fun photographing this busker in Central Park and thought I’d share my process with you through a video podcast.

In the video linked below I show you every one of the 49 frames I shot in the series with nothing deleted, and discuss the why and how of getting where I did. If seeing the crap is helpful, that’s in there too. πŸ™‚

This is a long and rambling video in the spirit of the Within The Frame Podcast series (and by “long and rambling” I mean just under 20 minutes of bandwidth-sucking viewing pleasure. Enjoy!) Click the screenshot below and it’ll take you to Vimeo so y’all don’t crash my puny little servers.

Comments? Questions? Feel free to have some discussion on this. I’m around all week and rather than a tonne of posts I’ll be hanging out, working, and checking in here to have some good ol’fashionned conversation.


  1. Creative and well-composed portrait, David.
    Is this a tilt, as well as a shift? I’m a little confused on the image you highlighted in the contact sheet, as the lines seem distorted in that one, but your architectural lines, in the final large version, are straight. . . guess the one in color on the contact is not the final print at the top.
    Anyway, the lighting, and background, and especially the EMOTION in your portrait are right on. Best for your Iceland trip. . . Jim

  2. Have you considered using a lensbaby for this type of image? What are your thoughts on lensbaby versus tilt-shift?


  3. Thanks for this – love it when you do these process videos! Can’t wait for the creativeLIVE workshop.

  4. Hi: I love the photo… and would like to hear your comments on the lensbaby. I just purchased one a couple of days ago. Cheers! (love the blog, btw)

  5. Very enjoyable David. I like how you explain your thought processes behind your images. I’ve been considering buying a tilt/shift lens myself for the creative opportunities they present.


  6. Author

    Thanks y’all. The questions about the Lensbaby are good. I love the Lensbaby, and it’s a fun tool. But it does very different things than a T/S lens – not the least of which is a lack of precision or real control. T/S lenses can be used to correct perspective, Lensbabies can’t. T/S lenses can be used to increase depth of field along certain planes, Lensbabies can’t. Basically the Lensbaby is cool, and it’s fun and unpredictable, but the Canon 24/3.5L II is a sharp, sharp lens and for landscapes and portraits it beats the Lensbaby every time. They both have a different place in my visual toolbox. A Lensbaby is a little like a gateway drug – if you aren’t careful, one thing leads to another and soon you’re selling a kidney to fund your habit and getting a t/s lens. Let this be a warning to you… πŸ™‚

  7. Great video. Interesting to hear your process. Even more interesting to see a T/S lens used for something other than making a landscape look like it’s a minature, pretend little model.

  8. David,

    Thanks for the insight and thought process behind the shoot – very interesting.

    I hadn’t thought of using a T&S lens for a moving subject and your shots reinfoce how difficult this is. On one hand your looking at what areas to have in focus, and in the other the subject is moving around and has different expressions according to the moment you fire the shutter. Then are people walking in and out of shot. Just so many balls to juggle at once. I really can see the benefit of a T&S lens for Landscape and interior shots though.

    Got to say that you really dived into a complex subject to shoot for a trial shoot with this lens πŸ™‚

    One thing that intrigues me David, when you do a shoot like this where you have multiple images that are similar to each other, do you hang onto all those RAW files, or do you just keep a few selects and delete the others after review ?


  9. That’s by the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. I often contemplate going to your workshops or presentations when you give them at B&H. Never can make it though. When I watch your videos I realizer that it’s possible to say something in 50 words that could have been said in 10.

  10. Author

    @DT – Usually I keep all my images. In part because it seems more work to delete them, and drive space is cheap, and in part because the way I react to an image now is different from the way I might react to an image in a year. So I keep them, and will likely go through them again at a future date once my memories of the place settle a bit and I’m a little more objective.

  11. Layers of impact, What happened to layers of awesomeness? =)

  12. Author

    Jeff – Layer of Awesome got switched to Layers of Impact in the interest of posterity. If the idea catches on I don’t want to sound like a 13-year old from the valley. πŸ™‚

  13. Author

    Tyler – You’re in luck because YouTube seems to limit me to 10 minutes and I don’t think I’ve ever said anything in less than 12. πŸ™‚ Vimeo lets me ramble on and on and on. We all win. πŸ™‚

  14. Fantastic video. Thanks for walking us through your composition and editing process. Going through my pictures after a shoot reminds me of my visits to my Swedish optomtrist as a kid. “Ok, is dis bedder than dis?” It can be difficult to narrow a stack of photos from hundreds to a dozen.

  15. Need to review the video. But I will say that at first blush, I don’t love the first photo. There’s something disconcerting about seeing all of that blur before your eyes settle on the busker. It’s distracting, I think. I do love blur/bokeh, but in the background with the subject popping up first. But I am sure that the shot is just part of your experimentation with a new lens.

  16. Cool video, David. I’m surprised though that with a t/s lens, you were pushing the wall on the left out of focus. The first thing I would try with a t/s lens is get some unexpected focal connections. That’s moot though — I’ll never own one, and probably never even play with one.

    In reference to a previous answer, Layers of Awesome is much more likely to turn it into a catchphrase. That’s the cost of feeling history looking over your shoulder… πŸ™‚

  17. Re-reading that, my first paragraph may have sounded snobby. It wasn’t meant to. Pentax doesn’t have a t/s lens, so that rules me out right off the hop. And even if they did, I’d find it too frustrating trying to MF in an AF world. I like my viewfinder for composition. But not for critical focus.

  18. Author

    Brad – No snobby tone inferred. The point of this stuff is to play and experiment and frankly if the first thing you would try is the same as the first thing I would try then we might as well toss the whole idea of individual expression.

    A little surprised to hear that Pentax doesn’t have a t/s lens at all.

  19. @brad -“Layers of Awesome” is a fun buzzword, but as a student, a learner, I like the way that “Layers of Impact” describes the process. It is already beginning to shape the way I study images and how I am thinking through potential images.

    If you are reading this and wondering what the heck we’re talking about, “Layers of Awesome” / “Layers of Impact” is a concept David describes in the recent SAFARI ebook.

  20. Great video David!

    I’ve got a graphic designer’s formation, so I’m used to think in images and, more importantly, in concepts and meanings. In my experience, I’ve found that no matter how an image looks, or what techniques you can use (T/S, HDR, LSD, etc)… If the image is void in content and speech, it will not be timeless and it won’t be able to give you anything to think about and your mission as a photographeer won’t be fulfilled. It’s good to know that, at some point, I’m not missing the target that much πŸ™‚


  21. I hope you tip the street preformer for the great photos you created. They are artist too.

  22. Hi David. First, I want to thank you so much for your generosity for posting this video and your Within the Frame podcasts, they have been a great help. There was a question I’ve been wanting to ask since I watched the final podcast, but wasn’t exactly sure on how to phrase it. Now with this wonderful video, the same question is still rattling around my head. It deals with your subjects in these situations. At what point do you approach the people? Do you shoot first, and then approach them? Do you approach them first and then shoot? Do you start to shoot and then approach them, and then shoot more? Or do you just shoot and don’t approach them at all. I’m guessing because you are using these people in your videos, that you must have gotten some form of permission/release. And for those shots, say of the old man walking into the shadows never to be seen again, what do you generally do with those shots? Are they kept for your own personal collection, or are they usable in the public domain ie self published books or website.

    Again, thank you for everything and have a great time on your trip.


  23. I like the substitution of the word intention for the word vision – maybe not as powerful a word but clarity of intention is a good thing – for life not just photography

  24. David,
    Thanks for posting the video.I must admit that the first try at viewing, I was bored and walked away. But when I came back and watch further I totally understood your narrative and your approach to the shot.
    Thanks, Buddy Lee

  25. Thanks for sharing your creative process. I have often wondered what goes through a professional photographer’s head to get to the shot they’re happy with. And now I know!
    Looking forward to your creative live class.

  26. Thanks for being so generous and taking the time to share your thought process, David. I found it very useful.

  27. That video was super enjoyable, thanks so much for walking us through your process. It was helpful for me and reminded me of some things I’ve let fall by the wayside a bit lately.

    Love it. Love it.

  28. Thank you for this David. It’s reassuring to see the bad frames along with the good and know that when I’ve shot 50 frames and only see one or two I’m happy with that I’m not hopeless.
    But even more importantly, seeing another creative person’s process is something I never get enough of and I appreciate you taking the time to share yours. I found it really helpful. Thanks!

  29. Very cool – thank you so much for walking us through your process. Looking forward to your work-shop.

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