Two Sonys, one Ricoh, one Lumix, one Leica, two Nikons, and one iPhone have been my photography companions over the past 10 years. Our wanderings has had its ups and downs … losing files, grieving of Aperture, diving into various software editing programs, a self-learning photography project, breaking rules, being obsessed with various subjects, experimenting various techniques, and being awed by multiple photographers, world wide.
It has been a journey! Let’s begin with one of my first macros with a Ricoh.
…and there were the obsessions with…
and during this pandemic…
and the list goes on and on. Thank you Amyfor the invitation pause for a bit to reflect on where I’ve been and to share a bit of my photo journey.
“The new coronavirus has … sickened thousands of America’s first responders and killed dozens more.
“But many have recovered, and they’re going back to work — back to the crime scene, back into the ambulance, back to the jail. Going back to this deadly pandemic’s front lines.
“They go with a lingering cough and lost weight. They toss and turn at night, wondering if the claims of immunity are true. They fear that picking up extra overtime shifts may expose them, and their families, to additional risks.
“And then they pull on their uniforms and go back to work.”
cited: Stefanie Dazio, Michael R. Sisak and Jake Bleiberg, After COVID-19: Anxious, wary first responders back on job Associated Press
Composing 180º rotated
In a recent email, Bruce Percy wrote, “I think I’m usually an observant composer, but when I use a ground glass on [6X9 Ebony SW23] cameras my mind has to work harder at visualizing the final photograph as the image is flipped vertically and horizontally.
“I don’t use this camera very often so when I do use it, it usually takes me a few days to start to ‘see’ images the right way up in my mind’s eye.
“After I’ve been doing that for a few days, it’s amazing to note how my mind’s eye adapts. I think there is a lot of usefuleness in working with images when they are rotated at 180º as they force your eye to go into areas of the picture that aren’t normally visited. You spot things in the composition that you normally wouldn’t.”
Composition elements used within the above image created using a Sony RX1003 f/2.8 1/125s 8.8mm 80 ISO.
While the first image brings my attention to how the spring’s morning sun highlights the autumn leaves, I found that the 180 degree rotation opened my eyes to how irritating the sun was in the upper left as well as invited me to explore using the horizon (rule of thirds).
subject (leaves) sharpened by using a blurred background
rule of thirds
I would enjoy reading your thoughts about Bruce Percy’s discussion about 180 degree rotation and compositional elements.
I find myself being drawn again and again to how the yellow caution tape forms a number of barriers around play areas within a park near my home. The tape intensifies the overwheming silence and emptiness contrasting with the news blitz that feeds powerlessness, sadness, anger, confusion, mistrust, division, anxiety, etc.
The empty playground also beings to mind the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The story is a familiar one, but what most of us probably don’t know is that it has its feet at least somewhat planted in an apparently true event that took place in the real-life town of Hamelin, Germany in 1284.
The earliest accounts of the story don’t include the rats, which wouldn’t show up until around the year 1559, but they do include the piper, dressed in his “clothing of many colors.” there is not enough historical data to ascertain for certain what happened in the town of Hamelin in 1284, there is little doubt that something occurred there which left a heavy mark on the town, and on world folklore. Theories advanced over the years include that many of the town’s children died of natural causes that year; or possibly drowned in the nearby river; or were killed in a landslide, thus explaining the recurring motif of the rats being led into the water, or of the mountain opening up and swallowing the children. The pied piper himself is considered a symbolic figure of death.
One other explanation is that the children may have died of the Black Plague, which could be why the rats were later added into the story, though the Black Plague didn’t hit Germany until the 1300s, making its arrival probably too late to be the source of the legend.
Other theorists hold that the story of the pied piper actually refers to a mass emigration or even another Children’s Crusade like the one that may have occurred in 1212.
Our first clue about what really happened in the town of Hamelin comes from a stained glass window that stood in the town’s Market Church until it was destroyed in 1660. Accounts of the stained glass say that it alluded to some tragedy involving children, and a recreation of the window shows the piper in his colorful clothes and several children dressed in white. The date is set by an entry in Hamelin’s town chronicle, which was dated 1384 and said, simply and chillingly, “It is 100 years since our children left.”
Grammarist point out that the phrase “pied piper” usually has a pejorative connotation, pointing out that, “When it is time to pay the piper it is time to accept the consequences of a thoughtless or rash action” or to “fulfill a responsibility or promise, usually after the fulfillment has been delayed already.” Both of these meanings probably tie back to the legend of the pied piper.
Even the words “pied piper” have entered into common usage to mean everything from “a charismatic person who attracts followers” to “a leader who makes irresponsible promises” to “one who offers strong but delusive enticement,” according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary entry for pied piper meaning. “Pied piping” is also a phrase used to describe a certain phenomenon in linguistics in which some words “drag” others along with them when moved to the front of a sentence. (cited: The Chilling Story Behind the Pied Piper of Hamelin)
Now that I have got this obvious allusion out of my system, let’s move on the the composition elements within the above photograph:
Rule of Thirds
Rule of Odds
Leading Lines from right to left
Triangle created by the placement of the “triangle” snow pile with the two subjects
Stay at Home Order … day 21 plus 14 seclusion retreat days
“A haiku is not a poem, it is not literature; it is a hand becoming, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night, become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language.”
– Haiku: Eastern Culture, 1949, Volume One, p. 243.
Nikon D750 f/5.6 1/640s 300m 400 ISO
This month I’ve continued with my intention to study and implement composition elements as offered through an on-line education site, Udemy. Thus far, I have completed two of their photography courses.
It is my intention for the next 30 days to “focus” on the basics of composition, both within camera and digital darkroom.
The image above was created by moving closer (telephoto lens) at a construction site with simplicity in mind. I learned in the second class that if photographers find the environment to be boring…they need to move in closer. Also, beautifully composed photographs will include 3-5 rules. It is my thought that the above image includes:
golden points, right to left
close-in with blurred background
Do the shadows meet the rule of odds?
Does this photo include the element of dark figure on light background?
Do you have any constructive feedback about the above image? Do you see something I may have overlooked? If so, I would enjoy reading your thoughts. Thanks!
“FRIDAY MORNING, 9 O’CLOCK. People complain about how dark it is in the mornings. But this is often the best time of my day, when the dawn peers grey and silent into my pale windows. Then my bright little table lamp becomes a blazing spotlight and floods over the big black shadow of my desk. … This morning I am wonderfully peaceful. Just like a storm that spent itself. I have noticed that this always happens following days of intense inner striving after clarity, birth pangs with sentences and thoughts that refuse to be born and make tremendous demands on you. Then suddenly it drops away, all of it, and a benevolent tiredness enters the brain, then everything feels calm again …”
cited: Trans: Arno Pomerans, An Interrupted Life The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, pg 69.
The previous art of seeing posts were inspired by an Udemy photography class taught by Adam Marelli, The Art of Seeing Photography, (10 light figure on dark ground and 10 dark figure on light ground).
With the completion of this project, I am now challenging myself to a 30 day project, same lens camera wide open, that was inspired by an educational Thorsten von Overgaard Photography webinar.
Nikon D750… f/1.8 1/4000s 35mm 200 ISO
Even though the 35 prime lens offers a sharper image, I generally prefer telephoto lenses with image stabilization as a means to ease anxiety, especially with street photography. So with the intention to draw upon past photo learning projects, I will step out of my comfort zone with my Nikon (35 prime lens, aperture set at f/1.8, and a neutral density filter) for the next 30 days…