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20 MINUTES, 14 IMAGES

The subject was the Havana harbor early in the morning, with the sun shining through the dark clouds of a passing rain squall. The figures in the foreground were constantly moving which provided me with many opportunities to make photographs that I thought would best describe the situation of the Cubans and their environment, and the frailty of man, or the strength of man in relation to the drama of his existence.

 

I don’t make many exposures with the hope of getting one acceptable image. Each of
the fourteen exposures of the subject area was done with careful thought about
the many variables that made up the subject and how all these factors
influenced the center of interest. The constantly changing scene, offered me
many chances to make different images of the same subject area as it changed in
the brief time that I was there. The rapid fire technique of some photographers
makes me wonder how many of those quickly made exposures were guesses instead
of well thought out attemps to create a relationship between the various
details that are present in the subject area. Guessing scares me, knowing that
I might miss the best instant because I was too busy clicking away without
thinking enough. In forty five years of doing this kind of work, I have learned
how transitory a subject can be and also how important time is and how crucial
it is for me to catch the significance of a situation in one image.
The subject area changed constantly, giving me new opportunities to make images that would show various aspects of the situation. The available lighting was difficult to work with, as it was very early, with the sun shining toward my lens. The dramatic qualities of the sky encouraged me to keep working the subject as it changed over the twenty minutes that I was there.
I chose the vertical format to include what I thought were the important details in the situation before me. The details are very important, in order to give the viewer of my photograph enough information to perceive the subject as I did. (I did, however, make one horizontal image so I could include all of subjects, the motorcycle, the boy, the man with the hat). I had a wide sweeping view of the area in which the main subject, the figures in the water, were located, so I framed the photographs so that unnecessary details were eliminated.

 

 My intent was to show the contrast between man and his environment, which in this case was the water, clouds, ship and the frailty of man and his relationship to his surroundings. Too much of any detail would have diminished the center of interest, which in this case, is the man or men. The focus was placed on the figures in the water. The sky was an important factor, because of its dramatic qualities and the dark and violent nature of the clouds.
Over the course of the twenty minutes, the human drama continued to play out before me and since my presence did not affect the subject, I continued to photograph, leaving my mind open to the possibilities that might present themselves to me. The tension is always there in a situation such as this. Constantly evaluating what is before my lens and trying to imagine what my best vantage point and intent is as it relates to the subject. I managed to stay with the subject for twenty minutes, but the situation did not last, as the sky became less dramatic and the figures became less noticeable as more people moved into the subject area.

 

 

 

 

(I did choose the horizontal format in one image to show the change in the scene and the relationship of the machines – the motorcycle, the boy, the man with the hat and  the ship.)

 

I photographed this subject, both as a photographer and a teacher. I wanted to show how staying in the same place after the first exposure can result in many valuable images. Why stop photographing after the first image has been made?

 

 

 

 

 

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The Human Condition

I have had numerous questions about our trip to India.

Wendy and I had a wondrous time in India. The people there are so warm and friendly that is hard for me to describe them. They are constantly smiling and India 2very comfortable to be around. The sensitive and respectful photographer will have no trouble at all photographing in India. I found the people to be the best that I have ever encountered. My main interest in photography is the human condition and its relationship to the environment and India proved to be the perfect location. I have posted some of my photographs on my Facebook page.

Many of the questions about our trip were technical in nature, so I will attempt to describe how I photographed there. I took Dorothea Lange’s advice and went in stupid. I agreed with Dorothea, that to prepare studying India would not serve me as would as my own personal reaction to whatever I encountered.

For equipment, I relied on my Nikon F-3 with 55mm Micro 2.8 lens. It’s very sharp and needs no lens shade. I also used my 40 year-old Nikon F with a 28mm F-2 lens. I usually just carry one camera with the 55mm lens, but this time I knew that I would be working in very close quarters and that I would need a wide angle lens. My 28mm is one of the best wide angle lenses ever made and is extremely sharp. For film, it was Arista premium 400 speed black and white film, developed in Kodak D-76 1-1 at 68 degrees for 11 minutes.

I use the Nikon F-3 for the simple reason that the viewfinder shows 100% of the image being photographed. That is very important to me, as I do not crop my photos later in the darkroom. Most cameras do not show 100% in the viewfinder. The F-3 is very easy to handle and operate. It’s quick, smooth and precise. Focusing is a must for me. Manual focus is for me, because I hardly ever focus on a spot in the center, but usually at the center of interest which is usually off to the side. I have tried rangefinder cameras in the past, but their poor focusing controls and their not so accurate viewfinder made it difficult for me to be as quick as I am with the F-3.

When I photograph, I am not just looking for possible subjects, as much as I am looking for three things at once. I am always thinking of three or more elements and factors that I can assemble into a photograph. Three things. Maybe one item will catch my eye and I will work with it to try and find other elements, factors, and very importantly, the details that are always present in a subject area. By a thoughtful and logical process, I try to build something out of all the details. The great Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “It’s all in the details”. Proper use of the details provides extra strength for the center of interest.

Photographing in India was one of the great highlights of my 43 year career as a social documentary photographer. What made the trip even more pleasurable was the fact that the love of my life went with me and we both enjoyed the trip together. Hooray for the wonderful people of India.

#The Human Condition

#Street Photography

#Social Documentary Photography