Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lightroom Black and White Processing for Street Photographs See My Video!!!

Well my friends I am venturing into the wonderful world of YouTube! I have not only put up four slide shows of my street photographs, I have now produced a video of the Lightroom process I use when preparing my street photographs for the web.I find that for the vast majority of images, Lightroom is all I need, only rarely venturing into Photoshop for any odd bit of cloning or similar. But, I avoid that as much as possible, particularly in my street work. I hope you find it illuminating and, as always, your comments or criticisms are most welcome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name is Still a Rose, But Would it Smell as Sweet? Photography & Language

Recently I've read a couple of posts on various blogs about the language of photography. I don't mean here the ability of a photograph to communicate an idea or story or whatever. No, I'm referring to the language we use when talking about things photographic. There is a school of thought that asserts that the language we use is aggressive and violent. I would add one more word to these two: acquisitive. Obviously by the adding of this third word, you, dear reader, are safe in assuming I agree with the first two. Let me try to explain.

What do we say to describe what we have done when we press the shutter of a camera? We will say something like, "I've taken a photo", or if you are a little more posh you might say, "I've captured a lovely scene". And, let's say  you've been out with your camera for the day and you come home and your partner or whoever asks about your day. You might answer, "Great, I got some terrific shots." And, my favourite: you post a photo in an online gallery or group and one or more of your fellow onliners will say something like, "Wow. What a shot. You really nailed him/her/it didn't you?"

I hope by now you are beginning to get where I'm going with this. taken, shot, captured, nailed. All rather harsh words aren't they? And really, are they truly accurate or appropriate for what we do as photographers? Look at the image above for example. It is, in my opinion, a fairly good photograph of a father and his  young daughter. Looks like they are waiting for someone, or perhaps the father is watching something not in the frame. The child has seen the photographer (me by the way) adding a nice layer to the photograph's story. So, what do I say about this? I could say something like, "I took this shot on the weekend, and I think i've really captured the souls of these people, and I've really nailed the dad's hair, don't you think? I reckon this shot justifies the effort I made on that day to go shooting'. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that on that day I was really hunting good street shots.

This all sounds rather unpleasant,don't you think? Of course, don't get me wrong: I'm as guilty as the next 'shooter' of using this kind of language. In reality it is the language of photographers that has been used, I imagine, from the very beginning of the medium. However, it is possible, I think, that the time has come for a thoughtful conversation on whether we should continue using this language or whether we should begin to look at the true nature of our craft or art, and adopt more appropriate words to describe what it is we do and how we do what we do.

To shoot someone or something is quite a violent act; it's a term which is also associated with the use of a gun. A most violent instrument and certainly nothing like a camera surely? De we really 'shoot' with a camera? I think that on the whole there would be few photographers who would seek to harm their subjects with their cameras, so maybe shoot is not the right word for us to be using. At its very mildest a word like 'shoot'  just speaks of aggression.

I added acquisitive as a third way to describe the language we use in the photographic world. Words like take and capture (whether used as verbs or nouns) speak of acquiring or stealing or even kidnapping! And we are doing none of those things with our cameras. There is even a group on a popular online photo sharing site called Soul Snatchers (for readers eager to explore said site, a disclaimer: Before I saw the error of my linguistic ways I was a member of that group, but once my eyes were opened I deleted myself and my photos from the group). We are photographers, are we not? Surely we are not thieves?

This language speaks of what we can either do to our subjects, or of what we can obtain from them. I am beginning to think it might be time for the thoughtful amongst us to start to explore new ways of talking about our art (or craft. More linguistically loaded words) that speak more to what our subjects give to us, and what we can offer to them. I think there is a lot for us to think about here.

Many of us seek to find that decisive moment (thank you Mr Cartier-Bresson), that fleeting gesture, glance, smile. Whatever it is that has inspired us to point (not aim) our camera towards a potential subject. But whose moment is it? Whose gesture do we watch for? Whose smile? The answer is obvious: all these things do not belong to us, they belong to our subjects.

We are allowed into the lives of others, through their spoken or unspoken permission. We are granted access to their moments, their smile, their gestures. We are granted the privilege of being able to photograph people in all their humanity. I don't really want to sound grandiose or pretentious here, but we as photographers (and it doesn't really matter whether we are working at a wedding, a children's party, or as in my case, on the street) are entrusted with a sacred duty. We do seek to reach the essence of a person or other subject, to bring out the 'real' person or thing or whatever. We do seek to produce a true document to show the world (or our friends and so on). I will be the first to admit that there have been times when I may have betrayed that sacred trust. And, if I am to be totally frank here, I see images online every day that very clearly show a breach of trust sometimes amounting to gross exploitation.

I will also be the first to admit that the changing of a language, which really is a part of the culture of image making with a camera (AKA photography!) will be no easy task. I do not judge others for using those bolded and italicised words; I use them myself. After all, we all have to use a common language if we are going to understand or be understood. But I am trying to come up with new words. Like, 'I've been making photos today', rather than taking them; or 'I really think I've reached the soul of that subject' rather than capturing him or her; or 'I would love to photograph wildlife', rather than wanting to shoot animals.

And that word nailed is for me truly problematic. I don't have to learn a new word to use in its stead: I've never used it to refer to photography or anything else apart from carpentry or woodwork. It has other connotations which I have also never liked. Just goes to highlight even more clearly the importance of language and how we use it.

I don't have any answers really. I only bring this issue up because it seems that it is time for a new way of speaking about what to me is a true art form that has the power to change lives, end wars, enhance our environment, showcase the beauty in our world as well as to bring our attention to the ugliness that exists but shouldn't. In other words we are the practitioners of an honourable art or craft, and we really need to be speaking about what we do in language that does honour to, and speaks accurately about this art of photography.

But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh lord please don't let me be misunderstood

Thank you to Mr Burdon & The Animals for the snippet of lyrics from one of your great tunes.
Also a big thank you to Mr Shakespeare for the quote from Romeo and Juliet which I have taken great liberties with and paraphrased for my title. I am sure he wouldn't mind really.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Stare of the Ex-eeRoadie

I am assuming we all know what a roadie is? False assumption? Yes, well a roadie is a person who travels with a band and does all the heavy lifting. You know the things like setting up the stage, unpacking instruments, carrying the can when something goes wrong. You know? Oh, sometimes they also make coffee, make sandwiches and generally are there to help the band to do its thing.
    Well, this guy is an ex roadie. Which means he used to do all the above and, by the look of his tired and weathered face, a whole lot more. Anyway, he's retired now, and I found him just sitting back enjoying some very cool Blues music at a festival recently held in the town I live in. He isn't a rich man: I mean, a roadie doesn't earn much at the best of times, and a retired roadie, well, he's not much good for anything else is he? He says he was too busy out there on the road and had no time for all that extra schooling that getting a "qualification" would have meant. Besides, there was a lot of fun to be had!
      Our friend here does manage from time to time to pick up a bit of light work with the odd band here and there. But, after lugging heavy gear like speakers and other stuff for years, his back isn't what it used to be. Anyway, his lungs aren't too good either after spending too many years in smoky venues with the bands he worked for.
      But, he gets by. That's what he wants me to know. What with the dole and the odd casual gig, he even manages to get to the odd concert or festival. He likes to keep his hand and his ear in the loop so to speak. He is on the whole a happy chappy who wouldn't change one minute of his life. He's earned those wrinkles and he's damn proud of every one, okay?
      Now I have a bit of bad news for you dear blog reader. A lot of the facts above are just not facts. I made a lot of it up. Surprised? Of course you are. Anyway, here's the thing: What have I made up? And what facts are for real?
      Can't say? Of course you can't. You weren't there. You don't know this guy. Why some of you don't even know me! You give up? Okay I will tell you. Here are the facts:
1. I was the photographer
2. The picture was made at the Blues Festival as I said
3.The guy is a man (well I think he is anyway)
     And that's it. I have no idea what he does or did for a living; I didn't speak to him. Not a word. So there really are only those three (sort of) facts known to me, and therefore to you dear reader(s). But, I have another question for you. Do I or you know for sure that the other "facts" in the little tale above are false? Of course we can't know can we?. We could, I think, make an educated guess about what this guy does or did for a living. But at the end of the day it would be just that: a guess. We could guess that his weathered face was caused by hard work and/or hard living. Again, just a guess. And who can say anything about the state of his health? That part of my little story really just flowed from all the other bits I made up.
    My point is this. A photograph does indeed tell us stories. There is, at least in this kind of portrait made on the street, a narrative that can be drawn from the picture. As we have just read, facts are few and far between in this kind of street work, especially when it is a case of making photographs on the run as I do.
    But what about truth? Just because my facts are invented, does that mean there is no truth present here? No, I don't think it means that at all. Here we have a man, a "middle-aged' man (sorry not a term I like but you get the picture) with "hair" and a weathered face. He was at a music festival and he looked very satisfied with the situation thank you very much.
    No. I think what I have managed to do in this image, and with my little invented biography above, is capture some essence of truth; some fragment of a reality not my own; some little piece of the life of another person. I would now like to make  reference (as I have several times in the past and as I no doubt will again in the future) to a cliche, that, after all, being a cliche must contain some element of a truth.
    I am a story teller. In the current context I tell stories through the magical (in my humble opinion) medium of photography, more specifically, street photography. As a story teller, I am given (by whom I am not sure: perhaps by the gods of Art?) licence to tell stories in which, while the facts may be invented, there is at least  the essence of truth. This essence goes beyond mundane facts and appeals to the heart and soul of the audience. That's you by the way.
I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to come back to me and tell me your mind wasn't engaged, nor your heart touched and your soul remained un-shifted. I bet you can't do it! Why am I so sure? Because I have given this image life, with the very able assistance of the gentle man in the image. (Well I don't know if he is a gentle man or not; he just looks like one to me. Okay?)
I think this discussion should now be turned over to you, my valued and dear readers.
Peace to you all

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Moment is only 1/500th of a second

The great street photographer and gifted teacher and mentor, John Free, has several videos that can be watched online. One of them is called 1/500 of a Second. In it he contends that as photographers, and as artists seeking to capture fleeting moments on the street, we really only have 1/500th of a second to do it in. This refers to the speed the shutter of the camera opens and closes in. Not long is it? And that's what he says. I've watched this video several times now and each time it makes more and more sense: I have seen for example in one image I took, a young woman who looks on the verge of tears judging by the way she's holding her mouth. But in actual fact she was laughing and chatting with a friend as they walked. I just caught her in that 1/500th of a second.

The way I use my camera is that I tell it what aperture to use. This means I determine the size of the hole through which light passes to the sensor in the camera. The camera then sets a shutter speed which will give the best (in its opinion) results. After watching Mr Free's video again today I thought I would look at some of my recent photographs and find one that had a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. What I did was pick one pretty much at random out of three candidates. And you can see that above.

Who is it? What's it a photo of? I hear your questions. Well, this image represents, among so many other things, 1/500th of a second of this young man's life. Not a long time, you might be thinking, in the big scheme that is a single human lifespan. So, we see a young man, caught in a flash of a second. What else is there in this photo to give us a clue to those other who, what, where, when, why and how questions. There is a wire fence through which he is looking; there is a set of hands behind him clutching the wire fence. Then there seem to be blurred figures behind him in the background.

We can look at his clothes, his reversed baseball cap. That could give us a clue. Maybe. We see the word "Original" on the cap. Another clue? Perhaps. We see a metal ring piercing his lip. Now we're getting somewhere! Well maybe, maybe not.

And this is where I must offer an apology. I am sorry, but I can't tell you anything about this photograph. Well it's not so much that I can't; it's more that I won't. You see, I am a street photographer, an artist at large you might say. My job is to capture that "decisive moment" as the master Cartier-Bresson described it. Or the 1/500th of a second as the great John Free has labelled it. Something in the moment before I aimed the camera, then pressed the shutter, made me do it. I can't say what it is. Call it intuition, call it instinct. Or you could even call it an artist's sensibility to the environment and situation.

You see, it is you, the viewer of this image who has to answer the questions. But, you reply, how could we possibly know? We weren't there were we? That's true: I was there, you were not. The gift that street photographers give to the world is this: we offer you fragments of time, decisive moments, fractions of seconds, tiny tiny slices of lives as they are lived in all their day to day ordinariness and banality. We also offer you, sometimes at least, dramatic slices of life, humorous fragments, sad fractions. That's what we do as artists: we communicate our vision of the world in our own medium at a given moment. For me, it is that 1/500th of a second.

I invite your stories of what this image is telling us. This is not a trivial "guessing game" or quiz; this is an exercise in bringing into life stories. It doesn't matter really what the 'facts' are; the key thing is what truth can be told through art, through this particular 1/500th of a second.

Peace to you all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And They Called It Puppy Love

And they called it puppy love
Oh, I guess they'll never know
How a young heart really feels
And why I love her so

And they called it puppy love
Just because we're in our teens
Tell them all it isn't fair
To take away my only dream

I cry each night my tears for you
My tears are all in vain
I'll hope and I'll pray that maybe someday
You'll be back in my arms once again

Someone, help me, help me, help me please
Is the answer up above
How can I, how can I tell them
This is not a puppy love
This song was written by Paul Anka and made hugely popular by Donny Osmond. I thank them both for the gift of music and entertainment that brings smiles to people's faces.

This post is dedicated to all animal lovers. For people who really love animals, are the truest of all human beings.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An After School Love Affair


 Snatched and precious moments
       of hand holding.
Silent and timeless minutes
        of sweet smiling
between school’s welcomed
        releasing bell,
and tram’s dreaded
        arriving bell.

Trams that, upon their tracks

will take them home.
One to the East.  One to the West

Innocence pervades
        the very air
as these two innocents
conduct their after school
         love affair.
(One of my poems. So, thank you to me!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Do Not Forsake Me: A Portrait For Our Times

All the casualties that I've left behind.
And I, and I hide them in the corners of my mind
All the memories, nothing I could sing.
I've learned so many things, but the bitterness remains.
I'm sick of drying everybody else's tears, with nobody to dry mine.
Don't, don't forsake me.
Why do you break me every time?
I'm asking you, don't, don't forsake me. Why do you break me? Again and again.
I can't make it alone.
All the judges and all the disarray.
You keep on trying me, but you're only pushing me away.
I don't want you to go, but I can't tell you're here.
You're just another soul that I'm making disappear.
I'm sick of drying everybody else's tears, with nobody to dry mine                                               

Used with thanks to Duffy the Welsh singer and whoever actually wrote these beautiful lyrics

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Desert Beetle: Mad Max Was Here


Out of the ruins
Out from the wreckage
Can't make the same mistake this time
We are the children
the last generation
We are the ones they left behind
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

Looking for something we can rely on
There's got to be something better out there
Love and compassion, their day is coming
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains
All the children say

We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome

So, what do we do with our lives
We leave only a mark
Will our story shine like a light
Or end in the dark
Give it all or nothing

A Homage to the Desert Where I have travelled

Come on People, Get in the Groove ... Please

All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free
Listen, please listen, that's the way it should be
Peace in the valley, people got to be free
You should see, what a lovely, lovely world this would be
If everyone learned to live together
It seems to me such an easy, easy thing this would be
Why can't you and me learn to love one another
All the world over, so easy to see
People everywhere just wanna be free
I can't understand it, so simple to me
People everywhere just got to be free
Ah, ah, yeah . . . ah, ah, yeah
My deepest gratitude to the Young Rascals for this terrific song

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spilling Wine

I was once, I was strolling one very hot, summer's day
When I thought I'd lay myself down to rest
In a big field of tall grass.
I lay there in the sun
And felt it caressing my face
As I fell asleep
And dreamed.
I dreamed I was in a Hollywood movie
And that I was the star of the movie.
This really blew my mind,
The fact that me,
An overfed, long-haired, leaping gnome,
Should be the star of a Hollywood movie.
Hmm, but there I was.
I was taken to a place,
The hall of the mountain king.
I stood high upon a mountain top,
Naked to the world,
In front of every kind of girl.
There was long ones, tall ones, short ones, brown ones,
Black ones, round ones, big ones, crazy ones.
Out of the middle
Came a lady.
She whispered in my ear
Something crazy.
She said,

"Spill the wine, take that pearl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl."

I could feel hot flames of fire roaring at my back
As she disappeared,
But soon she returned.
In her hand was a bottle of wine,
In the other, a glass.
She poured some of the wine from the bottle into the glass
And raised it to her lips
And, just before she drank it,
She said,

"Take the wine, take that girl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl.
Spill the wine, take that pearl."

Take that pearl, yeah.
It's on girl, all you gotta do is spill that wine, spill that wine.
Let me feel, let me feel fine, yeah, yeah.
Spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, spill the wine, take that pearl.

With huge acknowledgement of Eric Burdon. Thank you for the music, man

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Shot the Buddha: He 'Ain't No Garden Gnome!

This is one of those 'accidental' self portraits that sometimes result from the photographer's carelessness in checking before shooting. The original intention was to highlight the Buddha sitting on the ground in a garden shop, as if he is just another garden gnome.

For many many millions of people, The Buddha is of course much more than that. He is a revered teacher; not a god as such, but certianly an enlightenned being with much to teach us all and whose teachings have not only influenced the course of history, but have informed and enriched the lives of people in many parts of the world for more than three thousand years.

For people who do revere the man and/or his teachings, the sight of his statue being used to decorate a lawn or a flowerbed by people who do not know or care about his importance, is highly offensive. In this particular garden shop there are "buddhas" of all shapes and sizes and colours, which are treated with the same regard (ie as products to be sold to fashion conscious, image obsesssed gardenners with no consciousness of who the Buddha was) as the other cement and plaster baubles and decorative pots in the place.

I have yet to see a statue of Jesus, or any other holy entity in a garden shop; only 'buddhas'. I often wonder what would the reaction be if a life size statue of Jesus suddenly popped out of the shrubbery alongside the gnomes and gargoyles of garden shop land?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wearin' the Green? Well it 'Ain't So Simple You Know

So many "Celtic Festivals", St Patrick's Day celebrations, such popularity for "Celtic music". We adorn ourselves and our entertainment with the green tinge of the Irish and give it not another thought. Even those of us of Irish descent, are prone to the trivialisation of the culture, the symbols, the history of that island that, for most, is really only a place of dreams.

For me, it is a place of ancestors. My father was born there, only to become part of the Irish Diaspora; my great grandfather according to family tradition was executed by the English as a rebel/freedom fighter/terrorist. And me? I spent a long weekend in Dublin and surrounds a long time ago, and have yet to visit to explore and discover ancestors, ghosts, the truth of that part of my story.

On May 6 1981 I heard on the radio that IRA soldier Bobby Sands died after a long hunger strike in what I was then calling an English concentration camp. My horror and anger came out in a small and not especially good poem.

At first the juxtaposition of the image above and this little tribute to a dead "terrorist" might seem odd. But, for me, it in a real sense illustrates and points to the obscenity of a blind donning of colours, the superficial adopting of culture for fun or entertainment. It also highlights that there was once a son (my grandfather) whose father was lost to a fight for freedom as so many have been lost before, are now being lost and will forever be lost to such fights in an unknowable, but often predictable future

Lest We Forget


Home of ancestors.
Defiled by British guns
For centuries
Too long.
British go home.
Let my people go.
How many more will die

For your greed?
Your arrogance?

You have no right.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Harking Back to the Age of Reason (1)

Daddy Don’t Go

Never been to the park
with me Dad before.
But we’re goin’ now.
He’s made me a kite!
It’s a funny thing,
made outta brown paper and sticks
We’re in the park now
and Dad’s got the kite thing.
It’s got a long string.
‘Okay mate, you hold the kite. Got it?’
Wow! I never knew he’d let me
hold it.
Reckon he loves me lots.
‘Okay Dad’. It feels real good
hanging onto this kite thing.
Dad says he’ll walk away a bit,
and then we both have
to run to make the kite go
up in the sky.
He’s far away now;
I can hardly see him;
and he’s takin’ ages...
‘Okay boy, you start running now’
Why do I have to run?
 I think Dad told me
but I can’t remember.
Well, he’s me Dad,
so I’ll do what he says.
But I hate running:
I feel stupid.
Dad’s running too.
Very fast.
So am I, but...
‘Let it go!’ He’s yelling now.
What? I don’t get it.
‘Let it go!’
So I let it go, but it just falls
and I’m tripping on it, and
now I’ve broken Daddy’s kite.
All the paper’s ripped

and the sticks are all busted.
I’m so stupid.
I think Dad’s mad with me.
He’s walking away real fast.
I hate this kite thing.
I’m yelling and crying and running
‘Daddy, don’t go!’

Looks like we're in for nasty weather (with thanks to Credence Clearwater Revival)

As you cross that bridge that spans this day and the ones to come, be sure to keep your eye on the eye of the storm.

Last But Not Least: A Man and a Bike: A Multi-Part Review of Henri Cartier-Bresson Part 5

So, we have reached the last part of my small and woefully incomplete review of Henri Cartier-Bresson. In this final part, there is only one image discussed.

Tight framing and precise timing deliver the decisive moment envisaged by the photographer in this photograph of a cyclist in a Paris street. He is captured as he is about to leave the frame. We see this compositional strategy, which adds tension and drama, in the puddle jumper who is also about to leave the frame, and the peeking man who is looking out of the frame. 

This image differs from the others in that it is shot from above, which adds to the sense of motion in the scene.

These images capture glimpses of people going about their ‘normal lives’. This is the power of Cartier-Bresson’s photography: we are treated to moments (albeit ones the artist has chosen for us) in the everyday world that we usually fail to see—and do not give significance to.
His ideas and images have inspired many photographers who have sought ways to capture the mundane as well as the profound moments in the human story.

It has been a pleasure to post this little series, as incomplete and inexpert as it may be. I thank you my friends for taking the time to visit and read this series. I hope it has been enjoyable and some use to you.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hey, I'm Lookin' At You: A Multi-Part Review of Henri Cartier-Bresson Part 3 AND Part 4

There are two Cartier-Bresson images discussed in this post. In a strange way, not designed, they seem to be a complimentary pair. However, now let us return to the text of this review.

Again, in the image of two men peeking through a screen, precise composition is key. Strong verticals contrasting with the horizontal line of the screen, lead the eye to the man on the right as he realises he has been caught peeking: the decisive moment.

In Alicante, the second image above, we see another private moment occurring in a public place. Again, tight framing focuses attention on the body language of the subjects, which, along with the camera’s close range, draws us into the scene.

This photo, too, clearly demonstrates the capture of the decisive moment: Anticipation of a precise moment in time, and an intuitive grasp of when all spatial elements are ‘just right’

There is one final part to this review, which will be in a future post.
Thank you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Man Jumps Puddle: A Multi-Part Review of Henri Cartier-Bresson Part 2

This is the second part of my little review on Henri Cartier-Bresson. It is not meant to be a long lecture, description or analysis; it is designed to provide a quick analysis of the image and to thus provide inspiration or food for thought on the issues or ideas covered briefly in the text. The review takes off exactly where it left off after Part One.
The four images in this review illustrate the photographer’s strong emphasis on composition and his ability to capture the decisive moment.

In the image of a man jumping a puddle (1932), we see the photographer’s knack of knowing precisely when that moment is coming. The image is tightly framed, drawing our eye to the decisive moment: the leap.

You see? Short and to the point. Here the image is the thing that speaks volumes and is allowed to speak loudest and unencumbered with my words.
Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Decisive Moment That Lead to the Decisive Moment: A Multi-Part Review of Henri Cartier-Bresson Part 1

Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 – 2004), is considered a pioneer of photojournalism. Initially a painter, he turned to photography in order to ‘testify with a quicker instrument than a brush’ 

Seeing Three Boys at Lake Tanganyika (1930) by Hungarian photographer Martin Munkaski, Cartier-Bresson understood that, ‘photography could reach eternity through the moment’. He realised the potential of the camera to capture the ‘decisive moment’.
Using a 35mm camera with standard lens, allowed Cartier-Bresson to work quickly and unobtrusively.  The title of his book, Images à la Sauvette ( Changed for US publication to The Decisive Moment) means images on the sly; in other words, candid photography.
Cartier-Bresson insisted on strong composition. He used the viewfinder to frame subjects precisely, preferring to crop the image in the camera.
He shot in Black and White because he regarded the camera as simply a ‘sketchbook’. It's as simple as this. In a sense this lays to rest the black and white versus colour debate to a degree: For this "master" the choice was not one of aesthetics; it was merely practical choicefor this photographer.
This is the first in a several post series which together make up a small review of a great artist and a personal role model.

Even a Pushbike Needs to Rest Sometimes

Ridin' along on my pushbike, honey.

When I noticed you.

Ridin' downtown in a hurry, honey,

Down South Avenue.

You looked so pretty as you were ridin' along.

You looked so pretty as you were singing this song.

Well, I put on the speed,

And I tried catching up,

But you were pedaling harder too.

Ridin' along like a hurricane, honey,

Spinning out of view.

You looked so pretty as you were ridin' along.

You looked so pretty as you were singing this song.

Sing a song!

A-round, round, wheels goin' round round round.

Down up pedals, down up down.

But I gotta get across to the other side of town,

Before the sun goes down. Hey, hey!

Now we're riding along on the bicycle, honey.

That's a bicycle built for two.

A-lookin' at my honey in the rearview mirror;

Now I got a better view.

You looked so pretty as you were ridin' along.

You looked so pretty as you were singing this song.

Sing a song!

A-round, round, wheels goin' round round round.

Down up pedals, down up down.

But I gotta get across to the other side of town,

Before the sun goes down. Hey, hey

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Much Loved View of Hobart

I once lived in Hobart, not far from where this photo was taken. I no longer live there, but it still lives within me. At least from time to time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, I Also Weep. To George Harrison with Love

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps

My respect and appreciation to one of the greatest artists, George Harrison

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Just Act Like I Don't Remember and Mary Acts Like She Don't Care

I come from down in the valley where mister when you're young
They bring you up to do like your daddy done
Me and mary we met in high school when she was just seventeen
Wed ride out of that valley down to where the fields were green

Wed go down to the river
And into the river wed dive
Oh down to the river wed ride

Then I got mary pregnant and man that was all she wrote
And for my nineteen birthday I got a union card and a wedding coat
We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest
No wedding day smiles no walk down the aisle
No flowers no wedding dress
That night we went down to the river
And into the river wed dive
On down to the river we did ride

I got a job working construction for the johnstown company
But lately there aint been much work on account of the economy
Now all them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I just act like I don't remember, mary acts like she don't care
But I remember us riding in my brothers car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir
At night on them banks I'd lie awake
And pull her close just to feel each breath she'd take
Now those memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curse
Is a dream a lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse that sends me
Down to the river though I know the river is dry
Down to the river, my baby and I
Oh down to the river we ride

Thanks Bruce, for the music and the lyrics that are truly poetry

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let Me Go to the Spirit in the Sky

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin' up to the spirit in the sky