Friday, July 12, 2013

note about a street photo

...rather than a note, I have a question...what do you think about this picture...aesthetics - composition - content - documentary value..etc...Leave a comment - I will reveal the author and all other credits later plus add some of my own thoughts...Mr Urbano


15 July
I stumbled upon this picture and there was something in it that made me spend more time than a couple of seconds in watching it. First of all I notice the two men turning their back at each other - but as Paolo points out they seem to be "glued" together. 

The older man wearing a hat walks with a wooden crouch, a form that in a strange way seems to repeat itself in the iron rail ahead of him. The older man is leaning to the right and I feel that the picture is on the verge of falling to the right. 

Then I notice the station wagon unconventionally parked and the object at the lower corner to the right. The position of these help me to straighten up the image and I get interested in the younger man who obviously has spotted something that gets his attention. Now the picture is balanced and the arrow of light pointing in the same direction where the man is heading is "genial" - as Rickard points out. 

In the low contrast version I can also see legs reflected in the front door of the black car. I like the steering wheel - the form gives me some orientation in this quite busy street scene. I happen to know that the picture was taken in New York City in the summer of 1938. It makes me think in a "metaphoric" way about the line of history - the old man is leaving representing the old world and a new world is coming ahead of the white arrow and the man in white sweater. The new world is unknown to him, but I like to think that the station wagon, the disorder, the surprising object to the right indicates that it will be a world of great challenges.


Tomorrow I will publish some more pictures from this block and also reveal the name of the author.
- Mr Urbano

16 July
Watch "New York City Block 1938 by Walker Evans"






Your comments:
"I like it. It has the "3" going in dif directions, the arrow going opposite the cars, the diagonal, and I like the bike headlight/pipe sticking out in the bottom right corner. It's a sort of unassuming street shot, compared to most today, which I like.

The contrast.. hmm.. I'm a sucker for the low contrast shots, but then again I like the higher contrast ones as well.. It's either or, the high or the low. The low gives it a more ethereal quality perhaps (and lets you peak in the shadows a little more), while the high one makes it a little more "today" maybe, a little punchier. Both work imo." - Rickard
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"I don't like it. For one thing, the head of the man on the left is nearly level with the top of the car behind him, which means his face doesn't stand out. I find that awkward. 

I think there's too much empty space at the bottom of the photo, nearly cutting it in half, and the bottom right corner serves no purpose but to distract.

As for the lack of contrast, that doesn't bother me. I think in this new digital age of over-manipulation of photos people are overly critical of tone, contrast, color, sharpness, etcetera, without putting enough thought into composition. The lack of contrast adds "age" to the photo, and so what if exposure isn't perfect... subject matter is more important." - Anonymous
---
"I find this photo interesting in many ways. The two men seem "glued" together with a tension that only that close distance among them would give, also the pace they have keeping the two legs mimicing a diverging movement help the glued tension among the men.

I didn't notice the arrow shaped line from the buildings roofs, genial!

I also think that the full area of the cars + buildings is nicely compensated by the empty walkway giving to this photo a fine although unconventional composition. I say unconventional meaning that the two men are a bit stuck too close to cars, "glued again".

I think I would have shot a second photo when the two men were more distant from each other giving a more standard fill to the frame, the two men being to the left and right thirds of horizontal view, and being more standard I would say less unconventional and so more easy to please but also less original, eventually losing that tension and the glued feel." - Paolo
--- 
Good shot that needs a little bit of cropping. Nice interplay betwen the lines and the two men. Contrast little too low in the first version. I would never dare guessing who the photographer is though. - Jurek


10 comments:

Ulf Fågelhammar said...

don't be shy... ;)

Rickard said...

I like it. It has the "3" going in dif directions, the arrow going opposite the cars, the diagonal, and I like the bike headlight/pipe sticking out in the bottom right corner. It's a sort of unassuming street shot, compared to most today, which I like.

The contrast.. hmm.. I'm a sucker for the low contrast shots, but then again I like the higher contrast ones as well.. It's either or, the high or the low. The low gives it a more ethereal quality perhaps (and lets you peak in the shadows a little more), while the high one makes it a little more "today" maybe, a little punchier. Both work imo.

Ulf Fågelhammar said...

Thanks Rickard!

Anonymous said...

I don't like it. For one thing, the head of the man on the left is nearly level with the top of the car behind him, which means his face doesn't stand out. I find that awkward.

I think there's too much empty space at the bottom of the photo, nearly cutting it in half, and the bottom right corner serves no purpose but to distract.

As for the lack of contrast, that doesn't bother me. I think in this new digital age of over-manipulation of photos people are overly critical of tone, contrast, color, sharpness, etcetera, without putting enough thought into composition. The lack of contrast adds "age" to the photo, and so what if exposure isn't perfect... subject matter is more important.

Ulf Fågelhammar said...

Thanks Anonymous

Paolo Saccheri said...

I find this foto interesting in many ways.
The two men seem "glued" together with a tension that only that close distance among them would give, also the pace they have keeping the two legs mimiking a diverging movement help the glued tension among the men.

I didn't notice the arrow shaped line from the buildings roofs, genial!

I also think that the full area of the cars + buildings is nicely compensated by the empty walkway giving to this photo a fine although unconventional composition. I say unconventional meaning that the two men are a bit stuck too close to cars, "glued again".
I think I would have shot a second photo when the two men were more distant from each other giving a more standard fill to the frame, the two men being to the left and right thirds of horizontal view, and being more standard I would say less unconventional and so more easy to please but also less original, eventually losing that tension and the glued feel.

Jurek Holzer said...

Good shot that needs a little bit of cropping. Nice interplay betwen the lines and the two men. Contrast little too low in the first version. I would never dare guessing who the photographer is though.

Ulf Fågelhammar said...

thank you Paolo and Jurek - interesting remarks

Hans said...

I do not think we should exaggerate and read too much into details. Like walking stick and rail etc. One thing for sure, old street photos add value just by getting old. It's always interesting to look at old picturs to understand what life was. Likt the old woody station wagon, cars with small split rear windows, traffic jam and not to forget the old man's straw hat. But what I miss from this photo is interpretation of how they live. What mood they are in, etc. What do they think about? How is life? I can't connect to them, they are to far away. The old man seems to lean hard on the cain, limping?, but he might as well be hurrying to the bank with the bag full of used bills. And what about the younger man? Is he looking at a nifty chick on the oter pavement or do he worry about how to manage the next mortgage payments? I think I need to quote Robert Capa "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." Too many lose ends .... /Hans

Rickard said...

Loose ends are good I think, that's one of the things I like about these sort of "pulled back" street shots. Just look how much thoughts ran through your head looking at it Hans :)
It leaves an opening for people to imagine and to interpret themselves, to put their own experiences into a picture. Nothing wrong with a tighter shot though, but one doesn't exclude the other imo.