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17 June 2007 @ 07:19 am
You know my methods, Watson...  

Since at least a few of you apparently found interesting my recent post in which I talked about how I go about doing photos (at least some of the time & when the subject is scenery or the like), I decided to post my whole “Stillwater” session in an ImageEvent album so you could see how that plays out in practice. If you’re interested.

As you look, please remember it is a complete set of raw images (not color-corrected, cropped, or otherwise brought up to presentation standards) in the order in which they were taken. I’m presenting them as an aid to our discussion—under normal circumstances I would not post or otherwise offer the majority of them for viewing, as there are only a handful I think are worthy of display.

If any of you who take a look have any thoughts or observations about any of it, I’d appreciate hearing them. Thanks!

Thumbs of the first four images:

Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 2 Thumbnail 3 Thumbnail 4
Image hosting by ImageEvent—join today!

Update: At aet’s request, here’s a link to an annotated map with markers to show, as nearly as I can remember, where I was standing when I took each of the photos.

 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: "Hatikva" Ben Sidran, Life's A Lesson
 
 
 
aet on June 17th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
if you offer a Devil your fingertip, it steals the whole hand
Now, of course, I would also like a map with your trail marked on it!

Also, it was good that there were both moving and unmoving objects, as the reaction one has is different. The beginning scene was most interesting, though, as the framing change made up totally different scenes (parkland versus car filled urban).

It is hard to say in words, but seeing a process of a photographer recorded that way is very fascinating for me.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 17th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip, it steals the whole hand
Thank you! I'm glad you found it worthwhile!
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 17th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip, it steals the whole hand
I'll get to the annotation later but for now here's a link to a map of the area in which I was wandering and working.
aet on June 17th, 2007 03:06 pm (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip...
Thank you! This is interesting.

What makes this so fascinating is that there are so many layers in this process of recording: First why the area or scenery gets chosen; then why specific objects get taken pictures of. Then framing - how much of that is accidental? Do the photographer and the viewer see a same thing (and not to mention that sometimes I notice things on my own photos I did not notice when looking at the scenery without help of the camera)?

What I would REALLY like is to let a group of photographers roam same area and then look at the results! (of course, something like that DID happen on the Keila-Joa waterfall in March. And what I ended up doing was making it into a story ... I should may-be look around and re-post that silly fun)
dd-bdd_b on June 17th, 2007 03:42 pm (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip...
Just two photographers, and we don't get to see the full take from each, but Ctein and Laurie Edison have done a series of collaborations where they shoot in the same area, and then end up with a pair of photos that they sell as a unit. Good web versions online at http://ctein.com/Collaboration_portfolio.htm

(And somehow this reminds me slightly of Harlan Ellison's early collection Partners in Wonder, where he managed to get many big names to collaborate with him for one story, and also wrote introductions to each about the collaborative process with that person.)
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip...

Thank you for the pointer/link. I shall have to look a bit more closely at the collection soonest.

Your mention of Partners in Wonder reminded me of my disappointment when I read Harlan's introduction to one story (I think it may have been his collaboration with Silverbob) and discovered he either didn't remember or didn't choose to mention the true genesis of the story. You see, I was standing in the exhibit space that had been set up for Vaughn Bode (and someone else, I think. Jeff Jones?) at SaintLouisCon in 1969 when Harlan came in, dragging Ed Ferman (I think it was he—anyway, it was whoever was editor of F&SF at the time), gesturing at one of Vaughn's paintings, and exclaiming in a loud, excited, and in all other ways typical Harlanesque manner, "You must buy that for a cover!!! Buy it and I'll write a story to go with it!"

Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 04:51 am (UTC)
Re: if you offer a Devil your fingertip...

Spot on! Yes, I find that fascinating as well—you put it into words very nicely.

Do the photographer and the viewer see a same thing…?
My experience is that the answer varies: sometimes it seems they do, other times not. I reckon a good photograph is somewhat like a poem, in that the viewer/reader/listener may well find interesting and perfectly legitimate interpretations and depths that the photographer/poet had no intention and/or no (conscious?) knowledge of incorporating. And they may well miss something the artist was trying to say.

What I would REALLY like is to let a group of photographers roam same area and then look at the results!
Absolutely! That would be interesting. Perhaps dd_b and I should put our heads together and come up with a photo expedition involving ourselves and other local photographers. (For some reason I'm reminded of those photos I've seen of Japanese "photo clubs" at "work"—a pack of what seem like hundreds of Japanese photographers clumped together, all taking pictures of the one nude model they pooled their money to hire. Heh.)

Oh, by the way, I've now done up an annotated map showing all my "shooting" locations (to the best of my recollection). You can go to http://tinyurl.com/27q5fr to see it.

aet on June 18th, 2007 07:40 am (UTC)
Re: of poetry and pornography
"I reckon a good photograph is somewhat like a poem, in that the viewer/reader/listener may well find interesting and perfectly legitimate interpretations and depths that the photographer/poet had no intention and/or no (conscious?) knowledge of incorporating."

I believe a good poem HAS to leave enough blank spaces inside, so that the reader can fill them with their own experiences and emotions (and that need of wearing art in to make it more usable and pleasurable may be the reason why the creative pornographers complain that while most people tell they like stories with their pornography, most customers actually pay for non-story porn mostly. As a good porn, like a good poem, has to leave/create blank spaces inside the story for the personal details and experiences of the consumer).

I think the Acmeist poetry appeals mostly to the very young (who may yet not have enough experiences and emotions of their own to fill out the blanks) or the blasé, who do not want to waste any energy of their own and prefer sip the ready made product ... Also, I tend out reach out for the poetry of the Acmeists when feeling tired and depressed myself ...
Skylarkerskylarker on June 17th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
I'm curious as to your take on which ones work best, and why.

For my own part, I'd select #3 for the combination of added depth and breadth, without the wall in #2 (which draws too much attention from the rest of the scene). I like the way #4 draws the viewer in, but I find it a little too insistent, and like the sense of more directional options in #3.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 07:30 am (UTC)

Considering only images 1 through 4? Hmmm.

I'm not totally fond of any of them (although I am a bit proud about how well I "hid" the electrical pole by aligning it with the centerline of the tall, weather-beaten building … a grain elevator, do you suppose?). I disliked then, and dislike now, the utter, boring carparkness of the carpark. In some of the later shots in this series I tried to eliminate the cars by aiming higher, but I don't think that worked either. I wonder if I could photoshop them out and turn the carpark into like grass or something…

What had caught my interest—what I was chewing on the most in images 1 through 12—was how the white house on the hill caught the sun and really stood out and (in most of them) its relationship to the tall, weather-beaten building. I can't recall for sure, but that may have been something that would have worked better in colour—that's probably why I switched to colour film on the next roll. Given that, it's too bad I didn't work my way back there before the end of the day.

Which doesn't quite answer your question, does it? Well, hmmmm. Well, we can toss #1—I don't like the way the bench is rather randomly cut off. I like the way the big tree interacts with the white house in #2 & #3, and I love its shape in #4 (especially the way it leads the eye in to the central area of the image). I'm inclined to agree with you at least somewhat about the wall in #2, with the reservations that I think the steps become somewhat inviting (although I probably could have used them better) and that it establishes a broader context and another plane of interest that #3 rather lacks. Of the four, #3 certainly does the best job of speaking about the house and the building. It's also the only image in which the faux cable-car buses are obvious, which is a nice touch, and the flow of mid-ground buildings seems to work. I also like those two people near the buses. However, the foreground is particularly uninviting, especially the part to the right of the bench and below the cars/carpark. It detracts from the mid-ground and background without adding anything or having anything much to say itself.

As I said above, I do love the shape of the more-or-less central tree in #4. And the scope makes it easier to overlook/ignore the carpark. I also like the way the foreground sidewalk draws one in and the bench provides both a place to rest for a moment and an enticement to move on into the heart of the image … which is where everything falls right to the ground—the sidewalk and bench and tree all direct the eye to that rather boring brick building with the awning and four second-storey windows (although the tree, almost as if an after-thought, also suggests that you might want to check out the house and grain elevator, which is at least the right idea). Also, the gap on the right, between the two trees, leads the eye directly in to … a jumbled mess of nothing-much-in-particular.

So, as I said, I probably wouldn't choose to print or display any of them, although I find #3 and #4 the least weak of the four.

dd-bdd_b on June 17th, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC)
I should have kicked in an "I'm following with interest" token on the previous post and didn't, so I'm glad you went ahead. I'm still following with interest.

I don't think I've ever seen any of your contact sheets of static subjects before (I know I've seen some of your Midamericon contact sheets, but the opportunities to work a scene of humans are rather different). ("Static" isn't quite right, and in another interpretation is even pejorative, not what I meant; but shots of people going about their business at a convention are a very different situation from buildings and trees and relatively stationary bits of environment, even if the river flows and the clouds move and the light changes as you work. At least they are for me.)

I'm particularly amused by CD1_IMG0060 and 61 which differ primarily by whether the edge of the slightly pyramidal concrete post is framed vertically or not (speaking of keeping the horizon straight :-)). I'm surprised by how reasonable the rendering of the rest of the scene looks when the post side is made parallel to the frame edge.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 08:21 am (UTC)

Ah, thanks. To be honest, I was a mite curious about the absence of said token. Glad to hear that you're not only following, but following with interest. <G>

Not to worry—I knew immediately what you were (and weren't!) implying with the term "static." Indeed, I too find photographing … let's call it "scenery" … is almost entirely different than documenting people and things at a convention or other event, which is, in turn, quite different than working directly with a person or group of people. Yes, each is a matter of interacting with what and/or whom is "out there" and creating two-dimensional images out of the stuff of that interaction, but the nature of the possible and permitted interactions are significantly and qualitatively different among them. (Beyond the simplistic observation that every situation/interaction is unique—as it is said, you cannot photograph stepping into the same river twice.)

Thanks for pointing out what's going on in CD1_IMG0060 and 61! I had forgotten that one, although 61 was certainly a reaction/afterthought to 60. IIRC, I lined up the edges more by crouching down a bit than by tilting the camera clockwise, which may go some way toward explaining why the rest of the scene didn't go entirely kitty-wampus.

Speaking of those posts: One thing I can't remember whether I was aware of at the time but which I've certainly now noticed about the posts is in how many of the images they appear to be skewed around like bad teeth. I wonder whether that is a function of their slightly tapered shape or merely an effect of perspective and angle-of-view.

Gen IIthe_leewit on June 17th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
I love the way they bring you in, especially the path in number five... you should hand tint it and blow it up to the size of that one Seurat of the city street on a rainy afternoon...
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 09:37 am (UTC)

Ah, thank you, thank you very much. I like to flatter myself that one of my strengths is creating images that do draw one in, so I'm pleased to be told I succeeded at that. Your idea of making it really BIG and tinting it is interesting, and one I'd not thought of. It's an interesting thought. Of course, enlarging it that much would tend to make it go all pointillist on account of the grain.

I think I know the Seurat you're talking about and went looking for it on-line but couldn't find it. On the other hand: Wow. Speaking of Seurat and my work (and the Stillwater session in particular), take a gander at The Channel of Gravelines, Petit Fort Philippe.

[I really need to figure out how to get myself down to your part of the world soon—I really, really want to do more photos with you…]

Gen IIthe_leewit on June 20th, 2007 04:55 pm (UTC)
This would be totally cool... did I mention a new piercing?
Pied Piperpied_piper70 on June 17th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC)
Nice pics, Fred...I grew up in Stillwater so I know exactly where you took those shots...In fact, I once wrote an instrumental in that bridge tunnel; of course, I named the piece "Bridgetunnel" cuz I'm creative like that...
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on June 18th, 2007 09:38 am (UTC)

Thanks! I'm glad to hear that a native enjoyed my modest efforts. Besides, overlapping experiences can be big fun.

Hey, don't knock yourself. You exercised your creativity on the tune, where it mattered, rather than on the title. Besides, "Bridgetunnel" has a kind of ring to it…

Haniahaniaw on June 18th, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC)
This was a fascinating glimpse into your process. I also found that as I was watching the images via the slideshow, I found myself thinking about what angle or frame I would have used had I been there. And then ... a few frames later ... there was the shot I would have taken.

I would be very curious to know which shots in this group were ones that you are really happy with. What would also be interesting is to see an original shot and then see what you would do to it (and why) to make it into the final version.