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Author Topic: Unkempt  (Read 2231 times)
michswiss
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« on: March 20, 2011, 09:19:37 PM »
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John R Smith
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2011, 08:54:45 AM »
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Jennifer

I’m not sure why this picture has so far attracted no response at all. We know from your previous posts and your web gallery that you are a serious photographer, with lots of interesting things to say, so I think we have to consider this picture seriously as well. All the technical stuff is fine, focus, DOF, exposure, and a very good B/W conversion. The house does not seem that unkempt to me (you should see my garden), but I assume that this is intended to be a study of the quotidian – the archetypal suburban front garden plot. It could easily be England, but the post-box tells me that it is not. The composition seems to break all the rules, being almost wilfully anti-pictorial, with all the strong motifs hard over on the right-hand side of the frame – but there is the counter-balancing flowering shrub on the left, which saves the day.

For some reason, I do like the shot. Nothing in it is in any way exceptional, but it seems to me that is exactly the point. Here I am, it says. This is the norm, the humdrum, the everyday. Each morning someone walks down that path, beside that fence, picks their mail up from the box, and catches the ‘bus to work. So we live out our lives, and each year the tree grows a little taller.

You may of course have intended none of this. But that’s how it seemed to me  Wink

John
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2011, 03:10:31 PM »
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This kind of reminds me of a William Eggleston shot. He's the master of seeing the extraordinary in ordinary everyday scenes. That seems to be what you were going for here. And although it's a technically proficient photograph I'm having trouble locating the extraordinary in this picture. My eye keeps going back the mailbox, but I'm not seeing the extraordinary there either. Maybe I just need to get my eyes checked.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 03:14:42 PM »
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Guys, guys, for photographers you don't observe much: it's all in the bomb beside the tree!

Men! (As my wife would have remarked.)

;-)

Rob C
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michswiss
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 05:31:59 PM »
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John pretty much summed up what I was going for.  Having recently moved back to Melbourne, I've been trying to figure out what I want to explore.  Alas, I've been constrained by some recent medical issues limiting my mobility.  But, I've always been allergic to suburbia.  The banal and compartmentalised.  So that's where I've decided to try and spend some time capturing images.  Melbourne is a sprawling city with so many nondescript, ordinary, isolating streets and neighbourhoods.

Oh, and Rob. That's no bomb.  It's the tea kettle the wife put out for her husband in the morning in a moment of weakness after booting him out the previous night for coming home late and sloshed from his job as a bookkeeper in the CBD.  Wink
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 10:47:30 PM »
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Jennifer,

The images you post here are always fascinating, this one, too. I didn't respond at first because I couldn't put into words why it was so arresting.

John has expressed very well what I was feeling too (Thanks, John).

The very mundaneness of the scene seems to be enhanced by the tree and mailbox leaning in opposite directions. Nice work!

Eric
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2011, 01:50:50 AM »
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My feelings are similar.

I was looking into this thread a couple of times, but didn't really know how to express what I was feeling. In the meantime and after reading the previous posts I believe the tension of the image comes from the contrast between an ordinary scene and the graphical qualities of the image, which are somehow independant from the content - without the image being an abstract.

To me its about the toning and the contrast between detail and flat areas, whites, greys and blacks, straight and oblique, repetition and breaking up of the repetition,static motive and dynamic perspective lines.

I really enjoy your images.
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EduPerez
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2011, 02:46:32 AM »
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AMEN to what John said; not only I share his thoughts exactly, he also expressed them better than I could have done myself.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 05:48:08 AM »
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John pretty much summed up what I was going for.  Having recently moved back to Melbourne, I've been trying to figure out what I want to explore.  Alas, I've been constrained by some recent medical issues limiting my mobility.  But, I've always been allergic to suburbia.  The banal and compartmentalised.  So that's where I've decided to try and spend some time capturing images.  Melbourne is a sprawling city with so many nondescript, ordinary, isolating streets and neighbourhoods.

Oh, and Rob. That's no bomb.  It's the tea kettle the wife put out for her husband in the morning in a moment of weakness after booting him out the previous night for coming home late and sloshed from his job as a bookkeeper in the CBD.  Wink


So ultimately, I was correct about the bomb, only it was of the domestic sort rather than the public.

You've given yourself a difficult objective because it depends on the viewers picking up on your quest, which for some, might even represent an act of aggression towards their aspirations... Knocking suburbia is cool (a luxury, even?) when you're in a position to take it or leave it; should you be fighting to escape a fate worse than that, then it's another matter.

Best stick with naked, pensioned-off trees. Ask Toke!

;-.)  Does this look like the image that Cindy Crawford would see in the mirror?

Rob C
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michswiss
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 06:14:18 AM »
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Best stick with naked, pensioned-off trees. Ask Toke!

;-.)  Does this look like the image that Cindy Crawfod would see in the mirror?

Rob C

Didn't you see the nude in this shot?  I'm rather surprised.

As to taking on suburbia, you're right.  I don't know if this particular approach will evolve into a project, but I'll likely be struggling and experimenting for a while as I find my eye for my adopted hometown. 
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John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 06:21:00 AM »
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It is very difficult to photograph subjects for which you have absolutely no affection. The fact that you are documenting suburbia probably means that there are some aspects of it to which you are drawn, perhaps subconciously. There is a certain duality in all of us.

John

PS I was born in just such a house, a bow-windowed semi-detached 1930s place set back from a busy main road in the Midlands. It had a wooden fence just like that, and a side path up and down which I proudly drove my pedal-car. I only lived there for the first five years of my life, but it left a deep impression. For you and I now, it might well seem restricting, "banal and compartmentalised". But for my father, who had escaped from a dirty coal-miner's terrace in the north of England, it represented respectability, luxury, and a very big step up the social ladder.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 07:03:39 AM by John R Smith » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 09:05:00 AM »
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It is very difficult to photograph subjects for which you have absolutely no affection. The fact that you are documenting suburbia probably means that there are some aspects of it to which you are drawn, perhaps subconciously. There is a certain duality in all of us.

John



Helmut Newton has written that he photographs only two kinds of people: those he loves and those he dislikes. I think his idea has depth. In either case you can't but help bringing along your personal baggage which, in turn, creates something, but the lukewarm emotion isn't worth the bother.

Rob C
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michswiss
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 09:30:48 AM »
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John, there are parallels in my life too.

It's not a matter of no affection, rather something like your father's experience.  It's either a release into a new liberating life or a trap for those not wary of what their new encumbrance might hold them to.  To reiterate, I don't know if this is going to become a project, but I intend to learn and try to capture some imagery that reflects my emotional reactions outside my immediate comfort zone.  I hope you don't mind.

This is likely to tap me for a bit.  Thank you for your thoughtful comments.  Simple images can carry powerful emotions.

Jenn
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John R Smith
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Still crazy, after all these years


« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2011, 09:39:43 AM »
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Jenn

Of course I don't mind. I was not in any sense attempting to restrict you or your art, heaven forbid. You must follow your muse, as indeed we all must. And I did like the picture . . .

John

Oh dear, another PS  Wink

I think I have very ambivalent feelings about this kind of personal journey. When I was younger I hated suburbia and all it represented. Now I realise that for my father (and all the others like him) it was the best he could do, a place where he knowingly limited his aspirations in order that others might realise their own. It's an old-fashioned way of looking at the world, and goes along with decency and a sense of duty.

J
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Rob C
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2011, 11:54:28 AM »
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Jennifer

Don't fall into emotional traps about 'encumberances' because taking your thought a little further, you could arrive at a place where you simply give up and rot in whatever position you find yourself born into, which can cut both ways: those born replete with silver spoon can lose it all and those born without can go even further downhill.

Let me give you a little lecture from the perspective of an 'older' guy: thinking the future will just take care of itself is a fantasy. You will have to fight for every inch that you want to gain. If you don't want to progress, you have sown the seed for your own decline and fall. That's why some established people also fall into terminal decline: they imagine that all the hard work is now done and they can freewheel. Nobody ever can; even the large fortune that's perhaps been built simply becomes a smaller one. It is unavoidable.

Without something driving you (in the sense of 'one') you will lose the eternal battle for life. It holds for health as it does for wealth and fulfillment of any sort of which I can think. Head for the heights - you might get there!

;-)

Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2011, 04:22:24 PM »
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Jennifer, I'm afraid I have to agree with Pop's comment. It's not that I dislike the picture, but while I don't dislike it, I don't like it either. It comes across to me as blah. I understand what you were trying to do. I've tried it myself on more than one occasion with less than satisfactory results. Are you familiar with Garry Winogrand's suburban pictures? Garry did several that included the blah you've included here, but what made his pictures powerful was the fact that he showed the people who lived in those neighborhoods interacting with their environment. To me, the classic Winogrand suburban picture is the one that's on the cover of his book, Winogrand, Figments From the Real World by Szarkowski and Winogrand. It's a picture of a kid in diapers in the driveway of a very plain suburban house. Take a look. It may be worth your while.
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Dave (Isle of Skye)
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« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2011, 05:29:31 PM »
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I am sorry to be the odd one out again, but I find that for me, there is no point or purpose to this image, or is that the point, that there is no point? I am confused.

I think an image should have something within it, a quality, a mystery, a reason, anything to make the viewer return back to it and look at it, into it and even through it. To me this is just a random shot of a random garden framed in a random way, it has nothing to say other than saying "I have nothing to say" which I believe in this instance, would have been better left unsaid.

Photobloke
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2011, 07:42:06 PM »
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The fact that it has already inspired sixteen responses suggests that it is at least a hard image to ignore.

Eric
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2011, 11:57:55 AM »
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The fact that it has already inspired sixteen responses suggests that it is at least a hard image to ignore.

Eric


Eric, if you go for a walk in my town you are obliged to keep your eyes down towards the pavement; there are many things there that you would find hard, if not downright dangerous to ignore.

Rob C
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