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Author Topic: POW-MIA Memorial Car  (Read 14790 times)
Jonathan Wienke
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« on: September 21, 2005, 09:08:22 AM »
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I shot this at a recent car show, a US Marine looking for the name of a relative on the side of a 1955 Chevy Bel Air with a POW-MIA themed paint job.



I'm interested in your impressions of the mood and/or meaning of this image, as well as the usual composition & technical nitpicking.
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jdemott
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2005, 11:03:42 AM »
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I think it is a very fine photograph and the use of B&W is very appropriate to the mood.  I very much like how you framed the shot and the way the reflection of the Marine is centered in the list of names.  The tonal range on the car is great.  I think I might like to see what it would look like with a little burning in on the Marine (but you may have already tried that).

I'm glad you explained what we are looking at, because the side of an automobile is not the first thing that comes to mind with a list of POWs.  The one distracting element in the photo for me is the trim piece that enters the photo from the right--even knowing what it is, I keep seeing it as a sword.  Nonetheless, great shot.

Slightly off topic--my eye was caught by the first name on the list, John T. Downey in 1952.  John Downey and I were law school classmates in the 70s.  He had been a CIA agent and was shot down over China in 1952.  He was held prisoner until 1973 when he was released with the gradual thawing of relations with China.  After he returned to the U.S., he attended law school and I think went on to become a judge.
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John DeMott
Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2005, 11:06:29 AM »
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To me, the combination of things in the image suggests "war memorial" very well.  Clearly, the list of names is a memorial of some sort (though it's hard to tell exactly what that structure is), and the man in uniform suggests that the memorial is military in nature.  (I also like the way that the man's arm is slightly out of focus and you can't see his face, which together suggest that the names are the main point of the image, not the man; the man is just a clue as to the image's nature and perhaps a stand-in for the viewer.)  The mood is that of a solemn memorial.  The B&W treatment seems right, as it adds to the solemnity and historical-feeling nature of the scene (assuming that's what you're trying to do).

I like the tonalities of it very much; you've got just the right contrast, brightness, etc.  My only nit-pick would be that the man's shoulder is very bright, which tends to draw the eye to it, which I don't think you want.  You might darken that area a little.

Lisa
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2005, 11:11:51 AM »
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Couldn't improve on the composition/framing.  I suspect this shot was probably a compromise between retaining the shadow detail in the reflection and trying to minimize the highlight blow-out on the shoulder.
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howard smith
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2005, 11:16:56 AM »
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The barbed wire on the plaque is a subtle clue to POW.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2005, 11:40:00 AM »
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I suspect this shot was probably a compromise between retaining the shadow detail in the reflection and trying to minimize the highlight blow-out on the shoulder.
Exactly. The car itself was under an awning in the shade and the Marine's shoulder was in the direct sun, so the dynamic range in the scene was stretching the limits of the camera. I think I'll play with that a bit more; the hard part is to darken it down without accentuating the fact that there is some clipping there. I did use some fill flash; perhaps I should have used a bit more and allowed less ambient exposure. I agree that the shoulder is the biggest technical flaw of the image.

And yes, "solemn memorial" was exactly the mood/meaning I was trying for.

Just for grins & giggles, here's the original uncropped frame:



Can you say "background clutter"? †:cool:
And see if you can figure out how I got the crop.
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2005, 11:47:17 AM »
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I very much like this image, although it took a moment to figure out what I was looking at. †The B&W and classic car both give it a timeless quality, and without knowing that you took this recently it would be hard to know if this was shot today or 20 years ago.

Later: just saw Jonathan's uncropped version. †I guess the "dot com" on the background tent is a clue it's a contemporary capture †

Paul
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2005, 12:07:13 PM »
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I guess the "dot com" on the background tent is a clue it's a contemporary capture †
That, and the pixellated camo pattern of the Marine's uniform, which is a new uniform type still being phased in. But that's a little less obvious.
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Paul Sumi
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2005, 12:28:35 PM »
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Jonathan, I was looking at the Marine's reflection in the color version. †Did you happen to take a closeup of just a few of the names that emphasized the reflection? †I'm thinking about the "1965" area. †It would have removed all clues of context but might have been an interesting complement to the first image.

Paul
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2005, 12:57:56 PM »
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I see what you're talking about and agree that there's image potential there, but I didn't happen to shoot any closeups of that particular composition.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2005, 01:48:01 PM »
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Jonathan,

This is a very powerful image. I am struck first by a sense of great intensity on the part of the marine as he examines the list of names -- even though his face can't be seen. Then, the chrome trim strip suggests a sword, piercing the black list of names and aimed directly at the marine's heart. It also reminds me of one of Minor White's photos of a street worker in a hole in pavement with a painted arrow pointing at him. The arrow, and your "sword", are both very striking and unsettling. The mood to me is very ominous and tragic.

The composition is unusual, with the "sword" splitting the image almost in half, but for me it works just as it is. I have no nits to pick. Thanks for sharing it.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
jule
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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2005, 03:26:54 PM »
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A very moving and powerful image Jonathan. The symbolism is strong yet not cliche`d. I sense a feeling of reverence, pensiveness and reflection. The distracting highlighted area on the marine's shoulder becomes extremely minor for me, due to the impact of the image as a whole.

I love the clarity in the fingers which invites human touch.

The image poses questions in my mind - How does one see oneself in times of war? Is one's life reflected back to oneself at the time of death? †

A memorable image of the collective - yet faceless nature of war.

Julie
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howard smith
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2005, 03:34:45 PM »
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Someone mentioned that the human brain is a problem (?) in photogrpahy becasue of the baggage it carries (smell, sound, other memories). †Combing some comments here with other comments, I noticed that some of the commentors seemed to be influenced by their own baggage or brains (that I doubt the photogrpaher was aware of) that evoked some positive (and perhaps but unexpressed, negative) emotions.

The point? †I don't know, I just noticed.
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jule
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2005, 04:48:10 PM »
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howard smith Posted on Sep. 22 2005,06:34
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Someone mentioned that the human brain is a problem (?) in photogrpahy becasue of the baggage it carries (smell, sound, other memories). †Combing some comments here with other comments, I noticed that some of the commentors seemed to be influenced by their own baggage or brains (that I doubt the photogrpaher was aware of) that evoked some positive (and perhaps but unexpressed, negative) emotions.

The point? †I don't know, I just noticed. †

Howard, unless one is enlightened, I think we are all influenced by our own "baggage or brains". That is what the human response is all about. I think that it would be difficult not to be influenced by our own "baggage or brains" when asked to comment on "your impressions of the mood and/or meaning of this image, as well as the usual composition & technical nitpicking."

I'm not sure that the brain is a problem (?) at all. We are who we are, and the way we respond to images is because of our history and beliefs. Expressing this in a civil manner can only create opportunities for further dialogue on issues, and create greater understanding all around. An image does something to us when we see it. If it does a lot...it may be discussed, remembered or purchased. I don't think many images are remembered or purchased purely as a result of an intellectual exercise regarding exposure or composition etc. Those elements may be examined afterwards to try to understand more about how the image affects us, but I think our emotional response is the crux of what photography is about.

Julie
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howard smith
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2005, 05:08:52 PM »
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"I don't think many images are remembered or purchased purely as a result of an intellectual exercise regarding exposure or composition etc."  Maybe not many, but a lot of the one's I own.  Oak Tree in a Snow Storm by Adams is one I own just because it is nice, ggod ecposure, good composition, etc.  I have never wondered what the tree was feeling standing out there in the snow.

The comment I made was with respect to the brain being a problem.  I think the brain is a good thing, smarter than any Canon.  Maybe not as exercised, but smarter - capable of using far more powerful programs.

"Howard, unless one is enlightened, I think we are all influenced by our own 'baggage or brains'."  I ahve spent most of my adult life in science, attempting to rid my brain of baggage - how I want something to be instead of what it is.  I never thought of that as enlightened.  You probably don't either.
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paulbk
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2005, 05:25:36 PM »
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Jonathan,
As a pure image it works for me. Could be the cover of Legion Magazine. Having seen the Viet Nam war memorial in DC many times, the honor list motif is clearly recognizable as a war memorial. The desert camouflage fatigues give it a generational message. No desert fatigues in Viet Nam or Korea. For me thatís the power of the image. Youth looking back over time asking, whatís changed?

Were I not of that generation Iíd have trouble guessing itís the side of a í55 Chevy. The chrome spear is a giveaway, but the rivets give it a war plane look in the tight crop.

I think itís great catch as an image. Politically, I think an honor list on the side of a car is poor taste.
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paul b. kramarchyk
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jule
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2005, 05:29:57 PM »
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The comment I made was with respect to the brain being a problem. †I think the brain is a good thing, smarter than any Canon. †Maybe not as exercised, but smarter - capable of using far more powerful programs.
.. understand you now.

With regard to your other comments Howard, I think we could go round and round the "oak" tree on that one  because of the restrictive nature of cyber-conversations. -Such an interesting topic deserves a more personal communitcation and conversation. ...one day perhaps

Julie
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howard smith
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2005, 05:34:06 PM »
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jule, I would be glad to discuss this with you.  I don't have any real incites, agendas, or answers, but those are the good discussions.  And I agree about a private talk, the LL is too PC do get down and dirty and be truley honest on.
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jule
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2005, 05:36:57 PM »
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Jonathan, just out of interest, what is the figure in the reflection on the silver bit above the honour lists - to clarify -(just above the 'o&n' of Visual Vacations' on the original)?

Julie
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jule
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2005, 05:39:05 PM »
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Howard, ....will do

Julie
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