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Author Topic: POW-MIA Memorial Car  (Read 15038 times)
jule
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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2005, 05:52:02 PM »
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Hi Howard, I don't have any answers either but would love to discuss this further with you, but I find email communication very frustrating at times. Nothing can beat a good old debate face to face, but I think that geographical localities may be a limiting factor. I find email can sometimes create more misunderstanding than understanding. I don't mind saying anything which may not be PC on the LL forum and I will always be honest, I just find that delayed responses and typing just creates problems for me when getting into the nitty gritty of an issue. I prefer a good old chat! Perhaps a telephone conversation some time may be fun!

Julie
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2005, 06:16:35 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)?
It's simply a reflection of the Marine's hat in the shiny vertical surface of the fin.

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Were I not of that generation Id have trouble guessing its the side of a 55 Chevy. The chrome spear is a giveaway, but the rivets give it a war plane look in the tight crop.

The car has been modified to be a drag racer, and the vertical fins on the back were added to provide the mount for the braking parachute. But given the hundreds of man-hours that went into the paint job, the vehicle doesn't do much actual racing, it mostly does the car show circuit. The owners are Vietnam-era veterans; here's one of them making the acceptance speech for the "best of show" award the car received:



You can see the rest of the shots of this car here; they're on pages one, three,  and four of the gallery.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2005, 06:46:20 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.
Eveyone brings their own "baggage" to an image, an individually unique set of perceptions and assumptions regarding what the image means, whether or not it is "good" or "effective", and whether or not it is in good taste, etc. I'd even go so far as to say that a certain amount of "baggage" is necessary for an image to communicate on a level beyond dry, clinical historical documentation. In this instance, viewers having previously seen photos of the Vietnam memorial wall will more quickly cue in on the "war memorial" concept than those who have not.

But it is certainly possible for "baggage" to lead one to draw erroneous conclusions about the intent of an image. For example, imagine a close-up of the face of a Caucasian male with a shaved head and a snarly expression. Some people's "baggage" might lead them to assume the photo is of a white supremacist delivering a racial diatribe, while others might think of a cancer patient fighting through chemotherapy to compete in a marathon.

Part of the point of the critique process is to help the photographer determine the degree of correlation between his/her own "baggage" regarding the image and the "baggage" of those doing the critique (in this case, denizens of the LL forums), and discover if the message the viewer received from the image is the same as the message the photographer intended to communicate.
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boku
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2005, 07:40:43 PM »
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Why is it that I am expecting the marine to be clutching a smoldering Marlboro between his fingers? I am feeling something here.

You know, in music, the power every quality composer and performer commands is the ability to evoke emotion in the audience. They don't get to specify the emotion, but they command a response. The better they are, the more helpless the audience is to resist a response.

Could the same go for visual art?

You forced a response in me - I want a cigarette. I quit smoking 20 years ago.

Effective work, Jon.
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Bob Kulon

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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2005, 07:48:48 PM »
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You forced a response in me - I want a cigarette. I quit smoking 20 years ago.
And here we have a perfect example of a response that has nothing to do with the photographer's original intent. :cool:

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Effective work, Jon.

Thank you, Bob, and thanks to everyone else who commented.
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digidon
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« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2005, 07:52:14 PM »
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I suspect that the crop was preceeded by squeezing down the left side in photoshop using one of the transform functions.  I noticed that the angle with respect to horizontal of the top of the black area has changed between the two images.
Don
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2005, 07:53:29 PM »
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You can see the rest of the shots of this car here; they're on pages one, three, and four of the gallery.
As an aside, I find the gallery thumbnails fascinating. They tell a lot about how a serious pro like Jonathan covers an event like this. Note the care with which every shot is framed, and note the subtle differences when there are several in a row that are of the same subject.

Thanks for posting these, Jonathan. It is a real education seeing how you work (but I bet a "proofsheet" of your landscape work would be quite different in number of repetitions, but not in the evident care taken with each shot).

Eric
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2005, 11:17:03 PM »
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I suspect that the crop was preceeded by squeezing down the left side in photoshop using one of the transform functions. I noticed that the angle with respect to horizontal of the top of the black area has changed between the two images.
Actually, I used the Lens Correction filter to rotate the image slightly, apply a horizontal perspective adjustment, and add a little bit of barrel distortion, then cropped. The highlighted area approximately represents the final crop:



The perspective shift and the barrel distortion (especially the barrel distortion) made it possible to get rid of more of the background clutter at the top, which I really disliked but couldn't avoid entirely while composing.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2005, 01:43:37 AM »
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I've implemented some of the suggestions and burned in the shoulder, dodged some of the fill flash shadows to make them less prominent, and added a sepia tone:

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opgr
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« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2005, 06:15:56 AM »
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The strength of this image is probably in the idea that a marine who is obviously not from the vietnam era, looks at a memorial that obviously is. So it easily makes one think of the consequence that he might be looking for names of relatives. Of course, he could also just be looking at the extraordinary paint job. So that would be a slight minus: there is no emotion visible. He is not pointing at the names, intensely reading them oss.

What also struck me is that the original crop does not reveal any hints on the nature of the memorial. This makes the memorial look weird. It is on the side of a car, but that doesn't show. The original uncropped image reveals part of a wheel in typical dragster style, which immediately makes it all clear. It hints at the context and does so splendidly. So I would definitely add that extra bit.

Lastly I don't understand the background clutter crop. Background clutter is not an argument to crop, composition is. If you need to obscure background clutter, the photographer has a tool at his/her disposal which is specific to photography: namely background blur. And in this case, given that the background is more than several yards away, there is simply no excuse not using it. Sure in the spur of the moment one may have missed it, but that probably means a missed opportunity. The composition does look more balanced imo with the wheel included, and the shape of the tail visible...

(In that regard I also do not like the slight unsharpness in the elbow, while the unwanted background is tacksharp. It should have been the other way around, which adds to the intimacy of the scene... )

The image does look better in B&W. The image screams B&W. It helps tamper the distracting elements. I do not think it needs sepia. For illustrative purposes:

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Oscar Rysdyk
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« Reply #30 on: September 22, 2005, 09:38:19 AM »
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jonathan i am not sure how important the fact that this memorial was on a car was to you, but if it was, i would have shown a bit more of the wheel on the bottom left, maybe with some chrome. it would have added to the symbolism, in the sense "no matter what we keep on rolling". and to me the elbow is either too large or out of place, it doesnt bring me closer to the picture, it actually almost pushes me out.
i think as a theme this picture is quite evocative, and to the right person it can offer a powerful message of remembrance and/or thanks and/or solace.

amnon


p.s....sorry, i didnt read the previous post, i seem to have repeated what that person said.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #31 on: September 22, 2005, 11:10:16 AM »
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I've been giving the "crop looser so you can tell it's a car" idea some thought, and I'm a bit conflicted about it. I kind of like the ambiguity of the original version; there's enough clues that one can figure out that it's a car, but it's not smack-you-in-the-face obvious. The trim/sword ambiguity is definitely more effective in the original version. And the focus of the image is more centered on the names than what the names are attached to, which is not necessarily a bad thing, either.

I'm going to play with it some more and see what I come up with.
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jrm
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« Reply #32 on: September 22, 2005, 02:14:36 PM »
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Jonathan, I think one of the reasons I'm struck by the Image is that the unnatural nature of the memorial confuses what you expect to see. The fact that you can't tell it's a car immediately adds to the sense of importance of the soldier searching for a mention of a family name in somewhere other than the memorials we're all familiar with, and conveys the notion that loved ones lost in war shouldn't be forgotten. Sometimes we need the unusual to remind us of that.

Then, when you do realise it's a car, the sense of importance is heightened as you realise that someone went to the trouble of decorating a car in such a way.

The photograph's power comes to me in the way that you've captured these sentiments with an artist's eye, something I think your crop helps immensely. It's a fantastic shot.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2005, 07:39:51 PM »
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I've been thinking about it all day, and here's what I've come up with:

It's all about the purpose of the photograph. If the focus of the image is on the car, and the purpose is to showcase the car, then the looser crop demonstrated by opgr is totally appropriate and desirable. But if the focus of the image is the names on the car rather than the car per se, then the original version is more appropriate and effective. If the car owner wants a publicity shot to advertise the car, then the looser crop is definitely the most appropriate choice. But as a general tribute to those who have served under some of the most adverse conditions imaginable, the first version is more effective, in part because the image is stripped down to its bare essentials; the names and the Marine reading them. The "story" being told is that of a warrior from one generation considering the sacrifices and hardships of warriors of a previous generation; the fact that the names are painted on the side of a car instead of carved in in a black stone slab is an interesting side note perhaps, but not the fundamentally relevant point. And the ambiguity of the swordlike chrome trim plays into the theme; in the looser crop, the trim loses the dramatic impact of its "swordness" and becomes a mere decoration.

As such, I've decided to stay with the original rendering, but burn in the shoulder to make it less distracting, increase the blurring of the extraneous background stuff, and leave it straight black and white rather than sepia. If the car owner wants to use the image to promote the car, he'll get the more loosely cropped version proposed by opgr.

My thanks to everyone who participated in this thread.

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Ray
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« Reply #34 on: September 22, 2005, 11:34:53 PM »
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The final image is better. It is said that music has no specific meaning. It just appeals directly to the emotions and creates a mood.

Many landscape photos (and paintings) are similar. We have a compositional arrangement, a play of light and shade, a harmony of colours, which are pleasing. But often the sum total is no more than decoration, but sometimes it's also dramatic and powerful, but in a non-specific way.

Jonathan's image is not a landscape but a 'human interest' theme. In 'opgr's' terms, there a narrative there that's almost specific. There's a clue there as to the nature of the list (as Howard mentioned). The fragments of barbed wire indicate the list of names refers to POWs who may or may not still be alive.

The strength of the image lies in the associations it provokes in the viewer. In this instance, a soldier viewing a list of comrades missing and possibly dead. No-one cannot be emotionally affected by this. A soldier's lot, in times of conflict, can be like a game of Russian Roulette. Even when the conflict has ended, the emotional scars may last forever. Reality is so different from the John Wayne macho style war movies designed to instill patriotism.

There's real human suffering amongst soldiers, and any shot of a soldier looking at any list of POWs or 'Died in Action' is going to be replete with iconism, sadness and a whole spectrum of emotions.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2005, 08:58:11 AM »
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Jonathan,

You nailed it. I agree completely with your choices about the final image.

Eric
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #36 on: September 27, 2005, 10:43:00 AM »
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Jonathan, I think the technical treatment of the latest version is best - the burning in of the highlights reduces what I found to be a bit too much contrast and harshness in the earlier version. I didn't comment on it before because it is one of these images one needs time to think about - in particular the message and how it is delivered. Good works of art leave the message to the beholder, which means different people will see different things in it. This photograph meets that standard. One of the most important visual elements in this photogaph is the crome bar reaching accross the door panel to the soldier. What I see in this picture is a soldier pondering the fact that aggression leads to death. Powerful message, well delivered.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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