Modern Art?

May 20, 2014

By Catherine Bruce

Sometimes I grab a shot of something just because I like the color or there’s something vaguely appealing about it.  I’m hoping that the thing together with it’s context will make an interesting photo.  Often it doesn’t, and I find I have a picture I can’t do anything with.  But I still like the part of the picture that attracted me in the first place.  I came up with these pictures because I wanted to have some fun and salvage the interesting parts of uninteresting pictures.  I called them “Modern Art” because eliminating the context of a photo often makes it “non-representational”— or even incomprehensible—which in modern art is sometimes considered a good thing.

Click images for larger views.

Building

RedCar

SprayPaint

Electric

HeatWaves

RustMetal

Glass

DryPaint

lzcathiecamera2Catherine Bruce is a mostly-retired software developer who gave up film photography when she claims she stopped improving.  When Doodlemeister.com persuaded her that it’s not necessary to agonize in advance over what the photos will look like, she became more interested in snapping pictures with her digital camera.  She still has a weakness for symmetry and order, but is working on developing a “hip-shot” mentality.

Copyright © 2014 Catherine Bruce.

Cat Nip

March 27, 2013

Zen photography thought for the day: Inside the vertical there may be a better horizontal. When it comes to photographic composition, I prefer the “arty” method — that is, I carefully arrange the image in the view finder of the camera before the shutter is tripped, then exhibit the result full-frame. But I’m no stickler. I know that sometimes a well planned composition is simply not possible, and a crop or two may save the day.

My idea of a good photograph is one that elicits an emotion in the viewer, either positive or negative. The crop above was selected with the idea of pure “joy” in mind; and to intensify that feeling I “zoomed” in on the original (see below) to eliminate unnecessary details and emphasize the dynamic lateral movement2 of the woman’s head out of the top left side of the frame. Whenever possible I like to have important elements “bleed” off the edges, which adds to the drama.The extreme crop keeps the eye of the viewer where it needs to be, focused on the expressions of both the young lady and the cat; it prevents the eye from wandering up or down, right or left, forces it to remain close on the interesting blur of the woman’s head and the sharper head and body of the animal.

The original image was one of those “just shoot and hope for the best” deals that happen so fast you’re happy if you get anything at all. With animals and kids you can forget about careful composition or re-staging an action, so the crop becomes a useful salvage tool. This image makes me smile each time I see it — and the way I decided to crop it, I think, enhances the playful feeling. The idea is simple: Make it easier for the viewer to share the joy that I felt the first time I saw the image come to life in the developing fluid.

This is an edited re-post from 7/23/08

Copyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.

The E-Tower

September 24, 2008

What I Did On My Summer Vacation—In 1973

One thing I packed for my first (and so far only) international trip was my new camera, a Minolta 35 mm SLR (single lens reflex). The whole business of doing photography with such a sophisticated instrument, rather than my old Kodak Instamatic, was so strange to me at the time I had to refer to the manual whenever I attempted to use it. So I was careful to bring along the little white instructional booklet, too.

It was August, 1973, and I was on my way to Paris to meet my new girlfriend, having been introduced to her at a party the previous May. She was a schoolteacher out of class for the summer and living with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend (an Italian waiter the sibling had met in Rome), in a one-room apartment on the Left Bank. It was all very romantic, and the sisters’ were old hands at international travel, having made the European scene for several summers running. My girlfriend, with her knowledge of the country and her high school French would be my guide, or so I assumed. The tip-off that perhaps she wasn’t “in the know” so much herself was the fact that August was the month when well-off Paris residents abandoned the hot city, leaving it to hordes of low-end tourists. Actually, August was the only time most schoolteachers could afford to vacation in Paris. That was my situation, too, being a low-grade (in every sense) Visual Information Specialist at the Social Security Administration, one with child support payments to make.

As I boarded the Paris flight I promised myself that at no time during the eighteen days in France would I make a single “touristy” photograph of a famous monument, such as, for instance, the Eiffel Tower. If I did choose to photograph a popular site, I would figure out how to do it in a fresh way—as an abstraction, perhaps, or from a great distance framed by trees, or with something completely unexpected in the foreground, something ugly, like a wall plastered with handbills. The goal was to produce what on the surface appeared to be “bad” snapshots, but which in fact had required a lot of thought and would provoke an unexpected response in the viewer, a response at once intellectual and emotional. It wasn’t that (in “postmodern” lingo) I wanted so much to “deconstruct” the tourist snapshot—I doubt I knew the term back then—but I was determined to avoid committing that photographic sin of sins, the visual cliché. Of course all this was a tall order for an amateur photographer. Looking back, I now realize that rather than being a photographic trail-blazer I was simply a visual snob.

I was very young, though, and in love with love and at the same time passionately trying to master a new craft while in a new country where I didn’t speak the language and was completely dependent on my new girlfriend for even the basics, like food and lodging and where to find a bathroom. And after little more than two weeks of walking the streets of Paris, motoring through town after small town in Southern France and “making images” not “taking pictures” of cathedrals, castles rooftops and markets, I was homesick and more than ready to board the flight back to the U. S. I was also mildly depressed, having convinced myself even before I saw the processed slides that I had failed in my quest for a series of perfect “anti-travel” images.

It’s appropriate that this tale of misguided youth (but not misspent, since in retrospect I loved the experience) ends in irony. When my girlfriend asked me to pose for one last snapshot, I agreed, and of course she wanted the Eiffel Tower in the background. I’m too ashamed to show the resulting image, but at least that’s one creative sin which will be forever on her head, not mine.

“The E-Tower” is the first in a series of short travel-photo essays which will post on this site from time-to-time. (Click images for larger views.) Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.


Cat Nip

July 23, 2008

Zen photography thought for the day: Inside the vertical there may be a better horizontal. (And vice-versa.) When it comes to photographic composition, whenever possible, I prefer what some might call the “arty” method—that is, I like to carefully arrange the image in the view finder of the camera before the shutter is tripped, then exhibit the result full-frame. But I’m no stickler. I know from experience that sometimes a well planned composition is simply not possible (for instance, when grabbing a shot of a child or other small animal on the move), and in such cases a well planned crop may save the day. My idea of a good photograph is one that elicits an emotion in the viewer, either positive or negative. The crop above was selected with the idea of pure “joy” in mind; to intensify that feeling I “zoomed” in on the original (see below) to eliminate unnecessary details and emphasize the dynamic lateral movement of the woman’s head out of the left side and top of the frame. (Whenever possible I like to have important elements “bleed” off the edges, which adds to the drama.) This extreme crop keeps the eye of the viewer where it needs to be, focused on the expressions of both the young lady and the cat; it prevents the eye from wandering up or down, right or left, forces it to remain close on the interesting blur of the woman’s head and the sharper head and body of the animal. The full frame image is one of those “shoot and hope for the best” deals that happen so fast you’re happy if you get anything at all. (With animals and kids you can forget about re-staging an action, so the crop becomes a useful salvage tool.) This image makes me smile each time I see it—and the way I decided to crop it, I think, enhances the playful feeling. My idea was simple: Make it easier for the viewer to share the joy I felt the first time I saw the image come to life in the developing fluid. (If you have a different idea, or like it better un-cropped, take a moment to post a comment and tell me about it.)

Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.