Sunday, January 01, 2006

Graffiti Artist

Hi Folks, and a very happy new 2006! Here's hoping it'll be a great one.

At 10pm I was at home in front of my screen thinking that this would be the first New Year midnight that I would spend on my own for decades...At 3pm I was on the beach at Deauville (trendy seaside escape for posh Parisians) in the cold and rain writing "2006 WILL BE THE YEAR" in the sand. Don't ask why! But I'd call it a damn good sign in any case...

My latest project is to start a photography course linked to the Paris Set Me Free site. I'm just developing the structure at the moment, but be sure that I'll keep you posted one way or another. Also don't forget if you are in the Paris area to come along and meet me and other Paris photo freaks on a Wednesday at 20:15 in the upstairs library at legendary Shakespeare & Company. Check out the Paris Set Me Free web site for details.

And in celebration of the new year, hoping it'll be wonderfully artistic, liberating and fulfilling for everyone, here are some shots of a marvelously positive mural I found up around the Montmartre area just round the corner from famous artists' square and tourist trap, place du Tertre, and Sacré Coeur and its heavenly breast-shaped pimply domes of course, amongst other delights.

But I digress. What I really wanted to draw your attention to, photographically speaking, was the amazing difference changing your position can make when photographing a two-dimensional
subject such as anything painted or stuck on a wall like a poster or advertisement, for example.

All three pictures are, of course, of the same graffiti, or graffito for the puritan Italian scholars amongst you readers out there. But look what happens when you go from face on to way off to the right or left. A radically different composition appears and I would argue a vastly more dynamic result too. It's maybe not quite so obvious here, because the face on shot has the peeling and ripped poster-encrusted door on the right. But this was left in here precisely because without it the shot becomes static and lacking in context and interest.

In the other two off-to-the-side shots, the wild perspectives are the interest, and nothing else is needed to make these very pleasant pictures to look at. In the off-to-the-left shot, the door is actually present, but falls into shadow and doen't detract at all from the main subject, the artist and his easel with the simply painted birds escaping the confines of his canvas and flying off into the distance.

You can use this technique to focus attention on a particular part of the subject which wouldn't be possible otherwise. In one of the shots we are virtually peering over the artist's shoulder, sharing deeply his joy or distress as his birds abandon him for the great bricked yonder. In the other angled shot the canvas and the act of painting seem to be more important, and in this one I have less a sense that the artist is recoiling in horror with his up-thrown hand and more one of simply waving goodbye as if seeing off a friend at a train station.

I believe I used flash here but I can't remember exactly, but in any case, if I did there's also a lesson to be learned about how quickly it loses its effectiveness as the distance increases, as seen in the angled shots. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you want the further away things to disappear or still be well illuminated. Here I feel the effect works very well, adding brightness to the already relatively larger subject to focus attention where it's wanted.

Again, a very happy new year to all Paris Set Me Free readers, wishing you lots of productive snapping over the months ahead!

© Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free 2006


Leigh said...

Happy New Year Sab! What energy! I am sure 2006 will be the year! I am hoping to get back to Paris within this year. Your photos are sure motivating!

There's a gallery here in San Jose, California that specializes in urban artwork, including graffito and things like artwork on skateboards. I love going to those openings...what a mixture of the old salons with the boho's of our day.

Un habitant du fleuve said...

Bonne année 2006... avec encore et toujours plus de belles images.

À bientôt.

Ham said...

Happy NEw year, too.

I V Y paris said...

Happy New year,

Look forward to meeting you soon at an
I V Y paris event.
And well done for starting the photography group.


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