Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Friends

I often imagine quite touching relationships between varied and assorted items of street architecture such as manholes, electricity boxes and drainpipes, as in this example.

These two weary warriors, the weathered stone column standing stoically next to his poor old pal the half-burnt junction box... comparing war wounds and watching the decades descend... making an admirable effort to look presentable for the odd passing photographer...

I hope they're ok.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Self - Représente-toi


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Waiting For Nadia


The fountain at St. Michel is a classic Parisian meeting place and is always thronging with people in more or less agitated states of impatience, unless they are simply snap-happy tourists taking the same old pics in front of the same old angel...

But this guy grabbed my attention as rather poignant. Standing alone, or possibly with some embarrassed friends nearby, forlornly Waiting For Nadia. I never discovered if he found her or not, but I hope he did. I'm not sure if any Nadia would have done of if it had to be a specific and special Nadia he was on the lookout for.

The angel is also curiously holding his arm aloft, although he's probably alluding to something much weightier than missing meetings. Maybe Nadia's up there...

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Self - Drought


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Trashed

Yep, I know it's not very 'gai' as the French would say, but this is a large part of what living in Paris is about, and as long as I feel it's worth drawing attention to this sad aspect of city life, I'll carry on taking this sort of shot. I'm building up enough material on this topic to have an entire exhibition on it soon!

Apart from the obvious social comment of human beings lying around like so many thrown-away plastic bags and McDonalds cartons, the composition of this on-the-fly shot is pretty strong. None of the straight lines are parallel to the borders of the photo, and this greatly increases the dynamics and tension of the shot.

The three main diagonals of the metro corridor corner also lead the eye directly to the huddled subject, which is important, and the blurred, heavily hardened treatment I used here emphasises the circumstances in which the photo was taken: quickly as I hurried past, not wanting him to look up and catch me voyeuristically taking advantage of his wretched situation just like so many others...

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Fuzzhund

In the old days when taking photos involved sticking long strips of plastic into the back of your camera, and spending money every time you pressed the shutter release (button to you, moosh..), I sometimes used a special filter what you stuck in front of the lens (yeah, whacky idea, eh?) and it produced a funky crosshatched effect similar to the one you can see in this photo.

The funny thing is, this wasn't taken on a classic film camera, and I didn't use any special filters, before or after pressing the button! So how did I get said funky effect, you are probably asking yourself. Good question! And that's the wonder of photography... you never know what's going to happen when you go out shooting, and often enough the best results are the one you least planned or expected.

All I can tell you is that I panned slightly, I think, to follow the dog+master to try and blur the background, so maybe my camera movement created this graphic and pleasing (for me, at least) effect. Power to your panning...

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Self - Double Vision


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Friday, October 26, 2007

World In Balance

On a photo tour between the Louvre and Palais Royale we came across this silent spectacle, as one is wont to do, albeit accompanied by haunting music and entrancing movement. I was trying to demonstrate the importance of controlling the depth of field, and this street artist illustrated it nicely.

If the columns behind had been more in focus the attention wouldn't have been as strongly centred on the performer.

In retrospect, I think maybe I should have straightened up the pillars in the background, which are slightly off-vertical, but maybe if I don't mention it you won't notice...

I LOVE the strong diagonals in this shot. You know I'm a major diagonals fan, don't you? Just look at the crossed arms and delicate fingers like a ballet dancer, countered by the opposing diagonal between the two round elements - the glass ball and the face, both glowing eerily blue.

By slamming in close (I mean by cropping close to the subject) you invite the edge of the picture to become an important compositional element, giving the hand, ball and face something to interact with.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Paint Me Perfect

One of the most common forms of street art is the aerosol-sprayed wonders produced by dodgy-looking art-student-cum-hoodlum types which nevertheless enchant and fascinate throngs of onlookers with their skills.

I zoomed out on this shot, if I remember rightly, as I was taking it, to give this dynamic effect and concentrate the attention on the eye-catching picture taking shape before our eyes.

It's easier to take pics of people who are engrossed in something where they can't stop and say, hey, what are you doing with that camera - give me some money or I'll land one on ya! I've got another good example of that coming up shortly - a couple of dancer/mime artist types doing their thing.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Direct Soir


The weary ride home, evening paper on the lap, baguette in hand or simply vacantness in the eye, it's a familiar story.

'Direct Soir', by the way, is one of a plethora of free papers which have mushroomed over the last few years and now you have to battle through the forest of hands (and ex-trees) being thrust at you as you stagger out of the Metro every morning. I've counted up to five different publications being pushed at certain stations.

That's Sting on the cover, of course, and as a totally unrelated comment, some have said I occasionally resemble him. For you to check out my self-portraits I suppose and tell me if it's true!

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Scoot Away

One of those ethereal images that I love, and taken completely on the fly of course. Girl hoicking her scooter (which is a method of transport I've never been able to come to terms with) down some metro steps and getting swallowed up by those clinically white tiled entrails of the city. I didn't crop at all here as I couldn't find a way to do so which I liked better than the original spontaneous result. It seems to work, with even the paper on the ground filling in that big space on the bottom edge of the photo - fine.

The treatment is intended to heighten the ghostly atmosphere in the same way as grain does but when everything is very light-coloured heavy grain or other forms of distortion can ruin the weightlessness of the image so I avoided it here. It almost looks painted, doesn't it?


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Wheels of Confusion


It's the big wheel at Place de la Concorde and completely dominates the Champs Elysées when looking in the opposite direction to the Arc de Triomphe, which pales in comparison, in fact.

It's quite a challenge to take it well. For a start there's the light. It's night, which means less light over all. Next, you've got bright bright light set against a jet black sky. Tricky. Then of course you have to find your position, which in this case was a traffic island thing in the middle of the road - be careful (repositioning only allowed in a forward or backward direction please!).

Sharpness is a big issue/technical consideration here. If you have your tripod, you're very organised and serious for a start and I respect you for that! It's not me!!! And besides, a diamond-edged cristal sharp pic can actually be very soulless - not generally my cup of tea - where am I in there, I ask myself - that's for boring tourist postcards, not creative photography...

I used two simple techniques here to try and make things more interesting. Primero, I swung the camera around as I took the shot. I focused on the wheel first. Segundo, I zoomed in and out as I took the shot - the slow shutter speed took care of the rest.

Normally in these situations you have to take a LOT of shots. You throw away about 25 and are very pleased with about two or three if you're lucky. I was left with about three after my weeding out session, but finally chose this one because I liked the fact that in this photo alone, my camera movement had turned the lights into a flock strange birds flapping out in all directions. And that certainly wasn't planned.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rayman

Love this sinister, post-apocalyptic feel. It was taken in an underpass near the périphérique, the ring road that runs round the twenty Parisian arrondissements (districts) and there are certainly some less than salubrious places which don't receive too much attention because no-one actually does anything excepts try to leave them as soon as possible.

Here a strong ray of sunlight was coming down through an open section and this guy was passing through it. The interesting triangular pattern of the shadows and light framing the guy, plus his rather sinister faceless appearance, due to bumping up the contrast, gives a strong and unusual composition.
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Friday, October 05, 2007

Resident Evil

The poster says 'Resident Evil' and as I gazed at this heartless block of steel and glass I thought, yes, that's about right. I do love modern architecture actually, but sometimes the contrast between good old mother nature with all her twists and turns (a tree or a girl on a bike for example) and this rectilinear monster can be very impressive.

So I curvified it!
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Pink Rider

I caught this girl charmingly framed between a lamppost and an electricity box, cool and curvy, in pink and blue in one of the city's many new cycling lanes. There are still hearts beating fast in this metropolis of concrete and chrome.
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Wile Away The Days

Apart from the composition - the guy walking out of this reality (leaving the shot) with the other guy not going anywhere, there are two other strong elements which tell a story.

The clearest is the invisible line between the two hands, coming from very different directions and situations, yet just two hands nevertheless, reaching out both in their own way, and yet on different planes with no possibility of contact.

The second, more subtle element is the fallen leaves lying around the homeless man, very similar in colour and shape to the man's crumpled coat, all scattered by the wind and the wiles of this world.
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Basket Case

This is a common site, and it shows the extent to which these dumb (non-speaking...) animals have been tamed that they submit to such treatment without so much as a whimper. Indeed, they must rather like it, as well as being stuffed into handbags and backpacks and all manner of indignities.

I actually asked this woman for this pic, which is very rare for me, because a) it was so cute, and b) I wanted a good close-up shot. She said yes but didn't want to be in the pic. I actually got her in the shot but respected her wishes by cropping her out, and in-so-doing also concentrating on the real subject which is the dog. Close cropping also got rid of someone's jean-clad legs, a few extraneous lampposts and a not-so-pretty green bin. The lady's hands though were important, along with the handlebars to give the context. In fact, it's not a picture of a dog. It's a picture of the lifestyle of a Parisian dog - not at all the same thing! I'll be your dawg... woof-woo-woof-wa-woof!
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Trust Me, I'm A Teacher

There's this guy who sticks these things up all over Paris, it's amazing - you find them everywhere! He's offering free English lessons through his web site and it seems to be quite good, if that's what you're in need of. It makes a change from Chinese massages and piano lessons, which seem to be the other most popular ads, along with notices about obscure bands' latest albums which you are never going to buy in a million years. Good luck to the free English guy, that's what I say...
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© 2007 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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Paris Set Me Free - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

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