Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Wheeling


Written Comments

I'd love to say there was some deep emotional message to impart here... but I just can't find one! There's just this restaurant guy putting up the menu and some bike just lying there (not his) with the lock abandoned next to it. The shot's more perplexing than anything else I can see.

Just why is that bike just lying there? I guess I'll never know.

Compositionally, I was worried this shot was a bit busy, but I cropped as much as I was comfortable with, and managed to rein in the unruly bits. The bottom and bottom right side of the picture are nicely hemmed in by the pleasing curve of the kerb, which also frames the expired bicycle. The pavement going into the distance on the right with the receding black poles provide the sense of depth and the flowered balcony closes off the top left.

I've zapped up the colours as usual to increase the sense of irreality (which I just invented) as I often do as part of my style/theme (transport).

You got to have a theme, y'know? Coz if you don't have a theme... how you gonna have a theme speak for you?!

Video Commentary

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Notre Kiss


Written Comments

Hey - did you guess it was Paris folks?! Couldn't be much clearer, could it? Notre Dame nicely backdropping the unplanned (honest) Doisneau Moment, as the multi-faceted street sign shouts "This is France!" for all it's worth.

I decided to do a little bit of photo manip on this one just for fun - can you guess what I did? Prizes for the most complete analysis - if you reply you'll probably win!

Actually, I'll probably tell you everything in the video, but you can still try to guess before you watch anyway...

As it's my first pic of the new year (2008, in case you hadn't noticed) although I did take it in December of last year, it's a happy one, a nice New Year kiss, wishing you all a wonderfully productive and photographically insightful twelve months.

Stick with me, leave a few comments from time to time, and I'll probably be your new best friend! Happy snapping...

Video Commentary

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Breaking Rank


Written Comments

I know it's one of those sickeningly cutesy human tendencies to anthropomorphosise and imagine a rather perplexed look on the beaks of these serene seagulls as this uncouth unkempt pigeon (a pigeon, eugh... how terribly common!) crashes in on the scene, but it's quite fun to do it anyway

The former were standing, and I kid you not, in a uniform line, perfectly spaced, even the military would have been proud of

Now, I know you can't actually tell that this is Paris, but it is, indeed, Ile de la Cité, in the little park next to the little known memorial for the deportation during the Second World War. I saw so much wildlife (and some tame) on this shoot it was strange to think that we were supposed to be living in a concrete jungle.

I had a whole bunch of shots like this, minus the pigeon, and had been agonising over which wonderful representation of that amazing line to show you, when I realised I was an idiot. With a shot like the one above, and the same thing minus the grey blur of bird, there is no contest. There was more purity in the other shots, but this one is where the action is! And the interaction (or disdainful lack of it) between the two species which makes it interesting.

As a great fan of contrasts, there are plenty here: moving and still; white and grey; sharp and blurred; near and far; and to anthopomorphosise a little... calm and collected against panicked and pushy. Clean and polluting? The list could go on.

Video Commentary

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Creative Photo Critique - 'Andita from Jakarta'






Video Photo Critique
© Images copyright Andita Rasyid 2007

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(Ask Sab for a friendly photo critique!)

Creative Photo Critique - 'Joanna from Toronto'






Video Photo Critique
© Image copyright Joanna Robertson 2007

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___________________________
© 2007 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this..!
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I'll Be Your Dawg


Written Comments

On a chilly evening in mid-December I was touched by this lonely low-down dawg mooching around the brightly-lit grocery store. I don't know if he belonged to it or not, but his demeanour was such that he seemed to be forlornly hoping that someone would toss him a crust or a bone or something.

My companion for the tour, a charming lady from Oxfordshire in the UK, said something like 'Oh, what a shame' when I said it was blurred, and was surprised when I replied that I thought it was marvellous!

It's completely personal, of course, but I love the fuzzy canine shadow with the almost transparent legs and echoed head contrasting nicely with the colourful fruit and veg on the stand behind. Homeless people are an omnipresent feature of Paris streets, and their plight is all the sadder in the colder seasons and this could be a kind of metaphor for that.

As I often mention, my creative objective is to produce images which are half-way between photographic-reality and artistic impressionism.

There are two great things about having a predefined goal or guiding principle behind your work. First of all, it gives you a framework to move within, hopefully creating some coherence to your output. And secondly, art is, well, art, man, and there ain't no boundaries nor rules that weren't made to be broken, so go for it! The weirder the wonderfuller I reckon!

Having said that, my own stuff now seems relatively tame, but you'd be surprised how often people (philistines!) still tell me things like, 'Well, I like it, but it's a shame you didn't manage to get it in focus', thereby missing the point by a few light stops, but never mind...

It means something to me, and that's what matters.

Video Commentary

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War Window


Written Comments

This is part of a moving memorial to the deportation of Jews, homosexuals and other 'deviants' during the Second World War. It's hidden away relatively unknown just round the corner from Notre Dame, and makes for some stunning photos. Here we are inside the structure, which has been designed to make you feel something of what the deportees must have felt, imprisoned between tall narrow walls of grim unforgiving concrete.

The thing we are looking at here could almost be a picture on the wall, but in fact is a long tunnel lined with many thousands of little beads, each one representing one of the unfortunates. Apposite cuneiform inscriptions add to the oppressive atmosphere, highlighted in red and capable of bringing a lump to the throat...

I gave the photo a harsh treatment to match the emotions I experience when I enter this shrine. I wanted the violence to be present through the roughness of the walls and the minimalism of the colours. The little flight of steps, for me, say... be careful, we're only a couple of paces away from this madness at any given time... it could have been you.

Video Commentary

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Moulin Rouge, Menace Noire


Written Comments

This is the sort of shot that makes me wish I hadn't decided to make written (and now video) comments on all my photos for the greater of good of my egregious ego and photo-taking-kind in general.

Some photos just have to speak for themselves, and as a poet finds explaining their words with other words somewhat pointless, if not ridiculous, so I have problems conveying the emotions I'm trying to express in any other way than simply presenting the shot for your appraisal.

This often happens when I'm particularly pleased with a shot and I think words would spoil it, so I'll leave the image above as it is, untarnished by cold, clinical linguistic dissection and analysis. I don't feel particularly emotional about this picture, but as a classic shot of a famous landmark it's not bad.

Video Commentary

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Photo Critique - I'll Be Your Dawg






Video Photo Critique
© Images copyright Gary Ramos

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Marché d'Amélie


Written Comments


I've already taken two other versions of this shot, but well, it's been a while, and I wanted to take a break from Paris wildlife! There is something magical about this little grocer which has become an international tourist attraction (sort of) thanks to its appearance in the film Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain.

I like the way the poster seems to be rolling back to reveal the scene (like some of those cheesy effects you can apply to photos and videos ;-) and there's a guy who seems to be wearing a beret but it isn't really, but never mind.

You need to try and do something arty with this place because, although it is from the film, it is actually not that remarkable without all the Amélie paraphernalia, unless you try and get some kind of funky fruit shot, but then you're kind of missing the point.

So I always include some image of Amélie, be it a poster or a postcard, and let the grocery complete the atmosphere rather than being the main subject. It's a useful technique to pick on or exagerate a single element of a scene and make it much bigger than the rest, which can be much more interesting than a straightforward face-on shot.

Video Commentary

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Bridge of Hope


Written Comments

This shot was taken peeking out from the very discrete monument to the deportation on the tip of Ile de la Cité, just across from Notre Dame. It's an extremely powerful space, and this view is just one more brilliantly chilling aspect of what they have achieved here.

It's terribly tricky to get a good shot here as you have to squat right down and sort of balance on one leg trying to position something interesting in one of the little squares of the black iron grill.

In this case I managed to get a couple of birds (what else?) flying over the bridge, with the obelisk on the right and some typically Parisian buildings on the left. It's true that the river slopes down to the left which doesn't really respect the Lordz of Fizzicks, but to be honest, do you want art, or do you want a happy crappy holiday snap?

If it's the latter you're after, you just have to get off your knees and head on up to the adjacent bridge and take a prim 'n proper, judiciously horizontal, unfettered picture of a bridge and show it to your grandmother who'll say it's lovely, and you'll be none the wiser... ;-)

Apologies to creative grandmothers everywhere, by the way...

One other point, a small one maybe, but important if you want to know the whole story... The centre of the image is a square, and for that reason I made the whole image much squarer than the original, by cropping. And what's more, I didn't just crop it any old how. If you look carefully, you'll see that the little gap in the top left-hand corner is almost exactly the same size as the little gap in the bottom right, but the shapes of the rectangles opposed at 90 degrees.

It's little details like these which go to make up a pleasingly balanced picture, little elements echoing and complementing each other which the viewer might not be aware of but which count nevertheless. Thank you.

Video Commentary

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Headless Wonder


"Headless Wonder"

I'll hum it and you... oh look, never mind, just play what you want. OK? OK.

This guy wanders the Paris streets like the proverbial headless horseman (without a horse, of course), squeezing out his melancholy melodies for those who wish to listen, although staring mouth agape is a more typical reaction. Two passing tourists nearly fell off their Vélib hire-bikes in shock as I was taking this shot.

Which makes you wonder. To be so show-stopping and yet so anonymous. Isn't there some sort of contrast there? Can he see all of his captive audience as he wheezes away on his third lung? Is he trying to tell us something? Is he a true artist or just some sort of marginal weirdo.

So many questions, and so few answers. I'll leave you to be the judge of it all. Please let me know if you work it all out one day. Thanks.
___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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Humid Zones


"Humid Zones"

Humid zones..? Lush, gently swaying reeds..?? The smell of the countryside and the hum of busy insects..???

The Paris town hall????? What the f***?

Ahh yes, it could only happen in Paris folks! (probably completely untrue, but I like to think it's only Paris which does such crazy things as installing an entire mini-ecosystem slap-bang in the middle of the city's main municipal thoroughfare...)

On a Sunday morning photo tour particularly rich in unexpected photo ops, we came across this micro-marvel, complete with wooden recliners and lots of info on the importance of 'being green', even in a busy city centre. Good on you, Bertrand. Way to go, Delanoë...

___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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Pink Dream


"Pink Dream"

I admit there wasn't much pink going on in truth, but hey, we're photographers, and the world is our bare canvas, as it were (had we been painters, and not photographers), and we can do what we like with reality, right?

This is a place I've never been, and you can see where it is if you look closely. The welcome seems, umm, original, but I'm a bit worried about the bobby - what's he doing there? Perhaps there's been a murder or some other dastardly deed...


___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Photography Lesson - "Don't Be A Moana, Eiffel!"


"Don't Be A Moana, Eiffel!"

The world's most famous picture and the world's most famous building, side by side, for Paris Set Me Free viewers' delectation - now don't say I never do anything for you...

Sorry about the ragged sticky tape and rather dishevelled appearance of said icons. Not my fault. Out of my hands.

Still, Lady Lisa doesn't seem too put out by her somewhat undignified predicament, and as for Mona Eiffel, she's bashfully hiding her nether regions behind a convenient awning and we can only presume she's not too impressed.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Self - 'Blind Poet'

Shadow Man

ShadowMan, I am retracing,
Cruising pavements,
Muted grey.

Slender irony reflecting
Concrete
On a Summer'sDay.

SeeMe rushing
Through the crowd now,
Dodging footfall,
Smudging dust.

Brittle ghost
In window crackling;
Smokey wraith,
BitterMust.

BreatheMe out
In waves unwinding
Chase me
From your misty eyes.

Turn around
And catch me watching
How my shadow
SmoothlyLies.

___________________
(Read poem with pictures)

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Photography Lesson - "I'll Be Your Dawg!"







"I'll Be Your Dawg!"

Animals add a touch of magic to any photo, and Paris isn't short of 'em. Although pooch poop is almost a thing of the past thanks to a massive clamp down on careless canine crapping, the number of dogs hasn't diminished in the slightest as far as I can see.

This was a lovable if rather lornsome chap we came across on a Saturday morning tour which had wandered into the Marais. I thought we could stick our noses into the wonderful Marais dance centre where you find the famous Café de la Gare, which is, or course, a... theatre, and where you are surrounded by dance studios radiating energies of every wavelength, and there he was...

Continue the lesson here

___________________________
© 2008 Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free

If you like this blog, you might appreciate this...
PARIS SET ME FREE - The Ultimate Paris Photography Website

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