Assignment three The Decisive Moment Part 1

I am going to deal with this assignment in a short series of posts, rather than in just one.  This is so that I can explore separately a number of different ideas and to accommodate the fact that shooting is going to have to take place over a number of days.

The first opportunity that I have had to take pictures for this assignment was presented by a recent trip that I needed to make into the centre of Newcastle.  My village does not present that many opportunities for ‘street photography’!  What I wanted to explore first was a straightforward to street photography, in a way a bit like HCB did with his “images a la sauvette”.  I was though also keen to include the idea of geometry, but in a fairly simple way by using elements of the cityscape to provide a frame for the subject of the images.  As it happened the day in question was wet and shooting in the rain presents obvious challenges.  What I therefore settled on was taking photographs from shelter into the street.  In fact I ended up shooting out through the entrances to Newcastle’s covered Grainger Market (where I had an errand anyway) and through the archway that leads to the Side Gallery, where I visited the Coal Coast exhibition.  I did though manage a couple of shots outside when the rain eased off a little but I was still intent on using buildings to frame the subject.

I also played around a little with reflections.  By chance there were windows within the entrances to the market that created some interesting extra elements.  On a previous course I did an assignment specifically themed around reflections which created some interesting effects and images, some of which would have fitted quite nicely within the scope of the current assignment.

These are the contact sheets  from this first foray.

First impressions

The first thing that strikes me is that unlike HCB I am a little trigger happy.  Rather than spending more time observing and then catching just the right shot I have probably taken too many pictures of certain views with the result that the outcomes are undistinguished.  It is though also clear that a sometimes you just do not get a proper sense of what you are seeing through the viewfinder until you have taken the shot and can then analyse more closely.  Although in my previous post in the idea if the Decisive Moment I might have sounded a little dismissive of the “ex post facto rationalisation” and analysis of the geometry of the composition I think there is something to be said for this approach.  Only once the picture is out of the camera is it sometimes possible to see clearly and appreciate fully what is before you.

Of these pictures there are a few that I particularly like and I feel have been reasonably successful.

f/6.3, 1/80s

I have cropped this down to lose most of the doorway that framed the original shot.  Otherwise I have not done any post production work on it.  I particularly like the way I was able to catch the woman in the middle of the poster and the character on the right who acts as an almost monochrome punctuation to the otherwise colourful central strip.  Unlike the three pictures that follow, the subject matter here demands that the photo be in colour.

f/6.3, 1/50s                                  f/6.3, 1/100s                                                          f/2.8, 1/60s

These three have all been converted to black and white as I feel they have more impact in that form.  In the middle picture in particular I felt that the colour was something of a distraction. What I like about the first is the way the figure has become featureless and looks more like a man shaped hole in the scene.  In the second I was happy to catch the moment when the two mens’ reflections on the wet steps almost completely mirror their bodies.  The third was a shot I was hoping to get: knowing this location very well I was looking for just such an image of someone slightly out of focus in the foreground crossing in front if this narrow alleyway between two buildings.  It was specifically inspired by a photo by Matt Black (of which I own a print) – Downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from the series Geography of Poverty.

I shall want to play around with some of the other pictures more before making any final choices but for now I feel these are some of the strongest images and with which I am most happy.


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