Sunday, 22 December 2013

Snapping and pre-planning

Despite buggering up my hip on last week's walk I set out twice yesterday to scout out some locations for the local series I have in mind. Naturally enough I kept getting distracted. What it is that fascinates me about tarmac I really don't know, but I often feel compelled to photograph it. To the extent I see some tarmac, walk past it, then retrace my steps to take a photograph of it. I need therapy!

On my way back home from the first walk I made yet another attempt at the view along the lane. The time has passed for this one. I should have taken more care over it the first time when everything was there to 'make' the picture. Another lesson re-learned the hard way.

Between walks I watched a programme I had downloaded to watch on iPlayer. While the programme is about how the (almost) ubiquitous phone-camera (I don't have one...) is altering news gathering and the way photo journalists approach their work it could also watched to see why pictures have impact. Although the pros talked of getting themselves in the right situations and making their shots tell a story it seemed to me that the amateur shots managed to do the same. Their being in the right place was purely fortuitous, and it's possible that their framing was too, but however those factors combined the result was the same.

The Holmes family taking refuge includes telling details and expressions with a flow in the composition which gives it a strength that others taken at the time lack. It also echoes a photograph by Horst Fass from the Vietnam war - which may alter some people's perception of it.

What the programme brought home to me is that photographs interest me when they are not pretty pictures. They interest me most as sources of information. Which annoys me as I make plenty of pictures which contain very little information - such as pictures of tarmac.

In an attempt to counter this my local project is to take a series of photographs of benches around the village. To this end, for a complete change of approach, I'm scouting out viewpoints and compositions, and planning times of day to get the most appropriate light. Rather than make the benches central or prominent. If I can do it right the benches won't immediately appear to be the subject of the series and it will seem to be a series of random views of the village. I guess that at these web sizes the information which lies in the small details will be lost.

Whether my butterfly mind will be able to cope with all this pre-planning remains to be seen. Something simpler and more immediate is bound to distract me.

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