Photo of the Week - #46 8/1/22

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by samstevens, Aug 1, 2022.

    • Photo of the Week is a member-run feature.
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    • Comment on and discuss the photo or any aspect of it in whatever way you choose.
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  1. Lots going on in this photo. My first inclination was that it’s overly busy. I wonder whether the photographer considered cropping from the left edge to the smaller enclosure. This would draw more attention to the dog.
  2. An intriguing scene that I'm sure has a story behind it. The main thing I like about the photo is the apparent incongruity in the scene. Beyond the fence are two fenced-off enclosures littered with junk next to a railroad track (three, if you include the elevated pillar). The area on this side of this fence is cracked and stained. And yet, someone on this side of the fence has carefully spaced out clothes to dry on the fence. Judging by their position, it seems they were hung on the barbs of the top wire.

    So for me, the photo poses some questions such as:
    - who hung the clothes up and what were his/her/their living conditions?
    - how come the person/people chose (or had no alternative than) to hang the close on the top barbed wire?
    - is the dog just a 'wandering stray' or a pet of the person/people who hung the clothes up?

    I also like the 'stark' exposure/PP which seems to fit the scene well.
    PapaTango likes this.
  3. The wire fence, the trash dump and the nearby rail tracks all portray an environment that is opposite to being 'residential'. Yet, we see the evidence of exactly that in the strewn out cloths to be dried, and the pet on a leash. I felt this is a great portrayal of human condition on the fringes in a civilized society. The photographer has managed to portray this without actually showing any human subject in the scene. In fact, absence of any human makes the scene even more striking and focuses our attention on the elements that are left outside the frame. Its a desolate predator-land that is very much near our backyard.

    I find the alternating patterns of black and white among the clothes working towards the aesthetics of the scene, so does the black silhouette of the dog that somehow resembles the profile of the black clothes. Also, the composition is quite balanced with a layering of straight lines with more organic shapes.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2022
  4. Oh, I also like the low sun and long shadows of the fence!
  5. This is an excellent social statement, a sort of dark portayal of where "we" are today.

    @Supriyo 's commentary echoes my thoughts very closely. I like all the elements of the photo, from the shadows, to the tracks and everything all around. I like the aspect of the fences- making it impossible to tell what's "inside" and what's "outside" the fenced areas. In my eye, this spurs houghts of imprisonment and restrictions vs freedom, Looking more closely, I believe that rather than the dog being chained or leashed, it aappears that the pavement is striated with cracks, but the dog is actually unchained, therefore free to move as it pleases- which adds an element of irony, if the dog is free to move about as it pleases yet whomever is fenced and/or restricted from movement. Yet also, as far as we know, both dog and whatever humans these clothes belong to, are living feral lives, ouside of what we think of as comfort or security.

    I believe all the geometric and angular elements of this shot really anchor the whole thing, bringing some sense of order (however remote) to this chaotic scene. The long shadows add to this effect in my eye- sun goes up, sun goes down. Life goes on even as time stands stil and The Clock never stops ticking. I find the railroad tracks somewhat symbolic; they could possibly lead to a better envirnment of to happier places. So maybe there's some hope in this seemingly bleak scene after all?

    Whether shot in black and white or converted (doesnt matter which, of course), I like it as presented and think that color here would greatly shift the feeling of the photo.

    Cool shot, and deep too.
    PapaTango and mikemorrell like this.
  6. Another thought: doesn’t this photo call into question the very meaning of “freedom”? Are we who are encumbered by the weight** of our possessions more or less “free” than those who have little or nothing?

    **Having just moved house, I’ve become quite well
    acquainted with the *actual* weight (not to mention the sheer volume) of my possessions. :eek:
    More than once in the last few days have I dreamt of owning less. Is a house and life full of stuff a blessing or….. ?
  7. @Ricochetrider I'm definitely not the photographer (I just wish I was!) but I do appreciate your insightful comments. They help me learn how to better appreciate photos. My personal thanks also go (of course) to @samtevens for hosting this weekly event from which we all learn and to the photographer who provided this week's great, wonderfully questioning, and thought-provoking photo!

    I'm old enough to remember the 'older days' of in which long and convoluted discussions took place (sometimes - in my memory - with animosity between members) on the 'photo of the week'. In my memory, many of the discussions centered on "yes but is it Art?". That was about the time I left PN and - out of curiosity - re-visited some 5 years later. PN is IMHO now a very much healthier, positive, and supportive forum these days. This weekly forum is proof of this.


    Ricochetrider likes this.
  8. This is a street shot that suggests a narrative and creates a mood/atmosphere. It’s got a strong pull to it. It’s an odd scene but little question about what we’re seeing. Some really nice responses above that capture my own sentiments well. Good street photographers can also be documentarians whose photos do reflect back the life and society of the times.
    Freedom means being able to ask that question and having the choice, IMO.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  9. What a great set of comments on this photo! This is a genre I haven't had a lot of experience with, and your comments have helped me to better understand and appreciate what I’m seeing and feeling when viewing this image—thanks, all of you, for enriching my experience with the photo.

    My first impression was one of forlorn-ness, based on the subject matter, disarray, and stark b&w treatment.

    Next came an appreciation for the resourcefulness of whoever had used the barbed wire as a clothes line (along with some curiosity over how they were going to get the clothes down without tearing them), and some puzzlement over the nature of a culture that needs to protect its trash bins with barbed-wire fortifications.

    After that, I began to enjoy the variety of lines and angles from the fencing, railroad tracks, and especially the shadows. (My inner minimalist kept griping that it would be nice to see this without all the clutter; my inner moralist kept reminding the minimalist that the point of the photo, at some level, is the clutter). I particularly like the way the lines frame the interior of the image.

    I’m surprised by how important the dog is—that dark shape provides a strong alternative to the clothing eye-magnet and the dumpster eye-magnet; without the dog, my attention would be pretty much confined to the upper half of the image. The effectiveness of the dog is due primarily to the excellent timing of the capture: the dog breaks the edge of the dumpster shadow but is still far enough from the edge of the frame to not lead my eye out of the frame.

    I am curious about our vantage point—are we looking down from an overpass? Or maybe a window?
    mikemorrell likes this.
  10. I’ve seen that before and I suspect it is to stop the clothes being blown off the fence- iow, no clothes pegs
    mikemorrell likes this.
  11. The photo certainly has depth and is a great choice for POW but, conversely, it is not likeable. I would never buy this or hang it on my wall. Not that that matters.
    Ken Ratcliffe likes this.
  12. IMHO, many documentary photos - however powerful - aren't 'likable'. I would never buy this photo ( or most others) or hang it on a wall. The only (very few) photos I ever hang up (and rotate) are my own photos and those of others who inspire me.

    Ludmilla likes this.
  13. I have no problem displaying it on the wall though. It depends on the context. I can dedicate a wall in a room to pictures that portray human condition and life in general. This can nicely be part of a visual series.
  14. This photo needs a title. Without it I do not know really what is depicted. I can assume, like the others have above, but it would be good to know. It is a bit too subtle for a stand alone shot, but IMO would work in a series about homelessness, if that is the purpose of the shot.
  15. Wow, so many interesting. comments. So since I took this here's what I was thinking. I like the comment suggesting this should be part of a series it makes sense. I think of this photo as sort an "anti-postcard" of Los Angeles. It depicts the derelict, dilapidated area that is just a bridge across the LA River as opposed to the famous Hollywood sign and the upscale areas of the City. It's an area of old warehouses, rail yards and crumbling light industry. We often would photograph in Downtown, across the bridge along Broadway, and the Garment District and Jewlery Districts. They were one of the main shopping areas to the relatively new Hispanic population, not completely, but significantly. It was a very vibrant area with a lot of energy. That area is now changing as the City has pushed an Arts section, which has drawn in a much more moneyed demographic and become "trendy".

    We often would finish our day by the River where the old, crumbling remnants of working buildings and warehouses. To the pic itself. I think this is taken up high near the slope leading to the bridge. I can't remember what bridge, they are named after the street numbers, ie 9th st. bridge, 3rd street etc. The bridges are beautiful structures in themselves big arches and fairly old. One of them has just been rebuilt to great public hoopla. I've also taken pics from down next to the river on railroad property. In this pic the fences next to the track is to keep people from entering to the track, including people who want to hop the freights. There is a lot transient population that frequents the area and so there are security fences including the fence around the dumpster and away from what I believe is probably the old loading doc. As we were crossing over I noticed the dog out of the corner of my eye and it was slowly moving so I had time to compose the shot. As you can see, there are strong geometric shapes that I thought looked good and as we usually were in that area in the late afternoon, had plenty of interesting shadows that I think added and helped set the mood. The dog was the pivot point for me, It just seemed to be a stray dog, hanging it's head and the posture reminded me of Daido Moriyama's "Stray Dog". This definitely was a shout out to that photo, and really the whole mood of a sad moment of this marginalized area where there is a quiet yet losing hold out against modernity and where things are on their last legs, I don't know why the cloths were there, but as I said there are a lot of transients in the area or it could just be people who work there. I just think there is something beautiful about these old areas, the grit, the light, the sort of alienation from the rest of a vibrant city and the mood it creates.

    Lastly, I've made this picture into a repetitive wall paper that I will be shipping to Ludmilla so she can decorate her wall with this uplifting photo :) Thanks to all for the comments and thanks to Sam for choosing this pic. and this whole forum.
  16. thanks much for providing the background info on this interesting photo!

  17. Agreed, Tom.
  18. Holy mackerel folks a casual mindlessness snap.

    Sorry, but I do honesty The photographer will never move on if he listens to your mindless platitudes..

    Common, a dog and a washing line. Yes, these places exist, but put some soul in them/character a 5 year could have taken that photo by pressing a button.

    You asked for critique, or, are you asking for kisses? Lots of kisses for everyone on this forum.
  19. Seriously blown highlights, blocked shadows, speaks of a novice photographer, who the last thing he needs is kiss arse folk.

    Documentary, it really does not matter. But still...we like a measure of competence. .
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2022

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