The laughing policeman

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jc1305us, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. My father was in the US Army 1960-62. He took many photos while abroad. This is one of my favorites. Thought it would be cool to share. Shot on Kodachrome with a Voigtlander ca. 1960-62.

    Mod note image removed. You may not post images made by other photographers.
  2. I love the subject, the BG and the composition, BUT the subject isn't sharp. Probably too low a SS.

    Is this 50-years ago, shooting at ASA 25? That would explain your reluctance to use a higher SS, but it still ruins it for me.
  3. I like to critique before reading other reviews and the photographer's comments. I knew that it must have been slow, old film and from a different era.

    So, here's a question, do we forgive what would be unforgivable today, with modern technology? I've got a book that shows the greatest National Geographic shots over the last 100-years, or something like that. I certainly look past the weaknesses of film, particularly the distorted colors. My absolute favorite is a rampaging bull elephant, in low light, taken over the shoulder of the fleeing photographer as he ran for his life. Unlike today, the photographer didn't have the options of shooting at ISO 12800, or even 25600 and 1/1250-sec, as he waves his Canon/Sony/Nikon back over his left shoulder.

    Our subject shot would be easy today. We certainly wouldn't be shooting at ISO 25 or 64. The bright square in the middle would throw off only newbies that didn't know to add EV in some auto-mode or shoot Manual at a respectable shutter speed.

    On the other hand, this shot could have been sharp, but it would push the limits of the camera and the developer. I don't remember "Pushing" Kodachrome. I only did it with Tri-X. It's foggy to me, but maybe I pushed Ektachrome. Still, I've seen sharp street shots in similar conditions.(I think that I remember now. Wasn't there Ektachrome 200 and 400? I'd use the 400 when I needed "fast" SS).

    Still, personally, I wouldn't hang this on my wall, no matter how much I loved that smile. Maybe I'd have a small 3x5" on my desk if I really loved it. I certainly wouldn't buy it from another photographer.

  4. From the OP, I understood that this is a picture taken by jc’s father.

    I don’t see photos as a matter of forgiveness. I do, however, look at them with context in mind. Like you, I first look without reading. But then, before commenting, I’ll read what’s available. New information can keep me alert and can keep my relationship to the photo fluid.

    I saw and see this as a family or historical snapshot, which in no way diminishes but instead suggests its significance. So I’m not inclined to critique it as much as empathize with it to the extent I can.
  5. My father was not a professional photographer by any stretch, and he would probably say the guy got in his way when he was trying to take the photo! Lol looking at this photo 60 years later, I see it differently. It’s a cool snapshot of another time and place. I’ll post some more as the days go by.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  6. I even think he used tungsten colored film because every shot had a blue cast. I color corrected them with Lightroom. Many of the scans I received were scratched and dirty, unfortunately, which was disappointing tbh, but I’ll post the best of the lot.
  7. Sounds like a sharpness fetishist to me. Is sharpness so important that it trumps everything else?

    The D-Day pictures weren't all that sharp either....
    charles_escott_new and jc1305us like this.
  8. Which Voigtlander?
  9. Well, I'm a realist by nature. Yes, i look at everyone one of my images at 100% or more and I'm very unlikely to post anything where the eye is not super sharp. Shooting wildlife and nature, that's not an unusual position, but it carries over to my street shooting. My photography has a "look", which I think comes, in part, from my focus on sharpness. "Fetishist"? Yes, I think that a good choice of words JDMvW. I worry that some might interpret is as a negative, but I own all of my fetishes, photographic, sexual and otherwise.

    So, if I'd taken this picture in the last 15-years, I would be very upset with myself and throw it away. When I was shooting in the 1960s, I'm not totally sure, but I think that I would have kicked myself and only shared it with my family as a "pass around" image, or stuck in a photo album on the coffee table, but would not have blown it up and put it on a wall.

    Your WWII analogy has merit and hints toward an answer, acceptable by many of us. The size of the event is important in how much we forgive technical fault. We also consider the capacity of the technology of the time. Hence, we look at WWII images and look "through" the lack of sharpness that often was shown. There were severe equipment limitations vs. today, both in hardware and film. However, by the 1960s, things had improved a lot, but medium sensitivity levels were comparatively restricted. ASA 25 might not have been a good choice of film, particularly when many of us were pushing Tri-X for street style shooting. Pushing up to 3200 or 6400, as commonly done today, was unheard of. I'm still landing on the side of the blur should have been avoided. It's still a neat shot, but I bet that a photo editor of that era would have rejected it.

    What's the purpose of our critique here? It's not the only POV, but I think it's partly to suggest things that would improve the image to the point where a third party might use it commercially. I understand that there are many other points of view, but that's my fetish. ;)
  10. There it is again. “Forgiveness” and “fault,” as if lack of sharpness illustrates some sort of moral failing.

    I recently had the bittersweet pleasure of looking through my parents’ snapshots from the 30s and 40s, many of which were not terribly sharp. For me, the technical flaws added to my emotional response rather than distracting me in any way, because I knew they were taken by non-photographers just wanting to preserve a memory. I doubt they knew exactly how much it would mean to me, some 80 years later, to be able to share in that memory. And I’ll be damned if the sharpness of the eyes vs. the richness of the moments is going to get in my way. But, as you say, to each his own. I’m not much into S&M either, though I appreciate that others are.

    I would criticize more photos today for being too sharp rather than not sharp enough. The world and my vision is not near as sharp as some photographers seem to think. The photo submitted here is obviously unsharp, not as an aesthetic choice but as a more casual lack of concern or simply a missed opportunity. But the eyes of passersby in much street shooting, which glare back at me in so-called tack sharpness are often unnatural and elicit less empathy than cartoon-like aversion.

    I often see the world more lyrically than hyper-realistically.
  11. Indeed, one need not apologize for alleged or real faults with photographs shot with old equipment and/or by a person who lacks photographic skills. JC explicitly stated that his father shot the OP image. To me, perhaps to ditto your comments, the image in question tells a story: the law enforcement officer dancing for a disinterested audience. One more bit of humor . . . Check out the couple toward the middle; the woman seems to have her hand on the man's derriere.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  12. Not sure. If I find out I’ll let you know.
  13. For a mo' there I thought I'd stumbled into a critique forum. I'm reminded why I don't read critique.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  14. It communicates time and place beautifully--and likely far more to the OP. 'Nuff said.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  15. lol. And I’m reminded that, like photos, there’s good and bad critique. For the sake of the kids, I try not to throw too many babies out with the bath water. :)
  16. Blimey, a flic smiling ! Maybe they don't have much to smile about today. He seems to be dancing in to shot. Love the way the people are dressed, like adults ! Well done your dad and thanks for sharing, Charles.
    jc1305us and michaellinder like this.
  17. I bought a Retina I and started taking Kodachromes. I then joined a camera club where we had frequent slide shows. I noticed my slides weren't as sharp as those of Leica users. So I started taking everything at 1/250 sec.and saw this went a long way towards evening up the images.
  18. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Looks more to me as if she is restraining his hand to prevent him performing a similar activity !! And that may be why the flic is smiling, of course.
  19. Indeed.

    And I see it as the woman in a suit on the right and the man in a dress and pumps on left, simply holding hands! [I've been told the man must be taller than the woman, ergo my conclusion ... :)]
    Tony Parsons likes this.
  20. Thank you all for your great comments. I’ll post a few more. They really are a time capsule of a long lost time and place. As a police officer myself, I love this one. I noticed the hand holding only after I had really noticed “The laughing policeman” and I thought the same thing as @michaellinder : )

Share This Page