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© ©2016 John Crosley/Crosley Trust, All rights reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

'Into the Light' Photo of the Week


johncrosley

© 2016 John Crosley/Crosley Trust All Rights Reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder;Software: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 (Windows);

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© ©2016 John Crosley/Crosley Trust, All rights reserved, No reproduction or other use without express prior written permission from copyright holder

From the category:

Street

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A young woman emerges from the city's transportation bowels, climbs some steps,

and is illuminated by the strong but waning light of the long oncoming summer day.

Your ratings, critiques and observations are invited and most welcome. If you rate

harshly, very critically, or wish to make a remark, please submit a helpful and

constructive comment; please share your photographic knowledge to help improve my

photography. Thanks! Enjoy! john

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I really like the elements of light that fall on the leading lines of the steps, the banister rail and  the ceiling, all seeming to point the way to the exit and the daylight!

Great timing and composition!

 

Best Regards

 

Alf

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I'd been through this particular stair/passageway combination nearly or more than one hundred times and never felt the inspiration to raise my camera partly from the fatigue of having already gone up and down several flights of steps just to arrive at that point.

 

But then I saw that light coming like a shaft down the stairwell and it inspired me.  This is not my first shot.  I tried from where I had been standing, and the results were desultory, but I remembered the exhortation 'work the subject', and that is built into what I do anyway.  So I moved right a little bit, and unlike so many of my photos that are taken in an instant, this was entirely preplanned with angles and proportions carefully taken into account.

 

Then I waited.

 

When the perfect (as well as I could get) person came by, I snapped the shutter, and would have tried for something better, but a vendor came and set up a cardboard makeshift shop to sell produce to the right, and that was the end of symmetry and the end of my chances.  Frankly, that vendor or others like that person are the reason(s) I hadn't seen this particular relationship before, as they've almost always set up shop there on the landing.

 

In post processing, you have to remember that the camera exposes on 'auto' settings for a certain amount of greyscale and this came out somewhat overexposed though tempered by the strong light down the stairwell.

 

I tweaked it so the stairs, right, were dark and darker as one went father away from the near stairwell to allow the leading lines to 'work', and as you so aptly noticed, they work very well.

 

That's because of a long time spent in post processing, which is very unusual for me, as the light/shadow combination for this particular photo was very tricky, and I had a particular 'look' (shown) I was trying for.  Just a percent more light on the right stairs or even a fraction just about destroyed the look.  One had to be very careful in post to make this come out right.

 

This is as close to a 'manufactured' Crosley 'street' photo as you'll ever see; so many others are taken 'on the fly' no matter how wonderful their proportions.

 

But I know what I want, and I also didn't want to waste a good chance, obtained by merely sidestepping a little, then up a step or two, and voila -- there it was, all for waiting with a little patience for the inevitable pedestrian.

 

It wasn't all for you Alf, but it was for viewers like you, as Photo.netters are a demanding bunch, and I also demand a lot from myself, especially when I have time to set a circumstance up.

 

Thanks for enduring my perhaps overlong explanation.

 

And for the kind critique and compliment.

 

john

 

John (Crosley)

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Kind of easy to see all the pleasurable design pairings: up bannister, down bannister; over ceiling stripes, wide stair stripes; up checkerboard on the left, down-ish checkerboard near the top; two line sign upper left, two line sign somewhat lower right.

Is this a literal flow of a passage up and to the left, or is it a visual flow left to right? I'm going with the latter.

Is the figure advancing to the left or is the figure in a defensive pose against the force of the light? I'm going with the latter (that elbow ... ).

This week I'm not going to tell you where this picture leads my mind; rather I'll give you a link. Given what I've already written, it shouldn't be an entire surprise. But I expect it will be.

For me this picture never quite reaches escape velocity, but it's a beautiful failure; the best kind. I aspire to make such failures. [In the interest of supposed impartiality, I'm pretending I don't know who John Crosley is.]

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I don't see a great deal of interest in this one. It is, I suppose, a slice of life that most of us see in one form or other every day we use an underpass or subway, but it lacks aesthetic or intellectual appeal to me. It's not bad, but it does not activate any of my appreciative neurons either.

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What I get from this image is allegory. Darkness and light are not just descriptive terms; they are part of how we think

about the world. I suspect that John's thinking is that people, in perhaps different ways, strive to move from darkness into

light. To me, John's image is masterful.

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I like the "stage", the lighting, and the "set design." (I know this is not a stage . . . I'm using metaphor.)

I don't see or find much of a story here to go along with the great play of angles and lines, light and shadow. There's an awkwardly-posed feel to the person that doesn't give me much clue as to a narrative and yet it feels like something is going on here, or ought to be.

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Fred G. and others,

This photo is a pure play on lighting, shading, grayscale, lines, leading lines, angles, etc. -- the so-called 'geometrie' that Cartier-Bresson wrote about when he spoke of composition.

It never was meant to have a 'warmth' or humanitarian appeal to it, but instead to 'fit the pieces of a complex puzzle together in a pleasing way' from rather ordinary circumstance I had passed hundreds of times before.

In short, it was a project, and the process can be read about above at great length -- how I chose the place to photograph, worked the scene to get the precise composition I felt most pleasing for composition from an ordinary vista, moved around a bit, then the meticulous and difficult post processing task of adjusting the gray scale, etc. [i wrote about that process in the posting, so please refer to the original posting to see that discussion, jc]

In short, this is as I noted a 'constructed' photograph, I noted, more than what I often would shoot in such circumstances -- a casual 'street' shot.

If you are looking for a narrative, you will not find it intended, but if you are looking for contrasts and stories or allegories about light/shadow, you might find it more pleasing. I can take photos sometimes showing great narratives and/or emotion, but this is not one of those, nor was it intended to be; it was meant as a study in the elements of composition, and any reading you can make from it that flows naturally from a reading of the lines, leading lines, gray scale and large light contrasts.

This now is my fourth Photo of the Week, and each one is greatly varied, which pleases me, as I prefer to shoot in many styles and genres, though I often choose the street idiom as here.

I have much I do not display here or elsewhere, though some of you may be finding large amounts of my color work displayed elsewhere, for licensing -- tens of thousands of photos.

I hope this little meander pleases you, and that you keep it mind it's a 'study' assembled from one very fatigued photographer as he returned from shooting, stood on a triple staircase as he prepared to ascend and catch his wind, and it never was meant to be a great oeuvre, and Photo of the Week was never a dream for this exercise.

john

John (Crosley)

 

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"... assembled from one very fatigued photographer as he returned from shooting, stood on a triple staircase as he prepared to ascend and catch his wind"

It's an allegory for photo.net. :)

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Beauty is often considered in photography to be a sensual or technically accomplished use of light, texture, design, tone and contrasts, some of which this photo demonstrates. But that is not a definition that is complete enough for me. What is missing is the so-called "Narrative", but what I would instead refer to as "sense" or "poetry" of the image. I have real difficulty finding the latter here, or in the stream of similar images recently chosen. However, a sincere bravo to John for attracting the elves repeatedly. I guess that in itself is an accomplishment.

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Classic John Crosley: Find or set the background and then wait until the right subject crosses the field of view. John, you know I love you work, and I love your numerous variations on this kind of theme. Alright, so this time you actually did set up the shot rather than wait for the random pedestrian. If anything, the effect is even better this time.

I find it most interesting and beautiful--to the nth power.

--Lannie

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Fine mastering of light from the darkest corners to the upper left corners where the action is happening, with a play of parallel horizontal and vertical lines keeping the feeling of stillness.
Yes, as Lannie's writes this is surely John, but in my inner eye I especially see documentation of humans in Eastern Europe. Great work John !

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Landrum Kelly,

Lannie, I shoot in a variety of ways. I'll take the odd shot, and it'll end up as 'Photo of the Week' (my first, a single shot), and in my second, it was a series of shots of commuters lined up for their jitney buses, each different but varying on the same theme, while in my third Photo of the Week (Revolutionary Fighter/Cook), I took a series of photos of the same man because he was extremely interesting to me and fingers wrapped on a cup of soup he prepared finished the photo's great, weathered faces, by mirroring the rings in his army cook stove.
This one is different in that I had passed this scene many times before, but in this instance the light was (as the bears say) 'just right', and so I deemed it worthy of a composition -- not a Photo of the Week composition -- but one worthy. When I saw it in my Adobe, it was far too light, so I manipulated it to my memory and my taste and voila, another.

Thanks for keeping the faith; I welcome your appreciation of my photography.

john

John (Crosley)

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Anders Hingel,

Thanks for the compliments on my use of light and composition.

As to the subject of 'humans in Eastern Europe' for a look at some recent contest entries, you might browse at these two entries (with many overlaps), 10 and 11 photos each) submitted recently to two contests at LensCulture.com.

I didn't win the first on 'street photography' or even a runnerup prize, but their evaluator said my work was 'fantastic', said I knew it was 'fantastic', and was going to skip the task he/she (anonymous curator/editor or whatever) had been hired to do which was to evaluate my work and instead pointed my way to getting into galleries and museums, first step being my own web site, saying my work was worthy of finest web sites and museums worldwide.

Only criticism was my posting of 'elegant and sophisticated' work next to more tacky work on host sites -- as 'host sites' such as Flickr and Photo.net have little standing among photo professionals. Humh. That was worth the cost of entry alone -- that nugget. I never was one for formality on Photo.net, as you know.

So, I'm building a web site, but have so much good stuff I hardly know where to start.

Lots of my finest children are going to get slaughtered, I'm afraid, or I'll rotate my best work, so I don't overwhelm the site.

Here are some links (if not links, then cut and paste into your browser:

https://www.lensculture.com/projects/298469-gritty-life-in-the-new-ukrain (yet to be evaluated, contest closes in 2 days, and after judging I get a private evaluation weeks or months later, unrelated to the judging by a photo professional, curator, editor or other photo bigwig. It's a real honest to gosh contest worth the entry fee for the evaluation.

https://www.lensculture.com/projects/286460-life-in-ukraine-as-seen-by-jo (this set was sent as a series, while the former set as single photos).

There are only about three or four photos different between the two.

Happy browsing if you choose.

john

John (Crosley)

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Anders,

In the Lens Culture Award competition for Emerging Artists 2016, one of my photos (Revolutionary Fighter), has been chosen already as an 'editor's choice', albeit among many others, but it's a first hurdle.

It's part of the black and white submission; I've submitted it twice to Photo.net, color and B&W.

Here is a link.

http://photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=17753738

Or cut and paste into your browser. It has two different captions on Photo.net, but I'm sure you'll get the point.

I had taken I think six frames in less than two seconds to get this shot, even before I had met this man.

john

John (Crosley)

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Oh joy. More pictures of Suffering Strangers.

It's been Done. To. Death.

Yes, they're well done. Yes they are well crafted. That just makes it worse. If they were terrible, at least I have some enjoyment out of that variety.

Please, please, please find a way to thicken your story, because I've stopped looking, and given their very real suffering, that's a shame.

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Interesting variations on personal perceptions of classic style images. We might form a fairly valuable debating team of Fred, Julie, Robin, myself and others who want more from an image, and Anders, Lannie, Michael, John and others who are happy not rocking the boat (I presume that the orthographically quiet elves might be part of the latter group). John, as we learn from his site, is a seasoned photographer. Can he trump what is his present approach? Is that not the objective of the artist?

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Arthur, my comments didn't have to do with whether or not the photo rocks the boat. It had to do with there being (intentionally or not) a visual setup for a narrative but one that hasn't been realized. I don't need to feel as if I understand a photo's narrative completely and often don't even try, but I want to feel here as if the one begun by the presence of the person at the top of the stairs is one that's at least inspirationally there and could at least be suggestive enough to move my imagination, which isn't happening. Rocking the boat, to me, implies some sort of thwarting of norms or expectations, which is not something I think John's body of documentary work is necessarily about or trying to achieve, nor do I think it ought to. His work, overall, is filled with empathy and insight and often the capture of a moment that connects, but doesn't necessarily disturb or flout expectations and norms, though in some instances I'd say his work does.

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Arthur wrote: "We might form a fairly valuable debating team ... "

I am extremely opposed to any suggestion of "teams" in these discussions.

I am opposed to any kind of comments of any kind about other posters to the thread(s). It's about the picture(s), not about me or you or any of the other posters!

[Note that my comment just previous to this one was directed to the photos John Crosley linked, not to the PoW picture.]

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Michael and Fred. I refer to the "boat" as that of (now-) conventional B&W photographic street photo approaches, handed down from original interpretations of Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau and a few others and now worked to death by many since then. Sorry, I need to see more evidence of originality.

@ Julie. My suggestion was as intended, simply "tongue in cheek", a subtle Canadian form of humour, and in this case one that expects nothing of the sort to really occur on PNet. As for "teams", what about that erstwhile and unknown group known as the elves, who seldom (if ever??) discuss what they think of the photos they show, abdicating the ownership of their choices or reasoning (which might even educate a little the reader and viewer).

Having judged many photo exhibitions, I have little need to worry about exhibiting the reasons for my critiques, or the sharing or not of the opinions of fellow judges. Those comments may not benefit the photographers in question very much, but they are nonetheless given openly and sincerely.

 

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Sorry, I need to see more evidence of originality.

Arthur, I understood this was your point. The reason I responded to you was because of your suggestion that we'd be on the same "team" in this discussion and I don't think we would be. Because though I find this photo not to be terribly original, I have no problem with that aspect of it, since I don't put a premium on originality, especially when it comes to good documentary work. What I spoke of was the lack of an inspiring narrative, suggested but unfulfilled by the person included in the photo. One of the problems with "team" critiquing is that we might divide ourselves up into those who've said positive and those who've said negative things, but that's not a particularly enlightening division. I think simply listening to each person's specific critique is more valuable. Mine had to do with narrative and yours has to do with originality. I think those different emphases are worth noting and appreciating and are more important than whatever reason one might find to put us on the same team in this discussion. For me, a good narrative here would incite my imagination, not because of originality. As a matter of fact, good documentary work like John's often gives us the expected and often conforms to a certain extent to historical precedent. What seems important to John's work is, as I said, the capture of an empathetic (even if not original) moment with which I, as viewer, connect. I would connect more here if the person in the photo offered more inspiring imaginative possibilities and not necessarily if John took a more original approach to photo making.

You want the boat to be rocked (more originality), and I appreciate that that's your view. That's not what I'm looking for here.

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Thanks, Fred. I appreciate your view on the POW even if I don't wholly share all of it in this particular case.

I agree that "teams" can sometimes seem to restrict each member to the same opinion although the purpose of debate and "debaters" has usually always been one of being able to see issues from different angles and I know of few debaters who hold irrevocable positions in all matters. Like discussions of philosophy, issues are seldom black and white.

I am sure that you also caught my tongue-in-cheek humour about "teams" and perhaps also my reference to the unknown Photo.Net team that brings forward POW examples each week without engaging in any discussion. The latter position is fine, but it would be helpful to know who our fellow elves are, and where they come from in regard to their own perception of good photography (Perhaps individual statements of photographic approach or artistic approach, with or without a bio). Just a humble suggestion to our organisation at Photo.Net

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