"Ballet of the Unfortunate: 'En Pointe'"

by Crosley John

ballet of the unfortunate en pointe street crosley seeking critique john

Gallery: New -- Color & B&W

Tags: street crosley seeking critique

Category: Street

Published: Saturday 29th of December 2012 06:05:39 AM


John Crosley
Ranga Rathnam

Parallel or 90 degree lines aside the main point of the photo is the 'twist'.


While the guy at the turnstile moves with apparent ease, that appears almost eclipsed by the man on crutches who apparently has flown through the air possibly with a ballet jete (jetay), about to land 'en pointe' (on his pointe - as in 'point shoe), putting the lie and contrast with a twist to the apparent ease of the guy, background.


What the background guy can do on two feet, the crutch man can 'fly' and not even touching the ground -- the background guy at the turnstile has two feet firmly on the ground -- the crutch guy has NO feet on the ground -- apparently levitating.






John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Ranga Rathnam

Our posts seem to have crossed.  I was working on the second response while you were posting above.


That 'spot' below the man's foot definitely is a shadow which almost disappeared during post processing which I took care to preserve, as I felt it absolutely essential to the photo; I'm glad you noticed, and that it affected your attitude toward this photo -- one of the best of my recent, renewed shooting (no matter how low the recent ratings have been for others' and my photos, and especially 'street' photos which again are in disfavor here).


In answer to your question about sitting on the floor and getting the 'same perspective' I urge you to do just that (in your imagination) then look down at the same scene from the ceiling in your mind's eye.


If you do so you will see a great deal of difference -- you will see in your imagination looking down from the ceiling that the supposedly parallel lines of the pillar converge, just as a 'vanishing point' seems to converge, because the downward view acts just like single point 'vanishing point'.


If you elevate yourself a little bit, the effect will be there, but just less pronounced and harder to discern, especially if pillar sides are NOT parallel, and they may NOT be.


I encourage workups and copies of attempts to improve my work -- I harbor no enmity towards those who help me.


My best friend is one who edits my work and especially who makes my work look better! 


That I learned in early days as a journalist after I first and wrongly rankled at being edited and was shown how good a good editor can make my work look.


Here, I can pick among suggestions; this isn't a job, thankfully.


I appreciate your comments and this give and take greatly.  It's in the highest spirit of Photo.net's ethos.




John (Crosley)




John Crosley
Amr Justem

Your critique is well noted and agrees with my analysis.


Note moreover that the man waiting for the turnstile is blocked physically while the crutches man appears to be blocked by the pillar, but really is moving ahead lickety-split.




I had other images to choose from where you could see more of the crutches guy, but this is the one that caught my eye -- you don't have to see all of a figure -- this one leaves something to the imagination, I think, do you agree?


Thanks for able criticism which is always appreciated here.




John (Crosley)

Amr Justem
Moving to his own beat

First thing that struck me about this photo was that the person on crutches is dynamic and moving and is about to disappear behind the pillar and the others with two legs are all rather static. Even the man in the white pants while appearing to be moving seems to have his way blocked. And the man with one leg is moving in his own direction, to his own beat. I really like this image.

Ranga Rathnam


I think the sweet(est) spot in this picture is just below the man's foot. Is it a shadow or stain on the floor or a combination of both? I simply love the ambiguity.

Binary opposition amongst the 4 pair(?) of legs is fascinating.

Two people standing/two moving.

Amongst those standing - one at attention and one stand at ease ;-)

Amongst those moving - both propelled forward, one by urge/disability, another by urgency/habit!

Fascinating, to say the least!


The nexus between elementary and fundamental is rather tenuous. My question was to find out if you had presented the picture to give a more pronounced forward slant to the main subject as a 'favor' ;-)


I copied your picture (hopefully without irritating you) to the clipboard, aligned the left edge of the pillar to the left edge of the picture frame to see how it 'looks'.  It looks equally great, if not better, though I can't say which is more 'realistic'.


As an aside, am I wrong in assuming that somebody at the same level getting on to the knees or squatting on the floor could get a perspective nearabouts the same?

Thanks for the detailed response you have (always) given.





John Crosley
Ranga Rathnam

Thanks for the compliment.


I'm afraid you probably are mistaken about the 'slant'.


Look again at the pillar.  Of course any builder (even a Soviet builder during Soviet times) would have been terminated for building out of vertical.


But look again - there are two lines to the pillar that you can see, the left and the right, and they converge.


One slants left and the other seems to slant just a little the other way, the result of a downward look with a telephoto lens and the result is the two lines converging.


Since this was not taken from the same horizontal plane as the crutches man, parallel lines (and are they even parallel, which is NOT established?) would converge when viewed from above and converge downward. 


If you look at one, it would 'lean' or appear to 'lean' one way, and the other could 'lean' or appear to 'lean' the other or even appear upright (assuming the pillar sides are at 90 degrees to the floor which may not be the case; not all pillars are at right angles to the floor as some may have slants causing them to diverge as they rise).


I'm afraid you made an assumption I was on the same floor as the crutches man instead of on far away steps above his plane (assuming parallel sides to the pillar and a 90 degree angle, which is not established. 


That position explains why much of the floor is visible; since I'm not 10 or 12 feet tall ;~))


I hope that explains it.


On the other hand, there may be nothing wrong with getting things slanted in 'street' photography. 


Although Henri Cartier-Bresson was meticulous about getting vertical lines straight, many contemporaries were not meticulous at all, and were considered extraordinary, even legendary 'street' photographers. 


Consider and look at the work of magnificent and celebrated photographer (and C-B contemporary from France) Robert Doisneau who took a great deal of work with verticals out of vertical (same with horizontals of course) --  no one seemed to care, and I never heard his work criticized for that. 


Others of the time with the same style often did the same -- and there's none but current sensibilities that seem to dictate for some that verticals align with the center of the earth to the sky at a right angle.  It's interesting but not axiomatic or a 'fault' in my book. 


Sometimes I try to align and sometimes the photo is better not aligned at a 90 degree angle to horizontal.  (Here it is not important at all because we cannot determine true 90 degrees easily because of the pillar's converging lines (and its possible curvature curvature).


I hope that clarifies things -- I think a great deal about what I do (and its history and place in history).




John (Crosley)



John Crosley
'The Unfortunate', 'Beauty' and 'Art'

While some may criticize those who take photos of those less fortunate, and I join in for those who just do so because they take photos of the less fortunate because they are still targets among the moving, I often take photos of the less fortunate, as well as the old, middle aged, younger, youths, children and babies for they are all part of the human race.


There is beauty, and 'art' sometimes to be found in photographing all classes of society, from the homeless to the multi-millionaires, and I make no distinctions -- I photograph what I see, and I sometimes where I travel see people who are less fortunate -- in fact I often see them, and I do not avert my eyes.


And in life, I have been both a millionaire several times and without a penny dependent on a handout, so one cannot say I am 'slumming' when I take such photos to much as just photographing part of an environment I have lived in, even if I am not in that environment at that time.


Any one of us, barring a major tragedy, could find us 'unfortunate' if we were thrust into a social system like Ukraine and without a social safety net -- help for disabled (WHO CAN PROVE THEY ARE DISABLED which is a hard process and almost neverending which requires skill and advocates which may be wanting) may bring a stipend of $100 a month, not enough for even housing, let along food.


Invalids frequently beg instead of work whereas in the Western world they would be given prosthetics, retrained and entered into the workforce.  This man actually may be working -- somewhat of a rarity -- I had no chance to observe him, but he appears in other farms to be industrious and with energy which are prerequisites for being employed.


I don't know but imagine Communism found a place for injured comrades, a failing of post-Communist Ukraine and the rest of the Soviet domain, but that's the price of Capitalism -- failure to provide a safety net if one is outside of the charity of a church or relatives.


It's just a matter of cultural reference; when you chance systems, you chance references, and this is just one reference; I offer NO criticism, and just an observation.


I am apolitical about events in Ukraine.  It's the country of the Ukrainians and my photos chronicle the day to day existence of the Ukrainian people and are not intended as advocating one system over another or offering political insight.  I gave up reporting when I was age 26 and have not restarted and do not intend to restart.


Many of my -photos are even necessarily Ukraine-specific, but are intended to be more universal in their reflections of humankind.


Lest their be any confusion.  I am NOT a crusader for anything except good photography.



John (Crosley)


John Crosley



Here it is with the NOT from above restored to alter it to its intended meaning.


Many of my -photos are {NOT] even necessarily Ukraine-specific, but are intended to be more universal in their reflections of humankind.


I take many photos in Ukraine but also have taken them in many other parts of the world.   In many cases photos taken in one part of the world mirror life in another part because they depict humankind and humankind has some aspects which are universal.


I seek to capture that universality -- so, my photos of Ukraine often are not necessarily ABOUT Ukraine but about people who HAPPEN TO LIVE IN UKRAINE, but their truths (if they have any) might apply to many other places in the globe.


That's my goal, at least -- Ukrainians are civilized people, relatively friendly to photographers and most like Americans -- many admire Americans and a great many if given a chance would live in America, so there is a certain respect that accompanies an American in Ukraine with many citizens (not all of course).


I do not wish to advocate any new, old or stable or instability in the Ukrainian political culture -- that is entirely outside my bounds.  I do not photograph political events except for the people who are involved in them -- Ukraine is for Ukrainians -- my photos of Ukrainians I hope are for the world and for immortality (some of them I hope).




John (Crosley)

Ranga Rathnam

lot of good and great things in this picture, but a question first! I see a slant to the left of about 1.25degrees from the vertical, to the whole picture (assuming pillar is vertical). Is that intentional?!

John Crosley
Ranga Rathnam



I hope you don't think my explanation above overly verbose or meticulous.


It's all in the interest of accuracy and of being thorough.


You raised an important point which bore discussion, and I was prepared for that discussion as the above post reveals.


I suspect you are a little overwhelmed by the response, but you truly raised a meaty question -- perhaps far, far more meaty than even you may have realized, especially with the possible explanations for a 'slant' or 'tilt' which you 'perceived' but which may or may not exist.


I think by looking at the right pillar line you see it is straight, then it bends, which means probably the centermost pillar would do the same and the same with the leftmost pillar if there is synchronicity which is usually how those things are constructed.


Of course, in the whole of things, it's a more minor point than the photo itself, but for the 'street' photographer developing or working on a stylistic point or a 'personal style' the issue of verticals is a weighty issue and worthy of a major discussion, which is why I treated it as such.


I hope you are not offended.




John (Crosley)

Amr Justem
Less is More

John, For me, one of the strengths of this picture is that it doesn't show whole people. You only see what you "need" to see to put all the stories together.

John Crosley

Amr Justem,


In my early '20s after returning from photographing the War in Viet Nam, I photographed campus riots etc in the San Francisco Bay Area and both AP and UPI offered me a photographer's job, and I chose AP.


Just after I was hired and waiting for my first assignment, I was ill and when I returned and still waiting, a staff member, a long-ago friend of Henri Cartier-Bresson (the legend himself), said 'your photos remind me of my old friend Henry's (Henri); why don't you go see him; he's showing some photos over on Van Ness Ave.


C-B had the entire De Young Museum,  San Francisco's most prestitious to his parting exhibition, which was not announced as 'parting' but it was his last world tour.


I met him briefly, and he told me to get out of the business; I had NO IDEA who this man was with the good English and the slight French accent but I was BLOWN AWAY by his photos and decided he had done almost everything I could ever hope to do but far, far better, and I would only be seen as a 'follower' of this man I had never before heard of but was world famous.


I returned to AP and essentially quit my job as photographer, discouraged, but they offered to keep me on as a writer, with no training, no journalism school, based solely on my talents revealed in a caption writing test and my speed typing.


The next day's work ended up on front pages and the following day's work ended up going worldwide.

I literally started at the top; fellow staff members turned to me when the subjects relating to science, economics, politics, etc., proved too difficult, as I had a great education and an easy way with writing for the 'Kansas City Milkman' which was the AP's then stated goal.


It seems that somehow someone saw I could see and write 'stories' which is something I didn't know.


Years later after abandoning photography for the nost part then retaking it up for Photo.net's forum, I met world class critics (and world famous).


They took one look and said 'each photo (of the ones they saw) tells a story.


I hadn't a clue they did.


I just took photos that related to what I saw; with no intention of telling stories or at least a conscious intention.  I just wanted them to have meaning.


It's not good to have a photo of a bum or a disabled guy with no meaning, but a juxtaposition with composition is something else again entirely and may begin to border on 'art'.


I'm glad you used the word 'story' and saw how I truncated the story line by omitting nonessential parts such as faces, expressions, other people, etc.  It's largely instinctive, but also now trained.


Kudos to you.




John (Crosley)

John Crosley
"Ballet of the Unfortunate: 'En Pointe'" Even the unfortunate can be quite dexterous despite their disfigurement. Here a one-legged man, right pants leg pinned up, swings with his dual crutches and appears to be executing a ballet 'jete',(jetay) or at least be landing 'en pointe', with his left foot slightly suspended above the Metro entrance floor.. 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

Next Image >>