Contrasts (and Composition)

by Crosley John

contrasts and composition bw photography street crosley seeking critique john

Gallery: Black and White: Then to Now

Tags: b&w photography street crosley seeking critique

Category: Street

Published: Tuesday 10th of August 2004 11:22:42 PM


Comments

John Crosley
Stefano I can't imagine a more succinct analysis of this photo. Fast-paced versus easy-going, using a diagonal structure -- I hadn't quite thought of it that way, perhaps because the handrail doesn't bisect, but the steps truly do . . . . My hat's off to you for taking what I can see, but not place into words, and once again explaining to me what I long ago placed into an image. Let's see. 1. Fast-paced 2. Easy-going 3. Diagonal structure 4. Alone on stairs Any other candidates for analyzing the multiple contrasts in this image? There are numerous others. J

John Crosley
Stefano, I overlooked one category of yours -- sitting Sorry, Stefano, I overlooked one category you mentioned, "sitting" on the steps. So, add one, to make 5. sitting. Any other contrasts? There still are numerous. J.

Stefano Ricciardi
One of your best. I especially like the diagonal structure and the way it is functional to the contrast between the fast-paced, easy going woman on the left and the other sitting alone on the stairs.

Hugh Hill
I love the street and this I like also

John Crosley
A special thanks to "members" who rated I notice a significant jump in the number of "members" who now are rating my photographs in this portfolio. Thank each and every one of you. My membership money order was just returned and will be resubmitted when I return -- it apparently was marked undeliverable for some reason I know not. I know that "members" have special interest and special attention, and many have special qualifications, and the attention of "members" has special meaning to me. John.

John Crosley
Judy This shot was taken a very long time ago, measured in decades (witness the dress). Things have changed now . . . somewhat. This was more emblematic of the times; less so now. There now are black multimillionaires and billionaires; and I was in Oakland, one of America's poorest and most crime-ridden cities yesterday photographing, and meeting wonderful people on the street (met with skepticism at first because of my whiteness -- and I was wearing a suit too -- until I showed them my digital output and at least got my hand shaken many times and was met with effusive warmth from some.) Funny, the universal language of a good, flattering photograph (and keep the more telling ones to yourself for display later in case anyone takes offense). I like your comments . . . you show a true heart. John (Crosley)

Judy Ben Joud
sad Sad but great shot -the even sadeset part is that it's everywhere and we dont seem to care.Regards,Judy

Konstantin Yudintsev
Well, your reply is massive and I really enjoyed reading it. Always thought that a story behind a picture is a must to make it complete. Your portfolio and general approach to phtogaphy is examplary. If you ever show up in Moscow again, let me know please. Best regards, Konstantin

Konstantin Yudintsev
We took it for a picture made in Russia at first glance. When the photo was this taken?

John Crosley
Konstantin This photo was made in a month or so after I bought my first camera -- sometime in about 1968. (I gave up photography in about 1971 or so, until 2-1-2 years ago, when I joined Photo.net and posted this among my first offerings.) Of course, I have lived in Russia and there are not absolutely, but almost completely no black people living in Russia. Oh, one might see a foreign tourist or a foreign student, but life is hard for a black living in Russia and among some (remember I wrote 'some') Russians, prejudice can run very deep, as lack of understanding of 'blacks' and 'Jews' also can raise hackles among the lesser educated in an otherwise racially/religiously homogeneous society. (Of course, I am aware that the Soviet Union was most inclusive as far as races, ethnicities, languages, etc., went, so long as everybody knew and was able to speak Russian . . . reminding me of Henry Ford's famous statement 'You can have any color car you want, so long as it's black . . . . ' This morning I awoke in Ukraine (I'm in the U.S.A. now) and saw just one black person in all the time I spent in Ukraine (almost three weeks -- a young woman, totally black and stunningly beautiful -- it must be something in the dreadful water they drink over there. . . . because it certainly was not her Ukrainian genes). Black is just not a color that people come in in Russia, except in Moscow sometimes, maybe if they were a student at Patrice Lumumba University (did I get that one right?). It doesn't help relations with American blacks that the Russian word for a black person sounds just like the hated American word 'Nigger' or may indeed be the same word. Why not 'Chernoye' ('black' in Russian)? Oh well, the Americans (white American ancestors of ours, anyway) can't claim any special high marks in this regard; after more than a century of slavery, then another century of 'Jim Crow' politics and laws. Maybe this is one reason I still love to shoot (photograph) in Russia and Ukraine and shooting there (both countries) fills a big place in my future expectations of 'street' and 'studio' photography. Plus, frankly both countries are a bit safer than much of America; some Americans just are crazy with their 'freedoms' and their assertiveness; while that does not come so naturally at all to Ukrainians who are much more 'laid back' and the same with Russians (well, some, but certainly not all) (Contrast visions of Khrushchev yelling at Nixon '*uck your Grandmother' as recounted by famed photographer Elliott Erwitt come to mind -- Kitchen Debates, Moscow, in which Nixon's proclamation that America was superior in all regards was met with some rather crude response by the late Soviet leader. I walk well past midnight with my cameras in Ukraine and don't feel unsafe, but couldn't do that in, say, L.A., Oakland or San Francisco. I have done the same in much of Moscow, though with more trepidation (I'm a little street wise, also -- somebody wants me to 'light my cigarette', and I go the other way, and quickly). I would NOT go out so easily in regional capital Ryazan, which is known for its 'zesty' criminal life and lack of opportunities. ('Zesty' of course is a euphemism; it has a graveyard with a special section with huge gravestones for young mafioso -- lifesize stones of young gangsters and often their girls -- also killed, often in bas relief in tall thin black granite slabs. Some Americans let their 'freedoms' go to their heads and become a little too pushy for their own good, thinking that they 'own the world' and can just push, push, push. I could easily illustrate the point with contrasts from today's experiences, as I easily can spot contrasts (as anyone who knows my work should understand), but I'll leave that for another time, if at all. I'll look for your photos of Russian life, Konstantin. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Konstantin I believe that Photo.net should be a 'sharing' place -- after all, we're all here not only to share our work but hopefully to become better photographers. Why not share the process as well. We can't sit around a fire with a drink doing it, so we have to do it in print (or meet on trips.) My new assistant (see her in today's postings) lives in your fair city, and she and I will travel to meet each other. It stands to reason that when I renew my Russian visa I will return to Moscow (I once lived there, near Begovaya Metro, with my then-fiancee, now 'felled' by brain cancer, photo in my portfolio -- a kraciva young woman who was exactly half my age when I met her (to the minute) and who had a true love affair with me/and likewise -- something to write home about for both of us . . . . I spent Russian Christmas last year with her family in Ryazan, where I'm always welcome, they say, and I love them dearly. Have you seen the work of Ruslan Safam (spelling?) He's a fellow Muscovite, and you'll find his work in my highest-rated folder and maybe you can look up his work (he's a fine photographer, also) Best to you. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Konstantin (edited 1/3/07) You might say the same of me. Although when I'm not running around trying to get the 'perfect street photo' I can be pretty friendly with photographers seeking the same thing. Sometimes it can be misunderstood as being 'too chummy'. Other times, when I'm in a hurry, that also can be misunderstood as being 'too distant or gruff'. Sometimes a guy can never win. Ruslan has an unerring eye, and some day I want to meet him; he's posted some of the best stuff from your part of the world, I've ever seen. I'd also love to meet you sometime. I get in your neck of the woods from time to time, and in your neighboring country, Ukraine, even more often. John (Crosley)

Konstantin Yudintsev
Hello, John. I know of Ruslan Safin. I don't know him personally but recognised him twice in Moscow at metro stations and once in a photo lab. He gets quirky like hell sometimes whatever the reason is (ain't we all once in a while). I don't know him personally but recognised him twice in Moscow at metro stations and once in a photo lab. He's got a good eye. Best regards, Konstantin

John Crosley
Rework posted today 2-3-08 I have just posted a rework of this photo -- from the original, high quality scan, and it's above (please refresh your browser if you have viewed this photo before to see the new scan. The original post was cropped, left, because of light fading on the step risers, lightening them, but 15 minutes use of the cloning tool, which I have now learned to use, has fixed that, so that the steps risers, toward the photo's edge, which had whitened from sun exposure, now are the proper grayscale color and texture, and the photo now has its proper dimensions with a little more margin to the left of the walking woman, and that makes it more pleasing to my eye, and exactly as I framed it - not constricted as it was posted before. When posted originally, I didn't have the skills to repair the step whitening/fading problem myself, so I let it go, and resolved to repair it later. I have just found the original scan. I may redo it once more, as I 'sharpened' this photo a little, and may want to post it unsharpened, to see how it looks, because the sharpening accentuates the graininess, particularly the 'grayness' and texture of the photo and the stonework. John (Crosley)

Marius Waldal
Permission to use photo I love this picture and I would very much like to use it in the header of my blog. My blog is in Norwegian and is called "Kontrastemning", which is a constructed word derived from the words "kontrast" (contrast) and "stemning" (meaning atmosphere or mood). Your picture perfectly conveys this word, in my opinion. With your permission I would use a cropped (top/bottom) version of your picture in my header, instead of the temporary black/white header I'm using now (at http://kontrastemning.waldal.no). I don't know where else to contact you, so I hope you'll get this message. With respect Marius Waldal

John Crosley
Marius I sent you an e-mail through the Photo.net e-mail system. Thank you for the inquiry. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Marius I received your reply, which is that you declined my specifications, which in the most important parts were: 1. No cropping. This photo would be ruined in my opinion by cropping. Having it circulate in a blog or otherwise with my name attached, would only denigrate this photograph and thus my photographic abilities. 2. No advertising (unless of course I were also remunerated). You could not rule out that your blog might accept advertising, and did not indicate that I would be remunerated. I do not believe others should profit from my work without also my receiving remuneration. Although I am an amateur (and always have been), photography is a very expensive undertaking, and somehow the idea has gotten into people's heads that just because a photo is a collection of pixels and because just about anyone can take a decent photo with modern equipment, therefore photos have no or little value -- I consider that far from the truth. To take a well-composed photo -- especially one that might last in its artistic value for decades or even centuries - is a difficult task, and one that to me has value. In the future, at some time, I may decide to turn professional, and I wish to do nothing that will harm or denigrate from any such aspirations . . . . or cause me to lose control over my photographic output. I thank you for the interest in use of this photo, cropped or not. There sometimes are good reasons for cropping, but you offered none other than the use of 'space' at the top of your blog and consequent time in uploading your blog -- that to me is insufficient in relation to retaining the integrity of my work. In fact, I can think of no way in which this photo can be cropped at all; it is complete as it stands. Best of luck to you on your blog; I consider your request a compliment, and am sorry we could not reach terms. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Contrasts (and Composition) This photo, taken in the government district, Lower Manhattan, NYC, exemplifies considerable contrasts. I can easily enumerate five or six contrasts of various sorts in just a few minutes. How many can you count? Why don't you post them under critiques and comments? And also, please comment on the composition, if you wish . . . Your ratings and comments are always appreciated and welcome. (Please honor me with a helpful and constructive comment if you rate this low or harshly/please share your superior knowledge to help me improve my photographic ability). Thanks and Enjoy! John.

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