The Hands and the Handout

by Crosley John

the hands and handout street crosley photography bw seeking critique john

Gallery: Black and White: Then to Now

Tags: street crosley photography b&w seeking critique

Category: Street

Published: Saturday 10th of March 2007 11:56:53 PM


John Crosley
Not my best ever, but 'good enough' This photo is not my 'best ever' but I rank it highly. I was taking the young woman's photo, foreground, (and her male friend) primarily as a pretext to take the photo of the two hunchbacked women (osteoporotic old women) beggars in the background. Just as the scene appeared to deconstruct, after all the greetings and talk and the photos were taken, the young woman, foreground started to walk away and the two hunchback old women, rear, began to move toward the left and I snapped away. It is clear now the two old crones were reaching for a handout - hence the caption (with the girl's hand on her face) about the 'hands'. One can even see the hand (from off frame) reaching forward with a bill to offer charity to the leftmost old woman. There is an alternate caption which emphasizes the age difference and the contrast in ages -- the young woman spent a while in Los Angeles and has a USA green card, while the older women grew up under the Soviets, probably had pensions and inflation and a free market economy has eaten away at their pensions -- probably the main reason they have been forced to beg for a living. The hunchbacks are part of the 'normal' (presently) aging process for older women; the backbones are disintegrating and both old women have what is euphemistically called 'dowager's hump'. Compare them to the youthfulness, strength and vigor of the young woman, foreground. John (Crosley)

Micki F.
I clearly see the handout I really like this photo and am glad you kept clicking as this woman walks away and the two elder women began to move towards the handout.

This is just a great picture and a great story to be told. I am impressed with the angle you took this picture as much as I am the LA had that she wears and the ring on her finger.

I can tell just by looking at the woman with the hat that she has lived a life better than most there because of what she wears. It is her reaction that you capture that makes me wonder the most. I am so glad that you captured her without shadows on her face and that you caught only half her face and her eye is looking away as the dramatic flare is so wonderful.

I love this photo and was thrilled to see it! ~ micki

Recep Gulec
great capture...

John Crosley
Micki This is one of those instances when the Photo Gods have smiled propitiously. I had 'set up' a circumstance to take the 'old ladies' photos, using the girl and her boy as a pretext and as a contrast, and as they moved on, so did the old ladies, but this time to the handout just as the girl moved on. (By the way, the girl actually has lived in L.A., and has a USA green card, but why, she cannot actually explain, as her mother it seems was never either a fiancee or a wife, the two usual preconditions for obtaining a green card, unless they were religious refugees, which doesn't seem probably. So, go figure.) In any case, the girl probably will see this, as she has my name and the ability to find me on and knowledge this probably will be posted. I could hardly believe my eyes when the old woman, left, actually GOT a handout during the time I was filming -- it was too great a photographic joy. I actually had gifted the woman, right, earlier a couple of times through my assistant (don't want to be known as a soft touch so I do it through a surrogate). Bless you again for a wonderful commentary, always adding something I didn't notice (head covering and its significance). John (Crosley)

Alfredo Muñoz de Oliveira

John Crosley
recep Thanks! This is one of those captures that makes me 'excited' when I review it on the digital screen, and particularly when I look at what the old crone, left, is reaching for on my 2-1/2 inch screen, blow it up and find it's actually a paper bill. Dingy as they say in Russian (phonetic spelling). Don't feel too sorry for the old woman, right, though she's a beggar; she does all right; I gifted her twice in the previous two days, and substantially, and didn't even take her photo (except once in passing, a blind shot which captured her wonderfully when I just stutter stepped once and got a surprisingly-framed and beautiful photo of her and her puffy face -- as well as her dowager's hump. It seems that this particular day, the International Day of Women, which is a major holiday in Russian, Ukraine and former Soviet nations, (I don't know about the rest of Europe), these two old crones teamed up and probably really did well. The International Day of Women is a day when men treat their girlfriends (and mothers) well, (unusually, some women say sarcastically) and there is a whole lot of smooching going on in restaurants and the streets (made me feel a little sad since I had no one to smooch, unhappily). It was a veritable carnival and love fest in Kiev, from the outskirts to downtown, which I traveled that day. Bless the Soviets -- they did something right . . . other than almost blowing up the entire world . . . . they hired women as doctors, lawyers, teachers, professors, and women helped rule the former Soviet Union (though of course the men had the final say in everything since it still was a male dominated society.) And in true double standard form, the women were expected to hold down their professional jobs as 'economist', statistician, rocket designer, or whatever, and still go home and nurture the children (and even got a measly $10 a month for it after the Soviet Union deconstructed -- how laughable a sum that was, and that lasted for two years....if I have my facts straight, or was it $2 a month? I forgot, but somebody can enlighten me, perhaps M. Morozova can step in here and straighten me out as she has first hand knowledge or any one else with knowledge from the late '90s, early 2000s after the ruble deconstructed. This photo aside, by Ukrainian standards, Kyiv is a bastion of wealth; so much so that a visitor to Kyiv (Kiev) would be entirely mislead about the life and economy of Ukraine by just visiting Kyiv and looking at its many handsome buildings here on Khrezhshotyk Street -- Kyiv's most fashionable and 'main' street (with the world's most fabulous inexpensive apartment where yours truly recently resided before moving on, but I just learned it's been sold so there can be no future stays there . . . . ) If I had to live in Ukraine and had a good income, I'd live on this street -- it's the Park Avenue of Ukraine. And on Sundays (and holidays) it actually is blocked off and turned into a pedestrian walkway, four or six lanes wide, with broad expanses of sidewalk, either side. (I had not really spent much time in Kyiv before, and this was an unexpected stop, getting a Russian visa at the Russian consulate there.) Although Kyiv does have old crones begging, it also has rich people. One should also know that neighboring 'oil rich' Russia is nearly ready to top Europe (or has already topped Europe) with the largest number of billionaires, maybe the second largest in the world, based primarily on control of that nation's natural resources from its 11 time zones. Ukraine is primarily an agricultural country; with little happening in the agricultural economy right now, as rights to the land are being figured out by a stalemated government, with one politician expressing a desire to 'renationalize' and then redistribute the wealth that was taken by the nation's smartest men (and they are almost all men), while others are supporting those very men and the status quo. In the meantime, if nationalization is on the table, the status of private property in Ukraine is still somewhat chancy, especially for a foreigner . . . but my money is on the probability that nationalization never will happen . . . . and the proponent of nationalization (if I have her position quoted to me properly -- the model-lovely Julia Timoshenko, a high politician, though popular with the people, will get outmaneuvered and will never get her way . . . and indeed one can wonder only how much is 'real' and how much is 'rhetoric' -- that's something I cannot know and cannot speculate on. Ukraine is growing at a relatively fast pace, and is poised for more, especially once the land ownership of its agricultural land (vast) is determined finally and investment there takes hold. In the meantime, the fairly sexually active Ukraine people, including especially the women, are victims of SPID (AIDS) and its precursor illnesses) at an alarming rate, according to a WHO (World Health Organization) epidemiologist I ran into on a flight between Dnepropetrovsk and Kyiv recently, and she quoted me figures that suggest it's highest in Europe except possibly for neighboring Russia where the same diseases also have a strong foothold. (But another aid worker, involved in the business, cautions me that such workers often inflate figures to justify their missions, so it's really anybody's guess . . . especially since it appears condoms not only are widely available for widely used . . . many Ukrainian women refuse sexual relations without them, and the Ukrainian people are generally highly educated about health and welfare matters (hand washing in particular gets high marks in former Soviet countries -- more so than the United States, and even when people don't know somebody is in the lavatory with them. (but often they share a common bar of soap . . . . which can defeat the purpose . . . or have grossly unclean toilets which also can defeat the purpose.) Ukraine is a land of contrasts. This photo, taken on its richest street, suggests (but far from proves) those contrasts. recep, thanks for the comment. I'm glad it pleased you. The photo slightly misleads; I hope the commentary above does the subject justice. There is poverty and great poverty in Ukraine, but little on that particular street. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Alfredo M. de O. 'Superb' My thought exactly when I viewed this (in color) with flares across the screen, somewhat reduced in Photoshop by selecting portions of the girl's face and adjusting brightness/contrast to reduce the flare effect, after converting to b&w. In fact, I could hardly believe my eyes when I had finished Photoshopping this. I chose to emphasize the 'blue' channel and a little more the 'green' channel in Photoshop's channel mixer because the young woman's hat is red and it faded to almost white when I first used channel mixer with monochrome checked (ticked). By reducing red content and converting this to a blue/green photo, it became a more true to life black and white photo. If it were simply desaturated by checking (ticking) the Photoshop 'desaturate' box under image>adjustments>desaturate, the photo would have looked unnatural and almost been unviewable. Because the sun came from the right, low in the sky, it caused flare across the lens, but that was worked on by selecting in Photoshop and then applying a little shadow/highlight and or contrast/brightness adjustment. If this is touted as 'no Photoshop' -- that probably is wrong, though simply adjusting contrast and brightness, even selectively should not count as 'manipulation' under the guidelines. (all this not only in the sense of honesty but in the sense of sharing -- I always wonder when I look at others' wonderful photos, how they achieved this or that effect and they almost never say; it's rare when someone on this service says 'I got this effect by doing *thus and so* as though Photoshopping here were some big secret and didn't have hundreds of books and magazines dedicated to it and as though this were not a sharing service. Alfredo, I always appreciate that you stop by periodically to have a view of my photos, and you always seem to choose the right ones to comment on and rate (the ones I myself would choose). (and of course, I don't mate rate, as you well know, having given out less than 400 rates in three years . . . . so your comment will never be seen as sycophantic or otherwise ingratiating, but just honest.) Please continue to stop by from time to time; there's more wonderful stuff to upload; even to process and place in folders awaiting upload and not only am I taking stuff daily in large amounts, but I'm trying to comb files from months past for good ones I've missed (see the guy 'looking for a tryst?' posted today, taken four and a half months ago and just now being posted, almost as an afterthought. This particular photo was taken March 8, this year, the International Day for Women. (Smooching day in my book, when any man with a girl and a balloon for a present or a box or bar of chocolate could get smooched half the night long . . . . out in public . . . the Ukrainians are pretty demonstrative that way. I'm a little envious (more than a little). John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Cropping This is a cropped photo. Although this photo, as framed, stands alone and hardly needed improvement, I decided to focus on the three women, and, to that end, cropped out the sidewalk, right, which seemed like empty space and had a pedestrian or two walking on it, which did not contribute to the photograph. Cropping also is not 'manipulation' as I understand the guidelines. This was not cropped, top to bottom, only on the right side and then only very judiciously. It could have been posted easily without the crop, also, if one had a no-cropping stricture that one followed to the letter. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
The off-camera hand -- second posting of such a photo If one follows my photos -- a few appear to -- this hand with the paper money, left, reaching into the frame -- from some disembodied soul -- probably a woman judging from the arm's sleeve, one may wonder, where did this 'style' come from -- the off-camera individual, breaking the frame to come into the photo, but only 'just so'? I've actually posted one other such photo -- a photo taken in a regional capital in Ukraine, of a boy and girl (probably boyfriend/girlfriend) intently staring at each other, with an off-camera hand and finger tugging at a purse strap of the woman who is staring/being stared at - evidently a 'friend' of the young woman trying to drag her away from her intent gaze (complete with 'darts' as a cartoonist would draw it), but the hand is not pulling the purse, only the index finger -- it's tugging on that purse strap, but just a finger's worth. It's both a signal and a submissive gesture; one of resignation: 'I want you to come, and I'm anxious that you get the message that it's time to disengage your staring contest with that boy, but at the same time, it's your life and you make decisions and you control what you do. I'll just pull you away by the purse strap, but only with an index finger -- if you come, it's really up to you . . . ' That's what message I read from that photo. Have you looked at that photo, compared it to this for style and content, and am I correct in my 'reading' of the language in that other photo? I'm interested in informed critiques of both photos together as well as either photo individually. They are a different 'style' for me -- although stylistically, I take just about anything that appears interesting to me or which I can transform into something 'interesting' through camera placement and other camera manipulations. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
If you like this photo and how it was put together And it was put together very consciously . . . you might have a look at my presentation in the making for two years -- 'Photographers Watch Your Background' or similar name . . . which I add to from time to time and which really demonstrates how I came about this style (or better, how I explain this style of shooting, which came to me inchoately when I began shooting -- the juxtaposition shot and the background shot, where the background and the foreground interplay, with the subject being either the background, the foreground or the two of them together. And, for a variation, some photos also have three or more 'planes' -- for instance a recent photo taken in a restaurant in Ukraine (a McDonald's) of a couple kissing and the foreground woman, looking sideways (into a mirror at them) and a background woman also staring at them (so the foreground and background woman both 'mirror' each other -- that is they both have the same 'look' and 'pose'. It's not so hard to take such shots; it just requires an awareness of more than the 'subject' and keeping everything in 'view'. See, for instance, a simple demonstration of the technique in the portrait of an older man on the beach in three different shots, each shot with a Frisbee playing young girl behind him in the background -- his portrait would be empty and stale without that, but with the Frisbee playing girl, it takes on an added dimension. The point of posting those shots was not to show off portrait abilities, but to show how to incorporate one's background to make a shot 'richer'. I invite you to look at the 'Presentation'. You might learn how to take a better photograph, or at least understand how I took this one, and why I could plan for it, though its outcome was entirely unknown until I snapped the shutter. If you don't or can't take such photos because you cannot 'see' such things, there are simple tricks to learning how to 'see' such things. You might be surprised at how easily this skill is learned. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
One of my 'great' captures, for timing On reviewing my portfolio, I judge this to be one of my 'great' captures, at least for the issue of 'timing'. This was the exact only second when one could have made this photo -- with the outstretched hand (from off frame) with paper bill in it to hand out to the osteoporotic old lady. Since the scene couldn't then be analyzed so quickly, pressing the shutter release had to be by 'instinct'. And, luckily enough, the young woman had her hand to her face as she was about to walk away, possibly getting a mote out of her eye, it appears, to there are exactly five hands in this photo -- and it becomes a study in 'hands and handout', which makes caption writing pretty easy. Many of my photos are about 'contrasts' and this is one of them, but while many of those photos use posters as background, this one doesn't -- it uses real people for the juxtaposition, for even greater verisimilitude. It's a very rich photo from my point of view, and it's one that requires close examination to have a full understanding of it because the leftmost hand is barely visible. Consequently one would expect this to do well in a museum/gallery type setting, blown up 'large'. I'm extremely pleased to have taken this photo, and to have caught that 'moment' (I think this one would have pleased that cantankerous old master Henri Cartier-Bresson, if only for its timing.) It's a color capture, desaturated, but the color version has less impact, I think. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
The Hands and the Handout (Look for the Handout!) In 'The Hands and the Handout' the handout is hardly noticeable in the background, as it was planned -- it's from a donor off frame, so look for it carefully. Photo taken on the International Day of Woman, a national holiday in Ukraine and Russia -- and other former Soviet countries. Alternate title: 'You've Come a Long Way Baby' -- Study in Generational Contrasts' Your ratings and critiques are invited and most welcome. If you rate harshly or very critically, please submit a helpful and constructive comment; please share your superior knowledge to help improve my photography. Thanks! Enjoy! John

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