'To Have and Have Not (II)'

by Crosley John

to have and not ii crosley street photography bw seeking critique john

Gallery: Black and White: Then to Now

Tags: crosley street photography b&w seeking critique

Category: Street

Published: Tuesday 9th of September 2008 10:27:51 AM


Michael Linder

It's my good fortune to see this image posted on PN's homepage.  In the most basic and broadest sense, it is a study in contrast.  We have the subject on the left all decked out in the most recent designer fashion, looking like she's on top of her game.   Her counterpart, on the other hand, appears like she's struggling in every possible respect.  She obviously has difficulty standing, much less walking.  Her health probably is failing and she may very well be close to the edge of her desperation.  


I find this image to be exceptionally powerful.  It's time to revisit some of the social/political philosophy of my youth.


My best,


Peter Blum
Hi John, Lovely image - and sad reality. Just the kind of motive I that I like - and prefer. The expression on the two faces underlines the contrast between thte two. I would perhaps have liked some more contrast in the image, to make the subjects stand more out from the background. Otherwise, a great street snap. My compliments. Regards Peter

Giuseppe Pasquali
This is a very good example of "sensitivity" and "planning" working together to produce a very good work. I'd like to point out how the blurred carpet of walking/talking people in the background is a really good sub-theme for this photo. Thank you for sharing, Giuseppe (btw imho it seems that you could have pushed the contrast a bit more and - before converting to b/w - make a slight correction to the white balance)

John Crosley
Linh Dinh Thank you so much for letting me know your opinion. I'm glad this image pleased you. (I don't just take old people, beggars and bums, either, as you'll note). Thanks again. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Pierre Merci. I didn't really think much about this photo when I posted it; sometimes I do that -- post a photo that shows something I 'see', then others 'see' greater importance in it than I appreciated -- at first. I now understand why it is a very good photo, of course, as ratings are coming in but frankly if I combed my hard drives, I am sure I could come up with lots of photos that would receive high rates I just passed over for lack of the perception of my viewing audience. Of course, since I posted it, I believe in it and the truth it tells; but am careful to note in the caption this is not an indictment of society or where it was taken; rather a reflection more of times past and the issue of society's transformation and how some people get 'left behind'. Which would make a good caption for this photo -- 'Left Behind'. I have to say I 'planned' this photo (or something like it) as I walked ahead of the hunchback old woman, and was not disappointed. I kept a significant, unobtrusive distance, which accounts for why no one seems to take account of me. This is only cropped left and right, though, not at top or bottom, as I recall. Thanks for the kind comment and for taking the trouble to let me know your opinion. John (Crosley)

Koushik Ray
Apart from 2 bright blobs of light, this is a very nice composition...the choice of b/w as well as the title are perfect. compliments -koushik

John Crosley
Luca A. R. By photographing in Ukraine which is rapidly becoming more prosperous, I am able to 'turn back time' to photograph the things I did not when I was not taking photos in the U.S.; inequities are pronounced in Ukraine, but they will disappear over time as the economy prospers under (or in spite of) its government (your choice). 'Impact' is one indicator of aesthetics, and aesthetics does not always mean 'pretty' at all, contrary to popular belief. Documenting 'social contrasts' is something I sometimes do; but I also do many other things. It's just what I see; that's all. I always have a camera or two to record what I see, and my vision is getting better and better and more insightful, I think, as my skills develop. In videos, explaining what he did, Cartier-Bresson said he was 'sensitive' and in so saying, he would rub together his fingers under his nose as though he were a chef holding up some particularly good morsel, and he was in the process of sniffing it. I try to be 'sensitive' in that way in my photography (unfortunately no match for Cartier-Bresson whose 'scenes' were astonishingly well laid out, though I try hard.) As Richard Avedon said to Charlie Rose, interviewer, 'all photographers today are children of Cartier-Bresson'. (loose paraphrase). Thanks for commenting. Best to you. John (Crosley)

Marco Ruggiero
To me this is a perfect example of photojournalism. Forget the focus, forget that maybe there is some cropping to do here and there, forget the lighting, maybe a bit lighter than not. You have captured a moment that represents the great disparity of a socio-economic class. Robert Capa won a pulitzer prize with an image of a dying soldier in the water of Normandie. That image had everything wrong with it , except that it conveyed the moment of death and war in a way that no other could with all thecnhical aspects in "Perfect" harmony. Period, no further explanation is necesary. Regards. Marco

Ana Luthi
Josh Thank you for all your explanations very interesting, and especially do not stop, because actually the confusion should not be, because through your image we understand your entire message. Very good continuation and thank you for sharing with us.

Ana Luthi
Extraordinary contrast in this scene ... very good capture, regards.

Before seeing your name I knew you were the author! It's your style. I have to think about this usettling (for me) photo.

John Crosley
Peter Blum -- difficult lighting The lighting here actually was very difficult, but propitious in a sense, as they are illuminated and separated from others by a bright department or clothing store window in Ukraine's most fashionable avenue (Kreshatyk). I know and have photographed the old woman before; she moves along pretty well, and there are several like her. In a sense, it may do her good to be out there begging; if she were in America, she might in a 'nursing home' and those who go to those places soon die. I doubt she will die for years; I think no matter how bent she is, she is indestructible (or at least I hope so). And she does very well in her begging; a good case of osteoporosis brings out generosity in Ukrainians who anyway are pretty generous with beggars. After all, for many of them there's not much separation between the poorer classes and those who have to beg. And then there's the Communist ideology leftover -- this woman was once a 'comrade' and was to be provided for, for life by those who could 'according to their means'. Alas, that awful experiment failed, and she is now a victim of sobering times recently passed and fast disappearing into history. (many young Ukrainians now have no memory of Communism at all). I am glad the photo (snap) got your attention. I took it with my cameraphone (NOT) ;~)) --that's an inside joke. Some blogger's critic once wrote my photographic work was 'not good' and 'anybody with a camera phone could have done as well' as I in taking my photos in Ukraine (and in the US as well). As Micki Ferguson (prominent PN member) would say: 'Hah!' Thanks for your helpful and thoughtful critique. John (Crosley) (the guy with the HUGE cameraphone)

John Crosley
Verlon -- good enough As a reflexive matter, I generally like photos to be 'sharp' and not blurry. This is an evening photo, and the robust woman, left, is striding at full speed toward the camera -- thus there are signs of blurriness. I don't choose to post such a photo unless it has significance in my mind and completes a 'story' or 'metaphor'. Here, as you noted, it does. Yes, I like crisp focus and non-blurry 'subjects' too, but then the bent old osteoporotic woman is the 'subject' and the young woman, left, with her brisk stride, is the 'foil', and thus appropriately shown in blur and/or slightly out of focus. In most photos that would be unacceptable, and I was unsure the PN audience would accept this photo, but it is, and is rating highly. Raters sometimes surprise me pleasantly. Step to the head of the class for photo analysis, Verlon, and thanks. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Ana Luthi (on contrasts etc.) I'm particularly attuned to contrasts. I attended a world famous university on top a hill and at the base of the hill, separated by a park (Morningside Park), was one of the central parts of Harlem. Since that time this West Coast boy has always been acutely aware of such contrasts, an unusual aspect of having attended the same school as Barack Obama. The University -- Columbia College, Columbia University -- later was revealed to have clandestinely been acquiring substantial parts of Harlem for future expansion, even while I was a student assistant to a university vice president (and he never told me about that -- he was devoted to alumni relations). They publicly denied it. The university and the Catholic Church were New York city's largest landowners. Columbia owns Rockefeller Center (the land at least). Any trip to New York's Upper East Side would reveal that the glitterrati and rich people lived on the east side of Central Park to the East River right up to East 96th Street, and then Harlem began and sometimes indescribable poverty and social decay at that time (it's changing now). Though not mandated legally, there was de facto segregation, not only racially but economically, which was outside my experience as a student who came from the West Coast (Oregon). Where I grew up poor people went to school with the rich ones, unlike the kids of New York City's wealthy who lived in Manhattan. There was in Manhattan unimaginable wealth within blocks of horrible poverty, but I did not record it; I had not started photographing and would not have known where to start. (or who would publish such photographs). But did see the iconic photographs of Bruce Davidson, now of Magnum Group, before they were published in his book 'East 100th Street' as he searched for a publisher. You might have a look at that book or reviews at least. He told me and others of his travail in trying to find a quality publisher for his memorable images as he showed them to us. So, from the time of my late youth, I was greatly aware of contrasts. New York is a wealthy city now, with not nearly so much poverty, and now a much more agreeable place to live. But it has an analogue in Ukraine and this photo from Kyiv (Kiev) shows a typical contrast which illustrates the gap between the 'haves and the have nots' even though taken on its absolutely most fashionable street. Thankfully, Ukraine's economy is doing very well, and the day when such scenes are able to be photographed will begin to disappear, first in Kyiv and perhaps long hence, in the smaller cities, villages and countryside. I photograph there because I am able to 'turn time backward' in a way, and not have my photography confused as making racial-ethnic statements, since Ukrainian citizens are almost 100% white. Those who photograph in Black Africa, parts of Asia or even South America or the Caribbean that are very poor suffer from having their photographs seen to illustrate 'racial' and/or 'ethnic' problems which results in viewer confusion about the message their photos portray. Such photos as these I take do not give rise to that confusion, I think because there are no racial lines. I'm glad this photo pleased you. That's reward in itself for lugging around painfully heavy cameras and long nights in post-processing, even though I do relatively little post-processing - keeping it to the bare minimum to make photos viewable. John (Crosley)

Pierre Dumas
Great life photo indeed! Rarely seen! PDE

Christine R
Everything is there! Contrast between the generations, between the poverty and the wealth, contrast between the enjoyment and the sadness. Well done. Congrats.

John Crosley
Linda, yes 'Powerful' Except the woman, right is probably made of steel, though her bones obviously are not. And the woman, left, may face a similar future as her time passes in some distant future, but young Ukrainian woman know that, and they trade on their exceptional looks at an early age, trying to nail down their future based on their superior attractiveness before it flies away. This is a 'powerful' photo,as you say. And again in 30 to 50 years, there'll be another one similar to it to be taken by one of my fellow photographers. With any luck, though, the woman, left, will be in better circumstances as she meets her dotage. We can only hope. The Ukrainian economy really is doing rather well and the citizens are pretty satisfied with their rising lot, I think. Though their government is stalemated, it's better than any they ever had before, I think. There will always be 'powerful' photos to take, but some in the future will require different and better access than I have on the Ukrainian street. Hospitals and health care facilities in the US routinely forbid photography, and HIPPA prevents others seeing or hearing of the health of those under health treatment, so the story will be greatly muted in the future, and in the US at least, such photos will be nearly impossible to take, as such elderly individuals as the woman, right, will be confined to institutions where photography is forbidden. Tant pis for the world and for the message of this photograph (Tant pis = French for 'so much the worse'). I'm glad to learn that this photo struck you as 'powerful'. Actually when I posted it I didn't see its significance as a photograph for others, although I understand its significance personally. Only slowly am beginning to see it now, perhaps through your eyes. I have lived in this culture on and off for several years, and see such things routinely, but I still photograph them because they must be photographed. In America, we hide our old people. In Ukraine, the old people refuse to allow themselves to be hidden -- at least those who would survive no matter what the cost in human dignity. Thank you for an insightful and feeling comment. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Christine R. Everything, in the photo, but I wish I were as good a craftsman as storyteller. But then taking many 'street' photographs at night requires a special sort of patience and willingness to compromise, I think. Many great photos have been taken during daytime because light is abundant. My adventuresome spirit causes me to go out often as and after the sun falls when light is very low and see if I can capture some part of mankind's nature that others don't record. So, technically, this is not my best photograph at all, and I have taken more powerful photos, I think, but you are right -- in the subjects it has it all. (It even has some composition with the length (height) of the woman, left defining the 'base' of an imaginary compositional triangle that is completed by drawing a line from her feet, past the feet of the osteoporotic old woman, past the right frame, then joining the imaginary intersection of that line with another imaginary line drawn from the same tall woman's head across the top of the head of the bent old lady -- and voila, a right triangle is implied, even if it is not in the frame. There was a man walking by who interfered, so he was cropped out -- I just crop in a few seconds and almost always get it right, and this is no exception. But you have put words to things I had not yet articulated -wealth/poverty, etc., with all the contrasts, so bravo! I see it, I feel it, I visualize the possible scene that might unfold, place myself in the proper place to capture it (as here), then when it unfolds, there I am. It's now second nature. I comes partially from requesting these critiques and actually believing that people will (and do) offer helpful and constructive comments -- something I think others may make jest of from time to time, but my routine request for helpful critiques has yielded a mother lode of photographic knowledge that has been shared by other generous photographers. Including, now, you,. Thank you so much. John (Crosley)

Linh Dinh
Great idea, great picture! 7/7a. Best regards.

Verlon Walden
At first I didn't like that the young lady with the shopping bag was not sharply focused and "frozen" in stride, but then it dawned on me that there is a metaphor here; she is young, healthy and energetic, and thus moving briskly, while the senior lady is no longer any of these. I don't know if that is what you had in mind, but this is what it says to me.

John Crosley
Why Didn't I Think of That?: Thoughts On Vestigial Remnants The old woman has two hands. One hand holds her cane, and the other asks for money; she apparently has little or none. The robust and tall young woman, left, has two hands. One holds the booty of her shopping, in a fancy boutique bag. The other holds her purse, presumably the repository of her wealth (or at least her credit cards, which now are coming into vogue in Ukraine). She obviously has plenty of money. The bent woman, right, will probably never even see a credit card, let alone use one. Ever. And that is the finality of this photo. The older woman is being passed symbolically by the generations in the especially healthy-looking embodiment of a vigorous young woman of means with purposeful stride. She shuffles around in her housecoat, hand out, begging alms so she can eat. She now has possibly become a vestigial remnant of society, and in this case one of the society shaped by now almost forgotten Communism that surely molded her life but did not prepare her for this . . . ignominy. If she were lost to society, it might be like losing an appendix, our vestigial organ. We'd know it happened, but overall it wouldn't matter so much. Vestigial remnants are not necessary -- we accommodate them unless they become infected or otherwise bothersome. 'She had a long life.' She obviously was in much pain from her back,' we'd justify. 'It's better that way.' we'd say when she passes. All the promises she presented as a child have either been fulfilled or abandoned. Instinctively this photo recognizes the vestigiality of the bent old woman. And her childhood promises that have been fulfilled or never kept. I think that's its power. But in another sense to stare directly at it as I do here with my lens is perhaps as jolting as seeing at the end of an especially engrossing movie the words: 'THE END'. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Koushik R. Let's be frank. This is not my best photo, even though it's scoring well; it's doing that because I caught a moment, and thankfully for my ego, it was one I foresaw and for which I prepositioned myself so I could take it. But it required cropping; there was a third pedestrian, and his presence did not help this photo. I know I can sometimes be a cheerleader for my own photos; that's natural. But I'm intellectually honest, I hope and understand sometimes when I post photos that are entirely 'perfect' graphically -- even one or two that Cartier-Bresson might have liked -- yet they do not do so well on critique as I think they should. It's not because I'm a great photographic artist that this is doing well on critique; I'm just passable. It's entirely the subject matter. I get credit mainly for having anticipated this moment and prepositioned myself to capture it. And without that, the world would never have seen this contrast. I guess that counts for something. As for two blobs of light; I can count 20 ways in which this photo is deficient technically, so those blobs mean little to me in the overall scheme. They're part of 'street'. But this is a photo that cuts to the HEART of things, and raters sometimes have a special way of seeing and rewarding that. Best to you, and pardon my humility; I'm not known for that. I am known generally for my frankness, though, I hope, and if I say 'rates are too low' for this or that photo, and the rates for this one seem very high to me -- I never anticipated such high rates for such a technically deficient photo. But for me this is a more pedestrian photo that happened to resonate whereas many compositionally more perfect photos languish with mediocre rates because they are mere 'scenes', even if they represent my best work as an artist and are, in my view, inspired. The high rates on this are not for me as an 'artist' here, but for me as a photographer -- documentarian who caught something special -- at least to most viewers. One Ukrainian observer in a critique once remarked that my photography was not all that good: 'anyone could take such photos with a camera phone,' that person opined in a blog. So, have a look around and see if you can identify those photos I think are my 'best' as an artist . . . if you have time and wish. Perhaps this one is succeeding DESPITE its numerous deficiencies, rather than being anywhere close to perfect. That's how I see it. I hope you don't find me rude. Because I really relish your praise. And I do accept your compliments. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Adan W. It's actually the passage of generations -- time passes and some of us represent another time. In her time too, the healthy, erect young woman, left, will become stooped and aged, or she will meet an untimely death from lung cancer if she joins her sisters in Ukraine who are adopting smoking at an unGodly rate, thanks to advertising by giant tobacco companies. A few years ago, it was rare to see a woman smoking in Ukraine, and now it's the social 'thing' to do -- to be smoking. Big business wins again and it may kill the woman to the left, if she follows national trends. And the woman to the right -- simply a survivor of changing times, struggling as best she can to get by. She would never be seen in America as old people are expected to keep to themselves or go to nursing homes. I remember once, when I was marrying my beautiful bride (who got brain cancer soon after marriage) we visited her aged aunt, who was not stooped but about as old and had had numerous heart attacks. We brought with us several kilos (about 7 or 8 pounds) or bananas and other fruit, which we left with her in her teensy, tiny bedroom in a co-operative house in Moscow which she shared with numerous other people. She called at 4:00 a.m. the next morning to say 'I've been sitting up all night looking at those bananas that you forgot. Can I just have one?' Tears. She was an honest woman in a kleptocracy, who had her moral compass squarely in place. She would not be seen to be stealing a banana, though it was left there for her and she just never understood the bananas and other fruit were gifts. The old lady, right, assuredly lived through the horrors of World War II and saw things most of us can only imagine (or see in grainy newsreels), but her time has past, mostly. This is another photo about 'the Passage of Time' -- maybe one of a series if you put it together with other photos I've taken. Ukraine may be a little corrupt; I don't know for sure as it never has touched me, but my former Russian bride (who came from the same stock, just the country next door, explained it to my thusly: 'Everybody's so poor they're stealing from everybody else so they can pay back their debts to their friends who gave them food so they could live. People stole because they had to -- and it was expected everyone would try to steal from you. It is less so in Ukraine and now less so probably in Russia since the nation is somewhat more prosperous (at least nationally). Some people take advantage of the system; others don't. The old grandmother who begged 'can I have a banana, just one -- I've been staring at them all night' was an honest woman in a kleptocracy -- a former comrade who outlasted the system. The woman, right, also has outlasted the system, but she perseveres. She is testament to the will to survive. The Ukrainian currency has devalued (crashed) twice. If she had savings, it surely was wiped out, together with everyone else's. But banks are sprouting everywhere now, just in the last two or three years - no longer. And sponsored and affiliated with Western banks, (which now have their own problems, due to the subprime mortgage investments they made and underwrote). Ukrainians do pay their bills on time and in full; they're famous for it in banking -- even though they are 'cousins' of the Russians next door who were citizens of a kleptocracy for about 14 years or so. Corruption runs deep in the Slavic culture, again, though it does NOT touch me and I only hear stories of it and from television, and it predates Communism. People had to do harsh things to survive and those were selfish things -- such things were not just 'selfish' for no reason in many cases, but designed to help individuals survive hard times and a difficult system. The system has changed. There is a new culture. Ukrainians, though poor as a rule, think of themselves as middle class and are charging ahead (sometimes with their new Visa cards) into the world of consumerism, at least in Kyiv and much more slowly in the countryside and villages. And the woman right, though looking stooped, bent and frail, probably is made of iron. How else could she survive such ignominy? As society literally passes her by. (nice to hear from you Aidan with deep thoughts again and again) John (Crosley)

Joke Weier
Okay, I'm at the end of the scroll.;-) To give my comment. GREAT SHOT!!! with regards.

Linda Davidson
Very well done. It is compelling, and upsetting. The well fed young lady seems so self satisfied. The tiny fragile senior looks like a hungry little bird. Powerful!

Giuseppe Pasquali
John, I have reflected upon this work, and read all the comments and those lines addressed to my attention. First of all let me thank you for all you have written: you have found the exact words to describe what I felt only "emotionally" (I will write more under your post on my portfolio tonight).

As far as this very good photo is concerned I think that the explanation about your ideas on the post production of this work is very clear and now I agree with you on the necessity to stress the focus on the minute old woman w/out too much re-working her appearance. This work is a good example - like many works of yours - of the "antithesis" principle: balance (and - in a wider sense - knowledge or/and meaning) is often born from antithesis, from the encounter of opposite concepts, Young vs. old, rich vs. poor, beauty vs. unattractiveness, movement vs. stillness and so on. In this respect you have done a really good work. (there are so many "signs" in this one that I'd like to point out, but I don't want to be boring (you surely noted that the gorgeous woman has a little shining cross hanging from her neck ...). Thank you for sharing your words and works,


Adan Wong
Disparities will always exist in life. Once we acknowledge its ugly existence, what do we do next? Wasn't communism supposed to eradicate this inequality? It is ironic that countries like the late Soviet Union and China, which once adhered fervently to the idea of equality and championed the causes of the proletariat, are now some of the most class disparate and corrupt places in the world. Your picture tells an ugly truth that a lot of us prefer to ignore and acknowledge. This is the type of picture that is best "seen" with the heart than with the eyes.

John Crosley
Technical data This photo was shot with a Nikon D300 with a 70~200 mm V.R. E.D. lens with V.R. 'on'. The ISO was set at 1000, aperture at f 2.8, and shutter speed at 1/20 sec., handheld. True focal length on this zoom was 150 mm exactly, for effective full frame focal length of 225 mm with film/full size sensor -- FX format. I hope that helps those who have not shot in such circumstances to understand what settings have 'worked' or at least how they have worked in a true 'street' setting, with a tired photographer who has trudged some distance and thus was not so 'steady' but has had the help of a Vibration Reduction lens. Notice that even at 1/20 of a sec. shutter speed, the old woman's right foot (as she is looking forward) is blurred, indicating her own substantial motion. She was NOT motionless, though comparatively or relatively that is how she appears. I've seen her many times on the 'street'; she actually moves along pretty quickly and was not a stationary 'target'. Data from from EXIF info on original digital file. Photo opened in Photoshop ACR 4.5 from NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) original. Original also captured in jpeg simultaneously, as are most of my shots. jc

John Crosley
Giuseppe P. On reflection, while it might have been feasible and even technically desirable to increase contrast - especially on the woman left, I think it would not have worked well for this photo. The woman, left, I think because of her (slightly overblown) female shape and hearty stride, commands attention. If she were made more contrasty and more 'beautiful' (I'm not saying she's beautiful, but you get what I mean), then she might 'steal the show' from the central subject of this photo -- the bent old woman beggar. Just as Verlon commented above about this young woman being slightly out of focus and/or blurred (from motion), by enhancing her at all, instead of showing her bathed in over-bright show window light, it might have taken away the theme of this photo as Verlon explained it. He noted the blurriness from focus/motion and said it bothered him but then he realized that it pulled the interest to the crooked old woman beggar. In other words, the technical deficiencies in showing the somewhat attractive woman, left, help us to focus on the plight of the subject, right, and her miserable circumstances. Maybe for that reason, I did not, as I might have done, 'select' the young woman and bring her to best photographic reproduction, with a full range of darks to highlights. Instead, I left her slightly overblown (which matches her figure somewhat, somewhat unusual in Ukraine, where thin young women tend to predominate - few women are so well fed (and still be attractive). She's 'overblown' in the highlights by the shop window, and because she's out of focus a little and moving foward just enough to cause some motion blur, so our eyes cannot rest on her. Instead, her presence is a 'source of tension' within the photograph. And this is a photo about tension. If I were to have made the woman, left, more easy to view, not only would her looks have competed for attention, but the 'lack of tension' by enhancing her image might have taken away almost completely much of the dynamic tension of this photo. In other words, the movement, out of focus and overblown lighting on her, left as they were, tend to enhance the photo by enhancing the 'tension' of the photo. What are your views? I just process these things instinctively . . . . . , and I didn't feel the desire or the need to enhance the image of the young woman or in any way make her 'attractive' or in any way to 'enhance' or even 'rescue' her image from its technical deficiencies. I think the technical deficiencies actually help. You? John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Giuseppe Pasquali Pardon me for overlooking your excellent contribution above; comments were coming in fast, my replies were going out just as fast, and I missed your remarks. Thanks for noting the combination of 'sensitivity' and 'planning'. You may note I've given you a rather thorough comment that includes a remark about 'planning' in photography (and it is truthful and sincere to the bone). I like your image of a 'blurred carpet of walking/talking people in the background' as a 'subtheme'. You are right, of course, very perceptive, and are also quite good at articulating a hard-to-put-in-words concept. The 'contrast' adjustment first was done as part of a NEF (Nikon electronic format = raw) conversion so the contrast and desaturation were done as one movement. It was adjusted later as in all my photos through application first of Shadow/Highlight filter, then maybe (I forget) brightness and contrast. Increasing contrast before desaturating would not have been allowed if I desaturated in Adobe Camera Raw 4.5, as I had pushed the contrast to the limit that the photo would accept (and still be presentable) while at the same hitting the 'desaturate' button on another tab, and then manipulating the color sliders. Another way around that,I suppose, would have been to open it as a raw (NEF) photo in ACR 4.5, and do so as a color photo, then in Photoshop itself from the original download, apply 'black and white' filter, but B&W filter's good, but a tad less sophisticated than the color sliders in ACR 4.5, so I prefer to desaturate when I can in ACR. I have more control that way,but do give up some control over variables like contrast, where there are limits with ACRs and the raw format. Frankly I didn't spend much time at all on this photo considering the reaction. A veteran Photoshopper might have spent an hour or two on it; I spent maybe 15 minutes. I did sharpen the old lady somewhat. I had to, as this was a nighttime photo and even the best focus and a V.R. lens with a f 2.8 opening and a high ISO (not the highest, however by any means), meant that there would be movement artifacts due to focus issues and subject movement issues relating even to the relatively still older lady, (as well as handholding issues from this old photographer behind the lens). I have written you (and for others to see) about the whole issue of preplanning or previsualizing a photo, (among many other things), as that is what can cause an ordinary photo to be transcendent. The ability to 'foresee' a circumstance before it happens, and to know in one's gut that it's going to happen as one plans, then to position one's self in the place where it's the best vantage, then wait until the moment is realized is what I wanted to be able to write about to you -- perhaps I was in adroit in doing so or less than clear. And Voila. When the subject and situation materializes as one expects, there is the photographer who has anticipated all, waiting with everything framed, camera controls adjusted, and all he has to do is hit the shutter release It's simple really. And a little bit of 'street magic' that is shared by every able street photographer. Just release the shutter, either singly or in a burst (here a burst). It's what you, Giuseppe, are beginning to do more and more; I can sense it, and it's what will make your already transcendent photos even more sublime in the future, as you learn more and more about how to do predictive positioning and to literally 'feel' how subjects are going to move. Or better said, 'Go with the force, Giuseppe' because 'The force is particularly strong around you'. It's found inside your soul -- the soul of a master street photographer. My hat's off to you and your special talent. Thanks for stopping by to add an encouraging and helpful comment, both here and all those many other times. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
An alternate caption I had a Photo of the Week about 10 or 11 months ago entitled 'The Progression of Age' found earlier in this folder. It shows a bearded man, twinkling eyes, looking into the camera as he passed, in front of a poster of two women's photos -- both in poses that appeared to mock him. The title of that photo; 'The Progression of Age'. Its 'story' was that people get older and young people sometimes react in interesting (even mocking) ways to 'older people' such as that man. It's a favorite of mine, though not my absolute best. This photo might just as well have been captioned 'The Progression of Age II' I think. For obvious reasons. If you view the other photo -- the former POW -- you may understand how they relate. Is there a common theme as I think? John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Gordon Bowbrick Your work is of the highest caliber, and so I pay special attention to what it is you have to say. As such your analysis of this photo's attributes are 'spot on' (to use a British phrase), and I am glad you agree with my own particular analysis. That analysis was 'hard won' -- that is I really didn't think so much of this photo when I posted it - I figured it would get low ratings because of technical issues, but 'what the heck' it was a good subject. Boy was I proved in error, at least in the view of raters, and collectively they have great wisdom . . . however much one might want to quarrel with one or two individual raters. By the way, the side light comes from a store window display -- bright lights as though the woman, left, were almost spotlighted or I had brought out special, massive, lighting gear just for her.) You honor me by your comment, as well as this work, and for that I am especially grateful. I hope I will see more of you, and your great work, in the future. John (Crosley)

gordon b
John You would be hard pressed to find two women more diametrically opposed in terms of wealth and stature. The girl on the left of the frame looks positively amazonian beside the hunched pensioner. The slight motion blur renders the young women's face a bit blurry, which tends to give her a vacuous expression which plays well to the story this image unfolds. Beyond your being quick enough and fortunate enough to get this amazing capture you have been blessed with marvelous side lighting spilling in from what I am going to guess is an adjoining street. The two women caught in this marvelous light with the background figures remaining in shade, along with your prudent choice of DoF, go a long way toward singling them out from the remainder of the crowd. There is beauty in this image along side of profound sadness. I've been away from P.Nut lately. When I stick my head in the door and discover shots like this, I remember why I used to hang around here so much .

John Crosley
Joke Weir Thanks for your words of compliment. As you can see this is not the photo of a technically exact photographer, but it is a photo from the heart. Thankfully, the PN audience has recognized that -- or perhaps overlooked the technical deficiencies (or somehow in the process I turned the 'deficiences' into attributes). Of course,when I post something, I just post it and it stays posted regardless of reception, and am amazed by the reception this one has received. But perhaps I shouldn't be. PN audiences and raters collectively can sometimes show great wisdom and maybe teach me a lesson. Thanks again, Joke. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Bonjour Ana (encore) et Merci I came to Photo.net several years ago, and a great many members with decent photos treated the process of creating those photos as some sort of mystical secret -- something not to be divulged or shared at any cost. Their photos were to be admired, but damned if they'd tell anybody how they produced them. That would be 'sharing' . . . . a scary word for some. I figured that I would just be myself and share with others. Now, I was not an immediate success; viewers took time to come by, but they have and I've had 'views' too numerous to count by now. A few suggest that I should just keep quiet about the 'why' and the 'how' of my photos, with the suggestion that only the photo counts and nothing else. I was to 'wordy' for the taste of some. Well, certainly the photo counts for nearly all -- after all this is a photo site. But if the words count for nothing, then why are there photo professors and masters classes? The mission of Photo.net is to help each member become a better photographer, and if I have something to share, I don't think anybody is going to 'get ahead of me' based on what I write. Only insecure people are worried about being passed by,I think, and I think it would be nearly impossible to match or copy my 'style' such as it (or they) is (are), as I have more than one style, just as you take street, travel, still lifes, flowers, etc., (and all very nice, I might add). So, thank you for the encouragement to continue writing and sharing; from time to time I come across a naysayer -- someone who will write me and say these words detract from posting photos. Of course, they needn't read at all, so they should only consider these words superfluous and to be ignored (for them), while some others can share and a few can also learn. You can't take it with you, and frankly I can look at the work of any good 'street' photographers' and usually tell how each capture came about in part since I probably encountered some similar situation or circumstance somewhere at some time in my shooting. So why secrecy? And so, I'll take your advice, and continue shooting and writing about it. Those who are not interested just don't have to read. Those who do, might learn something, and a few teach me some things about photography and many even quite often teach me important things about MY OWN photography in their critiques. I'd be lost without my many Photo.net friends who have helped me develop my craft through their wonderful critiques and comments. Encore Ana, merci beaucoup for your comment. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Giuseppe Pasquali (on selective focus) Focus is a concept that applies not just to photography though it has specific meaning within the photo world. We use focus in photography generally to make our photos (or portions thereof) sharp and clear. For 'selective focus' however, we make one part clear and another part less clear. That is part of the explanation of why the word 'bokeh' (appearance of the out of focus area) is important to photographers, though generally not so much 'street' photographers, and it occurs generally when lenses with large apertures are 'stopped down'. Here we have in single subject -- the old lady. She is 'in focus' rather sharply (though aided by sharpening -- nighttime shooting can be difficult with long shutter speeds and large apertures with moving subjects -- even slowly moving ones). Everything else is a blur. This photo is a study in contrasts as you have noted. It gains because I have as well depicted the contrast visually within the limits of the medium. The subject 'focus' is on the lady as an actor within the photo. The limitations of my equipment and the lighting, also have worked to help by causing me to isolate the old woman and to bring selective focus on her. It was not by accident that it was she I focused on, knowing much else might be out of focus or blurred. But then for me this was 'just another photo' and one without high aspirations, though I felt the subject worthy. I felt PN viewers would reject it for technical reasons, not understanding how I have used 'selective focus' on the old lady. Boy was I wrong. And happily so. I am glad you understand and now agree with my post-processing decisions. I really spent almost no time on this photo, if one can believe that, and I posted this as a supposed 'lesser work' or almost an afterthought after reviewing old captures. I suppose I have a number of others which others might feel are pretty good which I have just passed over. I did spend over an hour and a half in post processing on another photo I posted just before, for which I had high hopes and so far it's received two rates, total. And one comment. Live and learn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts . . . . an exchange I always look forward to. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
hamed sajedi pour Thank you for the compliment. John (Crosley)

hamed sp
From She To she.....Excellent work....best reagards hsp

m p
Your camera has a human face.

John Crosley
m p Your brief comment is almost sacred to me. Thank you very much. John (Crosley)

Giuseppe di Pietrantonio
A very good photo!I've seen all your B&W .Each photo tells a story and this,I think,is the most important obiective for a photographer and sometimes refined tecniques are negletted a little for taking or chosing the right moment,opportunity.Best regards from Rome and sorry for my English...

John Crosley
Giuseppe di Pietrantonio Yes, it took others to tell me that my photos 'told stories', but I now realize it. I just thought I was 'taking photos' and didn't think about 'stories' -- it was so natural. It's hard to take a good photo at night by the light of streetlights and a department store (magasin) window light with pedestrians walking toward you with a telephoto lens and still keep focus, but this is the result. I KNEW I had to take it, but didn't know what compelled me. I was completely overwhelmed by the response -- I think highly of some of my other photos that do not so much touch social nerves, as this one certainly has touched that nerve. I'm very aware of the importance of this one now, and readily acknowledge it certainly does have its flaws -- few are more aware than a knowing photographer who has made a particular photo -- so long as he is not self-deluding. And I accept the faults - I figured they'd ruin the rates, yet it's one of my highest-rated photos recently. Go figure. You are right, sometimes the subject takes precedence over technique and technical qualities. Best to you, and welcome as a commenter; I hope to see many more comments from you in the future whenever you are so moved. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
A Weegism? Naftali, but I didn't use flash. Weegee was far more bold than I, used to move his subjects, and could be as intrusive as a photographer could be. He would move his corpses to make them more 'photogenic' and otherwise 'doll up' a scene to make it more salable to newspapers he served. Not I. I am more surreptitious. These subjects never knew they had been photographed; I was at a distance, at night, with my telephoto lens, though not at full extension. Lighting is sidelighting from a store window, which gives the very fine illumination that helps this photo greatly. None of that 'glare in the face' look Weegee was so well known for, with glare off foreheads and other 'hot' facial features. I'd be proud to do homage to Weegee, however, as he was a fine photographer, but frankly I don't have a felt hat, wear a topcoat, and I don't chomp on a cigar. And I don't sell to newspapers (there isn't one that even has a budget to buy a photograph except maybe USA Today, Wall Street Journal or NY Times), and all newspapers have huge budget cuts, while most are now arming reporters with digicams and saying 'get us some photos too' which guarantees photos mostly of amateur quality. (I've tried, as a journalist, to take good photos and write good stories together, and both suffer, as what makes a good story takes attention from the concentration needed to take a good photograph, and so both end up being shortchanged in the process.) In any case, Naftali, whether or not I understand which of Weegee's work this relates to, or 'pays homage to' I'll take a comparison to such a great photographer any day. It's an honor. Thanks. John (Crosley)

Naftali Raz
John, here is the link to Weegee's image i meant: http://www.amber-online.com/exhibitions/weegee-collection/exhibits/the-critic-1943

John Crosley
I saw her here the other day (the old lady, of course) She's still going strong. (at least as well as a hunchback old woman can get along). She moves surprisingly swiftly for a very old woman, possibly in her '80s, with her backbone joints eaten away by osteoporosis and inevitably in a lot of pain. She also does pretty darn good in the begging department; people stop her even when she is not begging, to give her alms. People understand that she would not be out on the street if she were not needy. In a way, such a life may be healthier for her than being a shut in and having no purpose in life except to phone her friends (if any survive and watching endless television in her flat). She gets pretty good exercise, meets people, gets money for a pretty nonstop supply of food, and after observing her for over half a year, she has a pretty steady income. Of course, she works for it, and under Communism which guaranteed her 'according to her needs' that shouldn't have been necessary, but she is Ukrainian, and she is 'making do' and actually, despite her infirmity(ies) she is doing rather well. She is rather hearty, in spite of her bone disease, and has pretty good stamina. She does not confine herself to one small area, but can travel a rather large distance, and walks rather briskly considering all. This is not an excuse for not giving her alms -- I have on more than one occasion, through an intermediary, as I don't want to be seen as a 'soft touch' or I'd be set upon by every poor person in Kyiv' - and that is dangerous, in part because it allows people near my cameras who might try to snatch them . . . . so I usually have someone walking with me give the alms and have them walk far apart at from me the time of giving so no connection is made between me and the alms given. This woman is deserving of sympathy AND alms. I give her alms, and I am very discriminating, but I have seen worse cases. Far worse. But she has my respect, and that alone tugs at my heart. John (Crosley)

Naftali Raz
a Weegee-ism but a good one. more of an homage than an imitation.

John Crosley
Naftali Raz I know the image well, Mrs. Cavanagh and the wretch, but in this case it's the doyenne who's aged and the wretch who's impoverished, while my photo is a twist on that. And, as I noted above, in true Weegee style, the photo was taken with glaring flash bouncing right off Mrs. Cavanagh's face, lighting it up brilliantly and making it almost like a reflector -- not quite my style. Trademark Weegee. But mine as an homage? Perhaps. At least there's a contrast, and I'll have to give that one to Weegeer, he could spot a moment . . . and in that case it was 'high society' versus the less than common people. It's a famous photo; I'd doubt if my photo ever gets 1/10th the attention of Arthur's famous photo or I ever get 1/10th his current acclaim, even posthumously, though that would be nice. Except I don't particularly believe in an afterlife, so lots of good that will do me. But I'd truly like to see my work outlast my lifetime, if nothing else. (I've been working the last 24 hours on re-doing a book that I did before and went to edit it but found its photo links all were broken, so I have to redo it from the start -- maybe some sort of registry error. Damn!!! Double Damn!!! What a way to spend Thanksgiving even and Thanksgiving -- in isolation with my computer and hard drives, trying to replicate something I did a good job on before.) Wish me luck;' it'll be for galleries, museums and grant applications only . . . .as private printing can be extremely costly. And thanks for bringing 'Mrs. Cavanagh' to my attention (once again) with my own photo for comparison. It's a rather high honor. I hope you don't mind, however, if I don't chomp on a stogie, wear a felt hat and overcoat, or carry a Speed Graphic. Oh, no press card stuck in the felt band of my hat either. My California Highway Patrol press card either was stolen or became dislodged when Secret Service lifted me by the armpits to move me when a sidewalk elevator opened directly in front of President Richard Nixon on Powell Street in San Francisco and he found himself staring at the outstretched hand of a hapless guy who had been stocking a basement and was opening the sidewalk elevator metal doors to get to his truck. I got the photo (front page of the Examiner or Chronicle) and the bum's rush -- literally picked up by Secret Service and hustled down Powell Street to a new point of safety. And my Press Pass disappeared in the process . . . . (of course I got a new one, but it's been decades since I had one last.) John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Iker Iglesias Thank you for Christmas Greetings. May you have the same. Thank you for the compliment. John (Crosley)

Iker Iglesias
A portrait of our world. Chirstmas photo as well... Best wishes John, Iker

John Crosley
Ratings At this point there are 31 ratings on this photo -- almost all are very high, with originality well over 6 and aesthetics almost 6. When others view my works, and I see what they are viewing, I often see them stop at this photo, and most often they give me compliments. This is an unexpected showstopper -- one I had hopes for, but not such high hopes. It seems to have rather universal appeal, at least to those who stop to consider it. To find such information, which I might not have guessed, is one of the strengths of the ratings system. Many decry the ratings system, and it has many areas in which it could use improvement, but it has been refined in the last year or so, and it seems to work rather well for exhibiting 'popular opinion' which is what I look to it for. It is not an indicator of what is the best photograph or where one will find the 'trendiest' in photography, or some such, but ratings here represent rather well the consensus of those who are motivated to rate -- those who feel strongly enough to leave an opinion -- and just that others have such strength of feeling about a particular photo to rate is important to measure, I think. That they rate highly for a photo such as this is and do so consistently is an extra special treat. John (Crosley)

Kevin Temple
If the title has anything to do with your images then the former definatly applys. seen your name floating about and pleased |I looked into your images.As good as it gets

John Crosley
Kevin Temple I walked by this same place three times tonight; everybody is gone away because of swine flu, and I had been away almost a year because of personal issues. I'm happily back, walking this street and numerous others, taking this and a vast variety of photos in a very, very photogenic country, in part because people actually go out of doors, because few have autos and most rely on public transportation in the capital city here, or even in regional cities or the countryside. Better, for me, the photos can show modern times from the 21st C. back to the 19C., often within dozen kilometers of each other. It's pretty amazing and ripe fruit for a 'street' photographer. But it is not something that was 'laid' at my feet; I came through here one day five years ago (actually a distant city), saw it was different and photogenic for me, (and full of very pretty women, like Russia, next door, which for the male in me is pleasing) and said 'I'd like to photograph in this place, which I've done. So, as I walked with a companion, turned around, looked back, I saw this pair coming, and stood, with zoom telephoto and anticipated the moment they would pass each other, shooting as they approached, and as they passed, this is the result - entirely foreseen (in general), but I NEVER thought your comment would be No 50, or that this photo would be seen as so powerful. It is said that luck favors the well prepared. | prepared and luck favored me. Thank you Kevin. When I practiced law, over two decades ago, those also were words to live by, and they are just as important to 'taking street photographs' where very often one gets an opportunity only once and then only for a fraction of a second. I wonder if this photo is up long enough if there'll be another 50 comments|? I should live so long . . . Thanks Kevin. for the compliment. John (Crosley)

Michael Ferron
Wow This photo says it all. First nothing makes for better photo than contrast. Not the tonality type of contrast but subject contrast. Here we have the attractive, tall, well dressed blond and the tiny old lady next to each other in the same shot. Not only does it speak of the have's and have not's but it speaks volumes about the glory of youth and the sufferings of old age. A very moving photo.

jorge fernandez
An image with strong message!!! John a good presentation to provide awareness to all of us!! Warm regards.

John Crosley
D.S. Meador Yours is one of the most intelligent and insightful comments made on any photo of mine; it encapsulates the photo in its entirety. I endorse everything you say, and if anyone is looking for a capsule summary critique of this photo, I'll simply incorporate your analysis by reference. This was an impromptu capture, as so many of mine are; I ran ahead to take this old lady and saw the young woman overtaking her, and timed it to take the two as they passed on the very, very wide sidewalk. I cropped this, as there was a distracting man, right, who would have ruined the capture . . . , and as much as I usually dislike cropping, this is one instance in which it was entirely appropriate, and frankly, the only way. Thank you for a most insightful analysis, and also the high praise. Sometimes photos of mine get praised that I don't feel always deserve it, other times photos are criticized warrantlessly, I feel, but here the reaction has been exactly appropriate. Given the law of averages, the audience on Photo.net generally 'gets it right' at least on mainstream things ., , , , and is a a very good indicator of popularity and general good taste in mainstream photography. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Jorge This has become a 'John Crosley' evergreen and even a Photo.net evergreen, even though views are not so high they're outstanding. One has to look hard sometimes to find the 'good stuff in my portfolio -- keeps me from being dismissed by people who come one time to look and never return saying to themselves 'I've seen it all'. Not by a long shot can they 'see it all' in one visit. I still discover new nuances in my photos, aided by diligent viewers and critics. Thanks Jorge, just for viewing (and letting me know). Without viewers, there's be no reason to post. John (Crosley)

DS Meador
Great Capture! John, I do not feel qualified to rate the capture, so I'll just write a quick note. You have captured the past, the present and the future in one frame! The blur of the young woman and the crisper focus on the older woman capture the truth that youth and beauty are fleeting. That the older woman is in crisper focus, but still has some blur expresses that old age is not the end, even it will slip through our fingers. This is one of the best photos I've seen on PNet. And, it puts into perspective all those discussions about "which lens is the sharpest"? I can't recommend changing this photo in any way. For me, it is a great capture just as it is. DS Meador

John Crosley
Michael Ferron You have aid in a few words what this photo means and done so very well. You are to be congratulated in your brevity and clarity. It took 50 something comments before I think I understood as much as I think I can understand this photo, and now it's a matter of reflecting on future captures -- trying again for that 'magic'. "Magic' is not something that comes in a can or in a gold box marked "Nikon' but inside the brain coupled with some chutzpah, some energy and just 'being there'. Elliott Erwitt, famous Magnum photographer and its agency president (three times) once famously was asked what was proper exposure: 'f 8 and be there' was his short answer to the inquiring woman. I was there, and perhaps that's where the 'magic' came from. There's really no substitute. I spend a lot of time in what others might call 'iffy' neighborhoods, because that's where the photos are (in the USA, not above). It's the way I'd prefer to live my life from here on out. I once lived in the most tony suburb - a very famous California one in Silicon Valley in a famous subdivision in a very expensive house and wondered why I had no interest in photography then. Answer: nothing was interesting there photographically. Later, when events took me other places, my interest eventually revived. The rest is beginning to be history, I think. Thanks for taking the effort to comment. John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Billy K.

Lots of hard work, some of the world's most severe physical pain, worn shoe leather, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe a million or more?), literally the equivalent of travel many times around the globe, and more energy (and hardship) than you can imagine went into making this folder what it is, let alone the entire portfolio.

I am so very glad you have enjoyed it.

Your comment makes my day. 

 I do it all for my art, and art is to share. 

Without you (and others like you) there would be little reason for doing this.


John (Crosley)

Billy K

I especially like this folder. Lots of great B&W work, some great captures. Cheers, B.

Mark H

I have little to add that has not already been said above, so I will simply give you my seven and move on. You are an extraordinary photographer and even if you do not consider this your best work, it is still quite exceptional.

John Crosley
Michael Lindner

It only took a second or two with a telephoto lens in the evening to capture this scene, and it has become a 'signature' image of mine.  Who knew that an image could have so many contrasts in it? 


The comments above should provide an enumeration of some of the contrasts I and viewers/comments have discerned, and thus the photo has a form of universality to it.


It's really amazing, but as a photographer, this is one image for which I may be remembered (if I am remembered at all).


We really have little control over what images resonate with viewers, but the idea is to keep slogging along, keep banging away at that shutter release, keep the mind and eye engaged, and hope for the best.


Each time I go out, I keep the reception you noted above, plus those of a few other photos I've taken, in my mind, as I scan and view people in their environment -- looking for meaningful relationships that will resonate.


Sometimes I find them - sometimes I find them in an 'artful' manner, and when I do, it's a joyful occasion that I can't wait to share.


With viewers like you.


Thank you so much for your comment and compliment.




John (Crosley)

John Crosley
Mark H.

It's 7:00 a.m. after all night Photoshopping, and I'm going to get some sleep before I fall apart.


Reading your comment put a wonderful smile on my tired face; it's remarks like yours (and the very occasional photo like this) that makes it all worth while, and keeps me out there, rain, snow or shine.


Thank you very, very much for letting me know your thoughts.




John (Crosley)



John Crosley
'to Have and Have Not' Beauty and the robustness of youth together with the fruits of a shopping jaunt precede a bent old pensioner in this photo from Kyiv, Ukraine's busiest and trendiest shopping street recently. Pensioners have seen their stipends greatly eaten away by inflation over time, though the economy has vastly improved in recent years. 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 photographic knowledge to help improve my photography. Thanks! Enjoy! (or at least be edified) John

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