Photographs of New York ’cause that’s where I live

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the moment

31 August, 2008 (03:46)

quick-1329 the moment

These students are practicing the first lesson in the new Cartier-Bresson school.  The instructor (woman with clear plastic bag) begins with stationary objects such as paintings, and teaches the newbies how to capture the moment.  As all us street photogs know - the most important - indeed the only thing that’s important in photography is “the moment.”   Pressing the shutter at just the right moment is something that comes when the heart, the soul, and the finger are all in cosmic alignment.

photo-lesson-2-1368 the moment

In this example they are asked to take a vertical picture of a statue.  The teacher reminds them to only press the shutter when the moment is right.

photo-lesson-3-1188 the moment

This student shows the most promise.  You can learn a lot about street photography by studying his perfect form.  As you see, his arms form a triangle with the camera at the apex, and as we learn, this is the most sturdy form found in nature.  The teacher informs the students that this is why most modern tripods have three legs.

He reminds them that the first portable camera supports (duo-pods) had two legs but were prone to falling over.

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Comment from Dennis Ward
Time: August 31, 2008, 8:22 am

Dave, it was the 100th anniversary of HCB’s birth on August 22.

I was re-reading some old articles about him and found this great quote again - “A photograph is neither taken nor seized by force. It offers itself up. It is the photo that takes you. One must not take photos.”

Apparently he didn’t like flash and said that thrusting a subject in the limelight was a sure way to destroy it. I wonder what he thought of Weegee?

I like that you’ve left the instructor’s face partly obscured. She’s obviously keeping a low profile and waiting for the moment just like the old master! :)

Comment from Dave Beckerman
Time: August 31, 2008, 8:36 am

That’s actually lesson number 5 (the the photo takes you.)

I think that a lot of photographers have this feeling; so many times I walk by something or someone and although I’m not in the mood to go back - there’s something that draws me back to take the photo. (Whether you take the photo or it takes you - it’s still up to you to press the shutter).

But there’s a story in Ansel Adams’ autobiography where he and another photographer are driving along on a country road. They pass some pieces of old weathered wood. Adams asks his friend if it would be okay to turn around and go back. He thought he saw something there.

His friend replies that he too saw it but wasn’t sure if he should bring it up or not.

And they go back. Drawn to whatever it was they saw.

So yes - you are drawn (so to speak) by the possibility of the photo. Being pulled in by the photo doesn’t mean that it will be a good or a bad photo - it’s just something that’s part of being a photographer.

Comment from peter
Time: August 31, 2008, 12:52 pm

Hi Dave, I must admit that I like your younger IR shots better than the older ones. Could you explain a bit about the process…or lead me to a site where it’s all explained? Many thanks, Peter

Comment from Dave Beckerman
Time: August 31, 2008, 1:02 pm

The “younger” shots were done last summer and are very simple: just Kodak HIE film with a deep red filter.

The current infrared work — they’re very different - both in terms of how they’re done and what I’m after. If I wanted to, I could make these shots look like the old film shots by decreasing the “clarity” but that’s not what I’m trying to do now. I’m at a point in this process where I’m still learning something every day about what is possible and how to post-process them.

In terms of procedures, the best I can offer you would be to look at the LifePixel.com site, and look around on Flickr for digital infrared groups. There are a couple of them that go into the digital infrared process and it’s issues.

The process (right now) is too complex to explain properly in a brief post. I’m using three different programs, each with it’s own learning curve (LR, Digital DNG Profiler, PS), not to mention the actual shooting issues.

When I get to a point where I have a better grasp on what I’m doing, I’ll write a post about it. In the meantime, I’d say try and enjoy it as part of a process that only began a few months ago. — Dave

Comment from Lester
Time: September 1, 2008, 7:04 pm

This new Carter-Brest school looks very promising. I tried a different photography school run by a guy called Angel Adams and did not have a very good experience. First, Angel wouldn’t let us touch a camera for a whole month. He explained that we all had to become cameras before using one. For a whole week he had us to do this special exercise of opening and closing our eyes at different speeds like shutters. This was very dangerous for me since my job is driving a bus. Then when we finally were allowed to use cameras, he told us not to look throught the viewfinder, but rather to take our shots from the belly button region where the center of the soul resides. This was actually good advice and I was able to sell a few of my photos to a fetish website. But all in all, I wasn’t satisfied with Angel Aams and his off-beat methods, so I will try the Carter-Brest school. By the way, I recognize the teacher with the clear shopping bag. She is Angel Adams’ mother. If his own mother is teaching for a different school, you know it had to be bad.

Comment from Dave Beckerman
Time: September 1, 2008, 7:09 pm

Lester - that’s actually a common way to learn certain arts. I’m not kidding. When I was in film school, I had a teacher who insisted that we don’t touch a camera until we could imagine the whole sequence of shots in our heads.

And my father once had a clarinet teacher who only let them blow into the mouthpiece for a few months before allowing him to use the rest of the instrument. Frankly, I couldn’t hear much difference.

Oh - and I had an uncle who learned to play the trumpet - but first only was allowed to use the mouthpiece.

So Angel’s methods are not really so unusual. I would give him another try.

Comment from Paul S
Time: September 1, 2008, 8:39 pm

Are people really taking photography classes with these little P&S cameras, I just can’t take them seriously. Oy!

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