In photography, showing motion and time is usually done by controlling the shutter speed to blur motion or freeze it, or by creating a series of photographs. I have done all of these, but new technology brings new techniques, and recently I have been shooting from moving cars and trains, using the camera’s panorama settings. The motion is too fast for the camera’s processor, so I get the slicing you see here. This gives a time-sliced, jittery view of the passing world: a sequence of suspended motions.
This series was taken early on a Sunday morning in Toronto’s underground PATH. As I was walking around in the deserted commercial space, I began to see it as a metaphor for the emptiness of our consumer lifestyle.
In all frames, note the hard linear wall surfaces, and the grid of the floor tiles. Nearly every image also holds some commercial signage.
I shot with a high ISO as I had no tripod; the resulting graininess enhances the images. Nothing in any of these images (except The Black Gate) was arranged – it’s all shown as it was. As well, all the images were shot full-frame.
Frame 1: The final rainbows
The bright daylight from beyond the door leaves a spectrum on the floor, echoing the rainbow motif on the wall. The rest lies in shadows.
Frame 2: The beacon
The bright light shines from between the escalators and the stairs. Reflections from the black and clear surfaces continue the scene to the right and through the stairs and escalators. The blue glow is also seen at the end of the series.
Frame 3: The Messengers
The wide angle view emphasizes the isolation of the Messengers near the corner. Their lively colours contrast with the bland setting. They looked like they were waiting to escort me somewhere.
Frame 4: The Black Gate
I had to work at not getting my reflection in the black surface, though I also tried in other images to have my reflection sitting, ghostlike, on the bench.
The image has been reversed to make it look as if the Moneysworth & Best and other stores are behind The Gate. This necessitated re-reversing the logos on the recycling/garbage bin. The low point of view emphasizes the leading lines in the floor, ceiling and lights, and the obstacle between you and The Gate.
Frame 5: The descent
The structure of the lighting is reversed from normal: the near scene is darker than the distance. The lights over the stairs work with the opening to the descending walkway to form a maw, drawing you down the slippery path toward the light.
Frame 6: The holding pen
The black, angled framing emphasizes the glow from the lights, especially the distant blue glow. The chrome chair legs form spiky barriers, but there are clear pathways. And one chair stands ready. Who is it for?
Frame 7: The Empty Throne
Three tables, three chairs, reminiscent of Cerberus. That cold blue glow.
This series was first shown together at The Aurora Cultural Centre in 2012. The descent and The Empty Throne were in The Uxbridge Juried Exhibition in 2012, with The descent winning Best Photography.
There are things I miss about traditional “wet darkroom” photography – the magic of watching an image appear in the developer; the photogram, where objects are scattered on photographic paper, which is then exposed and developed; even the anticipation during the time, often days or weeks, between the exposure and the print. Scanograms use a technique I have invented to create the digital equivalent of the photogram. I open the flat-bed scanner and start a scan. I then “paint” with some object – in this case a tulip – over the moving scanning bar. I don’t get to see the result until the scan finishes, so I also get back some of the anticipatory delay that I have missed.
If you look closely, you will see bands of red, green and blue around some of the scanogram’s features. These are a result of the way the scanner works – sequentially scanning in the digital primaries – combined with the flower’s motion.
The only processing I do on the result is to (laboriously) take out the inevitable dust spots. I also crop it a little bit to make its proportions better for standard frames.
So here it is at last – Aug 31, and I just set up the linking so pixsilver.com shows my new site. I will add more galleries, change up the images from time to time, continue writing, and get guests to write.
It’s still a work in progress, but so is my art. And so am I…
Please leave comments to let me know what you think.
Photographing graffiti has a long history in photography. It brings the usually anonymous wall markings to a broader consciousness, serving as “an equivalent of oral history – retrieving scraps of ordinary lives”. (Max Kozloff, in The Restless Decade – John Guttmann’s Photographs of the Thirties) These days, not all graffiti artists are completely anonymous – we’ve come a long way from Kilroy to Banksy! There are fans who could tell who made the stencil graffiti seen in my image of the laughing grenade, and probably the sprayed tag partly layered with it. Same with the digits in 10.
So – what am I doing here? Why take a picture of someone else’s art? Some will see it as appropriation – I’m not part of the graffiti culture, and understand very little of it. I prefer to think of it as sampling, more common now in music than in visual art. That’s why I framed it as I did – having the grenade and the tag both bursting out of the frame, showing only the top of the 10. I’ve made the images my own, and suggest the uncontrolled nature of the originals.
Few people are actually familiar with what goes into making a photograph, and what is needed to appreciate one.
At the moment of creation, photographers must choose the right framing of the right objects, with the right lighting, at the right moment. The exposure time, f-stop and ISO setting all must be chosen for their proper effects (for example, blurred motion, out-of-focus background (or foreground!) and graininess, respectively).
A multitude of things can be adjusted in the processing – contrast, brightness, colour balance… it’s really easy to overdo it.
In printing, the paper must be matched to the image, with an understanding of how the paper’s characteristics will affect the printed image. The camera, monitor and printer must all be matched
When you look at a photograph, consider the photographer’s choices of subject, framing, lighting, proximity, flatness (or bending) of the field of view, colour, sharpness (or blurring) of focus, depth of field, graininess, brightness, contrast, motion, paper texture and colour, layering or juxtaposition, and so on. Really look.
Then ask – Does this photograph make me see and think differently
Minor White | Edward Weston | Richard Avedon | Margaret Bourke-White | Ansel Adams | Walker Evans | W Eugene Smith | Dorothea Lange | Edward Burtynsky | Diane Arbus | Paul Strand | Lewis Hine | Shin Sugino | Man Ray | Harry Callahan | André Kertész | Group of Seven (+) | Abstract Impressionists | Peggy Stevens | Margaret Atwood | Roo Borson | George Bowering | Susan Musgrave | Christopher Dewdney | A K Dewdney | Heisenberg | Existentialism | Elizabeth May | Bill McKibben | Naomi Klein | Leah Buechley | William Gibson | Beethoven | Douglas Cardinal | China Miéville | Paolo Bacigalupi | Al Gore | Georgia O’Keeffe | Garry Winogrand | Jeff Nye | Jerry Uelsmann | …
It’s August, 2017, and I am re-creating my website. Again.
I was showing off to my computer studies students… I don’t do that any more, so, you can see why I’m rebuilding it.