When It Exceeds Our Ability To Understand

When It Exceeds Our Ability To Understand
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Image by Frederic Mancosu

UPDATE 2: Hi folks! In case you have been wondering why it has gone a bit quiet here in the last days, it is because I’m working on a non-photo project which is both vital and extremely consuming these days. I have to meet a deadline which is approaching way too fast for my liking and therefore am taken pretty much day and night. Regular service however will be resumed shortly after I’ll be done and will have handed in my paper. It is the longest piece I’ve ever written so far and it is beginning to eat every bit of me… I can’t wait to see it finished and I hate it dearly on the one hand. On the other hand, it is like a piece of my head ripped out and smeared across a couple of sheets of paper… or my screen for that matter. I do then love it at the same time… a bit like a (figurative) baby…

Oh and while I’m at it, thank’s Steve, for making the mac such a nice tool to write on.

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UPDATE: Over 6000 views on the stream! Thank you all for the time you’ve spent here. Your visits are greatly appreciated and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the images rolling out here over the next couple of weeks… or months, or years, who knows ?

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Bern Bundesplatz. We were sent to Bern with my company yesterday and while we had a tight schedule, I still brought along my camera. I like Bern a lot and didn’t want to miss the occasion if we’d have a bit of free time left over. As it happened, we did and I didn’t. After we left the federal administration we had been visiting, we decided to remain in the area and enjoy the evening sun a bit on a café’s terrace. We therefore went on in the direction of Bundesplatz, a square right in front of our parliament, which has water fountains shooting out of it. In summer then, many kids toll around in the spray here (which you can see here: flic.kr/p/8mtC6M, here: flic.kr/p/8mwHRu or of course here: flic.kr/p/8mwACG).

With the winter coming closer however, they are way less prone to getting wet, which leaves the stage open for this dog, who was obviously very fascinated with the water shooting out of the ground. As they say then, when something exceeds one’s ability to understand, it becomes truly magical… even for a dog.

I took the occasion to get better befriended with my wide-angle and found out something significant about using such a lens in street-snapping. It was about light. So far, I had been shooting mainly at nighttime and therefore, my 24 had yet to encounter the mother of all light sources. Yes indeed, the sun. Granted, my photographical relation with the sun has not been without its ups and downs and quite frankly, I rarely like the light it provides. However, when it’s low enough, it creates dramatic contrasts and picturesque shadows, which in turn, are to be liked a lot. This then, is one domain where the wide angle feels really at home. It is a bit like its front lawn actually. Yes, in real life, the house behind the front lawn is where the serious bits are happening, where the inhabitant actually is who he is and does what he does. Following our analogy, the house is the proper use of the wide angle for the wide field of all it is able to do, landscapes, interiors, environmental portraits, the lot.

The front lawn though, is where the inhabitant shows off what he’s got best. A respectable car in the driveway signalizes success, a good trim on the grass denotes control and some carefully arranged beds of roses stand for style and a sense of esthetics… right out front, for the world to see. With a wide angle, it is quite similar and shooting it into a powerful light source like the sun makes for dramatic shots which show off its most valued qualities. The long shadows running at the viewer show of the singular depth one can achieve with no other type of lens, including the light source or at least its reflection into the frame creates a bright spot deep in the picture, drawing the viewer into it and if composed correctly, some context can still be given "around the image" due to the stretched field of view without being obtrusive.

While the world can of course not be made entirely out of front lawns and the properly great images remain the ones with message over method, this is still a valuable point to keep in mind on the steep learning curve one is presented with when using a 24mm lens.

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