SINGLE SHOTS #17

Frozen
Frozen

I was lucky to spot this dog as I waited in a queue to a cash dispenser down the road.  It was getting dark, and I took the Contax 645 with me to shoot out the last frame. Luckily, I nailed the focus. He literally froze in mid air, probably noticing another dog at a distance, and was totally still like that for a moment. Only one ear flapped a bit…

“My Heart Stood Still” – Chet Baker

Spinning wheel

Urban geometries
Urban geometries

The big wheel symbol is a typical fixture of our cities since it has been invented by George Ferris in 1893. This one can be found every winter in Place Massena, in Nice. While usually it is surrounded by some seasonal decorations, here I’ve managed to shoot it just before the annual carnival season, when tribunes are being placed for who desires to watch the ritual passage of decorated carriages.

The wheel seen from La Promenade de Paillon
The wheel seen from La Promenade de Paillon

Perhaps a more typical image of the wheel can be enjoyed from the recently opened park named “La Promenade de Paillon”, established over the covered delta of the Paillon river, creating a green open space between the Old Nice and the rest of the town.

“Spinning Wheel ” – Blood Sweat and Tears

Evening light

Cap Ferrat dusk
Cap Ferrat dusk

Evenings at sea are often magical, particularly if you can get a high vantage point, to appreciate the patterns forming on the surface. The coast between Nice and Menton is especially enchanting also for the presence of low mountains that create a natural   shield at the back. I’ve tried to capture this unique evening atmosphere on film several times, but it is difficult, at least on black and white. You lose the sublime hues of blue and gold as the sun sets somewhere beyond the Bay of Cannes. The photos also cannot experience the silence, the stillness that takes control over the sea. There is a spot on the Grand Corniche, where you can see Eze village, with the Cap Ferrat and Baie des Anges ( Nice Bay) in the background, and the planes passing to and fro over the airport. It is a view I can watch for hours. I’ve just seen, that some air company has awarded the Nice Airport approach the title of the most beautiful in the world, and rightly so.

Homecoming
Homecoming

A solitary yacht coming back to Monte Carlo port for the night floats delicately on the surface and shimmers like a night fly.

“Float on” – The Floaters

SINGLE SHOTS # 15

Do you know me?
Do you really know me?

I believe, that the background blur in photography is overrated. Particularly in portraiture. Depicting a face in sharp focus over a blurred ground suggests that we know something precise about this person. In my opinion, it is much easier to have certainties about a wall or even a group of trees, than about a human. Finding out about the others begins with trying to understand ourselves.

“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – Simply Red

On value

Treasure hunt
Treasure hunt

Looking at these pictures has made me focus on a peculiar trait that all humans possess: ascribing value to non utilitarian objects. When I saw this dog leap into the shallow water after a stone thrown by his owner, I was curious to see how this was going to evolve. After all, a stone is a stone, and it was unlikely that once it fell into the sea, it could be traced through sniffing. Dogs are not all that eagle sighted either, so the chance he could spot the exact one through these running waters was very slim. Yet, he really insisted on finding THAT ONE, the particular, unique and valuable stone, that had the special quality of sharing a history linking  the dog and the owner together.

The dive
The dive

Michael Johnston has recently brought to our attention an interesting article by Richard B. Woodward, about comparing value of photographs printed or not printed by the authors. This has brought to my mind an excellent TED talk by my favourite social psychologist, Paul Bloom, about the origins of pleasure, and how we essentially all are… essentialists… The unexplored part of the story though, seems to be, that this precise mechanism, ascribing  value (pleasure of ownership)  to things on basis of their perceived history, looks to be working among other animals as well.

Victorious
Victorious

What is not shown here, is that after the dog has brought the stone to his master, they lost interest in the game, and moved on their stroll. The precious stone got abandoned in the middle of millions look alike stones on the beach. Again, a parallel with us humans, brilliantly depicted by Antonioni in the movie “Blow Up”. I wonder, if ten years from today, anybody will still be willing to spend big bucks for a  chewing gum “pre owned” by Brittney Spears.  After all, who the heck were the Yardbirds? Our common fate is oblivion.

“Oblivion” – Astor Piazzolla

 

 

 

Funny face

Double portrait with Pinocchio
Double portrait with Pinocchio

Walking the streets in search of a shot is a revealing process. You react to things that attract your attention and click the shutter, hoping for an interesting image. Then, after some time in the quiet of your home or studio, you look at what has been captured, and frankly, most of the time, wonder what the heck prompted you to waste a piece of film. This is the academy of photography in practice: learning what really looks good on a print. Funny faces are instinctively appealing, so I also tend to collect some of these over time.

Grin
Grin

Then there can be various types of funny, from  simply a subconscious give away of an instant emotion, to a purposeful pose.  The master of capturing these scenes full of humour is undoubtedly Elliot Erwitt  (BTW, he is still alive and well…)- if you chance to find his book “Snaps” or “Personal best” they are a treat.

Flower power on wheels
Flower power on wheels

“She’s Funny That Way” – Lester Young