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Saturday, 27 October 2007


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Mike - I have really enjoyed your Michigan photos and blogs. There is a lot to like, and its not so overshot like the American West or the big National Parks. It does end up being much more of a subtle place. In addition to the subtlety, I like the clouds and the color myself.

Recent photos:


Great Blog!

I'm fascinated by the details that emerge in large format prints. I've occasionally fantasized about working on a project that would be all 8x10" and larger contact prints mounted with a loupe hanging from each frame, so that viewers could have that same experience of discovery.

One image that stands out in this regard (I don't seem to have a scan handy, or I'd post it) was an 8x10" I made of the town square in Tampere, Finland, and it seemed to be filled with little mini-narratives--a lively conversation at a cafe table, a man rushing on a bicycle, someone standing in a storefront, and all sorts of things I couldn't have noticed at the instant I was making the photograph.

I sometimes miss small details like your worker's head when shooting, only to be annoyed by them when I scan the film and see them up close on the screen.

Funny you tried to get the head then decided it didn't really show in the photo because it was so small. I'd have shot it without noticing the head, then removed it in Photoshop as a distraction!

I like the head. Everyone else in the picture has their back to the building. Without the head the building would be a static lonely thing dominating the right side. The head adds some life and character to the building and it breaks the too clean lines.

Boy, I wish I could write like Mike, but here is a feeble attempt at why I like the head. IMHO, too many times a picture of just a building lacks any real interest to me. When we build something there is a certain predictablity to the structure. Granted there are the exceptions, Victorian homes, cathedrals, Gehry.
Now have something else in the picture; someone on the stoop, or looking out a window, or approaching, or a dog sleeping by the door (dogs tend to imply some human presence) or even laundry out on the line. Then it stops being a building and becomes a place, a home, a center for some life. When we build something it is meant to be lived in, worked in, played in. Take that away and you strip away the essence of the structure. Ever notice that most architectual models or drawings will have those little silhouettes, they give perspective and they give life to the proposed structure. Even the exceptions listed above could stand to be photographed with a human presence of some sort (though laundry on the line next to a Gehry structure would be a bit surreal.)

Yes, without the head Mike's picture has a human presence, but like I mentioned they have their backs turned to it and this makes a difference to me.

The worst part of this, I am as guilty as anyone of taking the static building picture.

I agree with your conclusion-- the head doesn't carry the picture. But I, like the others who have commented on this article, also like the head, though for slightly different reasons.

It's too small to be noticed by most glancing at the image. But you yourself know it's there, as would anyone who takes the time to closely appreciate what's there. Like a beautiful transient chord in a Brahms sonata, those who catch it are enriched by it, even if it doesn't directly contribute to the overall structure. Furthermore, it speaks of your character and style. These are all good things in my book!

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