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Friday, 08 March 2013


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Wow… you're right, there is no longer any need for pictures of people-feeding-birds-by-a-river-bank!


Compare this, by Kertesz:

There's a relevant Erwitt too, of some palace guards and a statue, but I can't find it online.

That's a stunner! It'd make a great TOP print offer...

I disagree with those definitions of "tour de force."

And seven and a half years ago I put my belongings on a container ship and moved to New Zealand. Didn't know a soul, didn't have a job lined up, just showed up in Wellington, got some business cards printed up, and started figuring it out from there. Like you, Mike, I had no idea how far or in what direction the adventure would take me. It's been a success beyond hope, and I have more friends than ever. Perhaps a bit like TOP in that respect? CONGRATULATIONS!

You see "Excellent shot! Well seen!" on flickr all the time, as if all of the craft of photography is of no consequence.

But, there is well seen, and there is well seen. I don't know that I would have seen this shot, from that spot, if it came up and licked me like a puppy. One likes to think so I suppose.

One of my favorite photographs I've ever seen.

Is there any freshman-level rule-of-thumb for composition this doesn't break? It's gorgeous.

Am I the only person who wants to see Ctein make a print of this? The online version seems very flat and weak to me, but I think it would make a stunning print in the right hands.

I thought for an instant it was two images montaged; even that would have been quite good, but this is superb.

A really great image that sums up the art of seeing pictures better than anything I've seen in a long time. Simple, but perfect.


I agree that this is a wonderful image, made all the more wonderful by the observation that it seems free of trickery. It appears to be just a keen observation smartly captured. I was very taken by it when I first saw it earlier this year.

I've had this as my desktop background at work for over a month now since it started making the rounds online. Great image.

There is a link to a higher res, desktop sized version where I originally downloaded it: http://i.imgur.com/FE2DxAH.jpg

It's in German, but here's a short interview with the photographer:

Google Translate does a decent job for your non-German readers.

It's a wonderful photograph indeed and I appreciate your letting us know of this photographer.
Re the John Camp disagreement with your definition of 'tour de force', I wonder if he's thinking of a different definition which I read many years ago, by an unknown genius, that a tour de force is something that should have never been attempted in the first place. It's a definition that certainly applies to many such 'tours', whether photographic or of any other kind.

Not quite as good, but sort of amazingly similar.

Print sale please!!!

You are right, Mike: The "Arbus" shot (with, I assume, the photographer's feet below one of the twins) is a wonderful photo. In a way, subversive and yet endearing, affectionate (toward Diane Arbus's work) at the same time.

The German interview reveals that photographer had been to this location many times before. That's why I often go back to the same locations to photograph, even though I usually start by thinking, oh not that place again, only to find something new. And once in a while something terrific. The locals may be tired of pics from this particular place, but likely not this one. Well seen.

It's not ground breaking in photography terms, but it is a very well observed and executed shot. However, great shots seldom turn out to be entirely accidental.

I can't help but wonder if this was a place he knew well and waited for the right day, and asked a friend to feed the swans very early in the morning when no-one was around.

I would... ;)

"I disagree with those definitions of "tour de force." "

OK, John, you have the weekend to prepare your rebuttal.


P.S. The literal french is a powerful lap, an extremely strong vacation, or a visit to a gym. Good luck with that.

I guess the lesson here is to always try and think outside the box. Wonderful photograph!

The power of this photo is obviously contained within the conflict of Yin-Yang. There are two energies pushing each other, but the person in the snow feeding the birds, and the swans within the dark water balance the hot and cold.

They say that luck is preparation meeting opportunity, and Ryczek's photo is a perfect example. Brilliant.


Nice image but the Whitey's seem to be totally bogarting everything again..wtf is that?

i guess that's par for the course.

Wow! I don't know if I could resist cloning out the stick at the top edge of the snow and river...

Many years ago I was in a (UK) pub quiz league, some of our team were college lecturers and we often competed against rather more "blue collar" teams. One evening the opposition was asked to define "tour de force", he thought for a long time, when pressed for an answer he said "a bike race ... in France". I nearly gave myself a hernia trying to suppress the giggles. True story.

Tweaked it slightly in Silver Efex Pro. Just added a little structure. Looks nice.

Of course YMMV.

Back in the day, The Economist ran a photo of a Khmer Rouge cadre riding a bicycle, with an AK-47 on his back. The caption was "Tour de force."

W.r.t. the definition of "tour de force".

The French definition would be an exceptional accomplishment that is unusually difficult to achieve (as opposed to simply unlikely). It would be interesting thatEnglish has retained the literal French expression with only part of the original sense.

Whether this exceptional picture qualifies, in one language or another, is then up for interpretation!

I think this is one that might look better on the smaller side for a print, keeping the whole scene a little more abstract. In the large version I keep wondering what is on the person's head. My first thought when you posted it was that the swans looked like snow that had been pushed or kicked into the water.

Nice. Really nice. Thanks for sharing it.

Seeing photographs like this make me actually feel sick. I see photographs this good and I wonder why I keep photographing - I don't have anything in my portfolio that even licks this photo's boots. I guess I'll have to keep trying and trying and trying.

Dear Mike,

This photograph is so stunningly good and perfect that the subject should be declared closed. Nobody should ever try to take a photograph of that subject again-- it will just be a waste of their time, energy, and electrons that could be better devoted to more productive artistic endeavors.

I notice that the photographer has said he will be selling prints. I would love to own this one, but I would be loath to purchase unless I knew that he was either working with an exceptionally good printer or was an exceptionally good printer. This photograph would look magnificent even with mediocre reproduction, but it would be heartbreaking to see it not get the best possible treatment.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I read the interview with the photographer, and it's my impression he's an avid amateur who makes images for the love of the medium. What could be better than that? I love it when someone without a reputation hits one out of the park.

How will we know how good great really is without occasionally seeing examples. I've never come close to anything like this, but I'm glad I can recognize it when I see it. Thanks for featuring this image, Mike.

What makes a photographer an artist? In Marcin's case, WE just did ..... And very deservedly so. I'm in spiritual agreement with Ctein on hoping to see what a master printer would achieve with this great shot, but shouldn't we instead give Marcin the opportunity of selling his own prints? The photographer's version / vision? Forgetting darkroom skills, isn't that the truest and perhaps the only print that counts (should Marcin choose to print his own). Personally I'd rather have an imperfect print by Ansel Adams than a "perfect Adams" by Epson.
BTW: I don't know if you get enough "thank yous" Mike, so please accept a huge one for 20+ years of sharing your great writing. Don't ever stop!

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