Monday, December 15, 2008

Challenges (again, Denver)

How to make the ordinary look extraordinary?

With long lenses... (Windows in Larimer Square, Denver, M4-2, Summicron 90/f2, Superia ISO 400)

Moving fast... (Hotdog vendor in 6th Street, M4-2, Hexanon 35/f2, Superia ISO 400)

Acting quickly... (a view of Michigan Avenue, south of the river in Chicago, M3, Summicron 50, Ektachrome ISO 200)

Looking for the weird...  (Performing Arts Center in Denver, M4-2, Hexanon 35/f2, Superia ISO 400)

Some time ago, a photographer let me in his secret for succesful street photographs: visualize your shots.  Sounds easy... until one leaves the familiar environment.  That was my lesson (one of them, the other was that meters don't have it all with them) to take to Denver, CO, with my M4-2.  In Chicago, it is relatively easy for me to determine what is ordinary and common as opposed to what is not.  I can easily decide what details to pick and photograph and which ones to leave as done and overdone by other photographers.  However, Denver didn't offer me that choice... simply because I don't know what is usual to photograph there.  The challenge I faced, just like I do when in Chicago, was to render the familiar unfamiliar.  Otherwise, why bother photographing?

Here are some of my results.  My window shot, done with a Summicron 90, takes the windows and their awnings away from their surroundings.  They're no longer a "Denver sight" but rather a line of windows with a conforting routine about them.  Then, the hotdog vendor is so common and ordinary that he couldn't be any commoner.  Yet, the people around him steal his protagonism from the photograph.  My view of Michigan doesn't look any different from any other shot, except for the fact that it was done at dusk.  My favorite here is the yuxtaposition of a bear (apparently a begging one) and a nice VW Beetle (weren't they known as "Bugs"?), in a photograph that screams "postmodern" to me: irony, clashing categories (urban vs wild, or idealized view of nature vis-a-vis the equally idealized urban life in the VW).  I don`t know, but the VW in the forefront, and the bear in the background look so incongruent that I should frame the shot.

If you don't agree... just let me know! 

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