Sunday, June 28, 2009

Why white and black?

White and black (as the Japanese say it),
or black and white to English speakers, has its uses.

Dazai Osamu (1909-1948), a Japanese writer who wrote several rather depressing works, had several attempts to end his life, is suddenly popular among Japanese young people.

I was crossing a bridge close to the place where he finally drowned himself recently and saw a young man who made me think of Dazai. For a moment, I thought Dazai had emerged from the canal and come back to life. But no.
I manged to get a photograph of him.

In color, it's nothing much.

But in black and white, the impact is greater, the spikiness emphasized, distracting areas of color removed. Perhaps, in black and white, it really could have been Dazai...

Kichijoji, 090531, Canon 5D MkII, 70-200mm, f4, 1/200

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words?


"A picture is worth a thousand words." Attributed to Fred R. Barnard.

It’s an often-quoted declaration. How true? Where does this idea come from? Apparently Napoleon once murmured something like, “Un bon croquis vaut mieux qu'un long discours.”

Since one picture can often use 1000 KB compared to a thousand-word MS Word file taking up 10 KB, it could be argued that numbers bear this out. Go figure.

“Aha! Usted está comparando manzanas y naranjas!” protests a Spanish lawyer. (Comparing apples and oranges!) A Word file is coded in ASCII which is much more compressed than a JPEG graphics file.

“But wait,” pipes up the prosecuting attorney, “a picture is so dense, it contains so much information, it cannot be reduced. Words are just the essence, the bones. There is little in the way of context.”

“I have a suggestion,” chips in a negotiator. “Pictures that contain text sometimes have a double impact. Is that possibly one reason why comic books and anime are so popular? You take a picture to sketch in the context, the background, and then add a speech bubble to highlight the crucial quote. Something that sums up the speaker’s main idea or philosophy. A soundbite, if you will.”

“Pix + text = bite?”


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Shutter speed


“Runners coming!”

“Quick, shoot them!”

“Aw heck, they came out all blurred.”

“What can you expect shooting on 1/60 second? Try 1/6400.”

“Wow, got 'em!”

Speed mattered more in the days of film. Shoot at too fast a shutter speed and not enough light hit the film. Go from 1/125 second to 1/250 second and half as much light entered the camera. So you needed to open the aperture by an f stop, eg f4 to f5.6.

Digital cameras these days shoot fast but still retain the ability to capture light when shooting in Tv (time value mode) since the aperture is automatically adjusted.

Inokashira, 090613, Canon 5D MkII, 17-40mm, f4, 1/60 and 1/6400



Sunday, June 7, 2009

The story of the three chairs

Once upon a time there were three chairs. They sat in the street outside a restaurant. They were placed outside so customers could rest while waiting.

Hmm, adequate beginning. When did this happen? …Who were the characters? …Where were they? What were they doing? …Why?

A photograph should tell a story.

A story should get the five wh’s (Who, what, where, when and why) cleared up early on.

And that is where so many photographs just stop.

Like this one. Its story needs to be finished.

What happened next? How did it finish?

Kichijoji, 090531, Canon 5D MkII, 17-40mm, f4, 1/200