Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More than books...


The South Pasadena Public Library grounds are almost never empty. You'll regularly find our city's residents reading, picnicking, catching rays, perching on the steps, chatting on the benches and, in this case, dancing barefoot in the grass.

And why not? It's a mellow and uplifting spot to feed your head as well as wiggle your toes.

11 comments:

Julie said...

As a corrolary to the exercise that Snapper has embarked upon over at Gabriola, why did you choose to post this in B&W? I selected it from the portal because it was B&W but I fully expected it to be an old family photo - and it isn't.

For mine, the B&W works because the child becomes very white instead of having to share the spotlight with the green of the grass. Not sure ...

I would really value hearing your thoughts about colour or monochrome.

Thank you in anticipation ...

Virginia said...

I like it in BW too. It does put the tiny dancer in the spotlight of sorts. Dad in the shadows keeping an eye out. I just love how you caught her with her little arms up !

babooshka said...

It is a fallacy that any image looks better in black and white. Not so. As a photographer you really do learn this technique quite quickly. Why this works then? Obviously straight away it gives the image a timeless feel. The child is almost ghostly, ethereal with the all white ensemble. The gentleman watching her childlike wonder is really intensified. The light in the top left and pockets on the grass are emphasised and the dog behind the child, so dark adds extra depth. The same shot in colour would be a pretty cute image, but the black and white brings this to life by allowing the monochrome to draw the eye to the main focal points and not what I am sure is lush green grass. A wonderful example of a portrait b&w.

Oh dear I do seem to have gone on a bit, but this is a question I am frequently asked and as this is a perfect exmaple I just wanted say why. Hopefully too to point people in the direction of this delightful image.

Snapper said...

I would have to agree with babooshka on all counts. Had the thumbnail of this image been in colour on the portal, I would've passed it right by. But since it wasn't well...there ya go. Laurie, congrats on a simply beautiful photograph!

Yak Pate said...

OMG! What Babooshka said! Yes, the quality of this photo is ethereal bordering on other-worldly. I especially love the juxtaposition of the father's mundane attitude with the child's joyful dance. This IS the magic of childhood!!

Keep this up... your next shot will capture her imaginary friend!

Laurie said...

Hi folks,

Thanks for all the nice words -- I just woke up and this is better than coffee!

When I was in high school I developed (oh, there's a bad pun)a fascination with black and white photography. I had a Canon SLR and easy access to my high school dark room and for a couple of years I spent all my extra dollars on film. My teacher was a former photojournalist whose street photography could bring a person to tears.

Like so many others here, I was influenced by Bresson, but also Brassai and Doisneau. I always looked for "the decisive moment." I also spent a lot of time watching classic films in black and white. To me, the cinematographers of that era were the real heros of cinema. I still get a thrill when I see something shot by Gregg Toland or John Alton.

I was a film major in college and there I discovered not only the deep focus joy of Jean Renoir but the French New Wave. While that movement is mostly remembered for jump cuts and hand held shots -- I remember all that high contrast black and white and how well it allowed the viewer to focus on the characters. (Can you imagine Breathless in color?)

For me, monochrome deconstructs life down to basics of light and dark, flash and shadow. Textures take precedence over colors and light... light just becomes something magical to paint with. I don't necessarily think everythnig looks better in black and white (thanks to the old Simon and Garfunkle song!) but I believe black and white allows us to penetrate the scene and find the subtext without distraction.

I am still learning about digital photography, about digital editing vs. a darkroom, etc. I have to stop myself from making this blog all black and white all the time because it definitely is where I find my comfort zone.

Thank you so much for this great conversation! I have so much to learn about photography and consider myself a writer who just happens to love to take pictures. This is a wonderful place to learn more and hone my skills.

Julie said...

Indeed, a wonderful conversation during which I have learnt how much there is to learn.

Returning to the image: the child is actually on her tippy-toes to throw a ball to the dog. The B&W "encourages" us to overlook that element. Unless one enlarges the image, the dog may as well not be in the image. The B&W allows us to concentrate on the stance of the child and this is what gives the image that ethereal, other-worldy feel.

Thank you for all this and thank you Laurie for the image.

Laurie said...

Thank you, Julie!

life observer said...

Skull & Bones??

Gotta think about that one. You people on our Pasadena southern people are makin me worried.

I rather think bout libraries & bookstores.

Jutilda said...

Love the juxtaposition of the older guy in shadow and the child in light.

What a metaphor!!!

Dixie Jane said...

No quotes, no songs.....only what I see to be a perfect black and white picture. From the black man to the dark background, one searches for the almost obliterated dogs to which the little child, outstanding in white, with white balls, captures your focus. This photo is full of movement while standing still.