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To shoot or not to shoot.

Yesterday I attended to a local photography group meeting. The subjects of these meetings are usually more photography techniques related, but sometimes there is a nice debate. The theme of the night was ethics in photography practice. It wasn’t necessary to be a seasoned photographer to attend to this session, as the subject is applicable to lots of different aspects of life or work.

Some famous photographs were shown, that somehow have stirred the minds of people in recent years, along with other examples.The panellists talked about their experience in newspapers or street photography, two specific genres that can have issues of this kind. Issues about what pictures must be taken and not.Issues about what are the intentions of publishing specific pictures, their context and how playing with that context can alter the meaning of those pictures.

It seemed to me that for the newspaper person, the thing was about delegation and his own common sense and experience. Everything was measured on a professional scale. He was sent by his editors to cover some specific thing happening somewhere. His mission was just taking as many pictures as he could. And later this editors, based on their own criteria, featured “the picture”for the event. He mentioned a few times in his career that was told off by people asking why he was taking this or that picture. He was sent once to a place where a woman had drown in the sea, and some people started questioning his presence in that terrible scene. He also mentioned other times when he just wasn’t able to take pictures of some specific events he experienced. For example, when he saw an accident in the road just in front of him, and his first reaction was waiting for the medical services to appear. He wasn’t on an assignment, so he didn’t took any pictures. He didn’t even thought about it.

The street photographer was less concerned about this, I think. His sole intentions are mostly artistic ones. He wants to make a nicely framed picture of ordinary people doing more or less ordinary things in the streets of Cambridge. The biggest moral dilemma is usually the kind of: should I ask for permission, or not? Will that person notice me with my camera? If some embarrassing situation arises he just gives a card to people with his website address, so if they see a “bad” picture of theirs, they can ask him for removal. I have seen his pictures and they are really nice. In both technical qualities and intentions. I don’t think anyone could have ever found them offensive.

The extremes were mentioned. People that will do the impossible to get a picture. Someone mentioned Don McCullin, and I instantly remembered his documentary. I think that is a quite good example of a photographer that faced really difficult situations and even risked his life for “the picture”. Could his presence have changed some events he witnessed? Does a photographer in an armed conflict has that kind of power or responsibility? These are some incredible difficult questions that not even McCullin seems to have an answer for. At the same time, his legacy is an amazing set of historical pictures that hopefully will raise the awareness about the damages of the armed conflicts he documented.The other (ridiculous) extreme they talked about was the paparazzis. People with a camera that will become an intruder in anyone’s life for not precisely the right reasons.

Food for thought. Good weekend!

Don McCullin

Interesting bits of an interview to this famous photographer:

 

If you want to know more about him, I recommend watching the documentary film “McCullin”. I saw it a few months ago on BBC. It is amazing what this person has seen and lived. Most of us would have ended completely mad. Here is a review of this film from The Guardian.  And this post explains a lot more about his photography. Is interesting how he has moved from “war photographer”, a term he doesn’t like at all, to only make pictures of UK landscapes. It might sound like his very own personal way of retirement but still working on his passion.

Low tide (2).

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A few more pictures from Wells next the Sea. I liked black and white for these. It might be that I’ve looked at lots of black and white photography lately and wanted to try something. The dune in the second picture is one of the two chunks left from the one shown in my earlier post. I was standing on top of the other one. The harbour area in this place totally empties with the low tide, as the first and last picture shows. The stranded boats made look this place like an old dead sea, if it wasn’t because the large bird crowds living here (and tourists taking pictures, like me).

I totally look forward to come back to this place in summer.

Low tide

Taken in Wells next the Sea, Norfolk.

Low tides in this beach are amazing. The sea recedes hundreds of meters. Last December weather in this area was awful. Storms and tidal surges destroyed the coast line and a quite a few resorts were affected. Someone from that place that I meet walking on the beach told me that those two lonely sand dunes are the remainings of a bigger one that was broken by the violent sea.  I told him that I couldn’t remember about that specific dune. This was my second visit to the place. The first one was a few years ago, and I think the sea level was different.

And that sea was not just after those dunes, but a lot farther…

New lens.

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Instead of a sports car for my 40th birthday, I got a new lens. I already have a 50mm lens, but it is a manual one, from ancient times. I missed having a bit more modern one. Now I can autofocus. I spent last weekend doing one-day trips to Norfolk coast and London. And so far, I’m quite happy with my new acquisition. I like this kind of lens. It’s field of view  is not very open, and less in a non full frame body as mine, where it is like a 75mm equivalent. It is more appropriate for portraits. But also when you want to get close to any kind of subject. The other way around is just keep distance from your subject.

I saw the mill in the first picture while driving back home. I just stopped my car in a side road, and without turning off the lights I took a few pictures of it. This one is my favourite. In the lower part of the picture, you can see a hint of the lights of my car. The second picture is London’s Millennium bridge, a highly popular tourist sightseeing. I think that when I took this one, I blocked the view of a far more professional looking photographer, with his tripod mounted and all. I’m sure you will see other (thousands) pictures like this, anytime soon…

I will post more pictures from this last weekend soon. I need to test more thoughtfully this lens. Maybe I’ll try a few portraits, something that I haven’t done yet. Maybe a selfie… 😉

London winter fair

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The day after my visit to Warwick Castle, we went to London Winter Fair, in Hyde Park. It was my first time coming to London in Christmas holidays. I usually go back to Spain to visit family and friends, but not this year. Someone told me about this popular fair in London. It seemed to me like a good plan for a day out. I found it a far more challenging place to take pictures. It was crammed with people. The was no space left to walk. It was cold (December, what would you expect), but sunny (Not expected at all). I focused more on taking pictures of the amusements. Roller coasters, Ferris wheel, carousels, carnivals, the usual stuff you can find in fair. I wonder how this place would look empty, like shown in those pictures of abandoned places.