Disappearing Landmarks: Starship Pegasus – Italy, Tx
While driving to Scarborough Renaissance Festival this year, I noticed that one of my roadside landmarks was missing. I was accustomed to seeing a cool, funky building – the Starship Pegasus – off the starboard bow while traveling northbound on IH-35 East passing by Italy (Texas that is) exit 386.
The Coin of the Realm. If you want to get a more realistic experience of what it was like to have a pouch of coins on your belt for all your daily monetary transactions, you can experience it at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival.
Wonderful discoveries can occur when you wander off your usual path. A couple of weekends ago when coming back from Scarborough Renaissance Festival I was low on gas and exited at Jarrell, Tx to refill. Upon exiting, I tripped across an amazing little gas station — actually it’s a tourist attraction, not a working gas station, but it’s pretty cool…
What? A post about checklists? Are you bored or something?
No – well, maybe – but mostly no. Checklists can really save your proverbial bacon (there’s a proverb about bacon? – hmmm, nevermind).
So I’ve got multiple checklists that I use when I’m doing photography stuff. A simple example is my checklist for a day-trip to a renaissance festival (doesn’t matter which one):
Sherwood put out the call to a number of renaissance festival photographers to come and assist in photographing the Sherwood Forest Summer Camp. I was able to take a few days off work to help out.
The summer camp attendance has grown each year by over 70% and for this year the number of youth camp attendees for the first week-long run was over 110, sessions 2 and 3 are sold out. The attendees are grouped together and the groups attend different classes that are going on at the same time.
Photographers get a list of classes they’ll be photographing every hour, usually 2-3 per hour. It’s really like photographing at faire. Run and gun, adapt to the class and light, e.g. sometimes indoors (high ISO, flash to freeze subjects), dappled light outdoors, under a tent/structure where the subjects are in shade but the background is in bright sunlight, full shade, etc…
I’m currently reading the 1995 reprint of John Alton’s 1949 book Painting with Light.
One of the passages that struck me was how he described the placement of the subject in his chapter on The Hollywood Close-Up.
“Generally, leave more room at the side of the picture toward which the subject is looking. This allows the imagination to travel. Behind the head is yesterday, uninteresting. We cannot change it. Ahead of it is tomorrow, full of expectations. We can still mold it.”
I really like that description. It’s putting into words a kind of gut-level intuition about subject placement, but also elaborating on that such that it’s not a “rule”, but “why” it works. Which also leads to the next sentence (when you might want to break with it)…
Miho performing at 3rd Coast Tribal 2014 in Fort Worth, Tx.
“A head can be against the side line of the picture when, for example, there is the suggestion of fear or menace behind.”
In my second image, I’d tend to say the possible implication of fear or awe is probably more in the gesture than the negative space behind the figure in the frame. However, I didn’t even click to that possible interpretation until after reading that passage and looking at some of my archives to see if it held up in practice, and when.
It’s always a joy to get a new “take” on compositional techniques.
A recent comment by a friend reminded me of how easy it is to be photographically blind to what we’re really seeing in front of us.
In particular, years ago I was photographing the Austin Belly Dance Convention in which Ava Fleming was the headline performer/instructor. While pulling selects from the performances, on her Friday night performance I hit a brick wall. My selects just didn’t feel right. Something wasn’t clicking for me.
I had to back away from the tunnel vision of having looked at the performance photos for too long and take a break. So I went and watched “Shall We Dance?” (US remake). While watching the movie it struck me – Jazz! The lightbulb went on! I remember in reading her instructor bio that she had a modern dance background. I ran back to my computer and BOOM! the selects were trivial to pick.
My vision was locked in to the familiar forms and moves and I was missing the picture she was presenting. I could see it, but I couldn’t access it until I shifted my frame of reference (or my focus) to a different place, then the pieces fell into place.
So have you been in a place where your vision (photographic, dance, life) is keeping you from seeing?