Today is Friday and I couldn’t resist posting another shot—a total contrast (pardon the pun) from the last shot. I wanted something else to take me away from the rainy-day New York. Back in St. Lucia, South Africa, Volkswagens are ubiquitous. Though the look like relics of the 1980s, many of them are models still being produced today. It’s a different world, where the perfectly lightweight hot hatch heyday never ended.
For all of the anecdotal (and statistical) dangers on the road in South Africa, people spend a lot of time there. (Really, you could say the same of the chief transportation modes in any part of the world.) Whether it’s walking, hitchhiking (lots of hitchhiking), or hanging out in the back of an invincible Toyota, people get to where they have to be.
Looking south, over the rooftops and streetlights of downtown Berkeley, the high-rise buildings of Oakland and Emeryville are luminescent ghosts in the bay fog. I’ve come back to this photograph again and again—the composition isn’t quite right, the quality is just average, but for some reason I find it inescapable. I can forgive all of its sins (and mine in taking it) for the trajectory of those sodium lamps, arcing gently to the south like some fairy worm.
What is “honesty” in photography? My goal as a photographer is to capture what I saw—the subjective experience of being in a single moment. I want to capture a “truth.” The process of taking a picture is projecting the reality around us onto a sensor and through myriad digital processes to create the photograph you see in front of you now. Every photographer has, in their pursuit of truth in imaging, some lines in terms of image manipulation that they will and won’t cross. HDR, for instance, is viewed as a “cheat” by some, and as a better approach to getting the true dynamic range of the human eye by others.
A less dramatic case, however, is the use of color in an image. Last night, the sky over Canton was this incredible, surreal, and otherworldly pink-orange color that was completely overwhelming and astonishing. When I noticed it out the window, I sprinted outside with my camera and captured the final, fleeting moments. I was in that moment. Nearly the same effect, however, could have been achieved with a simply pink photo filter. To me, this raises two issues:
- Trust: You have to trust me, as the photographer, to portray the experience I was having when I captured the image.
- Subjective reality: When I process a photo, what techniques are enhancing my ability to convey my subjective experience to you? Which techniques are just “cheating?”
Driving into the canopy of trees on the way to Grizzly Peak means relief from all of the stress of work and life, and a moment with the beautiful roads of northern California. Today is my last day in Berkeley, and so I can’t think of a more fitting metaphor for finishing graduate school and moving away. On the Rimway, as in life, adventure is ahead.
First off, Happy new year! Been an interesting year and here’s to another interesting year full of interesting photos.
The subject of this photo is familiar, previously appearing at night. If you look closely you might even spy the photographer of the previous shot.
San Francisco features this incredibly rapid transition from enormous, modernist towers to older, mostly wooden structures. This transition seems to be located, at least partially, along the divides between the flat portions of the city and the truly, insanely steep bits. Today’s photograph shows the full gradient between the two zones. I particularly like the two tiny figures, sitting on the steps, in the bottom right corner of the image. This tiny detail provides a little bit of a human element to an otherwise dehumanizing scale. They seem to be silent observers, casually taking in the flow of traffic as the sun’s last photons scatter through the atmosphere.
San Diego’s Civic Center, as I’ve shown previously, is a pretty surreal place. There’s certainly a feeling that you’re supposed to be in the nexus of the city’s of law and justice, but literally just around the corner, the buildings are plastered with signs for race tracks and the curbs and lined with homeless folks. I liked the way this image showed the broad sidewalks mostly abandoned, with only traces of waking life here and there.