Knut Skjaerven

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The Workshop, September 18-21, 2015. Berlin

The Workshop © Knut Skjærven

The Workshop © Knut Skjærven

The Workshop in September has been announced. Click this link to read the program. Or click the image above to go there.

Good luck.

© Knut Skjærven
March 24, 2015.

#knutskjaerven #knutskjærven #newstreetagenda #oneverystreet #theworkshop #streetphotographyworkshop #theuropeans

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Final Agenda, The Workshop, June 18 – 21, 2015. Berlin.

The Workshop, June 18-21, 2015. CLICK IMAGE.

The Workshop, June 18-21, 2015. CLICK IMAGE.

Due to change of platform this blog has been discontinued. There are plenty good stuff in here but if you want to follow future posts you need to visit and subscribe to the new site.

New Street Agenda, The Workshop, is due to take place in Berlin, June 18-21, 2015. Click the link, or click the picture above to go there.

Have a good day.

Knut Skjærven
February 25, 2015.

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Introducing Personal Coach Program (PCP)

The Red Dress © Knut Skjærven

The Red Dress © Knut Skjærven

Personal Coach Program (PCP) for street photographers is ready.  The course runs over 7 modules during 12 weeks.
Click the photo or the link to read more about it.

© Knut Skjærven
Copenhagen, August 30, 2014

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ON THE GO

Screen Print 11042014

Screen Print 11042014

Welcome to ON THE GO. The Workbook for New Street Agenda. Click the image to continue.

Have a good day.

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NEW STREET AGENDA, Berlin, June 12 – 15, 2014

New Street Aganda, June 12-15, 2014

New Street Aganda, June 12-15, 2014

Some of you know that the first workshop based on Street Photographer’s Toolbox was held in Berlin in June 2013.

Since then many things have happened.

In 2014 we are not only in a position to make an even more interesting workshop, but we dare even call it New Street Agenda.

Why do we call it New Street Agenda?

Simply because it is a new agenda for street photography.

We are breaking new ground. You can be in it from the start.

What you will experience in this workshop you may have heard of as bits and pieces, but never in this combination and related to any form of photography, hereunder street photography. It is plain useful information, and basically it is common sense made operational.

Yes, common sense come rare these days. Particularly if it is backed by research.

Be cautioned that this not a workshop that teaches you how to fix a lens to an expensive camera or how to calm down strangers after you have flashed them in the face.

This is a whole different setup.

Our attitude to street photography is very, very  different. If you borrow images from the street you should pay people back with a value that is even higher. After all you are only visiting people’s lives and their ways. If they let you.

You do that by taking great photographs and by behaving accordingly. 

Here is what we do: We address how knowledge and experience within visual communication work in street photography. This will teach you to be more precise in your photography. You will acquire new tools to improve your street photography.

Plenty of them.

Once you start this kind of thinking you will be in it for life.  Your new knowledge will effect your day to day life also in areas not related to photography, because what is valid in photography is also valid for life. After all both are actors on the same scene. There is no mystery in this at all.

The final program for  New Street Agenda will be ready over Christmas 2013.

New Street Agenda, by the way is not a project, it is a process. You will start long before Berlin and linger on after. There is “homework” to go with it.

The structure of the program will not be that different from last year, but the content will be different. It will include elements from last year, though.

Here you can read The Overall Agenda and the Draft Program from 2013. It will give a relevant background for New Street Agenda in Berlin in June 2014.

There are testimonials on the very front page of this site. Read what Elisabeth, Tony and Robert have to say.

If you are on Facebook, you should become a member of On Every Street: The Academy. That would work as a great foreplay to New Street Agenda in June 2014.

Here are the some general resources you may want to look into: Street Photographer’s Toolbox (this site); Phenomenology and Photography; and Barebones Communication.

You don’t want to read all of that. Just take a glance. You will find even more resources if you look in here.

Be aware that New Street Agenda will only take 8 participants. Some places are already taken.

The workshop will include 5 individually coached sessions handled on email in the period April and May 2014.

The idea is that all basic preparation are done before Berlin so we can use the time there for photography, discussions and having an enjoyable time. Good time and good company is definitely a part of taking good photographs.

Normally it works :-).

The workshop fee is € 800.00.  You need to arrange travel, accommodation on your own, as well as you carry your own costs when in Berlin.

I will be helpful with accommodation if asked too.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

If you want to make a reservation for New Street Agenda then send an email to knutATskjaerven.com or use the contact form below.

See some of you there. Be aware that some seats are already taken.

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The Wordbook: Visual Nodes

 

Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

 A visual node is a part of a photograph that attracts attention and thereby extend influence on the reading of the whole photograph. According to Rudolf Arnheim , whom we lean on here, there are various ways to build nodes in pictures. Nodes often interact with visual vectors. (See Vectors).

Here are the nodes mentioned by Rudolf Arnheim:

1. Using sheaves of radii.
Lines extending from a visual center.

A photo showing the sun is a good example. And the light rays extending from it.

2. Visual dynamics in the opposite direction

Meaning something coming from outside with the movement towards a center.

People sitting around a table could be one example.

3. Crossings

Quite literally something crossing.
Crossing a pair of legs could be an example.

4. Knots

Extend a crossing with more crossing elements and you have a knot.

5. Superposition

When something is on top of another thing.
Like a pair of hands resting on a knee. Could even be your own knee.

6. Grasping or surrounding.

Holding on to something or surrounding something.
Holding someone else’s hand. Simple as that.

 7. Contractions

Something contracting.

If you cross you arms over yours breast, that could be it.

Nodes can be used in reading photographs as well as in building them. The examples above are not exhaustive but a beginning. Using of nodes in street photography will over time filter which are relevant and which are not.  There are special nodes of the human body. We will reserve a separate post for that. Coming up later.

Why bother with nodes you may ask. With words comes visions and is it not possible to talk about elephants unless you have seen one. You have probably seen images that you like without really knowing why. The existence of nodes can be one of the reasons for appreciating photographs.[1]

There can be plenty of nodes within a single image. Take a look at the photo above and see if you can find some.

Good luck with it.


[1] Reference: Rudolf Arnheim: The Power of The Center, University of California Press 2009.[1]

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

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The Perceived Center. Where is it?

Soft Solution © Knut Skjærven

Soft Solution © Knut Skjærven

Don’t believe those who say that your school days are over. Every time you reach a corner there is another one in sight. And so it continues it seems.

I think you know about my enthusiasm for Rudolf Arnheim by now. If for no other reasons that he challenged more traditional ways of seeing. Not that he changes what is “out there”, but he names it in new ways. It is like seeing the elephants for the first time. You have always known they are there somewhere, but you really never took the time to take a closer look.

So I picked up another book that turned out to be of a great interest. About 10 days ago and the last copy in the shop.

It is about centers, and carries the title: The Power Of The Center. A Study Of Composition In The Visual Arts. (University Of California Press, 2009).

I have know Arnheim since I was a student back in ancient times because his book on film was obligatory reading. One of the very few that dealt with film at all. And, yes there  was Kracauer with his “redemption of physical reality”. I leave him for another good day. I am sure there is potential for street photography in him too.

A Study Of Composition In The Visual Arts. I has a length I can handle. I can’t stand blockbusters. Not in any form.

Written by Rudolf Arnheim in 1988.

He says in the first sentence: This book has been entirely rewritten. That is the second time I read that in the introduction to one of his books. It is a good thing that Arnheim went to the school of eternal learning too.

This book is going to be very useful. I can sense that, but it is not easy reading. And is has to be adapted to the area of street photography. One piece at the time.

Let’s start with the center. That which is always there in any photograph.

There are, in fact, two centers. Those are a) the geometrical center, and b) the perceptually inferred center. Let’s call the last for The Perceived Center.

If you want to find the geometrical centre you simple measure it out. The geometrical center is in the very middle of a frame. In the picture above/below you have it somewhere right above the shoulder bag on its right hand side. Measure it out if you want to. Somewhere around there.

What about The Perceived Center? Where is that in this photograph? I wonder, as you might too. That is what we have to work with to find out. Not only in this photograph, but in all photographs. It is The Perceived Center that is the visual power point, so to speak. Not the geometrical center. You feel it more than you see it.

It is The Perceived Center that an image balance against. It is the true turning point.

I am not going to give you the answer since I have not got it. I am not sure there is only one. But I can ask questions as a starter. That is what this post is all about: Questions.

Is The Perceived Center one of the photographs hanging on the wall? The one the lady looks at? Or somewhere around there. Or it is somewhere entirely different?

I don’t have the answer, but one thing I am sure of: The Perceived Center is driven by a combination of multiple forces: borders, light and shadows, sizes of objects and people, lines and movement, tones of black and white or colour, and plenty other things in any photograph. It can hardly be measured. Only legitimised by argument or vision or both. It is dynamic and might even move around.

Your turn now. Think about it a least.

© Knut Skjærven. Text and picture.

October 8, 2013

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What Is An Itching Image?

Rain Dance © Knut Skjærven

Rain Dance © Knut Skjærven

The title of the book is Itching Images.

What are Itching Images? What are the characteristics of an Itching Image?

An Itching Image is a photographs with an extra. Something that sticks out and stays with you.  You can sense the presence of the photographer.

Common for all itching images is that they show that you have taken charge. You at not led by the  technical capacities of the camera, nor are you dictated by what is going on around you. You have taken the drivers seat. You are in charge.

There are many ways you can show that you are in charge. They can all be seen in the photographs. It is no longer a question about that THINK you are in charge. Your likes or dislikes are rather unimportant. There will always be levels of subjectivity, sure, but in making Itching Images subjectivity takes a second seat. Charge is there for all to see.

But, but, but: You need the capacity to read visuals. If you have that you will probably have the capacity to make itching images too.

Here are the roads to making Itching Images. There are three types:

1. You take charge of the whole image and makes sure that there is not too much or too little information. Your message comes through stressing the whole image.

2. You take charge of a part, or parts, of the whole image and make your points so strong that other information being there are kept in their place. Your message comes through stressing parts of an image.

3. You combine 1 and 2 in taking charge of both the whole image and distinctive parts at the same time. Your message comes through stressing the whole image and parts of the image.

None of these are better than the others but the more wholeness you get in your photograph, the less are the chances that your image will fall apart by people concentrating on irrelevant items.

In analysing whole and parts you could have a go at the photographs above. What type would you say it was: 1, 2 or 3?

I have my answer ready.

There will be plenty of examples of itching models later on. In fact many are already here. What is described in this post are itching types and not the variety of itching models that can be included in each of the types.

Good luck with it.

Terms to memorize:  Itching Image, take charge, whole, parts, itching type, itching model.

August 22, 2013.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

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Parsimony: You Will Most Likely Miss The Mouse

The Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

The Brass Band © Knut Skjærven

 

Parsimony is the name of the game. I am not trying to be smart  here. I really mean it.

You should take account of that when you take your fine street pictures.

I picked up this strange terms a couple of months ago, and in the beginning I did not understand what it was all about.

Parsimony comes together with another term that is more common: orderliness, which we will call simply order. Order is not concerned with what you shoot, but the way you arrange what you shoot.

Parsimony is used within science where it means that if a set of hypothesis’ are competing the more simple should be accepted. It is called The Principle Of Parsimony.

The principle also works in art and, as I see it, could be a great gain also in photography and street photography. In street photography it is suggested to mean that of competing readings of a photograph the simpler will win.

I phrase myself with some delicacy here since the term parsimony is not normally used in photography. Hardly ever in street photography.

Look at it this way: Human perception is very different from camera perception. Under the right conditions and with the rights settings you camera sees everything. Every detail is rendered.

Not so with human perception where much of the reading in a natural attitude relies on knowledge and past experience. What you actually perceive in any situation is just enough to make things work.  You economise.

If I am on the highway driving to a familiar place I do not perceive every single detail along the way as a camera would. I just pick up enough information to get me there safely.

So also with the reading of photographs. You just pick up enough information “to get you there safely”. Even if the photographer’s intention was that you should see all that is included in his/her fine picture, your probably only pick up the most distinct pieces. Readings can go terribly wrong.

Parsimony in street photography tells you that a) you need to know something about how human perception works, and b) you have to take that into account when you take your street photographs.  It might be easy to control things if you are in a studio situation or if you are a painter, but it is pretty hard to do in a street situation where both you and you objects could be moving.

If your photograph is of an elephant and a mouse (not a likely street scene, though) that photograph will not work if you let the elephant take up most of the frame and hide half of the mouse under a mess of leaves in a low corner (order).  The camera will see both, but most likely you will only see the elephant. Parsimony will suggest that it is an photograph of an elephant since that hypothesis is more simple than one including a half hidden mouse.

If you want this different you need to change  the order of things. That can be done with size, placement, lights, direction, etcetera. Another matter and another time.

It all comes back to simplicity does’t it? Parsimony is the name of the game in human perception and thus in perception of photographs. If two or more interpretations are possible your reader will most like go for the simpler one. Human perception economises. As a street photographer you need to know this.

Good luck with your future handling of parsimony. And with the order of things.

Terms to memorise:  parsimony, orderliness, order, human perception, camera perception.

August 19, 2013.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

This post has been inspired by Rudolf Arnheim.

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How Learning Tennis Will Improve My Photography

The Rescue Team © Knut Skjærven

The Educator © Knut Skjærven

You should try it.

First I will let you in on a little secret.  I have started learning tennis.

I say started learning tennis and not started playing tennis. The last would  be too pretentious.

The reason why I want to learn tennis is that I have no less than 8 people in my close family who play or are learning to play tennis. I thought I would join them. I have my first lesson this Wednesday after having practised on a wall for two weeks and seeing that I lose fewer and fewer balls by hitting them into the small stream behind the training wall.

No, I have not been on the court yet, since that would be waste of somebody else’s time. But I will get there. Of that I am very sure. Maybe even this year.

What strikes me is how similar this tennis training is to learning street photography: You start by searching on the internet, you view the free videos, you get the fundamentals of rackets and grips and positions by training them in the dining room. When you are ready you practice on an outdoor wall when no one is seeing you. You try to keep expenses down by collection the balls that go sky high.

I am trying to be realistic about it and realise that with my experience of years I will never be really good, but I will be as good as I possible can.  That’s the decision. I am very optimistic about it since I progress a little every time. Playing sons and daughters and even grandkids is no small deal. That will be next year.

So I practice.

Why do I say this?

Many years ago I read something that I have never forgotten.  I don’t remember who said it but it relates to what I would describe as cross over training. You benefit greatly it you manage to use experience in one area  to other areas. Like tennis to photography. Like photography to tennis.

Or any other cross over.

If you are a good doctor use your medical skills in street photography. If you are a good lawyer use your lawyer’s skill in street photography. If you are a good blacksmith, carpenter, IT professional, web designer, dentist, innovator, businessman,  banker, student, or whatever you can think of, use the experience you have already or are in the process of acquiring. You will progress much faster.

In tennis there is an expression that I like. You need to acquire  Muscle Memory. You have to train till your muscles remembers for you.  When that happens you can run on autopilot and forget what the instructor said about handling forehand and backhand.  Knowledge and experience sits in your muscles. The faster you get there the faster you can move ahead.

When you are out there you have no time to think and you will miss the shot if you are not in the right position and know what to do from there. The ball comes fast and so does the balls of street photography. You have to observe it when it comes, get in position and then hit it.

Top spin is another matter that I will rather not talk about at this stage. It is difficult. That is among the itching images in tennis. The cool shooting that makes the difference.  One day I will get there.

Good luck with it. Whatever it is that you want to cross over. I will go for the wall.

Terms to memorize: cross over learning, auto piloting, muscle memory, cross over.

August 18, 2013

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

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