Archive for category 5. Itching Models

Itching Image: Precise Precision

Pretty Precise © Knut Skjærven

Pretty Precise © Knut Skjærven

Do you find that precision is a quality to have doing street photography? Or does precision go agains the very nature of the street photography? If you ask me the answer is very dependent on who you ask. No big surprise here.

My opinion is that precision definitely is a good quality for street photography. With precision comes also the capacity of doing things un-precise. In this shot precise precision is strived for. It is a question of picking and waiting. You pick a good spot, contemplate the rest of your life and just wait till a biker comes along on the other side of the Spree. That is where this is shot.

I call it precise precision because the builders have been pretty precise too. So have those you left the curtains open for a photographer to take this shot including the two chairs.

I freely admit that I did some minor line corrections afterwards. Which only indicates that I was not precise enough when acting as a photographer.  That much for precision.

The picture is from the parliament area in Berlin. Shot in June 2009.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, May 29, 2013.



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Itching Image: Jam Session

Jam Session © Knut Skjærven

Jam Session © Knut Skjærven

We call it Jam Session. It is yet another way to make an Itching Image. I am not saying that this is, but I am sure you get the big idea.

Here is how you do it: You gather half a dozen musicians, give them each an instrument and just ask them to play along. If they feel like it.

You keep an open eye on things. An open ear.

You get something that at first sounds like a mess, but after a while you sense that it all fits. If you are lucky you get to play along.

You should only use good musicians.

Good luck with your own Jam Sessions.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, May 19, 2013.

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Itching Images: Half The Kingdom For Free

The Denial © Knut Skjærven

The Denial © Knut Skjærven

If you are given the princess, take possession of the kingdom as well. It is already yours.

Street Photographer’s Toolbox might seem like a somewhat academic, rule ridden project. It is not, but it is definitely a need to know what a car looks like if you want to drive it. If you don’t have that information you will not even find the car. How could you?

Knowledge stimulates creativity. It don’t hinder it.

When speaking of, for instance gestalt factors, you don’t only get the princess you get half the kingdom as well. And you get it for free.

When we talk about proximity, similarity, closure and all the other factors the kingdoms that comes with them are non-proximity, non-similarity, non-closure and so forth. Those non-factors are at least as important as the gestalt factors themselves.

Gestalt factors are about mentally grouping things, but, as suggested, non-grouping is even as important.

Take a look at the photograph in this post. I could have chosen to make this romantic scene with a young couple being admired by a random by-passer. All would have been good.

Adding a lone lady in the left window, and even blocking her from the romantic couple by a solid wall, makes this a more disturbing photograph. A new chapter is added to the story.

The tactic of non-grouping, however, also have a strengthening effect. It stresses the effect of belonging as expressed by young couple.

In this shot you have both: grouping and non-grouping.  That is a grand recipe for making itching images. 

None grouping, or going against any factor, gestalt factors or not, does not only give you the princess but you get half the kingdom as well. And you get if for free. So use it.

You will be surprises what more comes with this kind of thinking. I will leave that to another post. Soon to come.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen April 23, 2013.


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Itching Image: Good Genes Photography

Pair Of Three © Knut Skjærven

Pair Of Three © Knut Skjærven

I have to admit that I enjoy some of these museum shots.

I know that in our culture you’d better not enjoy anything, and particularly if you have a stake in it yourself. My stake in this is that I was there.

This attitude of aspiring nothingness is the Scandinavian way. Others may have heard of it. Might even work in other countries, but the Scandinavians are famous for it. Better not make a fuzz about anything. Better stay indoor. Stay down.

For some reason I totally missed that.

Why do I enjoy this shot? Because it is un-staged, unposed, straight, shot in a public area without any kind of interference from the photographer other than he was there. It qualifies, in the definition we use in Street Photographer’s Toolbox, as a proper street photograph. Street photography being first and foremost an attitude to photography and to life.

In fact, I am little surprised that it can be done at all.

That said, there is another thing I will not withhold from you. I read it the other day. One of the main, if not the main, criteria for people finding things pleasing or even beautiful is symmetry. In pictures of human faces it might even suggest that the person have good genes. Sexual undertones included. Believe it or not.

My questions is if there is something similar to good genes in photography? Photographs that in one way or other comes out pleasing. If so, maybe that is why I enjoy this shot? I don’t have the answer. No one said that this was going to be easy.

There is another reference that I need to reflect upon too. The reason I picked this shot for a post was that it is a good example of gestalt factors in operation in photography. Don’t take my word for it. YOU have to point to these factors. And name them.

When you get the answer, please let all know in a comment to this post.

Good luck with it?

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen April 19, 2013.

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Itching Image: Lady In Red

Lady In Red © Knut Skjærven

Lady In Red © Knut Skjærven

Yes, another itching image and  a new itching template. If that is the right word for it. Template or model or principle.

I call it Lady in Red. As the photo above.

It is meant to be a reference to all those images where colour plays a particular role and makes a photo stand out.

The particular role it plays in this photo, is that, even if this is an unmanipulated, straight colour photo, the red plays a dominant role. It is almost alone. That is the itching part. The one that we are going to stress.

Clearly the lady stands out: red dress, red shoes and even a red notebook. Maybe the red coved of an iPad.

Add to that that the car is braking, and there is a red light to suggest STOP. In the background the red coat of a person on a bike, part of a huge read poster even further back on the right hand side. Closer: more cars, more reds.

In that respect this photo is seemingly unique considering that no one could ever have foreseen this happen and the red colour to burn through like this.

Consider the situation! This is taken at the top of Unter den Linden in Berlin. Close to Hotel Adlon and Brandenburger Tour. The lady, who is staff at the hotel, discovers that the trunk of the large BMW has not been closed and she runs after car to close it. Luckily there is a red light ahead and the driver must hit the brakes to make a stop. That lights up the rear of the car.

The lady in mid air.  Red.

To be present at that very moment and press the shutter in that very split second, is more lucky than winning the lotto. And one of the small marvels of street photography. The fascination is that this can happen at all.

Let’s cut the story short, though.

The photograph is chosen to illustrate those situations when colour comes to play a particular role in a street photograph. That is its sole mission in this post. Red or no red, lady or no lady. Shoes or no shoes.

There are other attractions in this photo too, but let them pass in this context.

Good luck hunting ladies in red. Even if they turn out to be only blue.

No, I never won the lotto. Not big time.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen, March 20, 2013.



Itching Image: Contrapositions

Body Talks © Knut Skjærven

Body Talks © Knut Skjærven

You take pieces of the same material. Here, human beings.

You cut them up in smaller pieces. Some you assemble again, others not.

Make sure there is proper distance between clusters so as to be able to perceive things in isolation.

In this photo there are three such clusters: a) unassembled body pieces on top; b) two assembled body pieces below. That makes three.

Let them stand apart distributed in space: One man, one woman; one old, one new; one in stone, the others in flesh; one ancient, others more modern; one reader, one listener; one open, the other one closed; cross legs, open legs. Goes agains everything you think you ever knew about classical composition, but it seems to work anyway.

I call it contra positions. Or contrapositions, because that is what it is. Things go against each other and that is why they work.

It was always so.

Have good day.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen February 21, 2013.

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Itching Image: Actor’s Studio

Acrtor's Studio © Knut Skjærven

Acrtor’s Studio © Knut Skjærven

I call it Actor’s Studio. Yes, I know what the real Actor’s Studio is or was. Maybe the inspiration came from there.

It is one of my favourites for doing Itching Images because you need such an incredible amount of luck to get a way with it.

It is not only the placement of the people and the directions they move in or even look in. It is also the activities in which each individual engage. And the visual dialog that goes on in each group.

It is like being in a studio and leaving it to the actors to arrange themselves. Of course, that is not the case in street photography. You should not arrange anything apart from maybe yourself.

When I look at this image, and it does not matter who shot it, because the very moment it is in the box it belongs only to itself, and no one can no longer claim it, I am reminded of these words by John Szarkowski.

He said: The first thing a photographer learned was that photography dealt with the actual; he had not only to accept this fact, but to treasure it: unless he did, photography would defeat him.

He learned that the world itself is an artist of incomparable inventiveness, and to recognize its best works and moments, to anticipate them, to clarify them and make them permanent, requires intelligence both acute and supply.

John Szarkowski: The Photographers Eye, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 2009.

My favourites in this group of real time actors playing out their roles at the steps of the Dome in Berlin, who are they? In fact I have two sets: the homesick Norwegian in the front, and the two mobile shooters at the top of the stairs. In the middle.

It is all in their language. The world itself is an artist of incomparable inventiveness.

Good luck with it. Your own actors.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.

Copenhagen February 19, 2013.

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Itching Image: Lost Expectation

Love Couple © Knut Skjærven

Love Couple © Knut Skjærven

One  way to create an Itching Image is to substitute one object for another. Or one subject for an object. A human being for a thing.

In this picture you substitute a man with a musical instrument, but you keep them standing in love position (whatever that might be). I am sure you know what I mean.

He only has one eye and is rather clumsily built. His hands pocketed as if he doesn’t really care.

It is a case of lost expectations. That is what we will call it. You expect something, but you get something else.

I am not sure that this picture works, actually. You tell me. It is sometimes difficult to see if pictures, that you have taken yourself, include the suggestions that you think they do. When you work on own material images get so familiar that they loose meaning and you must really strain yourself to grasp what a more spontaneous reading could be. If that is possible at all. So, you tell me.

Not that it is very important if this image works or not. I am sure that I will be able to make the point anyway. The point is substitution.

That’s all for lost expectation. Have a good day.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.
Copenhagen February 15, 2013.

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Itching Images: Little Boxes

Just In Time © Knut Skjærven.

Just In Time © Knut Skjærven.

It is funny. You keep looking at images and wonder if they work and why they work.  For me this image works.

I have had this from June 2012 and thought it was ok since there was so many things in it. But the other day, I re-edited it slightly and started looking at it once more.

It took me two days to find out why it worked (for me). It was made up of little boxes. That is the trick, that is why I shot it and that is what I forgot.

The are boxes all over: Positive boxed and negative boxes. Spaces and empty spaces are boxes. Small boxes, big boxes, boxes within boxes, watch boxes, waist boxes, poster boxes, boxes within poster boxes, sign boxes, faces in boxes. And more boxes.

I started to draw them all up with a colour in PS to show myself that so it was, but it was too cumbersome so I let it be.

So what did I learn from this little exercise?

Three things: 1) It sometimes pays to spend a little extra time on your own images; 2) It is good to set words to things so you can remember what they are all about; 3) BUT MOST OF ALL it is interesting to discover that your private toolbox is silently working for you when your are out searching for decisive moments (of some sorts) and you are not even aware that it does. That is maybe the ultimate benefit travelling with a tool box.

It is not like; Oh, look at those nice little boxes there I must take a photo. It is much more like you take a picture and later you recognise the reasons why. If you need a reason why, that it. Most of the time you don’t, but in describing itching images you do.

Is it the boxes that make this photo then? You might say they are the glue that holds the photo together. But it is the human elements, their shapes and forms and faces and no faces, that break the rhythm of the little boxes and add to the gimmick.

By the way, boxes aren’t just boxes. Little boxes can take any shape and form you can think of. As long as they are there in significance you might say that you have boxed it. Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved. Text and photo.
Copenhagen February 2, 2013.

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Itching Image: What Is Not There!

Frank's Friction © Knut Skjærven.

Frank’s Friction © Knut Skjærven.

At the moment I can’t find a better title for what is meant to be described in this post: What Is Not There!

The title of the photograph is Frank’s Friction. Why? For me to know and you to find out. It is not important, but I like images to have names for swifter reference.

The photographs fits several itching models: Two Of a Kind; Plane Integration; Sudden Surprise; Rhythm & Blues; to mention the most obvious. By that, I am stating the simple fact that itches seldom come alone.

Only in  toolboxes they do.

Sudden Surprise refers to the dialog with hands and body languages; Rhythm & Blues to the rhythm of the sacks and and blues of the couple; and Plane Integration to the denial of the wall and the denial of the man’s hand gestures (could be read as such).

Two Of Kind works on two levels, a) the two people, and b) the two denials (wall & couple).

What I find interesting in this shot is that introduces a symbolic level. We have already spoken of denotations and connotations. Now we add a symbolic level, as well. What is a symbol? In this case it is just another, visual way of saying the same thing: Denial.

However, lets leave any elaboration of symbols to another time.

This post is just to suggest, and stress, that the engaging and entertaining task for street photography, is to picture scenes that are only there for the photographer. The photographer have to make them happen. His/her task as a creative, visual composer is to make new things of old material.

That is what sets the street photographer apart from his documentary friend and colleague.

Have a good day, all. There are still a few hours left of this cold Sunday.

Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved: Text and picture.

January 20, 2013.


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