Archive for category Workshops

Tony’s Temptation

Tony's Temptation © Knut Skjærven

Tony’s Temptation © Knut Skjærven

Yes, The Workshop in Berlin is over.  And all went extremely well.

The Workshop has now entered its final phase: The editing and selection of the best photo from each participant. There will be a publication of these together with a short introduction to the workshop idea.

Stay tuned for more good news from The Workshop, Berlin 20 -23, 2013. The very first of its kind.

© Knut Skjærven. Text and photo.

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Workshop Countdown: June 17, 2013

Barenboim's Beauty

Barenboim’s Beauty

Barenboim’s Beauty
June 17, 2013

Again a bit early. Shot today at the free opera session in the middle of Unter den Linden, Berlin. With national hero, conductor Daniel Barenboim. Here with Lisa Batiashvili and crowds low and high.

What factor is dominant here, would you say?

© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

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Workshop Countdown: June 12, 2013

The Connection © Knut Skjærven

The Connection © Knut Skjærven

The fourth day of countdown.

The task is the same as the first day. You could if you would make a calculated guess why this image is held visually together. If it is held together?

Which of the gestalt factors known to you are the main influencers on the innate perceptions of this photo. You have the following factors to choose from: proximity,  similarly, common fate, direction, good curve, closure and habit. You will find information about all on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. This very site.

Answers can not be wrong or right, but some answers obviously will be more to the point than others. Try your luck.

Welcome to The Countdown.

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

Berlin, June 12, 2013.

This post is in category Workshop Countdown.

 

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Workshop Countdown: June 11, 2013.

On The Road Again © Knut Skjærven

On The Road Again © Knut Skjærven

The third day of countdown.

The task is the same as the first day. You could if you would make a calculated guess why this image is held visually together. If it is held together?

Which of the gestalt factors known to you are the main influencers on the innate perceptions of this photo. You have the following factors to choose from: proximity,  similarly, common fate, direction, good curve, closure and habit. You will find information about all on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. This very site.

Answers can not be wrong or right, but some answers obviously will be more to the point than others. Try your luck.

Welcome to The Countdown.

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

Copenhagen, June 11, 2013.

This post is in category Workshop Countdown.

 

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Workshop Countdown: June 10, 2013

The Dancers © Knut Skjærven

The Dancers © Knut Skjærven

The second day of countdown.

The task is the same as the first day. You could if you would make a calculated guess why this image is held visually together. If it is held together?

Which of the gestalt factors known to you are the main influencers on the innate perceptions of this photo. You have the following factors to choose from: proximity,  similarly, common fate, direction, good curve, closure and habit. You will find information about all on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. This very site.

Answers can not be wrong or right, but some answers obviously will be more to the point than others. Try your luck.

Welcome to The Countdown.

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

Copenhagen, June 10, 2013.

This post is in category Workshop Countdown.

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Workshop Countdown: June 9, 2013

EarScapes © Knut Skjærven

EarScapes © Knut Skjærven

The countdown for The Workshop in Berlin has started.

Each day participants will be given a small task and are asked to relate a recently shot photo to one or more gestalt factors that innately are forming our perception of visual messages. Like photography, like street photography.

Even if you are not attending The Workshop this time, you are welcome to take a say in these brief exercises. Please write your suggestions in the comment box to this post. The question is: Which is the most obvious gestalt factor that this image relates to?

The gestalt factors we deal with are: proximity, similarly, common fate, direction, good curve, closure and habit. You will find information about all on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. This very site.

Answers can not be wrong or right, but some answers obviously will be more to the point than others. Try your luck.

Welcome to The Countdown.

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

Copenhagen, June 9, 2013.

This post is in category Workshop Countdown.

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Start Looking For Luck

The Bus Driver © Knut Skjærven

The Bus Driver © Knut Skjærven

Yes, I agree with that. 

I think it is relatively easy to make a, by the book, gestalt shots for showing similarity, proximity, fate, etcetera. Call them concept illustrations, concept shots.

In training this you can do very well with paper and pencil or just moving around the salt and pepper on you kitchen table. Add spaghetti you can do directions and good curves as well.

Having the knowledge of the factors means that you carry them around in your toolbox when out shooting, and when a good situation is there for that type of shot, you will be able to recognise it and take it.

One of the most famous photographs ever taken by HCB happens by the river Marne. Basically it is a family out having lunch. You see them sitting and the shot is taken from behind their backs. Could in gestalt terms be described as a common fate shot (they are all having lunch).

Moving that scene from a concept illustration to an brilliant photo, I would say takes a LUCKY and a well TRAINED hand. It is a questions of having all details fall into place as well. That you can only hope for but not plan in advance (unless you stage it).

I have read that HCB kept a small sketch book in his pocket so he could always be reminded of how the great painters handled compositions. (He spent plenty of time at Louvre both for his drawing and his photography.)

Knowing gestalt functions is only half way there, but if you ask me, a well invested half. Owning a deck of cards does not make you an excellent poker player, but you can hardly do without it .

In street photography, I really believe that if you know what to look for you will one day get lucky. Sooner rather than later .

No, I dont think that gestalt factor executions in themselves creates itching images, but it is a very good place to start looking for luck :-)).

Good luck with it.

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

Copenhagen, June 7, 2013.

This post is in category Workshop Special.

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Note On Connotations

The Red Dancer  Knut Skjærven

The Red Dancer © Knut Skjærven

A quick word on connotations, and on denotations, for that matter. They often go together.

You can do definitions of the two very complex, or you can do them very simple. In this context, simple will do.

Denotation refers to the physical objects that you shoot. Connotation refers to the psychological impression those objects leave you with.

What you shoot, and the way you shoot effects connotations.

In The Red Dancer denotations are: shoes, dresses, floor, legs, human skin, body parts, trousers, and whatever you can find. If you guess the scene if from a dance floor, you are absolutely right.

As for connotations they are of a different sort and more subjective. Here are a few words I would use to suggest connotations in this picture: excitement, lightness, maybe eroticism, fun, happiness.  In this shot even jealousy. Is there an element of aggressions as well with the strong foot coming down? I will leave that for you to decide. These things are not fixed anyway.

The red colour is particularly good for connotations. It suggests excitement, strength, and dynamism. Possible danger. Not only, but also.

Here is more on colour psychology.

That’s all. Follow the links above if you need more information. Good luck with shooting connotations in the future.

This post is a Workshop Special.

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

Copenhagen, May 26, 2013.

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Itching Images: Workshop Shortcuts

Riverside © Knut Skjærven

Riverside © Knut Skjærven

Itching Images:

Workshop Shortcuts

Introduction:

Ideas don’t necessarily emerge in a correct sequential order. More often they just arrive and you have to arrange them along the way.  Or afterwards.

Those going to the workshop in Berlin are already deeply involved in dealing with the gestalt factors described elsewhere on Street Photographer’s Toolbox. You’ll find links in the blogroll.

The relatively few gestalt factors like proximity, similarity, closure and others, feed a much larger number of Itching Models in street photography.

It is my suggestion, that gestalt factors have instinctively been used by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ronis, Frank, Erwitt, and plenty of others that we know from early and contemporary street photography.

That is the hypothesis.

What can executions of gestalt factors in street photography look like if you want to try it out for yourself? I have tried to indicate that in a series of posts called Itching Images.

All posts are accompanied by a concept or demo photograph that hopefully helps explain the itching idea.

It is imperative to remember, by the way, that good street photography does not come from following schemes. But it sometimes helps to know which shoes to wear for which landscapes.

You ALWAYS have to add a portion of talent. And stamina.

This document is simply a shortcut to those posts accompanied by a very brief description, and sometimes explanation, of the names I use for the itching models. Not all names explain themselves.

This post is a Workshop Special, but others are welcome to read along as well. And try the way on their own.

Here comes the list and the shortcuts. Welcome and good luck.

Actor’s Studio

Any scene in which the position of people seems so precise that they could well have been placed there by a film director for a movie.

Actor’s Studio is the name of maybe most famous “drama school” in the world. Located in New York.

Contraposition

Any scene that contains, not only different subjects or objects, but subjects or objects that are poles or in opposition to each other.

In the shot used you have man/woman, younger/older, and living/non-living art objects as the set of poles.

People, in some situations, are of no less artistic value than more traditional pieces of art.

Decisive Moment (Simple)

Any scene that contains a decisive moment.

In this shot, it is the young lady who is captured in such a decisive moment. She is in mid air.

Decisive Moment (Complex)

Any scene that contains several decisive moments individually established.

In this shot there are many: the guy in the foreground, the laying couple, the male face on the boat, the sitting dog. In their own right they are all caught in decisive moments.

Final Cut

Any scene in which you can enhance the message by making a final cut.

In this context, a final cut means a tight crop that stresses the already dynamic content of a photograph.

Good Genes

Any scene in which a simplicity, harmony and symmetry is significant.

In the study of people, such traits are some times associated with beauty and having “good genes”.

Jam Session

Any scene in which you combine a larger number of separate, visual parts that seemingly has nothing to do with each other.

After a while you recognise that it all fits together.

Juxtaposition

Any scene in which two or more people or objects are placed close together in a contrasting way to make a distinct visual impression.

Close to, or even the same as contraposition. See above.

Lady In Red

Any scene in which one or more colours are used as a creative and distinctive mean in the making of a photograph.

The colour stressed in this photo is, obviously, red.

Little Boxes

Any scene in which the composition basically consist of a pattern of squares and rectangles.

If you look closely at this photograph you will recognise the pattern.

Lost Expectations

Any scene in which there is a substitution of one object/subject for another and very different item often causing a humorous result.

In this shot the contrabass is a substitute for a man.

Love Is In The Air

Any scene that has affection, or romance, portrayed in a somewhat distinctive and different way.

The itching element in this shot is that the young lady has a heart on her blouse.

Odd Man Out

Any scene in which one or few persons or objects breaks a pattern by a different way of acting.

The first guy in the row has clearly spotted this photographer, and he breaks the pattern made by the others.

Plane Integration

Any scene where two or different planes plays together in at somewhat, and sometimes, humorous way.

Planes are defines as different grounds in the image e.g. foreground, middle ground, or background.

Rhythm & Blues

Any scene in which a strong visual rhythm is broken by one or a few visually distinct distractions. Like, for instance, one or more human beings.

The lady is obviously the blues element in this shot of somewhat uniform rhythm.

Saturday Night Fever

Any scene in which there are impressions of life, movement, possible romance. Like in a party Saturday night.

In this shot it is expressed by the movement, interaction and the presence of people.

Soft Solution

Any scene in which items are deliberately blurred or softened to gain a special visual effect.

This example is not available at the moment. Try later.

Strange Encounter

Any scene in which persons engage in a visually distinct encounter. Like, for instance, by having a strange body position.

Reference is to the two persons in the staircase.

Sudden Surprise

Any scene in which one of more people are caught by surprise and that surprise are visually distinct.

Reference is to the two kids at the end of the alley.

Two Of A Kind (Complex)

Any scene in which two or more groups of people or other objects/subjects are distinctive shown. Three Of Kind, Four Of A Kind, are also included here.

This example is not available at the moment. Try later.

What Is Not There

Any scene where something needs to be consciously or unconsciously added by the spectator.

In this shot, the heads and the feet of the two involved are obviously missing.

Writing On The Wall

Any scene in which there, in addition to people, is a readable text and that text reflects on the scene involved.

Here the reference is to the HCB quote on the wall. It reads: “Photografie, das ist nichts. Was mich einzig interessiert, ist das Leben.”

Now we know :-).

Oh, one last thing. This lists may change over time. Some Itching Models may go. Others may come. After all, operating in the real world is a process of constant trial and error.

Thank you for having spent time on this post. Have a good day.

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

Please, you should not copy, distribute, download, or in any other way use of distribute this post and the content of it unless you have a written permission by the site author to do so. However, you are welcome to SHARE the link.

Copenhagen, May 21, 2013.

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Past Experience or Habit

Honouring Henri © Knut Skjærven

Honouring Henri © Knut Skjærven

Just let me remind you that this site is intended as a toolbox. It does not tell you in detail how to design and construct your house, but it gives you a set of tools that you might consider using. Does using these tools make you into a master builder? No, but it will pave the way for you as a craftsman in the art of street photography. As street photography is understood here.

Being a master builder is quite another matter.

Let me also remind you that all images shown on this site, unless something else is clearly written, have been shot by the site author. They are not here because they are particularly good. Nor for that matter because they are particularly bad.  Theyw are shown here to illustrate a point in question. That is all.

There are references to science, but we no not use science in a strict way. We use science inspirational and the verifications will not come in names and numbers and reports, but in the hope that you might find some of it useful in your photography. That is all that matters.

I should have said this in the introduction to every post on this site. Now I have said it, and it has to rest for a while as we turn to serious business.

In this post we are still dealing with gestalt factors. One of the factors is of a special sort: The Factor of Past Experience or Habit.

It is special since it introduces experience and habit to a universe that is suppose to work Below The Line in a type of unconscious automation. Now we are introducing an Above The Line matter, which is far from being automated.

The questions is: How can an Above The Line type of perception be made to work in a Below The Line universe? Let’s look at it.

The German psychologist, and probably a friend of Max Wertheimer, Kurt Gottschaldt, wrote an interesting article in 1926. That was 6 year before Henri Cartier-Bresson picked up his famous Leica in Marseille and started showing the world what street photography was all about. In an experiment Gottschaldt tested the relationship between gestalt factors and repetition.  Groups of people were shown simple forms to see if they were detected later when embedded into more complex structures.

His experiment showed was that it does not really matter how many times a group of students are shown a specific form in terms of their ability to recognise it in a larger context later.

What really matters is how the briefing of the students is done.

Translating this from an experiment with simple forms to the much more complex world of photography, it might go like this: It does not really matter how many times you have seen the photos of HBC, or any other famous street photographer, you are not likely to recognise any similar or almost identical situations of it in the real world.

On the other hand, if someone told you to look at a photo by HCB, or other famous photographer, and told you that there are similar scenes out there in the real world you will likely go out there and you will probably picture these scenes. That is the situation you want to be brought in if you consider yourself a learning photographer. (And who don’t).

Pretty simple?

Let’s make another jump.  Let’s make this issue very relevant for those attending the workshops in June or September:  If someone asked you, as a participant,  to read 16 articles on gestalt factors before you attended the workshop, not much was likely to happen, in terms of gestalt shooting, when in Berlin. Because you would  not know what to look and why you should look for anything that type at all.

However, if someone kindly asked you, as participant in Berlin, to have a look at a specific photo from anyone of the famous and judge if it could be considered an illustration of one of more gestalt factors you might indeed find it to be so. If you then were asked to find a photo of your own with the same characteristics, you might indeed be lucky there as well. Finally, if you then were asked to take a new image complying with the factor of similarity, the factor of proximity, or any of the factors, you would most likely manage that without much effort.

Back to the questions: Can past experience or habit be made to work as a type of automated function in street photography in a similar way to that of proximity, similarity, closure and the others? I think they can.

If you drill a certain quality, and are motivated enough, sooner or later that quality will internalized and effect your vision to such a degree that the quality will come to act as a visual radar for you. A kind of factor detection will occur. Detection, like in face direction. You will no longer have to speculate much about it. Situations will find you and start sending signals to you brain telling you that now is the time to hit the trigger.

Does such results only happen with gestalt factors? Of course not.  It could happen with any visual quality if you put your heart and mind and luck into it.

You should try it :-). Most people don’t.

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

Copenhagen, May 17, 2013.

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