Posts Tagged itching image

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.




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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Bringing Things Together

The Silent Reader © Knut Skjærven

The Silent Reader © Knut Skjærven

I am going to bring things together.

I will cluster two different sites: Street Photographer’s Toolbox (The Toolbox) and The Europeans. That way I don’t have to do things twice. Nor do you.

The first site holds a lot a text. The second site holds only photographs. More than anything they should be considered as chapters in the same book. That is what they are.

One of the the themes in The Toolbox is how to use gestalt factors in making what we have called Itching Images.

Itching Images are photographs that in one way or another stands apart from mere street documentation. They are the proper street photographs as we define it in this context. When you look on photographs from old masters you will see Itching Images all over. Being itchy is one of the hallmarks of street photography.

Time has now come to see how this works in practise. How are gestalt factors used in real photography? I am going to suggest how the gestalt factors are used in a number of images. Being well aware that the images used here for illustrative purposes bear no comparison with masterworks of the past.

Here are a few things you need to know:

1. Street photography, or photography in general, is no strict science so what are suggested here are suggestions only.

2. Statements made about a photograph are never right or wrong. They could, however, be more or less reasonable and well argued.

3. Many more things could, and should, be suggested about the same photograph. Here we deal with one, or few, dimensions only.

4. Not all photographs in The Europeans are categorised in gestalt terms. Nor should they be.

5. More photos will be tagged with along the way.

6. This cluster is particularly made for those attending The Workshop(s), who are presently working on a task along these lines.

Here is what you could do:

Selected photographs in The Europeans have been tagged with 1 or few of 7 gestalt factors. You have to open The Europeans, find the CATEGORIES in the blogroll at the left side and open the drop down menu to see how it is structured.

CATEGORIES contains two sets of information: a) the location where the shot is taken, and as of now b) the gestalt factor that it suggested to support it. Each photo has been marked with up to 3 factors. When you follow a particular tag it might look like this.

Please remember: Moving from lines and dots in the original gestalt research, which by the way is about 100 years old, is definitely a jump. So flexibility and interpretation are needed. Very much so. It is all a question of executing common sense and good reason.

Here is an example: The photograph above has been marhed with two tags. Besides its location tags, that is.

The tags are The Factor of Similarity  referring to the fact that there are 3 people in the shot. One real person and two others in the pictures on the wall. Here clustered in one photograph.

The other tag is The Factor of Common Fate, indicating that literally the three people have a certain fate in common. That common fate could be described as aloneness, or being in a solitary situation. Other words could be used for it, I am sure.

Could other gestalt factors have been tagged as well? Yes they could. But these two seem to be the most obvious.

If you want to see other pictures tagged with the same, or other categories, just go ahead and press the tags. You find tags beneath each photo in The Europeans. So far only a few are tagged with gestalt factors. More will come, but all photos will not be tagged this way.

May I suggest the following? Start tagging you own best images. If nothing else then only in your head. Start looking at the works of the masters of street photography. See how they made Itching Images by using gestalt factors instinctively. Not all of the time, but definitely some of the time.

Good luck with it.

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

Copenhagen April 30, 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: Wandering Vision

Wandering Vision. © Knut Skjærven.

Wandering Vision. © Knut Skjærven.

Here is another way to create an itching image. I call it Wandering Vision because it makes your vision wander. Look at the image above.

There is no possible way that you can get all the details of this in the same visual grasp. You can get an overview, but there are far too many details for you to handle them all in one go. You need to wander. You need to spend a little time on each.

In a way, this photo is build up of four mini photos held together by a common setting. A common context.

And a set of invisible lines that connects them and hold pieces together.

There is a guy left shooting with his SLR, flash and monopod. There is another guy behind him facing in the same direction. Passing by. On the right hand side you have a lady photographer with her compact. Behind her what could be a younger woman searching her handbag. The two women facing in the same direction too. Away from the men.

Notice the vertical line in between the two painting on the wall.  It could have split the image in two halves, but it does not really get away with that split, does it. The reason for that is that there are elements at work here that hold the scene together. In spite of the division down the middle.

Arguments are something like this: The two younger people in the background, one male the other female, are held together by their different sex and inherent attraction to each other. And by their similarity in age and posture. They are the young couple.

Something similar could be said about the persons in the foreground. Left and right. They are even connected by a similar type of activity. They are both photographers. A bit older than the other two but even that makes them hold together as a team. They belong. From each side of the frame they connect.

Images like these are challenging. They can easily fall apart. That does not seem to happen in this shot.

I can hear voices: This is all very well when analysing a photo. It is, however, not possible to shoot like this when you are out in the field even doing your very best. There is simply too much that needs to be remembers and that have to fall into place. It is not possible.

Answer: Well, now that you know how things can work you are open for them to happen to you too. Luck will do the rest. Just it did for me in this shot.

And true, it is only when you start setting words to it that you see what is in there.

From this brief post, you should remember only the caption Wandering Visions and the fact that things can be kept together even if they most likely should fall apart. Here they hold together by similarity.

Good luck with trying out wandering visions.

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

January 14, 2013.

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