The world is rich in symbols, some more apparent than others, but if you put yourself in a “graphics” frame of mind, as we asked readers to do for this month’s assignment, you’ll find more than your share of images to capture in the world around you. The nature of this assignment was to find abstractions, to use context merely as a frame and not a reference, and to find the image within the image where a graphic presented itself. In many cases the frame becomes a canvas and the image something that abstract expressionists would understand. While we did receive some composites for this assignment we favored images made “in the field” that used cropping and a “graphic eye” to make the shot.
Architecture inhabits and embodies time; whether months or centuries in duration, a building’s life cycle of construction, transformation and afterlife gives tangible form to history and turns public space into an index of the past. A photographic image is literally made of time, showing viewers the projection of an instant in history. When engaging with a photograph of a built environment as it once looked, we find ourselves immersed in an historical experience that was without precedent before the invention of photography in 1839.
Professional bull riding is classified as an extreme and dangerous sport in nearly any measure that you care to describe. The bulls are big and dangerous; the riders are small and fragile in comparison. I took this photograph of a bull rider literally moments after being bucked off in front of an indoor arena full of screaming fans. He rode for less than 8 seconds, and consequently his day was done. The bull won.
When we first saw these images we were struck with a strong sense of history, of our own nostalgia for scenes and places long gone, and overall how photographers should, to paraphrase Walker Evans, photograph with a sense of history in mind. Some of the photos from this collection have the almost eerie calm of the best of Atget, while others are akin to street scenes casually snapped that would later become treasured mementos of an age. We thank The Granger Collection and the Museum of the City of New York for allowing us to share some of these images with you.
Our Picture This! assignment this month was “Art Filters,” those in-camera special effects processing scripts that seem to be all the rage in cameras these days. Rather than have users spend time with computer software these days, camera makers are incorporating some interesting tricks into their imageware. You can think of them as subsets of Scene modes, as shortcuts, as fun filters, or as preprogrammed image processing effects that go right from camera to memory card. Readers responded with a host of images that display many of the “art” options and special effects available today.
On The Cover
With summer upon us, we’ve dedicated this issue to nature and outdoor photography. No one exemplifies exploring the outdoors better than Josh Miller, who shot our cover photo of Elves Chasm while he was rafting the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon. To see more of his adventurous photos, see page 132. We also take an in-depth look at the top photo backpacks and sling bags as the importance of these traveling accessories cannot be overstated. Finally, we review the latest and greatest photo gear, from software to lighting equipment.
This month’s Picture This! assignment was Painterly Backgrounds, the use of various photographic devices—namely depth of field—to create a field of color and design for a backdrop to the main theme. The technique not only removes what could be a distracting background but also brings the main subject more into the visual attention of the viewer. It also can be used to complement the color, shape, and design of the entire frame, adding to the emotional content of the image. Readers sometimes used their digital darkroom skills to enhance some of the effects (noted in captions), but, as with other assignments, we view image processing as something that can be used to emphasize the image from the camera, not obtain it entirely from software techniques.
Follow That Elephant
While on a safari in the Serengeti of Tanzania we were tracking a family of cheetahs when we crossed a dry lakebed with these incredibly large and deepened footprints of an elephant. The asymmetrical pattern that emanated from the portion of a dried piece of driftwood almost looked as though it had been arranged for the shot in the middle of nowhere. Although we never did catch up with that elephant, the recorded scene of what I didn’t see left an indelible impression with me that transcends pretty much many of the animals I did see and document. —Marvin Seiger
My wife and I were visiting Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The sun had just dropped below the horizon and we were preparing to return to Little Makalolo, our base camp, when I heard “thrashing” sounds that were unmistakably those of an elephant herd.
We could barely make out the silhouetted movements of the herd on the far side of the river. I knew not to use a...
Most every camera sold has a built-in flash but many times we don’t make use of this handy item, keeping the flash on Auto (which with Auto ISO these days might just boost the speed rather than activate the flash) or turning it off for fear that it might ruin the natural light component of our images. The Picture This! assignment this month was using a touch of fill flash to add something...