Quiet Moments

At heart I am a bit of a minimalist, and I do love a good photorealistic painting, which is why the late Jeffrey Smart has been one of my favorite painters ever since I first saw his work in Sydney back in 2003.

So it would come as no surprise that I look for similar-style scenes to photograph. It’s the precise positioning of every element in a Jeffrey Smart painting that I find most engaging. Unfortunately, the very mechanical nature of the photographic medium under normal circumstances prohibits such fine placing of the elements at least for someone of my Photoshop skill level.

Photography does have the decisive moment, but that’s more about capturing a fleeting moment, a slice of time as it flashes by. What appeals to me in this picture is its contemplative restfulness. We can see that this isn’t a fleeting instance of action but a period of quiet stillness, made visually enjoyable by what we know as the appeal of vertical lines, disappearing perspectives and frames within frames. But without what Kandinsky explained as the tension within the frame, a tension that’s supplied by the almost perfect positioning of the people, it would be a dull lifeless image.

If it was a painting it would be ­­possible to correct the problems of left leaning, but in a photograph, despite the wonders of PS, when you correct that problem, other dimensions change, so more work is required.

The end result would be different, more constrained image, and not a picture I like.


FujifilmX20, f5.6, 1/250sec, ISO200


Getting Low in Utopia

If you are in Berlin and just want to take a few interesting pictures, then there’s no better place to go than the main train station, Hauptbahnhof. It may not be the most functional building, and yes, it’s cold, windy and leaks in the winter, but at this time of year the light is fantastic. Areas of high contrast abound, but it’s the graphic nature of the structure that makes it easy to take pictures. Another big plus is that the tourists are legion at the station and so many other people are taking photos, no one cares about you taking pictures. It’s a huge public space where everybody is usually in a hurry and has more important things to think about than a man with a camera, which makes you and your camera inconspicuous, even when you get down on the ground.

A sort of street photographer’s utopia.

24mm, f4.5, 1/30sec, ISO250.