On shooting sports

I'm a big fan of "Footy", Aussie Rules football, but living in Ontario means that I have about four and a half months'  maximum (if the Wildcats make the post-season) shooting time. I fill in with rugby after that as much as I can, but that still leaves a lot of time with no footy of any kind. So, I shoot indoor sports and have managed to get accreditation for the local uni which is my alma mater as well. 

When I started shooting sports, I did what a lot of people do. I Googled the hell out of the subject and learned what I could. And this was quite valuable, but it comes with a caveat.  Consider the source. There is all kinds of advice on the internet, but a considerable amount of it is not original. That is a nice way of saying some bludger or other has taken somebody else's words and rewritten them.  In school that is called plagiarism and it should be rated as a capital offence as far as I'm concerned.

You might see a website that promises the open sesame for sports shooting. You read the advice, absorbing every detail and then read the "writer's" bio only to find out that he or she is a "lifestyle" photographer or has some experience in the world of fashion. What in the Sam Hill do these people really know about sports shooting? You don't need me to provide an answer to that question.

My advice is to go to You Tube, do a search on sports photography and check out some of the people there. I'll save you the trouble. Look for Quinn Rooney and anything he has there. Look at his stuff over and over and over. Hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak, and save yourself the trouble of reading something plagiarised  that comes from a horse's arse. And just in case you're wondering, I don't know Quinn Rooney; I wish I did. His sports shots are an education.

Permission or not?

Once in a while I look at Eric Kim's photography. I don't particularly like it, but that doesn't mean I can't learn something from it. However, there is something he said in an interview that, to my mind, deserves a response. Talking about his entry into "street photography", he said, "Taking that to the street, I was fascinated taking photographs of strangers (gasp) without their permission!"

This relates back to my earlier criticism of the search for the "decisive moment". Is there something about so-called "Hipsters" that causes them to get off on "candid" shots? There is nothing, I would argue, particularly valuable about shoving a camera in someone's face, taking them by surprise and publishing the result. Is the fact they permission is not requested a sign of victory for the person taking the shot--a sort of "look how clever I am"? That's how it comes across to me and I detest it.

I ask people, unless it is at a demonstration in which case the shots fall under the rubric of photojournalism, if I can take their picture. In most cases the people I photograph are in society's margins, and they have little but their dignity. I respect that and to take their photo without permission would make me feel dirty. See the introduction to my site where I refer to Don McCullin. Again, anyone who wants to "do street photography" should view his video.


The Decisive Moment

Henri Cartier-Besson spoke about "the decisive moment", and ever since then legions of "street photographers" have been trying to replicate what he was talking about. The problem, of course, is that there are legions of Cartier-Bessoin "wannabes" roaming the streets shooting "candids" and feeling proud of themselves. Even worse, people are holding workshops to "teach" people how to shoot "on the street".  A pox on all of them. There is nothing to celebrate in  photographs that cause other people to feel superior to the subject or cause the photographer to feel "clever". My advice to anyone who wishes to shoot people on the street is to view Don McCullin photographing in Whitechapel. That is worth far more than dropping cloise to three thousand dollars on a "workshop"

Is Film Dead?

Reports of film's demise are decidedly premature, if not simply fantastical. It seems especially ironical to me that so much effort is put into the ability of software to emulate the look of film when all anyone has to do is get a film camera and start shooting with it.

I have been silent

I have been silent for a while, due to a severe case of Shingles. If you are eligible for the vaccination, go and get it. If this affliction had a more alarming sounding name I might have done what I am advising you to do. But "Shingles" conjures up benign images of beaches in England--to me anyway. The reality is far from that. I feel as if someone has been going over me with a wire brush. The result has been that it is painful even to carry a camera bag. That said, I feel a minor improvement each day and I am slowly getting some photographs to post. The latest couple are on my Hamilton page.

About SOOC

For a while, I was zealously committed to "straight out of the camera shots", believing that anything else  was "cheating". Then, when I explored the greats of photography--and I mention in particular Don McCullin--I discovered that they all touched up their negatives in one way or the other. I now see that "processing" in Lightroom, Photoshop et al is simply  the digital world's equivalent of the darkroom's Indian ink. I refrain from changing photographs to the extent that they look--and I borrow from Don McCullin here-- like chocolate box decorations. Nevertheless,  when I can I shoot in film anyway and make such changes as necessary to contrast digitally.

Through my lens

Having just got my web-site up and running, I decided that I would periodically "blog" too. By and large my comments will accompany the photographs that will populate this site, but if something seems to me worthwhile mentioning then I will, well, mention it.

There are some subjects that are so sterile as to drive a person incontinent with frustration--the debate of film vs digital which is a stultifying as the raucous exchanges I remember from my military days over which branch of the service was better. Consequently I won't be touching the D vs F topic here. The same goes for types of film or methods of developing. There are fora for those who wish to indulge themselves on those topics, and my advice to them is go there, fill your boots as we used to say. This blog will be forever silent on the subjects.

You may deduce from this, then, that the blog entries might well be sporadic, and you are probably correct. As I said, though, I shall post if something strikes me as worthwhile. 

If, by chance, anyone should come across this site and feel the urge to comment, I encourage you to do so although you will appreciate, if you have read my "About" section, that I won't be holding my breath.

December 22 2015