It's my opinion that shadows are a very overlooked and unappreciated
property of light, i.e., not only do they possess the innate ability to give form
and shape to lit objects, but they can also provide surprisingly entertaining
graphic shapes and textures all their own when combined with other elements.
I hope these images will also cause you to notice shadows more, as well as the stories they sometimes have to tell....that is, if you take the time to consider them.
Consider both my Decisive Moment and Viewing Angel Island images. "The
Decisive Moment" is a term coined by documentary/street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson who was a French humanist "street" photographer, considered to
be master of candid photography and an early user of 35 mm film. In 1952, Cartier-Bresson published his book Images à la sauvette, whose English-language edition was titled The Decisive Moment. For his 4,500-word philosophical preface, Cartier-Bresson took his keynote text from the 17th century Cardinal de Retz which read,
"Il n'y a rien dans ce monde qui n'ait un moment decisif" ("There is nothing in this
world that does not have a decisive moment"). Cartier-Bresson applied this
to his photographic style. He said: "To me, photography is the simultaneous
recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of
a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression."
"Photography is not like painting," Cartier-Bresson told the Washington Post
in 1957. "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photo- grapher is creative," he said. "Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever."
My Decisive Moment image is the epitome of that theory, with the obvious
timing of capturing the heel of the person's foot making contact with the pavement...which in fact is very similar to one of Cartier-Bresson's own
images, thus the attribute. However, the graphics produced by both the
shadows themselves, combined with the way I've cropped it gives this
image an added tension and mystery that adds to that Decisive Moment.
With the Viewing Angel Island image, the decisive moment is the way that
the graphic elements of the shadows of the three tourists who're viewing
angel island, the long stairs, the vertical iron locating structure and me with
my camera to my eye capturing it all come together in a cleverly, esoteric
way to tell a story. The interesting part about this image is actually the
double- entendre of the title, Viewing Angel Island, but unless
you're familiar with the area it needs a bit of explanation.
The long stairs in the foreground are on the edge of a parking
lot near the Golden Gate Bridge and, to help tourists know what
they're seeing, the city has commissioned a number of waist high, upright, iron structures at the top edge of the stairs that not only have the
name of each particular point of interest cut into their vertical bases, but
also have little brass pointers, with faux gun-site type locators, attached their tops that point to different landmarks in the S.F. Bay. These include sites
like Alcatraz, some of the old, civil war ammunition bunkers that still exist
along the coast, Fort Baker on the Marin County side and Angel Island
located to the Northwest of Alcatraz. Therefore, the Viewing Angel Island
title refers to both the shadows of the tourists who are viewing it...though
without using the gun site locators....as well as the shadow of me viewing
them, the stairs and the upright Angel Island locating structure, while
making a photo of it all.....right at The Decisive Moment.