Friday, January 02, 2009

It Figures

Still Life Mingles With Perpetual Motion

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Sometimes you just shoot from the hip and the results, while not perfect, certainly go some way towards rewarding your instinct. We were in the city with friends and family late in the evening and the atmosphere was pure Melbourne – families with young children, groups of tourists, buskers in Santa hats. It was simply one of those festive nights where relaxation is in the air.

As usual, I was lagging several feet behind the rest of the clan because I always seem to see an interesting sight (or three) to photograph. I was waiting to cross Swanston Street when these two children, running slightly ahead of their parents, raced up to press the button on the pedestrian crossing.

Then they suddenly noticed the three lifesize statues to our right. The three figures have been there for a few years now, representing workplace commuters in suits and carrying briefcases. Their faces are gaunt, their bodies impossibly skeletal, but they are striking pieces of art because they are so unusual. They are normal human height, but their bodies are not even as wide as a power pole.

The children immediately started touching the statues, fascinated by their dimensions and the expressions on their metal faces. I was only half paying attention because I was waiting for the light to change so I could catch up with everyone else.

Then I realised I had an unusual scene playing out before my eyes – if I was quick enough with my camera. Not only were the little boys beside me, a couple of tourists were also walking up to examine the figures. The light was difficult, because I knew the figures themselves would not stand out as the central theme.

Instead, I decided to concentrate on the movement of the four fast-moving human beings in front of me, as a counterpoint to the motionless sculpted trio. The lights of the shopfronts on the opposite side of the street would also work in my favour, for they would provide a sense of place and time.

And as I raised the camera to hit the shutter, I had another lucky break. A taxi drove past, leaving a distinctive yellow streak to the left of the frame, without compromising any of the figures. Now that’s what I call sheer luck.

Visit MamaGeek and Cecily, creators of Photo Story Friday.

20 comments:

scrappysue said...

is that a juxstaposition? either way - it's VERY cool.

Lee said...

Very interesting! The movement does draw attention. It's amazing how quickly the human mind works. A lot of analysis goes into your shots, David. If I were there I'd want to touch the statures too. It's not that often you can get close and personal with art.

Cheers!

Michelle said...

Wow, what a lucky break. I'm not sure the picture would have had the same feeling of movement without the taxi speeding by.

Well done!

gogouci said...

Very clever idea and wonderful end result.

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

That's really neat how you see the motion and still have the other figures clear. Great picture. :)

Chris said...

That's very neat!

I see you've met my people. We're from the dark side of the Moon.

Kacey R. said...

Awesome picture! I love the streak of yellow of the taxi and the motion around the statues. Very cool.

Happy New Year!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I love that photo! Nicely done. I can totally relate about lagging behind due to taking pictures. Happens to me all the time.

Honey Mommy said...

Great photo!
I am just learning how to better use my DSLR by setting the aperture and shutter speed.

Happy New Year.

Maggie May said...

That was a really good post and the photos were very unusual.
Clever.

Lakshmi said...

the colours and the movement does draw one's attention..I am amazed at the way you analyse and plan your shots..wish you a great 2009..

Shrinky said...

It really is the coming together of several circumstances that makes for that special shot, isn't it? For me, I've found despite whatever technical experience I may learn to apply, the no.1 requirement for a favourite shot is being there at the right time and place - the most valuable advice you ever gave was to ALWAYS have your camera to hand!

i beati said...

you know what intriques me here. the speeds or lack of all in one capsule !!

GreenJello said...

Awesome photo.

Reluctant Housewife said...

Great picture! "Perpetual Motion" is a great way to describe little boys... and tourists.

Happy New Year!

Lorina said...

Very nice work.. I wish I were more talented.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Very cool. I think the statues would be interesting to see and of course you always take the interesting shot.

Charles Gramlich said...

Life imitates art imitating life.

Woman in a Window said...

That's a really interesting shot. It suggests such a mood and considering the statues, which are ironically still, are representing the commuters...well, lucky shot indeed.

Sandi McBride said...

Now that is just spooky...like one of those movies where the stunts are done in slow motion while life moves on without...
Sandi