Thursday, April 09, 2009

Draw A Bead

Catch A Glimmer Of A Shimmer

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


This shot was taken in Quebec City in mid-September 2005. It was not just the vivid colours that stopped me outside this entrance to a street-facing novelty/tourist store, but the beautiful cascade of inter-connecting discs that looked like a monochrome waterfall.

I shot this just before I ventured inside the store. At the time, I was using a Pentax compact digital camera as well as a film-based Canon EOS 3000 that I’d only bought less than a year earlier. I had a standard 35mm lens on the Canon and used it to shoot this frame.

I could have simply concentrated on the beaded discs and yes, it would have been an interesting image, but there would have been nothing to define the shot as being in Quebec City. So I opted to shoot the entrance from side-on, to make use of the distinctive steps leading up, as well as the metal handrail.

If you look to the left of the picture you’ll see a couple of familiar Quebec City landmarks - the distinctive red metal roof and the coat of arms on the building in soft focus in the background. But the thing that dominated my perception of the scene - and therefore my depiction of it as well - was the combination of yellow plastic in a soft curve, the bright red of the wall and of course the green of the steps.

Would I have shot the scene any differently now that I have made significant progress as a photographer, almost four years later? Yes, probably. For one thing, I would have taken probably half a dozen frames with my Pentax digital SLR, using a different composition each time.

You see, you think differently when you use a film camera; when you have a digital camera in your hands, you know you can shoot about 1000 images on a single 4GB memory card. - rather than having to change a spool of film every 36 exposures.

It was raining, it was damp and there was a low, grey sky - not great conditions for stopping every few minutes to reload a spool of Kodak film. But if you look below, you’ll see that I have cropped the original image to show you exactly how I’d shoot the same scene from the same angle the next time I’m walking down the street.


For earlier posts in this series, check out The Doors Archive.

25 comments:

Mojo said...

I find shooting on an extreme oblique yields some incredibly interesting images. Coupled with a short depth of field they can seem almost three dimensional.

Being from the immediate post-hippie generation, I have a fondness for bead curtains anyway, so I love this image.

Mine for this week is far more somber however. A mystery building around the corner from my office.
The Doors #8: "220 N. Dawson"

Daryl said...

Check me tomorrow, my Thursday, for a terrific door shot taken when I went walking with Annie

Metamor4sis.com said...

Nice touch. First timer to your site and enjoying myself immensely. Thanks for sharing and encouraging.

Ananda girl said...

I see what you mean and I do like the lower photograph much better, David. Its beginning to feel like some of this is seeping into my photographically challenged brain. You really do put a great deal of thought into what you do. : )

imac said...

At least you dont string us along David.Great shots, 2nd shot I like best.

Katney said...

David cropped?!

Yes, film and processing costs seem to have inhibited a lot of us. When I was a kid, a roll of film was 50¢. My puny allowance could handle 50¢.

Years later myriad rolls of exposed film still languished in my drawers. I could handle 50¢, but the cost of developing I kept putting off so I could buy more film.

Merisi said...

So interesting to observe how your field of vision narrowed down to that one fine (cropped) image! ;-)

The cost of film was also a factor, back then, wouldn't you agree? A pocket digital camera pays itself off in a few months time, considering how inexpensive memory cards are compared to the cost of film (and paying for developing and printing images you may not even have wanted).

Sniffles and Smiles said...

How wonderful! Thank you for demonstrating for us what a difference the cropping makes to a composition! Truly a fantastic shot! I love it!

aims said...

I prefer the cropped image David.

And I have to admit that my heart swells with pride when I see any of your Canadian images (I know - I'm a sap)

Maggie May said...

Beautiful! Cascades of beads.

Zlaek said...

Wow... I'm a dud when it comes to photography.
But when I compare the two snaps.. the difference perplexes me. Just a simple crop does so much :D

I usually photoshop my images and make them look good. Really don't know the perfect way to capture them...

Shadow said...

you are a great photographer, all the detail...

E said...

Fantastic picture.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Thanks for all the advice David - fascinating.

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

These images remind me of the way my brother and I take pictures.
The first image is more like my brother's style, while the 2nd is mine. And of course, I like the latter ;-)
My first Nikon film camera was stolen. I cried like a baby. My father gave me his Canon film camera (but I don't use it).You are right about taking a dozen images when you're not using film camera.

The colors on these images are absolutely beautiful!

Cheffie-Mom said...

The colors of the beads are wonderful and the buildings in the background are also amazing.

introspection said...

All the details you give us really make the pictures so much fun. Normally I would not even notice so many details in a photo. But with your narrative the photograph gets a different meaning, story and experience. Thanks for sharing the tips.
Love the pictures, it's like a bead curtain called "chilmun" in Hindi, which is a very romantic curtain used in poetry.

donncoppens said...

Very cool. I was in Puerto Vallarta last week and we spent hours wandering about looking at all of the fantastico doors! Most of the doors are far more ornate than the buildings. They are absolutely the definitive focal point of the domicile.

We actually bought a print by a local artist who made a wonderful monatage of the doors.

btw
Thanks for dropping by :).

lakeviewer said...

I love the angling, the perspective. Clever.

SandyCarlson said...

That is an interesting effect and a great set of photos. I have a bead curtain in my house. The local shopkeers were horrified when I asked them if they sold the things. That in itself was worth the trouble.

Queen-Size funny bone said...

do not pay attention to the man behind the beaded curtain.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

l like the look of the texture...l want to touch it


and the look of the street is surreal, it looks like the land in chitty chitty bang bang.

Daryl said...

Here's my Doors entry (did I really say that?)

http://onthem104.blogspot.com/2009/04/thursday-in-hoodthe-doors.html

Jazz said...

You went to my home town! Pretty place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.

Rob Inukshuk said...

I like them both. They each have their merits almost like they were two different subjects.

Indeed digital cameras have meant ease of entering the world of photography and for me it's all about having a ready camera with me at all times. I use my cell phone with built in Camera to record what interests me.

I'm happy with the results, considering it's a cell phone, but it would be fun to get a nice proper digital camera for even better results!