Friday, March 29, 2013

Peter 100 - Peter

At last, through sheer determination I have come to the end!

I can't say that I've enjoyed this project, in truth I haven't at all.   It's not me.  

I am just not comfortable with the "cold call" nature of the project, although  I am very happy to simply bowl up to a stranger and engage them in conversation, the need to photograph them takes very much secondary importance. 

Several of the people photographed in this series I count as very good friends now, but photographically I "cheated", I befriended them first and took photos later.

Others were candid shots which I took first then asked permission later.

Except for the first few dozen or so, few confirm to the strict rules of "introduce, ask permission and shoot" never to meet again.

BUT, I did learn a good deal.  

I learned to adapt my shooting style so that I can now without angst, compose almost any photograph in landscape format, so much so that now I rarely shoot portrait.  Previously that was almost a crutch that I used to get me out of tough compositional situations.

I understand the use of light so much better, but again in the strict terms of this project, I was never (almost never - see "Bill" or perhaps "Liz") able to contrive a situation with the natural light which would  enhance what I was attempting to do.

Mostly though, setting the camera became automatic - I don't panic any longer, and rarely make terrible mistakes.  I am so confident in that regard that I often take only single shots these days.

And the self portrait?  Well it's me alright, doing what I like to do best: travelling, while attempting to blend into the crowd  even though I sometimes rather stick out above it.   The photo is taken on the summit of the Stockhorn in Switzerland, camera characteristically at chest height (I rarely take photographs from a position above waist height, often much closer to the ground), trying to be anonymous.

It is one of the wonders of the modern world that we go to such great lengths to protect our anonymity, or "privacy", then post our photographs on the world wide web for universal scrutiny!

Thanks Ann, Julie and Cara for all the support you have given on the way through.  This is me sighing a great sigh of relief and shouting…


Peter 098 and 099 - Dave and Gerry

Dave and Gerry have been friends for much of their live, happily lived in New Zealand.   Dave has been attempting to see a solar eclipse for almost as long as they've known each other, having failed miserably until November 2012.  The last but one being an aborted yachting expedition in Tahiti, so camping in the wilds of North Queensland was hardly a challenge.

This photograph, taken under the light of a partial eclipse does as much to describe the elation they felt, in succeeding after watching as thunderclouds began to cross the sky in the early morning as it does to express their mateship.

This is another "technical" cheat really, for while I had just met Dave, Gerry was not a stranger, but I shall count him as a "head" anyway!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Peter 097 - Bill

Bill is a Scot who has lived in France for most of the past half century.  He is a linguist, boat technician par excellence and author whose life should be the subject of a book.  He is presently working on just that, and I shall try to persuade him to use this photograph on the dust jacket!

His first novel (self-published without external editing) is, he says, not very good but it's a start and he's online.   Now he's hoping to get a bit serious with the next one.

Bill joins a long list of people who in our travels do not remain strangers for long!

Note:  ISO 250 (the old camera gets a bit noisy at faster speeds), f4, 1.0 second exposure, hand held and braced on the table - lighting by a single 8w cabin light.   Given Bill and I both shake a bit, the almost sharpness here is a small miracle!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peter 096 - Lars

Lars has owned his boat for thirty years, and it was old when he bought it.  

 Last summer in his native Sweden he "found" an old wooden house in a forest, tracked down the owner and bought it.   He then dismantled it stick by stick and rebuilt it on his own land over winter.

This kept him away from his boat for almost a year, so he is now spending this summer bringing the boat back up to scratch.

Technical note: having committed myself to photographs in landscape format for this series, I couldn't get a shot that I liked, so rather than give in, I framed it through the back door of our boat.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Peter 095 -The Unknown Soldier

The old soldier stood with a woman and her children who may have been his great-grandchildren, silently waiting.

As the first of the police escort marched into the street, stood to attention, smiled and quietly joined the parade for it's circuit of the roundabout, clearly any greater distance would have stretched the limits of his stamina, standing once more to attention while the brief remembrance ceremony formalities were complete.

VE Day in Epernay, France.


He nodded as I caught his eye holding my camera, but sadly he was lost in the formalities and I was unable to find any more of his story,  for reasons that are inexplicable but were probably to do with the emotion of the event, I didn't think to ask his daughter, who was standing a few metres away.   Another lesson learned in the context of this project - keep your mind on the job!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cara (65) 5 guys drinking coffee

You should have seen me. It was like being back at number 1 again as far as nerves went. It's been far too long.  I walked past and thought how great they all looked and I really should get their picture but I was too nervous to ask. And they were all deep in conversation in a different language. I walked past them and killed some time reading a review posted in the doorway of the cafe. Still too chicken. Walked another 10 metres and had another internal debate. You always remember the photos you don't take, don't you? I knew it was difficult light so took some test shots into a similar shaded shop front and then went up to them with a big smile. I made eye contact with the one who was wearing normal glasses and he said no problem. I explained that they were for a blog but I don't think they were particularly interested in it.

Five guys in total but I couldn't get them all in one shot because of the car behind me. Could have done with a fish-eye!
I think two big mistakes were that firstly I took only 3 photos and secondly they were all from this boring standing angle! (Have I not learned anything??) I should have got right up close, knelt down on the ground, taken shots of them individually.... but I was on a narrow, busy footpath and I was worried about disturbing them for too long.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Peter 094 - Elvis

He smiled and told me he was the King.

A prince in a sea of brass instruments on the streets during the Renaissance Festival, Bar-le-Duc.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peter 093- Tuppence

When she was born her father, who would have preferred a boy, said something along the lines of "she's not worth tuppence" and even though her mother gave her a lovely girly name, that's how she's been known ever since.

I can vouch that her value by any measure, as she sits in her tiny well loved (if slightly battered) yacht loaded with her worldly possessions, is considerably more than her father's original estimate. She's currently pottering through the canals and rivers of Europe before returning south to pick up her mast and then who knows where she'll head.

She certainly doesn't have any firm plans, and that is what cruising is all about!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Peter 092 - The Farmer

I asked his name. Perhaps he didn't understand my accent or perhaps he simply preferred to remain in his role as a silent farmer, but he smiled gently and pointed to the sign on his van :

He had a stunning mechanical organ, a carousel of cows constructed in the most ingenious and impossible to describe manner, powered by the fathers of the children aboard by tugging on the udders of yet another mechanical bovine creature.

As they rode, he followed silently blowing feathers on them to the joy of all.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Peter 091 - Al

We travelled in company with Al and his wife for a few days.  That's enough time to get to know a person reasonably well, and I had to bide my time waiting for a portrait that didn't reflect the Al most people meet, the happy go lucky guy who's fun to be around.   Pictured here, quietly and efficiently concentrating on tending his boat in a lock we get a glimpse of the Canadian veterinary surgeon whose skills have doubtless saved a thousand cows.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peter 090 - Paul and Cara

Paul has in his hand, the electrical cord for his boat, removed just a few seconds ago as they prepare to continue their journey through summer, in a minute or two they will have vanished into another world.   It's hard to imagine that a happier, more content couple exist in all of Holland, let alone the rest of the world.

Perhaps that's what happens when one lists one's hobbies as the study of languages, reading (in all of the languages one studies, and the observation of wildlife, to say nothing about talking at length with great enthusiasm about them all.

Peter 089 - "Our" Tony

On waterways around the world, a sailor is better known by his boat, than by his face, which is in the stereotype covered by beard and hat perhaps dark glasses. The dark tan gives Our Tony's lifestyle away. He's from the midlands in England and he spends as much time as he can in France deftly single handing his boat between dalliances with his wife when her work allows.

We shared our innermost thoughts as only lovers and people who have little chance of meeting again can, then went our separate ways, friends for life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peter 088 - Di

For fifty years Di has been Tam's partner in life and boats. She even married him four years ago, although she didn't explain why. Her sons were born on a barge, she can lassoo a mooring bollard from fifty paces blindfolded in a gale in the middle of the night, and is the most extraordinarily patient and skilful teacher of her craft that one could hope to meet.

Here, typically she is holding down two separate conversations while watching every move of a trainee foredeck crewman, ready to intervene in a split second should that be necessary.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peter 087 - Grahame

Graham is nervous.

As Tam watches on gently, Grahame is nervous, staring intently thirty metres or so down the deck of a mid-sized Dutch Barge and oblivious to my presence as he manouvres into a river lock for the first time. The feeling is something akin to driving one's boss's Mercedes into a garage that is only big enough to fit the car if the rear view mirrors are folded flat. Kiwis are made of stern stuff though, and he got there without a scrape, by the end of the first day.

Grahame has done been many things; electrician, builder, shoe designer, forklift maintenance guy, and now: Barge Captain.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Peter 086 - Tam

Tam has been living boats for as long as he can remember, from running coal and lime juice on the canals of England, to small coastal freighters carrying gravel, to his present day occupation as a trainer.

His eyes are constantly aglow at the joy he gets from simply being on boats.  Here his eyes are everywhere as a novice takes his eighty ton home into a lock less than a metre wider than the boat.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Peter 085 - Harve

Somehow it got to be nearly three in the morning, and the music is mellowing to a selection of classics from the forties.

By day he is a senior executive in a moderately sized publishing organisation, speaks several languages although modestly denies that unless pressed to respond in something other than his native tongue.  By night, he just as modestly sings sublime harmonies across the dinner table.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peter 084 - Jean-Dominique

Jean-Dominique was hiding on the vacant top floor of a chateau in Orleans, playing somewhat etherial music which filtered through the building to the gallery spaces below.

He's a retired journalist who has spent the two weeks of the exhibition alone with his music, performing at no charge, because he thought the exhibition would benefit from the music.

He was right.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Peter 083 - Phillipe

It is a coincidence that two photographs in succession are of gentlemen who serve their communities as Mayor.   Phillipe lives 600 kilometres from Maurice and seems to be the sort of person whose talent and energy is endless.

This photograph was taken at precisely 2:18 am, during a longish dinner and about three quarters of the way through a bracket of singing that lasted for four hours without a break.

The composition is deliberate, although my own mind was not as tidy at that time of the morning as the subject's.

Cara (064) Josiah

I'm dipping into my BDP blog for this one although the post was in black and white; this is the original. He was, as Ann pointed out at the time, a "chugger"; a charity mugger. One of those clipboard-weilding super-friendly folk you find on the street who get you to part with your money on a regular basis by signing you up for direct debits straight to the charity from your bank account. In Brisbane (compared to London) there aren't that many and they aren't as pushy. They don't even wear hi-vis vests. I didn't even realise he was a chugger until the very end. We had a good chat and he even asked me to take his picture cos I had my camera hanging around my neck. I love it when people ask.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Peter 082 - Maurice

Maurice is the mayor of a small community in Alsace.

He heard us discussing the notices posted on his Mairie (Town Hall) and invited us into his office.  He unlocked the glass doors of the case behind and showed us the records of his town dating from the late 1700's.  The records were written variously in French or German depending on which particular country was in control of the place at the time, until about the mid 19th century when someone gave up, and began recording in both languages "just in case".

Most families in the region to this day, can communicate in either language, once again highlighting our own particular ineptitude!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Peter 081 - Jo

Why should we not be surprised that the only other person on the entire top floor of the building on the other side of the world, should be an Australian?

Jo is staying in Paris for a few months, refining her language skills and no doubt thinking of her family back home.