Friday, January 26, 2007

a game of chance by chaos

as if the sky was about to kiss them (by fernando [pixelstains])

«as if the sky was to kiss them»

For all the emotional content I like to pour into photography, I have a problem with chance. This is not quite like Henri Cartier-Bresson's celebrated «Decisive Moment», where there is a level of planning involved and capturing, intuitively, a good composition and a display that can only happen at a certain moment in time, and then it is gone. That is, the proper composition and emotional peak is available only for an instant. Another topic that deserves its proper attention. Now, take the single moment and leave it up to chance, or more properly, not chance but chaos. A subtle difference I have been frustrated for a while.

Consider «Mario's Bike» photo also from HCB, and ridiculed in Flickr. (However, that is not a surprise, since there so many equivalences in music as well.) HCB knew of the geometry and strong composition, and the decisive moment is the cyclist at the right place. That it was a bike speeding by, versus a person walking is even more impressive. Staged or not, not sure he did staging at all, there was not much left to a "chaotic" chance. Meaning, it was rather unlikely that the cyclist would turn around and fly, stop instanteneously, etc.

Now, in the photo above, which happens to be my "one hit wonder" at flickr, if one is to go by views and faves, in terms of general appeal -- and I hope it has more to do with the Velvet Underground having a one-hit, versus say... The Knack -- is a very troubling photo for me, in some regards. Yes, I like it. Yes, the post-processing is something that pleased me in many ways, and a way that I really controlled the mood. However, I feel like I had very little to do with what "makes" the image, at least on a first impression.

I was at the Parque de las Palomas in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. A great place to catch the birds in flight. I observe how, them being hungry when the park opened, they would take to flight in unison at certain intervals and I noticed the peculiar cloud formation, and the spot to stand on. Then I wait. No matter all of these realizations, if the moment the shutter was pressed, and I obtained some eight shots in short sequence; if the formation of "chaos" was not interesting, then there would be no photo.

I suppose it is like gambling, that one has to take a chance to get the right photo, and if not, well, too bad. This is, however, a part of photography that does not feel right, or my intuition has some problems, and some of it may be because of the "success" of this photo: I feel that I had little to do with it. People are enjoying and praising something that had much to do with chaotic chance. That aspect of photography, much celebrated as it is, does not interest me.

Perhaps, one thing is to coin a phrase not to be used again: «chaotic chance»

P.S. What differentiates this photo from all the others is that bird in the middle, that is not in silhoutte. So much chaos down to one simple gesture.