Archive for category New Street Agenda
The promotion site for New Street Agenda – Personal Coach Program (PCP) is ready. Click the link, or the image above, to go there.
PCP is a new and unique program for those who want to understand how visual communication works and apply the new knowledge to street photography. Or for that matter to other areas of photography.
When you enrol in the program you will have your own site that only can be seen by you and The Coach. PCP runs consecutively over 12 weeks in 7 separate modules. Other arrangements can be made.
Please ask questions to PCP by writing in directly to Knut Skjærven at email@example.com.
Copenhagen, August 27, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven
Welcome to the September Challenge on New Street Agenda: The Academy.
The theme for September is Plane Integration. It is an Itching Theme that I first found in some of the early pictures from Henri Carrier- Bresson. Apart from being a trail blazer for hand held, candid photography, Cartier-Bresson was also something of a trick artist. Some of his well knows photographs are actually executions of Plane Integration as we have baptised it on New Street Agenda.
Remember his shot from Greece with two ladies walking in front of a house with likewise two ladies made in concrete on the second floor of the house? That would be an example of a Soft Plane Integration (Athens 1961). Here are a few others photograph they might suggest the same technique: Tokio 1965 and shot from Leningrad 1973. You will them all on this site.
I use the term Soft Plane Integretion, because Cartier-Bresson, as far as I know, never developed it as a specific theme but he had elements of it in some of his photographs. And so have many other of the old masters.
In this challenge you want to strive for a Hard Plane Integration. That means that you have to be very specific about it. The Reader, that you see above is a hard integration as is specific and cropped to the point. So it is meant to be, anyway.
It is an extremely good idea if you prior to shooting for this challenge spend time detecting photographs of this type in Cartier-Bresson portfolio. Or in those of other masters of street photography. We have, in other words, added a bit of research to this challenge. Use the internet or ask around. That is part of the September challenge.
For the short definition of Plane Integration, please see The Wordbook that are there for that reason.
Plane Integration means the integration of planes.
Some additional information before you run to the streets: In street street photography you can talk about flat images and deep images. In flat images you only have one plane. In deep images you have more planes. An other word for plane is ground. You can talk about foreground, middle ground and background. An image operating on all three grounds have three planes in it. Other would say that a photograph has different layers. As we use them here, these are the terms for the same phenomenon.
In the September Challenge you are asked to operate with two planes only. A foreground and a background. Like in the photograph above.
The two black chairs and the woman constitutes the first plane, and in some distance behind if you find the second plane, which is the shelf with CDs. There is a repeated pattern integrating the two planes. This repeated pattern is the squares that you find a) in the woman’s blouse; b) the two black chair and first and foremost in c) the CDs on the back wall.
You may not have noticed this repeated pattern but let that scare you. Integration of this type mostly works below the threshold of consciousness. Meaning, it effects your unconscious mind. Now that we make a point of it, I am am sure that you see it.
The integrating element don’t have to be squares. That can have any form or shape that you like. Could be colours, could be circles, could be direction, could be almost anything. In your challenge solution for September the integrating elements have to be articulate. For all to see and for Occam to agree on.
Here are the challenge specifics. Take a picture that
a) consist of two distinct planes and two planes only.
b) has both planes in a right angle from the camera perspective. Don’t try to do more fancy work than that.
c) has a clear separation of the two planes.
d) has an articulate and sharp handling of the theme.
e) is cropped so that it only contain the basic theme.
Please remember that The Academy is a training ground. You are meant to deliver a photograph according to this briefing and nothing else. It is the execution of the briefing that is important and not the usual race for best picture. If you can deliver both that would indeed be brilliant but luck comes later.
Also: This group is supposed to be member driven. You should only participate in the challenge if you also take an interest in what others do. Don’t post a photograph and sit back to have other do the job. Comment on their work as you expect them to send words on your photograph.
Admins will comment on some images. Not all.
The takeaway from the September Challenge is this: Plane Integration, as a shooting theme, for street photography will stay with you in the future. You will know what it is and how to shoot for it.
All pictures have to be shot in the challenge period. That is from you read this briefing to the last day of September. If needed, precisions will be made to this description along the way.
Have a good day. Good luck with September.
Copenhagen, August 22, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.
A couple of months ago I did not know anything about it. Things sometimes come slowly. This time for a reason.
It is not a muscle as you know it from your arms and your tights and your fingers. It is more like a network of capacity that connects different parts of your brain to perform a task. That task could be to register and recognize and evaluate a visual expression, as you find it in a photograph.
This network acts much like a muscle. When you neglect it, it dies away. When you activate it, it starts to work for you. On its own.
You talk about being able to do fast and frugals (See page *). To run on autopilot (See page *). These rely on your visual muscle functioning and being properly trained.
Put it to use, train it, it gets stronger and more reliable. Quite literally you get better at whatever it is you are doing.
If you have but little beforehand, you get something. If you already are well equipped, you get stronger. No matter what activity and process you want to improve. Could be looking at a photograph. Could be even browsing reality itself.
Confronted with a picture there is a chain of actions that is triggered. First the registration of the object (if it is an object), in the retina. Then the signalling to an area at the back of your brain, to pick up the raw data. Then tiny arms reach out to other areas and bring in the full capacity of both you body and brain to get a grip of what the photograph is all about. Perceiving a photograph is a tall order even if it seems so easy.
Did you, by the way, know that the far larger part of you perception of any visual is based on your unconsciousness? Some say 95 percent. Did you also know that about 30 percent of your total brain capacity has been set aside to handle visual stimuli? Not touching, smelling, hearing or tasting. But seeing.
The conscious part of your perception and the unconscious part of it work in tandem. They support each other to make out the whole picture. It is a combination of below the line and above the line perception. With below the line as the locomotive.
That aside. What you need to take away from this knowledge is this: First, be aware that you rely on your unconsciousness to a much larger extent than you could have imagined. Second, as your unconsciousness draws on the whole battery of acquired knowledge, experience and training you will always perceive what you see a little differently from others. Sometimes very differently.
Third, and maybe the most important is you can train your visual muscle to work for you. Even if you are hard wired to a certain disposition, such a hard wiring can be modified.
This will not happen over a weekend even if you set your mind to it. More likely over a lifetime.
Copenhagen, August 20, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved
You are sometimes discouraged to combine words and visuals.
Purists are of the opinion, that photographs must come alone and not be disturbed by accompanying texts, that in one way or other, might functions as leads or teasers to a photograph. And thereby disturb the visual message.
This is sometimes argued when people talk about giving images titles. A title possibly suggesting a certain reading or seeing of the image. Purists can’t have that.
There are purists all over. As if a photograph ever came alone.
It should be a different matter when you include texts in the photograph itself. Then the words become part of the visuals as in People Parking (#28).
Such texts can take the form of signs as in People Parking shot in Copenhagen during the Jazz Festival in July 2014. You see the signs on the wall.
It is the combination of signs, people, composition, framing, etcetera that makes the image. Wouldn’t you say? The two people relaxing under the parking sign. The arrows, and the word Reception pointing to the entrance. Europe Famous Hostels. The two girls entering the house.
Words and visuals work together as if teasing each other in a new and humorous way. In a moment that will never exist again. That is why you as a photographer are so important to capture these moments.
When words and visuals comes together fluently, as I would say that they do in this lucky shot, the photograph lifts from being plain documentation to being an Itching Street Image. It becomes a proper street photograph.
The takeaway from these thoughts is extremely simple: look for signs. Make them work in conjunctions with the rest of your shot, as I was lucky to have them work for me in this picture.
Images like this do not come often. You have to press your luck for them. When it happens you have made your day.
One thing is for sure. If you don’t look for signs you well never see them. The message is: look for signs and make them work in the visual context.
We call it to Sign In On Signs. No reasons why you should not be good at it.
One last word. Does these shots come just like that. They might but it is not likely. I saw the potential reading the signs, lingered in the area for a while and then came back and took the picture.
Copenhagen, August 16, 2014.
© Knut Skjærven