The Alignment of the Planets

    When I started photography seriously two years ago, I was not aware of the diversity of this activity.

    Gradually, I discovered very different practices, even if inspiration and photographic intention are common to all of these artistic experiences.

    I For me, shooting a landscape with a long exposure, an indoor portrait, or a delicate macro, just to name a few different styles of photography, is first of all focusing on the preparation of materials: specific objectives, sturdy tripod, a flash and accessories of all kinds. It’s also important to identify a nice location and stay a long time at the same place for long exposure shots, to discuss with the model in the case of a portrait, to find the suitable lens for the macro and to patiently search for perfect details. 

    Street photography does not need these requirements. Everything is in the moment, the micro-second, the “decisive moment” as Henri Cartier Bresson called it. 

    Of course that moment does not happen by chance. The chance may arise, but the more you search for it, the more likely it will arrive.

    Before going to hunt for the pictures, thinking about what you want to capture is important. It can be a personal project or a challenge given as part of a group. Shooting with a theme allows us to focus on a subject.

    During a photography walk, the knowledge of the environment, the possibility of identifying a strategic location, a particular hour, interesting light, or a graphic background are important elements that can improve the quality of a photo but that is not enough.

    What remains remains the most important is the fraction of a second during which the eye and the lens will be on alert and ready to shoot.

    This moment, when the light, the lines of the environment and the street scene are in perfect harmony, is something rare. This is what I call the alignment of the planets, taking the expression of my photographer friend Amor, who is tirelessly searching this “decisive moment” while trying mostly to add a touch of humor.

    So yes this alignment is rare, but the more you search for it, the more you find it. Smetimes the alignment is not perfect but the picture still works.

    When you travel in a new place for the first time, you don’t have much time to discover the environment, especially if you are with a friend.

    The eye must be in a constant alert, looking around to anticipate a good moment.

    We were walking along the Tage, in Lisbon, by a very windy afternoon. Some people walked quickly, but a young woman was sitting on the edge, her hair dancing in the wind, focused on her book. It was a very nice scene, and I was thinking it would be a good shot for the theme “reader”.

    I tried some shots, but some guys were in the background and I didn’t like it. I moved a little, and wait a few seconds more, hoping the girl will not close the book. I also wanted to see a little bit of her face through the strands of her hair.

    I think I shot 5 or 6 times, and then, I’ve got it ! I was not sure it was OK, but when I saw it on the computer, I admit I was very very happy !

    I think I can called this moment “the alignment of the planets”…

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    6 Comments

    1. Just Ard | | Reply

      Esther, what an excellent shot in an Blog Post. I thoroughly enjoyed your laying out of the different styles of photography, and how you need to prepare so much, but when it comes to “Street” it is The Moment, and then it is gone, never to be seen again.

      I fully know what you mean by “the alignment of the planets”. Just like those planets, we so often get them almost there but one is slightly out of line, but when that one comes back into line, it is the dream.

      Thank you so much for your insight and such a lovely shot.

    2. Esther | | Reply

      Thank you, Just Ard.
      I had this post in my mind, but I had to write it in english, and I wanted it to be clear. I wrote the main part of it and submitted it to Tina, who kindly helped me to correct a few mistakes. So thanks to my proofreader !
      I thought this picture was a good example.

    3. Mister G.C. | | Reply

      This is an awesome post Esther.
      I know exactly what you mean about the time and preparation that goes into most other genres of photography apart from street photography. That’s probably why I haven’t been doing very much stock photography at the moment, I’m just too excited about the surprises that street photography holds and I’ve lost the patience to set up lighting, props, etc. Maybe some day soon.

      I agree 100% with your point you mentioned about the importance of having a subject to go hunting for and how right you are. My ‘red’ image from the September challenge would have probably passed me by without me seeing it, maybe the great shot of your girl reading a book would never have been captured had it not been for the challenge.

      Again excellent shot & post Esther. A joy to read.

    4. Esther | | Reply

      Thank you, Grant
      You’re right about this shot : if I was not looking at readers, maybe I would have miss this scene.
      It’s interesting to have 5 different themes in our mind when we go hunting, it gives us a renewed inspiration.

    5. Tina | | Reply

      When I saw this picture on our group page I thought that your picture was going to be tough to beat. It made me laugh because she is so interested in her book that she isn’t even trying to keep her hair out of her face. Now that’s what I call a dedicated reader!

    6. Esther | | Reply

      Thank you Tina
      I stayed about 10 minutes looking at her, I moved around her, but she was so focused on her book she didn’t see me !

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