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  • William Hunton

Sad Stories – The Prequel

In my previous blog, Sad Stories on the Street, what was supposed to have been about street photography became more a story of how a photographer, me, can become personally involved and not just an observer. It was unintentional, but considering it a bit more deeply, what was I expecting differently?

This blog is more the prequel to Sad Stories…

I’m posting several of the original images from my walk and perhaps you can see how the story developed.

The images were taken with an A6000 I picked up used for a song. (Human Nature: We’re all guilty of thinking the next new thing will make us better or happier. Save a ton of money. Always, always look for used first. Thrift shops, pawn shops, and online markets are great.)

All images were in RAW or in Sony’s case “ARW”, processed in Adobe Lightroom, converted to high contrast black and white, and presented here. There’s no hocus pocus.

There are so-called purists of documentary photography, especially from the heyday of film, who would include the sprocket holes and maybe even the “Kodak Safety Film” logo in their photographs. I am not sure why, but maybe that was done to assure the viewer that he/she is seeing the entirety of the photographer’s vision. I always thought it was a distraction at best, or even a preening affectation.

Can’t do that now. Ain’t no sprocket holes in digital, but there are filters to add both sprocket holes and “grain.” I think there is even a Kodak Tri-X filter. Maybe better is to pull out the old film camera that Grandpa used and buy a roll of black and white film. It will slow you down to where you have to think and compose your photographs, as well as anticipate them. Mail the roll out for processing, wait a week for the negatives and scans and then go to Photoshop. How did we live back then?

I don’t think the original captured image could be my entire vision. Countless times I’ve started to work with a negative/slide or digital file only to decide to move in tighter, and cut the distractions.

What you include in the frame is already edited by you and the camera the moment you click the shutter release. You could have recorded a serene scene, say, a cow in a pasture or a mother and child, while the Apocalypse is exploding outside of the camera’s frame. You have that power, and responsibility.

However, even in the camera on the card or on the film, it may not be complete. It is just the original notation, the sketch. In my mind it’s not complete until the final photograph is a reality.

Eugene Smith is a photo hero of mine. He was a documentary photographer from the mid-1900’s. His iconic images of World War II in Life Magazine may be most recognizable. See W. Eugene Smith: Shadow and Substance, The Life and Work of an American Photographer by Jim Hughes, 1989.

I liked Eugene Smith’s idea about cropping an image: “[I crop ] for the benefit of the pictures. The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera.” – W. Eugene Smith, Pictures on a page : photo-journalism, graphics and picture editing by Harold Evans , Page: 123

So if we take a photograph in RAW or Jpeg, that does not matter. If you want to switch your digital camera to record in monochrome, if that allows you to “see” better, then great. What I think matters is the final image. It is not successful unless it comes very close to what I intended to communicate.

Enough talk. Photographs. I hope you enjoy them and maybe they help you.



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