Sunday, February 28, 2010


The comments from this week's lesson about the trope of a photograph opening up a new angle or view by which an outsider might now see the city or culture in which I am now living have gotten me thinking a lot about how I can show people back home what my experience is here. I've wanted to show them the landmarks and postcard images, sure, but I have really had trouble capturing the day to day experiences that I'm finding so wonderful here. I think by considering the tropos of the photograph I'm taking I'll now be able to do this better. I do think that I have been doing this somewhat subconsciously all along, however, now that I'm aware of what I was doing the effect can be all that much greater. But let's analyze my handling of the tropos in the pictures I took for last week's post:

The tightness of the picture of Kyle and the lighting give a good sense that the restaurant in which we were in was a smaller space. The building seen through the window is also relatively close as well. These elements along with the low lighting show that the restaurant, and neighborhood might be places that are cramped or dense.

The picture of Evan sitting on the ground in Madrid was not as successful in capturing the moment as I had hoped. There was a whirlwind of leaves and trash that swept over him while he was seated waiting for a bus in Madrid. That situation had a lot of movement in the leaves and bags, but it's not captured in this photo. I do think that the fact both subjects' attentions are directed in the same direction does help the viewer to begin to understand what is happening in the picture. The fact that the pavers take up the entire frame help to give the viewer a sense of the feel and texture of Madrid.

The upwards angle shots of these buildings in Madrid give them a monumental feeling, a feeling that they are quite imposing. Another contributor to this feeling is the fact that there are no people shown in the frame, putting all the importance on the weight and brevity of the structures. The top building is taken on a sunny day while the bottom is taken on a cloudy one. This works well with the material of each building to portray the feeling of the building: blue sky for glass; grey clouds for concrete.

The absence of people and the upwards angle of the building in Munich give a similar monumental feeling as the buildings in Madrid. When this building is then shown in the daylight with crowds of people all around there is a much more lively feeling to the building. The first seems as if it is some foreboding castle, while in the second it appears to be a central gathering place.

The two snow pictures taken in the Olympic park in Munich both give a sense of coldness with their lack of color and lack of people. It's hard to tell which picture makes the place seem more lonely, the one with no people or the one with only one person. I think the one person within a large area is more effective at portraying the emptiness of the place than the isolated footprints at a close range because the first shows how vast the place is.

The blurred lights and festive colors help give a sense of the excitement of Carnival. But when you look closely at the picture, the reflection of the lights off the wet road tell the viewer it's raining. Also the expression on the subject who remains in focus also tells this tale. The combination of all these elements effectively portrayed a scene in which a celebration is mixed with misfortune, but goes on happening anyways. From this event I got a better understanding of the expression "to rain on the parade."

The two images of the lake in Retiro Park in Madrid show a different feeling for the lake. The top gives a sense of the entire scene, the impression one might have from the bank of the lake, surveying the scene. The second however gives the viewer a better sense of the experience of the people on the water, and takes away the monument of the fountain. The green lake doesn't seem as picturesque in the second image, but the viewer gets a great sense of the texture of the wooden paddle and of the water.

The last two images portray the inner courtyard of a monastery in two different ways. The first with a single subject taken from far away shows the somberness of the courtyard. The second, because of the way the floor takes up half the frame, makes the space feel much more intimate, as do the addition of a number of people, even if it is just their feet. The difference in showing the entire person vs simply the lower halves of the people also creates a different sense for the place.

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