J. Lanning Smith  

Risky Behavior by J. Lanning Smith

August 2019 - Risky Behavior

About the Image(s)

I have titled this photograph "Risky Behavior" because believe it or not, the subject of the photograph has tossed his very expensive Nikon camera up in the air to then catch just for the sake of my getting this shot. I did not return the gesture. I have my boundaries. LOL! At any rate, I liked the way there was this square of light on the street with the dark brick background and staircase leading up to the street above us. It was just begging for putting something into the frame to shoot, and this is what we did.

I think if fine art is intended to make a statement then the statement made here would be how we often take unnecessary risks that are outsized compared to the benefits of doing so. Here the benefits were simply to get a photograph, and getting a good photograph took more than one toss of the camera. The more tosses made, the riskier it became.

I took this photograph with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV at f11 and a focal length of 105 mm. The camera was set in Manual mode for this shot and the exposure time was 1/200th of a second.

14 comments posted

Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
The starkness of your image lends a certain edge to it, which is quite effective in its impact. The story this tells is also dramatic, in my opinion. It's good to see an image with a good story!

To me, there is too much visual weight given to the black chest on the right side. There is also a slit there, at the top, which is a bit distracting to me. You might consider cropping some of the right side, and placing a small white edge/stroke around the image, so it will stand out against a black background.

The idea of throwing the camera up in the air is scary to me! However, since it is part of the story of the image, you might want to consider making it stand out more, as in my eyes, it is difficult to tell that it is a camera.

I took the liberty of playing with your dramatic image, just to illustrate my comments. In the crop, I moved the man closer to the left third part of the image also, as to me, the third points enhance the impact of an image. I couldn't get it all the way there. Ideally, when taking the image, it might have worked even better to have positioned the person and the photographer more to the left. In addition to the crop and the stroke, I added a Brightness/Contrast Adjustment layer and a Black/White Adjustment layer in PS CC.   Posted: 08/01/2019 11:39:58
Comment Image

Connie Reinhart   Connie Reinhart
This image reminds me of Henri Cartier-Bresson, decisive moment. We started in black and white, and it is still my favorite. You have a good rich black, a pure white, and most of the greys in between. I like the long shadows, the natural highlight area and the side light on the subject. This makes me want to know the rest of the story; does he catch the camera? Does he miss? What reparations will he face? I do like the adjustments Georgianne made; they bring out the fire escape.   Posted: 08/01/2019 12:36:13

Witta Priester   Witta Priester
This is a striking image with really strong light. Well done! I especially like that there is detail in the bright textured floor and in the dark brick background. I would like to see more detail and less contrast (more shades of grey) on the subject's face and hands. As for the flying camera, it's hard to tell what it is; it looks like a bird, which would be cool. At any rate, this point of interest could do with some additional light. Usually when I have so much black at the edge of a photo, I add a thin grey stroke to make the photo edges clear.   Posted: 08/01/2019 16:48:18

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
I like very much the lighting here, especially the deep shadows--I am fond of using total black in my images.
Some word play here: you shot the Nikon with the Canon (three meanings).
About the title, I suggest "Unusual Use of the Camera." My personal reason for that is that a few years ago, I wrote a list of suggested monthly shooting themes for my local club, and one of them was "Unusual Uses of the Camera." You shot is a perfect illustration of that theme. Thanks.   Posted: 08/03/2019 19:51:37
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Stephen, I love the fact that you noticed the ambiguity in the title! Few people recognize ambiguity, but it is responsible for so much misunderstanding in the world. Years ago, I got a degree in Linguistics, and my eyes opened to recognize ambiguity more. Since I was also a Computer Scientist, who did business analysis and tried to translate what people said they did into computer software, it was incredibly tricky. Human language thrives on ambiguity, yet our old architecture of computers (still used today), does not tolerate ambiguity. All possibilities need to be accounted for. Perhaps that is why social capital is so important. By conversing with one another, if we really try to understand and don't get bent out of shape by what we believe another said, we can find a mutually understood meaning in something.   Posted: 08/03/2019 20:52:16
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
See my comment below to Stephen, Georgianne. I'm not understanding why you refer to my title of "Risky Behavior" as ambiguous. To me, tossing an expensive camera into the air like that over a cobblestone street is a risky thing to do. I don't see any other meaning in that, but I would like to know if there is another way it can be read.   Posted: 08/03/2019 22:34:29
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
J. Lanning, I must apologize and ask you to forgive me. I was responding to Stephen's posting, without remembering or investigating the very appropriate title of your image. I chalk it up to late night cloudiness, after a busy day. I'll be more careful in the future. As to ambiguity (not in your discussion), I stand by my comments on ambiguity in general. It is something I always try to be aware of, though it is a hard habit to break!   Posted: 08/04/2019 07:28:08
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Thank you Georianne. No problem.   Posted: 08/04/2019 10:01:15
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
I'm a little lost here. I don't see anything wrong or ambiguous with the current title, which is "Risky Behavior." I think anybody looking at a photograph of somebody tossing a very expensive camera into the air would recognize that as being risky behavior. And I see no other meaning in that title, so I'm not sure why Georgianne has called it ambiguous.

I also don't understand, Stephen, what the word play is about. I never wrote those words. You make the point that there are three different meanings in those words, but since those words were created by you and not me, I'm not sure why that's relevant.

Anyway, I like my title better because I don't really think this is a good use for a camera, either usual or unusual. So, I don't think my title should suggest that it is a use for a camera. But I do think it's a risky thing to do. Plus I like two word titles over five word titles. So, while I appreciate the suggestion, I'm going to stick with the title I have given it unless you or Georgianne can explain to me why it is ambiguous. I'm not seeing it.   Posted: 08/03/2019 22:30:48
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
Stephen, I just read your bio. We have a number of similar interests. I'm more and more interested in street photography these days myself. In fact, the other group that I'm in is a street photography group. And I've started getting away from my two big cameras, the Canon EOS 5D and the 70D, and giving more favor to my small Canon pocket camera that I bought originally for travel. The only difficulty I have with doing that is all the money I spent on the two big cameras and the various lenses I bought. I always have this nagging feeling that I should be using those because I spent so much money on them. But that little pocket camera does a fantastic job, and it makes going out on the street so much easier. So, we're thinking alike there. One other similarity, we're both in our seventies. I'm 72 right now.   Posted: 08/03/2019 22:48:40

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
All these discussions are great fun; glad to participate in interesting digressions. As to my word play--shot the Nikon with the Canon:
1. Literal: the photo of a Nikon camera was taken with a Canon camera.
2. Weaponry: "Shooting" is done with a huge "cannon" in warfare.
3. Camera rating: a Canon camera outperforms a Nikon camera (also ironic because of Nikon's long history of superiority).
I could not resist. I promise not to do it again, until next time. A triple-meaning word play is a rare opportunity.   Posted: 08/03/2019 23:23:29
J. Lanning Smith   J. Lanning Smith
I understood the three meanings of your word play, Stephen. But because it was part of a critique of my work, and it wasn't something I said, I'm not understanding its relevance.   Posted: 08/04/2019 10:06:03
Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
J. Lanning,
I get off on digressions very easily. I apologize for not sticking to photo criticism.
--Steve   Posted: 08/04/2019 18:05:33

Mary Hinsen   Mary Hinsen
Love it! And I love the debate your image and title sparked - art is very personal.

You had me looking closer to see what was being thrown in the air. I had to zoom in very close to see that it was a camera. This could be a good thing - you had my attention. However, I would like to see the camera a little more enhanced. It would add to the drama you have already created. I really do like this image.

Thank you to Georgianne for your edit suggestions. Looking at what you have suggested for this image has led me to make improvements to some of my own images.

  Posted: 08/06/2019 16:42:02


Please log in to post a comment