Posted by: facetothewind | February 19, 2015

Random Shots in a Crowd

And the beauty of a well-cropped image

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So it’s Chinese New Year all around the world and while Chuan is off collecting his red packets of money and eating fishy foods with aunties and uncles, I took the opportunity of a national holiday to do a little walking tour with my camera. I went to Masjid Jamek (“masjid” means mosque) here in Kuala Lumpur. I ran immediately into a fantastic photo shoot: an all male crowd of foreign workers milling about a plaza on their day off. There was not a Chinese or a red envelope among them — mostly Bangladeshi and Pakistani. I deduced this because many of them were holding hands, an acceptable expression of friendship here in Malaysia (but don’t let there be love between the men or it’s a punishable offense). Anyway, they were waiting to send money to their home countries through the money transfer stations…

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There was the odd white tourist passing through nervously. Everyone in the crowd was about 4 inches shorter than me, perfectly well-behaved, and not at all fragrant as some would expect. So I felt perfectly comfortable to just ease through the crowd with my camera snapping away at the thousands of handsome men in their Sunday best (even though it’s Thursday) their black hair all neatly coiffed as if they were going to meet some women (dream on). They weren’t the super-smiley crowd which makes ME smile. I just can’t stand when people do the little peace sign and pose for the camera.

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I never set out with a theme in photography, I just let a theme reveal itself. Sometimes nothing surfaces at all and I go home empty-handed. But today it became clear to me that random black and white shots in the crowd with the expectation of heavy editing back at home would be the theme and so I just went with it. With the unpredictable nature of a dynamic crowd, it’s pointless to wait for the right moment ala Cartier-Bresson, whose philosophies of photography I usually follow. But today, a random shot into the crowd produces this…

Cropping a photo 1

And with post-production, this is what I present to you…

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Random shot…

Cropping a photo 2

Cropped (still don’t like the elbow in the left, but what can I do?)…

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This…

Cropping a photo 3

Becomes this…

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I find that the best random shots are the ones where there’s some direct eye contact with me. And usually because I’m white and wear a fun hat, someone’s got their eyes on me. Without any eye contact with the camera, it can seem a little too disconnected.

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But sometimes the focal point may not be someone looking at me, but rather someone central looking at someone else as in this case…

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And here as well where there is direct eye contact with the camera but also someone looking at someone else. The viewer’s eye naturally will follow their gaze and that gives the photo a sense of drama and a possible story or two…

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Another thing is that if you shoot at a fairly low shutter speed, you’ll get a nice motion blur in the foreground and in this case it worked out because the central figure was standing still and so he’s crisp. What I ended up with was a circular motion around the central figure. You can feel the buzz of the crowd…

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Here I liked seeing the texture of the men’s hair in the sunlight as they watched a woman in a wet t-shirt at a dunking machine…

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And this is just on the way home in front of Masjid Jamek…

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Behind my building a guy contemplates fishing from the filthy river. Don’t do it guy, I saw someone pooping in it.

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Happy new year to all my lovely Chinese friends and extended family. This is the 4th new year in 7 months, so no more new years until this summer.

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Responses

  1. You really should be a photography teacher. Your explanations make the art so much more meaningful.

    Kudos to you for venturing forth into that mob scene. I felt claustrophobic just looking at it! I don’t get why they are all milling about, other than to look at the wet t-shirt girl which I’m surprised is allowed in Malaysia.

    I’ve been busy trying to make dr. appts. in Portland, stymied by problems with computer, internet connection, Skype, and, of course, time difference. I finally got my computer back at a hefty price but it was necessary. Now, will stay up way later than I would like to make a couple of phone calls.

    Larry and I will be in Portland for one day before he leaves on a trip to Japan, so we are working out the details. I have an appointment at H&R Block and will meet him afterwards. My dear sister made the appointment for me, one less that I have to struggle with. Sheila is also buying us tix to a play and maybe a dance performance–she likes to keep busy.

    Pai still packed with tourists and smog. Smoke isn’t always too bad but I’ve been running my air purifier mostly 24-7.

    I miss you, David!

    Love, Dianna

    • Hi love –

      Thanks for the good words about my blog. 🙂

      Why is Pai still so busy? CNY? I guess it¹s just no longer the sleep town it once was, eh? Maybe it¹s on its way to being like Chiang Mai. Ugh!!!

      So you¹re off to the States soon. Are you looking forward to it or anxious? I would imagine both. I feel both things as I leave in a couple weeks, myself. I¹m a bit bored in KL. I just don¹t enjoy going out. Surprise, huh? I don¹t know how I can pull of living here long term. Every time I go out I just come home thinking, ugh, why did I do THAT?

      Great that you¹ll get to see Larry. Say hello. And enjoy the clean air and predictability of the United Police States.

      On 2/19/15, 10:45 PM, “Field notes from a noticer” wrote:

      >


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