Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Junkyard hero, take two ... and the Queensland floods

First, thanks to all the people who have expressed their concern for the Queensland flood crisis -- and to those who asked if this group is in any danger. To set your minds at rest, we're in South Australia, in and around the fair city of Adelaide, and we're a couple of thousand miles away from the seventy-foot-deep water. Yep, there's a submerged areas five times the size of the entire British Isles, or like Texas, New Mexico and Arizona all added together, or like all but a fraction of Alaska. Three quarters of Queensland has gone under, and all by itself, Queensland would be the 25th largest country in the world, so that tells you the extent of the disaster. But this group (self, Dave, Doctor Mike, Mel Keegan, Aricia Gavriel, and several of the DreamCraft regular contributors) are far away from the floods, and are just watching it on TV, aghast as the rest of you.

The one good thing I can say about this: the emergency services in this country (including the armed forces) acted like greased lightning, and the federal government is picking up the tab in real time ... it's not a replay of Hurricane Katrine, nor even of Cyclone Tracey. But the worst thing is that Queensland had some of the most delicately-poised environment in the world, and some of the rarest wildlife. The devastation goes way beyond brand-new homes and heritage-listed buildings that are now standing in twenty-meter-deep muddy water. Bull sharks, which are estuarine and don't mind fresh water, are swimming in city streets. The silt is hitting the reef. Has anybody but me wondered where the koalas and wallabies went to?

I can't think of another disaster to rival this one, unless you cite the 1982 and 1983 fires, when we were burning across the entire corner of the continent, and from space it all looked like it had to be special effects ... and I think, in the long run, these floods will turn out to have had more impact. *sigh*

Art-wise today, just the answer to a question.

A few days ago I was trying to explain to someone the concept of cropping a picture for effect, to cut the "best" picture out of the overall image. Not sure I made my point well enough, so -- here's an example. Returning to yesterday's Junkyard Hero, let's go around to the front of the building and shoot a few more pictures.

Compare the top one in this post with this one...

... and the difference is, one is a picture of a yard with a guy and a car in it, while the other is a picture of a guy and a car in a yard. Similarly, compare this one, below, with the second-top image in this post:
Here, you have a picture of a yard with a hunk standing in it, whereas the top one is a picture of a hunk standing in a yard. Make sense?

Which are the "best" pictures? Well, it depends which you wanted or needed. If you were showcasing the yard, perhaps to sell the property or point out the value of pre-WWI architecture, you'd go with the long shots. If you were aiming for male glamor shots, you'd emphasize the hunk, not the yard. Both have their uses, and if you were a photographer on assignment, you'd have a clear idea before you started of what was needed.

But, yes, you can start with a whole image that might even be a big blah and crop some radical stuff out of it. This picture is about the car, not the hunk:

In this one, Horace J. Knight is having a serious mano-a-auto soul-to-soul with his best friend, the talking car, who goes by the name of Kitty. The camera closes on the car as she says, "Really, Horace, have you lost your shirt again? Good thing I keep a dozen spares on board."

And he says, "Good girl, Kitty. Just let me pop your trunk."

And she says, "Get fresh with me, Muscles, and I'll run over your foot."

And the director shouts, "Cut! Print! Kitty, that was was brilliant, you'll get a Golden Globe for this. Oh, Horace, did you want some aloe on that sunburn?"

Jade, 13 January
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