Scotty Doesn't Know and Other Images

Stephen Avenue Mall is about the closest thing Calgary has to a public square where life is lived as it happens. Running east-west through downtown it is where the ordinary people, the people outside of the office towers come to gather to visit, squabble, laugh, cry and sit in isolation. Only interrupted by the occasional business type that has, perhaps accidentally, ventured outside of the safe cocoon of  the Plus 15 they carry on ignoring the interloper. At noon on a sunny day the suits roil out of the buildings enroute to some bar that has a patio to indulge in the usual posturing of low and midlevel business types as they jockey for position on the corporate ladder.

The other day I was out and about on the mall after having coffee with an old mate from the dot-com days. The light was flat and dull and I was fighting a bad case of lurgi. The light was deceptive; looking outside you'd swear that the temperature would be around 12C, but in fact it was a warm and humid day.

Not a lot was happening on the mall. I was shooting in a rather desultory fashion and then this one popped and opened the dam

Scotty Doesn't Know
For some reason the couple reminded me of Donny and Fiona from Eurotrip. I like the shared laughter and also the people on the sandwich board peering over their shoulder at whatever (a love letter from Scotty?) they are enjoying.

After I shot this I started running into groupings of people visiting or sharing of themselves:


Looking at this one, I'm reminded of  Winogrand's "Worlds Fair, New York, 1964" I don't profess to be of Winogrand's caliber but like his photo there are several conversations happening and other people looking somewhere else at something that is much more interesting than the person next to them and behind them all, completely ignored is a homeless person and a piano player.

I guess as I moved down the mall, I came across more and more isolation. Donny and Fiona so into each other, the group of people together yet apart and finally this photo. I've seen this guy around the downtown core and there is something haunting about him. I struggled long and hard about whether or not I should publish this photo on the web. I ended up deciding that I should. My reasons are manifold but primarily I feel as I've treated the subject compassionately and sympathetically and I have to admit I'm on Short Term Disability because of PTSD and early on in my therapy I felt much like how he looks (if that makes sense) so for me there's some resonance and emotional relationship.

So Alone
All of these were shot with my Olympus E-P2 and the ZD 45/1.8 lens. I like this combination as the 35mm equivalent would be 90mm, a focal length I love dearly. It's hard shooting street with a portrait lens but you can get some really nice results. I cropped the images in LR and after RAW development I converted them to B&W using SilverFX.


Photowalk With My Nephew

Couple of weeks ago I invited my nephew to come over and spend a couple of days street shooting with me.

He's a neat kid and expressed an interest in photography over Christmas when I found him sitting at the kitchen table poring over the B&H Catalog. We got to talking about cameras and on Boxing Day he took his Christmas, birthday and newspaper money and went to Best Buy and bought an Olympus Ultra-Zoom, much to his parents surprise.

I think we both got a lot out of the two days shooting. I found that I had to articulate (and defend) ideas and concepts that I knew at a gut level but until then I had never really given voice to. If you're ever in a rut photographically, take a young person out who has shown an interest in the craft and share your knowledge. I found myself revitalized.

Anyway, this kid has the gift, IMO. At the age of 14 he's making images like this:

(c) 2013 Devon Wieliczko

And like this:

(c) 2013 Devon Wieliczko

The above images came about after we talked about trying to capture what makes an old truck and old truck, or as I explained to him, "the essence of Truckness". I think he nailed it. 

I struggled a bit for most of the two days, but I did find my groove a couple of times and I came up with these:

ADM Flour Mill and Trailers

Loungers: Bow River Viewpoint

Waiting at the Analog Cafe
Take the time some day to do this. You'll find that you'll learn more about photographs than you'll learn in any online forum. You'll also learn about yourself and the young person you are with. It's an insightful exercise.