Sunday, June 04, 2006

A slightly surreal moment

click photo to enlarge
Regular viewers of this blog will know that I'm not a photographer of people. My subjects are varied, and sometimes include people, but rarely are they the point of the image. It's not that I've got anything against people; in fact some of my best friends are people! But, when they do creep into my photographs they are usually incidental, for scale, for compositional balance, or for additional visual interest. Where they form the focal point of an image it's usually because a focal point is needed and people are useful in that way! And so it is with this photograph.

It shows a shimmering blue paddling pool on a bright June day on the promenade at Llandudno in Wales. As I walked with my wife past this empty pool I was struck by the almost surreal quality it presented next to the darker sea of the bay, the distant buildings, and the limestone headland of the Great Orme. It was like a piece of the Mediterranean had been plonked down next to the Irish Sea! I knew I wanted to capture this oddness, but I also knew that my composition needed a person in the foreground. There were few about. Then a small boy ran down the far side of the pool and threw his ball into the water. As the wind blew it across the pool, and he ran round to meet it at my side, I felt a shot would be possible. To increase the surreal effect that I was looking for I decided to try and put him at the edge of the frame. I expected him to jump in the water and retrieve the ball, but instead he carefully put one foot in and reached for it, lifting his other leg off the ground as he did so. At that slightly surreal moment I pressed the shutter.

I've considered the things I could do with this image. Conversion to black and white works quite well, and different coloured software filters accentuate different parts of the shot. But it also makes the physically distant background less compositionally distant. Various crops produce shots with different qualities. However, I present the photograph in colour, in its entirety, with no post processing, looking slightly surreal, because that's how I originally conceived it. It may just be the way I do things, but I often find that if I take five shots of a scene, I usually end up preferring the first one!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen