>>> Street Photography eXchange #84 <<<

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
xtoph
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Re: Mississippi River, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: by Robert Frank
In reply to jeff hladun, 8 months ago

jeff hladun wrote:

Or, another issue may be the way in which the use of the tilt corrects the weakness of the quarter to rear-plane shot, the weakness being the lines of perspective converging to the vanishing point. By rotating the upper frameline away from the point of disappearance, the weakness vanishes thru illusion as demonstrated in the Frank image above.

In a way, it is covering up one mistake by making another. It is relevant to the street photographer who is either too shy to take the head-on picture, or who for whatever reason must act quicker than normal and doesn't have enough time to re-position. It's a way to take an image where the viewer thinks the photographer has taken a stake in the moment, even though the photographer hasn't. Robert Frank preferred the head-on and side-on shot, and in the few images of his in The Americans where he shot from the quarter angle, the tilt was used most of the time.

To accept the use of the tilt as a solution to the particular issue of the quarter-shot weakness, it's assumed the quarter-shot is a weak shot. That's not always the case of course, but I carry it as a generalized rule, broken only when rare circumstances prove me wrong.

i've followed your comments on taking a stake in photos, how square-on shots can convey that, how 'quarter shots' as you say sometimes do not, and how tilting such a weak-vantage shot may improve it, with some interest.

i don't know that i agree with all of the points along the way (even with the framing of 'what is at stake'), but i do see the argument you're trying to make, and i agree that using tilt is often a way to make it seem like the photographer is engaged in a more direct relation to a subject. i also agree that it's not always the case that a quarter-shot is necessarily weak.

while i don't think it's a problem for a photographer to employ a gimmick such as this for good reasons, it seems a bit odd, if one accepts the premisses that taking a stake is good; and frontal/square framing is conducive to that while peripheral, glancing shots aren't; then to employ a gimmick for the purpose of 'faking' taking a stake seems … odd. but sometimes we have to take what we can get, in photography.

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