Behind the Picture: Stranger on the Port Townsend Ferry
Inspired by my colleague Amadou's recent articles on home printing, a few days ago I decided to take a long-overdue look through the pictures stored on my server, with the aim of picking out a few shots that might be worthy of display. Given that my home server holds almost a decades' worth of photographs, that was never going to be a quick or easy task.
As I cursed my younger self for shooting everything - and I mean EVERYTHING - in Raw+JPEG mode (one day Photoshop will finish building the thumbnails... one day...) I steeled myself and decided that I had to start somewhere, and that I may as well start at the beginning of the Alphabet, in the 'A' folder. Alongside an array of sub-folders with such teasingly vague names as 'AA', 'April', and the embarassingly-misnamed 'Art', my eye fell gratefully on one which I knew contained some pictures that were worth working on.
'America 2008' is home to more than 1000 pictures taken during the course of a 2-week vacation in the US which spanned the last presidential election. I spent one week in New York, and another, coincidentally, in and around Seattle.
This photograph was taken during the Seattle leg of my trip, shortly after sunset as I rode the ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville. The sky was that luminous blue which characterises what photographers call the 'magic hour' but which in winter only lasts about 20 minutes or so. This is my favourite time for photography, and as I wondered around the almost-deserted upper deck of the ferry I was struck by the contrast between the warmly lit interior and the cold (both literal and figurative) of the sky.
This photograph was taken looking west, the direction in which the sky was at its brightest, only minutes before the blue faded finally to black. When I saw the single figure sitting in the window, I knew the scene had potential. Racing against nightfall I tried multiple exposures, framing the image vertically and horizontally, and in the process captured several different aspects of the man behind the window.
The version of the image that I ended up liking most is framed vertically. In it, the man stares into space, at something or someone that we cannot see. Behind him, the sky is beginning to fade, as a single red light blinks into the darkness on the distant shore. The sun has gone down, but he is looking east.
One of the magical things about photography, and something which separates it from more traditional artforms is that as a photographer, you don't always have ultimate control over the content of your images. I didn't know the man in this photograph, I didn't know where he was going, or why. I still don't know anything about him beyond the fact that one evening in November 2008 he was travelling alone from Port Townsend to Coupeville. I don't know whether he was happy that evening or sad, and his expression is ambiguous. His presence is purely coincidental, but without him this photograph would have been nothing more than a colour study.
As it is, this image has a lot of significance for me. It reminds me of a brief, historic moment in modern American history, and of a period of significant change in my own life. Some people think it is a study of loneliness, and that's fine, but I've never felt that the man in this image is lonely. He's just on a journey.
Barnaby Britton is Reviews Editor of dpreview.com. You can see a selection of his after-hours work at www.photoinsensitive.com.
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Blue mood by darub|
from Fixed lens shootout.
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.