* Wed C&C "No Theme" Thread #690 on 2021 07 14 *

Started 6 months ago | Discussions thread
OP RoelHendrickx Forum Pro • Posts: 27,797
Re: Exploring a Matador

Mike Fewster wrote:

RoelHendrickx wrote:

February 2020 marked the last time that we really traveled abroad (except for the odd little trips just across the French and Dutch borders, to visit an exhibition or go for a walk - nd except for that short window in the summer of 2020 when travel was briefly allowed and we spent two weeks in the German countryside, driving our car and riding our bikes).

That last trip by plane took us to Madrid for an extended weekend citytrip.

One of the landmarks we visited on that trip, was the Plaza de Toros.

On the square surrounding this impressive bullring are several statues, and the one shown in three of these images, is the most dynamic of those.

I am showing four images here, taken on various moments before and after our visit, to illustrate the way I am seldom satisfied with the first image I make of any object or location.

It can happen that the very first image is immediately the best, but more often, there is a benefit in exploring angles and perspectives and focal lengths. You be the judge.

One of my standard approaches :photographing someone photographing the object

From one of the balconies of the bullring : a telephoto image showing how the statue "levitates". Waiting for a background with zero cars proved impossible. The selfie-takers were an opportunity I could not let pass, and fortunately, the cars in the background are nothing else than two Madrilene taxis in Spanish colours. Imagine this with a blue garbage truck. Not the same.

Back on the square, and looking at another statue, the idea germinated to photograph the statue in relation to the actual bull ring.

... which led to this final composition. I shot from nearby with wide angle and avoided the pavement in order to eliminate all hints of contemporary aspects (pedestrians, etc) and give the image a certain abstraction and timelessness.

It is always rewarding when the photographer shares their thoughts on the journey they make to decide on a composition.

That is why the Magnum book "Contact Sheets" is one of my favourite photography publications.  It allows you to see for yourself how some great photographers made some of their iconic images.  Some of them filled a roll of film with a myriad of different subjects (many equally brilliant - think Koudelka in Prague in 1968).  Other contacts sheets show how the photographer explores options and perspectives, with the "best" image not often the first, but also not often the last.

The bullfighter/toro statue with the suspended figure would worry me if I was a matador arriving for an appointment inside. He looks as though he is being tossed in the air by the bull. Guess you win some and lose some.

Number two has a nice comparison between the traditional figures in the statue and the selfie snappers. It brought to mind a favourite book "Or I'll Dress You in Mourning" with its theme of a desperately poor young man whose one chance to escape grinding rural poverty for himself and his family is to be a successful matador. The story of El Cordobes.

I remember clearly you making that recommendation to me at the time I was mentioning that I would be traveling to Madrid.  I got the book on my Kindle and read it with a fast-beating heart.  It is a great work of documentary literature, mixing the story of El Cordobes with that of Spain.

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images: http://www.roelh.zenfolio.com

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