I love an assortment of geometric shapes and forms, diagonal and curved lines, color and texture. I’ve shot tens of thousands of “compositions” experimenting with the balancing of those elements, not aware for a long time that I was simply doing exercises, like a painter making preliminary sketches.
And then one day, maybe walking through an old village, you see a pattern, like an old friend, but this time it’s different. Something breaks the pattern.
We knew which table was ours in the large outdoor restaurant space. It was the one with the wine bottle with my name painted on it. We’ve only been in Ljubljana a few hours and they already know us.
We had checked into our hotel that afternoon in the old part of Ljubljana, and asked for a restaurant recommendation. Our hostess said she would make us a reservation, and then directed us to the place, only a couple of blocks away. The personalized “reservation” sign was a nice touch, and the food and service were good.
When Barbara and I started planning our most recent trip we had two things we wanted to do: something physical, outside–that was a bike ride from Passau to Vienna, (“The Bike Path” at https://www.billdurrence.com/index/G0000sHhi4SN4JMw); and to spend a few days traveling like we first did almost 40 years ago, with no reservations or timelines to follow, just see where the road led us.
So after the bike ride we rented a car and drove out of Vienna, telling the GPS to take us across Austria in the direction of Ljubljana, Slovenia, but no highways. Weaving narrow roads in and out, up and down, we just randomly stopped in Gaming. Asked at the Hotel Berghof if a room was available and it was. The next morning, after an included breakfast, with enough food for at least four people, we realized we had not asked, “How much?” at any point. When we did, it was very reasonable, and the hostess had been so nice, but then they did not take plastic, and we did not have enough cash.
Not a problem. “There’s an ATM in the grocery store at the bottom of the hill.” So the nice little old lady held Barbara hostage while I went and easily acquired her ransom. Couldn’t do that 40 years ago.
I was leading a workshop in Mexico several years ago and started the program with some photographs I had made earlier, street scenes of local people framed against the colorful buildings. A day or so later I had a student disappointed because she was not fast enough to catch any street portraits like I had shown. Neither am I most of the time, as I explained to her. Set a trap.
In working on the street, I find a background I like, frame it carefully with lens choice and camera position, shoot a few tests shots to analyze exposure and composition, “pin” the corners of the desired framing for quick checks during shooting, and then wait for a subject to move through my frame, looking for the just right moment, gesture, shape/tone/color juxtaposition, placement against the ground.
Except, not this time. I saw the background and the guy in black moving across all at once. It was an autonomic response, raising the camera, framing, and shooting too fast for conscious thought. Catch your breath, click. I waited around for another 10 minutes or so trying different people walking by, but nothing ever looked as good as the guy in black. I’m pleased to say, also, that this is the exact framing of the quick shot, no cropping or straightening.
Vienna was the end point of our bicycle ride from Passau, and we spent a few days hanging out in the old part of town, inside the Ringstrasse. It is an interesting mix of classical and whimsical. Take a look at my new gallery, Vienna Snapshots, 2023, at https://www.billdurrence.com/index/G0000DNj64yyYoFg