In my hometown it is illegal to smoke in public places: indoors, outdoors and anywhere near a sports field or playground.
Smoking on an outdoor patio is not possible.
This picture is not possible.
Paris, France. 2018
About this post:
If you’re a photographer, you’ll understand my obsession with smoke.
Like sunbeams and shadows, tendrils of smoke, rising but not obscuring a face, add character to a picture. But chasing smoke is like chasing sunbeams. It’s elusive and transient. In urban street photography, particularly in Canada and US, it is increasingly rare.
My Health Conscious Self says “That’s a good thing.”
My Photographer Self says “There’s always Paris …”
The banks of the river Seine are lined with fold-up vendors (les bouquinistes) selling classic prints and old postcards. Thousands of people jostle by on their way to Notre Dame. Along with all the other tourists, I took the requisite (but boring) photos of the cathedral. I also took shots of these iconic stalls.
Later that day I processed the photos and found a gem of a montage. Mixed in with the prints of Chat Noir and Moulin Rouge were photos of two saucy ladies from the 1920’s.
The Mona Lisa is placed right beside them. If you look closely, you can see her rolling her eyes.
Lately I’ve been spending too much time huddled over my phone, checking status, entering challenges, voting and topping up my exposures. I’ve been playing Gurushots, a real-time online photo competition system.
It works by entering challenges and accumulating votes to achieve levels. The levels tip to points and the points tip to ranks. The more you vote, the more exposure your photo entries get for voting. There is no limit to the number of challenges you can enter. And that’s a problem.
At one point I had ten challenges going. I was constantly checking on my exposure meter and submitting votes to bump it up. Problem is that voting involves paging through hundreds of photos, some good, some not so good and some downright puzzling. It all depends on the wording of the challenge. Sometimes, the guidance is too vague.
Take for instance the “Starts with a K” challenge. The description was too vague. It should have qualified the language. I paged through hundreds thousands of Kittens, Keys and Kiwis. (Question: How many interesting angles are there to a Kiwi? Answer: None. I’ve seen them all.) But then I started seeing Cakes, Coffee and Corn. Someone couldn’t spell. Wait … maybe they could spell but it was in German. Kuchen, Kaffee and Korn.
Another fun challenge was “Face in the Crowd”. There were lots of pictures of crowds but no distinctive single face. Other pictures were classic single person portraits; you had to imagine the crowd. One remarkable shot was taken on stage, of the back of a band performing to a crowd. No faces seen but they were facing the crowd. Ha ha! That one got my vote.
Anyways here are a few of my photos in recent Gurushot challenges.