Exercise 5.3

The following comments are in response to Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare by Henri Cartier-Bresson (link).

What attract me the most in this picture at first glance is the reflection on the pool of water. It is created by the man jumping, captured at the right time, but it could have equally been created by a static object, for what matters to me is the clean shape of the man’s reflection against the still water of the pool, almost mirror like. The photograph is unbalanced, with the action happening very close to the right hand side of the frame. The middle portion is quite cluttered and undefined, only saved by the figure of another person and his (less clear) reflection,  while the top  contains some nice recession of tones, but not much else. After surveying all that, my eyes keep returning to the dark silhouette in the front and his reflection. This for me represents the defining part of the image, and what is quite remarkable is that there is almost no information in that part of the image: it is just black or grey, with slightly blurred edges, but the visual contrast dominates the rest of the image and as an element remains imprinted in my mind, like the piece to be inserted in another puzzle. Looking through my old pictures, I managed to find many with reflections, but one of them resonated the most with this feeling:

5-3

1/50s at f5.6. ISO 64. 35mm full frame

Sometimes the dominating part of a picture is the one that contains less information, but also serves an ulterior purpose. As in the case of Sugimoto’s Theatres series (link), which are dominated by a large white space with no purpose other than to shed light on the beautiful interiors, to which my eyes are constantly moving, the black silhouette in HCB’s picture primarily serves the purpose of creating the perfect reflection, to which my eyes keep going back.

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