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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Random Excellence

Bill Sullivan, More Turns

This is just the coolest. What a great idea, and very nicely done. Bill Sullivan. Never heard of him before. Well, have now.

To really see it, you'll have to go to the website, where you can magnify each row and scroll down it.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON, with thanks to Eolake


Blogger dasmb said...

Very cool. I've been thinking about spending a day at a Subway stop, just taking pictures of people of all classes engaged together in their daily rush-and-wait. This is a slice of life you just don't get in smaller, car-based cities.

10:21 AM  
Blogger ctyankee said...

The ultrafast 50's are overrated as low light lenses IMO. I shoot Minolta & the 50/1.4 is terribly soft wide open (like everyone elses), with DOF too shallow to make me want to use it. When I had the 50/1.4, as light levels dropped, I would typically open up to f/2, increase ISO to 1600, then if that wasn't enough, pack it up for the day. IS is helpful to the extent you don't have motion problems. The best solution, to me, is clean high ISO, image stabilization, *and* an f/2 lens. BRING BACK THE F/2 LENSES ! I scrounged around and found myself a used Minolta 28/2 that I now find myself using even more often than my trusty 28-75/2.8 for low light people photography. (I also tried out a 35/2 but like the 28 better on APS-C). If I were picking digital gear from scratch, I'd want a Pentax/Minolta/Sony body with in-body stabilization, a Tamron 28-75/2.8 and a 28/2 or 35/2 for all my handheld shooting, then I'd feel free to pick from all brands for other types of shooting (macro, scenics, etc).

10:44 AM  
Blogger Olaf Ulrich said...

What a (seemingly) boring, endless repetition of basically always the same image ... and what a fascinating world of its own once you really take a closer look! Great idea indeed!

But Mike, one question please: Why do you call this series "random"? Maybe as a non-native English speaker I am missing something, but to me this series' title seems to mean, "excellent only by chance". Maybe a few works presented here are excellent by pure luck but I guess most are not.

-- Olaf

11:03 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"But Mike, one question please: Why do you call this series 'random'?"

Only in the sense that they are things I encounter randomly. It would be nice if I had the time to really scour the web for work I thought was excellent, but that's not reallly in the cards (nor is it the nature of the web). Anyway, Eolake sent me this one, so it is the result of a "tip"--I didn't find it at all.

Maybe I should come up with a better title for these, though. I'll give it some thought.


11:20 AM  
Blogger Jon Leighton said...

Cool! Have you seen Exactitudes?

1:25 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

I like the term "Random Excellence," because the subject matters certainly is random, as are the aspects that make these photos excellent.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

The shots grow on you, don't they? People don't seem to smile much on their way to work. I guess I am just assuming that's where they're headed.

I listened to a CBC radio interview a couple of weeks ago with a lady who does research into festivals. She has found that the concept of a large festival is not as prevalent as it used to be. One of her beliefs is that a couple of hundred years ago, people worked like hell at seeding and harvesting but had spare time to plan parties the rest of the year. Since the industrial revolution, the powers that be decided that we needed to work every single day and only recently has that decreased to only 5 days per week.

Maybe that's why we don't smile much. Maybe we weren't meant to live the way we do. Maybe we're supposed to party and smile more.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

So, refresh my memory... why doesn't this guy need model releases?

8:46 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

"why doesn't this guy need model releases?"

What are they modeling?


10:04 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

It looks to me like these people where all really pissed he was taking there picture. They were probably not in the best of moods anyway. Judging from the expressions I'm surprised the photographer and his gear are still in one piece.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

They may look serious, but one guy is plainly mulling over a photographic project concerning dogs. There's a woman who looks to be polishing a series of jokes. One nattily dressed guy is savouring that first burst of caffeine. And I'm sure there are two wrestling with koans, one of which involves the Buddha's nose.

And as for what we are meant to be doing: you have to go back past agricultural life to hunter-gatherers to get a real sense of inbuilt fun. But even then people probably looked pretty serious when composing that next song.

5:34 AM  
Blogger Olaf Ulrich said...

> > Why doesn't this guy
> > need model releases?
> What are they modeling?


No really---did he ask for permissions to publish the images? If not then let's hope no-one of the persons finds out their image is on the 'net ... or Bill Sullivan might get into trouble.

And while I'm thinking of it ... did he ask for permission to use his camera inside the station in the first place? Usually, shooting in railway/subway stations is forbidden, except when explicitly permitted. If Joe Average simply puts up his tripod and starts shooting passer-bys, he'd get tossed out the station by security personnel very quickly.

So I'm wondering---how did Bill do it?

-- Olaf

6:24 AM  
Blogger dasmb said...

As I understand the law, you don't need model releases in New York unless you intend to use the shots for advertising purposes -- that you can make "street shots" like these for artistic purposes and even sell them without violating the law.

I think this also applies to magazine covers, but maybe not newspapers? All I know is my wife's been on the cover of our local paper a half dozen times and never signed a release.

Of course, they also usually attribute quotes to her that she not only never said, but that were untrue, misleading and insulting to her industry. So much for journalistic integrity!

10:02 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

On the model releases, amusing comebacks aside, the same concerns came up in David Pouges NYT technology blog when he mentioned the series. The blog comments include some grouchier observations....

On Bill Sullivans technique, I quote directly from his website:

"At the moment that the subjects passed through the turnstile, unknown to them, I took their picture stationed at a distance of eleven feet. I stood there turning pages of a magazine observing subjects out of the corner of my eye, waiting for only the moment when they pushed the turnstile bar to release the shutter"

See the "writings" link for more.

I guess on Mr. Sullivans "fine art" project, he's daring people to stop him. I would be interested to know whether "advertising purposes" is indeed the dividing line. As for the impending class action lawsuit, I guess thats why god gave us Photo District News.... to keep up with those things..

7:44 PM  
Blogger JC said...

Great! I love it...

2:53 AM  

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