Archive for December 2011

Europe – Oslo Norway   Leave a comment

Oslo Panorama

I took this photo in August of 2009 of a city street in Oslo, Norway. Regrettably, I travel very little to Europe, so when I do, I am sure to take a few personal days off work to photograph the rich history, architecture and people. I am so impressed with street photographers who have the courage to take photographs of complete strangers. I need to become more confident when it comes to asking to take photographs of strangers. You can imagine how much more difficult that is in a foreign language. Street photography is a contact sport and you have to get up close and personal. A zoom lens simply doesn’t cut it. I think the physical distance is reflected in the feel of the image. Great street photographers are like Jedi’s. “I will take your picture and you will love it”. There is a special connection these photographers make and it is reflected in the quality of their work.

This image is a combination of a handheld panorama and an artistic water-colour effect that adds to the romanticism of the scene. The curve in the street is a consequence of the panorama. Walking the streets of Oslo, I realize how young our country is. A city like Oslo drips with history and I keep thinking what stories these streets and buildings could tell.  I spent a full day in the city and then had to head off to a small town in Sweden to work (see earlier post). I can’t wait to return.

Posted December 31, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Street Photography, Travel

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The County Fair   Leave a comment

Waiting For The Ferris Wheel

One warm summer evening last year, I drove down the road to the parking lot of the Wal-Mart where the traveling county fair had set up the day before. I love vibrant colors and knew I would have to stop by to take a few pictures. It is impossible to be inconspicuous with a tripod and camera in hand, so I didn’t try to be. I figured if someone didn’t want me there or was not interested in being in a picture they would tell me. In this case, having a tripod actually helped and people tend to take you more seriously as a photographer.

One of the county fair ride attendants, came over to chat as I was snapping away. Toothless, unkept and smoking, I immediately sized him up and figured he was going to give me a hard time. Boy was I wrong. I should know better than to judge a book by its cover. He was genuinely interested in my reasons for being there, was kind, chatty and even shared some pictures of himself on the set of a television program that is filmed in the Atlanta area.

When they return this summer I’ll be sure to stop by again to take more pictures.

Ferris Wheel at Night

Round and Round we go

Posted December 29, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Abstract Color, Street Photography

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A True Character   Leave a comment

Clarence Dean

This is my uncle Clarence, one of 13 siblings of my mother, Emily. In 1998, while living in Halifax, I ventured out to the “country”, to the community of Beaverbank, NS to visit my uncle. Clarence has since passed, but I have the fondest of memories of him. This portrait was taken the last time I saw him; I remember him as an eccentric man, who tended his small garden with the greatest of care and pride, who smoked like a chimney and enjoyed the occasional drink or two. There is so much about him I don’t know.  I didn’t live near enough to my numerous first cousins, aunts, and uncles and therefore their lives are a mystery to me.

On the day I visited Clarence, he invited my father and me into his small one room house to share stories, smoke one or two, sip on a libation and engage us in a way very few people do. Real, honest and without judgement. As was always the case, Clarence had us laughing the instant he spoke. I could listen to him all day long.

This picture tells it’s own story. A life lived hard, his eyes reflecting what I cannot see, a moment of serious contemplation and a thoughtfulness filled in all that he was to me. I haven’t photographed a lot of people, but this one I am particularly proud of. It is the moment I hope to be able to repeat with others that is also original, honest, and without judgement.

Posted December 27, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Portrait

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The Study   Leave a comment

Metropolitan Museum of Art

It occurred to me, long after looking through my viewfinder, that this moment represented an artistic trifecta of time and medium. Sculpture translated into painting, painting translated into photography, photography translated into what you see on your screen and what exists in the world wide cyber gallery.  The sculptor may have contemplated the possibility of the study of his work. The painter likely the same in some physical form as she sketched her final composition. I could conceive that my image would have a life in some physical form as well.  The internet changes the distribution rules of art and how we receive it. Who could have predicted that? What will become of this image once it is placed in internet space? Only time will tell.

Outside my curiosity of what photography and art is and how the internet impacts them, I am drawn (pardon the pun) into this image. The painter leans ever so slightly to inspect the sculpture to ensure she captures what she feels on paper. Her knees bend in a mimic of the model who sat years earlier, as the sculptor leaned ever so slightly to ensure he also captured what he felt. Being surrounded by great art is inspiring.

Posted December 25, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Travel

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Tis the Season   1 comment

Each year as Christmas approaches, I like many others, find the true spirit of Christmas missing in western culture. It is true,  our Saviour’s birth is often overshadowed by commercialism, but it occurs to me this Christmas Eve, during tough economic times and global uncertainty, that there is another very real cultural blind spot.

When visiting Charleston, SC for the first time this year, venturing off into a historic cemetery, I literally stumbled upon the gentleman you see in this picture. My immediate reaction was one of fear and yet I stood there, frozen, transfixed on his posture and his hands: a working man’s hands. I stood there long enough to take a few pictures and left him undisturbed, but I was not. There is a fine line in images of the poor and destitute that can cross into exploitation. That is not my intent here. Rather, as I reflect on the gifts I have in my life and the significance of the birth of Christ, I see this as a reminder of those blessings and how we are called to share them.

This time of year the phone rings for requests for charity, many which are left unanswered and ignored. I am as guilty as the next person in getting grumpy about how rude it is to be disturbed as I joyfully digest what is on my full plate.

This Christmas, there are plenty of reasons to complain, to get grumpy and to blame others for our ills. I’ll try to remember this man in Charleston when I complain. I hope that the inspiration of his presence in my life, albeit for one fleeting moment, reminds me not only to be thankful for my many blessings, but also to share them. If you are so inspired, I encourage you to give to your local food bank. There are many in our very own communities who are in need.

Merry Christmas to all of you, a safe and happy New Year and may the spirit of giving and thanks fill your hearts as we celebrate His birth.

Posted December 24, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Street Photography

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New York City   Leave a comment

Liberty

New York is the most vibrant, exciting city I have ever visited. It is, surprisingly, a walking city, though you would be hard pressed to see even the smallest of it on foot. Ironically, as many native New Yorker’s often do, as I did when I lived in Toronto, one takes the subway from place to place. Maybe it’s just the tourists like me that walk so much. In any case, while the subterranean environment of NY has its own character, I prefer the long walks and many sights the city has to offer on the streets and parks and buildings and nearby seaside.

The city is filled with activity day and night and there is an endless supply of opportunities to capture moments of both beauty and filth, sadness and joy, and every imaginable human condition. I never thought I would be attracted to NY as I am.  It is like the ocean if you live by the sea, or the mountains if you live near the Rockies. There is something that draws you in and calls you back. The unexpected surprise for me, was that that draw is not a commercial one. I am not a big shopper, in fact I often say, “I am not a shopper, I am a buyer”. The thought of shopping makes me anxious. The thought of being surrounded by tens of thousands of New Yorker’s and tourists from around the world on the other hand, is a different story altogether.

With camera in hand and family in tow, acting like the tourists that we were, I would make my customary stops to take in and photograph the world around me. I love landscape photography, it is my wheel house; yet a cityscape like NY is like no other.

The picture above was taken on a tour boat of NY harbour. Harbour spelled with a “U”, because of course that’s how we Canadians spell it. As an immigrant of sorts, albeit not a very foreign one, I felt an incredible sense of history and pride as we sailed past Lady Liberty. This truly is an amazing city,  an amazing country, and I am proud to call America home.

Posted December 23, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Travel

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Had to get this out of my system.   2 comments

Dry Falls, NC

I think every photographer has to take a picture of flowing water falling gently over a waterfall with a slow shutter speed. There is something surreal about the experience of a waterfall. The sounds, the smell of moisture in the air and a light sprinkling of mist coating your glasses. I’m not sure how to bring original thinking to the photography of waterfalls, but I do know that the timeless beauty of images like these remains awe-inspiring.

This waterfall can be found in Dry Falls, NC and is just outside Highlands, NC. Mary and I traveled here in 2010 to drive through the rolling mountains and visit the waterfalls. There are many in the area and we had several healthy hikes getting to them. This trip was particularly fulfilling photographically. On the way home I stopped along the edge of the road to take pictures of wild flowers. Mary is so patient with me and never complains when I want to stop suddenly because my eye catches something interesting.

The joy of photography not only comes in the moment of capturing something extraordinary, but the journey to get there. Having Mary with me makes that all the more sweet.

The wild flowers filled  a field on the side of the road. I spent almost an hour surrounded by them and the occasional bee that got my attention. It’s amazing the beauty we so often drive by and never stop to enjoy.

Posted December 22, 2011 by Paul Coffin in Nature, Travel

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