Archive for the ‘Cityscape’ Tag

The Big Easy   1 comment

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans with my youngest son during his senior year high school spring break. New Orleans offered a varied mix of culture, history, food and local flavor deserving of  any southern city of its size.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

My son and I avoided the decadence often associated with the city and instead, walked along the alley ways of the French Quarter meeting a few of the eclectic people and places along the way. Street musicians dotted the streets and entertained passerby’s as the sun warmed the day. I have always been intrigued by street performers. These are individuals who do what they love and despite the obvious financial hazards of street performing, are willing to entertain with a smile in the hopes of a small contribution to their well being.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Eager to venture off the beaten path, we took a day to travel outside the city. At the top of our list of places to visit was the Oak Alley Plantation.  Cameras in hand, and tripod at the ready we waited until each room emptied or the view was unencumbered so that we could quickly set up the shot and take a few photographs. Strolling the grounds after our tour, we walked the length of the walkway lined by the live oaks, stopping as we went to photograph the plantation and take in the beauty of the magnificent trees.

Oak Alley Plantation

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The trip to New Orleans was a short one, but my son and I squeezed in a drive through St. Bernard’s Parish, a trip to a the marshes on Lake Pontchartrain, Oak Alley Plantation and plenty of walking through the city. We ate well and enjoyed each others company. It will be a lasting memory we will share.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Little Five Points, Atlanta GA   Leave a comment

I Live The Answer

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

What is it about abandoned shoes that is so intriguing? Am I the only one who wonders about their bare footed owners? Abandonment is a pretty powerful emotion, one that conjures a multitude of feelings.  Abandoned objects make a great metaphor for these feelings, and something as intimate as a shoe does that for me.

The shoe suspended and dangling from the wire, suspends in its presence the story of its owner. The miles walked in it, the places it has been, silent like a fly watching dutifully on the wall. I can’t look at an abandoned shoe and not think these thoughts. It overwhelms me.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

There is the abandoned and there is “the” abandoned. Little Five Points in Atlanta is an eclectic mix of bars, old record stores, clothing on consignment and restaurants all coming together at an intersection that attracts every variety of person you can imagine. There are to be sure, those whose lives have fallen on hard times and for whom Little Five Points is home.

I’ve written before about how I am attracted to and afraid of street photography. This particular visit was part of a “Photo Walk”, where photographers gather for a social gathering and to take a few photos. I felt uncomfortable taking this particular photo, but that discomfort was soon overshadowed by the gravity of the life of these two men whose life I stepped into for but a brief moment.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Aptly named “reflection” this last image completes the triptych. I suppose I could wax on about the masks, the reflections, the sense of luxury and the hollowness of the mannequins, but it was only when I brought them together for this post did the irony hit me. Art and photography should challenge our sensibilities, it should reflect our emotions and feelings and it should juxtapose one realty with another.

Pucallpa – The industry of the River   1 comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

I’d like to say that the boat we boarded to begin and end our mission on the Ucayali river, was moored on a  dock in an area that was suited to easily boarding and departing, but unfortunately, it was not. Instead, we literally were pushed up against a muddy, much polluted river bank in between the fisherman’s loading area and a local boat builder. It was not what I had expected, but it did offer some interesting views of a world more foreign than I have ever visited.

The days started early for those that made their living from the river, and the constant sound of the humming motors, like a whir from a lawn edger or ailing lawn mower, was my wake up call. Sunrise cast a warm glow over an otherwise dirty and exhaust smelling embankment, with hard working men carrying blocks of ice, bananas and what looked like saw dust to each of their boats.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

The conditions were harsh, hot, humid and exhausting and yet somehow, through it all, I managed to get a smile from a local fisherman as I peered though my lens and snapped his picture.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

No matter the conditions, whether in the village, on the river bank, in the city or in the local tourist towns, people smiled at me. I didn’t for a second ever feel resented or reviled. It was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. It would be easy for me to judge those I encountered and compare their lives to mine, but that would have been presumptuous and egotistical. Instead, I accepted their happiness for what it was, a celebration of life.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

It is odd now, a week later to reflect on that world, as it was then and is now. Mine, a fleeting presence, left with an indelible mark.

Pucallpa Peru   1 comment

Catedral de Pucallpa 

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

The beginning of my second week in Peru, I flew to the river port city of Pucallpa, Peru, where I boarded the boat that would take us to the very remote village of Santa Rosa on the Ucayali river.

This image of the interior of the catholic cathedral was taken hand-held and of course is a HDR photograph.

Mass was spoken in Spanish and we were clearly the only foreigners in the pews.  The week I was there, it was the week prior to the feast of Corpus Christi and the people were preparing to celebrate the event. We were greeted with smiles and felt very welcome. One gentlemen even invited us to stay the day to take in the fireworks and celebrations taking place later that evening; regrettably, we could not stay.

I have been very fortunate to travel with work, but I must say, Pucallpa was among the most remote and certainly most foreign of any city I’ve visited. It was not a clean city and was very much a fishing community surrounded by a more industrial environment. Densely populated and feeling very third world, it was none the less a place that the people seemed happy living in. It was difficult for me to unravel my North American sensibility from the experience and not to judge it by that bias. Despite all that, there were places of beauty, as there always are, in surprising settings.

Window Dressing   Leave a comment

I have, on several occasions in my blog, referred to the immeasurable patience my wife has for my need to stop on a whim to take photographs of visually interesting and stimulating vistas that often cross my path. The scene shown above is one such visual delight that I came upon while I dutifully, and patiently I might add, waited for her to peruse the many knick knacks, crafts and miscellaneous items strewn about the innards of the store pictured here. I have no doubt, my description, biased by my own distaste for shopping, falls well short of the experience as she might describe it as she skipped excitedly into the depths of the colorful oasis.

Sitting on a bench in front of the store, in Hendersonville, NC,  I watched a variety of people, families, dogs and drifters walk by. I lifted my camera to my eye in the hopes that I might find something or someone interesting to photograph. I literally did not even see what was right in front of me until, panning left to right and back, I saw through my viewfinder the character of the storefront through which my wife had just passed. I immediately laughed at myself for missing something so obvious and proceeded to take a few shots.

I am not prone to add text to my photographs, though I have often thought it would make for an interesting pedestal on which to place my own sensibility to a visual exploration or concept with a running theme. While “Chalk It Up” can certainly take on multiple meanings, its presence in this image, is more about the setting than the message. I’ve been wanting to explore text within the walls of the image for some time. I think I’ll make that my next project.

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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