Challenge! Cameraderie Challenge #51 - "the First photograph" (WINNER ANNOUNCED)

MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Start Date
Sep 27, 2021
End Date
Oct 27, 2021
Start Date September 27, 2021
End Date October 19, 2021 NEW END DATE: October 27, 2021
Start Date September 27, 2021 End Date October 19, 2021 October 27, 2021

"The first photo...":

One of my favorite photographers who also happens to be a former Cameraderie member (back when this forum had a different name, circa 2012), is Wouter Brandsma. In an essay on his blog, Wouter said something which struck me as being both thought-provoking and often (though not always) true. Here is what Wouter wrote:

"When a subject is interesting, or at least that is my experience, the first photograph is almost always the best. The brief moment was caught driven by a feeling. Every other photograph you make of the same subject is often just rationalizing what you quickly felt and see. "

This Challenge is an attempt to put Wouter's concept into practice. Your entry must be the FIRST photograph - of a particular subject - which then you subsequently took a number of other photographs of. It could be (or have been) a long series of dozens or scores of even more photos of the same subject - or it could be (or have been) as few as two or three; but it must a subject of which you took a number of pictures.

OPTIONALLY, you may include a brief written description of the other photographs you took in the series - as well as an explanation about how - and/or why - you came to realize that the FIRST photograph was the best; or why you realized that subsequent photos of the same subject were simply not as 'good' (in whatever sense you choose) as your first photo.

As an ADDITIONAL OPTION, you may also include one other photo, of the same subject, taken after your "first one", as a visual illustration of why you preferred your "first photo".

NOTE: neither of these two "Options" are required, or necessary, or will be used in any part of the judging process; your official entry entry will only be that one "first photo" which you submit.

As usual, this Challenge will consider originality, technical merit and artistic vision.

No change to the tried and trusted rules, which are as follows:

1. Either take pictures that match the nominated theme or select some from your portfolio. You must be the photographer that created the images in order to enter it.

2. Only one entry per challenge, please. If you want to withdraw an entry and replace it with another, that is OK, but you must make it clear in the post containing your replacement pictures that this is what you've done. You can add or change the title and add to the edit line to let everyone know.

3. The decision of the curator at the end of the challenge is final - don't give him/her a hard time about it: this is just a friendly photo challenge, after all!

4. The winner will assume the responsibility of curator for the next Challenge, and as soon as possible post a message in a new thread in the Cameraderie Photo Challenges forum, with details of the new theme. Don't forget - the opening message must include a copy of these instructions, which also double as the rules.

5. The curator cannot enter in his or her or their own challenge.

Have fun !!!
 
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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
A few EXAMPLES of some of my own "First photographs" which came out much, much better than all the others taken afterwards.

First, a day of heavy snowfall, in the part of Oregon where I live. The first photo I took was of an old picnic-style table that sits outside the house, which had partially disappeared under the whiteness. Of the many other photos I took that morning, none came close to the feeling of this first one.

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The next was taken inside an old Cathedral, in the city of Zapopan, just outside of Guadalajara, Mexico. I was attending an organ concert, which followed religious services. My camera was a small inconspicuous LX7. Realizing that some of the faces of my fellow attendees were remarkably expressive, I pulled the camera from a pocket and took this image. I took a number of others, later, but none came close to the original...to this 'first' photograph.

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Another from a small series where my first was the best-- I was inside the office of a close friend who was a partner in a used-automobile-agency, as well as a fellow-photographer. I wanted to take some informal portraits of him; but the first, when he was looking away from me - concentrating on his paperwork - was much more expressive than all the rest in the series.

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And one last "first photograph" - this one taken at the local annual Model Train show - where one old gentleman, a former official Morse Code operator, showed me an old photograph of a small train station where he had once been a telegraph operator. I took a number of other mostly documentary-style photos that day - but this first one was far and away the best.

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JUST A REMINDER: please don't 'limit yourselves' to older series of photos you may have taken earlier - feel free to go out an experiment with new ones...and then see if one or more of your 'first photos'... turns out to be the 'best'.
 

emerson

Top Veteran
Location
Maritime Canada
Real Name
David
Cool concept and a cool challenge. I'll give it a try.

I was out for a walk one evening not long ago, carrying a camera [X100F, because OVF] with the intention to make a few photos, but nothing specific in mind. This part of my city is a heritage preservation area, with some interesting Victorian architecture. But after so many years here, it's familiar to me, and I don't always see that landscape objectively. I tend to see the streetscapes as I *think* of them, not as they really *are*. It was a lazy choice of location, but I didn't have a lot of daylight left and this area [Trinity Royal] was close by.

But instead of traversing the main streets that parallel the harbour [the level ones], I decided to climb up and down the steep cross streets that extend from the water. This choice set me father back from the facades and placed me at an oblique angle. It was a practical decision: I just wanted to stay warm with the sun at my back as the fog started to emerge.

When I crested a hill and looked up, this composition seemed to fall quickly into place, and seemed 'right' immediately. So I pressed the shutter. Without previewing, I knew I liked it. So I kept moving, and tried shooting across intersections as elevations changed. Spent an hour walking and shooting in the setting sun, but nothing else seemed to work quite as well. But any walk with even a single image that I like is a victory, so I judged the evening to be a success.

Later, at my computer, I liked it a LOT. But why this first one, and not others?

A Necker Cube is a 2D rendering of a 3D cube, in the form of a wire frame. It's an optical illusion that we've probably all looked at one time or another. You can see it one way, blink, and it seems to toggle to an alternate perspective. This is the closest I can come to articulating the feeling when I brought my eye to the viewfinder that night. What I saw differed from what I expected to see. And when that happens, we almost always take a photo, right?

Perhaps the 'first photo' is so often superior because we're responding to a novel perspective, not reverting to mannerist tendencies.

Wouter was onto something interesting.


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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Cool concept and a cool challenge. I'll give it a try.

I was out for a walk one evening not long ago, carrying a camera [X100F, because OVF] with the intention to make a few photos, but nothing specific in mind. This part of my city is a heritage preservation area, with some interesting Victorian architecture. But after so many years here, it's familiar to me, and I don't always see that landscape objectively. I tend to see the streetscapes as I *think* of them, not as they really *are*. It was a lazy choice of location, but I didn't have a lot of daylight left and this area [Trinity Royal] was close by.

But instead of traversing the main streets that parallel the harbour [the level ones], I decided to climb up and down the steep cross streets that extend from the water. This choice set me father back from the facades and placed me at an oblique angle. It was a practical decision: I just wanted to stay warm with the sun at my back as the fog started to emerge.

When I crested a hill and looked up, this composition seemed to fall quickly into place, and seemed 'right' immediately. So I pressed the shutter. Without previewing, I knew I liked it. So I kept moving, and tried shooting across intersections as elevations changed. Spent an hour walking and shooting in the setting sun, but nothing else seemed to work quite as well. But any walk with even a single image that I like is a victory, so I judged the evening to be a success.

Later, at my computer, I liked it a LOT. But why this first one, and not others?

A Necker Cube is a 2D rendering of a 3D cube, in the form of a wire frame. It's an optical illusion that we've probably all looked at one time or another. You can see it one way, blink, and it seems to toggle to an alternate perspective. This is the closest I can come to articulating the feeling when I brought my eye to the viewfinder that night. What I saw differed from what I expected to see. And when that happens, we almost always take a photo, right?

Perhaps the 'first photo' is so often superior because we're responding to a novel perspective, not reverting to mannerist tendencies.

Wouter was onto something interesting.


View attachment 271975

Great story, David. Thank you for sharing it, in detail. It also makes me appreciate your photograph in some different ways.
 

donlaw

Hall of Famer
Location
Texas
Real Name
Don
When driving around an eclectic area of Houston today looking for an interesting place to get my SIO and Daily images, two heavily graffitied abandoned house caught my eye.
From this outing were posted in the SIO and Daily threads, images that to me are compelling had some sad and almost shocking qualities.

But I almost posted this image instead.
It was the first image I took after I parked the car and approached the houses. Looking back at it on the computer screen, my eyes are drawn in by the overgrowth and natural look that came from not really composing but just grabbing the image. The other images I did after that were thoughtful composed and not hurried at all.
Somehow this image seems less sad. Thinking back to being there, it makes see the place in a different way. Almost peaceful where time has taken a toll.
While I like the other images too. If I was to pick one of them to have printed, this would most likely be the one.
I could see this one hanging on the wall.
C6501EE8-939B-4864-B36B-82FAC527570C_1_201_a.jpeg
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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
When driving around an eclectic area of Houston today looking for an interesting place to get my SIO and Daily images, two heavily graffitied abandoned house caught my eye.
From this outing were posted in the SIO and Daily threads, images that to me are compelling had some sad and almost shocking qualities.

But I almost posted this image instead.
It was the first image I took after I parked the car and approached the houses. Looking back at it on the computer screen, my eyes are drawn in by the overgrowth and natural look that came from not really composing but just grabbing the image. The other images I did after that were thoughtful composed and not hurried at all.
Somehow this image seems less sad. Thinking back to being there, it makes see the place in a different way. Almost peaceful where time has taken a toll.
While I like the other images too. If I was to pick one of them to have printed, this would most likely be the one.
I could see this one hanging on the wall.
View attachment 272931

I appreciate the story, Don.

I am also finding this an illuminating experience - seeing inside the process in which or by which other photographers approach shooting a certain subject. For me, it tends to be a random process. But the way or ways in which we do - or don't - consciously approach a 'subject' before beginning to take photographs - are a rich gray area for me. '

I'm looking forwards to more 'first photographs' - and also, possibly, parts of the stories how they came into being, as you pressed the shutter release for that first time.
 

MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
I'm embarrassed to admit: because of a recent cross-country trip (to visit family members I haven't seen for years) - and a personal work-related deadline I have been working madly on - the initial ending date of this Challenge has (October 19) has come and gone.

With the permission (hopefully!) of our Moderators, I am going to extend the DEADLINE for entries in this challenge to roughly the middle of next week - to October 27 (which means this Challenge will run exactly one month, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 27).

What this means is: YOU ALL HAVE ANOTHER FIVE (5) FULL DAYS TO EITHER SHOOT - OR DISCOVER - A PHOTO TO ENTER IN THIS CONTEST. We haven't had many entries to day - I suspect largely because many of us have committed to doing the Single-in-October (SiO) Challenge - and all that plus the complexities of daily life, may not seem to leave much free time for yet another Photo Challenge. But, even so, I URGE EVERYONE TO AT LEAST GIVE THIS ONE SOME THOUGHT. The underlying concept - which Wouter Brandsma articulated a few years ago - is such a fascinating one... it's worth exploring.

I'll stay on top of this deadline and give everyone one more advance warning next week, before the Challenge officially comes to an end on midnight of October 27.
 
I took a liberty to work with the subject differently this time. I already shared a story of Estonian painter Konrad Mägi (link here). In his paintings there were two pictures of a stone wall and lighthouse. In my mind from left to right the first one was better painting for the same theme.

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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
One more quick reminder: today is October 25... and this challenge runs all the way through midnight of the 27th...
SO THOSE OF YOU STILL INTRIGUED BY THE CONCEPT - AND CHALLENGE - OF SUBMITTING YOUR FIRST PHOTOGRAPH (from a series, from a session, from a day of shooting, from whatever)
YOU STILL HAVE 2 ENTIRE DAYS LEFT TO SHOOT AND/OR ENTER!
 

JensM

Veteran
Tree fog.jpg
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First of a small series of the tree running the Panasonic 45-150, the rest was variants of the same theme, trying different angles and reaches, none especially interesting but this one I like. Taken on the first foray trying out both the GX9 with the L.Monocrome D. (if I recall correctly) and the 45-150.
 

Iron

Top Veteran
Location
New Zealand
Real Name
Tímo
New Year's Eve star-gazing/astrophotography event in Canterbury, South Island, NZ. This was taken using the GM5 and the 12-32mm in Small JPG (SooC) because I forgot to bring a larger SD card. This is the first photo I took to document the place, immediately after getting off the vehicle. I immediately wanted to catch the calmness of everything.
P1010377.JPG
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MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
This is going to be a very difficult challenge to judge. Every entry, so far, is, each in a different way, a compelling and worthy photograph.

Just one minor note: Jens's entry, a photo taken with the humble Lumix 45-150 zoom, an inexpensive lens that was often bundled as a kit lens with one or another Panasonic camera body, is yet another proof (not that any of us really need it) that non-expensive so-called consumer grade lenses...can be used to create fine images.
 

MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
QUICK REMINDER: TODAY (Wednesday, October 27) is the final day for entries for this Challenge - accepted up to and through midnight of this day (no matter in which global Time Zone you may be located). So if you are intrigued by the premise - how in some ways the first photograph from a series you shoot or may have shot may be the best (or the one that comes closest to capturing what you were striving for - or what you discovered worked better than all the other ones in the series) - then you still have the better part of one day left!
 

MiguelATF

Hall of Famer
Location
Talent, Oregon (far from the madding crowd)
Real Name
Miguel Tejada-Flores
Before announcing my winner, I have a few comments to make on each entry, in the order in which they were posted.

First emerson's photo - of the vertical urban landscape which seemed just to fall into shape right before he snapped the picture - and then later, reviewing all the photos David had taken, he realized why - because of its geometrical perspectives - its similarity to a Necker's Cube - and the discovery that it wasn't what he had expected. Like David, I came back to the image again and again - because even after looking at it once, then several times, it wasn't what I expected. It's also a simple image that not only stands on its own, but seems to change every time I revisit it. I kept seeing more, and seeing it differently, on repeated visits. How cool is that?!

Don's (donlaw) image of an abandoned building overgrown with various hanging shrubbery and ivy, also grew on me. Unlike his other images of the same building, which had sad or dark qualities to them, this one (per Don's description, at least) has an almost hypnotic collection of textures, of tones, of shades and reflections. The old concept that a grain of sand can contain universes, has an application here: at times I found myself studying the reflections in the glass windows - at other times, the contrast between the regularity of the bricks and the random organic spread of the plants - and finally, at long last, my eye found the doormat at the bottom of the front stairs ("DOGS WELCOME - People Tolerated"). It's a great image.

Matero's interpretation was strikingly different - and very cool. A photograph of two paintings of the same subject matter (a stone wall, and a lighthouse), hanging side-by-side, on the wall of a gallery. Two seemingly identical pictures which actually are very different. The photograph forces you to really look at the two pictures, to study them. The 'first one', on the left, seems more subtle, its colors more muted, its waters clearer, its cloudy sky more sparse and scattered. The 'second one', on the right, is exaggerated in almost every way: the clouds denser and more colored, the water painted with more extreme contrasts and heavy saturated colours, the cliffs outlined in larger strokes, with heavier paint and colors. Ultimately, the photograph is asking us: which of these two pictures do you like better? And why? Matero noted he likes the first one better. I have to agree with him. And in spite of its seeming simplicity, this image contains a mystery within a mystery, asking its questions in a clever, almost unnoticeable way. I really like it.

Jens (JensM) gives us something completely different: a mysterious monochrome shot of trees on what seems to be a foggy, snowy day. Through the mist, we focus on one central tree whose dark body and twisting octopus-like branches almost makes it seem alive. Another, larger tree encroaches on the right of the frame, challenging the solitude and importance of the first, while behind it, a whole variety of differently shaped trees recede into the mists while suggesting to us that we may be in the middle of much larger forest that we can't fully make out. But the best part is the light: subtle in places, gradated, almost glowing in others, it is the lifeblood flowing through and connecting all the individual pieces. Jens notes it was the first of a whole series he took, trying out different angles, perspectives and reaches of his zoom lens. But, clearly, that first photograph, for whatever reasons, is a great one.

Timo (Iron) goes in a different photographic direction: a stark, beautiful image, taken at sunset I think, at the beginning of a star-gazing/astrophotography event in South Island, New Zealand. The bottom third is the almost completely dark and semi-silhouetted outline of the earth and the horizon - while above it, the intense oranges and yellows of the departed sun give way gradually to the greys and darker blues of the oncoming night sky. It's all about that subtle wash of color, almost like a painting. And it's beautiful. Timo notes that in this first photo, he wanted to capture a sense of the calmness - and he has. But there's more to it, of course. While the earth below is dark, in the sky above there are no stars visible yet, not even the hint of one - but there is something almost symphonic about the image. It reminded me of epic documentaries I've seen about the Grand Canyon - and also parts of Kubrick's classic film, '2001 Space Odyssey' - a sense of something timeless and larger than we are. It's a great image.

The last entry, from Martin (theoldsmithy) is completely different from all the preceding ones. It's the first of many photos taken at his son's wedding, four months ago. But it's not the typical wedding photo we imagine, of smiling laughing people in moments of emotional exuberance; rather, it is a soft, quiet portrait of someone waiting. The camera gives him privacy, he's partially turned away from the lens, he's waiting for things to happen but in this quiet moment, alone, I get a sense of someone who is keeping calm outside... while he waits. What he is thinking and feeling in these quiet moments is subject to our interpretation and may vary amongst us - but one thing is for certain - that the photographer has captured a special moment, not because of the cheers and sound of champagne corks popping - but very much the opposite. I really like it.


Judging and picking a 'winner' has been really hard for me. Literally any one of these images deserves that label and, in more ways than I can say, they all are winners. So my choice comes down to a subjective feeling - and I have to give it to Jens. The thing I kept coming back to, in his foggy monochrome winter forest, was or were the multiple gradations of grays, which had an almost visceral effect on me: here in southern Oregon where I live, we often have days of cold winter fog where the same light - the same diffusion - and the same difficulty to make out shapes - always seems to make me feel like I'm entering into a different dimension. Your photo did the same thing to me Jens.

My thanks and real appreciation to each of you - for the quality of your work - and for giving more meaning to Wouter Brandsma's prescient words, from years ago, about the nature of how we photograph things.
 
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