Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Portfolio: Spring

Spring is the tough one, each of the other seasons has a pronounced colour that is readily understood, Winter is white, Autumn is Golden, Summer is Green, but Spring?  It has no obvious colour or even particular visual style.  Since the beginning of March we have had temperatures equivalent to Summer and yet the trees remain bare, it may be warm but the visual cues are still those of Winter.  In a few weeks the trees will leaf and then the visual cues will be those of Summer.  In Munich we can transition from deep snow and ice to the heat and humidity of Summer in a period of weeks.  March and April can have day to day temperature swings in the 10's of degrees.  Last weekend the weather went through one of these transitions, cloudy and warm one day, bright and cold the next.  I made two visits to the Olympic Park, one each day to start the process of capturing the transience of Spring.

So what is spring all about and how to go about photographing it?  The first challenge, already mentioned is that Spring is very fleeting, blink and you will have missed it.  I have a very short window within which to work, no more than 3-4 weeks during which I will need good weather and some warmth. In 4 weeks time I head off for holiday, when I return at the end of May it will effectively be Summer.  I need to work quickly and cross my fingers that I will have "Spring-like" weather.  Anther issue with our commonly accepted view of spring is that it brings sun and blue skies, Winter/Autumn photographs can portray storms and darkness, but this season is about brightness and joie de vivre.

Although Spring has no single uniting colour it does have many colourful manifestations that people will readily associate with the season, namely blossoming trees and the emergence of certain flowers.  My first few photographs capture a small patch of ground carpeted in flowers and a stand of cherry trees in a shocking pink.

In each of these photographs I have tried to juxtapose the flowers with the landscape and architecture of the park.  The shots with the blurry background, I am not sure about, too obvious I think.  The 4th shot is OK, but Pink?  I am really not sure that I can add this to my portfolio, the problem is that I cannot judge if it is a good or bad photo, BECAUSE it is PINK!

An alternate approach is imply to ignore the obvious and continue to document the space as well as I can, using the conditions I find to best effect:

The last one of these 3 is a possible, it is not obviously about Spring, until you look closely.  I have been trying to find a satisfactory way of photographing this monument for quite some time, it has resisted my efforts until this weekend.  The white paper sheets contain the names of those who were killed by the terrorist attack on the Israeli team in 1972, the wreath being placed now because of the Jewish holiday of Passover, or Easter as we call it.  The shadow forming a cross links to the spring festival of Easter and also acts as a further symbol of death in the photograph.  The only downside is that this photograph is a little further away from the hill than I would want, but perhaps the image is powerful enough to make an exception.

Stepping away from death, Spring really is about rebirth and the emergence of the world from winter.  So far I have looked at this from a nature or symbolic stance, the other real cue that suggests spring in Munich is the explosion of people into the parks to enjoy the early sun.  I also find that clothing tends to be bright and joyful at this time of year, people seem to want to banish the grey of winter.

On the weekend large crowds of people hit the park

The beer garden overflowed

and all over people took a chance to picnic or simply sit in the open air

The last image above contrasts well with one of my winter images

However the real joy of spring was captured with these two lads just happy to be out and about

I have been trying to capture something like this for a while, a minimalist shot of the hill with people on it, framed against the industry behind.  This is pretty close, could be better, I would like to have had more of the factory, but the moment was there and the shot worked pretty well - this is another likely candidate for inclusion.  

What I have found in trying to portray spring, is that it is not the colour of the landscape or the weather that creates the sense of Spring, it is the people who occupy the landscape.  The same is true to a degree of Summer, but the look is different, Spring brings joy and energy, Summer is more about lazing in the heat.

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