Thursday, July 22

One year camera anniversary: Day three

It irritates me to no end when people shoot pictures in art museums.  Your pictures are crummy.  If you want to take the art back with you, buy a book from the gift shop.  If that's too expensive, buy a post card.  The pictures on those are invariably better than anything you can shoot with your pocket camera with its auto-focus and auto-flash.

I guess taking pictures of crafts like canang sari is not so different from that.  If I really wanted to preserve their unique beauty, I would take one back with me.  Maybe press it or something to preserve it for the trip and years.  Were someone to raise this point, however, I would respond that it's not merely the individual canang sari that intrigued me.  It was how they were used.  It was where they were placed.  It was where they were left behind.  It was finding them atop sculptures, within gates, along roads and on the remains of dry, crumbling canang sari.  I have written on this before.

Visiting the children IHF and its donors support in Bangli, I found myself in a courtyard that seemed to encompass the entirety of how casual placement of canang sari can be.  Waiting for the children to finish their letters, I tried to capture this.

I found these on the top of a rusting water heater.  I liked the fierce contrast between the fresh canang sari on the right and those on the left that must have been placed at least a week earlier, but the composition is weak.  There are no strong lines, just some woven grass boxes sitting atop each other.  A lower angle might have helped with this.  It would not have helped so much with the fact that it's still hard to tell what they are on, losing what I thought was a critical element of the pictures.  That would probably have required a wider angle but the weakness in that approach is revealed below.

Yes, the great stone egg and Ganesh statue are easily identifiable from this distance, but the canang sari, the intended focus of the picture, is minimized in importance.  Its distinct colors draw attention, but there is too little to see to keep that attention.  The flowers and other elements are nigh impossible to see.

So I move in closer.  This series of shots, culminating in the best of the bunch and shown at top, are all taken within a little enclosure built near the top of a small monument, but it's difficult to tell from so close up.  It's the cessation of one of my goals in shooting the canang sari in their varied habitat, but it ultimately makes for strong pictures.  The hope with this one was to draw the audience into the picture through the incense sticks wedged in near the bottom and center, but the subject is too far out and the sticks' lines aren't powerful enough.

So I move in closer still.  Essentially the same picture as that which began this post, shooting from the same distance and of the same subject, differing only in angle, it's weaker for lacking the strong lines of my favorite.  The incense sticks are stronger in both than the previous, but my favorite becomes such because of the lines created by the right corners of the stacked canang sari.  The highlights on them only makes the line better.  This picture lacks this additional line and remains flat, capturing only a single face of its subjects.

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