This is the image I brought to August’s 3rdThur photo review with Foto:RE. You are seeing the post-review tuned up version that incorporates great feedback from Sean Puckett. He suggested I crop a bit more on the right side and darken a bright area under the leftmost bird. The result is, I think, a stronger composition. Here’s the backstory on the image.
Back in late May, Brohemus and I headed to San Francisco for a 3-day walkabout before hitting San Mateo for Maker Faire Bay Area. Cameras in tow, we spent days and nights combing through the Mission District. It’s a visually rich environment. It’s also socio-politically charged around the gentrification issue. And it has a lot of people in need. As we rode the #14 bus down Mission Street from 2nd, that aspect became increasingly obvious. Somewhere below 14th Street, I saw a shirtless guy flopped out on a mattress across the side walk. If you spend any time in SF, I think you can become inured to that need as a way of coping with its prevalence. But this image of mattress guy through the bus window really hit me in the gut. How the hell do we get to this place as a species? Is this truly an unsolvable problem?
After two days in the Mission, we headed up to the more affluent and touristy north end, checking out Crissy Field and the Palace of Fine Arts. Heading back along Baker Street to grab the bus, we happened upon this scene (above) at the edge of the side walk at the base of a tree. It was surreal. These five birds huddled together, watching over the dead bird. And they were not going anywhere no matter how close I got. It had a real gravity to it. As I laid on my belly, shooting with the 70-200mm, I couldn’t help thinking about mattress guy. This bird situation seemed like a powerful echo of the human condition in the Mission. My knee-jerk reaction was “See, the animals exhibit more compassion than humans.” And not to attribute too much emotional intelligence to birds, but maybe they are as confounded about their situation as we are are about ours.
My mom had an interesting take on this photo. We lost my Pops back in March, and Mom said this photo shows the utter helplessness with which we watch loved ones die. I reckon that was wrapped up in the whole image making as I shot this photo only six weeks after he passed. Whatever the interpretation, this shoot had the kind of gravity that presses on your chest, like some of the other photos that I shoot but then share with nobody.
Now the 1shot series is supposed to feature only one shot, but here on the edge of the long weekend you can click through for the bonus before-after pics I have brought to earlier 3rdThur photo reviews.