Friday, March 21, 2014

Sepia Saturday 220 : Mandelbrot, Drake And A Pram Full Of Posterity


There is a statue theme for Sepia Saturday 220 which, in some ways, should be an easy challenge for me as I have a brother who is a professional sculptor. I don't, however, come from a long line of sculptors and therefore most of my photographs of my brother's work are recent ones. To get the right sepia feel I am going back to the old family albums and to a photograph taken back in the 1930s by my Uncle Frank and it is a photograph he took in Plymouth in Devon.

Anyone familiar with the early days of computing will remember the so-called Mandelbrot Series - that wonderful series of computer generated patterns which you could keep zooming into and discovering new, complex patterns and shapes. I have always thought of old photographs as being a bit like a Mandelbrot Series once you scan them and start examining them in detail. So from the original photograph - which was no larger than 8 x 6 cms - we can zoom in on the figure of that great circumnavigator, Sir Francis Drake.
The statue is based at Plymouth Hoe overlooking Plymouth Sound from where he left in 1577 to undertake his famous circumnavigation of the world. It was at the same location he was supposed to have been playing bowls eleven years later when the Spanish Armada was sighted and where he chose to finish his game before sailing off to defeat the Armada.  The sad truth is, however, that it was the weather that defeated the Spaniards and that Drake probably wasn't playing bowls at all.

Photography has the wonderful ability to turn us all into statues. Whereas the sculptor slaves away with chisel and hammer, with stone and with bronze, the photographer has life easy : one click of the button and the subject is captured for posterity (as the younger, lazier brother, perhaps this is why I am happy taking photographs whilst my brother creates bronze statues). So, Uncle Frank not only took a photograph of the statue of Francis Drake, he also took a photograph of some statuesque people who had strayed into the edge of the shot. The inhabitant of that pram may still be walking around this world today, unaware of the fact that there is a statue of them in an old dusty photograph album. And now, visible to the entire world, on the internet.

For more sepia statues, take a look at the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the various links.

21 comments:

  1. I don't know how I missed the statue theme, reading to fast I guess. I could have inserted one of my daughter's sculptures. Oh well, I bet it comes around again.

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  2. I was at Plymouth Hoe in 1967 when Sir Francis Chichester arrived back from sailing round the world. I don't remember the statue but it was dark and I was not very old.

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  3. I've never thought much about the extraneous people I catch in my lens while taking pictures, but your centering, for a moment, on the people & buggy off to the side of the photo of the statue will now have me paying more attention to them. What are their stories? Why were they there at just that moment when I snapped the photo? So many possibilities for the imagination to play with - and I have plenty of imagination! :))

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  4. I enjoyed the Mandelbrotization of the Drake statue.

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  5. At first I thought it was Sir Walter Raleigh but I should have known it was Drake with that globe at his side. It's good to tell you're a writer, you have such an enquiring mind. I do that with TV personalities -- what are they really like, how did they get where they are, do they care about other people or just their own fame?

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  6. I really like your thinking in this post, particularly the photography "statues".

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  7. Interesting...those people on the fringe! Never thought of that aspect of a photograph before; I need to pay more attention to what is NOT the center of attention!

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  8. i refuse to even think of Mandelbrot. but I thoroughly enjoyed Drake.. It's a beautiful statue. A living statue is also a very nice pseudonym for a photo. I have piles and piles of living statues, both known and unknown.

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  9. Drake looks very proud of himself. Your uncle photographed him very nicely.

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  10. That's the first time I heard of the Mandelbrot Series. I like looking at the details closeup on photos. Computer scanning can really bring out a lot of details.

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  11. I wouldn't have noticed the pram if you hadn't pointed it out. That's a great statue.

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  12. Interestingly the statue is just off center enough to take in the most likely unknowing group.

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  13. And what a difference having those people captured in the statue photo makes. Great image to share.

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  14. The internet does seem to create a real Mandelbrot sequence of replicating images spiraling to infinity. Drake's statue gets duplicated by a million cameras over a hundred years, but Uncle Frank preserves a single moment of a baby in a pram.

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  15. I never heard of Mandelbrot sequences before. Interesting. I did enjoy the combination of "posed" statue and mundane publicans.

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  16. I'm thinking this statue reminds me a bit of you, Alan! :)

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  17. Ohhhh, he reminds me of Charles Laughton in The Canterville Ghost. Same outfit I believe.

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  18. A very proud statue.
    Wouldn't it be fun if the occupant of the pram read this and contacted you!

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  19. How true that photographs preserve people as statues, and a fleeting moment in time becomes an eternity in print. Those people were probably too preoccupied with the baby to even notice the statue of drake that they were passing, or they have been locals and have seen him many times.

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  20. Of course one could posit the theory that those people had been placed there deliberately; perhaps Frank was clever enough to wait for some human interest to lighten the mood of this grand statue.

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  21. People today use photography differently. Selfies are the rave so they can be the hero of the moment.

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