Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sepia Saturday 258 : A Cartier-Bresson Off-Cut

Our Sepia Saturday theme this week is all about backgrounds, and I have to confess that I chose the theme because it is one of those aspects of old images that appeals to me the most. So often the click of a camera shutter not only captures the desired image - be it Auntie Doris or grandma's new motorbike - but, like a trawler man's net, it pulls up a whole historical catch as well. The result can be something like the example which I used for the theme image with wartime sailors and park railings, or it may be something like the following picture of Sepia Saturday's favourite Auntie, Miriam Fieldhouse.

Here she is, leaning against a lamp-post at the corner of some street or other. But look into the background and you will find it is as full of industrial archeology as a theme park. There is an old steam shunter that seems to be as at home on a road than on a railway track. And there is the kind of old wagon that used to be the workhorse of the road haulage industry. One of Uncle Frank's useful annotations suggests that this is Vauxhall Station in Yarmouth, a station which has been more or less rebuilt in the decades since the lamp-post picture was taken.


It is not just for industrial archeology that you might want to go searching for in the backgrounds of your old photographs. Sometimes, there is high art to be discovered as well. My main photograph is an off-cut from a photograph of Cousin Sid and is marked on the reverse "Christmas Eve 1954" But forget Sid, and forget the two squaddies : look at the kissing couple. Pure art. Whoever took the photograph managed to capture a classic image : an image Cartier-Bresson would, I am sure, have been proud of.

You can find many more backgrounds by going to the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG and following the links.

14 comments:

  1. You've chosen wonderful examples of the art of the background, Alan. Uncle Frank was a master of the accidental moment and Miriam seems to know it too. To mangle an old phrase, "a kiss is as good as a smile."

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  2. When I looked at that first picture, I was trying to figure out where that strange hand came from? It couldn't be hers, & it obviously couldn't be his because of its position. Whose was it? Thankfully you included the full picture & the mystery was solved! :)

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  3. Wonderful! And don't forget the matching cigarettes, which was common back them too!

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  4. Can't make up my mind as to whether those are pint of half pint glasses. Couldn't be up north if half pint.

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  5. Hopefully someone will recognise the soldier's regiment from his uniform. I'm also not sure the lady wanted to be kissed.

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  6. I wonder if the man kissing the lady chose this precise moment to kiss her as the photographer was taking the picture?

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  7. Or did he kiss her because the photographer came along? She looks a bit ambivalent and I imagine Cousin Sid and the squaddies were a bit jealous of the action ;)

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  8. The hackle says he`s he is a Fusilier. Northumberland Fusiliers perhaps?

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  9. Well, I see a woman with a pair of puckered lips, and then he couldn't seem to get on target! See what fun we have at other's expense, eh?

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  10. You are right. People have often commented about the background items in my old photos. It helps set the time of the photo too. The kiss is a lovely moment captured.

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  11. I will admit, Alan, when I first saw this week's prompt, I didn't fully appreciate how inspired it was. As it turns out, it's been one of the best prompts. I think we've all come away with the realization that we should slow down and really LOOK at old photos.

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  12. What an interesting picture; she’s all puckered up ready for a kiss on the lips and he missed! It really makes us focus on that moment. I wonder if she was disappointed.

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  13. I'm with you. Cartier-Bresson would be proud.

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  14. I think the woman was taken by surprise.

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