Symmetrical symmetry

I attended a performance of the Cirque du Soleil (Delirium) on Saturday evening. I intend to post some photos on Thursday or Friday.

Today, a small teaser. When I looked at the following image, it reminded me of a famous photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Cirque de Soleil 13

(In case you can’t decipher it — it’s a woman performing acrobatics while suspended, from a ring, high above the stage.)

Here’s the Cartier-Bresson image that came to mind — “Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare (1932)”:

Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare (1932)

My image is more colourful — all credit to the Cirque de Soleil — but I’m no Cartier-Bresson.

His image contains a double symmetry. The focal point is the man, jumping over a puddle. The man is mirrored in the surface of the water. Voila! Symmetry — a basic aesthetic element.

OK, big deal, you say — I’ve seen stuff like that, and better, a hundred times.

Derrière editBut don’t overlook the poster in the background. The poster mirrors the man jumping, and it also contains its own partial mirror image, to the right of it.

It’s another layer of symmetry — resulting in a kind of symmetrical symmetry, if you will. Utterly brilliant!

Cartier-Bresson didn’t compose his photographs; he used a documentary approach. He had the eye to appreciate the scene laid out in front of him — and the photographic skills to capture the image at just the decisive moment.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Nov 28, 2006 @ 00:38:57

    Not bad pictures the slow speed actually adds to the picture with motion blur, gives it that active quality, like the slow speed of the film Cartier-Bresson used. Using predominantly 35mm Cartier-Bresson used slow speed films (by our standards) to keep his images sharp. If he was working today he would be using digital to capture candids (his choice of subject) so you may have more in common than you think.

    1. used new media
    2. candid urban pictures
    3. was not limited by motion
    4. loved symmetry

    But I am not sure Lieca makes a digital camera? (must look that up)


  2. Bill
    Nov 28, 2006 @ 00:42:20

    Oops , I checked Cartier Bresson actually used fast film it was the exquisite Leica lens that gave him the sharpness but that said Kodak Tri X wasn’t as grainy as its reputation when processed well


  3. Bill
    Nov 28, 2006 @ 00:47:52

    Correction – Cartier Bresson used fast film Kodak Tri X and a Lieca rangefinder 35mm (still sells for over 3000 USD, but the digital version sells for less about 2800 USD)


  4. Mary P
    Nov 28, 2006 @ 13:02:07

    Lovely. The liquid, bright picture you took, and the black and white, far more rigid jumper in the second – yet you see the link immediately. Nice creative connection.


  5. Stephen
    Nov 28, 2006 @ 16:10:51

    • Hi, Bill:
    I’ve got a new camera. After taking those pictures at the Cirque de Soleil show, I realized I had the “ISO” set at 200. Ooops — it goes as high as 1600, if I had only been more familiar with the camera.

    However, I agree that the blurred images add to the effect at least some of the time. Wait til you see the hula hoop woman …!

    • Mary P:
    When I looked up the Cartier-Bresson image, I thought, “that isn’t as clear a parallel as I remembered it.” But it really happened that way; several times I looked at my photo and thought, “it reminds me of some other image”, before I remembered Derrière la gare Saint-Lazare.

    My photo corresponds more closely to the poster in the background — probably because the poster was advertising a dancer or perhaps even an acrobat.


  6. Bill
    Nov 29, 2006 @ 00:11:11

    Actually Stephen it might advertise a photography exhibit as Railowski is a Gallery that exhibits B&W photos in Valencia Spain. Now whether Art reflects reality or reality is copying art I do not know. I googled Railowski after you posted this Photo.


  7. Ozymandias
    Dec 03, 2006 @ 00:44:55

    I liked that.


  8. Stephen
    Dec 03, 2006 @ 16:29:36

    Thanks, Ozy.


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