Are, bure, boke. In English: rough, blurred, out of focus. 3 words to describe the style and philosophy of the Japanese Provoke movement of 50 years ago.
The name’s Moriyama, Daido Moriyama. And his use of stark B&W (and, more recently, colour) to visually communicate the raging energy of Tokyo has always been a signature like few other photographer can match. Other than his joigning the Provoke group in 1968, that signature is also one of the very few things I know about him. Daido Moriyama isn’t an artist I want to study, but an artist I want to be inspired by.
After the typical month of spring rainfall my part of Provence (called Green Provence for a reason) gets every May, the weather is now undergoing that sudden switch to scorcher mode that will last until November, when Autumn storms hit with a vengeance. In between, very little rain. Some years, none at all.
This morning, the unexpected sunrise filled me with energy and I picked up my camera for the first time in weeks (I mean in a creative, non touristy way) then headed out to capture that energy and welcome burst of light.
With steam rising from the ground everywhere, droplets on every blade of grass and a yellow sun in a blue sky, the reasonable thing to do would probably have been to grab a tripod and filters for glorious landscape shots. The fun thing to do was to bend it like Daido. Bend the tonal scale till the files scream their indignation and the flowers disappear in pools of violent light.
My blissful ignorance of any historical facts vis-a-vis Moriyama San allows me to interpret the Master’s intentions as I will rather than follow the boring rules of academic truth. To me, Daido Moriyama uses high contrast to bring order to a complex scene while maintaining the raw energy of the chaos behind it. It takes thorough knowledge of the Dark Side of the Force to achieve this.
Daido Moriyama is Mace Windu.
High contrast highlights the movements and broad sweeps and eliminates the details. Instead of a wide open fast lens, Moriyama erases the distractions by burning them with light. How much more elegant is that? Whether details remain present or not, the focus is drawn to the main components of the shot, essence and clarity emerge as contrast rises.
On this sunny morning, I grabbed my camera with Moriyama’s pictures in mind. And tried to find inspiration in his work to highlight the shapes and vibe of spring in Provence at this most energetic of times when the weather abandons a stable pattern to move into another, in total opposition.
And, although I don’t approve, who’s to argue with the Master ? Certainly not me, humble padawan in his remote sleepy French village. So, if I must, to honour Daido’s more recent vision, here is one in colour. The things we do for those we love …
(for the technically inclined, all pics with the C-Sonnar 1.5/50 ZM, mostly at f/1.5 or f/2)
What say you? Did I bend it proper?
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