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Community Sports Field

There are reasons behind the following sequence of photos. I recently read Brett Easton Ellis's White, his first non-fictional book. He made some interesting points about disengagement, approval seeking and censoriousness in contemporary Western culture. White prompted me to watch the 2000 movie based on his famous, critically acclaimed 1991 novel, American Psycho. When first published, I started to read the book but gave up after very few chapters. My opinion now is that perseverance would have reaped rewards.

American Psycho is about a New York, Wall Street yuppie. The book, written in the first-person, presents him as a serial killer. However, he's an unreliable reporter. Neither he, nor his colleagues, nor the readers/viewers can properly discern whether the purported killings are real or delusionary.

This uncertainty in American Psycho somewhat parallels that of Antonioni’s 1966 movie, Blow Up. Blow Up is about a fashion photographer during the 'Swinging London' era. He unwittingly photographs what he later considers to be a murder. But despite troublesome circumstantial evidence, he cannot convincingly confirm this suspicion. The final scene sums up the paradox between reality and fantasy as the photographer contributes to a doubles tennis game played without a ball.

Because works of art require a point of departure and some form of destination, the following attempts to epitomize viewpoints from the preceding books/movies in photographic form. Using the final scene from Blow Up as an illustration, the only constant point for departure is neither the unnecessary tennis ball, nor the players, nor even the spectator turned participant, but the context of a tennis court - the court lasts longer than the players and their games. These following photos of a community sports field provide points of departure. Destinations are up to the viewers.


To Keep Out & Keep In


View Though The Wire


Battlefield 1


Battlefield 2


Tennis Court




The Sole Spectator

Making a sequence of photos that relate to existential viewpoints expressed in books and movies is a new venture for me. As indicated previously, the points of departure are enduring contextual elements, which preclude people and their actions. My destinations include paradoxical relationships between reality and fantasy. The following describes the (far from amazing) decisions behind the photo sequence.

An initial step was a visit to the community sports ground to figure out (1) consistent points of departure from which to indicate potential destinations, (2) type of lens, and (3) levels of post-processing suitable to illustrate relationships between reality and fantasy.

The answer to the first question is easy. A feature common to all the sports (i.e., baseball, tennis, basketball) is the presence of fencing/netting. The primary purpose of fencing is to separate the players from the spectators. Netting in tennis and basketball relates to success or failure in the game. In other words, fencing and netting signify dichotomies that relate to perspectives of (imaginary) player and (imaginary) spectators, each of which may have effects on the other.

The answers to the second and third questions derive from adages that it’s better to ‘be in control’ and ‘keep in simple’. Based on the former, I chose to shoot with a manual focus Nikon AI-S 135mm, F 2.8 lens. I’ve always considered this my ‘killer’ lens because of its capacity for extreme sharpness and pleasing out-of-focus blur. Keeping it simple precluded the use of much post-processing.

The first photo simply illustates the main dichotomies. The viewer has no idea whether he/she is a player or spectator, or whether whatever is beyond the fence is real or imaginary.

The second photo includes blurred content about what is beyond the fence. Is it another fence? The viewer seems to be a spectator but of what?

The third and fourth photos are clearly prespectives of a spectator. The realities are baseball fields and (in the fourth photo) a tennis court. The imaginary destinations relate to the spectator’s hopes and fears about the outcome of the game.

The fifth photo illustrates the player’s perspective. He/she is inside the tennis court with success/failure determined by keeping the ball within the lines and over the net.

The sixth photo is again from the player’s perspective. Does he/she score? How does that player deal with hostile or supportive spectators? I had to wait awhile to get a passing motor vehicle into the photo.

The only reality in the final photo is the solitary spectator. The crow is neither kept in nor kept out by the fence. It lives above the dichotomies that structure human affairs. Its appearance at the end of this photo shoot was a stroke of luck for me.
Cheers, Mike
Last edited:

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Is this a complete work or is this going to evolve?


The first two and especially the last have strong composition and so have interest outside this discussion of real and imagined parts of a game and their perspectives.

The others, I think could serve their respective purposes but be composed with the same distinguishing clarity. Or not?

It's going to evolve, Asher. I usually work by trial and error. You're right about the discontinuity between the middle and extreme photos in the sequence and have an idea about suitable modification. Cheers, Mike

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
It's going to evolve, Asher. I usually work by trial and error. You're right about the discontinuity between the middle and extreme photos in the sequence and have an idea about suitable modification. Cheers, Mike

Glad you are “open” to my ideas! That’s a good sign from Goldbergs “Big Five”, if you believe it!

.....and I do!

I would like to see that the pictures are themselves remarkable as photographs in style, shapes, textures and composition, as if the materials and substances have been simply moved around and ranked differently to fit each stage in your argument, just like the cards in a particular set of playing cards!