Featured: "a thousand shapes are at your side": All Hallows Eve in Ashland

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by MiguelATF, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. Almost 200 years ago, an American clergyman and writer, Arthur Cleveland Coxe, wrote a poem about the ritualistic aspects of All Hallows Eve aka Halloween - in the poem he wrote that on Halloween "a thousand shapes are at your side and also that there were "a thousand hellish demon sprites. My experience on the streets of Ashland, Oregon - known for its theater (the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) - was that there were a thousand different and tantalizing images for an enterprising street photographer.

    There were memorable masks -

    Rabbit & Eagle
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    Ranging from the elegant -

    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    To the grotesque -

    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    The exuberant -

    Feather Mask
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    And the whimsical -

    Halloween Bart
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    There was mythological headgear -

    Medusa Hat
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    There were invisible men -

    Invisible Man
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    And romantic Skeleton / Mexican Calavera couples with the roses from their recent wedding -

    Calavera Couple
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    And there were incongruous contrasts - like this Ballerina and Biker -

    Ballerina & Biker
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    Though when she began dancing in the street, no one could look away -

    En Pointe
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    There was even a member of the Royal Family in attendance -

    King SPAM
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    At a certain point, in the best archaic folk traditions of our forebears, who celebrated the end of the harvest season with spirited revels, there was music and dancing in the streets -

    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    And everyone - from the youngest -

    Pirate Girl
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    - to the older more mature revelers -

    Bubble Lady
    by La Chachalaca Fotografía, on Flickr

    - had a splendid time.

    You can see a longer and more photo-and-text-intensive selection of photographs on my blog - http://migueltejadaflores.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/a-thousand-shapes-are-at-your-side/
    Last edited: May 8, 2015
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  2. RT Panther

    RT Panther All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    Yup - This is a 2 thumbs up thread! :2thumbs:
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  3. Thank you, RedTail_Panther. If you like what you saw here, you should check out the link to my other, longer photoessay on my website.

    Sometimes, though, after I take a picture that I'm happy with, it reminds me of what Cartier-Bresson once said -- “Of course it’s all luck.”

  4. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Invisible Man.

    That's all I'm saying: Invisible Man
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  5. tje53

    tje53 New Member

    Oct 10, 2012
    That costume's actually creepier than an Invisible Man: Google "Slender Man."
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  6. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Oh yes I've heard about that on the WS a few weeks ago. Hadn't made the connection.

    Whatever, though, an excellent photograph
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  7. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Remarkable. I'm astonished by the effort that goes into something in the US that is pretty minimal - and "just for kids" - by comparison on this side of the pond. Great photoset, really captures the atmosphere.
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  8. PJacobs

    PJacobs Veteran

    Apr 7, 2012
    The Netherlands
    +1. Fantastic image.

    One question if I may. I see it wasn't a sunny day, but did you underexpose some of the coloured ones on purpose, with a creative goal?
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  9. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I really enjoyed the whole set Miguel, but invisible man is the best of 'em for me too - amazing looking "costume", or was that the real guy?!?!? :cool:

    I used to love events like this and I equate them with the Northwest, but that's probably just because that's where I lived when I was young enough to fully partake of the craziness. And New Orleans of course, but I've never experienced their's in person...

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  10. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    This is a fantastic series of images, Miguel. For some reason I find Bart Simpson really creeps me out. It must be the eyes within the eyes. Pirate Girl's smile is just a bit evil lookin' too. But let's face it, there are few things more disturbing than ham in a can...
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  11. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey Super Moderator

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    These were fantastic. You managed to cram in a lot of emotion without being heavy-handed. A+
  12. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    the unsettling color processing works well with your images.
  13. Some great costumes
  14. Thank you, Bill. What's interesting by the way, a propos of your comment about this (Halloween festivities) being more of a big deal on 'this side of the pond' - is that many if not most of the traditions over here have their origins in folk traditions of the British isles...and Europe. 'Mummers' - disguised revelers or merrymakers during festivals - are an old British tradition, and Mummers' Plays were performed across mediaeval Europe in France and Germany (and a lot of other places as well). 'Guising' (wearing masquerades or costumes, aka 'disguises') is a Scottish tradition going back to the 19th Century and possibly earlier. My suspicion is that there may be pockets of spontaneous and organized costumed revelry on 'that' side of the pond more than most people might suspect :)

    The underexposure came more in post-processing (all done in Lightroom 4.4, with help from both X-el and Nik presets, depending on the photo) - and it was done really as a creative decision to emphasize the feeling when I took the pictures: on that Halloween day here in southern Oregon, it was a dark, overcast afternoon that literally seemed to be threatening a major storm - and though it never actually started raining, the weather (and light) imparted an interesting feel to the festivities. My actual digital negatives were brighter - but playing around with a number of things, I liked the feel of a dark, stormy day better. Especially some of the clouds. So it was intentional.....though honestly to speak of rational 'intentions' isn't accurate: most of the time in PP, I just follow my instincts and fool around with different parameters to enhance each image in a totally subjective and disorganized way.

    Thanks, Ray. I don't honestly know whether the Invisible Man was invisible or not. What I do know is that when I'm shooting with the fisheye lens, it's mandatory to get ridiculously close to the subject. Like Robert Capa says, "if your photos aren't good enough, you're not close enough" - and with the fisheye it's at least 10 times more true - so I literally had to get in his 'face' to get a decent angle - and during that process he maintained the kind of coolness that I can only imagine a real Invisible Man might possess!

    New Orleans would definitely be worth making a pilgrimage to.....for the food as well as the photographic possibilities. And those cemeteries they have down there are the stuff of legend....

    Thank you, Nic. The Bart Simpson one is definitely on the creepy side. I was doing a lot of shooting, as one often does in street situations, and a few of my photos were not quite as sharp as I would have preferred. 'Bart' was one of them - but I liked it so much that I spent some time adding sharpening in Lightroom....especially to the eyes. The eyes were probably why I took the picture in the first place, though I must admit to being a serious Bart fan, period. And, totally agree with you about Pirate Girl's smile - it was a lucky photographic accident - since, in real life, she exuded nothing but sweetness - but in the image, there's just a slight hint of a something more.

    Thank you, Kyle. Very perceptive comment. Emotion is really what it's all about, when all is said and done. I met a great film director once who previously had had a distinguished career as a cinematographer - Rodrigo García - but who also had developed a justified reputation as an 'actor's director' - and when we were talking, someone asked him what criteria he used to decide which 'takes' were keepers, while he was filming. And he said something to the effect that the good ones - the ones he was searching for - always had emotion.

    Thanks, Luke. And what you say is spot on. Some of the colors in some of the pictures - like Pirate Girl, for instance - were only lightly processed, and quite close to the RAW digital negatives (especially the ones from the GX7, which tend to have more dynamic range and possibilities). Others (the fisheye shots, taken with my little GX1 with its older, more primitive micro 4/3 sensor) came out 'flatter' in their original RAW state - and I discovered that the best way to bring them to life (especially 'Bubble Lady' and 'Invisible Man') was by using Nik's whacked-out Analog Efex lightroom plug-in, which as you noted can produce some unsettling, but dramatic, color and tone effects.

    Totally agree, Dave. People can be insanely creative when it comes to Halloween costumes - and in Ashland - which happens to be home to a major regional and national Theater company (several, actually) of some repute - there's a sense of pride and crazy theatrical flair which seems to elevate the costumes. My jaw always tends to drop open when I see the stuff people have created - but it's hard to rouse myself from the stupor of just standing there, open-mouthed, and appreciating all the details and pageantry....and reminding myself to lift the camera and take another shot or three :)
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  15. qhs232

    qhs232 Veteran

    Oct 6, 2013
    Metro Detroit
    Super, I thoroughly enjoyed them, thanks! Makes my life looks tame :smile:
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  16. Wonderful set Miguel. I have to echo Bill's remarks. Halloween in Australia is a non event, for which I'm grateful, really... the kids used to come around banging on doors wanting sweets and treats... but didnt even bother dressing up!! There was a bunch this year as well, all still in school uniforms. Most of them have no idea about the history of it all. Or what it means. Its all about getting loot. The other thing is that it loses something in the translation to the southern hemisphere anyway, we are well into spring, daylight saving is in effect, and its still light til late.
  17. Thanks, Gary. And I'm sorry to say that, apart from the color and pageant and masquerade-themed madness of All Hallows Eve, my life - I'm a writer by trade and spend long hours locked in front of my writing implements searching for words - is equally tame if not more so :)

    Thank you, Sue. And I've never (yet) set foot 'down under' so I have literally no idea of what Halloween or other folk-inspired mad rituals the Aussies practice. But some old folk traditions have a way of hanging on and evolving in surprising ways. In Newfoundland, for example, certain old Brit customs - mumming in particular - have survived in ways that harken back a few centuries, and aren't like anything else in north America. I wonder if there might not be similar hidden pockets sprinkled across your continent? Peter Weir's great film 'The Last Wave' explores some obscure and archaic beliefs.

    On a related note, the other unfortunate phenomenon is the Halloween-ization of other, independent folk beliefs or customs. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead - el Día de los Muertos - has been celebrated on November 2 for a few centuries - but over the past decades, the creeping influence of American products and marketing has introduced Halloween so that now, stores and supermarkets often have Halloween costumes and masks vying with the more traditional Calaveras and Pan de los Muertos (bread baked special in honored of the departed). Hopefully the old customs will survive, though.
  18. tdekany

    tdekany Veteran

    Dec 21, 2011
    Portland OR
    Great set and LOVE your processing.
  19. The thing is... Halloween is actually NOT part of Aussie tradition. It became a creeping cultural change and only since about 1994 or so. Prior to that, it was just "something they did in America"
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  20. Thank you for the comment and reference, tje53. I remember hearing and reading about Slender Man years ago, though I believe the fictional character was inspired by numerous other bits and pastiches from horror and supernatural literature and modern urban legends. I may have to put on my thinking cap and come up with an appropriate urban myth for the 2013 Oregon Invisible Man....stay tuned!

    Thanks for the clarification, Sue :)
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