Monday, September 15, 2008

Festival X

If you happen to be in or near Eastern Ontario or Western Quebec this week or next, you might want to check out the second annual photography celebration known as Festival X. It runs September 18 to 28 at art galleries, public buildings and restaurants in Ottawa and Gatineau.

Ottawa and Gatineau, BTW, are two Canadian cities separated by a river and, to a lesser extent, two languages. If you're knowledge of Canadian geography wouldn't help much in a game of Trivial Pursuit, Gatineau is a city in Quebec, Canada. (Where much of the population speaks French.) It lies directly across the Ottawa River from Ottawa, Ontario, the Canadian capital. (Where most of the population speaks English.)

The theme for this year's festival is The Decisive Moment. It was chosen to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of iconic French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The festival also includes a screening of Heinz Butler's 2006 documentary film, "Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye."

Cartier-Bresson said: "There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative."

I'm guessing that's why Henri's camera of choice was a rangefinder, a 35mm Leica Rangefinder to be exact. Why? Well, for one thing, since there's no moving mirror in a rangefinder, i.e., like there is in an SLR, there is no momentary blackout of the subject being photographed. You know, as in a blackout during the moment it clicks or, as Cartier-Bresson said, in that decisive "moment the photographer is creative."

Here's a Cartier-Bresson pic, "Martine's Legs." Dude sure could shoot!

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