Billboards are a form of advertising that's completely parasitic instead of symbiotic.
Advertising on TV, a magazine, or a web-page provides a benefit to the publisher, and the person viewing the advertising is rewarded by the additional material that the publisher is able to provide. It's similar to the tasty fruit that plants use to reward animals who will later excrete their seeds. Billboards and other advertising in public spaces are more like burrs, succeeding by being an annoyance and imposition: they provide no benefit to the viewer in exchange for our suffering their visual clutter.
I thought I'd try to share what I see in these photos.
First of all, I like them as compositions. The shapes fascinate me, and I'm drawn to bold colours. So I hope that they can be appreciated as forms within a composition without the need to identify the pieces.
Secondly, I'm a compulsive reader. If I see a word in a place or a photograph, it draws my attention before any other element, and it's what I return to. Some people like flowers, some like sunsets. I like text.
Finally, typography itself is compelling. Like photography, it's the base for a medium of mass communication as well as a highly refined combination of artistic expressiveness and graphic design. The typeface for this (and the two images below) is Helvetica which is a masterpiece of Swiss Modern design. It's an extremely common typeface, used by corporations, governments, and individuals everywhere.
I suspect that this is Helvetica Neue Light, which is more refined than the stronger parent typeface, but the design essentials are the same. Look at the height of the vertical strokes of the r and i, and see how they're lower than the top of the e or the curved stroke of the r. This is a subtle detail that is designed to balance the size of the letters to the eye, rather than mathematically. Look at the curve on the r again, and see how it's tapered toward the bar and thicker at the top. Typefaces are designed with these varied strokes for rhythm, balance, and beauty as well as legibility. They're an echo of the broad-nibbed pens used by scribes, and a reminder that the shapes of our written language are based on the human hand. But now look down one photo and see how the strokes vary in those letters. The round forms of the G, o, and g are different, with the g following the example of the r and thinning at the bar, but the G and o are thinnest at the top and thickest at the middle. This trait, called 'contrast', is fairly subtle in Helvetica, but every aspect of it has been planned and designed until it's as close to perfect as it can be. And these decisions are just a small part of designing a good typeface.
For an interesting comparison, go to a text editor and type out the letters 'erie' in Helvetica in a size large enough that all of these details are visible. Get used to the way it looks, and then switch to Arial. There's a clear difference in the refinement and design, but the typefaces are similar enough that most people can't tell them apart. Yet a good design in type, just like a good design in photography, works better and is more pleasing even if the viewers haven't been trained to articulate the differences.
It has now been over a month since I posted any photo with more than a few inches of depth, and I have to say that it's not about to end any time soon.
My poor nieces are probably bored senseless by now.
My club's judges' official comments on 'hangout' were that it was original, but that was tempered with a comment about modern art that wasn't entirely flattering. I've never been into pictorialism, so that's fine by me.
The other comment was that it was extremely red. Never let it be said that I don't listen to judges.
'Hangout' still scored fairly well, although it was the print of 'Green and Fence' that won a ribbon. They called it likable.
I do worry that these photos turn into a game of Where's Waldo for the viewer, where the extent of their interest is to puzzle out the original text. But I'm somewhat reassured that few people probably care enough to spend that much time on them.
Apparently when my photo "hangout" came up in a clinic at my club, the judges were stumped.
I'll need to wait until tomorrow to see how it scored.
The 'Detail' part of this photo's title is probably a bad choice. This is a completely separate image, and isn't just an enlargement of the wider photo. This one was even taken first, so please consider it independently (if at all).
Kingston Road is the pre-superhighway route between Toronto and Kingston, Ontario. The motels that remain are an historical relic that now serve the lower-income area that the neighbourhood has become.
My third film photo. I've bought a pair of Yashica rangefinders, and these past few photos have been taken with a GSN that's probably older than I am. The second Yashica that I bought is a G model, which is over forty years old. I'm testing it now after replacing its light seals, and should have photos from it in a week. Until then I have a new series that I've been working on.
This photo makes me think of Batman.
A rare photo - it includes a full word.