Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Catch Me If You Can, originally uploaded by liming.chen.

Here's a recent fav.

It speaks to me in a number of ways. First of all, it's a shot that I tried to take but could not. My girlfriend got one of these domo-kun plushes out of a machine and got me a matching hoodie as a gift. I thought, a machine filled with these things would make a great photograph. When went to take a look, all the domo-kuns were gone and replace with overstuffed, buck-toothed rip-offs. I had missed my chance.

Crane machines are great for a couple reasons. Repetition, colors, bright, high contrast, & scale all add to the interestingness. This machine is even cooler because the prizes look like they're all mortally scared of being picked and are backing away from the claw.

A couple technical elements also add to the image here: interesting elements in foreground, midground, and background; sharp focus; narrow depth-of-field; and tight cropping. There's the claw right up top and super close, telling us where we are. A mountain of miniature domo-kun's work well to multiply the already comical nature of this awesome character. The pair of giant domo-kun's add another point of interest, with that mid-sized guy at the top, completing the domo triangle, mr. roboto.

The narrow dof is something that conveniently just happens when you're taking photos in dark places with artificial lighting. The small f-stop that lets in all that precious light also creates this shallow field of sharpness. That one guy on the bottom right is tack sharp, and the dues behind him get progressively blurrier. It's cool and easy to do under the right conditions (and the right lens).

As for tight cropping, it was a good decision here because you kind of eliminate the machine's front panel while filling the frame with the subject, increasing the sense of crowdedness and fullness. The well on the bottom left kind of detracts from that feeling a little, but is coupled with the claw above, grounding us in the machine. One of these domo-kun suckers is in immanent danger of being picked up by that claw and dropped in that hole.


Anonymous said...

This is a great blog, Bobby. Totally dig your taste and thoughts on photography!

I don't know if you saw this buried in my flickr page, but I have a similar claw game fascination (it's prominent in my Wong Kar-Wai-inspired short film, if you recall):


I didn't do any color or lens distortion correction like I would have liked to do, but I thought of this shot because I feel the emotion is totally different than the domo pic... all of my prizes are *longing* to be grabbed. :)

Bobby Lin said...

Hey Joe. Thanks for the kind words.

I forgot about that photo. I did come across it before when I was browsing through your Taiwan pictures. I see what you mean about the different emotion there. They look like they're almost leaning in, towards the claw.