The Power of Symmetry By José Pazó

JPDoublemoon

The Power of Symmetry

By José Pazó 

In this article, the third one I am sending you, I am going to talk about an unexpected camera: The Nikon S32.

It is a very simple, waterproof, Coolpix series, yellow piece of plastic. Probably, for many out there, one of the worst cameras anyone can buy. The specifications are incredibly basic: diminutive sensor, lots of noise and tones of glare. All types of chromatic aberrations and quirks of use. At least, very cheap. I bought it for my 2 years old daughter, but cameras are always nice temptations. At the end, like Homer Simpson does with his bowling ball for Marge, this camera was partially for me. Do not tell my daughter.

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My prior two articles have been about film, b&w film. I like mechanical cameras (Leica M3, Hassy 503), old glass and expected and unexpected results. I still keep some reservations about digital cameras. I have a semi-old Ricoh GRD and a Pentax K01 that I like because nobody likes it. Call me old-fashioned, but pixels are like gremlins in my deep reptilian mind. Preys for ghostbusters. So I bought the Nikon S32, and when into my hands this yellow piece of soap came (probably the most non-ergonomic camera I have tried –slippery as hell), and while playing with it, the miracle showed up in the ancient form of symmetry. ¡Symmetry!

I guess I am a very asymmetrical type of guy. Although I like and practice yoga, one of my legs is shorter than the other, and size and shape of my nostrils are very unequal. Maybe that is the reason why I love Japanese art so much, because of its tendency towards asymmetry. While asymmetry is humble, subtle, suggestive and dynamic, symmetry is solid, pompous, affirmative and static. Symmetry is in general very much related with power. Japanese art tends towards asymmetry, but Chinese art (and power) leans towards symmetry. Japan hides power; China shows it. So I guess that, with the Nikon S32, a Japanese camera, I discovered ancient China and its marks in the Western world and in my reptilian brain.

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Symmetry creates admiration, or at least aw (The White House, the Taj Mahal). It also produces endless decoration (the Cordoba’s Mosque, the vegetal decorative motives of the Alhambra). Symmetry is also present in almost any altar or oratory in the world. Our bodies also tend towards symmetry (at least some bodies), our faces too. Studies have shown that babies prefer symmetrical faces, and religious iconography indulges in it. Greece was almost symmetrical, Rome was over symmetrical, gothic cathedrals and Viking homes were too, the Empire State Building is symmetrical. Butts are. Busts too. Eyes, fruits, shells… (When they forget Fibonacci, another aurean way of symmetry). Monsters and extraterrestrial beings are usually symmetrical. Hearts not so much. That is probably why they keep us unbalanced. But they produce rhythm, and rhythm is symmetrical. Trees are rotationally symmetrical and so are kaleidoscopes, one of my childhood loves.

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Nikon S32 can produce symmetrical images. If I were a fashion photographer, I would be using it to play with models to create enticing, almost religious, visions. Since I am a mere dilettante, I am sending you a batch of everyday pictures. They are technically terrible, but visually addictive. Interiors, monsters, altars, flying trees and perfect landscapes. Etscheresque, for those who enjoy Etscher, the painter. At least for my obsessive brain. This first batch includes photos related with the vegetal world. I do not know if you are going to find enough merit in them to be published, not to even mention other batches. If so, thank you in advance.
As always, regards from Madrid to the whole Steve Huff’s clan. Keep your vision and very personal approach, I find lots of value in it. And the same for all of you who write or visit here. Tons of talent around. I do not have a webpage or similar. Thinking of making one but, for the moment, I enjoy just sending pics to others. So, hasta la symmetrical vista.

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28 Comments

  1. Thank you everybody for your comments. Keep shooting with whatever falls into your hands (brainlux included), and have fun!!

  2. Dear José,
    I LOVE these BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!!!
    What an awesome creative mind, a high sensitive soul to capture the spirit of nature in this way!!
    BRAVO BRAVISIMO and go on!

  3. Jose, striking and interesting imagery, and eloquent and evocative text to accompany! Nicely done. As some have stated above, it is refreshing to see such a unique post on this site—even given the range of subject matter and images that Steve and Brandon have collected here.

  4. Refreshing story! I like it a lot. Clever and fun method in making images too – cudos! You can create a lot with small tools. I enjoy your view of things! Keep it up.

  5. I often look at the pictures people send before reading their text. So your images were a complete visual surprise, and I thought : What IS going on here?! They are a delight. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Steve and Jose

    Great shots Jose from a little camera. Go Nikon. I have much sympathy for you Steve. I love your blog. I recall first coming to it for Leica reviews. Now I come to it to read about most cameras I am interested in. No one needs “I need more this reviewed to that reviewed”.

    Can’t we appreciate each different camera for what it is. In all fairness, Olympus, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony, Canon, fujifilm & Pentax make stirling cameras. The technology is so good that I think you can get an award winning photo from just about any mainstream digital camera.

    I have a personal preference for the Nikon 1 system. It’s not the best system out there. It will not produce the cleanest image at base ISO but the way it handles and it’s speed means that I am confident I will get the photo I want. I am also very partial to Micro four thirds. The Olympus EM 5 MkII is so capable that I can’t see how anyone can really get a significant improvement in quality by spending more.

    Leica holds a special pride of place amongst my gadget collection. I have to admit, Leica need to pull their socks up and get developing equipment that is either the same price and significantly outclasses the competition or drop it’s prices because, from what I have seen, they do not have a camera that would produce an image that I wouldn’t call the Leica M significantly better than anyone else’s camera in this segment.

    The Sony is that much easier to use over the Leica M even with M lenses, it is frightening. You can look through those magnificent Leica M lenses and focus them accurately with live view on the Sony. The A7 is that much lighter and that much cheaper than the Leica M. It also is more advanced than the leica with image stabilisation and better video. I can’t see a significant image quality improvement with the M even though I think it’s probably one of the most beautiful cameras to hold.

    the only M body Leica have a significant advantage over all other makers is the Monochrom. There is nothing else out there that does what the Monochrom does. When the new one Typ 246 is released, it will be the only camera that does black & white video. Not sure who will use that feature but it i can see it being used. I just hope it will be the same weight as the existing one.

    But that’s just my view.
    Thanks again Steve

  7. reinforces what Ansel Adams – i think he said this- its the 12 inches behind the camera that are important! great images. inspiration is when you look for it!

  8. You really can’t please everyone, Steve. No matter how awesome your site is. I like it – it informs me and gives me inspiration to shoot. The curating of the guest posts is pretty good to.

  9. Despite being a person who never posts I feel moved to do so after reading this and looking at the pictures. The prose and the poetry of the words and ideas expressed were wonderful and the pictures themselves had some very beautiful patterns if nothing else. Thank you Jose for giving me a guilty feeling looking back at all the times I’ve thought that I really need a better camera to better enjoy photography. I can’t wait go and play around with symmetry no matter the camera or the results… Just for some creative fun. 🙂

    • Endless Leica posts? I have been attacked for a year from Leica guys moaning that I am talking about Sony too much. There have been very few Leica posts on this site over the past year, even though the origination of this site began with all Leica. Hmmm. I just write about what works, what I like, and then the guest posts which are all different. There is no bias to any camera company, just the good stuff.

      • You admitted to me via email that you have a bias against Fujifilm. I can send you a copy if you have forgotten.

        • Having a bias is not the same thing as expressing it publicly. Steve’s posts here seem even handed to me.

          Rhetorical question: I rented an X100S and didn’t like its poor autofocus, confusing controls, or the limitations of its weird (and small) sensor. In the end, I bit the bullet and bought a Leica. Does not liking the X100S make me biased against Fuji?

          • Everyone feels that way about Fuji, aside from Fuji users. Everyone feels that way about Sony, aside from Sony users. Everyone feels that way about Leica, aside from Leica users.. I think the trick here is, people need to stop bitching, and start getting better at using their gear. I buy Leica because it’s all manual, and if I screw up, it’s on me, not on my camera. The only time I bitch about Leica is when something breaks. And despite the fact that I love Leica.. When the product breaks down on me, everyone hears about it, because it’s simply unacceptable. But look at Canon and their delimitation problem… Where are all the Canon fans now, haha Canon sucks! You get what I mean?!

            People like what they like, and they’re going to make their product seem better by downplaying other products.. I find that kind of reviewing unhealthy. Just shoot with your product, don’t claim it’s the best, don’t claim other products are worse.. Just shoot and be happy with what you have.

            Sometimes I half wish that people like Steve would just shoot images and only write what setting was used, and give a brief summery of the time of day etc. Nothing more, nothing less.. I find that the bigger name reviewers really spoil forums and gear talk for the rest of us, as they create a heard of mindless people who take their word as gospel and it clogs up intelligent productive camera talk.
            No offence Steve, you need to make a living, I get it. I just wish your site engaged people more, and swayed them less..

            In order to make this comment productive and on topic. I find the OPs images interesting (his art history research less so). In my opinion it’s more about him trying to manufacture symmetry, then finding it (and it does exist if you take the time to look). Although I’m not a fan of mixed media film. I can understand where he’s going with his series, and good on him for sticking with a theme. I’d try for a more seamless approach, as in, I’d try to trick the viewer into thinking I’m actually shooting symmetrical objects, rather then the obvious tell tale photoshopped look. But hey, everyone’s different.

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