Friday, October 15, 2010

(Ir)relevant comments on a photograph. To start with: Congrats, Allen!

Click to enlarge

Allen Walker of Scottburgh took this spectacular photograph at Aliwal Shoal. It's not a "pretty" picture - but it is highly dramatic, uncomfortably dark, and mysteriously moody.

The shot is, to me, a photojournalistic image at its very best. Allen squeezed the shutter at the decisive moment. He did so either mechanically or intuitively. He certainly didn't compose the photo; the photo composed itself. I know that sounds quite awkward - but how would you describe it? Difficult. If an image says more than a thousand words, how could one comment on it aptly with less than a thousand words?

Both divers, incidentally tough members of the Australian national rugby team, have never snorkelled with sharks (I guess I can tell by their body "language"), of which the one who was closer to the photographer has been unintentionally cropped, make for a fantastic background.

The menacing shark emerges almost metaphorically from the murky depth that could be the bottom of our archaic collective soul - we all still have this old fear of a monster's gaping mouth that could mean the business end of our precarious existence...

Whatever, blah, blah. blah.... To sum it up, Allen's shot is one of the best underwater photographs I have ever seen.

This is meant to be a straight compliment, and under "normal" circumstances I should not feel the necessity to explain it.

However, in the shark world circumstances are not always "normal", so I need to elaborate a bit.

Some people don't understand me, and attack me for being: ego-driven, petty-minded, destructive, unreasonable, incapable of seeing the 'larger' issues such as effective shark conservation, hurting the 'cause' - or they accuse me of "bad-mouthing" others, especially those who are the "real" shark lovers out there, the "sharkiest people in the world" (some adjective, huh?), those who selflessly "dedicate their lives" to sharks (often making a very comfy living in the process, as I should add...).

This is who I am: When I don't like things, I say so - if necessary politically very incorrect - and "make" enemies; by the same token I can praise, and do so with much pleasure, when I like things others do or say.

Allen and I had some serious "issues" lately - about the tiger shark baiting "issue". We discussed some of our disagreements without mincing our words, and were close to calling each other names, and not very delicate ones at that...

Thus, I would think that Allen will be quite surprised to read what I am saying about his master photograph.

At the end of the day, a basic common understanding prevailed - Allen can be a young raging bull with a soft heart, and I can be a pretty aggressive old bull with a soft heart. Our 'heart condition' is our bond, as it were.

Whatever, blah, blah, blah... Enjoy the pic as much as I do.

End of story.

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