<<< o >>>love's small energy 70 comments + add yours

Normally I'm a great fan of discussing the technical in's and out's of a shot, but not on this occasion, as there's nothing I can do about it now: this was a commission and was taken for one person to give as a gift to another, so it's finished – no tweaking, no changing the colour balance, no nothing, ... it's done ;-)

So, for a change, tell me what this photograph makes you feel. What story does it tell?

capture date
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
3.55pm on 5/2/05
Canon 20D
EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
aperture priority
C1 Pro
piers [North pier] + fylde coast [scenic] + commissions + no print + people
comment by Jarod at 08:29 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at in the photo. I assume that's two people in the middle holding each other. They're too small. From your description I assume this is supposed to be a romantic shot? The background structure is too industrial. I also feel like there's more emphasis on the textured ground and the structure than the couple in the middle.

comment by Zishaan at 08:34 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Thats a kiss, isn't it? A farewell? Or still better, a welcome?

comment by djn1 at 08:37 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Jarod: so much for not discussing the technical details ;-)

Everyone else: this shot was entirely intentional, i.e. the framing, composition, relative scale of the people and the structure aren't accidental and, to my mind, hint at a number of stories that could be told about this shot, or the couple, or relationships, or any number of other things.

So, what does it make you feel?

Zishaan: yes, any or all of those.

comment by Adriana at 08:52 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

I like the sense of depth that is given by the clouds in the backgroud. I also think that what seems to be a couple is to small in relation with the context on the frame. Been ridiculous I would say that is a romance lost in the immensity of their environment. Am I pretentious or what? (lol) You just need to read the title in this one. ;)

comment by Alan at 08:55 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

I didn't even notice the people at first. The clouds are very dramatic almost with a sense of foreboding.
The shot is quite striking but those clouds give me the willies!!

comment by MexiPickle at 09:01 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

DJN, this one has an immense sense of sadness to it for me, for some reason. It can only be a farewell with someone heading out on a long journey, to my mind. (Is that the kind of comment you wanted? ;) )

comment by P at 09:03 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

it may be intentional but i too think the people are too small. so small that at first i thought the picture was one that someone took of you standing next to a camera on a tripod! :) overall, it's not one of my favorites of yours. sorry!

comment by Alec Long at 09:09 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

What it says to me, Dave, is that humans are infintesimal compared to the world around us. Despite that, love makes us real and whole and complete, and the world can go on being the world because we've carved out our little place in it.

As for the technical aspects of this shot, I think the sharpening is a bit eggregious here. At least in its web iteration, not having seen the print. Too many halos around the couple and the bridge supports. Not that I'm casting stones too far, mind you. I'm guilty of it myself in a number of cases.

comment by moscon at 09:17 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

It shows two people (obviously in love) over shadowed by society and the world. Smaller, and less significant than the sand/bridge(?), love is small, yet it contains a far greater amount of energy. The two infinitesimal lovers would seem to be clouded out by the spectator mind, due to the "greater" elements in the shot, yet they immediately draw the eye.


comment by John at 09:17 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

This is a very long shot (parden the pun0 dave but maybe it is a portrait of you and your wife. You put your camera on a tripod and set a timed exposure. Maybe it has something to do with sharing the joy of pregnancy of your wife.

Or maybe I am completely wrong and just being a romantic fool.

Go on put me out of my misery.


comment by djn1 at 09:22 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

More on the story later, but in the interim I realised, as Alec pointed out, that this was probably over-sharpened. I've toned it down a bit

John: no, it's not me in the shot.

comment by John at 09:50 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

don't go to bed until you've told us or I won't be able to sleep as well

comment by d at 09:56 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

this is breathtaking. they are returning to one another after a long absence.

comment by John at 10:06 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

My wife said "it's good that" not being very good at explaining her self when it comes to art take it from me she likes it a lot.

comment by Justin at 10:11 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Sometimes all you can do is hang on to each other in when faced with the how huge the world is and how small we are. I think this captures the power of two people being there for each other wherever that might be and in the face of all kinds of uncertainties.

Thanks for another good shot, you're a constant inspiration.

comment by nogger at 10:18 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Small. As in tiny.

comment by Farid at 10:44 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

i think the cloud formation above the two is somehow related to the title "love's small energy," sort of like an explosion from far away that is the result of the strong love between the two almost imperceptible individuals.

comment by Farid at 10:52 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

.... one that extends even beyond the boundaries of the society that serves as the foundation for anything we do (the rigid bridge) .

comment by A L I at 10:52 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Look at that background, how magnificient and majestic those clouds are...

comment by Valette at 11:04 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

I had no idea the blob in the middle were humans before reading the comments; because of that the blob really bugged me. It seemed to be important, but was too small to be anything recognizable. Ignoring the blob as best I could, the photo gave me a sense of strength and power withstanding the test of time. Now that I know the blob is made up of two people, it leaves me confused.

comment by m at 11:05 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

At first view I'd have missed them but for the title. They add a whole story to an already excellent landscape.
It's fab!

comment by m at 11:44 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

After some study I've decided it must be to mark an occasion. But what? Is the million dollar question. I'm going for either marriage or goodbye!

comment by djn1 at 11:50 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Stories are wonderful things, yet photographs, as with all art, aren't inherently meaningful, at least not in an objective sense. We imbue them with meaning, but any 'reading' requires some sort of synthesis between the shot itself (its content, style, etc) and the ways in which we, as human beings, already view/read the world. In other words, IMO, meaning-making is a human endeavour that can neither be reduced to the discovery of objective meaning (inherent in a photograph or some other feature of the world) nor reduced to purely subjective interpretation - it hovers somewhere between the two. In this sense there isn't one true story that we can pin to this shot, but there are a set of features that can evoke a pattern of shared responses: e.g. Alec's point that "humans are infinitesimal compared to the world around us [yet] despite that, love makes us real and whole and complete, and the world can go on being the world because we've carved out our little place in it."

So, I'd agree with Alec and moscon and Justin, but simply because those were my intentions – but there are many other stories that could also be told, none of which would be any less valid than mine.

comment by paul at 11:52 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Interesting question that, but for me...knowing the story behind it. It gives me a sense of secrecy...maybe thats the wrong word, the reason for this is the fact that if it was on a wall...displayed as no doubt it will be. All the people that see it apart from the two people on it may not grasp that fact that the subjects own the shot. The viewer might just think "fantastic image".....but to the owners....they may say or not say "that is us". So its the fact that it has a deeper meaning behind it that isnt immedialtely recognisable....and I like that. Its a wonderful way to have a portrait, to share something without having two huges faces plastered on the shot with the backdrop of a lovely waterfall....so the image does two things.

I can imagine a comment "thats a great image"........."thanks, thats us on that".

comment by djn1 at 11:57 PM (GMT) on 23 February, 2005

Paul: yes, the subjects own the shot, but it's a symbolic rather than actual ownership as this wasn't a portrait. It would have been great if it had been a 'real' portrait but there are too many thousands of miles between me and them for this to have been a possibility.

comment by bjorn at 12:01 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

a great image, too bad i read all the comments, somehow it always seems to take away something

comment by Carlos at 12:02 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

hola, es una de las fotos mas bonitas q he visto en un blog. me seduce la soledad de ese puente y las nubes....y todo muy melancolico. que puente es y donde queda?

comment by djn1 at 12:09 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

bjorn: I know exactly what you mean.

Carlos: thanks. And it's the North Pier at Blackpool in the UK.

comment by Fellow Eskimo at 12:10 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

The first thing that hit me was the open space. Openess. It makes me feel small compared to everything else, but the people in the middle feel like one of many people. (there are many like them, but they are represented in these two) Its really nice. My favorite one of yours as of lately.

Good composition, very appeasing tot he eye.

comment by Darrell at 12:26 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Dave: Thought I'd try and answer before reading any other comments beforehand.

I see the large, sweeping tidal foregound and the impressive clouds as demonstrating the overriding power of nature and perhaps, by showing land, sky and by suggesting sea as being symbolic of the planet itself. The couple are symbolic of the power of love. They are placed centre stage and framed by the pier, so drawing attention to them, and showing them as small but yet significant. Perhaps suggesting that love is central and most important to people generally? Interesting!

I feel though the image does not work as well as it might. The two are too insignificant against this BG to work effectively. The picture does not highlight them enough and as a consequence fails to make a powerful enough statement. On a more technical note, there is also a lot of FG which does little to lead the eye and also presents some annoying debris. A tighter frame of the couple against the clouds - still small but more distinct - would be an improvement here i think. Also, the pier should form the top of the picture, as the sky and lights above it do little for the image IMO and the white band of the pier cuts the top third off anyway. This would concentrate the viewer on the couple, while still keeping the powerful BG as a backdrop but losing the extraneous elements. Perhaps a panoramic crop maybe?

My thoughts for what the're worth anyway. I'll read the other comments now. Cheers

comment by M at 02:50 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Just a quick note:
This shot was taken for me to give to someone very, very special.
And, though I’m not going to try to sway anyone’s opinion one way or the other, I must say that for us, it is perfect.
(We plan on enjoying it for a very long time.)
Thanks again Dave— you made our day.

comment by Sharla at 03:08 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

The story I see: First, I notice the strong aspects of the shot, the distant rainclouds, the abscent tidal waters that must be a very significant force in their transition to and fro, and the causeway that by its style must be old but is still ruler straight, unphased by the constant interplay at its feet.

Then I notice that the almost insignificant human is actually two people, seemingly embrased. Are they loving the day and each other, a first kiss here? Or are they returning under the bridge to remember an earlier time when they could hide from most eyes?

There is a lot to admire and explore and to speculate in this shot. I suspect your "original" of this picture would be much larger where the details can be studied with less effort.

comment by leigh at 03:13 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Terrific shot! To me it says this.

"Everything in this world can be so huge, but love is ours lets steal a kiss!"

I think the colours are prefect, and I think it expresses the moment well.

comment by moscon at 03:24 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

thanks for revising it- desharpening it made it alot clearer


comment by Steve at 03:33 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

It's Beautiful ! This is the kind of stuff I like to see.

comment by mark at 05:21 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Funny thing is...I thought you were taking another picture of a photographer...To me it looks like a guy looking through a camera mounted on a tripod.....I honesly don't see two poeple...

Also I can't stop cocking my head a bit to straighten the shot..it looks alittle off to me..

Did you really not do any tweaking?? Looks like a channel mixer hit the browns a bit....??

As to the story....To me it looks like a lonely structure with no one around to enjoy it except some photographers.......With the lack of any reds and greens, it lacks the vibrancy of life which in turn makes me feel alittle sad..

comment by Adriana at 05:26 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

That's not fear Carlos wrote his comment in spanish and even with it he got an answer. I will write my comments in spanish since now (lol) :)

comment by Robb at 06:58 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I get a slightly different read from this, and I draw it from the rhetoric of the title (which is often quite useful in following your photographs). I see the couple's energy as a generative one, drawing out the clouds and water pocketed along the beach (closest here to Darrell's reading) -- the love being a manifestation of a kinetic sort of energy, even if we can't see it's manifestation on this couple, we can see it in the world that surrounds them. Their energy is elemental and vastly powerful, in ways that the sterile industrial framing cannot be. I get to this reading from the positioning of the couple on, essentially the horizon of the shot, on the liminal region between sky and sand, and read this positioning as the positioning of the "small energy" of love: somewhere on the border between being grounded and drifting into the sky, holding in it the energy of mountains. The pier structure is too far up in the composition, doesn't have the grounding of the couple, except through legs that seem utterly awkward for its bulk. To put it another way, the pier is clumsy, mechanical -- doesn't have the organic pulse to it that is demonstrated in the effect of the couple on the surroundings. I don't read a back-story, because I don't think it's particularly important -- and that may be some of the point, rhetorically; the title tells me that I'm looking at a manifestation of energy, and I don't need to know the specifics.

comment by Kenny at 07:05 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

It makes me feel lonely and left out, way out in the distance. The empty space fore and aft remind me of my somewhat isolated existance. Or maybe I'm just depressed.

comment by Jason at 07:37 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

It's beautiful. Very moving. Very nice shot.

comment by Orthodox at 07:38 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

This photo reminds me Dali's paintings, maybe because of the proportions we are not used to see. It's also an invitation to guess the spirit behind that hugging, especially we can't see their faces' expressions. It's that unique moment we have to enjoy in his plenitude in spite of cloudy lives and swamping existence.

comment by Orthodox at 07:40 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I think it's a great joy for you, as artist, to see that your piece(s) of work discover the soul in people admiring your photos.

comment by jaap berk at 07:46 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

perfect picture

comment by Kit at 08:41 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I agree with Orthodox: it reminds me a lot of Dalí's paintings -- the use of tiny figures in grand settings appeared in a lot of his paintings, especially El Gran Masturbador.

(URL of Dalí image for reference)

However, I was kept from being drawn in by the fact that the tiny couple in this shot looks like it was pasted in. I'm not sure if it's just my computer resolution, or if they were shot separately from the rest of the landscape, but the light looks different on them and that throws me off a little bit; keeps me from enjoying the picture as a whole. Otherwise the shot is lovely, and makes me feel wistful. Companionship in the middle of vastness is beautiful.

comment by tobias at 09:08 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Thanks Alan, I agree with you, the clouds really do affect the mood and I feel are very exciting. I mean goodness there colours and the atmosphere is amazing. My shots of clouds tend to get lost a little, the colour etc.

They remind me of "The Terminator" Still one of my all time fave films. At the end "Sarah Connor" is filling up at some faceless fuel station in Mexico and a young boy takes a polaroid and says "Please lovely lady give me $5 dollars for this photo or my father will beat me" in an overly salesy melodramtic way. She does his bidding and just before she pulls off there is a shot of the mountains at the end of one of those seemingly endless roads and you see a very dramatic sky and a gust of wind sends a tumble weed rolling by. The child says something again "There's a storm coming" and by jove this is very similar, just noticed the mountains as well in there.

For me this image if it is about love, says: no matter the seeming power of it that against the scale of the elements and the world around us that it is brittle and like the changeable weather, but fleeting. British weather is similar to love I feel in that although beautiful and awe inspiring, it very rarely lasts and those elements in our surroundings be they man (the structure i.e. work or responsibilities) or nature can very easily conspire against it.

Can I ask what was the actual commission? The requirement. Oh and don't say this end result because obviously there was a spec you had to adhere to gain this image and know for certain that this was the shot.

The people are a little less significant and if this was the composition, not much more can be said but not my preference.

comment by Anthony DiSante at 10:52 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I'm an LTWFTW, and though I'm very impressed with most of your shots, this one is especially captivating. I always find myself wishing I could put your photos on my computer as the wallpaper, but alas they are too small. Is there any chance you could put the full-size photos online?

comment by Aaron at 10:58 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

It feels so out-worldly to me (if that's even a word). Like some rail platform across the surface of Mars after terraforming has taken hold. Such power. One the best I've seen here in a while.

comment by quinten at 11:14 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Feeling goes beyond thought, this one goes deep so words don't really suit.

It reminds me of a nice quote: "when a picture speaks for itselves, don't interrupt."

comment by Simon at 11:27 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

It reminded me of “The Singing Butler” by Jack Vettriano - a half-glipsed love-story played out on a wild and threatening background. I like the fact that you can’t quite see the couple clearly enough - are they talking? Kissing? Dancing? Fighting?

This is superb!

comment by Ali at 11:43 AM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

The clouds are amazing. The whole thing looks like a painting. Awesome.

comment by Simon C at 01:29 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I'm writing this without reading the other comments.

My initial reaction was not to like the colour, or the apparent 2 dimensional nature of the composition. However, once I began to take in the composition properly (and the the title) I became aware of the powerful contrast between the relatively large space of the beach; the mass of the structure and the looming intensity of the clouds in comparison to the smallness of the two human figures. Ironically, it's the scale of this contrast that causes the viewer's attention to be entirely consumed by the tiny figures, generating an overwhelming sense of a small, but intensely potent intimacy.

This is a marvellous shot - it's what photography is about (at least for me) and goes beyond the mere picturesque.

comment by Andy (Sensorchip) at 02:41 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

One thing I often say about my photography is that I want to be remembered for it. When I'm gone, I want people to remember me for my art. Pretentious? Completely!

I am fully aware for this to happen you have to produce amazing photo after amazing photo and I often say "I'm never going to be remembered for taking photos of puddles, rubbish and shopping trolleys!", you need human emotion in a photograph and you've taken a unique approach to this.

I want to see this photograph as an A1 print so I can study the detail, but then I think no. Perhaps printed too large the people become too detalied and less symbolic.

I would kind of like to know the brief behind this, but maybe the slight mystery to it is better. The main thing here is that 'M' is clearly very happy with this piece of art and it says exactly what it's supposed to.

To sum up, I honestly believe that you will be remembered for your photographs.

And what does this photograph say to me?

Love will conquer all.

comment by sb at 03:21 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I'm a long-time lurker here. I didn't read all of the comments, but what I read has left an indescribable peace in my mind. I loved this shot for its piercing poignancy, but the stories here have added so many layers of meaning to it. Thanks everyone, for sharing.

comment by east3rd at 03:34 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

I'm having trouble discerning the pose of the folks in the distance. There just isn't enough detail there for me to make them out. To me it looks like a sad scene, of three people staring off into the sea, almost as if they just scattered the ashes of a loved one. But hey, I guess that would contradict the title... or would it???

comment by luke at 05:03 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

i'm not going to leave a huge comment. I thought this was stunning until I read it wasn't serindipity. I know that shouldn't affect the quality of the image at all but it does for me. Stunning shot, I think its the bg mountains that make it.

comment by Jason Wall at 05:31 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005


As the sun began is slow descent into the western sea, Frank paused to take a deep breath. The sand beneath his feet turned a deep copper color, and reflected blue in places where pools of water still lay after the passing of the storm. Of in the distance, huge clouds billowed, partially masking the mountains in the distance. With a calm smile full of contentment, he looked over to Sharon and admired the way the golden cast of the sun lit up her face. It had been a long time coming, and he could still remember the first time he had seen her on this same beach twenty-five years ago to the day.
She had been young, and playful, a college girl with a group of friends laughing and joking, tossing a frisbee around. He had been so distracted watching her that he hadn't noticed the frisbee veer off course. When it beaned him, it broke his reverie. She had been apologetic, but he had smiled. Six months later they were married.
Thoughst of the intervening years came and went, good times most of them. As they walked along the beach, just before they passed beneath the bridge she stopped, catching his eyes before he turned away. She smiled at him, much the way she had smiled the day he had proposed on this beach. Without much thought he stopped, and taking her in his arms, he kissed her, a kiss that held the moments of twenty-five years of love and memories. It was good to be here, to celebrate here, as the sun set in the western sea.


comment by VPra at 07:29 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Whered you take this?

comment by Darrell at 07:55 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005


With prose like that I'm sure you could write for Mills and Boon. Very, very funny.


comment by Chris at 08:10 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

> So, for a change, tell me what this photograph makes you feel. What story does it tell?

I don't know about everyone else but the light poles along with the people embarrassing at the bottom forms a heart. Very endearing, maybe you'd have to be in love to see it.

comment by peter cohen at 09:39 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

"If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no need to dance it."

-- Isadora Duncan

comment by Andrew at 11:10 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Really good photo...all photos on blog great...I like it very much...and come to me: straupisz.blog.pl

comment by djn1 at 11:22 PM (GMT) on 24 February, 2005

Wow, thanks, I wasn't expecting quite so many comments on this one :-)

comment by ViSuaLLyMiNDeD at 05:44 PM (GMT) on 26 February, 2005

This shot is so romantic. For me it's about how love can make it seem like you're the only two in the world. Very vast and open space, the symmetry and horizontal lines are fantastic. Very moving shot!

comment by Kirsten at 03:02 AM (GMT) on 27 February, 2005

This image is to the eyes what silence in music is to the ears. It is the space between the notes without which music could not exist. Or a whisper - it draws attention by being so quiet. Can you hear it?

comment by olya at 05:07 PM (GMT) on 27 February, 2005

i'm surprised at those who didn't see the people. i think the photography is very well done, with good balance and good choice of composition/lens.

i envy the fact you get such clouds. well done in using them.

fwiw, i think its a really good photograph. :)

comment by bluecheese at 05:14 PM (GMT) on 1 March, 2005

I feel that perhaps this landmark signifies where the couple met for the first time, or maybe they lived on opposite sides of the bridge in the background, and the bridge was what brought them together. The guy in the pictures looks like he's dressed in a white coat, which signifies either that the picture was taken at an important event, or that the model just dressed up for the picture. A VERY interesting image. The enormity of the background and the tiny couple in the middle of the picture signifies to me...they have come a long way and have a long way to go together, bridging their differences or perhaps the different pasts and turning into a future for them both.

comment by Rusty at 07:56 PM (GMT) on 4 March, 2005

The fact that the couple is so small in this shot only enhances its feel, for me. It looks like a cold, rainy day... the beach is deserted, the bridge/pier is cold and lifeless... yet there is a warmth in the immensity of it all - the couple.

comment by rich at 01:14 PM (GMT) on 11 March, 2005

oh man, he's a vampire and hes sucking that poor womans blood!


this image is fantastic...the scale is pretty intense. i love it all. kinda has a aime look to it. those clouds are so dramatic and low and big that it almost seems like a composite.

great image!

comment by Chris at 09:14 PM (GMT) on 19 March, 2005

This shot conveyed a sense of time to me. The lateral break in the picture at the pier defines the moment, while the hills in the distance are the unknown, the future.

comment by maria at 11:40 PM (GMT) on 9 April, 2005

if the shot was commissioned and meant as a gift from one to another, who are we to guess intention, or judge artistic appropriateness? i think it represents profound emotion in the intention, and doesn't need any discussion beyond that.

thank you for taking these amazing amazing pictures. they are beautiful