This photo seems ostensibly to be a celebration, yet what draws me to it is a mild sense of loneliness and isolation. The solitary figure, with arms folded, watches the firework with studious interest, a certain patience and mild curiosity, as though supervising the phenomenon to ensure nothing out of the ordinary happens. The absence of other onlookers, the wan sky and soft palette all add to the loneliness of the photo, yet the onlooker does not seem lonely. Indeed, there is a sense that, friends or otherwise, they were, in an unhurried manner, quietly determined to go down to Parker’s Piece and set off a firework or two.
Clearly, this is a handheld shot and it was fortunate that the brightness of the firework arrested the exposure before too much of the background was lost to unfocussed blur. I’m never especially confident about out of focus shots – is it an accidental masterpiece, or just a poor photograph? Sometimes it can be difficult to be sure. In this case, however, perhaps in the way that a poem operates more indirectly, it has strong mood and atmosphere, precisely on account of its nature. Even then, it was another case of a friend’s comment on facebook when I posted this in 2007, which convinced me that what has since become a personal favourite, was a good one.
G’s comment also adds a nice little anecdote, on which note I conclude:
This… also reminds me in a pleasing way of those Bonfire Night paintings everyone did at school (everyone in England anyway, even at convent schools). The ones where you got your mind blown by being given a piece of BLACK paper, on which you had to make your mark with lighter coloured chalks or paint. A topsy turvy world! And if you wanted a silhouetted figure like this, you had to just be really careful to leave a space.