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"A Streetcar Named Desire"

A play by Tennessee Williams, with iconic characters like Blanche, Stanley, Stella. Who can forget Marlon Brando as Stanley, calling out to Stella, hoping to win her back.

Our new streetcars here in OKC don't exactly conjure up thoughts of the seedier parts of New Orleans -- they're too shiny and new, and the city is vibrant and growing. Indeed, the new streetcars were meant to instill a sense of advancement and success, and although the routes (there are only two, which overlap) weren't really meant to convey commuters, there are those who do use the streetcars for more than just a ride around downtown -- they actually use this newest mode of transportation to get back and forth to work. One such was the gentleman who who sat in front of me, and in doing so, created this photo for me. There was a certain amount of serendipity involved in getting this shot: First, I had to see it. I don't do a lot of this kind of photography, so seeing the shot was a major thing for me, followed closely by knowing enough to raise the camera, frame it, and shoot it. I will say that the moment I saw the shot in my head, I knew it had to be B&W, which meant converting it in Silver Efex Pro, since the camera was set to color. Fortunately, the 20 or so years I spent shooting nothing but B&W film paid off in being able to recognize from the start that this was going to be a B&W shot. Second, I had to have someone -- not just anyone -- sitting near me who I could get in the frame. This gentleman got on, dressed in a most appropriate manner, and even though the car was mostly empty, sat in the exact right spot. A guy in a business suit, all nice and business-like would not have worked. It needed to be a blue-collar worker. He was perfect. I told him I was shooting, and he didn't seem to care.

I don't normally like to shoot a photo where the person in the photo is looking out of the frame, much less one who is also so very close to the edge. But for this, it felt right. Not sure why, but it did. We can't see what he's looking at, but by not seeing him looking out of the window, we have a sense that he's totally unaware that the city -- and possibly his entire life -- is just passing him by, which saddens me.

The blur of so many things outside the streetcar's window was intentional, in the hopes of expressing the idea that the city -- and life -- is just passing by at an apparent high rate of speed. This meant I had to use a very slow shutter speed. Hand holding the camera and keeping it still on that bouncing, jarring streetcar wasn't easy. I was actually very surprised it came out so well. There was a reward that came with getting this shot. As a member of the OKC Metro Camera Club, I enter darn near all of the club's competitions. There are no real prizes, just bragging rights. Each year, those who have entered club competitions are allowed to enter a handful of what they think were their better efforts from that year's competitions into a "best of the year" competition, which, unlike the regular competitions, is judged by someone outside the club. This year, I was very honored to take home the Best of the Year award in Black and White Projected Digital Image with this image.

For anyone interested in technical issues --

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 16mm

Aperture priority

1/10 sec (handheld)


ISO 200

EV -.03

Converted to B&W in Silver Efex Pro.

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