Photos & Projects

Single Frame – What the Hell did I do? – By Gerard Exupery

April 4, 2021

The Alpha in this picture is hard to tell because they all think they are the Alpha. I am just sitting there having made the mistake of responding to a plea for help with what I thought was a computer issue only to be blindsided into a fight that I have no dog in.

I have a few expressions that I find myself repeating from time to time. Usually, because they started out as an attempt to be funny but eventually grew to acquire the seriousness of a stroke. My life: “All the disadvantages of being divorced with all the disadvantages of being married” is one of them.

So you may have surmised that Queen Boudicca in the center is the Former Mrs. and you would be right. On her right, my left, and looking at me like the regular whipping boy who is about to get the afternoon off, is Queen Boudicca’s court-ordered anger management class drop out, unemployed, boorish, drunk texting anus of a fiancé of 8 years for lack of a better name, Burf. Directly across from me is  2nd born son who I call Cooter because it annoys him but in a loving passive-aggressive sort of way. He decided that as long as I was there he was going to make me an offer for an  Xbox 1. I buy it and he keeps it.

But generally, the reason I am there is that something is my fault. Or it is perceived that something I put into motion 20 years ago has suddenly broken the dishwasher. And this must be discussed at maximum volume. The finer points of which being repeated over and over.

My life is modest now compared to what it was. I married up but I jumped without a chute… and that was just and is fine with me. There are wonderful days when I don’t even hear another human being or my own voice. And I no longer have to sit in the bathroom to read an entire chapter of a book. But sometimes it can get lonely and I feel a little sorry for myself. So, I pick myself up and I drive over to the old house on the nice side of town and park up the street. And I watch Burf and the Former as they interact in the backyard… and you can hear them almost a half a block away. And then I drive back to my place or go find a picture to take or an adventure to have and remember how good my life truly is.

The picture was taken with a Fuji X100. The very first X100 not like that fancy pants stuff you got going on now. I used the new neural filters in Photoshop to color the image. I rarely work in color but this artificial intelligence / neural network stuff is worthy of discussion. 23mm f5. 6 1/60 sec. Still have that X100 too.

04/05/2021 CORRECTION: After careful consideration, I’ve decided to remove the coloring. Just because. It’s my picture you know.

My book ‘Subway New York City ‘1975-1985’ is available on Etsy.
Gerard Exupery has been a New York City Street Photographer for 40 years, He attended the School of Visual Arts and studied with Lisette Model at The New School. He has also worked as an oil rig roustabout, a photographer’s assistant, custom printer, motorcycle mechanic, audio engineer, video engineer, producer, and Mr. Mom.  Exupery also drove a New York City taxi which he considers his post-graduate work.

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  • Reply
    April 4, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Aaah – I love everything you write, Gerard. And your photos, of course…

  • Reply
    April 4, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Made me smile … love your writings

  • Reply
    David Hume
    April 4, 2021 at 11:29 am

    Yeah I’d have to say I’m not so sure about this one Gerard, for a few reasons. Your early posts were more mea culpa, we’re all human, here’s how I screwed up and this is what I’d like to share, followed by some nice shots and a good read. This one is bitter and nasty. You’re identifying these people and they don’t get any right of reply. “Unemployed, boorish, drunk texting anus of a fiancé.” Really? It’s recent too, as the X100 is less than 10 yrs old. And the shot – nice capture but do I detect really obvious local dodging in the faces? You go on about how you’re preternatural with the wet print yet this is dig with “neural filters.” And why just one shot if it’s not simply a rant or an opportunity to flog your books? I’m risking something saying this because I’ve liked what you’ve done in the past and normally if I see something that I think is a bit off here I just say nothing. But I’ve read this a couple of times and was sorry to do so as I don’t think it fairly represents what I’ve seen of your work.

    • Reply
      April 4, 2021 at 3:28 pm

      Seems pretty representative to me

    • Reply
      April 5, 2021 at 6:22 am

      Sometimes you’re sorry and sometimes you’re not. Maybe Gerard’s memory of this was “bitter and nasty” . I love all his writings and this piece just shows how complex relationships can be. Anybody who has had to deal with a shitty Ex and his/her shitty significant other truly understands.

      • Reply
        Gerard Exupery
        April 5, 2021 at 6:00 pm

        I would like to think I take the high road probably more than I do. If I select the low road, I can dish it out with the best of them. I enjoy that probably a lot more than I should.

    • Reply
      Gerard Exupery
      April 5, 2021 at 5:49 pm

      I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Nobody gets any right of reply etc. from an image but I get your point. It is a bit mean-spirited but accurate as to how I was feeling in the moment. If I’m putting a picture “out there” it’s because I have a strong attachment to it… not just cause it’s neat. For quite some time after my divorce, I was the target of misplaced anger by those in the picture except for my son who has turned into a wonderful human being. I was a bit sick of it and I wanted to write about the absurdity of the situation. I very often have changed my mind or feelings after beginning to write about them… If after putting it down on paper I perceive I was wrong or looked at the situation incorrectly I will usually explain it in the story. I am no stranger to mea culpa and take some pride in the fact that I have no problem admitting how incredibly wrong I can get it. It’s kind of my thing.

      What I wrote maybe mean spirited and or poorly crafted but it is accurate as to what my emotions were at the time. I stand by it. The manipulation of the image could probably have been better and it’s not that I didn’t care as much as it didn’t matter. Potato/potato. There was no point or dig as far as the neural filters go, I actually think it’s kind of interesting and I like what it did to this image. The flogging books remark… well I’ve been involved in that Indiegogo thing and haven’t flogged the first book in 2-3 months. That first book… its sales have allowed me to produce the 2nd book in the way I want to and business is business. I assure you that I don’t ever submit anything to Hamish for some underlying reason. This writing thing is one of the few things in my life that I don’t overthink. I am grateful that Hamish has encouraged my writing because I probably would have not done it at all.

      All that being said because I feel a little defensive and I’m only human. I tend to agree with you. I greatly respect your opinion and it certainly has merit. Not my finest piece and not the nicest Karma-wise either. You have been a supporter of mine from the start so I know your comment isn’t coming out of left field.

      I will endeavor to do better in the future. And, thank you.

      • Reply
        David Hume
        April 6, 2021 at 12:13 am

        Cheers Gerard. I was really line-ball about whether I should say anything, and in the end thought yeah, maybe I should, and whether or not it was the right thing to do I don’t know. But moving on. Yes, as you know when your work first appeared here it was a revelation and I too was grateful to Hamish for giving you this platform.

        I’ll see if I can express myself any better than in the first comment. I think the tipping point for me was the proximity, the location, and the vitriol; it seemed that the anger was being directed back at real people in their own home rather than being used as the fuel for your stories to share with others in the wider world.

        That’s the only important bit really. I guess I put the other stuff in to make it seem that I had more to say, but that would not have been reason to comment negatively as I did. Yeah, it’s not as good as your best work, and I was puzzled by why it was so short. I will say too that what I saw as dodging in the faces really bothered me. Maybe I’m hypersensitive to that sort of thing, but it was the first thing I saw and I really could not go past that in assessing the image. Perhaps it was just that the PS filter was not playing nice, but I was also puzzled why you would let the image go out like that, especially as the piece hangs on just this one image – I do hold you to a higher standard. The combination of these things did make me question your motives it’s true.

        So at the risk of turning this in to a love-fest I’ll reiterate that it is respect and appreciation for your work that was my prime motivation in making a negative comment to which you have responded with more grace than it deserved. I hope we’ll have more conversations, and wish all strength to your arm.

      • Reply
        April 7, 2021 at 10:46 am

        I applaud you for your apology and for your honesty. Women, in particular, have had a rough time of it since time began, and so, in my view, should be supported wherever possible, irrespective of our personal circumstances and feelings – I think there is a bigger picture to consider. Having a wife and two daughters I should declare a vested interest…

  • Reply
    April 4, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Both hilarious and tragic.
    I love that single shot as it tells so much more that a sequence of shots wouldn’t.
    And it looks so posed, even though I guess it wasn’t.

    • Reply
      Gerard Exupery
      April 5, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      Not posed. If I had posed it I would have had my ex glaring directly at me. The image was made a long time ago and my ex and I have a wonderful relationship now. Divorce is very often hilarious and tragic… at least mine was. Thanks.

  • Reply
    April 4, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    I like the image composition, but the processing, well, oddly it makes the image look like an old, faded Dutch painting like, say, Dirck van Baburen might have done.

    Neural filters, eh Adobe?


    • Reply
      Gerard Exupery
      April 5, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      Regarding the processing… it is so unlike me. I guess I just felt like being a little dirty. Thanks.

  • Reply
    April 4, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks for saying it the way you see it. And the photo is expressive, capturing your viewpoint wonderfully.

    • Reply
      Gerard Exupery
      April 5, 2021 at 5:56 pm

      Thank you. These comments have given me a lot to think about. What more could I ask for?

  • Reply
    Michael J
    April 5, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Very effective:a still from a movie I probably don’t want to watch!

  • Reply
    Gerard Exupery
    April 5, 2021 at 5:58 pm

    You wouldn’t have wanted to live it either. Years later it seems more like a dramedy. Thanks.

  • Reply
    tony dadson
    April 5, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    In which I have no dog.

    • Reply
      Gerard Exupery
      April 5, 2021 at 10:41 pm

      I thought it was kind of snappy. Sometimes it’s the only reason I write something.

  • Reply
    Steve Curzon
    April 6, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Great article, compelling reading, thank you!

  • Reply
    Arthur Gottschalk
    April 6, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    Great stuff, GE, the picture and the text. Very impressed. It’s a real situation, like my life as well.

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