“Don’t mess with us” seems to be what the body language of these three traffic cops is saying.
This was taken on the north-western outskirts of Tehran. I am not sure if these cops spoke English – I just pointed to my camera to see if they would mind me taking a photograph of them (nobody in their right mind tries to take photographs of policemen or soldiers without asking permission) and the boss cop in the middle just shrugged his shoulders which I took as a positive response. The other two didn’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in me.
I checked the result in the camera monitor and was aghast to see that it was grossly underexposed. I had forgotten that I still had the camera set on shutter priority at 1/800 (I had been using that for shooting from a moving vehicle earlier in brighter light) and even at f3.5 it was much too dark. I wasn’t sure whether I would be pushing my luck to ask for another photograph, but I beckoned to the camera again, and this time all three took up a pose beside their Mercedes pursuit car, so I shot another frame – this time with fill flash.
The second shot came out fine, but looked too posed and didn’t have the body language of the first shot, so I decided to post the first shot (this one) after doing some work in Photoshop and NeatImage to rescue it. The PP has resulted in some technical degradation, but despite its lesser technical quality, I still like this composition better than the second shot (which I have posted in the workshop for comparison).
Critiques | Translate
danarees (2502) 2006-08-19 23:54
It doesn't seem to matter where you go, there is a certain persona that seems to follow law officers and trancends cultures. I find this interesting and amusing. Sure looks good for being initially under-exposed.
capthaddock (28790) 2006-08-20 2:04
The exposure is fine, this one does have a more natural look, and fits the unusual subjects much better.
devimeuxbe (58557) 2006-08-20 2:19
one more nice report on your life around the world. Interesting and unusual portrait.
Thanks to share
ben4321 (9875) 2006-08-20 3:39
Looks like we've got three of the seven dwarves lined up here; Sneezy, Happy, and Dopey there on the right. I was in Tehran last year, and judging by the state of the traffic there these guys need some remedial training in traffic control.
Joking aside, I think this is a great shot, staged or not. I don't know whether you arranged them or it's the result of a happy accident, but I love the fact that they are lined up in order of height. A great touch.
You've caught some great expressions; the confident self-assurance of the officer in the centre, the obsequious expression of the guy on the left who seems to be purposefully copying the posture of his boss, and the priceless confused and uncomfortable expression of Dopey.
kmarscher (2887) 2006-08-20 12:28
The middle cop's expression is well captured. Like reading the settings story--sure has hit me too. Wonder if an Auto fall back would help? What a great story behind this shot. Congratulations on your determination and a superb shot!
plimrn (21344) 2006-08-20 12:59
You are far braver than I can ever imagine being: being in Iran, photos of policemen, AND a second shot!! I hve experienced the dismay of discovering I've taken a shot at the wrong settins but never under shuch pressure!! Your processing work is excellent and I agree with your choice of the more spontaneous photo for the post. The detail in your note adds great interst.
PixelTerror (0) 2006-08-20 16:03
First two well earned points for having the balls to shoot three Iranian policemen as a westerner... Then I like the trio in front of their German fashioned duty car, I have to say the overexposure is not bothering me much here, just a strong white on the car, the expression they display is much more interesting and ofr that reasn I prefer this one to the one in the WS.
Have a nice evening,
ktanska (29451) 2006-08-21 4:35
A portrai with plenty of character. And I see no problem on PP. The dark uniforms still show details well. Like Jean-Yves noted the car paint seems to be copied from Germany.
I'd crop a little of the grey sky.
cunejo200 (7281) 2006-08-21 13:43
You are a brave man. Good to see a photo of cops from Tehran. Except for the cop in the middle, they appear unaware of the camera. Good daily life catch. This image appears technically fine to me. Best wishes.
ChrisJ (118895) 2006-08-22 2:08
A good daily life scene & a good choice of 3 for subject number. Excellent sharpness & dof with good graphism. Tfs!
riclopes (35577) 2006-08-22 3:48
Hi David, what a funny story, behind these two couple of shots. It sure made me smile. I guess that's the journalist in you that gave you the courage to make these triple portraits. "don't mess with us" is just right for the funny agressive poses, well chosen as main post, in spite of the not so good quality. The comparison bettween the two images, observing the changes of poses is funny as well. Good one!
kensimage (8565) 2006-08-25 20:52
You rescued this very well, David, and their tough-guy attitudes come through clearly. Part of cop culture, I guess. This is a slice of society that doesn't get photographed much outside of liberal democracies, so it's well worth bringing it to us. Regards, Ken.
fireflyz (2097) 2006-09-04 5:05
these guys don't look like cops to me. they just don't fit the profile. i guess i've been out of iran for too long. anyways.. nice photo! i agree this is a better one due to their body language. TFS..
rabani (9645) 2006-10-17 1:56
Somehow...I kind of liked this one better David. The posed and brighter one, just makes them more unapproachable, unfriendly. The kind which tourist and just about anyone, would stay away from. Unless if you have an explosive attachment on you, you feel like delivering :) This one, friendly and approachable. The kind which, a grandma wouldn't mind coming forward asking for direction.
mostafashah (42) 2010-11-12 6:06
Nice pic but they are traffic cops!!! they are security patrol cops. traffic cars are withe and blue and their costume is withe as well. after all I like angry left one! his pose shows dissatisfaction!!! the officer in the middle shows intrest and the right one seems neutral!!! that is a very nice work of you!
jabber (323) 2013-06-17 9:07
they are not traffic police,the traffic police car in Iran has blue line and their clothes is white and blue.they are security police officeres.
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-05-16
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Nikon D100, Nikkor AF-S 24-120/3.5-5.6G ED
- Exposure: f/3.5, 1/800 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Theme(s): Cops looking straight at the camera [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2006-08-19 23:51