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Behind the Splash of Color

Underneath this colorful abstract blur is an interesting story waiting to be told. But could there be more than one story? A picture of splattered paint on a sidewalk, a crowd of people on a busy street, automobiles in rapid motion....

There could be a thousand interpretations and all of them different. That's what attracted me to this photo. Only the person behind the camera knows the real story.

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When I spoke with photographer Melanie Stetson Freeman, I discovered it was a crowd of people attending a concert at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The mystery vanished. The photograph was transformed; the blurriness and colors that streamed across the picture turned into figures, music, and rhythms.

I could almost hear the steady beat of the drums, the deep throbbing of the bass guitar, the strums of the acoustic guitar, and the electric pulse of the keyboards. I could visualize the band's lead singer, surrounded by a laser show, singing and strutting across the stage and holding the crowd's rapt attention.

It reminded me of the dozens of concerts I have attended, where everybody is expressing themselves in different ways - by dress, or by dancing and singing. Sometimes watching the people is the main attraction.

In addition to taking pictures of the band, Ms. Freeman turned her camera toward the crowd and filled her lens with thousands of people. By using a slow shutter speed, she transformed the crowd into a splash of reds and blues. ``I wanted a picture that would focus on colors, and not just objects or the people,'' she said. ``In journalistic photography, you're wanting to show reality the way it is. But through abstraction, you're showing the everyday in a different light.''

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