Photographer's Request for Critique
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This photograph was chosen because the Elves think it is interesting and worthy of discussion. When participating in the Photograph of the Week forum, please offer a critique of the photo -- address its strengths, its weaknesses. (Read Discussion)
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Fred G. , July 24, 2008; 01:51 P.M.
This is slated to become the second in a series of portraits of Ian. (I'm really not considering the previously posted photo of Ian a portrait and have changed the name of that photo to "Gate.") The other two I have in mind for this series are black and whites and, even though this will likely fit better as the second in the series, I'm posting it first because of where I'm presently at with color.
The series was shot outside in strong natural light in Golden Gate Park using varying architectural environments in the park, mostly around the new, modern De Young Museum and the older, ionically-columned pre-1906 earthquake bandshell.
Ion Viorel , July 24, 2008; 02:23 P.M.
I like it a lot. Congratulations! What is that green in the bottom?
Tiffany Brook , July 24, 2008; 06:13 P.M.
Very interesting shot Fred. The lighting is really compelling. Definitely a risk to keep his face dark. There is enough detail to make it work. His shadow on the wall is terrific and the yellows and pinks work great. BTW...my 6 year old daughter is behind me saying "Cool Picture"...she is a pretty tough critic.
Afshin Azizi , July 24, 2008; 06:24 P.M.
Beautiful image.I love all parts of this woRk.Colors and composiTion are so great and lighting is really perfecT in this shot.Shadow of the left hand on the face does nOt have good view in my mind.But man's shadow on the wall has really great perspecTive and made really wonderful viewpoinT.
I also Like the twinkle of light on the flour for alot.
Sorry that I was nOt comenting on your works for along Time.P.N was blocKed in my country,and fortunetley its problem is soled nOw and I am again acTive and keeping on woRking on P.N again.
All the best
Marjorie Smith , July 24, 2008; 07:28 P.M.
I like the unique lighting and the the way Ian's shadow mimicks the opposite shadow on the wall. You even have his leg and head placed so that it's reflection mirrors the wall shadow. Fantastic lines..even Ian's arm is parallel with the shadows. To me, this shot is all about lines and shadow which is why his face is dark. Great composition...Marjorie
Joseph Tury , July 24, 2008; 08:31 P.M.
Great lighting Fred. Even with his modern clothes, this has a Roman Greco feel, perhaps influenced by the wall textures and pose.Very cool.
Artur Nogueira , July 25, 2008; 10:21 A.M.
Beautiful compo, Fred. Very nice image.
Pnina Evental , July 25, 2008; 10:46 A.M.
I went to look at your previous work of Ian, that I did not comment on. Reading your preface here, calling this one a portrait of Ian( vs. the other one that you have changed the title),looking at it, according to MY perception it is not a portrait per se, only if you enlarge the term.
I see it again as a story telling, of Ian as a model , that reflects your perception and feelings. It is hard for me to explain what I feel,but I will try. I can not refrain from some analogy to the previous one even this has color, and the other is a B/W( with story colors never the less). Also this looks back light , while in the other the light looks a front light.
Both has some mystery, and vulnerability. In the B/W we see Ian's face, but the shadowed frame of the gate is framing his face in a way that is hiding his mouth and enhancing what looks to me a bit forlorn gaze,( eyes), in this one his face are having quite a heavy shadow so you can not see any feelings that can reflect his inner life( eyes as a mirror to the soul...), what brings me to his pose.
The pose of his hands, lower head form, and strong light ( washed really,but I think on purpose) reminds me again the form of the cross ,a symbol you work with a lot as a general, but maybe a personal symbol as well , (like the cross and the tear), the strong shadow on the L side connected diagonally to his hand looks very ominous , but also supporting his body, so for me it represent some insecurity ( in relations?, friendship?, very interesting juxtaposition) Behind both, Ian and the shadow ,is the triangle of light, that is lighting the upper parts, which is the more important part of the story. The two diagonals are creating as well a tension to the whole.
The color technic, connects to your two last color work( playing ,and late Wednesday afternoon) , there is your deeper research of a color schema, your personal one, but, I see some softness in color here, especially his pinkish shirt, as another gentle side of relations. I don't see the green lower line as part of the story, and is some kind of competition that pulls the eye from the central accurrence.
It evoked my curiosity Fred, I see it as a very symbolic work, and a continuing line of thoughts that is evident in your last works.
I don't know if your thoughts while creating it are part of mine as a viewer, but I tried as best to evaluate MY feelings looking at it, very interesting work .
Laurent Jaussi , July 25, 2008; 11:32 A.M.
I like the body expression bewteen tired/relaxing and inviting....the diagonal shadows left and right both contribute wonderfully as composition element to the dynamics of the image...I currently can't make up my mind on the highlights...on the one hand your goal was a high contrast image and as such highlights belong to it...on the other hand, it is evident that a great care was taken in composition and colors with delicate tones on the wall and shirt and the highlights compete with the soft tones....I know it's easier said than done and I have personally no experience in complex lightning setup so take it as my personal feeling rather than a serious critique....truth is like the image...
Fred G. , July 25, 2008; 10:20 P.M.
Ion, Tiffany, Afshin, Marjorie, Joseph, Artur, Pnina, Laurent. Thank you all for looking. Here are some thoughts I had while reading your comments.
The green is a shaft of light coming through this indoor/outdoor structure adjacent to the main building of the museum. It gives slight illumination to the ground and offsets the other colors.
My goal was to pursue a style, one especially of more color exploration. The light drew me and suggested the pose. I was originally thinking German Expressionism (some of which is obvious), but in processing I discovered myself getting a different vitality to come from the colors. Someone locally suggested this has a Spanish flavor. So now I'm checking out some wonderful Spanish stuff and really enjoying their boldness and the lush quality of their work.
Thoughts of soul didn't play much of a role, as I was concentrating on style and presentation. Ian's look and personality (along with the environments and light we happened across together) affected how I chose to shoot him. I wasn't aware of connecting any specific interpretations to my choices with camera or processing. Naturally, the influences both of who he is and of my own feelings about him and the situations play a role in my creating the photo. More should come across when the series is complete and it may affect how even this shot is seen.
As far as eyes being the window to the soul, yes, *a* window. In photographs, I think light, shadow, and other elements also act as such windows. An expression in shadow can reveal as much as one more accessible. At one point, I played with having his face completely drowned out by the shadow and felt that possibly might express a lot. I just didn't like the way it looked.
(Afshin, it's great to see you again. Tiffany, six-year-olds know it all . . . cool, indeed!)
David Meyer , July 25, 2008; 11:39 P.M.
It has all of your trademarks. Fascinating light, and precise composition. I find the manner in which the shadow on the left is almost disembodied from the man, and appears to me like a referee in a boxing match, holding up the victor's arm, to be particularly outstanding. I honestly believe that you are producing your best work right now. I don't know what you are doing, but I hope you keep doing it until this vein is exhausted.
Joaquim Bidarra , July 26, 2008; 08:08 P.M.
Great light and colours and very good composition. A very good photo with some mystery inside. Regards.
Kim Slonaker , July 27, 2008; 06:38 A.M.
I like the way the shadow has a life of its own, almost like it's a separate person. The lighting makes this work, even with the face in extreme shadow. Interesting!
JeffS L , July 27, 2008; 01:03 P.M.
This is an interesting companion piece to the earlier Ian photo, now renamed. Here, he looks his age, seems more in command, and almost a little worldly and brooding. His body language conveys that he is more in charge, occupying the entirety of the space. His shadow acts as its own character, even more brooding and almost sinister. If your goal was to capture the feel of Expressionism, you've done so successfully.
And then I look again, and I see that this is not about Ian at all. In fact, the more I look, the more his personality recedes into shadow, and light itself becomes the main character. He is a stage on which light plays out its own storyline.
Donna S , July 27, 2008; 06:31 P.M.
The light on the floor (and the back of his upper calf) lends this a hint of theater and balances this work. The composition is great. As Pnina mentioned, there's a suggestion of crucifix here (also in "Gate") and an interesting feel as if he is holding his own shadow's hand. I like the earthy jewel colors with the disharmony of pink and the carefully stylized look in total, particularly the light and angles--though Ian is again depersonalized-- here almost like a museum statue. Some might see a bit of Carvaggio in this.
Fred G. , July 28, 2008; 01:47 A.M.
David . . . Thanks for these thoughts and for the image of the referee. I love that that's what you see. I appreciate your noticing a spring in my step lately.
Joaquim and Kim . . . A pleasure to hear from you both. I know at times I had a sense of the shadow as a different person as well.
Jeff, Donna, Pnina . . . Jeff, for me the success is in feeling a freshness in my approach and a commitment to style. I'm aware of the Expressionist influence and bent, and I think there's some break with that in the colors and overall expression.
You guys know I've been concentrating on the balance between posed and spontaneous, artifice and natural, staged and found. Considering your thoughts will help me continue to develop all this.
I find something personal in using obvious pose, artifice, and theatricality, which at first glance might seem less revealing. Ian receding into shadow, for me, is still so much about Ian. Overwhelming shadows, while hiding some things, can also suggest self-protectiveness, reticence, fear, loneliness, mystery, etc. Personal feelings can be in a pose, light, surroundings, colors, technique, not just eyes.
My older b&w's begin to seem less personal. They zoned in on the eyes. Viewers saw wonder and mystery, as if seeing soul. But was there something cliche, naive? That approach, now, in many cases, is too easy. I think I may have offered the same soul in many of those portraits of very different people. Mark and the oranges, Ian here, "late wednesday afternoon," are more staged and more stylistics are involved, but to me that individualizes and emphasizes the personalities. I think these capture the real guys. The "depersonalizing" elements are, to me, actually personalizing.
Pnina, I think I am not expanding the term "portrait" although I am working at finding my own way to do them. Annie Leibovitz and Nan Goldin and others have already paved a way for storytelling to be integral to portraiture without being a complete departure from it. I'm anxious to explore more ways of capturing and presenting people that may not always look like what we think a portrait looks like.
Donna S , July 28, 2008; 02:47 A.M.
An interesting thing is that he is clothed. The only sartorial hint of intimacy is his dislodged shirt. Of course, in his body language, he is also dancing.
Pnina Evental , July 28, 2008; 04:39 A.M.
The classical term of portrait was especially a face, trying to depict some personal characteristics of a given human being. The story telling that started, I agree, before you (and me), has a lot more than a face, and therefor, as I see it ,is not the classical way( or a bit farthere from it) but an enlarged/developed term of portraiture which contains many more "layers" of creation and reading.
Linda Davidson , July 29, 2008; 09:01 P.M.
Fred, this is powerful and dramatic. I think this may be your best to date. The strong light is so effective, very stylishly theatrical. That dark reddish orange shirt is dynamic against the yellow ocher on the wall. I love Ian's nonchalant slouch. The shadow against the wall is a perfect lead to that serendipitous little flash of turquiose light on the bottom left. This is very impressive, I love it.
Fred G. , July 30, 2008; 11:25 A.M.
Avner, Thanks for having a look and for your impressions.
Linda, Great to have you come back. "Serendipitous little flash of light." Wish I had thought of that description, because that's how I see it too. For me, something like that gives life to a composition and I'm always thankful for those happy little accidents.
Roger Leekam , July 30, 2008; 02:58 P.M.
Fred, another Goldsmith that I would have recognised as such in the middle of the Sahara. I would say that this is destined for either your "Light" or "New Key" folders, and there are also similarities to "Kevin". The entire composition has your hallmarks - brilliant use of light , shadow and negative space, down to the somewhat distracting patch of light at the bottom. One day, when you're famous, I believe that the "Goldsmith Distraction" will be written about and analysed. What truly appeals to me here is the color, the rich red of the shirt and the bronze wall reek of Renaissance and Dutch Master painting, and putting them next to the hard bright contour is inspired. In my humble view this is your best because your strengths in light and shadow are now combined with great color. It may actually be the first in a new folder.
j d.wood , July 31, 2008; 01:40 P.M.
'In Jungian psychology, an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious'
Jung outlined four main archetypes:
The Self, the regulating center of the psyche and facilitator of individuation
The Shadow, the opposite of the ego image, often containing qualities that the ego does not identify with but possesses nonetheless
The Anima, the feminine image in a man's psyche; or:
The Animus, the masculine image in a woman's psyche
The Persona, ".. a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual"
An excellent portrait and more. Fred your reach is impressive and rewarding, and perhaps approaching classic.
Paolo Bevilacqua , July 31, 2008; 05:26 P.M.
great job of light and search. It appears and goes besides our eyes.
Douglas Brill , July 31, 2008; 05:41 P.M.
Great image Fred.
Ton Mestrom , August 01, 2008; 07:49 A.M.
To be quite honest I wonder how you've pulled this one off. This is such a difficult lighting condition and yet you were able to retain detail in every important part. Yet again I find your colour scheme as surprising as it is appropiate. Above all else however I find the atmosphere you've created here mysterious and very appealing. It has an almost painterly feel. It's an image that you could lose yourself in. Absolutely great stuff.
Fred G. , August 02, 2008; 11:29 A.M.
Roger, Thanks so much. It will probably wind up, at least for now, in a folder called "Ian" which will consist of three portraits but, yes, I can see it other places as well depending on context and presentation. Funny, I'm already considering retitling it Ian-1 because, as the other two in the series come together, I think I'm seeing it presentationally as the first, which is different from how I originally envisioned the series.
Josh, Isn't that Five? Seriously, though, what a great comment. Talk about expanding the term "portrait!" Jung seems to have laid the groundwork for how I'd like to approach portraits. I think masculinity/femininity is something I've always been fascinated by as are the shadow worlds we each occupy and reflect. Those shadow worlds relate very much to the idea of the mask and there may be more to say about that regarding the other portraits in the series. In a way, I think portraits can be masks and can also be a means of unmasking, sometimes in the very same photo. By that I mean that recognizing the persona, which we all have, presenting it and acknowledging it, we sometimes uncover a lot about a person's inner self. So, a mask can be deceptive but, when recognized as a mask, it can be enlightening as well. Also, it sort of elaborates my point above that not just the face (which can be a mask but can be much more as well) can provide what's important. I find myself looking for other things to help pierce the persona.
Paolo and Doug, Thank you both for your visit and nice comments.
Ton, Above I talked a little bit about my earlier black and white portraits. With many of those, I was perfecting my work with a certain type of lighting, easier and simpler lighting than what I have been looking for lately. This lighting for Ian thoroughly excited me. When we came across it, I really did immediately foresee Ian standing there and knew that it would speak to and about him. It was less of a challenge because I felt as though, since it seemed so appropriate and meaningful, the lighting was guiding me rather than that I was trying to get something out of the lighting or really even up against a difficult situation. It just seemed all there for me to take advantage of.
Tim Zeipekis , August 02, 2008; 03:00 P.M.
Wow, either I'm not visiting frequently enough, or your muse is working overtime..........
You've been treating us all to your beautiful B&W's for so long, but I'm beginning to think color is your forte. These last several color shots have really blown me away.
Your play of light and shadow is always excellent and should be automatically understood from the start, the warm earthy hues create such a beautiful atmosphere, there is wonderful motion from the verticals, the dash of cool blue light really helps balance the scene, was there another reason for keeping it?
I love how he seems to be raising hands victoriously with his shadow, almost like a spiritual triumph
j d.wood , August 02, 2008; 05:07 P.M.
five? four? I wondered also ?.... as a pretender to the insightful, i cut, pieced and pasted the previous post. My conclusion was that we are allowed to pick one archetype from column A. anima or B. animus. With further reading i discovered that the anima Or animus is most often discussed as an archetype, counterpart..... go figure. psychobabble.
Your eye for design work here is noteworthy. There are subtle - nuanced, yet strongly effective elements (tangible and intangible) at work in this image.
I take from your own words " It just seemed all there for me to take advantage of " and "I wasn't aware of connecting any specific interpretations to my choices with camera or processing." and on the 'little flash of light'.... "For me, something like that gives life to a composition and I'm always thankful for those happy little accidents" It sounds to me like you are setting aside the academic more often these days. Sounds as if you almost saw the sculpture hidden in the marble. non literal, figurative Pre-visualization ? in the early stages.
btw; " wow! that's cool ... looks like a flamenco dancer" an unprompted passing visceral response from N.. she is thoroughly impressed Fred.
Fred G. , August 03, 2008; 05:52 P.M.
Tim, Yes, I've had a couple of exciting shoots lately and got more than I normally do from them and have been excited about processing and presenting them . . . a little more rapidly than I normally do. Thanks for the comment and question. Why keep the light? Energy. Secondary light source in a photo where secondary is key. A stab in the dark. Allure to a shadowed ground. Helps define his crossed legs. Eye movement around the photo. Offsetting color and composition. It was there.
Josh, Who you calling latent? :)
N, Thanks for thinking it's cool and using "flamenco." Kisses!
Ton Mestrom , August 04, 2008; 05:37 P.M.
frankly I had to look it up but Albert Einstein once said "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind" That somehow seems to be very appropiate here, at least for me.
Micki F. , August 05, 2008; 12:40 P.M.
I look at this one and don't even recognize Ian in the other one.
Actually I though Ian was a younger (was younger) man in the other one. More like a teenager.
I will say this. I love this style tremendously. You still have your play of light but you have this richness of color that is you. I love that you have not over processed anything and that this seems to be true to a picture out of your camera.
I feel that Ian is talking to the camera here not unlike your self portrait (I miss that by the way).
Something he is saying here reminds me of something that has been itching to be said but not said yet.
Maybe he says it in the next picture.
Oh but maybe (hmmm) maybe that was part of the frightened child in the game. Oh crud MAYBE they should go together.
Oh you know how I write...
I LOVE the floor of this picture and the shoes. The cross of the legs and the shadow (like PETER PAN). Oh there is that simile of the little boy again that never grew up. hmmm
oh I can't get away from it
That is what he reminds me of.
Please don't let him pinch me.
Andrew's cousin is like that still wanting to NOT grow up at age 43.
I have waited to talk on this subject here because frankly I couldn't put my finger on it till just now. I of course read nothing on here about what others said partly because I don't have time and partly because I didn't want to taint my thoughts but for me I feel a total connection between him not wanting to grow up. You haven't taken many pictures of someone young. Not that there is anything WRONG with that but he is younger than me (I would think).
He's fairly cute (I think). So why is he so worried?
Just curious, as you captured this with your camera in color, contrast, look and feel. WONDERFUL!
:) ~ micki
Fred G. , August 05, 2008; 01:21 P.M.
Micki, You're wonderful! Thanks so much for your reactions. I always love reading your thoughts and they often are very close to my own.
"Something he is saying here reminds me of something that has been itching to be said but not said yet. Maybe he says it in the next picture."
I completely understand that feeling of "itching to be said" and I think each photo will reveal a bit more and I hope that the series itself will also speak.
Ton, Great quote and I'm honored that you thought of it relative to this photo. "Slight details" indeed!
Micki F. , August 05, 2008; 08:35 P.M.
not "more" of Ian (egad). blush
I mean more pictures of him.
I miss coming on here and looking but I have been true to myself in working hard.
You are really doing fantastic stuff if this is the only thing you are showing us.
Gordon B , August 07, 2008; 10:57 P.M.
Truly outstanding work! I know I have said this before yet it does bear repeating . Your latest pieces reflects many of the best qualities of your previous work. The cumulative effect is quite astonishing.
There is so much that I admire and enjoy in this photo that I do not know where to begin. I am also aware of the futility of simply describing the photograph to the photographer. However there are a few aspect I do want to mention. I love the shirt, the way it hangs on his body, the way the light rolls over it in waves. The fact that it sits at the border between darkness and light. The shirt is the only element with any conventional level of exposure and the colour and quality of light is so damn beautiful. The sliver of light on the ground looks like the ties Ian tossed off . The blinding meteoric light on the top side of his sleeve and hand is the perfect foil to the blackness of his shadow. The shadow and the man each reaching to the other, leaves room for a wealth of speculation.
My favourite aspect of this image is Ian's face, hiding in plain sight. Wrapped in shadow yet clear as daylight with only the slightest of investigations. The ambiguity of that light is a triumph. That you found this lighting and choose to work with it must have been a wonderful experience. I applaud your vision for taking such full advantage of it.
Margaret Woodall-Shark , August 11, 2008; 08:36 P.M.
I see a James Dean in this. Also a bit of Rocky, as he and the shadow seem to be cheering one another on. No religious or philosophical innuendos here. Just great lighting, clever composition, and a perfect overall feel. I do love the color. I sometimes feel black and whites are a great way of hiding inperfections. Wonderful textures in this.Super job, Fred. Well done.
Laurent Lacoste , August 21, 2008; 03:21 P.M.
First, I would like to tell you It's always a pleasure reading your thoughts and comments, which you express in such an open-minded and sincere way. Wonderful portrait. For some reason this one instantly conjured up in my mind the image of Rock Hudson in Giant. I've always liked the actor and the movie a lot. Maybe because I could very well imagine this portrait in feet as a giant painting hanging on the walls of an old family mansion, or is it the colors and the delicate post-processing craft that evoke those old technicolor movies, unless they take us back to some 19th Century oil painting hues and texture, or could they also be Renaissance tones? Or is it the classic, dramatic posture emphasized by the low angle and expressionist shadows that evoke some young graduate comedian from the Actor's Studio in the early 50s, with classic hairdo and Arrow shirt? I'm just throwing raw, spontaneous thoughts and impressions here, Fred, so please forgive that disorderly babble that just aims at telling you I like this image very much. Admirable work.
Fred G. , August 23, 2008; 01:40 A.M.
Gordon, Thanks so much for your careful observations and kind thoughts. There is something about this one of the three of them that remains my favorite. I think it's because of the color that it does feel like a departure even though it has, as you so nicely put, elements from the past that have led to this. I, too, felt that his expression read quite well in this lighting. I know you've been a bit less active lately and hope things will pick up for you again. I think you are a valuable asset, certainly to me in terms of our dialogues and I really do look forward to your submissions with anticipation of your always creative abilities.
Margaret, Love the Rocky reference. I sense a little of that James Dean attitude although it wouldn't have come to mind, so thanks for that. I go back and forth between thinking color is more difficult and black and white is. I think it may be that it is easier to get away with things in black and white and b/w tends to immediately feel a little more special, but I think really good b/w work is as hard and rewarding as color and both have their unique difficulties and strong suits.
Laurent You reaction reads like a jazz riff. I love it. Nothing like a good, impressionistic critique. Your thoughts are creative and welcome. I've also enjoyed our recent discussions. The are stimulating and helpful.
Keith Aldrich , July 18, 2009; 11:42 A.M.
Very nice! I really like your choice of color in this image, and the lighting also works for me. Great portrait.
Fred G. , July 18, 2009; 12:27 P.M.
Thanks. It is up there among my favorites. Appreciate your looking.
Carlos H. , August 03, 2009; 09:12 A.M.
Ian’s a wanna be matador, working the moves, refining the style…
Joe Gaskill , August 07, 2009; 01:23 P.M.
This is a photo that steps beyond the norm. I would rate this as 7 for aethetics and originality. I get the feeling from seeing your portfolio that you are more comfortable with B/W. This, in my opinion, is a true work of art. The color and the compostion achieve perfection. The lighting approaches perfection (again, in my opinion the bright patch on the floor forcibly drags the eye away from contemplative pleasure - if that's your intention then the lighting has achieved what you want). This piece of art should bring you closer to a comfortable feel for color photography.
As I go back and look again - fantastic.
Fred G. , August 14, 2009; 08:49 P.M.
Thanks for the wonderful comments. This was definitely a breakthrough in style and color for me, so I appreciate your attention to those things. Yes, though there is room for contemplative pleasure here, I like the energy that stab of light at the bottom brings.
Jeanne S. , August 31, 2009; 02:20 A.M.
Fred, Wow. Not sure how I missed this one in your portfolio until now. There's just one word to best describe it, if you don't mind my daring to say so, it's just plain Sexy! And, I mean that in a good pure way. I love the stance, the look on his face, the lighting, the scratchy wall in the background, and that alluring little spot of light in the lower corner. Thumbs way up!! This is a classic. Peace, Jeanne
Mário Azevedo , April 14, 2010; 05:57 A.M.
BRAVO! It is a pleasure to stop by your portfolio once in a while, with the certainty that one will be surprised once more. Take care, Mário (hopping to see new images from you soon)
Fred G. , April 15, 2010; 01:16 P.M.
Jeanne, So sorry, I never responded to your comment. A lapse on my part. I'm thrilled you find this sexy. Though it has a certain internal character, I think it's sexy, too. The splash of light on the ground was more controversial for many than I would have anticipated. I always considered it a must!
Mário, Thanks. I do think of this one as a sort of signature piece. One where I feel like I struck a personal sort of gold. Yes. More is coming soon.
Antonio Bassi , October 31, 2010; 05:45 P.M.
I missed this one in your Portfolio. Very cinematic and very "Renaissance". Actually, it reminds me of Caravaggio for many reasons: strong chiaroscuro, wonderful warm and vivid tones, the pose of the boy (that seems very natural and probably, at that very moment, he wasn't posing at all). I love how he melts out into the darkness, in the best style of Caravaggio. One of my favorites.
Antonio Bassi , November 02, 2010; 01:32 P.M.
I wouldn't say "vivid" colors, maybe "relevant".
Arthur Plumpton , July 06, 2011; 01:23 P.M.
Fred, very interesting portrait, reminding me a little of how Kertesz handled the bodies and limbs of his human subjects, although I think his use of angularity was meant more to be a humorous reflection on the agility or expressivity of the human body rather than to represent something more profound about the person.
Apart from the powerful graphical display here (kudos !) I do not get a feeling that it tells me too much about Ian (his face for instance being barely perceptible on my screen) but possibly more about Fred and the suggested interaction betwen the two. The link betwen the arm on the wall and the projected shadow is interesting, as the shadow appears to me to be not that of Iain (which of course in reality it is). I see a dialogue in it, between photographer and subject.
I have looked at the image with and without the bottom light spot and think its impact would be improved without the light spot. For me, it detracts from the power of the graphical composition (On a related subject, you might remember my Charlevoix blue chair photograph, in which I scrubbed out the floor light streaks. They did refect those on the chair but ultimately distracted from the main image, in my opinion).
Fred G. , July 06, 2011; 02:01 P.M.
Arthur, thanks very much for your thoughts. I won't revisit the light spot on the floor which I discussed in some of my earlier responses except to say I still like that stab of light and think the photo benefits from it, and I also understand and don't mind others' preferences.
I think you hit on something important in talking about this as a dialogue and in questioning it as an effective portrait. When I created and posted it and still when I consider it, it blurs the line for me and is not a portrait in the "strict" sense of that word, precisely because of some of the things you mention. I love it as a photo, and part of that reason is because of its ambiguity as portrait, though I see it in more than graphical terms, in emotional terms but not Ian-centered emotional terms. I see a lot of my photos as not "strictly" portraits and often would prefer not to post them in the portraits section, but that seems the only feasible choice in many cases, since I prefer to stay away from "fine art" when I can. So, generally, photos with people in them, even photos that center around a person or figure, that are not meant as portraits per se, wind up in that category almost by default.
Another consideration is context. I would not feel satisfied by putting this out on its own as a portrait of Ian, though I love the way it stands on its own as a photo, without the label portrait. As part of a series of pictures of Ian, I think it would add a lot to the portrait of him built up through a few photos viewed together.
Jeremy Jackson , October 28, 2011; 09:02 P.M.
Hi Fred, a few things about this for me. First, it's immediately appealing due to the dramatic light. But I want to get past that as soon as I look more closely. Second, I find the light on the floor critical. This light provides a counter-point to the face and makes it more visually important than had the light on the floor been removed. The light on the floor is almost like a reflection of the face. Third, the left-arm position is also important I think. This makes the image feel more natural. I know Ian is modeling but the arm position gives him movement...activity. Lastly, the tonal relationships are perfectly handled IMO. The shirt and wall work together in the image very nicely. One not standing out or taking away from the other. The only feeling I get that you may not have intended is a rather closed-in one. I feel the darkness smothers the subject a bit. I'm not objecting to that, I just wonder if you had this in mind. I feel Ian has something to hide and this darkness somehow plays into this maybe.
In any case, my immediate reaction is of a masterful photographer at work here. There is a cohesiveness of technique, subject and meaning that makes the image feel complete to me. Sometimes images in this style can make me think of a young art student trying too hard. A jejune attempt to impress. But you seem to be able to avoid this reaction. I think it's the relationship of all the elements to a deeper message...something more important going on in the image. This is the completeness I am referring to. Does that make any sense? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. With much respect, Jeremy
Fred G. , October 29, 2011; 11:54 A.M.
Thanks so much. Your thoughts do make a lot of sense. Yes, I do think there is a closed-in sense, especially due to the lighting, particularly the way it covers much of Ian's face. To tie in the little stab of light on the floor, I agree with you that it works in counterpoint to his face, and probably works for me because of the downward angle of his head moving down toward the shadow of his body towards that light. Assessing the intentionality of the "smothering" is tricky for me. It's not like I thought about that consciously. But it makes sense given the way I was feeling and perceiving Ian as a person and I think this situation drew upon all that. This was my first shoot with Ian and we knew each other only as acquaintances, and I had always found him both mysterious and evocative. It seems like it almost couldn't be any other way for us that day.
I think of this as a breakout photo. My approach to it, both in the shooting and the post processing, was very personal and it was a photo I truly stretched myself for and committed to, possibly more so than I had for any photo previously. I am very intrigued, fascinated, by this combination of posed and authentic you've touched upon. It's a real balancing act and one I feel I can wring a lot from when effective proportions of each are reached. I'm not one to necessarily shy away from being overt about a subject modeling for the camera, as long as I can get to some genuine place with that. I love exploring aspects of that kind of "staged" work. This photo was set up only in the moment. We came across the spot, the lighting and colors seemed to work, and between Ian and me his positioning and posing came together pretty quickly.
Lech Dobrzanski , July 03, 2012; 05:43 A.M.
If this picture would be projected on the screen it cloud pass as the frame with intentionally build “cinema effect”. In the movies however the scene develops and explains itself. In the static case the shadows are deep, the plot is missing and so is the emotional link between the audience and the hidden model.
Donna Pallotta , July 05, 2012; 11:58 A.M.
the original darker image is mysterious like a successful use of color to produce effective film noir... that the shadow evokes the mysterious effect is stunning by itself. the lighter reworked version is just as stunning... seeing ian standing out in detail from the shadows gives us a finer contrast without destroying the mystery. to me, Fred, my imagination is not convinced that the shadow is ian's, perhaps because i'm familiar with your homoerotic themes. to me, as with my friend carlos, there is a metaphor here, a very powerful one about two bonded men and the secret or privacy behind the the picture of ian. it's gorgeous Fred, and i'm delighted that we all join here to applaud your fascinating body of work. bravo ;-} dp
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