I’ve been inspired by may things to create new work. This time, it’s a new window, that I have access to whenever I want it, in all manner of weather and times of day.
Old objects take on new life (yes, I have a cabinet full of rocks and boxes and bowls and… ahem), and new finds offer their history. Here are a few images made in this new light.
Still Life #9521
Still Life #9533
Still Life #0904
Still Life #0941
Still Life #0947
Still Life #0954
Still Life #0955
Still Life #0960
Still Life #1160
Still Life #1187
Still Life #1224
Still Life #4805
Still Life #4900
Still Life #4914
Still Life #5076
Lately it has struck me that all my images seem to be about sex, or death, or sex and death and this is both metaphorical and literal.
Perhaps that’s in hindsight, or it’s a subconscious predilection. Probably both.
You might think engineers… architectural engineers, would want a fairly conventional portrait for their business website. Well I did. Fortunately for me, they didn’t. Well they did, but they also let me do whatever I wanted, as long as I could get it done during the same day as making the group portrait of eight and a formal portrait of each of the other seven partners. And we did, under five hours from first test pop to packing the gear out the door.
Here are the 7 “casual” portraits, made extemporaneously using a couple of SB’s and various modifiers as Russell Kaye assisted me with the gear and critical/helpful/objective commentary.
behind Mobley Tire, Decatur, Georgia, USA
Whenever I take my car to Mobley Tire for repair (or anywhere for that matter), I wander through the mini-wasteland next door. It sort of borders on a strip club and a pet crematory (I can’t find a good joke in that… make up your own). Some of the stuff has been there for years, some looks like it was dropped off yesterday.
This image has all the right stuff to make it susceptible to good artspeak descriptors, so here goes:
Within this image, there is a disassociative juxtaposition within the repetitive seduction of a seemingly chaotic yet structured and textural fugue. Built with a constrained and harmonious palette and dynamic tonal range, it’s objective content is interlaced with just the right amount of visual jangle and droll humor.
This entry has been quite satisfying to my artist remnants.
Christina Kober is an enterprising jeweler who understands the value of self promotion and is working it from many angles. She asked me to make portraits of her at work.
Her studio is small, but quite efficiently laid out and easy for one person to use. Adding a photographer (even a thin one) and a light stand with a diffusing modifier (even a small one) quickly shrinks it to the point where everything is a bumping hazard. And some of her stuff, you don’t want to bump.
Christina Kober: Window light for main, strobe for back light
In the above image, a window is the main light on camera right. I used a favorite old 30 inch Westcott Halo for a back light. Unfortunately, the 30 inch Halo is now out of production and there’s nothing that replaces it. I love it because it’s small, provides a directional yet soft and shape revealing light, works really well with speedlights and it’s convex front diffusion panel can be placed very close to a subject. I prefer the enclosed construction of the Halo because it doesn’t create the contrast lowering spill that is a problem when a comparable shoot-through umbrella is used in a small room.The Halo kept the wall behind her a deeper blue, in contrast with the warm window light on her skin, hair and scarf.
Christina Kober: Bounced main light and daylight rim
This image shows the intensity of Christina’s concentration when she’s working with the torch on a very small piece. I wanted to light her from my left, where there was only room for an undiffused, small and flamable light source, all of which were just not good ideas. I dodged those issues by putting my Lumedyne on a stand above and behind her (to the right), with a 5 degree grid on it. That light was pointed over her head toward the closed white blinds on the window to my left so that it bounced from those blinds onto her face as a softer light, while the window light from across the room created an edge lighting on her right hand and the tools she was using. Grids do collimate the light somewhat, but not as tightly as a snoot or fresnel head would. This grid is held on with velcro… not exactly a light tight seal so maybe some of that rim light was leakage from the grid. I’ve learned to exploit such
weaknesses idiosyncracies in my archaic vintage equipment… t
Sarah with her family
After the huge fun that is found by impersonating a giant copy machine, I talked Sarah Emerson into letting me make a portrait of her. It was Memorial day weekend, and she brought her family along to pick up her beautiful paintings. I set up a light and made 18 frames in the big room at my studio… two were something I had hoped for without even knowing what they would be.
I enjoy the collaborative aspects of making a portrait.
Years ago, I made my first portraits using Polaroid 665 pos/neg film. It was a revelation. That film’s immediate image granted comprehension and enabled a collaboration well beyond mere compliance. An invitation to active participation can liberate a person unused to being photographed… or bring on a lurking insecurity.
Which means there are times when such awareness might slam the door on a moment of rare insight, or lose an insightful portrait to artificial posing; good reasons to be observant, and prepared before the session begins.
Digital makes this simple yet powerful sharing a significant moment in modern portraiture, and few people grasp the transformative power of the digital darkroom or the perils of tipping your hand too early. To get it right in the camera, in the moment, is a good goal, and often means the best work is done before the actual session even starts. Good planning supports spontaneity.
Then there are those exceptional personalities who remain oblivious to the very notion of a photograph, not buying the idea that an image that might reveal one’s very soul, or the secret thoughts constrained just beneath the surface of the skin. They will only give you a moment, and are endlessly and earnestly pressing on to the next thing that needs their attention, like that chicken in the garden.
"chickens... chickens... chickens..."