Benjamin2010-01-20
Photography that I love

For Christmas this year, among other wonderful things, I received a Nikon N90s. Not just any camera, this was the camera that my father (who is not dead, mind you, but is hopefully transitioning to digital) carried for the last several years. It\'s got scuff marks on the back from the back trails of Alaska, and the strap is from the community college where he taught photography back in 1984.

In addition, he gave me a very quick guide to its use (e.g., \"This is a lens cap. It is the reason why you can\'t see anything right now\") and will be giving me further tips and assignments via email. I am greatly looking forward to learning about and exploring this medium, with his help. I got an email just now that said,

\"PHOTOGRAPHY WAS INVENTED BY WHITE GUYS IN EUROPE - exposures were set up for them; the 18% gray card is normal white skin and all meters are set up for that; most mexican skin will fall under the 18%; dark mex and blacks need 100% more light.\" *
Anyway, it got me excited about learning and practicing, and Cat has promised to help me with my current assignments this weekend--chiefly the head and shoulders shot. It also got me thinking about what type of photography I wish I could do, and want to learn. In my response to my father\'s email, I said that \"I know my work will come out looking like holiday snapshots for some time; it\'s intimidating because I want them to look like these\", and I attached a few images that I especially like. This got me thinking about it even more, so here\'s a sampling of some of the photography that has blown me away.

I keep a directory on my computer full of images that I love for one reason or another, and many of them are photographs. For this, though, I tried to select the ones that I loved purely for the photography, and not the subject, or the \"joke\", or whatever. And yes, it strikes me as weird to just post a bunch of art photos willy-nilly, but there are a thousand tumblr \'blogs that do just that, without even this much context, so I guess that\'s the thing to do these days. Anyway, if I had an extra soul to sell, I\'d run to the crossroads if I thought it would enable me to make art half as good as any of these.


I\'m still a lighting designer, and if I can ever find the right company I\'ll be a lighting designer until I die. These first images represent my love of pure lighting, from the soft shadows on Jane Greer\'s face to the balls out, not-very-sophisticated-but-by-god-it\'s-beautiful silhouette blast. The boxer portrait I also love because of the obvious backstory, the character that comes through, and the age--there is a visceral sense of history. Click on any of the images below for a larger version. Sadly, I don\'t know who the photographers were, and so I cannot give credit, with the exception of Eugenio Recuenco. He did the Birds-style photo, and I love everything he\'s done.


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Another thing that I love is character--when the photographer manages to bring the full force of the subject\'s personality screaming straight out of the picture, as with Diane Arbus\' tattooed man, or that blurred-but-still dancer (no idea who took that, sorry, but the way her eyes stare into the camera, and the whole photo, is just amazing). On a similar note, I love photographs that give just enough of a clue to show that there is a huge story, happening just off screen, just before or just after the click of the shutter. Eugenio Recuenco, again, with the fencer with such a look on her face, and such hair! And the wonderfully lit Ophelia (perhaps?) with an industrial background of bolts and buttons.

Finally, the creepy photograph a the person in the bunny mask. Likely no one knows the artist, I myself found it on the \'blog Black & WTF. It has so much amazing atmosphere, partially from the lighting, and partially from the artifacts (real or forged) of age. Who was this person? Why was she wearing that key? What was going on here!?


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Finally, I dearly love color and texture, almost as an abstraction from the actual subject of the photograph. I\'ve lost the name of the first artist, but she did a series of \"brides\", all in shades of white. Eugenio Recuenco (did I mention that I really, really like his work?) did the blue octopus on the white head--I have no idea how much post-production work went into that, but I really like it. Anke Merzbach is another artist whose work I really love--the colors are muted in this photo (with the plastic film ripped away and the--dead?--woman) but there is so much texture. Finally, I just realized that the last image isn\'t actually a photograph at all--Ryohei Hase is actually an illustrator. Regardless, the image is amazing. I often struggle with my notions of subtlety, but I think that ultimately there\'s nothing wrong with just turning on a firehose of beauty, and of red.


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*Black people and white people are equal in any number of areas, but not in the amount of light reflected from their skin. If the wording sounds a little crude (and \"dark mex\" isn\'t a phrase I use very often) bear in mind that this is a fellow who got in trouble with the KKK back in the 80s, in North Carolina, because he was not only willing to photograph black people, he was also good at it.

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