Tag: portrait

For William Eggleston, People Are Like Parking Lots – The New York Times

The portraiture of William Eggleston, whose color photography helped shepherd the medium into the art world, is the exclusive feature of a new exhibit and book.

Source: For William Eggleston, People Are Like Parking Lots – The New York Times

Some notes from the ‘William Eggleston Portraits’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Eggleston is known as a pioneer in the development of colour art photography because of his images of everyday urban American life, his use of the dye transfer process (in his search for the ‘ultimate quality colour print’ – at the time the process was used for high-end commercial work), and due to his solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976. This show is widely considered to be a key moment in the recognition of colour photography as a contemporary art form.

The exhibition groups together around a hundred of Eggleston’s portraits, many untitled and never exhibited before, from his early black and white work to better known colour photographs.


Source: New York Times

For many of the portraits, including diners, shoppers, people waiting for a bus, the subjects are unaware. For others, including the Nightclub Portraits (1973) subjects seem to be, or clearly were, aware of the camera and were presumably asked to pose.


From the Nightclub Portraits (1973). Source: https://ushistorians.wordpress.com

The Nightclub Portraits were taken in bars and clubs around Memphis using a large format (5×7) camera and a portable lighting set up. I had come across a smaller selection of these portraits before in the Everything was Moving exhibition a couple of years ago at the Barbican.

A portrait is also featured of Eggleston’s friend, ‘an eccentric dentist’ T.C. Boring. Boring stands naked in a blood red bedroom with graffiti covered walls (‘God’, ‘Mona’, ‘Walker’), bed unmade, cigarette left on the sideboard (close to burning it) and remote control and lamp at the edge of the [tight] frame. The exhibition guide notes suggest this was the same bedroom as the location for Eggleston’s most famous ‘Red Ceiling’ photograph taken in 1973.

The introductory notes to the exhibition refer to Eggleston embracing the snapshot style – but notes that the photographs are not straightforward documentary or sentimental, and as a result the viewer is asked ‘to find something more valuable and elusive in the images’. Much of the commentary on the exhibition also rates to Eggleston’s ‘democratic’ style and ambiguous images (see 1 and 2 in Sources section for reviews).

The exhibition runs until 23 October 2016 at the National Portrait Gallery (see 3 below).

Sources
1. The New York Times – Lens Blog. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/highly-personal-portraiture-by-william-eggleston/
2. Review in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/20/william-eggleston-portraits-review-momentous-trivial-marvellous
3. National Portriat Gallery http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/eggleston/exhibition.php

OCA People and Place – People Aware: Eye contact and expression/Review a portrait sequence

This exercise involves setting up a portrait session, and taking a sequence of portraits where the subject is looking directly into the camera, or away from it, and using judgement to determine which produces the better image. As with most of these exercises, I asked a member of the family to pose for me – I’m not sure someone that I didn’t know would have the patience. I used a simple set-up, with the camera on a tripod, and a cable release (so easier to talk to the subject and no need to constantly be looking through the viewfinder) and used the same focal length throughout. This set up also meant that I could ensure that roughly the same amount of space was occupied by the subject in each frame. I took these outside with a softbox to brighten the shadows (behind the camera to the right of the subject at about 45 degrees) and a reflector to the left of the subject to even up the lighting on the face. Again using an identical set-up throughout meant that the lighting would be consistent across all of the images. As I knew the subject it was easy to give a bit of direction where needed to make sure I produced a reasonably varied set of photographs in terms of where the gaze was and position of the head.

I did this exercise in conjunction with the next in the course material, which asks for a review of a portrait sequence. The number of asterisks against each image below indicates my rating. As requested in the course notes, I have rated each image as either not good (*), acceptable (**), good (***) and identified what I think is the single best shot (****). I should be upfront and state here that most of the poorer quality images (which were either not sharp enough or there was really obvious flaws such as the subject’s eyes being closed) didn’t make it past my editor. I also had to be selective in what I have posted since some of the differences in expression or pose were very marginal. The course notes suggest that at least 20 images are taken. I had a set of over 70 (I stopped at this as I thought I had exhausted the possible variations but, on reflection, I could have taken more face on with the head straight – and perhaps altered the positioning of the subject in the frame).

The checklist in the course notes is a useful guide for assessing portraits – I mainly concentrated on composition, angle of the head, and facial expression. I’d managed to control for some of the other criteria mentioned through my set-up (e.g. using a plain background so no distractions were behind the subject, making sure nothing else was in the frame so the whole series is simple, and the lighting balance was good due to the use of external light and a reflector as well as ambient light, and the lighting is consistent across the sequence). I took some notes throughout, and started off with some fairly standard portraits with the subject looking into the camera and then a number where the gaze was away to varying degrees (1 through to 7 below). The portraits where the subject is more side on to the camera (8 through to 14) are probably a less typical pose for a portrait. I thought these would be the better shots when I took them and took a fair number with subtle variations to gesture and pose but, after reviewing them, I don’t have enough of the subject’s head in the shot and they look a little awkward (for a further edit I would be inclined to crop so the white space to the right is not so prominent). However, I think these work better than the similar sequence where the other side of the subject’s side of the face is closest to the camera (19-22), perhaps because this position didn’t feel as natural to the subject, and there wasn’t actually much space on this side for her to look into. After reviewing the whole set I would say the better shot is probably where the subject is face on (16). It’s a fairly formal pose but the subject is at ease, with the head to a slight angle.

1. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.***
1. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.***
2. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
2. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
3. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
3. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
4. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
4. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
5. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
5. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
6. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
6. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
7. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
7. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
8. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
8. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
9. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
9. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
10. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
10. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
11. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
11. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
12. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
12. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
13. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
13. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
14. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
14. 85mm, 1/30 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
15. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
15. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
16. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.****
16. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.****
17. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
17. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
18. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
18. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
19. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
19. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
20. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
20. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.*
21. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
21. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
22. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**
22. 85mm, 1/20 second, f/4, ISO 100.**

London Super Comic Con

Incredible cosplayers at London Super Comic Con, which took place at the Excel Centre last weekend, 20-21 February. Thanks to the organisers for providing me with a press pass and to the Londonist for using some of my images on their Art and Photography pages (link to article here).

Miss Mojo Jones. Moondragon. missmojojones.tumblr.com

London Super Comic Con, 2016

The Joker. Thunderstruck Cosplay. www.facebook.com/Thunderstruck-Cosplay-337461836441307/

London Super Comic Con, 2016

Mia Bella Nadia – Wonderwoman.

London Super Comic Con, 2016

X-gene cosplay (Rikke) as Phoenix (Emma Frost). www.facebook.com/XGeneCosplay

London Super Comic Con, 2016
London Super Comic Con, 2016

DistractoGal as Phoenix twitter.com/DistractoGal

London Super Comic Con, 2016

London Super Comic Con, 14 March

Portraits from London Super Comic Con. Excel Centre, Docklands. Thanks to the Londonist for featuring a set on their Art and Photography pages

Tori Seager and Adam Richards as Harley Quinn and the Joker adam-hhh.wix.com/adamrphotography
London Super Comic Con, 14 March

Sarah as Wonder Woman
London Super Comic Con, 14 March

Pippa Allen – Captain America
www.facebook.com/Pippa512
pippa-512.deviantart.com
London Super Comic Con, 14 March

Kelly as Wonder Woman
London Super Comic Con, 14 March

Kai Batoctoy as Khal Drogo
London Super Comic Con, 14 March

OCA People and Place – People Aware: Portrait Scale and Setting

The first exercise in People and Place asks for four portraits, starting with a close crop of a subject’s face; then scaled to show the subjects’s head and shoulders; then torso (with arms and hands); then full figure. The images below were all taken in one sitting using natural light with the camera mounted to a tripod and using a cable release. For the first two at least, the elements of focus are the face and eyes. In the third, the eye is also drawn to the subject’s hands. With hindsight I might have set the series up differently, so that the light was stronger on the side of the face closest to the camera, but there are later exercises that deal with lighting where I can take alternatives. Likewise I mainly kept focal length at 70mm (apart from the full figure – as it wasn’t practical to distance myself any further from the subject) as other exercises explore the effect of using different focal lengths on a subject.

1. Close. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/2.8, ISO 400.
1. Close. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/2.8, ISO 400.
2. Head and shoulders. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/5.6, ISO 400.
2. Head and shoulders. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/5.6, ISO 400.
3. Torso. 70mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
3. Torso. 70mm. 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
4. Full figure. 44mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.
4. Full figure. 44mm, 1/4 second, f/4, ISO 400.