Saturday, July 30, 2016
Copiar, dibujar o fotografiar la figura de una persona o de una cosa.
Hacer la descripción de la figura o del carácter de una persona. U. t. c. prnl.
Describir con exacta fidelidad algo.
Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados
mid 16th century: from French, past participle (used as a
noun) of Old French portraire ‘portray.’
These days of shifting one minute from reading Jorge Luís
Borges (in Spanish) to Emily Dickinson (in English) the difference between
these languages is in my thoughts all the time. As an example of how a language will
approach the same thing in a different way take the word portrait and its equivalent in Spanish retrato.
A hint to the meaning of the word in Spanish might illuminate
those who speak English in the similarity between retrato and retract.
Thus in Spanish, according to my excellent on line
dictionary RAE (Real Academia Española) a retrato has as its root origin from
the Latin the word retractare which means revise, retouch, correct!
Did the Romans suspect that a likeness of a person could
never be accurate?
As a semi-hippie high school teacher in the early 70s I
often told my students of an experiment involving my idea of very early computers.
A young woman would place in a room a camera on a tripod with a light on one
side. Nothing would then be moved and she would stand on one spot without
movement. Then, one at a time, her father, her brother, her mother, her sister,
the plumber, her best friend, her boyfriend, her physics teacher, would each
snap the shutter once. I believe that the resulting portraits if studied
carefully would reveal the intention of each snapper, with the reaction of the
woman snapped. We might be able to guess who took which photograph.
And my further idea was that if we fed all the
photographs into a super computer that we would instruct to combine all images
into one, we would then approach an almost totality of the person, perhaps a Platonic
Friday, July 29, 2016
In my many years (1963-2016) with a darkroom I went through many shifts
in style, particularly when I printed my negatives. I first thought high contrast
was best for impact. Then I swung in the opposite direction and opted for
getting all those shades of gray and detail in the near blacks. And these
prints I sometimes printed dark and at other times not so much. With my b+w
negatives I went in the same two directions but in the end settled with as many
continuous tones I could muster and avoided extreme contrast.
What this means to the average person examining a photograph
printed by a photographer is that you will mostly never see two the same unless
the photographer happens to have printed them one after the other on the same
The intentions of a photographer at one time would have
been more evident in the examination of a 35mm slide or a bigger one (called a
transparency). Then the only variation of that unique (original to stress the
word) image would be in its reproduction as a printed image.
With my darkroom now history in our new Kitsilano duplex I
find myself doing the very same that I did before which is to re-interpret
myself. This time the tool is the scanner combined with Photoshop. I have a
very old Photoshop but it has that invaluable tool called Shadow/Highlight. If
I play with it particularly in RGB (not in LAB where there is little if any
colour variation) the results can be most interesting.
Some time ago I wrote here
about Mónica Salvatella. I
illustrated the blog with an interpretation I have varied here. I am pleasantly
surprised with the possibilities.
Reversed Special Effects
Thursday, July 28, 2016
You can be
almost sure that any person who might be listening to a Blue Note jazz
recording is at least over 60. You can make such blanket statements with enough
accuracy but you must also expect the fact that humans can be unpredictable. No
matter how good your statistics probabilities do not guarantee possibilities.
photographer over 60 (in fact I will be 74 shortly) I am well-versed in what
used to be the only way to take photographs which was to use the stuff that
involved emulsion on flexible and transparent plastic – film being the short
almost complete transition from film to digital has pushed film stuff into a
background that will soon be oblivion.
of all that, has really hit the film (as in movies) industry. Special effects
have to be beyond wow to wow us. At one time (and I can remember it very well)
we marveled at a typewriter working without human hands. Did anybody ever see
Naked Lunch (1991)?
brings me to the three found images in an envelope in my garage (now studio)
attic. One is Fuji Instant Colour Film peel to which I bleached the black
backing and then reversed after scanning. Another is the image on a Polaroid
Colour peel (Polaroid peels did not fade as Fuji ones do. The third, the one in
b+w (but which I colorized and is the first image in the blog) is a combination of a reversed and an unreversed b+w Fuji Instant b+w peel.
By peel I mean what we stupid photographers (at least this one) used to throw
away not being aware of their special effects potential.
photographers (and consider that by my using a scanner and Photoshop I am
pretty well digital) might be able to imitate these effects. But without
knowing the effects (the non-digital ones) from the start they would be
imitating but not innovating.