A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.
How Orange is Trump?
Saturday, January 07, 2017
In this article in my NY Times today (the on-line version as I also get a daily
delivered hard copy at the front door here in Vancouver, BC) I noticed a
photograph taken by Todd Heisler for the NY Times. The article is by Susanne
Craig, Jo Becker & Jesse Drucker.
perceive colour affects us even if we do not know it is happening.
Photographers, artists and media savvy folks know better.
Canada I noticed that the liberal media newspapers (I am a left wing liberal if
you must know!) would make our former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s
photographs that appeared in newspapers to be a tad green/cyan. Ugh!
humans, whose spectrum of colour is decidedly on the red, orange and yellow side
(and the reason we get into arguments about blue, green and turquoise and
cannot see ultra-violet) we are affected by colour. We see these more visible (the reason fire trucks are red) colours as warm and the others as
cool. A green face will never be an attractive one (ask Kermit who will
disagree). So if we make a politician’s face in a cool colour we will instantly
not like him (her) or at the very least be turned off or not trust.
been written about Trump’s orange face. Perhaps it is a tad. My guess is that
Jared Kushner’s shirt is white. I cannot make the same conclusion for Ivanka
Trump’s dress. It could be white or even cream.
My correction for colour
photographer obviously did not use a flash and simply shot for existing light.
The above pot lights are not balanced for daylight so the camera saw the light
as yellowish/red. Either he did not bother to balance the colour correctly (or
at least make an attempt with his digital camera's automatic white balance) or the NY Times photo editor did not either, or did
am not a partisan of Trump the man or his policies I do believe that this
photograph affects how we perceive the man without us knowing that.
And a further tweak on my part
I do not
believe in most conspiracies and this is certainly not one. It is just an
example of shoddy photojournalism. That my own NY Times is at it too, is embarrassing.
There is a perhaps an apocryphal story here in Vancouver of a wedding photographer who left his rolls of colour negative film at a lab for processing. He did not tell the lab that the bride was wearing a light pink dress. You can imagine the human colour printer attempting to make decent proofs.
When we are young (or at least when I was young) we are not
curious enough to ask questions that depend on people being alive. I can only
write in this blog today something that is a combination of what I remember and
some guesswork that is purely speculative. Anybody who could clue me in is dead.
What I know about my mother’s pianist aunt Buenaventura
Gálvez Puig is that she often combed my mother’s long hair when my mother was a
little girl. My mother found the experience excruciating and would complain.
Her aunt Buenaventura would then tell her in Castillian Spanish, “Para ser una dama hay que saber sufrir.”
translates to, “To be a gentlewoman one must learn to suffer.”
I never asked my mother why it was that she (my mother)
played the piano and played it so well. Perhaps her aunt, who was a concert
pianist and teacher in Manila at the turn of the century, inspired her.
From Buenaventura my mother Filomena inherited a lot of her
sheet music and bound books including a three-volume complete Beethoven Piano
Sonatas. Here I have scanned a little book that my mother called a Mozart
Mignon as it is about the size of a large pocket book. Buenaventura’s signature
has faded with the years.
In our family photo album we have a photograph of Buenaventura
as a young woman. It seems she was very beautiful. On the back of the
photograph it reads Hiroshi Suyama Photographers. At that turn of the century
many of the best Manila photographers were Japanese so this is no surprise.
I just wish I had asked more questions. Buenaventura Galvez
(my grandmother Lolita’s mother’s surname) must have married a man from
Catalonia as Puig (pronounced pootch) is such a name.
It has been announced that the moribund or perhaps dead Great Yellow Father from Rochester is bringing back Ektachrome this year.
At age 74 I am old enough to remember that in National
Geographics of yore the photographs contained information that included that
they were taken with Ektachrome (or Kodachrome).
In the heyday of magazines when the tons of money they had were
splurged on good photography, unique photography, photography with style, there
were no scanners or digital reproduction. The only way magazine or advertising
art directors could respect the vision of the individual photographer was to
inspect the original. More often than not that had to be a slide or a
transparency (a term sometimes uses to describe slides larger than 35mm).
Underexposed or overexposed slides were anathema to these
art directors. There was nothing that could really be done to correct exposure
errors as this was before Photoshop. My 13 year-old Photoshop’s most useful
tool is the one that I use when I scan those Ektachromes (and b+w and colour
negatives). The tool is called Shadow/Highlight. This tool can draw out all
that detail that was always in the shadows of properly exposed Ektachrome. In
that past the internegatives that were used to print slides or Cibachrome (it
had much too much contrast and shadow detail tended to disappear) could not
properly bring out all the rich detail of those Ektachromes and Kodachromes.
This photographer had a fear of overexposure that was so
profound that my slides tended to be a bit on the dark side. My then friend and
Vancouver Magazine Editor Malcolm Parry gave me the nickname of Halfstop because
when he noted my dark slides I always explained that I had taken one shot per
my exposure meter and one more half a stop under.
The only photographer that I knew that specialized in
underexposure was a well-known American called Pete Turner whose trick for
getting “electrically saturated” slides was to consciously underexpose
Kodachrome. But then he worked for the best magazines around and they must have
had tricks up their sleeves to cope with Turner’s super-saturated output.
For all the years that I shot for magazines I only used
slide or transparency film. I looked down upon anybody who used colour
negative. It was my feeling (not completely off the mark) that these
photographers had shoddy exposure methods and used colour negative’s ability to
compensate for exposure error (called film latitude and colour negative has
always had high film latitude). But sometime in the 90s I read a National
Geographic article about shooting in the Antarctic that mentioned that the photographer
took an extra camera (a Nikon FM-2) loaded with colour negative film. The
shoots were so important that no chances could be taken. It was then that I began to not look down on photographers who did not shoot slide film.
The reason for that is that slide film in comparison has
less latitude for exposure error that negative film). It means you have to be
bang on with your exposures and in my time I had to have a very good
exposure/flash meter. In fact I had two of them just in case.
Now with digital cameras there is no need for Ektachrome or
slide film if you are shooting for magazines. My film scanner can deal
excellently with the very good Kodak (and Fuji) colour negative film that is
even made in the 120 format for my Mamiya RB-67.
I have blown away many an audience at a photo or garden
lecture projecting my 6x7 cm slides (in lovely Gepe glass slide mounts) with my
Linhof slide projector (very quiet) with
What I don’t understand is why Kodak is coming back with
Ektachrome. Will our Vancouver The Lab (an excellent one) suddenly be pushed to
process what used to be called E-6 film? What do people who will shoot this
Ektachrome use it for? Will they project it? Will they print it?
Ektachrome slides came in various types. The picture you see
here of Sandrine Cassini with a red rose was taken using Ektachrome EPN. It was
rated at 100ISO and the N stood for neutral colour. And yet it was not in the
least neutral. I was just less saturated than for example EPP Ektachrome.
Good (and wealthy photographers) would by large batches of
Ektachrome manufactured on the same day in what was called the same batch. They
would then shoot one roll to determine if the film had any colour shifts. Most
did so these precise photographers would then use correction filters to make
the colours as accurate as possible.
In all the years that I shot Ektachrome the gray wall in my
studio never photographed as gray. It always had a coolish cast to it, a mix of
green, blue and cyan.
I believe that good digital cameras can now make gray walls
(and gray seamless) gray while making skin tone accurate as possible.
But then there have always been exterior factors that many
photographers do not understand. Light becomes warmer (in the direction of
yellow and red) as you get closer to the Equator. And this light becomes bluer
as you move towards the opposite directions. Snow in Whistler will be seen by
film, videotape and by digital cameras as blue and even bluer at higher
If this Ektachrome will be brought back in the professional
form then photo shops will have to bring film fridges back. The purpose of the
fridges was to keep the film at the optimum factory specifications. Amateur
Ektachrome had a built-in shelf life. But I would have never bought amateur
Ektachrome in any tropical country! Heat affects colour film and especially
For shoots doing annual reports in the US I always traveled
with plastic containers and ice designed for food. Exposed Ektachrome was
especially subject to colour shifts (on the warm side) in heat.
Perhaps bringing back Ektachrome is like bringing back LPs.
Few who might want to now buy an expensive turntable and cartridge would have
ever bought records when they were massed-produced. I had records that had
built-in scratches and noises. Ektachrome will simply be another way of looking
back at was considered a simpler, safer and less complicated life.
But users of Ektachrome beware. Most of those original
automatic film cameras usually gave their owners good results not because the
cameras were very good but because the colour negative film (and b+w, too)
these cameras were loaded with had very wide latitude (forgiveness for exposure
error). So these new photographers will have to shoot with very good hand-held
exposure meters. If they don’t they might find that out of a 36 exposure roll 8
pictures or a bit more may be useable.
While I will keep using b&w film and home process it,
Ektachrome will be for me a nostalgiathat I will not adopt.
Looking at these two snaps that I took of cellist Rebecca Wenham last
night with my Fuji XE-1 I have to stress that I do not miss Ektachrome
Rebecca Wenham - January 4, 2017 Fuji Colour Instant Film print
A frequent repeating theme in my blogs is that a photographer
is much like one of those American gunfighters of the 19th century, stars
of many Hollywood films. Any one of those gunfighters was as good as his last
gunfight. We can guess the consequence if they were a tad slow or their eyes were
not as sharp.
A photographer is as good as his (I’m a guy) last
photograph. Those who are here can judge from these two Fuji Instant Film
prints, and one reversed peel from one of them which I took today of Vancouver
cellist Rebecca (Becky Wenham). I also shot colour negative film on my Mamiya
RB-67 and with my Fuji X-E1. They will all be sharper than these. I still like
the inherent look of this film which is sadly discontinued.
The easiest process for failure in a photographic session
with a person is not to have some ideas on who to proceed. In my case I seem to
have a long history of taking portraits of cellists including two male
cellists. The problem with portraits of musicians is that someone has done
before any pose you might think is original. In fact to photograph a musician
involves copying a cliché and hiding (if that is possible in this 21st
century) its provenance.
In the case of Becky Wenham I had two ideas that I had
previously explored with American cellist Laura Kramer and of Seattle baroque
cellist Juliana Soltis.
What is most interesting is that the Laura Kramer profile
shot was instantly modified to perfection by Becky who simply raised her cello
higher. To me it resembles a profile of an Egyptian queen possibly even
Rebecca Wenham has many gigs. She plays for the VSO, for the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and (important to my interests) with Marc Destrube's Microcosmos Quartet. They have been known to play lots of those most difficult Bartok Quartets. We laughed in today's shoot citing the photographs with the ring flash (the second one here) as being Bartokish!
I have written of friendship and the loss of it here and here but it has been much in my thoughts of late. In that previous blog I quoted Harold Bloom from his book How To Read And Why:
read not only because we cannot know enough people, but because
friendship is so vulnerable, so likely to diminish or disappear,
overcome by space,time, imperfect sympathies, and all the sorrows of
familial and passional life."
And there is this from Julian Barnes's nothing to be frightened of:
look around at my many friendships, and can recognize that some of them
are not so much friendships any more as memories of friendship."
One of the first books I purchased when we moved from Mexico
City to Vancouver was The Random House
Dictionary of the English Language – The Unabridged Edition. In it I looked
up the noun friend. Only in its 7th
citiation is the word considered a transitive verb: Rare – to befriend.Under friended it is an archaic adjective.
From that I can safely surmise that the Facebook to friend and to unfriend are
modern, more recent modifications of the erstwhile noun.
I have been thinking about friendship of late because many
of my friends are dying or dead.
The word friend has a more direct connection with to love in
Spanish as the word for is amigo and
that is very close to amar or to
love. Friendship is amistad and a
non-regulation sports match is a partido
amistoso. Te amo or I love you in
Spanish is very dramatic. More often we use te
quiero. It it not as prosaic as “I want you” but really means I love you
One of my dearest friend is Felipe Occhiuzzi. For close to
two years he and I and three more of us served in the Argentine Navy seconded to
the US Naval Advisor. Through the years in my visits to Argentina we have
gotten together. We have stayed in touch.
Robert Hijar far right
Another friend I met earlier in 1962 when I went to the
University of the American in Mexico City. Roberto Hijar was studying to get a
masters in art. We both smoke pipes, listened to classical music and good jazz.
We stayed in touch with letters and then with visits to his home in San
Francisco and then in Memphis.
Both Felipe and Robert incorporated email and the internet
into their lives. Both started sending me emails with links to stuff. The
emails were addressed to many more than I and rarely did they come with an
explanatory “Dear Alex these photographs reminded me of what you do and I
These email links incensed me and I threatened to send
Swedish pornography to all their recipients (and I may have in a couple of occasions).
They never got the message so I gave up explaining and just deleted those
Perhaps 10 years ago I called Robert in Memphis and told him
we could get connected using Skype. He told me that I had called him at his
cellular number and he was at his mother-in-law’s and she hated it when he used
the phone in her presence. And then, off the cuff he said, “I do not need to
communicate with you as I know all about you by reading your daily blog.” At
that point I told him he was history – that we were history. Through the years
he sends me greetings on Canadian Thanksgiving and that sort of thing. His
emails are more sporadic now. Perhaps, as he is four years older than I am, he
may be dead. I never reply.
I called Felipe in Buenos Aires when I visited in April 2016. I
told him that I wanted to see him. He was only a bus route away from where I
was staying. He called back to tell me he was not feeling well.I have not heard from him since.
And that is how friendship fades into oblivion. The only
route is to make new ones. That is something I am actively trying to do.