Thursday, December 31, 2009

DT 13.2 - Blogging Non-School Related Photos

In a scant few days, it's back to getting up at 7 a.m. every morning. I'm considering doing that thing my parents made me do when I was a kid, and summer vacation was drawing to a close - starting to go to bed early now, just to get back into the swing of things. However, it being New Years Eve today, I'll think I'll get on that... later. The break has been good, though. Here are some of the things I've been up to.

Taking pictures of my friends' animals was one activity. Pets seem to be everywhere. This particular dog is very intelligent. A few moments after taking this photo, she said to me, "Get that damn camera outta my face." (In English.)

This is my sister's cat, Sonic. My nephew named him Sonic because he can run at super-sonic speeds. However, that was before they moved from a house into an apartment and Sonic entered middle-age in cat years. Now Sonic is the size a football and doesn't run at all unless I chase him with a vacuum cleaner.

This is my sister expressing her feelings about me chasing her cat with a vacuum cleaner.

This is my nephew. This was taken at a family gathering a few days after Christmas. I think this is a cool window light portrait. My nephew can be very serious at times...

...for example, he has a serious problem with gummi worms. But, one of our main activities as a family during the holiday is eating tons of food, so go ahead kid, knock yourself out.

Another favourite activity over the holidays is drinking wine. I had had a few glasses by the time I took this photo. I chose this particular depth-of-field because it's a fairly good representation of how I was actually seeing things at this point.

My nephew got a Wii system for Christmas. Here, he is playing a (serious) game of Wii tennis, or cow racing, or something. Note the glass of wine in the background.

Nothing says family togetherness like a good game of world domination. This is the state of play after the fifth hour of a game of Risk. I'm about to invade Irkutsk. I was drunk with power.

"After the Fall of Irkutsk"
And she thought she could invade invade Eastern Canada with impunity. Notice the pain with which she is clutching her side. It hurts to lose Irkutsk, doesn't it?

This photo was taken at my step-son's taekwondo school's Christmas party. This is a friend's daughter. She likes to pretend she doesn't want her photo taken - just like cats "pretend" they don't like being chased by vacuum cleaners.

So, that's about it. I'm off to a New Years party just down the street. Gotta love those parties that you can just walk to, and stumble home. See you next year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

AT 11.2 Karsh - Jonah O'Neil - Group A - Analog Techniques

Title of photo: Pablo Casals, 1954

Link to photo:

On the technical side of things, Karsh was a master of the "inspection" technique for developing negatives, which is suited for 4x5" and larger film, and involves developing negatives by hand, traditionally under a green safelight, to produce optimal highlights in specific areas of the image. Karsh used this technique to create negatives that have significant tonality. "Pablo Casals, 1954" definitely shows significant tonality, which can be seen in the stone wall, the floor, and in subject's clothing.

Like the majority of Karsh's work, this photo is high in contrast - the highlights are very bright and the shadows are quite dark - for example, the highlights around the subjects head, shoulders, and arms versus the shadows on his back. So I'm going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that he used the magenta filter. He may have employed split contrasting because, while the figure in the chair shows quite a bit of contrast, the wall in front of him does not show a lot of contrast.

It looks to me that Karsh dodged the stone wall quite since it is so much brighter than the dark areas in the photo. It would also appear that he burned in the area of the wall around the subject's head, shoulders and torso, giving the subject a frame of darker tones, and separating him from the background quite nicely. That's pretty cool now that I'm looking at the photo again. Huh. Inspiring even.

I think this is a great composition. To begin with, it's a bit of an anomaly for Karsh to have his subject facing away from the camera. But this makes sense considering Pablo Casals' background and what Karsh wished to portray. Casals was a Spanish cellist who refused to perform in any county that officially recognized the Franco dictatorship. As Karsh put it, Casals was a"voluntary prisoner", and the setting and composition of this photo certainly brings to mind a prisoner sitting in a cell. And the fact that Casals is facing away from the viewer suggests that he has turned his back on Franco and those who recognize him.

Other compositional elements that I like are:
- The implied line from the window to Casals which suggests at first that it is light from the window that is illuminating the subject and the floor, but which must have been from another source.

- The natural frame along the left side made by what might either be a curtain or part of a door frame, giving the impression that we are peaking in on the subject and catching a private moment.

- The tension caused by the back chair legs extending just beyond the edge of the frame.

- The tension caused by not lining the chair up with the lines on the stone floor.

- The tension caused by the shadow underneath the subject and the chair, because that's not a shadow being cast by the subject himself. I can't for the life of me figure out what that shadow is.

- The aforementioned burning around Casals providing a nice frame for the subject.

- The fly sitting on the back of the chair. This is hard to see in the photo online, but at the WAG it was actually visible. Hard to say, though, if Karsh managed to capture that elusive moment and got behind the fly's mask to portray its true self. I bet he did.