Camera Inconsequential.

This is a frame from a 35mm portrait sitting.  I'm sure I used a 90mm or 105mm lens to take the image.  I don't remember what camera it came from and I don't really care.  At the time I was experimenting in the darkroom with a technique that involved the use of a device called a Pictrol.  You used it in between the enlarging lens and your printing paper.  Was essentially an iris with bubbly, distorted, plastic blades that could be dialed in or out making sections of the print softer or even haloed. Used to aggressively it destroyed all the sharpness in a printed image.  Used with discretion it took the edge off the details and made for very flattering skin tones.  The shadows would "bleed" into the highlights and the effect was also one of cutting down highlights that were printing too bright.

Given that I was actively reducing sharpness and contrast in pursuit of a specific kind of image, to speak about the pristine and scientific qualities of whatever lens I was using seems... churlish.

What I like about the photograph is the calm and direct engagement that Michelle gives the camera, and by extension, me.  I also like, from a design point of view, the exquisite contrast between the light skin tone, her white tank top and the inky dark shadows to one side.  The result of one big light used at what I considered to be just the right angle. 

Even before PhotoShop existed photographers have manipulated their images to fit their vision. Especially in the black and white darkroom. 

This is my Pictrol (which stands for Pictorial Control).
I couldn't bear to get rid of it when I closed
my darkroom.  

Interestingly enough, it fits on the front of  my Olympus
45mm 1.8 lenses.  I'll have to do some portraits with that.....


yoda2 said...

Either you wonderfully pick you models or I should move to Austin!

Oh! And the picture to is really good!

Michael Matthews said...

Speaking of fitting things to the front of one's lens, have you used the E-PL1's kit zoom with a polarizing filter?

I dearly love the camera. It's with me every day, while the Nikon DSLR sat unused for much of the past couple of years.

But -- I had to go overboard and try to add to it. Each time I attempt to move the polarizer to find the correct angle it defocuses the lens, kicks the on-screen magnifier into action, and makes the view incomprehensible.

That applies to manual focus as well as AF. The final, forward element of the zoom lens just can't withstand the drag built into the B+W polarizer's rotation.

I may simply be terminally stupid. Any suggestions?

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Turn off the manual focus assist. Polarize and then focus.

Frank Grygier said...

You may be using a linear polorizer. A circular polorizer is better for AF.

Michael Matthews said...

Thanks. Found it.

CadenceMichael said...

I have on my desk a copy of the September 1981 National Geographic. The cover photograph is of a young Vietnamese refugee girl and was taken by Steve Wall. The photograph is soft and the young girl's moving hands are blurred. It is a photograph that speaks to me like very few others. The magazine sits up on my desk so that I can see it every day. Sharpness would completely change the mood of this photograph and most likely not in a positive way. This is a photograph that I dream of capturing.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I love that paragraph. That pretty much sums up the difference between people who want to own cameras and people who want to take photographs...