7.11.2012

Local Photo Hero, Michael O'Brien (by way of NYC) still has the real stuff.

©2012 Michael O'Brien.  Do not use or copy without his direct permission.


Michael O'Brien and an NPR reporter went in search of Texas ranchers affected by the long drought. Michael used a 4x5 inch view camera and black and white Polaroid positive/negative film to capture the images.  Go and see the photographs and hear the story of last year's incredible drought in Texas.  

The images are so uniquely different than what we normally see.  They are incredibly lit.  I can't wait to see them as big prints, chocked full of detail and tone.

To see more of Michael's work:  http://www.obrienphotography.com/


12 comments:

Unknown said...

Wonderful photos ... but they would be trashed in Internet Photo Forums. He cut off the top of his head - the composition sux, hasn't he heard of the rule of thirds - etc ad infinitum.

c.d.embrey

kirk tuck said...

Knowing Michael I'd say he never worries about stuff like that. He's too busy shooting good work.

Frank Grygier said...

This is the kind of work I aspire to do. Michael O'Brien's photographs get to the heart of the story. I feel I know the subjects and their surroundings from these images. I would consider Mr.O'Brien one of the great master photographers of our time. Thanks for sharing this work.

kirk tuck said...

I too think of Mr. O'Brien as one of the contemporary masters. His work is not only amazing but also consistently good. Please be sure to follow the link and see what he has on his website. It's absolutely aspirational.

theaterculture said...

What's really remarkable is the way reveals the human side of famous and iconic people like Tom Waits, Willie Nelson, and Gary Player, while using the same visual vocabulary to make people like a dairy farmer or a small-town school teacher look completely familiar and iconic.

ginsbu said...

Wonderful work. Thanks for posting it. Would you say more about his lighting?

kirk tuck said...

Michael is a master of portrait lighting. I've had the privilege of being around during several of his shoots. In outdoor settings he will put up a light blocker to keep direct sunlight off the subject and then go back in and light with really large softboxes, used really close in. This allows him to control the subject and the background as two separate lighting considerations.

Michael doesn't scrimp on gear. I'm sure he arrived with ample sandbags, heavy duty stands and all the stuff he needed to do exactly what he had in mind. Also consider that he's shooting a very large format so even stopped down he's working with very narrow depth of field. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the example above is in the ballpark of f16 to f22. You need a lot more power for that than you ever will shooting smaller digital formats. Finally, the film in question is about ISO 50. Add in some more flash power....

He was assisted by his son.

kirk tuck said...

By the way, I did ask Michael's permission to use the image above. As always, he was gracious and fun. That's his real magic. He's a great portrait photographer because he is able to establish a quick and sincere rapport with the people he photographs.

Unknown said...

I'm sure he doesn't. I know I don't. And you don't seem to have a problem with disregarding the PPA hair-light-rule 8-)

c.d.embrey

Chad Thompson said...

I'm just amazed he still has some of that film left. And yes for a 4x5 thats quite a bit of DOF.

ginsbu said...

Thanks, Kirk.

Looking at the portraits, I can't help but think of Avedon's American West, though the lighting — and, of course, the backgrounds! — are so vastly different. I always enjoy seeing how similar subject matter can be given differing, but effective treatments.

cidereye said...

Brilliant stuff! Only wished I lived 3000+ miles closer so I could view them in the flesh as they are meant to be viewed. Real photographs by a real photographer. Bliss.