Thursday, March 18, 2010

Make an image a day : the first 30 days : self-portrait

This eclectic group is what results when I resolve to make an image a day—no excuses.  I'm usually bad with these sorts of resolutions.  And I think it's primarily because I'm typically resolving myself to them as I'm a building fortress out of my blankets, watching an inspiring movie about Nelson Mandela, or downing my third highball of bourbon–and not when I have a headache, a frighteningly high ratio of friend-to-work emails in my inbox, and a stack of utility bills on my desk.  But I had two concrete goals that kept me focused.  One is that I am trying to work to myself back, after a long period of relative estrangement, to more intimate terms with my camera.  Second, I figured it was an opportunity a day to focus minutely on color.

Because I started in black & white photography, my vision, in some essential way, has always been black & white.  In post-production, I've focused mostly on the b&w qualities of brightness, contrast, and the smoothness of tonal variations—usually considering color only in so far as it somehow looks "realistic" or believable.  Believability has been a good parameter mostly because when I've played with color, it's been, I'll admit, a little clumsy:  How 'bouts we make this blue.  Oh, look it's so sad! This must be part of my blue period!  So, this project as been to shake things up and train my eye not only for seeing color for where it is, but also and where it can be.  I've been looking a lot at photographs from the 1970s and earlier, when popular color photography was not yet perfected to look “realistic” or be archival, so shadows and highlights contain obvious color shifts depending on the film.  Also, by looking at these sorts of “imperfect” images, I'm hoping to pick the lock that confines me to classical b&w ideas of proper brightness, contrast, tonal variations—so scientifically laid out in the technical books by Ansel Adams that I read voraciously in my teens.

That's about the extent of what I'm doing.  I chose self-portraiture because I wanted to do some portraiture, and it's easiest; I'm always at hand—damn the weather or other commitments!  But I can be a cranky model and I'm not always up to the director's idea.  Especially sometime around 3AM, when I've been working for 12 hours on a rush job and I'm not sure if my eyes are bleeding or if that's spaghetti sauce from a hastened dinner on my face.  So, some pictures are better than others, a few are similar, and there's no overarching vision.  Just a resolution, thirty days, and thirty responses.

Click HERE for slide show + press F11 for full screen.

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