How do you refrain from biting?

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Uploaded 2 Aug 2014 — 17 favorites
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© seanie blue
Views 256
Likes 3
Favorites 17
Comments 4
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Submitted to Lines of Order

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Photo Info
UploadedAugust 3, 2014
TakenFebruary 19, 2009
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D300
Exposure1/100 sec at f/2.8
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length60 mm
ISO500
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

There are triangles and rectangles, and the most prominent two triangles have corresponding rectangles, with one set light and one set dark, with the triangles above the rectangles in each instance. There are three major highlighted sections of the picture, and three major dark shadowed sections. The highlights complement each other vertically, from ceiling, to cheekbone, to shoulder, while the dark shadows move horizontally across the picture, from her hair, to the dark abyss framing the action of makeup and face, to the dark triangle-rectangle geometry of the left edge. There are also three mid tone greys which offset both the highlights AND the shadows. So there are nine fields of extreme tone in the picture, fulfilling that most basic rule of thirds in its simplest equation: three rows, three columns, nine little boxes.

This photograph also represents the return of the amateur to f/2.8. What does this mean? Every photographer who gets an SLR spends too long chasing the light, shooting at f/2.8, usually the widest aperture on their lenses, and the place you can coax a bit more light out of sunsets or alleyways. But that light is horrible, usually, compromised by noise and extremity in tone, and brings the added dread of a tiny focal field, inches wide, guaranteeing that most of your shot is out of focus. When making a portrait with wide apertures, inevitably one of your subject's eyes will be out of focus. We don't notice it when we do it, because our minds compensate for the clouded darker eye, but very few photos can be declared competent if one eye is out of focus and the other is laser brilliant. So I spent a long time at f/2.8, trying to figure out why my pictures sucked. It took a good six months with smaller apertures ("f/8 and don't be late" is the only advice young photographers got in the newsroom in the pre-digital age) before I understood even the most basic use of light, and I was coming to this from years of using a video camera in the most artistic and experimental ways imaginable. None of that video knowledge translated into help with f-stops. So why do I say this shot represents a "return" to f/2.8? Because this was the first time I dialed down to widen the aperture to its maximum knowing what I would get, which was the action lit prominently in the light: her fingers on the triggers of her weapon, painting an illuminated plane. The noise was acceptable in this case because it set the film noir mood; she is playing a killer on the run. She is taking a moment to obey the sexual/cultural imperative of fifty thousand years of human evolution, even while she is hunted globally for transgressions against polite society. Applying embellishment to gain what, exactly? My approval, my friendship, my interest, my curiosity? In this case, in my fictions, the character knows exactly what to do to keep my attention so I can create a history of her actions: I am her only audience in this bridge between killer mode and magnet of desire.

4 responses

  • Davide Simone

    Davide Simone gave props (3 Aug 2014):

    MASTERPIECE

  • JamesHarmon McQuilkin

    JamesHarmon McQuilkin   gave props (8 Aug 2014):

    a masterful capture

  • Richard Knight

    Richard Knight gave props (8 Aug 2014):

    This is actually something JamesHarmon McQuilkin knows something about! But, will it lead to Rachel McKinney? I would convert to Mormonism for the opportunity! Levity aside, lovely photo and great writing.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (28 Aug 2014):

    This entry is in line for some praise in JPG's Theme Park!

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