Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Olde v. Newe

I read, when I read, quite a lot of photographic history. I get exposed to a lot of old photographs, therefore.

Man, portraits then look nothing like portraits now. I think we've definitely lost something along the way. Not only do I like the vintage style pictures just plain more (that is, I think they're flat out better) we've lost a lot of vocabulary along the way.

Now the only question is what appears behind the sitter. Is it out of focus? And by how much?

There's no question of whether the sitter's face should be sharp. Of course it is. You have to nail the focus on the eyes or your picture IS A FAILURE. You can't bury stuff in shadows, especially not parts of the subject! You have to fix the skin! You MUST! It's no GOOD if you don't fix the skin!

To that end, I have been practicing, off and on, producing things that look vintage. Yeah, yeah, it's a bit twee, a bit overdone. And yet, it's not done at all, except in stupid Olde Weste Portraite Studioes where everyone has hastily donned ill-fitting period garb and is mugging like an idiot.

My four year old (mugging). Olde and Newe.

Olde obviously has the advantage that you can conceal a host of sins. But I'll be damned if I don't just like it better, too.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the middle of a major 101 art history and art binge at the moment, and thought this was an appropriate place to post a comment. Some of what the Olde does is, I think, to a degree, what Leonardo was doing with the Mona Lisa, adding a good dash of 'sfumato', i.e. making the tones and transitions between them softer. This adds a little ambiguity, and ambiguity is a good thing (at least for Mona). This lead me to noodle on, somewhat without a conclusion, to the thought that perhaps the whole narrow depth of focus/bokehmania thing is like an offshoot of sfumato. There is ambiguity (of the background), though not of the subject. I'll leave it there, I'm still fermenting it.