Tuesday, 22 January 2008




These portraits were quite a challenge, a black hat, black b/g, the way I like it, push the boundaries!
Getting all the tonal values correct in a black and white is not always easy (without losing detail) and it is of course open to massive subjectivity and artistic interpretation.
The rule (often, once you know it… to be broken, look at all the good high key images around today!) is A TRUE BLACK, A TRUE WHITE …AND ALL THE GREYS IN BETWEEN, a reflection of life itself?
The Zone System (established by Ansel Adams) assigns numbers from 0 through 10 to different brightness values, with 0 representing black, 5 middle grey, and 10 pure white; these values are known as zones.

The second portrait has more contrast and less grey-tones, no side or back-lighting this time, aach lighting is so important, it is not for nothing that PHOTOGRAPHY means ( photon=light and grafein=to write, to paint) TO PAINT WITH LIGHT!
Sadly I all too often see interesting portraits that are too ‘milky’, because the lack of contrast, check this by putting it on the option black bg in PS.
You CANNOT SEE the dodging and burning, do it carefully! And also please keep your images ‘clean’, take the time to remove some dust or specks; it can ruin a great shot!!! TLC for your photos if you REALLY care about photography.
My long time friend, the Artist.

As a young artist, he transformed a van into a camper-van, drove all through Europe and North-Africa.
When he saw something inspiring, he’d climb on top of his van and paint until it was finished or dark.
In the South of France he encountered a French lady of the aristocracy, she taught him a lot about pigments, making your own paints, painting with your hands and palette knives.
He would tell me about the gorgeous smells of linseed oil, resin, right down to Indian cows urine.'
After a cup of coffee, we were all set for the next session.
He adjusted his French beret called 'un Alpin'...
In the seventies, Ivan had a fantastic gallery in Flanders, set in beautiful countryside, along a canal.
There, you met the locals and farmers, sitting next to the nobility, often in deep discussions
A French camera crew was making a film with the great Jacques Brel in the area; they sent a delegation to ask Ivan if there was the possibility of some food.
Never one to say no to a challenge, he agreed, called his wonderful mum.
The baker provided him with huge loaves of brown bread; from a farmer he bought an enormous cured ham on the bone.
He was struggling in the kitchen, when a man popped in and asked him if he could assist?
Reluctantly Ivan passed him the knives.
The guy started to cut very thin slices, neatly from around the bone.
Ivan, in surprise, watched the precise, meticulous and perfectly executed gestures. He said jokingly; looks like you’ve done this before...
Without stopping or looking up, the man replied; indeed, I’m a surgeon in a Parisian hospital, had my holidays, they needed a doctor, I liked the idea of experiencing how a film is made!
True story.
His father had died, suddenly, on a Sunday morning, sitting in his favourite chair, his fishing gear ready.
That’s how Ivan found him.
He was very serene about it, we talked and he said to me: my father and I had always spoken all the words that were needed, nothing was left unsaid, all was well.
Wise words of a sage that I carry with me.
I can tell you why we have been friends for so long, I respect Ivan, we are both idealists.
He did well in his artistic career, got very good reviews and successful exhibitions, when he was invited by Unicef in Paris, along with other young painters.
They wanted to make special Christmas postage stamps, and thus raise money for their charity.
So, he had to present them with some of his work.
He was very excited and set of for Paris, in his camper van; these were still his travelling days.
He arrived and parked in between all the BMWs, Merc’s, big cars, took his portfolio and walked towards the entrance of the imposing building.
Once in, he looked around and saw all the marble and expensive finery, turned around and strolled out.
They don’t need me here! He said and left…

He never looked back, it was not fame he was after, just to live of his Art and enjoy what he was doing, and he did, on both counts.

This is my son, Michel, with his little girl.
He came into the studio after we finished a shoot, so everything still in place, tjaaahhh, who could resist putting them in front of the camera?
Ever the joker, he had bought his daughter a dummy that said 'Papa is the best'...
Just look at her expression, is she in doubt? She clearly senses something's not right. Puzzlement.

Life goes on, as these portraits show in testimony...
THANX, Magda (*_*)

1 comment:

Gatesman Family said...

Ah yes. Dark blacks, nice contrast with the white space. I too enjoy strong black and white portraits. I also enjoyed the stories you shared to go with these pictures.


Bill Gatesman