Saturday, October 20, 2012

Self-Portraits in Black & White


Self-portraits because sometimes you just have to know that you exist. They are against a painting not yet finished. A tea towel over the clamp lamp with a daylight bulb in it. Wearing the grey cap I always wear; teal cloisonné earrings dangle that belonged to my mother.

They were taken with an iPhone 4, Camera+ app; the first one with a Contessa Fx filter. It's a bit over-exposed. I have to wash my hair, lol. Hence the braid (which you can't see in this pic) and the cap (which I do wear a lot, and sometimes all day and evening at home too even when washing is not needed). Silly polyester thing that's probably made from recycled pop bottles (which is good = recycled). No idea why of my huge collection of hats, it's become a fav. It takes the rain really well too.

The second one I prefer. It also was originally colour, and I think I used an 'antique' filter on it. After seeing the Frida and Diego show at the AGO last week, and the many gelatin prints of them, I came away loving black and white for its shadows, its focus on form, its play with light on the skin, in the eyes. Hence these little self-portraits in the shades.

There is quite a different view when a photograph is in strong shades of blacks and whites. The form of the face becomes more of a focus; the expression deeper. We are not seduced by colour. It's a harsher view and yet because photography grew out of this play of shadow and light, also nostalgic. The colour cones in our eyes are only active during daylight; at night, the rods on the sides of our retinas become active, and they only 'see' in black and white. So, we could say a 'gelatin' print appeals to our nocturnal vision.




And this is my favourite. It barely looks like me; in fact, I doubt anybody would recognize me from it. Likely I look 10 years older in it. But the shadows... oh! Rich mantle of shadow over the eyes. What mystery. You are being seen without seeing exactly who is watching you. And the neck with its creases and folds. The imperfect skin. I just love it.




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