They say that eyes are the window the soul. I believe that to be true. I think most portraits should be simple. See into the person. See what they are about. See who they are.
I’ve been using this little girl’s eyes as a design element.
After discussing the eyes with a number of you, I thought it would be a good idea to show the portrait. I cropped they original image to get this tight image. The background information just cluttered the important part of the picture — her eyes.
Then, me being me, I had to tinker with the image until I arrived at this point. My vision was fairly simple. I wanted the final image to look ancient. I wanted it to look beaten up, like it had been buried somewhere. You have to understand that I’m easily influenced. I have been watching a couple of archeology-based shows on various streaming services. The information sort of went into my brain through my eyes. I had to dump it somewhere. So…
I dunno. Whenever I see a face made up to be green, I always think of the old joke. “I’m so sick, was it something I ate?” “Probably, it was everything you ate.” I have no idea what this costume is supposed to be. Maybe a female Shrek. Ha! You probably thought I didn’t know about Shrek. I do.
When I stuck the camera in her face she smiled nicely and locked in with her eyes. So. I made another sort of backstage kind of picture. The kind of picture that comes from getting to the parade — or really — any kind of event, a little early. After all, that’s where the real action is. Anybody can take a picture of a parade. Or of a musician on stage. But, it’s everything around the event that is visually interesting to me. For me, there is a lot of visual information to process. But, I’m used to it. I’m able to see through it. But, maybe you aren’t. So, I try to distill my pictures down to their simplest form. In cases like this, that usually means some form of portrait… although, you know that I often switch gears and go into my motion study phase. You’ll see some of those in the next post or two.
Not much more to say about this picture. Well, there is one thing. I guess stage make up or paint isn’t like every day make up. It seems to accentuate every line and wrinkle. I decided not to do what I did yesterday. I just let it be. Hopefully, she knew what she was getting into. If not. Sorry about that.
The Bayou Boogaloo yielded some pretty cool images. More than I originally thought. Just a lot of luck I guess. This one was a lot of fun to play with. The darker and cleaner I made the image, the more interesting it got. But, when I saw this woman, I think I saw this version of the image in my head. So, I worked for a while in post production to achieve the look that you see. In many ways it takes me back to the late 1960s or early 1970s. It reminds me of work by Pete Turner, or Michel Tcherevkoff from that era. The really cool thing is that there are a lot more interesting images from this take. They are all very different since there was so much stuff going on. Stuff. That’s a technical term. I’ll show you some more. Soon. Like tomorrow. And, the next day. And, the day after that.
There is an old Joni Mitchell song called “Real Good For Free.” The middle verse goes like this. “Now me I play for fortune, And those velvet curtain calls, I’ve got a black limousine, And two gentlemen, Escorting me to the halls, And I play if you have the money, Or if you’re a friend to me, But the one man band, By the quick lunch stand, He was playing real good, for free.”
We were walking through The French Quarter on our way to a good dinner. Probably an expensive one. We crossed Royal Street and saw this band playing for tips. They were beautiful musicians. They were playing for tips and with hope that somebody would buy one of their homemade CDS. In between songs they held out their merchandise — or merch as the bigger bands — say. We looked at each other and felt guilty. In some other post I’ll tell you more about it. But, Joni’s song about nails it. I don’t know her. But, I get her and that makes me feel like I do.
So. We did the only thing we really could do. We put a bunch of money in her tip basket. Thanked her and the band. And left. We don’t even know their names.
The picture. I did what I always do. Framed the scene, let whatever was going to happen, happen. And, I pushed the button.
What a look. Wow. I’m not sure what else I can say. She’s either focused on me or getting mentally prepared for the walk ahead of her. I know it was okay for me to photograph her, because I asked her. And, I asked her dad for his permission. I introduced myself to both of them. I always ask the parents when it comes to making pictures of children. Usually, it’s just fine. If they say no, then it’s no. Anyway. I think it’s just great that so many children participated in Super Sunday parade. As long as that keeps happening, this bit of culture will never pass.
The picture. I stood as close to her as I could and shot with a 200mm lens and focused on her eyes. I guess her eyes caught my attention, just as I caught her attention. After I made the final picture of her, I thanked her. And, she answered very sweetly “You’re welcome Mr. Ray.”
Sometimes, it’s in the details. Sometimes, your eyes just have to be a little more open than normal. Sometimes, it’s nothing more than luck and timing. This picture is a result of all four. The details are found in the one thing that makes this picture. The woman’s face in the bottom left of the picture. She pretty much completes it. The combination of seeing better, timing and luck are all combined into one almost holistic action. The luck is simply that I changed my normal direction of approach. Normally, I walk along Royal Street where the lighting store is located. Usually downriver to upriver. This time I approached it from a side street, almost straight on. The warmth of the lights are what caught my eye, and the approach allowed me to see the reflection of the old buildings that are located across the street from the store. Everything came together. Sorta.
The picture. Itself. It was a funny act when it came to making the picture. The woman who completes the picture kept trying to get out of my way. She was being very kind to me. And, I kept saying to her, “It’s okay, you’re good, you’re good.” I suppose that’s also a bit of luck. She kept moving and I managed to press the button before she moved out of the picture. That’s what street photography is about. Sometimes.
Well. Red and Blue. Hot and cold. If only the colors matched the heat. Oh well. The blue picture is hot. That is Eleanor Tsaig, the lead singer of an Israeli blues band called Ori Naftaly. She is one helluva blues belter in the mode of Janis Joplin. We met them in Memphis. The red picture is cool. That’s the singer Redd Velvet whose singing is cool and very seductive. We met her in Memphis too. Unlike the Ori Naftaly Band, she’s a local. She lives in Memphis. She didn’t have to travel 10,000 miles to perform. In case you are wondering, as I did, Ori Naftaly is the name of the band’s founder and lead guitarist.
The pictures. In case you haven’t figured it out. I’m different. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes a little. Many photographers would have blasted away with a strobe in the two situations that you see. But, that would hurt the ambience. In many pictures, ambience is everything. It’s the red, the blue, that make the pictures. If I used a strobe, there would be nice, clean white light. But, no ambient light. Or, you could filter the light. You could add colored gels to it. But, what would be the point? The whole room is a colored gel.