Sunday, January 18, 2009

Going to the deep end...

Or, to put it differently, playing around the limitations of a rangefinder camera... 

The image above was done with an SLR and a very conventional, standard kit zoom.  The place is Cartagena, Colombia, where I also brought my Canonet (that was loooong before buying my Leicas; also, after that trip, even my wife admired my work, so I told myself I deserved a Leica afterwards).  However, on one or two occasions, I took my Nikon F80 with its 28-80 f4.5-5.6 (eew... that's slow) zoom, and that's when I snapped this photo of a statue by Fernando Botero in the popular Plaza Santo Domingo.  Distinctive aspects anyone?

I'll do it.

To me, it's only two definite markers that show this image was taken with an SLR.  First: long lens used here.  Second, relative closeness to the subject (this nice figure whose butt was always patted).  Then, the fact that I took it and remember it seals the deal.  In the end, I just have the head of a statue.  It may look "good" in a print... but only to those who know what it is and where it's placed and what it symbolizes (to many, Cartagena, but not to the entire world). 

Then, the one above, and the other below, were both taken with a Leica camera and a 50mm lens (my unfavored Summicron 50; I just don't use it enough).  The color photograph is from San Juan PR, a fancy store...  The one below is a store in the "new" section of Dresden, on Scala film. 

The difference are, I believe, pretty obvious and clear, but the consequences of those differences are what matter here.  In short, even if these mannequins had some distinctive feature of any kind, the cameras used didn't really allow for a close-up with as much detail as the image at the top.  I had to work around the images.  My interest, in both cases, was their clothes: the way mannequins inevitably draw attention to the clothes they wear because they suggest a human shape underneath.  And yet, these two were pretty flawed in that the clothes didn't sit, say, in a natural way.  

I had to include the environment here.  And, of course, with that inclusion, the whole image changes in the end.  The lens limitation simply forced me to rethink the image... and I believe the results are at least more informative.  As opposed as a lonely detail of a statue, like the top, I wound up with two images that say something about the place in which they are, and the clothes and moment.  The PR dress speaks about a fancy, yet shallow store.  Not necessarily good, but not bad either.  The Dresden shot belies it was done behind a window, and it is, in a funky way, the anti-mannequin: the buttons are undone, suggesting that it's hiding something: the exposed skin.  Like someone trying to avoid ridicule or embarassment, the mannequin, leaning against the window, makes me think about the effort to conceal something that everybody already knows.  How worse can it get?

I don't know, but it's good to be able to spin this much text about three photographs, huh?

I'll continue with this idea later!

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