Vermeer Revisited

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was an astounding Dutch painter who specialized in fairly mundane scenes of 17th century domesticity around his home town of Delft.

I don’t know what possessed me really, but I have recently seen his famous painting from 1665, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” so many times that this image has lodged itself in my brain rather in a similar way to a musical earworm. As a result I spent several hours over the last couple of days revisiting this classic work and adding my own interpretations.

170222_vermeer2
Girl with No Earring
170222_vermeer3
Girl with a Razor Blade
170222_vermeer1
Girl in a Space Helmet

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: week 37

WEEK 37: Portrait: Fashion – Avant-garde to commercial to traditional, and everything in between. The focus is the clothes this week.

I thought I be a little oblique for this one. Mens’ clothing is fairly boring, at least business attire, at any rate. Historically suspenders (braces, in UK English), neck ties and socks were about the only ways available to enliven that blue, black or grey suit. As we have moved over to belts, and dropped the ties the only thing left is socks.

So here’s a homage to the humble sock, something that can still be used as a fashion statement in the office!

160915_52wk37fashion

~Richard

52 week Challenge: Week 34

WEEK 34: Portrait: Child – Candid or posed, capture an image of a child. Try getting down on their level for a unique perspective.

OK I’m cheating on this one a bit, but there is a reason why. At my age I don’t have any friends with young children and I am surely not going to start poking around a school or someplace trying to get a picture of a child. I value my liberty too much for that. My daughters will always be my children and as two of them are still under 18 that means they are children, at least in the legal sense. So, here goes:

160907_52wk34_portraitchild

~Richard

52 Week Challenge: Week 28

WEEK 28: Portrait: Family – Whether it’s the family you are born with or the one you choose, show the world what family is to you.

This was always going to be a difficult portrait given my family’s general dislike of being photographed. However, our recent trip to New England afforded me a genuine opportunity for the dreaded “family portrait.” I ran off a quick set of shots but I love the informal nature of the very first one I took, outside The Verb hotel, as we were planning to leave.

160730_52WK28_Family

~Richard

Faltering on the 52-week challenge: Week 25

It all started out with good intentions back in January as I stumbled across the 52-week challenge for improving my photography. I knew it was going to be difficult, especially the portrait challenge, as that really is not my comfort area and, thus it was at week 19 (messy portrait) I faltered. In fact, I stumbled so badly as I struggled with this one that I ended up losing momentum and now I am six weeks behind! I can throw out excuses like work pressure, an extended business trip abroad and too much to do in the garden and the house but, to be honest, they’re hollow reasons. That portrait assignment simply knocked the enthusiasm out of me to complete the challenge.

Well, I’m back now! I have a lot of catching up to do and it will be a be a bit erratic but I am determined to set myself back on track. Weeks 19 to 25 may be out of sequence but I fully intend to get them completed.

So, I waited until sunset in Ocean City, New Jersey to get this one.

Week 25: Portrait: Silhouette – Expose for the background and let your subject fall into shadow. Shape is important this week.

160629_52WK25_Silhouette

~Richard

52 week challenge: week 16

WEEK 16: Portrait: Movement – Most portraits are stationary, so this week explore adding some movement. Dancing, twirling, or even hair flips.

Lots of choices this week – skateboarding, bicycling, etc. In the end I went for more localized movement – portrait of a drummer jamming in the basement…

160419_BasementDrummer

~Richard

52 week Challenge: week 10

Week 10: Portrait: Environmental – Show a subject in their natural habitat. Their place of work or hobby is a great start. Tell their story with the environment.

I found this to be the toughest assignment so far. I wanted to push my comfort zone in getting out with camera; perhaps creating some street photography. The difficulty for me came with the concept of taking this as a true portrait. I sort of misread the brief a little but I still feel that this shot does meet it as it shows this young lady in the middle of her job writing down a food order for the cook in the food truck. Our only communication was through the little Plexiglas window, which seemed like an obvious frame for the shot.

160308_FastFood

~Richard

52 week challenge: week 7

Week 7: Portrait: Faceless – Tell someone’s story without showing their face.

Ice Queen No More

The night was bitterly cold. So cold, in fact, that it was too painful for her to draw a deep breath. She waited for him inside the building and tried to peer out through the frost covered window. At last she spied him hurrying towards the door. She smiled. Soon they would both be warm.

160215_IceQueen

~Richard

#dogwood52 #dogwoodweek7

52 week challenge: week 4

Week 4: Portrait: Headshot You shot a selfie, now shoot a “selfie” of someone else!

As I mentioned in my earlier post on this subject ‘… (portrait) is largely unexplored territory for me to date, other than through reluctantly granted periodic “family portraits,”’ so I felt that this was going to be a tough assignment.

Help came though in a totally unexpected way – through Winter Storm Jonas! Bizarrely, as the storm was heading towards us, the majority of my family left to go on a pre-planned ski trip in Vermont, thereby missing the storm in its entirety. I, on the other hand, was left at home in PA to look after the place, but mainly because I no longer ski due to an accident in the Austrian Alps 10 or so years ago. Staying with me was one of my daughters, and as I was spending 8+ hours shoveling snow to dig a path to the road she, obviously, decided to build an igloo.

Aha! I thought, I will strike a bargain and, as part payment for providing some material for her to use as a roof, she agreed to let me take a few pictures of her. I particularly liked her choice of headgear and I had her pose inside her igloo too to provide an interesting backdrop.  I admit to taking several shots over a short period (1-2 minutes) and I stuck to using my  20mm f1.7 (40mm equivalent) lens simply because I wanted a large aperture as the light was fading.

160125_PortraitGColor600px

160125_PortraitGMono600px

After some minor touch up in GIMP I also tried a black and white version, so this week I offer up two images to the challenge!

I would be interested to see which one is preferred, as it’s a tough choice for me.

~Richard

#dogwood52 #dogwoodweek4

52-week Challenge: week 1

In late December I stumbled across this “52-week challenge” for photographers compiled by photographer Dale Foshe. The internet is full of many similar themes (or memes?) this time of year but this one was the first I saw so I am taking it to heart and going to try to see how long I can stick to it.  I won’t repeat the whole list here, as you can use the link above to find it, but I will try to post the relevant image I have taken each week to show my progress. I know from my previous experience on such challenges that it is going to be tough to try and keep to this but I will try, and at the very least it should ensure I have one blog item posted each week throughout 2016, so I have no excuses for getting “writer’s block” for this year! I will also include some thoughts about why I made each image (getting a little philosophical here, perhaps…)

Here goes:

Week 1: Portrait: Self-portrait – Start things off right with a “selfie!” Explore the self timer setting on your camera

OK, well I have partially fallen at the first hurdle! I remembered it was a selfie but, until I came to write this blog post I had forgotten that it said to use the self-timer! With today being the end of the first week of the year I’m not going back now and I’ll explain my reasoning (deep breath):

I don’t normally take many pictures of myself and, as the “family photographer” I am generally the one behind the shutter at most family gatherings. I also am not overly keen on being in photos, to be honest. However, in thinking about this (albeit incorrectly, it would now seem) I considered that the only time I actually see myself is when I am shaving in the morning, eyes half-open, face covered in shaving soap as I squint into the mirror. So, here’s the shot:

160107-Selfie
52:1 The Selfie

 

Note that I have reversed the image so that it represents how I see me, not how the world sees me and the only other artistic liberty I have taken with this is to keep it in black and white, oh and to smile slightly!

 

 

 

 

 

~Richard

#dogwood52 #dogwoodweek1

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