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Scout, Mum, Dad, etc
March 8, 2010 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Portraits – Somewhat creepy but arresting, nevertheless.
posted by tellurian (26 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd say they're arresting precisely because they're somewhat creepy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 AM on March 8, 2010


They seem to have the same staring blue eyes.
posted by RussHy at 5:56 AM on March 8, 2010


Norman Rockwell meets meth.
posted by bwg at 5:57 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Subject, posing, lighting, the inexorable stare? They're essentially everyday so why do they present so disconcerting?
posted by tellurian at 6:03 AM on March 8, 2010


Yeah, these are pretty much the same eyes with different faces attached.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:07 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


HDR can be used to greatly enhance a photograph. I'm sure that the heavy handed "Look! I did HDR!" technique can also be used to make an artistic statement, but I'm not a fan of it here. I'd love to see these portraits without it. Maybe I'm just tired of seeing everyone's adventures in HDR, but I feel like the first thing you think when you look at a photo shouldn't be "Look at the effect they used", but instead "Look at the image!"
posted by battlebison at 6:08 AM on March 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


They're essentially everyday so why do they present so disconcerting?

Well, the lighting and especially the HDR makes the skin on some of these subjects weirdly translucent, or imparts a sickly sort of grayness. Some of them wind up looking kind of waxy and embalmed. That'd be one reason for the disconcerting quality, I think.

Also, blue eyes like that, don't they sometimes make people look kind of ghostly, or weirdly vacant?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:13 AM on March 8, 2010


the site super slow for anyone else?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:18 AM on March 8, 2010


Gotta say I find his Still Lifes and Tears galleries quite unimpressive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 AM on March 8, 2010


Jill Greenberg has been doing the same thing for years.

Seriously, what battlebison said.
posted by photoslob at 6:36 AM on March 8, 2010


Keane. Very Keane.
posted by Bummus at 6:41 AM on March 8, 2010


My first impression was that most of them had either just been crying or beat up or both.
posted by emilyd22222 at 6:42 AM on March 8, 2010


To me, these are like portraits of characters for a proposed TV drama. Something post-Twin Peaks. They seem to be asking, "Can you feel the tension, the darkness lurking beneath the ordinary?" The trouble is, I'm not sure I can. Perhaps my mind is poisoned by television, and the photographer is going for something completely different.
posted by The Mouthchew at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2010


I know that dumping on photo FPPs is sort of a MeFi cliche, but honestly, this is pretty much exactly what I expected to see from the description. It's Richard Avedon works in color at a costume party, without a lot of Avedon's more subtle effects.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:16 AM on March 8, 2010


Note to self: Avoid this photographer for family portrait day.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:30 AM on March 8, 2010


I really, really, really dig tonemapping, but I can also see that we might be getting near a sort of global tonemap-fatigue.

If the key artistic photographic aesthetic in the 40s and 50s was the rich midtone Adams zone system, and the 60s and 70s were about rich chroma, in the modern era it is this high-contrast, high dynamic range tonemapped look that we see everywhere.

And it's not that I don't like it. I'm just wondering when we might reach a sort of aesthetic limit when every mommy blog seems to have the same high-contrast portrait images with fake light fall-off in the corners, weird skin tones and unearthly eyes.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I knew I recognized that girl.

The Teegarden clan in full effect.
posted by orville sash at 8:46 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


HDR can be used to greatly enhance a photograph. I'm sure that the heavy handed "Look! I did HDR!" technique can also be used to make an artistic statement, but I'm not a fan of it here. I'd love to see these portraits without it. Maybe I'm just tired of seeing everyone's adventures in HDR, but I feel like the first thing you think when you look at a photo shouldn't be "Look at the effect they used", but instead "Look at the image!"
posted by battlebison at 6:08 AM on March 8 [3 favorites +] [!]

They're essentially everyday so why do they present so disconcerting?

Well, the lighting and especially the HDR makes the skin on some of these subjects weirdly translucent, or imparts a sickly sort of grayness. Some of them wind up looking kind of waxy and embalmed. That'd be one reason for the disconcerting quality, I think.

Also, blue eyes like that, don't they sometimes make people look kind of ghostly, or weirdly vacant
?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:13 AM on March 8 [+] [!]

Why would you jump to the conclusion "it's HDR"? I see absolutely nothing here to suggest that the source scene would have had high dynamic range, so perhaps you mean tone mapping?

What I see here is that the contrast has been manipulated, in a quite obvious and probably deliberately obvious way, and that's what gives them the look they have, but this is NOT "high dynamic range" photography. If anything, it's the opposite - it's taking a picture with LOW dynamic range and boosting it through the manipulation of tone curves.

On preview - clvrmnky - yes - boosted contrast through tone mapping - but it's the inverse of tone mapping in HDR - this is taking a narrow range of tones and mapping it to a wider range.

Please, stop calling it HDR.
posted by kcds at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2010


Fascinating shots! The photographer apparently directed the subjects to maintain a staring pose before capturing their portraits. Whether in photos or real life, long stares are either vacant, aggressive or scary. Would be an interesting contrast to see the same subjects snapped a second or micro-second later with the photog saying "Now...relax." Smiles all around in relief?
posted by drogien at 11:53 AM on March 8, 2010


This is not HDR, jesus, not everything is HDR. This is just interesting lighting + a curve for contrast. People made images like this before HDR and will continue to make them without HDR in the future.


But anyways, I have always thought tension is what makes a portrait interesting and what creates the narrative. If something is wrong, or off, but you are not sure what - that creates the character, the "what is going on here?" question that makes you look at the image more closely.
posted by bradbane at 1:10 PM on March 8, 2010


This is the process he uses.
posted by tellurian at 1:56 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for that link, tellurian. I regret my mischaracterizing his method as HDR. Foolish of me.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2010


I respect his work a lot more now that I see he does it by hand, instead of just using some filter.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:37 AM on March 9, 2010


I respect his work a lot more now that I see he does it by hand, instead of just using some filter.
Despite the ennui in this thread I remain enthusiastic about young talent and their innovations.
posted by tellurian at 3:21 AM on March 9, 2010


Despite the ennui in this thread I remain enthusiastic about young talent and their innovations.

I'm with you there, tellurian. I'm just not especially enthusiastic about this particular young talent. But I appreciate your post nonetheless, and I'd like to go on record as saying that you've made many, many FPPs in the past pointing to artists and such that I've really liked a whole lot.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 AM on March 9, 2010


Thank you for the kind words flapjax at midnite.
posted by tellurian at 8:48 PM on March 9, 2010


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