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Drouin house niche - "la niche"

Drouin house niche - "la niche"


Exposure Date: 2014:06:20 20:25:04;
Make: Leica Camera AG;
Model: M9 Digital Camera;
ExposureTime: 1/2 s;
ISOSpeedRatings: 160;
ExposureProgram: Manual;
ExposureBiasValue: 0/1;
MeteringMode: CenterWeightedAverage;
Flash: Flash did not fire;
FocalLength: 21 mm;
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm: 21 mm;
Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0 Macintosh;


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The niche has not changed over a number of centuries, although furniture

has come and gone in this simple 1729 farmhouse. Its stone wall has

distorted outwards with time, as witnessed by the visible reinforcement

beneath the plaster.

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This is a very nice photo of this place in the farmhouse and certainly conveys the character not only of place but of those who likely inhabited it. Glad you presented it in color as the colors are subtle but still expressive and rather than giving a more abstract compositional effect the color helps keep this alive and of the moment. Two rather strong elements of the photo are the large hot area which forms a right angle in the upper right-hand corner of the photo and the close to but not quite straight-on perspective particularly evident in the not squared framing of the cabinet. I'm not sure either is aiding the presentational quality of the photo, as they both draw attention away from the harmony of the scene. Even the shadow of the cabinet because of the strong side light is quite a force here but doesn't really add drama or an expressive element that I see as working to further the photo of the scene. Less directional lighting but have presented a calmer environment, which it seems to be and a more subtle gradation of light on the wall would have allowed the subtle texture of the wall to play a role but not allow the eye to be so aware of blotches of shadow and light. Regardless, the sense of place and time comes through and it's a nice homage to a world gone by but also preserved.

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Thanks for the thoughtful critique Fred, I am always glad to see your review. Although I had intentions of an artistic image, the photo is more of a record than an artistic representation of the subject, for the reasons I mention below. 


The old house had been restored and this was the first opportunity to re-visit it in a very short time (inauguration of the restored historical house). My camera does a poor job of capture above about 800 ISO and I believe I had left this frame on the 160 ISO setting (1/2 second exposure). Even 800 ISO would have necessitated a tripod, which i didn't have with me, so I did what I could by seeking the support of a cabinet frame on the facing wall which was of course behind me, and waiting for visitors to see and then leave the scene. The presence of a doorway to my right limited a support possibility there, which is why the angle is not head on in respect of the cabinet. which I think I would have preferred. There was very limited lighting in the room, a combination of weak daylight coming in from the right and weak tungsten light which, notwithstanding an attempt at white balance in post exposure, caused the color shift in the upper right hand corner. I tried to render that area near white in post exposure, but that only created a different colder cast (greenish I think) in the middle to left side of the image.  The shadow was also unavoidable without a fill light and I agree that the shadow also compromises the effectiveness by creating unnecessary impact, and diversion.


Given the lighting constraints, about the only thing I resolved to do at this opportunity was to provide a number of pictures to the owners (a genealogical and heritage foundation) of the restored interior of the house. I am happier with the other Old Drouin house images from this series, especially the sleeping chamber of the attic with its chair and multi-coated or multi-fragmented walls (the restoration did not seek to improve the appearance of that area but simply to show it as it had been lived in by a poor family over the centuries and to clean the room and and where necessary support the timber framing for the weight of visitors) and some images of the breakneck staircase staircase leading to the attic. The sleeping chamber photo shows a sculptor's interpretation of one of the chairs, a design of a type only found in the community in which the house is found (and a region of France). The result is a bronze chair sculpture that is also very difficult to lift. The dark bronze patina forces the viewer to think a bit differently of it than if it was a more common example in wood.


I am glad that notwithstanding the less than ideal artistic interpretation of this scene in my photograph you find that it has some impact as to sense of place and time. This may also be appreciated by the current proprietors, who have asked the right for the photos to be used in their facebook contacts. I have asked for permission to do a further series in which I can control (add) lighting and perspective (lens choice and angle, tripod, etc.) to create more of an effect I wish and to apply other photographic variables. One of the women involved in a period actor enactment of the use of the house is in the background of one of my staircase images. I will try to be there when she and her colleagues do a weekend enactment in order to add the human element to some of the images.


I won't bore you with excessive secondary information regarding the house, but it required nearly two years of work by two volunteer researchers of the society to establish its history and nearly $1 million (archeologists, conservationists, museologists, architects, tradespersons and a visually oriented communications group) to physically restore the small house and generate some 27 short videos of its life and that of the occupants, which are available on iPads available to visitors. It is one of a very few houses that are now public and visitable and which provide a homage to the earlier citizens of the community.







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