untitled ian seeking critique

Tags: ian-1 seeking critique

Exif Information:
Make : Canon
Model : Canon EOS 30D
Date Time Original : 2008-06-10 07:59:05
Focal Length : 24/1
Shutter Speed Value : 1/319
Exposure Time : 1/320
Aperture Value : 9.0
F Number : 9.0
Iso Speed Ratings : 200
Flash : 16
Metering Mode : 5
Exposure Mode : 1
Orientation : 1
X Resolution : 300.000000
Y Resolution : 300.000000
Software : Adobe Photoshop CS2 Macintosh

Published: Thursday 1st of January 1970 12:00:00 AM


Paolo Bevilacqua
great job of light and search. It appears and goes besides our eyes.

Pnina Evental
Fred The classical term of portrait was especially a face, trying to depict some personal characteristics of a given human being. The story telling that started, I agree, before you (and me), has a lot more than a face, and therefor, as I see it ,is not the classical way( or a bit farthere from it) but an enlarged/developed term of portraiture which contains many more "layers" of creation and reading.

Fred G
David . . . Thanks for these thoughts and for the image of the referee. I love that that's what you see. I appreciate your noticing a spring in my step lately.

Joaquim and Kim . . . A pleasure to hear from you both. I know at times I had a sense of the shadow as a different person as well.

Jeff, Donna, Pnina . . . Jeff, for me the success is in feeling a freshness in my approach and a commitment to style. I'm aware of the Expressionist influence and bent, and I think there's some break with that in the colors and overall expression.

You guys know I've been concentrating on the balance between posed and spontaneous, artifice and natural, staged and found. Considering your thoughts will help me continue to develop all this.

I find something personal in using obvious pose, artifice, and theatricality, which at first glance might seem less revealing. Ian receding into shadow, for me, is still so much about Ian. Overwhelming shadows, while hiding some things, can also suggest self-protectiveness, reticence, fear, loneliness, mystery, etc. Personal feelings can be in a pose, light, surroundings, colors, technique, not just eyes.

My older b&w's begin to seem less personal. They zoned in on the eyes. Viewers saw wonder and mystery, as if seeing soul. But was there something cliche, naive? That approach, now, in many cases, is too easy. I think I may have offered the same soul in many of those portraits of very different people. Mark and the oranges, Ian here, "late wednesday afternoon," are more staged and more stylistics are involved, but to me that individualizes and emphasizes the personalities. I think these capture the real guys. The "depersonalizing" elements are, to me, actually personalizing.

Pnina, I think I am not expanding the term "portrait" although I am working at finding my own way to do them. Annie Leibovitz and Nan Goldin and others have already paved a way for storytelling to be integral to portraiture without being a complete departure from it. I'm anxious to explore more ways of capturing and presenting people that may not always look like what we think a portrait looks like.

Fred G
This is slated to become the second in a series of portraits of Ian. (I'm really not considering the previously posted photo of Ian a portrait and have changed the name of that photo to "Gate.") The other two I have in mind for this series are black and whites and, even though this will likely fit better as the second in the series, I'm posting it first because of where I'm presently at with color. The series was shot outside in strong natural light in Golden Gate Park using varying architectural environments in the park, mostly around the new, modern De Young Museum and the older, ionically-columned pre-1906 earthquake bandshell.

Tiffany Brook
Very interesting shot Fred. The lighting is really compelling. Definitely a risk to keep his face dark. There is enough detail to make it work. His shadow on the wall is terrific and the yellows and pinks work great. BTW...my 6 year old daughter is behind me saying "Cool Picture"...she is a pretty tough critic.

Pnina Evental
Fred I went to look at your previous work of Ian, that I did not comment on. Reading your preface here, calling this one a portrait of Ian( vs. the other one that you have changed the title),looking at it, according to MY perception it is not a portrait per se, only if you enlarge the term. I see it again as a story telling, of Ian as a model , that reflects your perception and feelings. It is hard for me to explain what I feel,but I will try. I can not refrain from some analogy to the previous one even this has color, and the other is a B/W( with story colors never the less). Also this looks back light , while in the other the light looks a front light. Both has some mystery, and vulnerability. In the B/W we see Ian's face, but the shadowed frame of the gate is framing his face in a way that is hiding his mouth and enhancing what looks to me a bit forlorn gaze,( eyes), in this one his face are having quite a heavy shadow so you can not see any feelings that can reflect his inner life( eyes as a mirror to the soul...), what brings me to his pose. The pose of his hands, lower head form, and strong light ( washed really,but I think on purpose) reminds me again the form of the cross ,a symbol you work with a lot as a general, but maybe a personal symbol as well , (like the cross and the tear), the strong shadow on the L side connected diagonally to his hand looks very ominous , but also supporting his body, so for me it represent some insecurity ( in relations?, friendship?, very interesting juxtaposition) Behind both, Ian and the shadow ,is the triangle of light, that is lighting the upper parts, which is the more important part of the story. The two diagonals are creating as well a tension to the whole. The color technic, connects to your two last color work( playing ,and late Wednesday afternoon) , there is your deeper research of a color schema, your personal one, but, I see some softness in color here, especially his pinkish shirt, as another gentle side of relations. I don't see the green lower line as part of the story, and is some kind of competition that pulls the eye from the central accurrence. It evoked my curiosity Fred, I see it as a very symbolic work, and a continuing line of thoughts that is evident in your last works. I don't know if your thoughts while creating it are part of mine as a viewer, but I tried as best to evaluate MY feelings looking at it, very interesting work .

Afshin Azizi
Hi Beautiful image.I love all parts of this woRk.Colors and composiTion are so great and lighting is really perfecT in this shot.Shadow of the left hand on the face does nOt have good view in my mind.But man's shadow on the wall has really great perspecTive and made really wonderful viewpoinT. I also Like the twinkle of light on the flour for alot. Sorry that I was nOt comenting on your works for along Time.P.N was blocKed in my country,and fortunetley its problem is soled nOw and I am again acTive and keeping on woRking on P.N again. All the best Afshin

Ion Viorel
I like it a lot. Congratulations! What is that green in the bottom?

Marjorie Smith
I like the unique lighting and the the way Ian's shadow mimicks the opposite shadow on the wall. You even have his leg and head placed so that it's reflection mirrors the wall shadow. Fantastic lines..even Ian's arm is parallel with the shadows. To me, this shot is all about lines and shadow which is why his face is dark. Great composition...Marjorie

Joseph Tury
Great lighting Fred. Even with his modern clothes, this has a Roman Greco feel, perhaps influenced by the wall textures and pose.Very cool.

Laurent Jaussi
I like the body expression bewteen tired/relaxing and inviting....the diagonal shadows left and right both contribute wonderfully as composition element to the dynamics of the image...I currently can't make up my mind on the highlights...on the one hand your goal was a high contrast image and as such highlights belong to it...on the other hand, it is evident that a great care was taken in composition and colors with delicate tones on the wall and shirt and the highlights compete with the soft tones....I know it's easier said than done and I have personally no experience in complex lightning setup so take it as my personal feeling rather than a serious critique....truth is like the image...

David Meyer
Fred It has all of your trademarks. Fascinating light, and precise composition. I find the manner in which the shadow on the left is almost disembodied from the man, and appears to me like a referee in a boxing match, holding up the victor's arm, to be particularly outstanding. I honestly believe that you are producing your best work right now. I don't know what you are doing, but I hope you keep doing it until this vein is exhausted.

Fred G
Micki, You're wonderful! Thanks so much for your reactions. I always love reading your thoughts and they often are very close to my own.

"Something he is saying here reminds me of something that has been itching to be said but not said yet. Maybe he says it in the next picture."

I completely understand that feeling of "itching to be said" and I think each photo will reveal a bit more and I hope that the series itself will also speak.

Ton, Great quote and I'm honored that you thought of it relative to this photo. "Slight details" indeed!

Fred G
Ion, Tiffany, Afshin, Marjorie, Joseph, Artur, Pnina, Laurent. Thank you all for looking. Here are some thoughts I had while reading your comments.

The green is a shaft of light coming through this indoor/outdoor structure adjacent to the main building of the museum. It gives slight illumination to the ground and offsets the other colors.

My goal was to pursue a style, one especially of more color exploration. The light drew me and suggested the pose. I was originally thinking German Expressionism (some of which is obvious), but in processing I discovered myself getting a different vitality to come from the colors. Someone locally suggested this has a Spanish flavor. So now I'm checking out some wonderful Spanish stuff and really enjoying their boldness and the lush quality of their work.

Thoughts of soul didn't play much of a role, as I was concentrating on style and presentation. Ian's look and personality (along with the environments and light we happened across together) affected how I chose to shoot him. I wasn't aware of connecting any specific interpretations to my choices with camera or processing. Naturally, the influences both of who he is and of my own feelings about him and the situations play a role in my creating the photo. More should come across when the series is complete and it may affect how even this shot is seen.

As far as eyes being the window to the soul, yes, *a* window. In photographs, I think light, shadow, and other elements also act as such windows. An expression in shadow can reveal as much as one more accessible. At one point, I played with having his face completely drowned out by the shadow and felt that possibly might express a lot. I just didn't like the way it looked.

(Afshin, it's great to see you again. Tiffany, six-year-olds know it all . . . cool, indeed!)

Joaquim Bidarra
Great light and colours and very good composition. A very good photo with some mystery inside. Regards.

Kim Slonaker
I like the way the shadow has a life of its own, almost like it's a separate person. The lighting makes this work, even with the face in extreme shadow. Interesting!

Donna S
An interesting thing is that he is clothed. The only sartorial hint of intimacy is his dislodged shirt. Of course, in his body language, he is also dancing.

JeffS L
This is an interesting companion piece to the earlier Ian photo, now renamed. Here, he looks his age, seems more in command, and almost a little worldly and brooding. His body language conveys that he is more in charge, occupying the entirety of the space. His shadow acts as its own character, even more brooding and almost sinister. If your goal was to capture the feel of Expressionism, you've done so successfully. And then I look again, and I see that this is not about Ian at all. In fact, the more I look, the more his personality recedes into shadow, and light itself becomes the main character. He is a stage on which light plays out its own storyline.

Donna S
The light on the floor (and the back of his upper calf) lends this a hint of theater and balances this work. The composition is great. As Pnina mentioned, there's a suggestion of crucifix here (also in "Gate") and an interesting feel as if he is holding his own shadow's hand. I like the earthy jewel colors with the disharmony of pink and the carefully stylized look in total, particularly the light and angles--though Ian is again depersonalized-- here almost like a museum statue. Some might see a bit of Carvaggio in this.

Linda Davidson
Spectacular! Fred, this is powerful and dramatic. I think this may be your best to date. The strong light is so effective, very stylishly theatrical. That dark reddish orange shirt is dynamic against the yellow ocher on the wall. I love Ian's nonchalant slouch. The shadow against the wall is a perfect lead to that serendipitous little flash of turquiose light on the bottom left. This is very impressive, I love it.

Fred G
Avner, Thanks for having a look and for your impressions.
Linda, Great to have you come back. "Serendipitous little flash of light." Wish I had thought of that description, because that's how I see it too. For me, something like that gives life to a composition and I'm always thankful for those happy little accidents.

Roger Leekam
Fred, another Goldsmith that I would have recognised as such in the middle of the Sahara. I would say that this is destined for either your "Light" or "New Key" folders, and there are also similarities to "Kevin". The entire composition has your hallmarks - brilliant use of light , shadow and negative space, down to the somewhat distracting patch of light at the bottom. One day, when you're famous, I believe that the "Goldsmith Distraction" will be written about and analysed. What truly appeals to me here is the color, the rich red of the shirt and the bronze wall reek of Renaissance and Dutch Master painting, and putting them next to the hard bright contour is inspired. In my humble view this is your best because your strengths in light and shadow are now combined with great color. It may actually be the first in a new folder.

j d.wood
just for fun ... archetype
'In Jungian psychology, an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious'
Jung outlined four main archetypes:
The Self, the regulating center of the psyche and facilitator of individuation
The Shadow, the opposite of the ego image, often containing qualities that the ego does not identify with but possesses nonetheless
The Anima, the feminine image in a man's psyche; or:
The Animus, the masculine image in a woman's psyche
The Persona, ".. a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other, to conceal the true nature of the individual"

An excellent portrait and more. Fred your reach is impressive and rewarding, and perhaps approaching classic.

Ton Mestrom
Fred, To be quite honest I wonder how you've pulled this one off. This is such a difficult lighting condition and yet you were able to retain detail in every important part. Yet again I find your colour scheme as surprising as it is appropiate. Above all else however I find the atmosphere you've created here mysterious and very appealing. It has an almost painterly feel. It's an image that you could lose yourself in. Absolutely great stuff.

Tim Zeipekis
Falling behind........ Wow, either I'm not visiting frequently enough, or your muse is working overtime.......... You've been treating us all to your beautiful B&W's for so long, but I'm beginning to think color is your forte. These last several color shots have really blown me away. Your play of light and shadow is always excellent and should be automatically understood from the start, the warm earthy hues create such a beautiful atmosphere, there is wonderful motion from the verticals, the dash of cool blue light really helps balance the scene, was there another reason for keeping it? I love how he seems to be raising hands victoriously with his shadow, almost like a spiritual triumph

Douglas Brill
Great image Fred.

j d.wood
Fredrica five? four? I wondered also ?.... as a pretender to the insightful, i cut, pieced and pasted the previous post. My conclusion was that we are allowed to pick one archetype from column A. anima or B. animus. With further reading i discovered that the anima Or animus is most often discussed as an archetype, counterpart..... go figure. psychobabble.
Your eye for design work here is noteworthy. There are subtle - nuanced, yet strongly effective elements (tangible and intangible) at work in this image.
I take from your own words " It just seemed all there for me to take advantage of " and "I wasn't aware of connecting any specific interpretations to my choices with camera or processing." and on the 'little flash of light'.... "For me, something like that gives life to a composition and I'm always thankful for those happy little accidents" It sounds to me like you are setting aside the academic more often these days. Sounds as if you almost saw the sculpture hidden in the marble. non literal, figurative Pre-visualization ? in the early stages.

btw; " wow! that's cool ... looks like a flamenco dancer" an unprompted passing visceral response from N.. she is thoroughly impressed Fred.

Fred G
Roger, Thanks so much. It will probably wind up, at least for now, in a folder called "Ian" which will consist of three portraits but, yes, I can see it other places as well depending on context and presentation. Funny, I'm already considering retitling it Ian-1 because, as the other two in the series come together, I think I'm seeing it presentationally as the first, which is different from how I originally envisioned the series.
Josh, Isn't that Five? Seriously, though, what a great comment. Talk about expanding the term "portrait!" Jung seems to have laid the groundwork for how I'd like to approach portraits. I think masculinity/femininity is something I've always been fascinated by as are the shadow worlds we each occupy and reflect. Those shadow worlds relate very much to the idea of the mask and there may be more to say about that regarding the other portraits in the series. In a way, I think portraits can be masks and can also be a means of unmasking, sometimes in the very same photo. By that I mean that recognizing the persona, which we all have, presenting it and acknowledging it, we sometimes uncover a lot about a person's inner self. So, a mask can be deceptive but, when recognized as a mask, it can be enlightening as well. Also, it sort of elaborates my point above that not just the face (which can be a mask but can be much more as well) can provide what's important. I find myself looking for other things to help pierce the persona.
Paolo and Doug, Thank you both for your visit and nice comments.
Ton, Above I talked a little bit about my earlier black and white portraits. With many of those, I was perfecting my work with a certain type of lighting, easier and simpler lighting than what I have been looking for lately. This lighting for Ian thoroughly excited me. When we came across it, I really did immediately foresee Ian standing there and knew that it would speak to and about him. It was less of a challenge because I felt as though, since it seemed so appropriate and meaningful, the lighting was guiding me rather than that I was trying to get something out of the lighting or really even up against a difficult situation. It just seemed all there for me to take advantage of.

Ton Mestrom
Just back for a short visit, Fred, frankly I had to look it up but Albert Einstein once said "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind" That somehow seems to be very appropiate here, at least for me.

Fred G
Tim, Yes, I've had a couple of exciting shoots lately and got more than I normally do from them and have been excited about processing and presenting them . . . a little more rapidly than I normally do. Thanks for the comment and question. Why keep the light? Energy. Secondary light source in a photo where secondary is key. A stab in the dark. Allure to a shadowed ground. Helps define his crossed legs. Eye movement around the photo. Offsetting color and composition. It was there.
Josh, Who you calling latent? :)
N, Thanks for thinking it's cool and using "flamenco." Kisses!

Micki F.
I agree with you that the gate and this one of Ian or totally two different things. I look at this one and don't even recognize Ian in the other one. Actually I though Ian was a younger (was younger) man in the other one. More like a teenager. I will say this. I love this style tremendously. You still have your play of light but you have this richness of color that is you. I love that you have not over processed anything and that this seems to be true to a picture out of your camera. I feel that Ian is talking to the camera here not unlike your self portrait (I miss that by the way). Something he is saying here reminds me of something that has been itching to be said but not said yet. Maybe he says it in the next picture. Oh but maybe (hmmm) maybe that was part of the frightened child in the game. Oh crud MAYBE they should go together. Oh you know how I write... hmmm I LOVE the floor of this picture and the shoes. The cross of the legs and the shadow (like PETER PAN). Oh there is that simile of the little boy again that never grew up. hmmm oh I can't get away from it That is what he reminds me of. Please don't let him pinch me. Andrew's cousin is like that still wanting to NOT grow up at age 43. I have waited to talk on this subject here because frankly I couldn't put my finger on it till just now. I of course read nothing on here about what others said partly because I don't have time and partly because I didn't want to taint my thoughts but for me I feel a total connection between him not wanting to grow up. You haven't taken many pictures of someone young. Not that there is anything WRONG with that but he is younger than me (I would think). He's fairly cute (I think). So why is he so worried? Just curious, as you captured this with your camera in color, contrast, look and feel. WONDERFUL! :) ~ micki

Micki F.
I really look forward to seeing more of Ian not "more" of Ian (egad). blush I mean more pictures of him. ha :) ~ I miss coming on here and looking but I have been true to myself in working hard. You are really doing fantastic stuff if this is the only thing you are showing us.

thanksfor thefish
Fred Truly outstanding work! I know I have said this before yet it does bear repeating . Your latest pieces reflects many of the best qualities of your previous work. The cumulative effect is quite astonishing. There is so much that I admire and enjoy in this photo that I do not know where to begin. I am also aware of the futility of simply describing the photograph to the photographer. However there are a few aspect I do want to mention. I love the shirt, the way it hangs on his body, the way the light rolls over it in waves. The fact that it sits at the border between darkness and light. The shirt is the only element with any conventional level of exposure and the colour and quality of light is so damn beautiful. The sliver of light on the ground looks like the ties Ian tossed off . The blinding meteoric light on the top side of his sleeve and hand is the perfect foil to the blackness of his shadow. The shadow and the man each reaching to the other, leaves room for a wealth of speculation. My favourite aspect of this image is Ian's face, hiding in plain sight. Wrapped in shadow yet clear as daylight with only the slightest of investigations. The ambiguity of that light is a triumph. That you found this lighting and choose to work with it must have been a wonderful experience. I applaud your vision for taking such full advantage of it.

Margaret Woodall-Shark
I see a James Dean in this. Also a bit of Rocky, as he and the shadow seem to be cheering one another on. No religious or philosophical innuendos here. Just great lighting, clever composition, and a perfect overall feel. I do love the color. I sometimes feel black and whites are a great way of hiding inperfections. Wonderful textures in this.Super job, Fred. Well done.

Laurent Lacoste
Fred First, I would like to tell you It's always a pleasure reading your thoughts and comments, which you express in such an open-minded and sincere way. Wonderful portrait. For some reason this one instantly conjured up in my mind the image of Rock Hudson in Giant. I've always liked the actor and the movie a lot. Maybe because I could very well imagine this portrait in feet as a giant painting hanging on the walls of an old family mansion, or is it the colors and the delicate post-processing craft that evoke those old technicolor movies, unless they take us back to some 19th Century oil painting hues and texture, or could they also be Renaissance tones? Or is it the classic, dramatic posture emphasized by the low angle and expressionist shadows that evoke some young graduate comedian from the Actor's Studio in the early 50s, with classic hairdo and Arrow shirt? I'm just throwing raw, spontaneous thoughts and impressions here, Fred, so please forgive that disorderly babble that just aims at telling you I like this image very much. Admirable work.

Fred G
Gordon, Thanks so much for your careful observations and kind thoughts. There is something about this one of the three of them that remains my favorite. I think it's because of the color that it does feel like a departure even though it has, as you so nicely put, elements from the past that have led to this. I, too, felt that his expression read quite well in this lighting. I know you've been a bit less active lately and hope things will pick up for you again. I think you are a valuable asset, certainly to me in terms of our dialogues and I really do look forward to your submissions with anticipation of your always creative abilities.
Margaret, Love the Rocky reference. I sense a little of that James Dean attitude although it wouldn't have come to mind, so thanks for that. I go back and forth between thinking color is more difficult and black and white is. I think it may be that it is easier to get away with things in black and white and b/w tends to immediately feel a little more special, but I think really good b/w work is as hard and rewarding as color and both have their unique difficulties and strong suits.
Laurent You reaction reads like a jazz riff. I love it. Nothing like a good, impressionistic critique. Your thoughts are creative and welcome. I've also enjoyed our recent discussions. The are stimulating and helpful.

Keith Aldrich
Fred, Very nice! I really like your choice of color in this image, and the lighting also works for me. Great portrait.

Fred G
Keith Thanks. It is up there among my favorites. Appreciate your looking.

Carlos H.
Ian’s a wanna be matador, working the moves, refining the style…

Joe Gaskill
This is a photo that steps beyond the norm. I would rate this as 7 for aethetics and originality. I get the feeling from seeing your portfolio that you are more comfortable with B/W. This, in my opinion, is a true work of art. The color and the compostion achieve perfection. The lighting approaches perfection (again, in my opinion the bright patch on the floor forcibly drags the eye away from contemplative pleasure - if that's your intention then the lighting has achieved what you want). This piece of art should bring you closer to a comfortable feel for color photography. As I go back and look again - fantastic.

Fred G
Joe Thanks for the wonderful comments. This was definitely a breakthrough in style and color for me, so I appreciate your attention to those things. Yes, though there is room for contemplative pleasure here, I like the energy that stab of light at the bottom brings.

Artur Nogueira
Beautiful compo, Fred. Very nice image.

Jeanne S.
Fred, Wow. Not sure how I missed this one in your portfolio until now. There's just one word to best describe it, if you don't mind my daring to say so, it's just plain Sexy! And, I mean that in a good pure way. I love the stance, the look on his face, the lighting, the scratchy wall in the background, and that alluring little spot of light in the lower corner. Thumbs way up!! This is a classic. Peace, Jeanne

Mario Azevedo
BRAVO! It is a pleasure to stop by your portfolio once in a while, with the certainty that one will be surprised once more. Take care, Mário (hopping to see new images from you soon)

Fred G
Jeanne, So sorry, I never responded to your comment. A lapse on my part. I'm thrilled you find this sexy. Though it has a certain internal character, I think it's sexy, too. The splash of light on the ground was more controversial for many than I would have anticipated. I always considered it a must!
Mário, Thanks. I do think of this one as a sort of signature piece. One where I feel like I struck a personal sort of gold. Yes. More is coming soon.

Antonio Bassi

I missed this one in your Portfolio. Very cinematic and very "Renaissance". Actually, it reminds me of Caravaggio for many reasons: strong chiaroscuro, wonderful warm and vivid tones, the pose of the boy (that seems very natural and probably, at that very moment, he wasn't posing at all). I love how he melts out into the darkness, in the best style of Caravaggio. One of my favorites.

Antonio Bassi
Errata corrige

I wouldn't say "vivid" colors, maybe "relevant".

Arthur Plumpton

Fred, very interesting portrait, reminding me a little of how Kertesz handled the bodies and limbs of his human subjects, although I think his use of angularity was meant more to be a humorous reflection on the agility or expressivity of the human body rather than to represent something more profound about the person.


Apart from the powerful graphical display here (kudos !) I do not get a feeling that it tells me too much about Ian (his face for instance being barely perceptible on my screen) but possibly more about Fred and the suggested interaction betwen the two. The link betwen the arm on the wall and the projected shadow is interesting, as the shadow appears to me to be not that of Iain (which of course in reality it is). I see a dialogue in it, between photographer and subject.


I have looked at the image with and without the bottom light spot and think its impact would be improved without the light spot. For me, it detracts from the power of the graphical composition (On a related subject, you might remember my Charlevoix blue chair photograph, in which I scrubbed out the floor light streaks. They did refect those on the chair but ultimately distracted from the main image, in my opinion). 

Fred G

Arthur, thanks very much for your thoughts. I won't revisit the light spot on the floor which I discussed in some of my earlier responses except to say I still like that stab of light and think the photo benefits from it, and I also understand and don't mind others' preferences.

I think you hit on something important in talking about this as a dialogue and in questioning it as an effective portrait. When I created and posted it and still when I consider it, it blurs the line for me and is not a portrait in the "strict" sense of that word, precisely because of some of the things you mention. I love it as a photo, and part of that reason is because of its ambiguity as portrait, though I see it in more than graphical terms, in emotional terms but not Ian-centered emotional terms. I see a lot of my photos as not "strictly" portraits and often would prefer not to post them in the portraits section, but that seems the only feasible choice in many cases, since I prefer to stay away from "fine art" when I can. So, generally, photos with people in them, even photos that center around a person or figure, that are not meant as portraits per se, wind up in that category almost by default.

Another consideration is context. I would not feel satisfied by putting this out on its own as a portrait of Ian, though I love the way it stands on its own as a photo, without the label portrait. As part of a series of pictures of Ian, I think it would add a lot to the portrait of him built up through a few photos viewed together.

Fred G

Thanks so much. Your thoughts do make a lot of sense. Yes, I do think there is a closed-in sense, especially due to the lighting, particularly the way it covers much of Ian's face. To tie in the little stab of light on the floor, I agree with you that it works in counterpoint to his face, and probably works for me because of the downward angle of his head moving down toward the shadow of his body towards that light. Assessing the intentionality of the "smothering" is tricky for me. It's not like I thought about that consciously. But it makes sense given the way I was feeling and perceiving Ian as a person and I think this situation drew upon all that. This was my first shoot with Ian and we knew each other only as acquaintances, and I had always found him both mysterious and evocative. It seems like it almost couldn't be any other way for us that day.

I think of this as a breakout photo. My approach to it, both in the shooting and the post processing, was very personal and it was a photo I truly stretched myself for and committed to, possibly more so than I had for any photo previously. I am very intrigued, fascinated, by this combination of posed and authentic you've touched upon. It's a real balancing act and one I feel I can wring a lot from when effective proportions of each are reached. I'm not one to necessarily shy away from being overt about a subject modeling for the camera, as long as I can get to some genuine place with that. I love exploring aspects of that kind of "staged" work. This photo was set up only in the moment. We came across the spot, the lighting and colors seemed to work, and between Ian and me his positioning and posing came together pretty quickly. 

Jeremy Jackson

Hi Fred, a few things about this for me. First, it's immediately appealing due to the dramatic light. But I want to get past that as soon as I look more closely. Second, I find the light on the floor critical. This light provides a counter-point to the face and makes it more visually important than had the light on the floor been removed. The light on the floor is almost like a reflection of the face. Third, the left-arm position is also important I think. This makes the image feel more natural. I know Ian is modeling but the arm position gives him movement...activity. Lastly, the tonal relationships are perfectly handled IMO. The shirt and wall work together in the image very nicely. One not standing out or taking away from the other. The only feeling I get that you may not have intended is a rather closed-in one. I feel the darkness smothers the subject a bit. I'm not objecting to that, I just wonder if you had this in mind. I feel Ian has something to hide and this darkness somehow plays into this maybe.


In any case, my immediate reaction is of a masterful photographer at work here. There is a cohesiveness of technique, subject and meaning that makes the image feel complete to me. Sometimes images in this style can make me think of a young art student trying too hard. A jejune attempt to impress. But you seem to be able to avoid this reaction. I think it's the relationship of all the elements to a deeper message...something more important going on in the image. This is the completeness I am referring to. Does that make any sense? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. With much respect, Jeremy

Donna Pallotta

the original darker image is mysterious like a successful use of color to produce effective film noir... that the shadow evokes the mysterious effect is stunning by itself.  the lighter reworked version is just as stunning... seeing ian standing out in detail from the shadows gives us a finer contrast without destroying the mystery. to me, Fred, my imagination is not convinced that the shadow is ian's, perhaps because i'm familiar with your homoerotic themes. to me, as with my friend carlos, there is a metaphor here, a very powerful one about two bonded men and the secret or privacy behind the the picture of ian. it's gorgeous Fred, and i'm delighted that we all join here to applaud your fascinating body of work. bravo ;-} dp

Lech Dobrzanski

If this picture would be projected on the screen it cloud pass as the frame with intentionally build “cinema effect”. In the movies however the scene develops and explains itself. In the static case the shadows are deep, the plot is missing and so is the emotional link between the audience and the hidden model.

Patrick Hudepohl
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Please note the following:

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

Though this photo is now in a folder with other photos, it was originally presented as part of a series. Since that series was referenced in the original comments, here are links to Ian-2 and Ian-3, which now all reside in different folders in my portfolio.

Emmanuel Enyinwa
ian-1 by Fred G.

My first impression is that Ian-3 is a much more interesting image, and more worthy of discussion, but I don't decide these things. That said, it is difficult to know what to say about this image, which, to me, is the portrait of a right arm. I understand the experimental nature of the image, and having seen the oeuvre of the artist, I certainly believe he is capable of much more dynamic images, such as ian-3, but this image, for me, reminds me of how possible it is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. This picture reminds me of Jean Luois David's "Death of Marat", and, I think this image had potential, but the glare of the arm so dominates the picture that it detracts from what may otherwise be a compelling character study. Too bad.

Emmanuel Enyinwa
ian-1 by Fred G.

That's Jacques Louis David.

Antonio Bassi
ian-1 by Fred G.

I have already commented on this Caravaggio-like photograph, that is one of my favorites of your folio. Fred, congratulations for this well-deserved POW.

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

This photo was done about 4 years ago. I recently created a web site and have been printing my photos, and so have re-processed many of them. I wanted to offer my most recent version of this photo.

I think the original version was a bit muddy and the highlights on the arm, indeed, needed better rendering. I cropped the left edge slightly differently.

Fred G
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Alberta P.
ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred - I love the reprocessing so that we can see, and enjoy, more of ian's fabulous features.

Emmanuel - I disagree about the arm. For me, one of the most curious (in a good way) things about this photo is the feeling of weightlessness that arm has because of the bright lighting. Where I would expect to feel ian leaning into the wall, he instead floats next to it (that's not an apt description but I'm at a loss for words here). It's intriguing and would not have happened without that bright lighting on the sleeve.

Congratulations, Fred. Well deserved.

Cheers ~

Louis Meluso
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

I will be commenting on your newer version.

I like this picture. The strong diagonal lines are the first thing that attracts my eye along side the powerful lighting contrast. These combine to add both energy and mood to the scene. I like that I can just barely make out the facial features yet the shirt shows nice detail. It does somewhat dominate the scene and, in this back lit moody shot, it works. The limited color scheme helps unify the picture.

Which is why I don't understand the inclusion of the bottom (light shaft?) element. It feels out of place. I can't tell what it is or how it relates to the subject and it's cool color pulls your eye. I think it could be safely eliminated, via clone or crop, to strengthen the composition and keep the emphasis on the strong diagonal graphic feel.

Richard John Edwards
ian-1 by Fred G.

This image has a lot going for it. It is the kind of portrait that you can spend some time with. The colour of the wall and the shirt work well together, the shadow and Ian have a wonderful interplay, and for me make the image. The fact that the face is in shadow adds to this interplay and gives it strength. The composition of Ian leaning with his arm against the wall gives connectivity and continuity of the relationship between the shadow and the subject. My criticism of this image is the inclusion of the light shinning through at the bottom of the image, this really distracts from the key components of the image. Removing it by cropping the image as a 4x5 format would significantly add strength to the image IMHO. Scrolling down on the screen to remove it we can see that. The loss of his feet do not take away from the image and for me do not compromise composition or other.
I questioned whether i liked the first version or the reworked version. They both have merit. I lean towards the second version, I agree with Fred the first version is a Tad muddy.
Very well done Fred. a portrait with character, thoughtful and excellent execution, an image that has layers. Most deserving of POW. something to intellectualize.
Regards Richard

Ian .
ian-1 by Fred G.

Almost one third of this image is pure black on my monitor. I can't see the face at all. There are blown highlights. (Unintentional I'm assuming.)
Nice idea compositionally but the technical problems completely ruin it for me.

Art Xanthopoulos
ian-1 by Fred G.

Hi Fred, firstly, congratulations on being a PoW recipient.
Secondly, in relation to the image chosen by the elves (as opposed to the image you re-processed), I find it to be interesting for a number of reasons. Without knowing the "ins and outs" of your choice location, subject pose and so forth, I can only offer my interpretation of what I see....
What's immediately striking to me is, what I refer to as, the 'shadow play' in the image as a whole. Both as it applies to your subject and to his environment. It's almost like a subliminal connection between subject and his environment. Subtle environmental portraiture perhaps? Anyway, its something which I feel connects the whole image and helps the viewer understand your subject. Sure, the pose, perhaps even the clothes worn also express something about your subject but its the undercurrent of this relationship to the environment (through light and shadows) that really has the most impact.
In a previous forum thread I made the point that, for me, light (and therefore shadow) is my favourite form of symbolism, so when I view this image its THAT symbolism that I see. The light casting a shadow on the wall provides a nice dualism which presents itself again and again both on ian's face and body. Again, for me, this establishes a connection between subject and environment. Added to that, the composition again plays on that duality of light and shadow. Is ian coming from the shadows into the light only to re-enter the shadows on the other side? The peripheral light tones seem to suggest that for me.
Its that constant theme which makes this a strong image for me and so I actually prefer your original processed image because I find it tells and depicts that duality far better.
Again, congratulations

Richard John Edwards
ian-1 by Fred G.

Its interesting how viewing an image on different computers gives a different feel to it. Ian above stated he see's a lot of black. When i wrote my critique above it was having viewed the image on my work computer. Seeing it now on my home computer I am rethinking the need to crop the light out at the bottom (this is purely based on reworked image). I still agree the original that was selected is a bit buddy and lacks the imapct of the reworked image.

Ken Thalheimer
ian-1 by Fred G.

A refreshing choice this week. I like the symmetry between Ian and his shadow. Given the choice between the original & re-work, I like the original. The lack of detail in his face plays nicely with & compliments the shadow. It also adds an air of mystery. Very imaginative work that doesn't rely heavily or give the appearance of overprocessing

John A
ian-1 by Fred G.

One of the things I always enjoy about reading these threads is how we end up referring to certain things and our differences in either perception, monitors or descriptors.

I have read "muddy" here several times and I personally don't see anything in either image that is "muddy". I could see the possibility of a print of the first one being "muddy" which could be more or less so depending on paper characteristics. But on screen, I would say it is more "depressed" or "blocked up" than "muddy". "Muddy" has more of a connotation of lacking any crispness to areas and more of a pallor of grey, like a veil, over an area. I don't see any of this in the original image. Certainly, the reworked image has more contrast in it, but the original wasn't muddy, at least on my screen or in the definition of that I have always worked with.

Another point hidden in Fred's words is the difference between printing and posting. Almost any image will look good backlit and on screen--or seem so--but having to make a print will bring home just how hard it is to make a truly good image. Making the print is one of those things I think digital and the internet has minimized to the detriment of the art of photography and the development of the photographer and the craft of photography. Understanding how to make an print sing teaches how hard it is to make a truly good photograph.

As to the image, I did see the original here before any comments were posted but was busy and am glad I couldn't post at the time. I like very stylized work but did feel that maybe the original posted here was a bit over done, with some of the same concerns I read in the first comments. The balance in this reworked image is so much better and more revealing. I will also say that these types of images suffer immensely from being viewed on a light background and are much different when viewed on something more neutral to dark. The flair just destroys the subtleties in such images.

Viewing the original, my first sense was that Ian was descending a staircase, a pretty steep one at that. I just couldn't make out anything below the diagonal line. But then, my eye was drawn to the blown out area of the sleeve and the odd turquoise light below, both of which seemed distractions.

In the reworked image, the balance on the sleeve seems more in tune with the image overall. Blowing it out might be a device but I didn't see it serving the image. I could probably spend a lot of time going between the two and suggesting this or that might be better in this one or that--the problem with versions--but I do think the rework is more successful overall and, well, just plain successful, so the rest would just be conjecture and possiblity. I even think that the somewhat incongruous turquoise light at the bottom becomes a bit more of a role player here than a distraction as in the original, it just seems more integrated.

The light here, as in Ian 2, does have a strong "theatrical" sense to it and it makes me wonder, especially if I saw them presented together, if this wasn't an actor and an intent to inform us of that. Ian 3 almost has a sense of WWII propaganda images, at least that is my hit from it.

I think all three are nicely done but probably find the POW the one I least connect with, which is just a personal preference.

Wouter Willemse
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Reprocessing certainly has been worth it.
Louis Meluso raises a point, though, that fascinates me:

Which is why I don't understand the inclusion of the bottom (light shaft?) element.

Neither do I, but unlike Louis, for me it does not feel out of place, but makes me consider what it is and why it's there. It does not seem an accident, given that the photo to me seems quite obviously a 'planned' photo. Is it pointing at, or radiating from above? Why is the colour so distinctly different from the rest of the photo?
And even if it is there by accident, it is something that makes me look at the photo and study it. Without the "disturbance" of this ray of light, it would be a strong portrait. Now it's a photo that keeps me busy.
On the other 2 of the series, I agree with John A. above. I find the other two more engaging. But it is a bit like saying an Aston Martin is a slow car next to a Lamborghini and a Ferrari....

martin h
ian-1 by Fred G.

I like the proportions better in the original, and also I think the revised version has a little too much orange. To my taste, they are both too dark. You wouldn't want the picture to be as light as you get with the default shadow/highlight settings in Photoshop, but it's kind of eye-opening to see it this way. You don't need to pull details out of the shadow areas, just not deliberately darken them so much. Even with a judicious adjustment in shadows/highlights, the nice contrast between the subject and the shadows remains.

Emmanuel Enyinwa
ian-1 by Fred G.

Looking at the revised image, I have to say that I'm quite impressed at the effect the softening of the glare on the right arm has on the image, allowing the viewer to get "at" the subject, Ian. There's an element of Nan Goldin in the use of light and color, as well as fidelity to naturally occurring elements. It's difficult to decipher the expression and mood of the poser, but that makes it more compelling. I had trouble at first figuring out the light pattern in the image, but a closer look makes it appear that the model has just either stepped down a flight of stairs, or is standing on a wall with a strong skylight coming from above his left shoulder. Compositionally, it is a series of three triangles, one inverted, with two thirds lost in almost pure darkness. The reprocess allows much more pleasing shadow detail, while still retaining the strong contrasts that, IMO, is the strength of the image. The sliver at the bottom does not bother me, as it gives some perspective as to what the bottom of the image would look like without the main subject arresting most of the light. Would the image be effective--or, more directly--more effective without it? Probably, but I think the real strength of the image is in the upper triangle, and the image rises or fails based on what happens up there.

Charles W
ian-1 by Fred G.

The themes in the photograph came together for me better in my alternative crop. Fred’s reworked crop perhaps asks the viewer to judge space with more ambiguity than does mine. Do I pound on a piano in my crop, my own aesthetic sense can’t tell me. In mine the inclusion of the green stripe is perhaps less of a visual issue, more clearly rooting the floor. Either way, floor is important to the photograph as the place where Ian either has or has not placed himself, deserves some emphasis. Visually the specular highlights in the floor could be reduced, though I’m not sure if a better matching of tonal value to the body of the shirt would be an improvement. In my view the green stripe belongs unquestionably in the photograph, is a minor theme where the shirt is the central theme.

Everything here hangs on the shirt, which ever crop. Reducing its highlights as in Fred’s rework was the right thing to do because that also included making the shirt as it should be, more gorgeous for lack of a better word, where the inverted V of the shirt, a muted sign of sensuality, invites approach or avoidance, depending. I guardedly say that for most men, approach would be a real stretch, just as would be wearing a shiny pink shirt. Though Ian’s pose shows him to be both resting on the wall and doing a stretch with his other arm, it’s Ian and he exists as he is, outside an uncomfortable viewer’s paradigms. Partly persona, partly shadow and ambiguity, partly feminine, all with a fleeting shimmer of elusive soul, the shirts rests on Ian as he rests on the wall, with more comfort than crumple. Ian’s left arm is not outstretched, no visible wound, etc. Yet would we wound him? Do we? That theme is well understated. Approach/avoidance, fight or flight, a multitude of affective reactions elicited from viewers are the photograph’s challenge. It is an intimate photograph that also requires intimate self-examination within the viewer. Some of those reflections we will share and some we will probably not share with another. In that respect, we are Ian, partly persona, partly shadow and ambiguity, partly feminine, partly masculine, all with a fleeting shimmer of elusive soul.

Pnina Evental
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

I commented in details on this one before( in your files) but seeing both versions, I like the reworked one ,as the light and details are better PP.
Congratulation Fred , well deserved.

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

Sincere thanks to all who've commented so far. Before sharing some thoughts by way of response, I want to thank and acknowledge Ian, first and foremost, who's been a very willing and inspiring subject. I consider my photos with Ian collaborations. We seem to have a knack for supporting each other and finding dance steps that make for intriguing encounters and several photos we've both been very excited about. We also have fun doing it. There seem to be people the camera loves and Ian is one of them.

Charles, your feelings and insights sum up so much for me, so I'll start by quoting you: " . . . partly persona, partly shadow and ambiguity, partly feminine, partly masculine, all with a fleeting shimmer of elusive soul." I'm humbled by this description and love it. I can't claim to have intentionally put this into the photo, yet I think it's an apt description. It encapsulates a bunch of what I'm after. It hits on important themes and is a very empathetic way of viewing. It makes me feel that you and I have made a connection through the photo. Detail-wise, I'm glad you noticed the bottom of Ian's shirt -- which I missed in the original but brought out in the newer version -- and the bit of flirtatiousness that adds. I appreciate your crop though still prefer mine. Yours seems to make Ian more prominent as a subject where I felt giving him a little more architectural space and having that space envelop him a bit went along with the dark shadows and his role as a somewhat elusive subject. This photo was kind of a break-out move for me and has set the stage for my exploring theatricality and especially persona, which you noted so nicely, as they both play with the relationship between artificiality and truth.

Emmanuel, thanks for your first thoughts and your updated response based on the more recent version. About a year ago, when I looked at this with fresh eyes as a I was getting my web site together and beginning to print, I realized how unfortunately-handled the arm was and felt, as you originally did, that I could get more out of the photo, post-processing-wise. I'd been meaning to replace the old version with the newer one in my portfolio and never got around to it, so I'm glad the elves' choice of this photo spurred me on to post the updated version.

Antonio, I appreciated your earlier comments and your interest in my work, as I am in yours. It's been nice developing a photographic friendship with you over the years.

Alberta, thanks, yes, I think the strong highlights on the arm are important. Maybe it's a photographic gesture to go along with the physical gesture Ian gives us. Your thoughts about "leaning/floating" are nicely put. I often think about the role of obvious and intentional pose and when that kind of artificiality can work. This was an early attempt at obvious theatrical pose and it seems to actually create some contrasting impressions and feelings, which I like. There's in some sense a tension -- which I find very photographic -- between the artificial and the real.

Louis, in the original comments, J.D. Wood mentioned "design." Your description focuses on those design aspects and it was only after I took this that I could consciously appreciate how Ian's pose and bearing works into the design. Ian seemed to innately understand how the pose would work even though he didn't at all envision how I was seeing the space and background at the time. I didn't even realize the full extent to which the pose would fit into the overall scheme until I saw it once I got it home. The shaft of blue light is controversial. I defer to what Wouter said about it which works incredibly well for me. J.D. aptly said to me that it's "like a question mark." But I can empathize with those for whom it seems out of place. It simply doesn't distract me (in a negative way) as it does others, and I find it provides good energy to the photo.

Richard, you've focused on the thing I was probably most consciously in tune with when taking the shot, Ian's relationship to the shadow. Everything else seemed to fall in place around that central relationship. I felt like he had a dancing partner or was performing a sort of duet with himself. I appreciate your first thoughts about the blue light and your reconsideration once you saw this on another monitor and can't really add to what I wrote just above about that light.

Ian, while I wanted the shadows to be prominent and mysterious and I wanted us to have to work a bit to make out what detail there is in the shadows, so they are purposely on the dark side, on my monitor they are far from black. This is the frustrating thing about monitor viewing. You never know what someone else is looking at. I wonder if your monitor is rendering this more darkly. It's one of the reasons I'm so excited about printing and showing my work in a studio/gallery. I will know what people are seeing and will be able to work with lighting and presentation in a much more effective way than is possible on PN and on computers in general.

Art, from early on in my photographing, I seem to have gravitated to working with environments and finding relationships between subjects and surroundings that added some dimension to portraits. I appreciate your recognizing that here. I should find out who designed this space, which is an odd little circular, walled-in, indoor-outdoor space, like a spiral of continuous wall with an open top, and give the designer some credit as well. It was a great space to work in and is on the property of one of our local and newer museums located in Golden Gate Park. That dualism of light and shadow you notice is significant and I like the way you articulated it.

Ken, this reworking in great part is geared towards the print. Without the influence of a monitor's back lighting, the shadows needed to be opened up to allow for the effect I wanted. In this newer version, the face is opened up a bit more than I'd ideally like for monitor viewing but does print in a darker and more mysterious way. For the print file, I even opened up the main triangular shadow more than you see here so you could make out Ian's legs. I could probably nuance this screen image a bit more to get the right shadow reading, but then there's the issue of all the monitor differences among us, etc. But I do understand what you're saying about the feel of the original and I'm getting more of that feel in the print, which I like.

John, you make several important points about presentation. Yes, yes, yes, the print is a different medium entirely from the screen image. And so, the screen image and the print have very different feels. When I first started printing, I was simply trying to get the prints to have exactly the same look and feel as the screen image. Now, I'm often treating the print as a different animal and wanting a quite different feel from the screen image. I also agree with you about presentation. The white background PN insists on is, frankly, obnoxious and very un-photogenic. I tend to use neutral gray backgrounds for viewing photos on screen, and in some cases black, in rarer cases white. You hit it right with your musings about Ian being in theater. He is both a dancer and actor and, no doubt, that worked into some of how these photos came about. BTW, I agree with your description of Ian-3. I approached it heavily under the influence of the Hollywood photographers of the 30s and 40s, particularly George Hurrell's photos of Dietrich. So the processing of Ian-3 was done almost as a learning tool to create a photo like that, where I studied some of those portraits and specifically tried to mimic the processing, though as you note the pose and perspective and even the processing to some extent does give it that German propaganda flavor.

Wouter, I referred to your comments on the shaft of light above and appreciate how well stated they are. I love that you used "disturbance" in a positive way! One of the fascinating things about putting work out there is getting differing reactions and being privy to a variety of tastes relating to my own work. Ian-3 has taken on the feel of a study to me over the years. It's gratifying to hear that it hits you with the kind of power it does and you're more than kind in your comments about the three photos.

Martin, we seem to pretty much disagree on just about everything in this forum. :-) That's a good thing, in my book. It keeps me on my toes and presents different aesthetics. Now, some of this, as discussed above, could be monitor-driven and you're seeing it more darkly than I am. But I suspect more is about taste. I wanted the strong shadow, the mystery, and this is very intentionally designed this way. At the same time, I understand its lack of appeal for you and others. I do make some strong and exaggerated decisions, as many of us do, and it would be silly to assume that's not going to turn some people off. I appreciate your honesty and value your contributions to these discussions.

Pnina, when I first posted this, we had an interesting discussion about portraiture and how this fit in. I'm glad you came back to look and comment again.

Alex S.
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred G.'s posted revisions of this photograph are marked improvements. Importantly, the shadows that are too dark in the POW version are subdued, letting us see more of Ian's expressive face.

But this is by the way, as image under discussion is this particular Photo of the Week.

The major problem with this photograph is that the dark shadows overwhelm the image, including Ian's face. Also, Ian's presence (as in stage presence) is diminished by the image's aesthetic overkill. The obscuring shadows aside, Ian's shadow gets in the way, upsetting the balance of the image and, thus, distracting us from Ian.

Block out all the shadows and Ian's pose elicits a certain magic. That magic is in the enigmatic nature of the pose. It is at once powerful and casual and relaxed. I have never seen anything like this involving either male or female subjects. There is genius in this photograph in spite of the problems I have mentioned.

There is not enough of Ian and too much of everything else. Fred G.'s work is innovative and daring. This image is both of those things. But it is not Fred G.'s best work.

Donna Pallotta
ian-1 by Fred G.

the original darker image is mysterious like a successful use of color to produce effective film noir... that the shadow evokes the mysterious effect is stunning by itself. the lighter reworked version is just as stunning... seeing ian standing out in detail from the shadows gives us a finer contrast without destroying the mystery. to me, Fred, my imagination is not convinced that the shadow is ian's, perhaps because i'm familiar with your homoerotic themes. to me, as with my friend carlos, there is a metaphor here, a very powerful one about two bonded men and the secret or privacy behind the the picture of ian. it's gorgeous Fred, and i'm delighted that we all join here to applaud your fascinating body of work. bravo ;-} dp

Michael Linder
ian-1 by Fred G.


Regrettably, I don't think I've previously looked at any of the photographs in the Ian series. I'm glad that the POW has provided another opportunity; my congratulations on recognition that is easily justified.

Time does not allow me to review all of the comments which have been made by more photographically sophisticated minds than mine. My comment is based on your posting a revised version showing greater detail. I vastly prefer the original. It is much moodier and more dramatic. In my opinion, this is primarily due to the dark shadowed area.

My best,

Donna S
ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred, mazel tov! I like both versions. The second has some lovely light, transforming the wall into stunning gold, and the play with the pink has a whimsy of fairy tales. The somewhat more visible face with sharper shadow combined with the other elements aesthetically trumps the original. This has elements of Rembrandt beauty. The original is less spectacular in a theatrical style found in many of your works, but the deep shadows (and I can clearly make out his face on my monitor) exudes a different a feel -- mysterious, sinister, (both are flirtatious), as he is lurking in shadows, int eh first more merged with his own. In addition, the original wonderfully falls in your period of selective and deep darkness and shadows -- as if somethings are hidden, covering the subjects eyes of your subjects, obscuring our vision, tempting us, teasing us, denying us, as if don't look... but look...no, I'm not ready to show , and it's something to be developed as well.

Barry Fisher
ian-1 by Fred G.

Hey Fred, Congratulations... I've read a few, but not nearly all the many conversations in this thread. If I was to sum up my feelings about the different versions, I would say I see this photo as being very theatrical, even operatic, highly dramatic, most obviously in the lighting. If you were going for that type of dramatic intensity, you got it ;). I'm not sure I like the green flash on the floor. I think I would let just go to dark.

Mario Azevedo
ian-1 by Fred G.

Congratulations Fred! A mostly deserved recognition :)
take care,

Thomas K.
ian-1 by Fred G.

In opening remarks (from 2008) you have stated that you consider this image a portrait of Ian as opposed to another photo which you no longer consider to be a portrait. Is it really a portrait - is traditional way - an attempt to show physique/mind of your subject? I feel that it may be (correct me if I'm wrong here) a vision of Ian as You made/wanted him to be. Is Ian's pose and gesture, his hairstyle and way of wearing shirt his own - or is Ian in this photo your creation? The dramatic pose and light suggests strong control of the director - you Fred. Is Ian on actor or a model?

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

Alex, I posted the new version because I now consider it the photo, though as I said the print retains a bit more of the mood of the original, while cleaning up what I thought needed better rendering. I appreciate your thoughts about the pose, though the pose alone wouldn't have been enough for me. Ian's relationship to and interplay with the light, shadows, and architecture is what the photo is for me.

Donna, I love hearing where your imagination carries you with this photo. I think there is truth in what you say about a level of homo-eroticism, secrecy, and dualism, especially when looked at along with the rest of my photos.

Michael, thanks. I was a little worried that posting my revised version would invite comparisons rather than simply an opportunity to get into the photo itself. I've geared this revised version toward printing. I hope I didn't create too much of a distraction.

Donna, the print has the effect of combining the two versions, which is interesting and works for me. Thanks for looking so carefully and for your varying impressions and your original comments above as well. I particularly like your thoughts about the shadows acting as a denial of sorts. There are ways in which photographers can help create interaction between subjects and viewers, so a portrait can hopefully be more than a static or even quantifiable experience.

Barry, you did strike on what I was going for, a kind of theatrical intensity. I love that you used the word "operatic."

Mário, thanks.

Thomas, four years ago, I'm not sure what I was thinking but I guess I was just starting to think about different ways of approaching portraiture, moving away from the close-up, head-shot, eyes are the (only) windows to the soul kind of aesthetic. The photo of Ian that I was considering NOT a portrait is HERE. That one just seemed more like storytelling, almost like a clip from a movie, and less about the person. I don't know that I'd say the same thing today. Looking at it again, I think it could be considered a portrait, though it's made it into one of my now non-visible folders. I think it depends much on the context in which it would be seen, other photos it would be shown with (were it shown with other photos of Ian it might seem more a portrait than were it shown with street or even photos), and the viewer's perception. I certainly don't want to demand that viewers see a photo as a portrait or not. I'd rather leave their reactions to them. I would generally just show the work without labeling it one way or the other. PN is different in that we have to categorize when asking for critique. I agree that the POTW color photo of Ian has a lot of me in it, as does most of my work. At the same time, where I went with the photo was very much inspired by Ian and not disconnected from my impressions and knowledge of him. I don't think portraits have to be literal (though there are literal aspects to this photo as it relates to who Ian is and what he does). And I think photos often don't strictly represent their subjects but rather transcend them or at least riff off them to some extent. I think this portrait is still revealing of much about Ian, but in a different way than a Wal-Mart "portrait" might more directly portray the looks of the person. I hope this goes somewhere else besides just showing the color of Ian's eyes and the cut of his chin. I also think many good portraits, even while being founded on the particular individual, also go beyond that individual shown and tap into things we can all relate to in more universal terms. I wouldn't mind this not being referred to as a portrait, though I see it as one. Sometimes a photo is just a photo, and that's fine with me. Categorization can help in understanding and I get its usefulness, but it can also be a distraction. To answer a couple of your questions directly, yes, Ian's choice of shirt, the way he wears his shirt, and his hairstyle are his. We went out to make photos and happened on this part of Golden Gate Park and this particular structure. it was not pre-planned. The pose was sort of a joint effort. The lighting was found as is and we had fun with it.

Jeremy Jackson
ian-1 by Fred G.

Part of what it means to be a master in my eyes is that there is a manifest conscious awareness of the interplay between image, method and meaning. Fred's work embodies this for me and so does this discussion. It is very clear that Fred is communicating visually and linguistically in a sensitive, insightful way about aspects of the image, subject and technique employed here. For me, it doesn't matter much that I like this image or not, that I would hang it on my wall, that there are blown-out highlights, that it lacks shadow detail in places, etc. That's not the lesson here for me. The lesson is.....look, this is how a master works. Thank you for all you have taught me Fred. Jeremy

Landrum Kelly
ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred, the moods are so different that I have the sense that I am looking at two different photos. I confess that I am still partial to the first version--the one which the elves selected as Photo of the Week.

I am not suggesting that they would not have selected the brighter and more colorful version, but I can say that, speaking for myself only, the brighter colors do not seem fully congruent with the image as I originally interpreted it. It simply is that different to me. That said, the new version is indeed an excellent work in its own right--it is simply a different work.

I keep wondering how the second one might look if partially or totally desaturated, that is, if the detail of the face could be brought out wiithout altering what for me was a more dark and somber--or at least myserious-- mood in the original. I do think that it was that air of mystery that made the original so compelling.

Either way, it's great work, and congratulations on having it selected as Photo of the Week.


Anders Hingel
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

As with so many of Fred's shots, this shot of "Ian" imposes itself on the viewer isn an almost violent way. Very difficult not to contemplate such images and to prevent being submerged by the visual messages. All signs of quality of the visual work of Fred.

I surely see the difference between version 1 selected by the Elves and the "newer version" of the same. Selecting the first version as a POW, invites clearly for comments that also for Fred has led to the "newer version" where some obvious technical flaws (if one choses to see them as such) have been corrected. I will leave that discussion aside.
What's in my eyes of more importance, is that the first as well as the newer version, have both the central elements of the image, which makes me wonder what is going on. I don't in fact feel invited to see "Ian", but much more to see his pink shirt and first and almost the monster like shadow on the wall, which is surely also "Ian" or a subnatural version of him.

It opens for an appreciation of the scene, that seem to refer to the shadow men of Norse mythology - at least for those that are acquaintant to such references - and I think Fed would be one. For me, therefore, I feel that as it is the case with so many other of Fred's shots, the private references are needed in order fully to appreciate the depths of the scenes. For outsider viewers, as me, I feel somewhat cheated into appreciating a scene, that I have no chance of understanding beyond the surface and a few of the first layers of the conveyed messages af this image.

Congratulations to Fred for this well deserved POW. Always wondered why you had not already received such PN honors.

Carlos H.
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

when you first uploaded the shot (a few years already) it seemed to me an artistic representation of the old Spanish cliché of a bullfighter about to administer the coup de grace. Today the image remains as ever symbolic, even as it has shifted in my mind’s eye from the bullfighting theater to that other spanish cliché of the energetic flamenco dancer here doing his thing in the narrowed confinement of a small-scale cabaret rather than on stage or concert venue.

the atmosphere of the first upload (and I prefer it to the re-worked version) is a lesson how to work in small confined spaces. Shot from below you added scale and majesty to the scene and I love the intense slanted shadow play in true visual rhythm composed in diagonal parallel lines from the left slab of darkness to the shirt to Ian’s arm, topped with a rich layer of earthy red, perfectly complements the sexual heat of a grand flamenco extravagance and stamps the image with absolute power.

independent of whatever associations i may indulge, this piece is in every aspect wonderfully entertaining and professional. Barry Fisher has the right words Fred; dramatic theatrical operatic.

Marjolein M.
ian-1 by Fred G.

At the risk of sounding repetitious with respect to the comments above (some of which I didn't read), I too want to tell you how much I like this portrait of Ian.
I love the overall graphic effect the shadows and light created, and the way you captured his stance against (& between) this dramatic backdrop. It really amplifies the impact and creates an intriguing mood for the viewer...
I very much like Ian's self-assured & rather graceful pose, accompanied by a deep connection he projects to the audience... An erotically charged atmosphere -- flirtatious and quite playful...
Although I like the reprocessed / improved highlights (more subtle) on Ian's sleeve in your 2nd upload, and I appreciate the way you included a bit more shadow on the LHS, -- especially the way the now more pronounced triangular shape of the shadow relates so well to the shape of Ian's raised elbow and crossed legs -- I too appreciate your first version of Ian-1 for its stronger overall feel & mood, but mostly for the fact that Ian's face is more obscured.. I actually perceive a much greater tension, a stronger sense of mystery (not so much 'seeing' but rather 'feeling' the mood present here, if that makes any sense to you :-) in the original upload. I quite like the blackness of the shadows, enhancing the strong graphic lines, and adding to a sense of ambiguity and further tension...
However, I recognize the fact that the overall picture may look altogether different on print, and I understand your decision to make certain changes accordingly... (would love to see the print of this one day in real life :-)
Ian-1 is a picture that I had seen briefly in the past, when I visited your impressive portfolio, although I hadn't commented on it before. I'm really pleased for you, Fred, to see it highlighted as a main featured photo here on PN today, and for other PN members to get the chance to discover your impressive, sometimes provocative but always sensitive and intriguing body of work on the site. With best wishes, Marjolein

Marie H
ian-1 by Fred G.

I tried looking at the image as a square, not rectangular, cropping off at about 3/4 of the way down, at just above the shaft of light and keeping the original dark version (no lighting change). It seemed stronger and more dynamic to me as a square image.

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

Jeremy, I do hope we learn from each other on this site and appreciate whatever you get out of my photos and discussions. You're more than generous in what you say. I only hope I can live up to a fraction of it. I think of photography as an evolving process, part of which is sharing with both subjects I shoot and viewers who look. A lot resides in intimacy and empathy, and I feel as though I'm beginning to break the surface.

Lannie, as I said above, the second one is meant for print which, without the backlighting and pop of the monitor, is more subdued and appropriate for the reflective light the print receives. That being said, I understand what people are responding to when comparing the two versions and it's given me insight into the process and processing to hear the reactions. I hesitated posting the new version and kind of wish I had already replaced the original in my portfolio, so the photo itself could have been addressed more than a technical comparison of the two, which wouldn't have been my first choice in terms of discussing this photo. That being said, comparisons are totally natural when two versions of a photo are posted like this and it does give us the opportunity to realize just how many possibilities there are for processing every image and just how important the choices made are to what the image says to us.

Anders, insightful comments. I never would have used the word "violence" in relationship to this or other of my photos and still probably wouldn't, but I do see what you mean in some sense. It is certainly worth pondering. I also like your use of the word "invitation" and agree that we are not invited to see Ian as we might expect. In a sense, however, we are seeing more of Ian than we might imagine, metaphorically and non-literally. And in some respects, we are seeing Ian as he appears to Fred which, for me, may be more Ian-like than were we seeing Ian more "objectively." Something I often ask myself is "Are we known if we're not seen through others' eyes?" Also, we are seeing Ian photographed, which is different from knowing Ian. In some ways, we are all "outside" viewers to anothers' photos and even to others themselves. I think a lot about art and photography is the feeling that we are being let in on secrets and not always sure what the secrets are or hold.

Carlos, I appreciate both your analogies, bullfighter and flamenco dancer . . . and see the Spanish influence you're talking about, though that came about somewhat accidentally. I'm glad you noticed the low perspective, which I think does help with the architectural feel of the environment and allows Ian's legs and stance to be part of the photo and gives him the kind of presence in the photo he deserves. It also allowed for capturing the blue patch of light on the ground without which we would have much less controversy here, LOL. As a very musically-influenced person, rhythm seems like an important quality even in visual arts and is not an easy aspect to discover and convey in photos.

Marjolein, "his stance against (& between) this dramatic backdrop" is very much a part of how I see this photo, too. I have wondered about his connection to the viewer here and appreciate hearing what you've said about that. I feel a strong sense of connection, even through some of the distancing mechanisms like the dark shadows. I sense that others viewing this are not feeling that sense of connection and can also understand and appreciate their honesty in that. That tension among various viewers is important for me to understand and acknowledge, as it is for all of us to appreciate the wide array of different reactions our photos are bound to receive, even as people are in many ways simply reacting differently to the very same emotional inputs and symbols. This disconnection of reactions, I think, often has an underlying similarity of original response. In other words, we find ourselves responding to the strong shadows, the relatively hidden face, the shaft of light which draws our attention, and then we each react to the those responses personally and often differently.

Marie, thanks for considering the alternative crop. I would like to work with square format more often, though I find it hard visualizing squares since that's obviously not the default view of my camera . . . hard enough to visualize good rectangular compositions . . . LOL. In this case, cropping it just above the blue light would not really make a square, so I'm not quite sure what you have in mind. But when I do get it to be square, I find the graphic elements changed enough to where it makes for an interesting view for sure. But I lose many of the other elements that, for me, make the photo. I wouldn't want to lose the blue shaft of light, as discussed already. I also wouldn't want to lose any of Ian's legs because I like the way they establish his stance and his legs form another triangle in the photo and also, to me, seem gestural in overall context here. (As Gordon said to me in a private comment, you kind of have to wander the shadows to find the legs, and I would add more so in the print than on the screen). Also, as I said above, the architecture and Ian's occupying it helps take some of the focus away from Ian as typical subject and makes him more part of the background which I felt was a strength here.

Marie H
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Scroll the screen and crop Ian just below where his legs form an "X". I think between the shadows on right and left of him this crop works well and accentuates the tilt of the head and arm position above his head. The image is more graphic and dynamic IMHO. When I look thru my rectangular view finder I think square sometimes. Its the old put both hands in the air thumbs together and visualize your image ..kind of Cecil B DeMille I suppose :) thinking square format.
PS You can see this effect I talk about better in your increased exposure version 2

Fred G
ian-1 by Fred G.

Thanks again, Marie. Just doesn't work for me. To me, it not only loses dynamism cropped the way you're seeing it, it changes much of the idea of the photo for me. (I need his full body and full stance.)

Cropping is obviously a very personal thing, so I do understand that other photographers' crops would often differ from my own.

Anders Hingel
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Thanks Fred, wise comments.

jorge fernandez
ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred, congratulation for POW selection. I admire your work and look at evey image you post. I read all the commments and they are amzingly enlightening and educational. Warm regards my friend.

Kristina Kraft
Response to ian-1 by Fred G.

Fred, I like the second version of the portrait where his face is slightly visible, emotionally radiating toward a viewer. You captured a real glimpse of his emotional engagement. I like this portrait a lot.

Fred G
ian-2 thanks for viewing.

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