390. by Nicolas Sisto

The first thing I see, the thing that reaches out and smacks the shit out of me is the light. Fucking A.

Next and simultaneously, I notice the color of the tile and the way the light diffuses on her skin, in her hair—the way it suffuse the blue tiles and tub.

This is the sort of light photographers kill for, a distinct cousin to the magical cinematography in Malick films.

Further it’s analog, a real photograph—any detail in the highlight with such bright white hot spots would be DOA in digital. And the photographer is clearly trying to emulate the tenebrist contrast range and vivid colors of Polaroid’s late 90’s palate.

Also, in the images favor is its inclusion of two quintessential photographic tropes: nudity and miraculous light.

Still, even though I want to like this, I can’t; the light alone isn’t enough. There are two glaring flaws:

First, who sits this way in an empty bathtub? I mean honestly. It’s overly self-conscious and awkward. Look at how gorgeous I am just plopped down here in this pool of perfect light… ladiladidah.

Interestingly, there’s an outtake from this same sequence. In it some of the light’s grandeur gets lost, the pose is at least less self-conscious and therefore less contrived.

Yet, in both case the composition is fucked. You see it a lot—envisioning a strictly balanced and symmetrical shot within the frame and shooting hand held. That saying close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades goes triple for symmetrical images. Either keep the hand held camera and accentuate the asymmetry or use a motherfucking tripod.

I am posting this photo along with the link to its sibling not to bash either so much as point out that somewhere between them is an image I wanted to see in both but didn’t. The hint of what might have been but never was is pretty incredible to me.

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