Michel ComteCourtney, New York (2008)

As best I can tell Comte has presented this image as it appears above–you can apparently buy it as an archival inkjet print here–as with ever so slight variations (pay attention to her eyes and the position of her left leg) as the way it was originally made, i.e. in color and part of a fashion shoot.

I am primarily interested in the presence absence of color but insofar as either image works it’s because of the way Herron’s pose mimics the water mark on the set wall behind her.

The B&W version of this has been in my queue for months. I have mixed feelings about it. As I’ve already mentioned the pose is exquisite. There aren’t any real highlights to speak of–if we’re using the Zone System, then I’d say we’re dealing with zones 0 through V only. This results in less than ideal skin tone but it works within the context of the image–drawing attention to the resonance between the pose and the water mark as well as giving it a vintage feel.

I can’t look at it without positing that whoever made it has a massive hard on for Weston’s nudes.

But it doesn’t quite work for me. There’s something off about it.

So in a way the color iteration makes more sense as a total package. The form pose as echo of water spot is de-emphasized. The color is meticulously controlled–what appeared to be a limiting in the B&W version now makes sense–the apricot top sheet and the beige grey of the wall and mattress offer just enough of a dash of color to keep the scene from going flat, cause’s the pink of her sock and the red in her skin to dynamically pop in the frame.

The acute angle of the corner where the two set walls meet is not vertical in either frame–however, it stands out more prominently in the color version. (Probably because the B&W version includes the entirety of her left foot–thus distracting from the odd angle, whereas the color one chops off her toes.)

This is really one of the prime reason I hate digital. An image that is intended to be in B&W needs to be approached with a completely different mindset and tools than a scene that is intended to be presented in color.

Now I don’t know that Comte used a digital camera. It’s entirely possible that he had two cameras set up side by side and triggered the shutter at almost the same time–one with B&W stock the other with Color. But I’m of a mind that this was one digital camera and the files were manipulated post process.

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