Sebastián GherrëBare, Love your-self tattoo (2018)

I really like Gherrë‘s work.

And while I love the closeness and intimacy this exudes… it’s technically a mess.

Whatever he used to edit the scan of this image is incompatible with any photo editing software I have–and I’m running at least three different ones–as far as that goes.

Interestingly: downloading the image and opening it in Photoshop results in an incompatibility error and it tells you it’ll open the file but using existing settings. The result is actually a much less muddy or murky image–but one that is admittedly flatter.

I decided to evaluate it against the zone system and illustrate that with a .gif (I’ve selected all pixels in a given zone and deleted them):

image

There’s essentially no additional detail after Zone VII.

Thus we’re left with extremely compressed shadow tonalities and mid-tones are hanging out where we’d generally still expect to be dealing with shaded tones.

The walls are effectively where we’d expect skin tones and there’s no highlight detail to speak of.

The original negative is doubtlessly underexposed. But the subsequent editing is actually an especially ill-advised strategy given that analog has greater headroom when it comes to overexposure than digital does. Digital, on the other hand, doesn’t have a true black and is better handling low light situations as a result.

From the standpoint of maximizing output results it would be advisable to compress the highlights here and try to give the shadows a little bit more breathing room.

Still… it’s an intriguing image from someone who is clearly very good at what he does.

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