Dan KitchensChanty, NYC (2014)

This is quite nice.

As far as light’s concerned that’s a balanced gamut from shadow without detail (beneath Chanty’s hands), shadow with detail (the lower left edge of the frame), midtones, effing fantastic skin tone, highlights with detail (her shirt) and highlight without detail (most of her left sleeve).

If this were any other image on Tumblr, you’d see the white edge of the window that’s illuminating the room. Compositionally, it would be a terrible decision, distracting from the dynamic tension between light and dark. Instead, the window is excluded and instead the only hint of it besides the light it’s introducing and subsequent shadows cast, is the left arm of her top. Along with the chair favored slightly to frame left and angled ever so slightly toward the window, the frame is well balanced. (I can’t remember ever seeing this before but it’s a great notion–in traditional photography, if anything too near the edge of the image is blown out, you actually have to increase the amount of light it gets when making a print in order to burn it in so that it does not appear to be the same color as the paper.)

I’m pretty sure this has been edited post-capture–the left chair arm appears to have been dodged and the right chair arm appears to have been burned in to increase the sense of dimensionality.

Taken together, this creates an aesthetically pleasing image that is rich with texture: carpet, chair, wallpaper and curtains–not to mention Chanty’s hair and skin.

I’m not 100% sure about the lampshade behind her head. The shadow cast by the lampstand is super obvious and I think that distracts. Also, her expression seems less expression than transitory shift between expressions.

My gut instinct if it were my image and I was editing it, would be to go back and try to pull some texture out of the lamp shade, or just darken in in a fashion not unlike the lower left corner of the frame has been burned in

Larry WoodmannFrancesca for self-control (2014)

An image maker with the last name Woodmann (even with the extra N), working with a model named Francesca, it really would be foolish to think that the resulting work is going to somehow riff on that.

What I find most interesting is the way this image mirrors my all-time favorite image by Francesca Woodman.

I don’t think the above is nearly as strong of an image but I do really appreciate the attention to detail. It absolutely lacks the subtlety of Ms. Woodman’s photograph but it operates similarly by establishing distracting the viewers attention away from the graphic sexual implication of the images–the hornet on Ms. Woodman’s throat dominates the viewers attention because of the threat of this woman being stung, diverting attention away from the masturbatory gesture she’s making with her left hand and right index finger.

The focus of the above image is the highlighted edge of her face and the thin disruption of the necklace chain encircling her neck. It’s nice, I think.

Adrian Sztruksportra 400 (2014)

Kodak Portra is NOT my cup of tea. It tends toward muted pastels with compression in the highlights that I find unappealing.

Plus: if you’re working analog and making portraits or so-called fine art nudes, you likely use Portra. And call me an iconoclast but: girlfriend, ubiquity is an enormous turn off.

That being said, three things about this scan interest me:

  1. It’s medium format with a shallow depth of field, check the way that the bokeh seethes against the grain structure–a nice, thoroughly cinematic effect that highlights the young woman while also clearly grounding her in her environment.
  2. Because it’s medium format, there’s a good chance the camera doesn’t have built-in metering. As a result, this is slightly underexposed. (Little known oddity about cameras, unless you’re actually measuring the amount of light in exact relationship through the lens onto the focal plane, then you get hit up by the discrepancy between F* and T* stops.
  3. The highlights aren’t compressed, you’re retaining a full range of detail in the sheets but further more note how the tonal range of the wall–ostensibly yellow–is not replicated within the woman’s skin tone. The result is an appealing warm tone–which is 120% in keeping with the image. However, from the standpoint of color correction, such separation offers a ridiculous range as far as color balancing. (For example: I’d apply basic color correction, monkey around until I got Prue Stent-esque skin tone and lastly add a little bit of the amber glow back.)

Ted Partin – [↖] Dallas (2008); [↗] New Have I (2004); [+] Brooklyn (2004); [↙] Brooklyn (2004); [↘] Brooklyn (2004)

I’m flabbergasted at how little of Partin’s work there is floating around out there in the interwebz–almost none of it on Tumblr.

Scanning the critical exposition on it, it’s easy to understand why–sadly, there’s a roughly two decade lag between what the gatekeepers of fine art will publicly endorse and great new work that is being made in the here and now.

Part of the problem is that critics–and I’m accusing myself just as much as anyone else–tend to shout about the easy connections. Folks want to contextual Partin as the heir apparent to Goldin and Clark.

It’s not that such connections are inaccurate it’s just that placing them side by side like that you emphasize a sort of insider’s perspective into the experience of counter culture youth. And that relationship simply isn’t borne out in the work.

Two more appropriate corollaries might be Ryan McGinley and Mark Steinmetz–the later as a result of the unmediated/unrehearsed immediacy of framing and McGinley’s fascination with youth culture is more in-line with the work than Clark; although even McGinely is problematic as he tends to fixate on fetishizing youth whereas Partin seems more interested in a sort of humanistic elegy.

Or, if you’re looking for brownie points: you could argue for interpreting the work as an allergic reaction to Winograd’s Women Are Beautiful.

Any way you slice it: it’s nearly meditative work that makes up for what it lacks in maturity and breadth of scope with a precocious and raw intimacy that somehow manages to avoid both documentary sterility and voyeuristic fixation.