Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AT 6.2: Photographic Hero

In the biography of Robert Doisneau by Peter Hamilton Doisneau himself explained what he carried in his personal camera bag. His interview of Doisneau was done in the late seventies so keep in mind at that time he was also working with color film. Doisneau talked about using two different Nikon cameras one for color and the other for black and white. Also found in his camera bag were lenses varying in focus length from 18-105mm, kodachrome 25 and Tri-X films and a multitude of gelatine filters. After the images were captured Doisneau used Mocrodol X a Kodak developer for black and white film. Some benefits of using this type of developer are that there is very little loss in film speed and it also produces a lower graininess film. For his prints he used kodabrom resin coated paper. Some benefits of this paper is the clean crisp whites that are very evident in a lot of Doisneau`s prints. It also has an outstanding print quality which was especially important in the mid forties when the photographic industry was adversely affected by world war two because of the lack of production of good quality film. For developing his prints he used a Kodak paper developer called Dektol, which was a popular choice for photographers because it offered a uniform rate of development and you could process a high number of prints without having to make a new batch of developer.

Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville, is probably Doisneau’s most famous photograph having been reproduced for the last 60 years since it’s capture in 1950. This image is the photo that first attracted me to Robert Doisneau’s work, for the first part of this assignment. What first caught my attention in this image is the location the photo was taken. Paris is one of my favourite cities that I’ve visited and I think this photo encapsulates the pure romance of Paris that still exists today, 60 years later. On the other hand it also shows the fast-paced bustle of Europe’s most visited city. Although there are multiple people in the background that could have overpowered the main couple they don’t because of the low depth of field or blurred background. The low depth of field found in the image is created from a low aperture number. The motion blur of the man on the right side of the background and the chair in front of the main couple was produced by having a slower shutter speed. Having a slow enough shutter speed to blur parts of the image but to keep the main couple in focus is quite a proficient way to create interest in the image. During this time in Doisneau’s career he was working for Paris Vogue, against his better judgment and was photographing high society more often then not. It’s clearly visible in this image he was trying to photograph in the same theme as his work for Paris Vogue. His earlier and later pieces in his career show more of the general population instead of high society. In my opinion the element in the image that stands out the most is the high contrast in the background compared to the foreground. The background is very washed out having almost no blacks. The foreground on the other hand has the full range of really bright whites and very dark blacks.

Le Remorqueur du Champ de Mars was taken in 1943 by Robert Doisneau. He loved to photograph the vivaciousness of Paris and he did so by producing images full of romance which you can see in the first image I talked about but as well as through children. I found many images of children in his collection of work that photograph kids just being kids. This image depicts this side of Doisneau`s work well because of the fearlessness and energy that the children bring to the image. What I liked about this image is again the contrast of the photo but especially the brilliant white of the girls dress against the dark shadowy metal of the Eiffel tower. When viewing the image my eye automatically saw the girl first because of this contrast. I believe that she is more the main subject then the boy who you see second because the tones of himself and the bike blend into the background a lot. A compositional element that is very present in this photo is the natural framing that the arc from the tower creates. I think this element brings closeness between the two children, they look like they have more of a relationship because the arcs are encircling them together. What I loved about this image is the everyday normality of playing children. When you ordinarily think of Paris or the Eiffel tower you think glamour, fashion and romance but this image has none of that. The photo breaks the barriers of what most people think of when they picture Paris.

Le Fox Terrier du Pont des Arts was photographed in 1953. What drew me to this image was the beautiful haze in the background that gives the image an eerie and almost spooky look. This aspect of the photo is reinforced by the way the man is curiously looking to the side as if there is something in the misted background that caught his attention. The low depth of field allows the haze to become an important part of the image. There are a lot of compositional lines in this image which add awareness to every inch of the photo. The lines of the railing are the first lines that stood out to me but there is also the curved line of the dog’s leash and the space in the concrete also creates a strong line. I also liked how the man in the middle ground looked like a replica of man in the foreground. Their hats are very similar as is the angle of their heads. Their foot stance and placement are the most alike aspect in the photo.

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