It’s with great sadness that we’ve heard about the passing of Cranberries’ singer Dolores O’Riordan during yesterdays news. Aged only 46, it was way too early for her, and Ireland has lost one of its greatest. Here’s her ‘Zombie’:
Lately someone wrote a book with that title. It’s about a sad (and bad) joke figure playing a president of a whole nation. But “the fire and the fury” reminds me of the devil in Tom Waits’ “Way down in the hole” (which is where we should keep him). Listen:
Funny that “The Wire”, where this is played as the title melody, is the favourite TV series of some former president named Barack Obama…
“Vanitas vanitatum, dixit Ecclesiastes ; vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.”
Thinking about photography, especially about portaiture, I came to the above finding. And starting this year, I had asked Mitchie to take my photograph while I was on the phone with my aunt Geno, exchanging best wishes for the new year:
I have taken one portrait so far:
So why do I quote that line from the bible above?
Because all photography, and especially portraiture, is vanity. Or is it? Definitely yes if you follow all those tips on improving your photography with the usual 10 simple tips and tricks, with using the liquify and other tools to create fake beauty, overriding and overruling even god who made us like we are, should we accept that or not.
“Just outside the Valley of the Shadow of Death he meets Faithful, also a former resident of the City of Destruction, who accompanies him to Vanity Fair, a place built by Beelzebub where every thing to a human’s tastes, delights, and lusts are sold daily, where both are arrested and detained because of their disdain for the wares and business of the Fair. Faithful is put on trial, and executed by burning at the stake as a martyr. A celestial chariot then takes Faithful to the Celestial City, martyrdom being a shortcut there. Hopeful, a resident of Vanity Fair, takes Faithful’s place to be Christian’s companion for the rest of the way.”
“Christ und Getreu treffen wieder auf Evangelist, der zur Treue mahnt und vor dem Markt der Eitelkeiten warnt.
So kommen sie zum Markt der Eitelkeiten.
Die Teufel und Dämonen Beelzebub, Apollyon und Legion hatten diesen Markt in der Stadt Eitelkeit errichtet. Hier gibt es: Häuser, Ländereien, Gewerbe, Ämter, Würden, Beförderungen, Titel, Länder, Königreiche, Lustbarkeiten, Vergnügungen und Genüsse aller Art, wie Huren, Weiber, Ehefrauen, Ehemänner, Kinder, Herren, Diener, Leben, Blut, Leiber, Seelen, Silber, Gold, Perlen, Edelsteine usw.; weiter: Jongleure, Betrüger, Spieler, Narren, Affen, Schelme und Schurken aller Art zu besichtigen, kostenlos dazu: Diebstähle, Morde, Unzucht, Meineide, alles in Blutrot. Es gibt einen Aufruhr wegen der anderen Kleidung der Pilger und deren anderer Sprache, der Sprache Kanaans.
Die Pilger kommen vor Gericht, werden verhört, geschlagen, mit Dreck beschmiert, und in einem Käfig zur Schau gestellt.
Vor Gericht werden sie angeklagt von Richter Hassgut; die Anklage lautet: Störung des Handels, Aufruhr und Streit, Missachtung der Gesetze, Verleitung anderer zu höchst gefährlichen Anschauungen.
Anklagezeugen sind: Neid, Aberglaube und Schmeichler.
Schmeichler klagt an: Die Pilger haben Fürst Beelzebub beschimpft, und verächtlich von seinen Freunden gesprochen, nämlich Herrn Alter Mensch, Fleischeslust, Üppig, Ruhmsucht, Unzucht, Geizhals usw.
Getreu sagt dagegen: Der Fürst dieser Stadt und alle seine Anhänger gehören in die Hölle. Geschworene beim Gericht sind: Blindmann, Übelgesinnt, Boshaft, Lüstling, Schlüpfrig, Hitzkopf, Hochmut, Feindselig, Lügner, Grausam, Finsterling und Unversöhnlich. Getreu wird zum Tod verurteilt.
Getreu wird grausam gequält und hingerichtet, aber mit einem Wagen unter Posaunenschall durch die Wolken auf schnellstem Wege zum Himmelstor gebracht. Christ muss im Gefängnis bleiben, entkommt aber nach einer Weile daraus.”
“Christian and faithful again meet the evangelist, who warns to be faithful and warns against the market of vanities.
So they come to the market of vanities.
The devils and demons Beelzebub, Apollyon and Legion had built this market in the city vanity. Here there are: houses, lands, trades, offices, dignities, promotions, titles, lands, kingdoms, pleasures, pleasures and pleasures of all kinds, such as whores, wives, wives, husbands, children, lords, servants, lives, blood, bodies , Souls, silver, gold, pearls, gemstones, etc .; Further: Jugglers, cheaters, players, fools, monkeys, rogues and villains of all kinds to visit, free of charge: Thefts, murders, fornication, perjury, all in blood red. There is a rebellion because of the other clothing of the pilgrims and their other language, the language of Canaan.
The pilgrims come to court, are interrogated, beaten, smeared with filth, and showcased in a cage.
In court they are charged by Judge Hassgut; the charge is: disturbance of trade, turmoil and strife, disregard of laws, enticement of others to highly dangerous views.
Charges are: envy, superstition and flatterer.
Flatterer accuses: The pilgrims have insulted Prince Beelzebub, and spoken contemptuously of his friends, namely Mr. old man, lust for meat, luscious, gluttony, fornication, miser, etc.
Faithful, on the other hand, says: The prince of this city and all its followers belong in hell. Jurors in the court are: Blind man, Evil-minded, Mischievous, Lustful, Slippery, Hothead, Arrogance, Hostile, Liar, Cruel, Sinister and unforgiving. Faithful is sentenced to death.
Faithfully, cruelty is cruelly tortured and executed, but with a cart, accompanied by a trumpet sound, it is brought through the clouds on the quickest way to the Himmelstor. Christ has to stay in prison, but escapes from it after a while.”
No, I won’t write a philosophical discourse about vanity in portraiture – you’d have to possibly go back through the whole history of mankind to even start thinking about it. But how to avoid it? Maybe by starting with not posing your subjects?
There could be a problem even with an attempt like that, and it was described so nicely in a famous movie ending:
The problem with vanity, after all, is that while you probably think you’re better than that – that thought is very vain by itself. As is my Latin headline for this post. Just like the devil says: “Aaahh, vanity – my favourite of all sins!”
Happy new year 2018 from us. Like every new year, mine starts with an empty folder – and this time, with a new background photo on my computer:
I took this one on Zuleikha’s 13th birthday, while she was on the phone with my aunt Geno in Cologne. And like most other photos on this blog, you can get the full-sized image over at my Flickr stream if you wish to get a print of it or such. It’s in black and white because at the time when I took it, Zuleikha was illuminated by a mix of daylight and artificial “warm” light, which made colour correction impossible. As a background photo on my screen it’s perfect in b&w; even my small Conky info in the upper right fits perfectly. And any colour on my screen will really stand and pop out.
So yeah; starting with an empty folder like every year, so let’s see what this one will bring.
Wishing you all the best… and as always, thanks for reading!
While my “girls” (= wife & daughter) were out ice-skating it got dark. And it cold cold, wet, and even snowy:
Snowy rain. Or rainy snow? 80 seconds in the wet and cold…
I took this with the E-M10 and the 14-42mm “kit” zoom at 14mm and f/5.6. 40 seconds for the exposure, another 40 for noise reduction, while I was holding my hand over the camera to protect it from getting too wet. Converted from raw using Olympus Viewer 3, then I applied the 020 Fine Arts preset of Nik’s Silver Efex Pro2 software to turn it into what you see here.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m mostly using digital cameras in the ‘Micro Four Thirds’ format – which is exactly the same as ‘Four Thirds’, except that those ‘Micro’ cameras lost the mirror, so they’re more modern incarnations than their older DSLR brethren.
The format of both systems’ sensors is 13×17.3mm, which is bigger than the so-called “one inch”, but smaller than APS-C or “full frame” sensors which are as big as the old “Kleinbildfilm” – 24x36mm. Most portrait photographers nowadays use those “full frame” systems because of mainly two reasons: the lenses have to be twice longer for the same angle of view, so they give you another “look”, and the depth of field is much thinner with these longer lenses, so you are able to separate your subjects (models and other persons) from the background by blurring that background, which helps in getting rid of unwanted “distractions”.
Apart from that, the simple rule is that the bigger your medium – be it a digital sensor or film – the longer your lenses have to be for the same angles of view. And that gives your images a certain look which simply cannot be achieved with smaller formats.
Instead of further trying to describe this, have a look at Nick Carver taking some photos on route 66 with several different formats, from Polaroid and 4.5x6cm to 6x17cm which is pretty ‘cinematic’ as I would describe it. But also his 6×6 and 6x7cm photos from the Mamiya RZ67 cannot be replicated by anything smaller. Have a look:
So the takeaway from this is:
– yes, using film is a hassle (and he’s using Rollfilm which is quite easy to handle)
– yes, using film is expensive
– no, except with Polaroids, you won’t get instant results
But man oh man, how I love those renderings of larger formats, and the colours of both Kodak Portra (a colour negative film), and Fujifilm Velvia (a slide film, good for landscapes only).
Can’t get that with medium format digital – the biggest Sony sensors are still smaller than 4.5x6cm film, so you’d have to stitch several images after taking them with long lenses. Oh, and those sensors are not exactly mainstream yet, and so they still cost about the same as your typical middle class Mercedes limousine. The cheapest larger-than-full-frame digital camera you can buy at the moment is also one of those ‘cameras of the year’; that’d be the Fujifilm GFX. And yes, being a modern camera, it’s of course mirrorless, like the ones I’m using. Just with a slightly bigger sensor, and longer lenses.
Thanks for reading, and for watching – hope you enjoyed it.