<<< o >>>bodygraphia #5 37 comments

Libby (my wife) is normally a very good judge of how my images will be received by you, which, in this instance, is a bit worrying. Here's how the conversation went on this occasion:

Me:"What do you think of this one? I like it, partly because it's different, but also ...".
Libby: "This really is the most horrible shot you've ever produced!"
Me:: "The most horrible?"
Libby: "Yes."
Me: "Oh ... OK ..."

I think she was probably exaggerating, or didn't trawl far enough back through the archives to find something genuinely horrible, but her opinion is clearly somewhat different from mine ;-)

So ... love it, hate it, couldn't care less? Let me know.

focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
12.31pm on 18/8/10
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
people [portraiture] + non standard + show the original
comment by Rob Smith at 11:21 AM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I'm with Libby on this one :-)

comment by Martin at 11:22 AM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Your wife is wise.

comment by Tom at 11:25 AM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Haha, it's nice to have an unequivocal opinion! :-)

I like the idea in part, but I wish somewhere in the image had been sharply in focus (her shoe maybe, for example). The very angular rib cage is unsettling.

comment by Marten Veldthuis at 11:27 AM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I'm with your wife here. Her head looks deformed to me, which kind of breaks it for me.

comment by Ealight at 11:51 AM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I'm with your wife too. It seems to me that parts of her body are missing... Slightly uncomfortable watching this image...!

comment by djib at 12:16 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

"This really is the most horrible shot you've ever produced!". Oh well, not quite but I don't like that shot too much. I somehow like the ghost effect but that's about it. Actually, to me, the top part works better than the bottom one.

comment by Wes at 12:17 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

While I would definitely agree that the image is unsettling and difficult, I wouldn't cite those as necessarily bad things. The unexpectedness of this image is what is appealing. The way she exists, but does not at the same time; how her arms phase in/out. I think the right hand on the leg and the eye (only one) are the most interesting parts. Definitely not your typical portrait or nude, but a progressive rendering of such.

comment by Sonny Parlin at 12:17 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I hate it when photographers do boring nudes, to me it's not photography, it's a hot chick (or worse, a not so hot chick). This is very artistic photography, compelling. One of my favorites from you, David. I would love to see more stuff like this from you.

comment by Katy at 12:19 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

i absolutely love it. fresh and modern. gives an edge to what could have been a rather standard photograph. Bravo :)

comment by Alexis at 12:53 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I like it very much too. Does it matter that it's a naked girl? In what way? It reminds me of a Picasso study (equally disturbing, when they first appeared). In order to find, one needs to explore.

comment by Tunde at 12:58 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

At first glance it feels weird to me, but after looking at for a couple of seconds more It does have a certain appeal to it. If it doesn't exist,CREATE it. This might set a trend in shooting nudes :P !! Its growing on me

comment by Andreas at 01:22 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

i kind of like it. it has something mystic and unreal.

comment by Richard Haber at 01:48 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Is it in your 'usual' style? No. Is it a style that I like? Not really. Is it an example of how even accomplished photographers must push beyond their comfort zones to explore different visions? YES! I applaud you for showing us that you still are experimenting and it enables us to do so also.

comment by SIddharth at 02:06 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

i think richard hit the nail on the head...

comment by Adrian at 02:34 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Subjectively, it's not to my taste (I don't find it offensive, just not to my taste). Objectively, I think it's interesting on several levels - as Richard Haber points out, it's experimental but it's also impressionistic and provocative. Technically, the only thing that bothers me are the vertical lines on her face and belly - otherwise, I like the effect. I could see it used as an illustration to a provocative magazine article about the fashion and modeling industries.

Is it the kind of image you're known for and people expect? No. Is it a good image? I think so.

comment by Dan Kaufman at 02:47 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I'm close to agreeing with Libby. It feels like an immature newbie to Photoshop started experimenting to see how whacked out weird they could make...like "cool man". Particularly the anorexic bleached out contorsions to her body and the slicing bleed-through of the window frames totally distract and do not enhance the image. ...and having said that, I do agree with Libby.

comment by Daniel at 03:21 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

It's different, and interesting. Probably somewhat unsettling, as some have said, but what's wrong with unsettling art? Also, as Sonny said, nude photography can quickly become more and more cliché pictures of hot chicks. This piece is more challenging than that, and I like it for that reason.

comment by djn1 at 03:23 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Thanks everyone, it's good to post something that generates a discussion. It's also good to post something that proves that Libby isn't always 100% right ... she's normally depressingly accurate in her predictions ;-)

As for this shot, and whether it works or not: I don't know. There's definitely something that I like about it - possibly something to do with Sonny's point regarding 'boring nudes' - but I'm not convinced that I'm entirely happy with it. I think it's definitely an approach that I'll pursue though if I get the opportunity.

comment by Dan McNab at 03:47 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Definately some interesting processing on a shot that most would skip by as unworkable. Any photograph that produces strong emotions and opinions could be considered a success though. I kinda dig it personally.

comment by djn1 at 04:13 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

"Any photograph that produces strong emotions and opinions could be considered a success though." I agree, particularly in this context.

comment by Martin at 04:38 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I agree with Sonny. And it certainly isn't a shot that you just glance over, but that needs some time to catch all the details - and thus leads the viewer to think about his opinion.
It's not my style, but I like the approach!

comment by Luisa at 05:14 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Finally something different from children and beaches. It's to be grateful.

comment by Luisa at 05:16 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Oh, and original too.

comment by vz-nostalgia at 05:43 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

jesus... this is so un-you and it's absolutely... fantastic. :-)

comment by Bruno Amaral at 06:10 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

IMHO, one of the coolest shots you've ever produced! :)

comment by jesse at 06:25 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

lol, i can see why your wife doesn't like it (bearing in mind your relationship). but aside from that, its pretty interesting for a nude shot.

comment by Magnus von Koeller at 06:29 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I'm with Libby. This is just awkward.

comment by Fabio at 07:35 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Gulp...she looks sick and deformed, her face and hair reminds me those images of japanese people in the aftermath of atomic bombing in WW2. Sorry, don't like it.

comment by Dan Kaufman at 07:35 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

What I have observed in one short morning is how the controversy of Libby's "this is horrible" opinion has generated so much dialog. Look back just over the past two weeks in this blog and you'll see many other "far better" photographs that have just a handful of comments. For me, again as I commented before, I don't think this IS what it could be as a "style type". It is too much like taking an over exposed image and "pushing the sliders" beyond their limits until it looks interesting. It's a beta. Call it the etherial high key procedure.

As an alternative, similar to how the "discarded objects washed up on a beach" have become a signature Chromasia image...how would Chromasia refine and mature the stylistic techniques that make this image unique?

comment by Jason Dale at 08:31 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

I guess it's all down to what you were trying to achieve and whether or not you feel you met your objective. I see movement and a contorted torso with minimal detail an almost alien figure.... was that the aim?

comment by glen at 10:43 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

personally, i dont like the way the image portrays the model, very unflattering. i also find the image hard to look at, both the posted and original versions. the concept could work on a different original maybe. overall, your work is impressive! keep it up!!

comment by John at 11:31 PM (GMT) on 25 August, 2010

Hello? It's called art, love it or hate it. I think it's absolutely engaging, very artistic, and very different--so I like it for what it is. And how nice to see a nude done in a new, creative manner. Cheers to you!

comment by Chris at 04:48 AM (GMT) on 26 August, 2010

Hi Dave,
I like the idea you are trying a new approach to the modeling images. Experimentation and feedback from others are important to create new techniques and ideas. However, in my opinion, the new approach was not 100% successful for this shot. I do like a lot the green and blue tones bleeding into the overexposed areas and how the model is illuminating. I also don’t mind the blurred effect. I am not keen about the torso distortion or the markings across her face.

Is there some kind of significance to those effects? Perhaps it would not be so bad if there was some kind of texture incorporated into the image to balance it out.

I am not sure what your goal or reasoning or what you wished to accomplish by capturing the image in such a way. The way I view it, you basically have a standard topless erotic looking model staring sensually into the camera, but with a malformed torso. I think the torso effect needs to be less pronounce.

comment by djn1 at 05:38 AM (GMT) on 26 August, 2010

"I guess it's all down to what you were trying to achieve and whether or not you feel you met your objective. I see movement and a contorted torso with minimal detail an almost alien figure.... was that the aim? " Jason

I think that part of the problem here is that I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to achieve. That said, I can tell you what I was trying to avoid ...

As Chris mentioned, in essence this was a shot of a "topless erotic looking model staring sensually into the camera". For me though - despite the fact that it was an interesting location, and she was undeniably pretty - there just wasn't anything especially interesting about the straight shot. Mostly, I think, because it's an image that we've all seen a thousand times before ... part-naked girl, odd location, provocative pose, and so on.

Anyway, this shot was taken while another member of my group was shooting a sequence of images of Deci (our model) at different locations down this hall (which he later stitched into a single image). While he was doing that I thought it would be interesting to shoot some slow exposures of both her poses and her transitions between them. Interestingly, Libby's favourite of all the images I produced during the Bodygraphia event is one of the latter - i.e. Deci walking along this corridor - but she hates this one.

To sum up then, this was mostly an exercise in cliché avoidance, rather than a conscious effort to achieve a specific 'look', but it's definitely an approach that I'll try again.

And finally, thanks for all your comments, they're much appreciated.

comment by Kevin at 12:16 PM (GMT) on 26 August, 2010

It's awkward, a bit creepy and looks like it was done on accident. And I really like it! As you say, it's 'something different' which is always nice, and it's hard to look away from (partially naked girl notwithstanding). I like the vertical line though her as it almost makes a split between her more and less tangible sides.

If nothing else, it's one of the most commented on images in recent history (to my knowledge) so it's got people talking which is what this whole process is all about :)

comment by Chris at 02:36 PM (GMT) on 26 August, 2010

I think it's quite visually striking and interesting. I'm just not sure what it "does." For me, good nude portraits usually evoke some sort of emotion or political consideration. The more I thought about this image, the more I felt that the image wasn't doing anything OTHER than being interesting visually. So at a glance (which is what it resembles well- some broken peripheral reflection), it's awesome. With more attention, it sort of just... is. That may have something to do with the model though too - no camera can take away what's going on in someone's eyes - she looks like she's trying to be visually interesting, like she's looking in a mirror. This isn't meant to criticize - just adding to the pool of thoughts. :)

comment by djn1 at 02:43 PM (GMT) on 26 August, 2010

Chris: that's a good point - it doesn't say much, either emotionally or politically. Partly, this reflects the fact that somebody else was directing the model - I was just opportunistically snapping. In other words, no real thought went into the shot other than that it might prove interesting. I do think it's an idea that's worth pursuing though, but will spend a bit more time thinking it through first.

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