Friday, October 16, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: San Francisco

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Mrs. C. and I are in SF for a legal conference in my specialty. Actually, I played hooky most of the day. This is the view of the Embarcadero ferry terminal at the foot of Market Street, shot from the end of the hall of our hotel.

The focus of the day was the Richard Avedon show at the SF Museum of Contemporary Art. It overwhelmed me. At times the brilliance of the work literally brought tears to my eyes. It felt a little silly to call myself a photographer after viewing 200 of Avedon's images, almost all portraits. The work was intense and beautiful, and had so much to teach. When to keep the image sharp (Ronald Reagan). When soft focus works better and when a complete blur is the best expression (Charlie Chaplin). How a very shallow depth of field can create the most intense visual image, softening into a blur by the time we see the ears. When a long depth of field grabs and holds a complex whole (a young Truman Capote or Marianne Moore, perhaps the most beautiful picture in the show). When to center the subject of a portrait in the frame (Marilyn Monroe), when to go off center (Marian Anderson) and when to go way off center (appropriately enough, St. Louis' own William S. Burroughs). And over and over again, the genius of using a plain white paper background for a portrait, stripping away everything external, leaving just a single, isolated human.

5 comments:

Olivier said...

belle photo b&w, et belle composition avec ce panneau a l'envers et le bateau, bravo pour le coup d'oeil

Janet Kincaid said...

You're staying at the Hyatt Embarcadero, aren't you? Be sure to have lunch at the Ferry Building. There's a great tamale vendor in there. And One Market, across the street from your hotel, is quite good. Or, if you want something unusual and fun, go out to the Mission District and have dinner at Ti Couz at 16th and Valencia. If you go around 5:00, you won't have to wait long. (Take a cab, though.) I could go on and on with places to recommend... SF use to be my old stomping grounds. In a fit of cliche, I left my heart there!

Catherine VandeVelde said...

That's so funny! I've been studying his work just the last few days. I think his Ezra Pound is one of my favorites. I also think he's one of the only photographers who can get away with the white background.

Luis Gomez said...

Love your photograph. What a beautiful image! Your posting is very nice as well I guess we all learn a bit more everyday. And yes, Richard Avedon's images are moving.

Paula said...

At first I thought the image was archival. Nice use of B&W.