Saturday, April 9, 2011
Amateur Glamour, Dodging and Burning, and Man Drag
Look at old newsreels, and you'll notice that when the average person was interviewed they stood stiffly and spoke in a monotone. Today, everyone knows how to perform for the camera. I think the same is true for photography. Once the necessity of standing absolutely still to compensate for slow shutter speeds was no longer an issue, professional photographers could pose their subjects in a greater variety of positions. It didn't take long for the amateur to emulate the pros. This photographer may not have realized that he was emulating someone like Louise Dahl-Wolfe or Cecil Beaton, but he was. The side profile and angled horizon line of the first and second shot in this collection have been used by every fashion photographer in history. Take a look at the third image of the group. Notice the light area around the subject. Dodging and burning is a method that printers use when there is detail in the negative but the shadow areas print too dark and that detail goes solid black, or the highlights print too light and what little detail that prints through seems to be floating in a sea of pure white. To burn is to selectively increase exposure in an area of the print. The printer would make a general, over-all exposure, and then make a second exposure on the paper while obstructing light in those areas that would be considered properly exposed. Dodging is when the printer makes a single over-all exposure while obstructing some of the light in the shadow areas that would print too dark, turning black, with no visible detail. Even though this image was taken in direct sunlight, our photographer could have avoided the need to dodge and burn by using a flash to balance the light. And now for the final image from our photographer. Today, if someone is in drag, it's a man in a dress, but it wasn't that long ago that a woman dressed in male attire would have been just as out of place in the general scheme of things. Written on the backs of the second and third image, "Fairgrounds 6/47" On the back of the cross dressing photo, "3/28/43"