Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AT 11.2 Karsh

Jacques-Henri Lartigue 1981

Last week we went on a field trip to the WAG to view a Yousuf Karsh exhibit. I had never seen any of his work before, but after viewing this exhibit I became a big fan. Karsh was able to capture each of his subjects so realistically. He went beyond capturing their 'picture faces', the ones we all know so greatly, and captured the true Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Winston Churchill, Earnest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn and many others. After looking at the entire exhibit, not only did I notice that Yousuf was really a master of the darkroom, but he was also a master of light. He knew exactly how to light his subjects properly to help show the true side of them, it wasn't necessarily the kind of light he used, but they way he used it on his subjects. Karsh overall used a wide range of lighting from front, back, side, and top, all in the best way possible to bring out his subjects true features. A lot of Karsh's photographs expose so much detail from the wrinkles on the face's to each individual hair, there was nothing to hide in his portraits.

On the technical side of things, Karsh's prints were nearly perfect. All captured using a large format, usually 8x10 camera, each print was so clear and each told the story of its subject so well, yet were all so simple. This print of Jacques-Henri Lartigue stood out to me so much because I fell in love with the expression on his face. His eyes look so inviting and friendly with the smile on his face, and you can tell they have many stories behind them. After viewing the exhibit and choosing this photograph as my favorite, I decided to research who this Jacques guy was. I found out that he was also a photographer for many years and now knowing that and looking back at the photo that Karsh captured, I believe he captured him perfectly.

I believe that when Karsh printed this photograph he used the following techniques; burning, dodging and contrast. He would have used a higher magenta filter to make the darks darker and the whites whiter. I am guessing that he could have dodged Jacques-Henri's face and shoulders to keep it lighter than the background. It is hard to tell in this copy, but it was more noticeable on the print at the WAG that he probably burned the corners to add a vignette to the entire image, which isn't really noticeable at the top because it is already super dark, but you can see it on the bottom corners on his sweater.

Overall, this and every other image in the Yousuf Karsh Exhibit were amazing! It really gives you an appreciation for true darkroom printing, Yousuf Karsh truly was a darkroom master!

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