…But First, Let Me Take A Selfie

…There you are!!!

Next picture in 3…2…1…

20180919 London L1060907 Selfie Master Rembrandt Aged 34 National Gallery resized

September 2018, afternoon.

I am excited to be in the National Gallery. All around me, people are bustling about through the grand entrance hall of the Sainsbury’s Wing goyer. There are around 30 of us waiting for the afternoon tour to begin. Soon enough, our tour guide appears.

We make our way through the building. I do not plan to take any photographs here – my visit is part of a personal undertaking, to learn more about the great art masters and the works that are now on display.

That is, until I see Rembrandt.

(I think he saw me first)

He seems to watch us with the passing interest of a self-assured, confident man. He is unperturbed in the slightest as I automatically reach for my camera, set to f/4, 1/30, ISO-1000

To my mind, Rembrandt is the ultimate selfie-master.

Our tour guide gives us a brief overview of his life, and this particular painting – “Rembrandt, Self Portrait at the Age of 34”.

We learn that he painted more than 40 self-portraits over the course of his life. In this portrait, he is seen here at the height of his career, richly dressed. The pose he adopts here is inspired by two paintings he saw in Amsterdam –Raphael’s “Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione”, and Titian’s “A Man with a Quilted Sleeve”.

Indeed, he went as far as to make a sketch of Raphael’s painting and note its price.

Art influenced by other art.
A photograph inspired by art influenced by other art.

I am sure he would approve.


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(1) https://colourlex.com/project/rembrandt-self-portrait-at-the-age-of-34/
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-portrait_at_the_age_of_34
(3) https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

An Eye For Composition

Stand back…

Next picture in 3…2…1…

20180912 London L1060900 Eyes For You Only resized
Wednesday evening, autumn.

I wait underneath a bridge. The overcast skies make for constant light levels, set camera to f/4, 1/125, ISO-1000. The camera lens is pre-focussed and I stand facing the mural that is to become the backdrop of my image. All that is left to do is wait.

Except, I am hungry and I have a train to catch.

I have taken this picture before. I have stood in this exact spot and waited before so I know what to expect. People saunter past the mural, caught up in their own worlds, barely conscious of my rather conspicuous form across the road, dressed in black and grey.

Today is about timing. Getting someone to be in the right position in my frame. And all this must fall into place in the next 5 minutes. Did I mention I have a train to catch?

Several shots later, I walk towards the station.

One week goes by. I select the single picture that will be shared with the world. The remaining photos are sentenced to purgatory – the twilight zone that exists between my main collection, archives and the trash bin.

Post-production editing is completed relatively quickly. No major issues to deal with today. I perform the final composition test.

The final composition test relies on guide lines that intersect at the main points of interest in the picture. These drawn lines are then superimposed on a solid colour background to check that the abstract representation that it produces is visually pleasing to me. It is my ‘add-on’ extension to the more commonly applied (and somewhat simplistic) “rule of thirds” principle.

This is my secret formula. It is not a novel idea by any means.

It is not rocket science.

20180912 London L1060900 layout guidelines
Today’s results are satisfactory. All checks are complete. I search for a suitable title.

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