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Days 98-100/365: Saul Leiter Exhibition and Posing

Woo hoo, it feels good to be at day 100 already! It really has gone very quickly. Scarily quickly in fact. I feel that it has been an interesting week in many ways but certainly from a photography perspective. 

Day 98 was one of those days when my husband and I take the day off together and spend some child free time in London. I wanted to share my recent experience of the National Portrait Gallery, so we started off there. This time I tried to open my eyes a little more to how others used composition and lighting. I am trying to make a conscious effort to train my eye. We did enjoy the Gallery but we were even more impressed by the Photographer's Gallery in Soho. I was aware of this gallery but hadn't necessary planned to visit yet. They had a few exhibitions but I was blown away by the work of Saul Leiter, especially his street photography. 

I have a bit of a thing for street photography. We recently watched a documentary about Vivian Maier which I loved. Looking at Leiter's work I noticed a few things of interest. I loved how he often captured private intimate moments. Many of his pictures give the impression that they were taken in hiding - under umbrellas, behind glass covered in condensation, from a distance in rain or snowy weather. The subject is often busy or preoccupied in their own private world and often appearing to struggle in some way. It gives the impression of catching their true self rather than a persona for the public eye. His subjects are often out of focus. Most interesting of all is his use of something in the foreground to create depth in the picture. 

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter

 This picture really stood out to me. I just love it but have a hard time understanding why. What is it about this picture that makes it work? The use of diagonal lines leads us through the picture, as does the light. I think that that alone makes it a nice picture, but then there is a hint at a story by the foot on the  chair. Who does it belong to? Again the reflection on the glass in the foreground added depth and interest. 
Saul Leiter

I was fresh out of the gallery and still thinking of that bus picture when I took this one of my husband's cupcake. I'm not sure that I achieved the same effect, but it was an attempt in that direction. 

Day 99 was a home day for me and my goal was to get a photo for the 52 group. The theme was St. Patrick's Day. My head was full of memories from the exhibition and in particular I was thinking of this image.  I love the vulnerability  implied by the ribbon. 

Saul Leiter

I chased Bear around for ages trying to capture a similar image. She really wasn't playing ball though. I wanted her to change to a lighter coloured top but to no avail. I took so many pictures but there we none that I was very happy with.

I went with this one in the end. 

I also made a cake that day. 

Day 100 - I have been looking at a few of the tutorials on Creative Live and contemplating which one I might buy first. It is useful that you can watch sections of the course to get an idea of what you would be buying and how much you like the presenter. I enjoyed this posing course by Lindsay Adler and have begun to learn a thing or two already. I really know nothing about posing and don't really have much hope of getting my kids to pose for me. What I see is what I get. I do think that some knowledge would be useful though. The main things I remembered from the one hour preview I watched were:

  • The body parts closest to the camera will appear larger. So don't jut hips forward unless you want a big bottom or tummy. 
  • A reminder of how lenses will distort faces. She recommends 85mm and up. I don't have the space for that, even with my new full frame camera.
  • Posture is vital. Elongate rather than "sit up straight" which looks stiff. 
  • Turn shoulders and hips at an angle as square on looks blocky.
  • Be careful where you crop - not at joints and aim to cut at a narrow point. Waist rather than chest and overlapping thighs rather than legs apart solid stance. 
  • There was some stuff about head positions and not shortening the neck, but I didn't fully understand that...
Armed with my EOS remote and my the natural light from my bedroom window, I had a little play with some poses. 

I don't like this one at all! I think that it makes me look too large, especially around the shoulders. 

These ones feel better to me, probably because my back and shoulders aren't in the frame at all.

Here are some with me turning more towards the camera. It is OK. I feel that me not being 100% in the frame helps a bit. 

A lying on tummy one. I had to be really careful to elongate here and not let my shoulders hunch or look to stiff. 

Shoulders are square on in these ones but I don't feel they are too blocky. I think that the knees in the foreground help somehow. I think that the second one benefits from the neck use she was talking about. That wider gap under the chin is perhaps more flattering?

I don't like these ones. The pose looks unnatural and uncomfortable and my tummy looks big. Stripes never help of course... but neither does too much cake and not enough exercise. Sigh!

These could perhaps work on another person. I don't love them. Neck is definitely lost in the first one. I think that the second is somehow slightly better. 

This one is awful. Stiff, blocky, no neck....

I clearly have a lot more to learn about posing! Perhaps I should buy some fashion magazines for research purposes.