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expressionism & romance :: june 10

Laurin & Jonathan, Leica Noctilux 1.0 @ 1.0; M9


The impact of romance, of our connections, of the ongoing importance of what we feel together: how do you create that, photographically?

What better place to start with for a blog about the art of wedding photography than with expressionism?

It’s true, a lot of what I try to do with my work, along with what many of the best photographers I admire, is document the way a wedding day unfolds in what’s become known as a “photojournalistic” but compelling style. But that’s not to say that that the pictures are devoid of emotional content, or that the impact the situation makes on the me isn’t important, or that it doesn’t need to be interpreted. I also really do prefer naturalistic photography–simple (looking) photographic expression–even if done right, those shots are not simple at all in concept or execution.

Every now and then, though, you can push through to something more emotional. When it all comes together playing with the sun and the shade, a hat, and a moment between two people, then you can express more than just the particulars of the day, and get at something more interesting.

I should say that I’m totally not against post-processing images either to get that kind of emotional or communicative impact. We did the same kinds of things in the darkroom to make something look more dense or more sharp, or to lighten parts of an image and draw your eye through the picture,  or to darken it and keep things hidden. But there’s a fine balance between the photographic process, which is, for me, always about a moment, a gesture and how light illuminates that gesture, and a purely illustrative or painterly impulse, which creates those things after the fact (and often in spite of the fact).

But this image is pretty much straight out of the Leica M9 camera. On the technical side of things, the lens–the Leica f1 Noctilux–is actually incredibly flare-resistant. It’s really meant for shooting when the light is very low. But when pushed as it is here by the direct sun, and shot wide open (at f1.0), it flares in a spectacularly predictable and colorful fashion (without, by the way, losing contrast or focus through the whole image, which is quite impressive, to say the least!).    The M9 was actually set to ISO 1600 for this shot, but any noise you’re seeing is JPEG compression for the blog. What the high ISO did was add a little kick by compressing the tones and building contrast (the Noctilux retains a lot of detail and pushing the ISO is one way to compress that without a computer ;))