Quiet Moments

At heart I am a bit of a minimalist, and I do love a good photorealistic painting, which is why the late Jeffrey Smart has been one of my favorite painters ever since I first saw his work in Sydney back in 2003.

So it would come as no surprise that I look for similar-style scenes to photograph. It’s the precise positioning of every element in a Jeffrey Smart painting that I find most engaging. Unfortunately, the very mechanical nature of the photographic medium under normal circumstances prohibits such fine placing of the elements at least for someone of my Photoshop skill level.

Photography does have the decisive moment, but that’s more about capturing a fleeting moment, a slice of time as it flashes by. What appeals to me in this picture is its contemplative restfulness. We can see that this isn’t a fleeting instance of action but a period of quiet stillness, made visually enjoyable by what we know as the appeal of vertical lines, disappearing perspectives and frames within frames. But without what Kandinsky explained as the tension within the frame, a tension that’s supplied by the almost perfect positioning of the people, it would be a dull lifeless image.

If it was a painting it would be ­­possible to correct the problems of left leaning, but in a photograph, despite the wonders of PS, when you correct that problem, other dimensions change, so more work is required.

The end result would be different, more constrained image, and not a picture I like.


FujifilmX20, f5.6, 1/250sec, ISO200


Renewed Rework

A painter I very much admire, the late Jeffrey Smart, was the bane of gallerists staging exhibitions of his work. Being an untiring perfectionist,  often at the opennings he would see a flaw in one of the  paintings on display and immediately set about correcting it, even if the painting had already been sold, which would naturally create a lot of tension and angst.

I understand this constant need to revisit works and fiddle with them. Skills improve, the original vision of the image undergoes change and new ideas can be introduced.

One of the most wonderful things about the photographic process is that the original can be preserved, reworked, remodeled, and renewed without the destructive need to obliterate the initial idea.

This picture was shot as part of a project with my first digital camera. The lighting is a couple of very old East German tungsten lights that are now interesting household curiosities with much lower wattage bulbs.

I always wanted the woman in this portrait to look like an aging vamp, someone ruthlessly trying to hold onto an erotic appeal that was rapidly fading and I think in this manifestation I have come closer to achieving this than in the multitude of its previous incarnations.


Nikon D70, 18-70mm, f8, 1/2sec, ISO200