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PENTAPRISM N째10 September 2015

m a g a z i n e reportage In the heart of

Cambodia

BY ALESSANDRO CEREDA

INTERVIEW

pierre

PELLEGRINI


www.pentaprismcommunity.org

pentaprismphcommunity@gmail.com

Pentaprism-showcase

PENTAPRISM MAGAZINE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR TEXT AND PHOTOS PUBLISHED BECAUSE THEY ARE PROPERTY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS. ANY COPY IS FORBIDDEN BY THE LAW.


Welcome to Pentaprism, an online photo-sharing community. We are an international team of passionate photographers and artists that gathered in order to achieve common goals: show to the world great, high quality photographs, present amazing artists, allow new and talented photographers to be seen and recognized. The Pentaprism website is a user-friendly platform that guarantees easy navigation and worry-free photo uploads. We constantly work on the improvements of its interface and content. In order to ensure a high quality of photos presented on our website as well as in the Pentaprism Magazine, our curators carefully screen and assess all photos prior to their publication in our gallery. The Pentaprism Magazine is an extension to our website. We prepare it periodically in order to highlight specific works and to give a deeper insight of the photographers’ visions. The content of the Pentaprism Magazine includes special topic articles, interviews with our featured artists, photo reportages with travel stories and lots of great photographs. We believe that art has a catharsis-like quality and should be available to the masses. Therefore our website and magazine are accessible to everybody free of charge. In addition we do not allow any kind of commercial advertising on our platforms. The Pentaprism team of curators works voluntarily on a non-profit basis. If you wish to support the maintenance and development of the Pentaprism website and magazine, please feel free to make a donation. Your greatly appreciated support will be used exclusively to improve Pentaprism online visibility. Thank you for your visit and support. We hope that you enjoyed our photos and stories! We invite you to visit us again. The Pentaprism Staff


N째10 September 2015

EDITORS: PENTAPRISM STAFF

GRAPHIC DESIGN: ELENA BOVO

COVER PHOTO/INDEX PAGE PHOTO: PIERRE PELLEGRINI Courtesy Valeria Bella Gallery, Milan


index 6 INTERVIEW WITH PIERRE PELLEGRINI 32 FOCUS ON 44 REPORTAGE: IN THE HEART OF CAMBODIA BY ALESSANDRO CEREDA 66 HIGHLIGHTS 122 SIGNALS FROM THE UNIVERSE OF COLOR BY MARCO OLIVOTTO 128 MEET THE PENTAPRISM STAFF


I N T E R V I E W

p i e r r e

PELLEGRINI

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Photo by Philippe Mougin

After having gone in for architectural design, I realized my dream becoming a physical education teacher. During my professional development, I applied myself to photography. For me, photography represents a wonderful mean to communicate and, at the same time, to give the viewers the chance to feel emotions. I am not quite sure if it’s me who is looking for the themes or if it’s the themes themselves who are looking for me. Yet, whenever such an encounter happens, a picture arises, perfectly in with myself and with my personality. Pierre Pellegrini

www.pierrepellegrini.ch Photos Pierre Pellegrini, Courtesy Valeria Bella Gallery, Milan

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PIERRE PELLEGRINI

Hi Pierre, welcome in this issue of the Pentaprism Magazine and many thanks for spending your time for this interview. You are an awarded, very successful fine art artist and one of the most appreciated photographers in the net. Please introduce yourself and tell us something about you. First of all, I feel the urge to thank you all for this amazing opportunity. It’s a real honor and privilege to appear in your Magazine. Moreover, I often feel a little bit uncomfortable when receiving compliments, and those who know me well know it. I consider myself an eternal beginner, and I believe that there are other photographers more valuable than I am. I simply seize what I feel in a precise moment. I never know in advance what I will be photographing. I don’t know if subjects approach me or if it’s the other way round but, when it happens, I feel in perfect harmony with the elements that surround me. I became a PE teacher in primary schools after an experience as building designer for an architect firm, which probably helped and encouraged my search for order and aesthetic sense in photography. Nevertheless, photography is a simple passion to me, a passion that I could develop with unswerving devotion after quitting various jobs in the gym environment. Like many other passions, photography requires a lot of time. My choice started to spring after admiring some photos by Philippe Mougin at an exhibition back in 2008. I had the opportunity to meet him in person, and we’ve been in touch ever since. Philippe is a talented photographer, as well as a generous and humble person, and I was privileged to meet him. How would you describe your photographic style and how has it developed over the years? Achieving a personal and recognizable photographic style is an ambitious goal. I’m not the one to say if mine is recognizable. I confess that, like many other amateur photographers, I’m fascinated by Michael Kenna, a veritable mentor, master of landscape analog photography. Observing his images, as well as those by other authors following this style, I tried to absorb and widen the filters that I had in my mind. A sort of mental catalogue. When I am before a specific subject, some drawers in my mind open up, in a spontaneous or maybe unconscious way, to select the best way to build up my images. I’m sure that the experiences lived over the years, together with the photography lessons, the books read, the exhibitions visited, every encounter made and every single experience can be of help to boost and develop your own style. If I’m 8 PENTAPRISM


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here right now, talking about me, it’s thanks to all the photographers I’ve had the chance to meet throughout my entire life. Now a classical question… Your photographs were taken using long exposure. Why have you chosen to present them in this form? Long exposure is a choice made with the heart. There are many reasons that draw me to this kind of photography. First of all, the detachment from reality. As a matter of fact, long exposure images present something we cannot see in reality. Like in The Little Prince: “One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes.” The result is always a totally unexpected and relished surprise. We observe real life every day, with our own eyes, and sometimes it does not suit me. I’d rather fantasize, dream, and detach from reality. The time factor is crucial for this choice, since you capture an entire lapse of time in a single image. Past, present and, in a certain way, future. While waiting for the outcome, my thoughts turn to the future, trying to figure out how the image will be. Light is another reason. Light changes, transforms, conferring a sort of magical mood to the image, a halo, a glare. I love to witness this magic in my photos. Finally, long exposure allows the transformation of some natural elements, such as water and the sky, conferring a distinctive and matchless aesthetic value. However, I’d like to add two more aspects that help me escape from reality: the choice of square-format and of black and white. What do you think about the “photography is a solitary journey” determination? I agree with it, while shooting. After that, the moment can be shared. But let me explain it. I took part to many photo contests, with no significant results. I cannot ‘work’ like that. I don’t manage to take pictures at a due time, in a due place. This kind of choice has to be spontaneous, guided by a personal feeling. As I already explained, I need to feel in perfect harmony with the subject and the atmosphere of the moment. I need to be by myself, because it is the only way for me to find an intimate connection with nature surrounding me. If, as a consequence, I manage to convey such harmony, such magic mood to people looking at my photos, then it means that my images have a story to tell. Invisible words, with different meanings for each and every person. In the same way as we feel different emotions while admiring the same image. There is a unique perspective and foggy, eternal atmosphere in your photographs. Almost romanPENTAPRISM 13


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tic… Would you like to say something about that? Fog is my precious ally. During the past years, it’s been pretty difficult to find it in certain areas, and you cannot even imagine how hard I tried to. Fog settles over the real landscape creating a magical world. It’s like being wrapped up in a soft blanket. It may sound like a paradox, since fog often creates some difficulties, whereas to me it represents a further way to detach from reality and let my imagination fly. What is there behind the fog? What does it conceal? Concealing, that’s the point. The virtue of fog is to conceal many aspects that may affect the photo. Besides, lakes and trees are always surrounded by the mountains on the horizon and, when these elements are enveloped by the fog, a lake can easily turn into the sea, where the sky melts with water. These are unique, rare and precious situations which I love to find myself in. Fog can therefore highlight certain features of the photo, and plays a threefold role: highlights, conceals and releases the imagination. One final word: fog blends with every other feature in a single image. Every element is in the right place, and in perfect mutual balance. Nature rewards us with breathtaking sceneries revealing a perfect synergy and harmony. My intent is to convey such emotions in a single image. Could you explain “behind the camera” of your long exposure tree landscapes? And how important is post processing for your work? I confess that I’m not a great expert in photography and, as I have already said, I feel like an eternal beginner. I attended several post-processing lessons, but still there are some aspects that I cannot properly handle. My photos are driven by instinct, and I try to achieve the best results when shooting. How? Actually I don’t know if it depends on the equipment, but I’m satisfied with the investments I’ve made so far. I take most of my photos with a Hasselblad with Phase One P20+ digital back, the only square format back for long exposure shots. As a matter of principle, I do not agree with cropping rectangular photos into square format. In the beginning, I had to accept the compromise but, over time, I managed to find a digital back which allowed me to obtain the ultimate square format. Additionally, in order to balance the different light sources, I employ an assortment of filters. A final word about PNY, the top quality and reliable technologies I’m proud ambassador for. Equipment is of utmost importance for those who, like me, take images in difficult weather conditions. It would be a pity to waste the opportunity to capture unique 16 PENTAPRISM


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shots because of poor quality equipment. At any rate, the most important thing is to make experience, hone skill, gain control over your equipment and use it effectively. As to post-processing, the only thing I do is to elaborate the image as if I were in an old analog darkroom in this order: convert to Tiff format with Capture One, Master file processing (cleaning, horizon check, curves and levels) to end with conversion to black and white, usually with Nik Silver Efex Pro - but you can convert it in Photoshop too. I think that autumn, fog and winter sceneries can smooth the creation of excellent files in the field, even if I must admit that it’s not always that easy to capture and convey on a file the special magic of a winter scenery in the snow. Sometimes our eyes take the best photos ever, simply enjoying the view and the moment. Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future to or any specific goals that you wish to achieve? I truly hope that my future in photography will keep being accompanied by emotions. I always feel like I still have to shoot my best photo. This feeling, this desire, is my greatest source of inspiration. Nature awards us with wonderful gifts. All I wish is to be in the right place at the right time. It happens to go back to places that I have already visited, but each time it’s a different experience. Situations are unique and rare, and it is never the same. Sometimes, the majestic trees that I had once photographed have been cut down, and the view changes. Many people consider landscape photography trivial and pretty undemanding. To me, it’s a veritable challenge. A challenge I intend to face up to in the future. Besides landscapes, I have plenty of images in my mind which I mean to develop. For the time being, I’m getting organized, exploring and going through new experiences. When the time is ripe, it will happen naturally. Sooner or later, I’d love to work on my first publication. You work as a teacher of physical education in your “normal” life and you consider yourself as an “eternal amateur photographer”. You are also winner of the prestigious competition PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2013. Do you want to tell something about this success? When I was awarded at the PX3 photo contest as best talent in the amateur photographers category. I was very honored to receive the prize but, as I said, the contests issue is a subjective matter. The delivery

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dates often expire at the same time, and the regulations do not allow the same photo to receive more than one prize. This is ok for me, I’m an honest person and it wouldn’t be a problem for me to admit it. The real problem is the choice of the photo. People observe and judge in different ways, so no surprise if the same image wins a competition and it’s not even taken into consideration at another contest. When I photograph, I do not actually think about contests. I do it because I simply love it and it makes me feel good. Contests are a good way to receive a feedback, they give you an evaluative response, like photography blogs such as Pentaprism. If my photo is selected among thousands of images, it’s a success that validates the choices I’m making as a photographer, that is trying to evoke strong emotions through natural landscapes. Thank you very much Pierre for this exclusive interview. Is there anything else you wish to add? And do you have a message for the members of Pentaprism? We often forget to say thank you, but I won’t. My warm thanks to Pentaprism editorial staff for this great opportunity. I’m glad to know that my images manage to raise emotions, offering a chance to let your imagination run free. And Pentaprism is a platform which allows all photography enthusiasts to develop their visions. A deserved thanks to Valeria Bella Art Gallery, Milan, and to PNY Technologies, both representing and encouraging my work. A little note about printing. In this digital era, it’s of the utmost importance that the stream of photography is completed. Marta Giori manages a high-end printing studio in Milan; thanks to her experience, expertise and sensitivity, my images receive an incredible added value. I still remember the first time I entered her studio, and I could admire the print of my own full size images. It took my breath away. Amazing! So a special thanks to Marta and her colleague Elisa. Another thanks to Gabriella Corti-Arsuffi, one of my first teachers, who not only taught me the rudiments of photography, but also instilled into me her great enthusiasm. Emotions are always part of her images. Last but not least, a warm thanks to all the people I had the chance to meet in the world of photography. Every encounter leaves its mark, important signs that made me grow up and become the person I am today.

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F O C U S O N

n a t a l i a

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NATALIA SAMOILOVA

I was born in 1981 in Belarus in a small town of the Mogilev district. I had an ordinary childhood in an ordinary family. I spent my childhood as well as a part of my youth in the former USSR, but to me it surely was a great time. I was even a member of All-Union Pioneer Organization for about one year and was proud of this fact: I was wearing the red necktie with honor and believed in soviet ideals at that time. Now everything changed, as well as myself. But this big part of my life helps me in my creative life now. I graduated as an Economist in 2003 and worked as a bookkeeper for about 7 years. At the age of 29 I dedicated myself to photography, which has been my passion all of my life. I remember my father with my godfather processing films in the dark bathroom. It was a very expensive hobby, not for children, so I could only look but not touch anything. I bought my first film camera at the age of 20 while studying at Economist faculty. Then photography became my hobby for the next 9 years untill I dedicated myself to it. Now, when I do what I want in photography, loving and going crazy with it, I feel absolute freedom and happiness. Photography is a tool I talk to the audience with. Within my professional photographic activity I have publications in different art magazines around the world, my photos were honorably mentioned in different photo competitions/awards including “Best photographer” international award in Moscow (Russia). Some of my photos were exhibited in Saatchi Gallery in London, last year my work was a part of the VOGUE Italia Fashion week in Milan and Rome, I also have quite a big portfolio on PhotoVogue.it with more then 100 pics in “Best of” section as well. I had two personal exhibitions in Mogilev, Belarus and one in Ventspils, Latvia. As I told before, photography is a language to express my feelings, thoughts, emotions, reactions etc. I create art photography inspired by the world’s classic and modern art, as well as by art, history, traditions and ethnos of my native country, Belarus. Yes, I believe my country has many things in common with Russia, as it has been part of the former USSR. However, Belarus is an absolutely different country and I want people to distinguish between them. And I know they can with the help of my work. In spite of the fact that art photography is not so demanded in my country and absolutely not in my own town where I live, I remain passionately fond of art photography. I really believe that art will save the world, and I am really very happy to be a part of this. You know art is an integral part of our world, it has many different important functions but the most important thing is that art is the only language understandable everywhere. Just let it enter your heart. There are many musicians, painters, photographers, actors, directors and other creative people who I admire; Many inspired me with their works, but I don’t have a personal idol list. Now I am working on a big art project I plan to finish with a personal exhibition in Minsk (the capital of my country). And even in other cities. I wish to spend less time looking for models for my shooting, to have more creative people for collaboration and more hours in the day (sometimes days are really very short and only have 24 hours). I wish to maintain my strength to make all of my creative plans come true and of course to have the necessary patience to complete them all, in spite of all the challenges. And of course, I think my best project still awaits me in future. samoilova.net

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Devotion


...never leave you... | Natalia Samoilova


Different | Natalia Samoilova


Artificial | Natalia Samoilova


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Nocturne The Last Second | Petri Damstén


F O C U S O N

P e t r i DAMST É N

I’m a computer engineer from Kuopio, Finland. As a photographer I’m selftaught. I started photographing seriously after I had to retire from daily work and wanted to try something creative. It was year 2010 when I bought my first DSLR and it got me seriously hooked. Photography has proved to be an eye opening hobby and therapy for me and it would be hard to imagine my life without creating images. I have always liked horror, science fiction, fantasy art and movies that are a bit from the dark side. Also my taste in music is heavy metal which often uses darker fantasy art in they album covers etc.. I don’t have much interest to reality/documentary in my photographs. That shows in my post processing where I don’t have any restrictions and I photoshop my images quite a lot or very little depending what looks best to me. At the beginning I mainly photographed non-human subjects. I have always been a shy person so when I wanted to take my first portraits the easiest choice was to take self portraits. I’m not good with authorities, but I don’t want to be one myself either. So I don’t feel very comfortable at guiding people, but when taking self portraits model knows instantly what photographer means. Model also has patient to test setups and try new things as much as a photographer and even the wildest ideas are possible. I don’t think my photographs so much as self portraits though since they are in some story or theme. Although my ideas often come from the dark side I don’t restrict myself to any specific styles. For example during this year I have done quite a few humour images. I like to keep my options open and since the therapy side of the photography is the most important thing to me I choose my topics just by what happens to inspire me the most at the moment. I have a black notebook where I scribble my ideas and I also keep a folder where I save interesting images from the internet. They can be photos, paintings, etc. that inspire me. Sometimes ideas take time to mature like in the “key to my heart” image that took about two years until all the pieces locked in place.

torturedmind.org

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Key to my heart | Petri DamstĂŠn


Blind justice | Petri DamstĂŠn


r e p o r t a g e In

the

heart

of

cambodia BY ALESSANDRO CEREDA


It’s July, late afternoon. The rain is almost arriving to Kompong Phluk, the air smells of the perfume of earth and paddies. The sky becomes dark grey at the horizon and the clouds are moving fast above the high roofs of Kompong Phluk, like in an accelerated time-lapse. Portraits of suntanned faces are telling about a life at the rhytm of floods of TonlÊ Sap, while children are playing with the dark earth and waiting for the monsoon to dance. A little girl is sleeping in her shelter of stilts, in a hammock rocked by the wind, her oriental eyes closed to imagine the future.


The entry in Kompong Phluk


Drawing on the sand


The street of Kompong Phluk


Smile


Laughs


The hammock


Preparing firewood


Preparing firewood


Boy


The River


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To the Tonlé Sap

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HIGHLIGHTS

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Dorka | Markus C. Keller

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You are my moon | Sepideh Soozani


The Abduction Of Europe | Aurimas Valevi-ĂŹius

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Exit | Andreas Paehge


Puffin classic | Juanma Hernรกndez

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Gravity | Albert Finch

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Happy New Year | Sherry Akrami

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Time Machine | Alister Benn

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My afternoon with Idaw | Maura Ĺ adosz

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We will survive| Pedro Jarque Krebs


Untitled | Arkadiy Korobka


Planned obsolescence | Pedro DĂ­az Molins

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loneliness | Adam G-Ă–bora

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Untitled | Tadashi Onishi


Untitled | Ian Ross Pettigrew


Untitled | Ladislav ฤŒepelรกk


Rock “n” music !! | Giovanni Paolini


A flower for dead one | Djeff Act


Untitled | Andrey Stanko

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On The Edge | Simeon Patarozliev

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Untitled | Gabi Ben Avraham


Sweet Home | Boris Dumont

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Temptation of beauty | Matthijs Smilde

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UFO landing | Harry Lieber


As is | John McNairn

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La formica | Massimo Della Latta

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Spiral Staircase | Herbert A. Franke


m a r c o OLIVOTTO PHOTOSHOP | COLOR CORRECTION | POST-PRODUCTION | DIGITAL IMAGING | PHOTOGRAPHY

Dan Margulis, who invented color correction in Photoshop, has called him a renaissance man because of his eclecticism. Classical studies, a degree in Physics, two years’ work in the field of system management (University of Trento). He then becomes an independent sound engineer and music producer for almost twenty years. Finally, he gets (back) to the field of imaging, a passion he’s had since he was a child. In 2007 he discovers Dan Margulis’ books on color correction and starts studying with him. He attends both the ACT (Applied Color Theory) and AACT (Advanced Applied Color Theory) classes. Through the years he has taught in several private and public schools (computer science, recording techniques, programming languages). In 2011 he starts teaching color correction techniques in Photoshop, still relatively unknown in Italy. His forty hours of video-courses published by the leading Italian company Teacher-in-a-Box currently represent the most organic and global resource on the subject available in Italian. In March 2011 he organises the first Color Correction Campus, a full-immersion, two-day practical course. The Campus is repeated all over Italy and soon a community of students and followers is born (1700 subscribers, September 2014). The community is very active in sharing techniques, suggestions and information through the Web. The two-day courses are joined by one-day workshops, both for independent organizations and large trade shows like Photoshow (2012, 2013) and Grafitalia (2013). In 2014 he becomes a FESPA speaker at the FESPA Digital trade show in München (D), where he delivers six different seminars over four days. Since 2013 he’s been writing for the Italian magazine Fotografia Reflex, which hosts a monthly section about color correction. This is currently the only resource on the subject with a fixed cadence in Italy. He has taught for the most important graphic and design schools in Italy: IDP (Verona), IUSVE (Venice), ILAS (Naples), NAD School (Naples), Scuola Romana di Fotografia (Rome). He is currently in charge of the college-level courses of Photography, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign at IDP in Verona; Photoshop at IUSVE in Venice (Verona section); Quality Control of the Printing Process at the Institute of Higher Education Artigianelli (Trento). In his spare time he loves traveling, taking photographs, staying with friends away from the crowd and he prefers a book to television. When they call him an expert in digital color he thinks that he’ll never be able to reproduce the dark and deep light in his son’s eyes. He lives in Nogaredo, in the hills near Rovereto (TN), where he was born on January 27th, 1965.

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Signals from the universe of color BY MARCO OLIVOTTO Our eyes

GIVE IT SHAPE

Greetigs, again! The article in the previous issue discussed possible and impossible colors, and ended with some thoughts on color variation. Let’s recap the latter: we showed an image (figure 1) and a different version obtained by enhancing the color variation in the face (figure 2). I suggested that everyone would find figure 2 objectionable, because it contains too much color variation in the skintone. Let’s have a look at figures 3 and 4, though. Figure 3 is a b/w conversion of figure 1, whereas figure 4 was obtained from figure 2 with exactly the same conversion. I think a relevant majority of people would prefer the latter. The reason is obvious: the features in the face are more pronounced and in general we perceive it as more plastic and three-dimensional than the other version.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

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There is a subtle problem in this: why do we prefer the version which was worst in color? To understand this, we need to discuss why figures 3 and 4 are different. The color variation which we found disturbing in figure 2 translates into a luminosity variation. This is something we like, in general, as long as it isn’t excessive. The real question is why the camera decided not to reproduce it. The most obvious answer is that, provided the photograph was taken correctly, it didn’t reproduce it because it wasn’t there. The camera reproduces reality, with some limitations, but that’s what it is supposed to do. Yet, as humans, we are more inclined to accept something different from what the camera thinks. Doesn’t this seem like a contradiction? We do experience reality through our eyes, after all. The reason why this happens is subtle. While some cultures like to go against, it is very difficult to state that Darwin’s evolutionary theory is wrong. There are so many proofs in support that denying it is awkward, to say the least. One of the by-products of evolution is that our extremely specialized visual system tends to concentrate on details which we consider important for our survival. If the model in the picture had been a psychopathic girl with blood-shot eyes and a deadly grin, a few things would be very different. First, we wouldn’t probably have a picture because we would have run away screaming (the presence of a butcher knife in her hand would give ultimate certainty to this hypotesis). Second, even if we had the guts to stop and look at her, we wouldn’t certainly launch into considerations about the color and the texture of her sweater. We wouldn’t be very much interested in her hair, either. There are two main features in a face which suggest whether the person standing before us is aggressive or not: the eyes and the mouth. The rest of the face is important as a container of such features, so to say, but we appreciate its subtleties only when we are sure that our life isn’t in danger. When we meet something, be it a person, an animal or a plant, the first routine performed by our brain is a check that our survival isn’t in peril. There are three main questions which need to be answered: does it want to eat me? Is it good food for me to eat? Is it a good partner for reproduction? All this, mind you, is unconscious. It happens in the blink of an eye.

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GIVE IT SHAPE

This may sound shocking and a bit ridiculous, but it’s very sensible. The first answer is aimed to exclude that we are not going to be killed, and is therefore connected with the principle of immediate survival. The second answer explores a possibility of short-term survival: sad but true, we do survive because we eat other living things, and being eaten is not a nice alternative, at least from our own point of view. The third answer tries to assess something about long-term survival: perpetuating the species is a key point. If all the three answers are “no”, then we start exploring less important things because our mind relaxes and allows us to concentrate on smaller details. Someone may argue that if the third answer was “yes” we would probably do the same, but that’s of course another story. To make a long story short, the reason why we like figure 4 better than figure 3 is that it gives us a more interesting representation of the face, closer to what we would have in reality, simply because we would tend to concentrate on the face and disregard the rest. The camera, unfortunately, has no fear to be killed or injured and simply limits itself to capturing luminosity. Some complex elaboration goes on in its little electronic mind, but it’s nothing compared to the monster algorithms which we put to work for the aforementioned reasons. Our visual system is very clever, and when we look at a picture it immediately spots that it is a bi-dimensional projection of reality. It can’t be easily fooled into thinking that we are looking at a real scene. Therefore, enhancing the three-dimensional effect is of paramount importance if we are looking for a realistic photographic representation. In our previous article, we showed a version of the picture discussed so far where the skintone had been flattened (in colour, not in luminosity). We observed how unrealistic the result was. Like it or not, we need variation, and as we know variation is what suggests three-dimensionality in the first place. As long it doesn’t go over the top, we will perceive a better result if some sensible change in color and luminosity is engineered into the picture. Figure 5 portraits a statue found in the amazing gardens near the castle in Este, a small town not far from Venice whose centre dates back about 1.000 years. It


MARCO OLIVOTTO | O u r e y e s

GIVE IT SHAPE

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 8

Fig. 9

Fig. 10

is a straight development from a Raw file, arguably quite close to what the camera would produce if we had asked for a plain Jpeg. The subject is near-neutral, whereas the background is strongly colored in green. Figure 6 shows what happens when we fire up a Hue/ saturation adjustment layer and boost Saturation to +80 in Photoshop. It is, of course, a ridiculous result. The generic enhancement of the slightest hue present in the image produces a monster which nobody would accept. Figure 7 is unacceptable either, although it is better than figure 6 because neutrality is maintained. It was obtained through a technique called “Modern Man from Mars” (MMM, for friends) invented by Dan Margulis. This passage is fundamental in the so-called PPW, where “PPW” stands for Picture-Postcard Workflow. It exploits a rather unused adjustment in Photoshop (Equalize) by putting it to work on a Lab image. Figure 8 looks a lot better, because the MMM boost was reduced by 60% with respect to the previous version. But let’s look at the image from an evolutionary point of view. Our visual system is very selective when it focuses on something we find interesting. In this situation, we would probably be looking at the statue,

not the trees in the background. It is a majestic background, but still without much use – except that of establishing the setting for the main subject. Enter figure 9, then: the statue is identical to the previous version, but the greenery was maintained almost as in the original, figure 5. We don’t want to have much saturation and variation in the background, because it would distract our attention from the main subject. Do you notice how much the statue in figure 9 seems to jump out of the image, with respect to the original development from the Raw file? We haven’t had breakfast yet, though. Figure 10 was processed by a Photoshop extension called ALCE (Advanced Local Contrast Enhancer) created by Davide Barranca and available on Adobe Exchange. The extension makes complex operations, but adds nothing to the original capabilities of Photoshop: everything it does is coded in the program itself. Notice how the variation engineered into the statue makes it a lot more interesting and punchy. The effect was restricted to the statue, and not the background, by means of a layer mask. The reason is known: we are not so

PENTAPRISM 125


MARCO OLIVOTTO | O u r e y e s

Fig. 11

interested in the background – as long as the trees don’t turn purple, it’s ok to have them as a secondary element. Finally, figure 11, my proposed final version. It was derived from figure 10 and features a complex and specialized sharpening action, again devised by Dan Margulis for the PPW. Sharpening, as we know, is supposed to enhance apparent detail and shape in a photograph, and that’s exactly what it does. Too much shape? Maybe. But even if it were so, it would be very easy to pull back a bit by blending this image with the original by means of opacity. Here, also, the mask used to restrict the ALCE action to the statue was applied, so that the background wouldn’t become too detailed. Figure 12 shows what would happen, instead, if we hadn’t used such a mask. Figure 9 was treated with the same ALCE setting as figure 10, and the same sharpening as figure 11. Do you notice how intrusive the trees are? Our attention focuses on the background more than it should, and the enhancement of the statue appears less impressive. Photographers are known for being rather picky about what they like or not, especially in other people’s pictures. When it comes to post-production, the situation is even more delicate because of some misconceptions that abound in this field. I can certainly see a few hands raising to state that figure 5 is better than figure 11 because it “matches the art” – an old expression used in pre-press. In this case, it could be argued that it “matches reality” better. We would need a year of Pentaprism Magazine to try

126 PENTAPRISM

GIVE IT SHAPE

Fig. 12

and define what reality is, but unfortunately the magazine deals with photography, not philosophy. My position is very simple: my photographs, exactly as anyone else’s, are supposed to be seen by human beings. Ignoring how our visual system works and how it tends to encode things differently than a camera is a mistake. If the Este City Council had commissioned a picture like figure 5 for promotional purposes, I have little doubt about what they would choose between the original and my version. Also, if you imagine the two images as postcards in a shop, I would bet my career that the vast majority of people would buy figure 11 rather than figure 5. I am also sure that they would prefer figure 5 over figure 6, because the latter was pushed ridiculously too far. Where’s the limit? Like any border, in photography and in life, we decide. It’s up to us, with a warning: pushing the boundary is an exciting sport, but disaster may be waiting for us. Yet, the bottom line is clear: our eyes give it shape. The camera, arguably less. If you’re still not convinced, have a look at figure 13. I never leave home without my camera, simply because I like to keep memory of what I see. It’s a lot better to carry the weight than discover I don’t have anything serious to shoot an image I would like to keep. Why did I take the picture in the first place? I was just wandering alone inside the city walls, in a garden which is a secret island of silence and peace. I was struck by the variation in the greens, and how the pink roses made a huge contrast against the leaves. If I showed you figure 13 to describe what I saw, you could righteously assume that I was drunk at the time I took the picture. I wasn’t: the memory I have is much closer to figure 14. If I wake up tomorrow and think that yes, maybe I was not drunk but definitely carried


MARCO OLIVOTTO | O u r e y e s

GIVE IT SHAPE

Fig. 13

Fig. 14

well argue. Yet Narcissus probably wasn’t in the Este garden, neither he was in my studio when I took the picture of the model. Hence my hint in the latest article, which ended like this:

Fig. 15

I’ll leave the question open to your speculation and will reply in the next article. I’ll give you a hint, though: “a face is a face, and a face is not a flower.” Again, and ‘til the next time, godspeed you!

away by my memory of the beauty of the place, I still have a chance: blend figures 13 and 14, 50/50, and obtain figure 15. Which one do you prefer? If everyone should reply that figure 13 is the winner, I would suggest a short trip to Este on a sunny day in July to see for yourself. Or, in alternative, declare that I was ultimately drunken, biased and out of whack when I took the picture. To finish, we haven’t answered the main question: why do we dislike figure 2 over figure 1? That’s exactly the point: how far is too far? How much can we challenge our senses and minds? Some of the areas in the model’s face are far too magenta, and in general too intense. Their Lab values compete with those of the flowers in figure 14: not the most saturated parts, but they are quite close to the average color of a rose. Yet our sophisticated mind knows better and gives us a warning: “that’s a face, not a flower!” If we insist to picture the colors of a face like those of a flower, a mysterious short circuit happens in our brains. The brain tells us that we are looking at a face because we recognize an archetypal shape: more or less round, with eyes, nose and a mouth. Label: HUMAN. But at the same time it tells us that some parts of it display unnatural colors, which we would rather see in a different context. Label: FLOWER. The union of these makes for an impossible shunt. We know no such thing as a human flower, although Narcissus might as

www.marcoolivotto.com www.moonphotoshop.com marco@marcoolivotto.com

PENTAPRISM 127


MEET THE

Pentaprism

STAFF


Klaus-Peter K U B I K

Klaus-Peter Kubik (KPK) is an amateur photographer located in Germany with preferences for architecture and conceptional photography. KPK started photographing in Berlin in the early 80s with street and documentary photography before switching to architecture with digital cameras in 2003. KPK particularly likes using graphical elements to create an attractive composition by including the shapes, areas, structures, and light/shadow effects as they often were intended to be seen by the responsible architect. KPK’s works are regularly awarded in national and international photo competitions. His images are printed in different photo magazines, books, and calendars. KPK is member of the German Photographic Organisation (DVF). The DVF is member of the FIAP - Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique. http://kpk-photography.de/


TessellationMan | Klaus-Peter Kubik


City in Motion | Klaus-Peter Kubik


BigTie & TallTower | Klaus-Peter Kubik


YALÇIN VARNALI

Modern life is too much accelerated. It is flowing at a speed which often prevents us from noticing moments of sensual concentration. In our global culture, we certainly have plenty of cultural components at the tip of our fingers, for expressing ourselves in everyday life as well as in the arts. But they flow too quickly and they are seen in so many complex forms that we only enjoy contemplating them, or maybe, to make incessant jugglery of their forms. I try to slow down this too-much hurried everyday life course with the long exposure technique. Besides, the objects I choose to focus on are immobile things. All of these create a sense of timelessness in a world where time has a strategic importance. For me, Black and White is the natural realization of a minimalistic perception of the world, without any need to support the image with the complexity of color junctions. As I want to attain the most reduced inner layer of the reality, details seem, in this perspective, often derisory. Therefore, the Black and White vision corresponds best to the desire to obtain the simplest state of the matter. Light has been embedded in ice The stone tired of time Moved as if it didn’t www.yalcinvarnali.com

136 PENTAPRISM


Come away with me | Yal癟覺n Varnal覺


Into the light | Yal癟覺n Varnal覺

PENTAPRISM 139


Uncertainty | Yal癟覺n Varnal覺

140 PENTAPRISM


IN THE NEXT ISSUE INTERVIEW WITH

BILL GEKAS

Pentaprism magazine # 10  
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