Halsman’s fourth rule – the missing feature

Missing Feature

F5.6, 1/20, ISO 800. No flash.

I find myself more and more looking into the past for inspiration for my photographs. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sunset like the rest of ’em but there is something about simplicity that I am really attracted to.

Of course, what the early photographers did was far from simple. They didn’t have Photoshop or amazing studio lighting and fancy SLR cameras to create the effects that they did. They had imagination and creativity and spent long hours pushing the boundaries of what could be achieved in the dark room. They were responsible for what all the sliders and buttons in editing suits can now create in moments. I think that it is only fitting that now we have these amazing tools that assist us with our post processing that we should look back and pay tribute to the past masters who provided that inspiration in the first place.

I like photographing my children and I have many standard and normal photographs of them but I also like the unconventional when it comes to photography, stripping it back so to speak.

Philippe Halsman is one of my favorite past photographers and whilst I am of course not comparing my photograph to his I have applied my own interpretation of the fouth of his six rules ‘The missing feature’. The idea behind it is that that you go against the conventional in order to draw in the viewer. They may not like what they see but they are likely to be drawn in anyway.

I study old photographs carefully because I think you can learn an awful lot from them in both story and composition and if you like that sort of thing then you will not go far wrong spending a few hours pouring over this page https://www.facebook.com/Bardia.Photography there is a mix of photography new and old that will captivate you for many hours.

The above photograph was taken a relatively dark environment with light provided by candles and a small lamp. I removed some noise, converted it to black and white. Increased the contrast and adjusted the curves slightly.

 

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14 thoughts on “Halsman’s fourth rule – the missing feature

  1. Nice photo, Mr. Halsman would be proud. Thank you for the link to the FB page, there are some great photos there.

    You raise an interesting point about being able to do in moments (with PhotoShop sliders) what used to take hours in the darkroom when it comes to editing prints. I was taught early on that until you learn the basic rules of composition, exposure, camera settings, etc. you have know idea how/when/why to break them. I have found that this principle applies to other areas of life as well.

    • Thank you for visiting Allan and I completely agree. I do break the rules sometimes (sometimes by accident and end up quite liking it) but I like to think that I understand them as much as I can at the moment, I am still learning but I do agree that you should totally understand the basics and if you don’t then take time to learn them.

    • Thank you Suzy, the reason I did it was because I know that a young child with that kind of lighting is not going to appeal to everyone, it is not your average portrait of a child. I did a similar very low key portrait of my daughter. I hope that it might provoke something even if the feeling is one of dislike. For me personally I like it but then I like things that don’t always conform or sit easily.

    • Pure fluke that. I would love to say I meant that to happen and pretend to be all arty about it, but it was just the light of the candles at the point I closed the shutter. x

      • I “cheat” all the time. I’ll take 10 or more shots at one time so that, hopefully, one will get that exact right moment. That’s why I don’t think I’ll ever return to film.

    • Yes and as for taking more than one I couldn’t agree more Melanie, I have about 8 of this particular shot. The others simply did not work for me. I think if I was using film I would have cried. I guess that is why they perfected what they did. They were so much cleverer than us mere mortals of today. 🙂

      • I remember reading that Ansel Adams would wait hours and hours for the perfect moment of light before making the photograph. Could you imagine someone exercising that kind of patience today?

      • yes that’s true. I imagine there are still a lot who do, especially professional landscapers. I haven’t the time or the patience lol

  2. Bracketing my shots is so ingrained from the days of film that I still take 3 exposures of every shot … shift my angle and bracket again, and again. This is certainly a photo that draws in the eye of the viewer!

    • I used to bracket every time, sadly the D3000 doesn’t have the bracket feature (weird huh) so I still shoot 3 off and if necessary I can amend the exposure in camera before I download them. I bit messier than I would like but needs must lol. Thanks Cheryl. 🙂

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