Alan Kaplan  


Man Who Wasn't There by Alan Kaplan

October 2019 - Man Who Wasn't There

October 2019 - Alan Kaplan

Original 1

October 2019 - Alan Kaplan

Original 2

About the Image(s)

I started working on this image 6 years ago. After exploring a variety of realistic images with a variety of people at the top of the stairs, I finally applied my witch's brew separately to the stairs and to the man. I went further with the staircase by applying Topaz Adjust and experimenting with a number of combinations of tools to get a monochrome look. The splotches on the wall and on the stairs are not a result of my tinkering in Topaz Adjust. They are real splotches. This photograph was taken in a Havana, Cuba senior citizens center.
Something kept drawing me back to this image of the stairs. Perhaps it was the poem about the man on the stairs who wasn't there. That also may have been the deciding factor in my choosing the man as the lone image at the top of the stairs. I was able to take several photographs of him in Brittany, France because he was involved in his newspaper.


12 comments posted

Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Wow, you did such a super job on that monochrome look! The colors in the originals were distracting to the combined story. In my opinion, you really composed this well. I really like the way you placed the man on the edge facing inward. It really adds to the story, in my opinion, even though I've never been tempted to put anything at the edge of an image! This might be a violation of someone's photographic rules, but the man's placement is quite effective, in my opinion!   Posted: 10/02/2019 20:00:02
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Thank you for your encouraging feedback. My entry in Group 54 in April explored the idea of putting a figure on the edge. You might be interested in seeing it. It's also basically monochrome.   Posted: 10/03/2019 21:53:04
Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
Your April image in Group 54 for delicious! I'm really appreciating your well considered violation of the unwritten rules about placement and edges!
Sometimes my husband does something similar when he photographs. He deliberately cuts the subject off on specific sides. It used to bother me, but I'm going to reconsider after seeing how effective this can be in a photograph!   Posted: 10/04/2019 08:54:32
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
There is a scene in Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" in which the audience sees the villainess sitting on the bed talking on the phone. But Polanski films her through an open door which allows the audience to see only her partially obscured left side. That scene is a powerful scene in that it rivets the audience's attention making them want to see more. As far as unwritten or written rules are concerned, the most famous artists are those who create "new symbol systems" by believing that there are no rules in art. Rembrandt did this by using light to look into the soul of his subjects. (My bio doesn't mention it, but a century ago I minored in Art History in college. Sometimes that background creeps out.)   Posted: 10/06/2019 08:05:48

Steve Estill   Steve Estill
I can see why you wanted to use the stairs - they were asking for someone to use them!
I like the effects you've used work well and the desaturated colours of the man fit the image superbly.
The thing that shouted to me was the light on the stairs - why not use it to help him read the newspaper on the dark stairs? So here's an idea which may or may not work, but it was fun to play with:   Posted: 10/07/2019 15:51:17
Comment Image
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Here's the rub: once you turn on the light you have to consider shadows.   Posted: 10/08/2019 11:56:09
Steve Estill   Steve Estill
It was just a quick job, but I did enhance the shadows on the man and the newspaper, then lit up the side nearer the light. With more time I'd have tackled the ballustrades too.   Posted: 10/08/2019 12:02:13
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Thank you for taking an interest in tweaking a composite you have such a positive reaction to.   Posted: 10/08/2019 14:36:08

Jan Handman   Jan Handman
I think your placement of the man is refreshing and cool. Since he is, overall, brighter than the rest of the image, it looks to me as though something is illuminating him, so Steve's alteration of turning on the light works for me. Your witch's brew works nicely here. Is it a formula that you've come up with that you just apply and you're done? Or is it a setting that you start out with and then fine tune for each image? The desaturated colors are great for this image. Nicely done!   Posted: 10/10/2019 16:17:12
Alan Kaplan   Alan Kaplan
Thank you for your feedback. In my camera club, we are told frequently by the judges of our competitions that the eye is attracted by the brightest spot in the photo/painting. It's how Rembrandt made his living. The man reading is the bright spot in my original. I feel Steve's lights would draw the eye away from the man. As far as my witch's brew is concerned, it is a step by step process that must be evaluated and adjusted as you go. Sometimes in a final step (but no always), in the list of layers, I put the result of the brew on top of the original and use a blend mode or simply play with the opacity of the brew's outcome to achieve a desired result. Sometimes it works beautifully, and sometimes it doesn't. PID participants don't get to see the one that end up on the cutting room floor. :)   Posted: 10/11/2019 08:16:17
Jan Handman   Jan Handman
I see your point about the lights being brighter than the man. A halfway point between completely dark and bright white might work, but you have good reasons for why you did it the way you did and that's the important thing. Thanks for your info about your witch's brew.   Posted: 10/11/2019 15:53:42

Candy Childrey   Candy Childrey
Alan your creation is well thought out and well composed. The man is in the perfect place at the top of the stairs and at the bend in the stars at the landing. A tiny bit of light in the lamps above the man might enhance the image. It would bring the lights out of the darkness. The desaturated colors work very well here. Good job.   Posted: 10/12/2019 16:05:11

 

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