We used hopstop to figure out how to get over to the Pratt Institute neighborhood for a day with Ted and Betsy Lewin and the photographer, Bill Kontzias. We were cycled through in groups of 9--with a walk through Pratt, time with Bill with a brief, very brief overview of shooting images and how it relates to art and illustrations, and time with Ted Lewin and Murray doing a series of quick shots using different lighting with classmates as models (with hats). I was reluctant about this and the travel but it turned out to be a wonderful experience on a perfect fall day with the subway being really nice, clean and nonthreatening these days (and I was thanking my stars with my subway time when we lived here to take the fear away). The Lewins were charming and hospitable, opening their beautiful brownstone to us from their basement aparment for Bill K to present his slides to tromping through their house to the tippy top to Ted's studio for the shoot. Betsy took us to Pratt, which was impressive, beautiful, clean and very happy to see their show at the library and then some little side trips to see sculpture she loves, the Italian Courtyard, and the amazing steam plant (can you say the home of steam punk...very "Brazil" with turbines all shiny and red, all sorts of iluminated dials and meters, a wall of some pretty scary, frankensteiny switches all on two levels with a catwalk above which a stupendous, golden light fixture which sang with praise for electricity and power.
Bill Kontzias, a photographer and teacher at Pratt, took us through the development of the use of the camera from camera obsura to the current camera we use today--showing it's influence in art and evolving into illustration. His insights were wonderful and made many of us sad that he couldn't spend more time with us going through the development of the image, the storytelling, the light. His wisdom and knowledge really resonated with me. I love it that he stated the the Lens does the drawing and the light does the painting of the image. He spoke so briefly about the types of shadows on a face...from the butterfly under the nose to something called a loop light, which was used to great artistry in the Mona Lisa--which shifts the shadow from the butterfly shape off to the left or right, and in so doing, focuses the light on the eyes, softens the cheeks, really adds to drawing the face. He waxed eloquently on how Michelangelo really "got it" relative to lighting and perspective which Konzias linked in many of his examples through to the same concepts with Thomas Eakins rowers and the medical class images. He showed us some pretty mind blowing perspective studies that Eakins did (beyond art...) along with pointing out the contour and edge lighting that took Eakins paintings beyond that of normal photographs. He showed us original Eakins study shots, which in their own rights were modern, elegant and for me, more relaxed and "real" than Eakins beautiful but stiff representations of people. One could live in the space that his photos rendered..but maybe not so much in the painting. Kontzias also cited that a camera is a a tool for photographers and illustrators--and that tool was something that could see beyond that the artist could percieve at the time. Just hearing this took the stigma out from working from and with photography. Its been done since Vermeer...so whats all this about cheating and stuff. What a head job was done on me in school. Once again, its the final picture that matters.
It was fun working with Ted and Murray working with a bouncecard and a single source light with a gel on it. Some examples are posted for fun. We had a nice lunch at a Thai restaurant with all 36 or us broken into tables which the nice staff took in stride as we kind of overwhelmed the place...It was really good, affordable and got us charged to get back on the subway to get back to town. We are sitting here in our room with our feet up...talking away, checking mail and seeing what is up. Some of the group are going to see a show, some to the Society for sketching and the two of us who are happy for a bit of nonteam, quiet time.