*ooof*: Large Format Armitage

Was it really a coincidence that the latest photos of Richard Armitage appeared during FanstRA 4 week? Sometimes I really wonder whether it is all coincidence – or whether someone decided to surreptitiously participate in the RA fan week on the net by throwing the images by Robert Ascroft our way??? We will never know, but let me tell you, the moment I saw those (initial) four images, I got extremely excited – and I could not wait to get my teeth into the analyses of these masterful and yet so extremely different shots that were all taken by the same photographer. But finally the day is here…

RobertAscroft-04

In full length glory.
Richard Armitage photographed by Robert Ascroft, 2012.
Image via RAnet

You might be surprised that my chosen image for my first *ooof* of the new images is this one – after all I have proven time and again that I want Mr A’s beautiful face as big as possible in any frame. And this image certainly does not give me that pleasure. But let me tell you, I gasped out loud when I saw this. And this time it was not because of Armitage’s pleasing bone structure, but because for entirely photo-nerdy reasons. The format of this image. I didn’t even have to look at a high-res version of the image to get excited – I knew straight away that this is something special. And it really is, because it is somewhat rare nowadays. And it brings me back to my college days and to my own photographic projects for my recently finished degree in photography. As a warning to readers I have to tell you at this point that what follows is largely a discussion about film and processing techniques. If you are not interested in that, skip the next three five paragraphs (ooops, this got longer as I started writing about it… got excited and carried away.)

What we have here is a large format film photograph of Richard Armitage. While the photo nerd Guylty gets terribly excited, I can see a big question mark rising over your heads, dear readers. “So what???” I hear you. Sit back, Auntie Guylty is going to take you onto a little voyage back into the history technology of photography. – Large format photography is exactly what it says on the tin: The format of the negatives that are produced by large format photography are huge. Well, that is in photographic terms. If you are old enough to remember, you will know that conventional film that was used by us oldies before the advent of digital photography, was a roll of 24 or 36 individual 35mm negatives. These negatives were then used to print images which ideally should not be larger than A4, possibly A3. Anything larger and the image became fuzzy.

The large format film, on the other hand, comes in either 4×5 inches (roughly 10×13 cm) or 8×10 inches (roughly 20x25cm). It is MASSIVE. The implication of that is that any image taken on such a large negative will be able to be blown up hugely. Simply speaking, a large format negative is 16 (56 times for 8×10″)Β  times bigger than a 35mm negative. Thus, you can blow up a LF negative the size of a house – and you still have a crystal clear print. In fact, a LF negative, or ideally a positive (=slide/transparency) is big enough to look at without any enlargement!

LF photography was (and still is) used particularly for advertising purposes – for billboard images, for instance. Now, while I am one of those females who believe that size *does* matter (*smirks*), that is not the only thing that excites (…) me about the use of LF photography. As a former historian I also love it because it is much closer to the practice of pioneer photography than what we did with 35mm photography. The reason for that is that LF film – also called “sheet film” – does not come in rolls but in individual sheets. That means you have to load your camera with so-called film holders into which you have placed the sheets. And that process has not changed from the days when Ansel Adams drove around Yosemite to take those beautiful b/w landscapes (or even before him). Interestingly, this can only be done in absolute darkness, as the sheets are individually slotted into the light-tight film holder. Retrieving the exposed negatives, likewise, has to be done individually and blindly in the darkroom. A time-consuming process. Moreover, the use of a conventional LF camera is slow and very deliberate. (I could go on and on about this, but I won’t go into it in detail here – it probably is a bit too much photo-tech for you already – if anyone is interested, pipe up and I’ll explain more about it.) It is truly contemplative! It is true photography. There is nothing more satisfying than this. And it usually gets the results in a fraction of the number of shots that you need when shooting 35mm digitally. *sighs*

Now, how could I tell that this image of Armitage has originated on LF film? The black frame around the image is the give-away. The black frame is basically the part of the sheet that was covered by the sides of the film holder that holds it in place. Do you see those two funny, little dents at the top left corner? These are on all LF negatives. They serve a very important function: When you are loading your sheet into the holder, you are in total darkness. As the sheet is only coated on one side with the photo chemicals, the photographer needs to know which side needs to be placed upside in the holder for exposure. Hence it is industry standard to have the dents in the top left corner of the sheet. Moreover, when processing the sheets after exposing, the photographer needs to know which make the film is. Processing times and chemicals are different from manufacturer to manufacturer. Therefore Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, Fuji etc. all have a unique dent design that the photographer can feel with her fingertips when extracting the sheets from the holders – and can mix her chemicals and adjust her processing times accordingly.

In recent years LF photography has had somewhat of a renaissance. Emerging photographers have become fascinated with the old processes again, and have learnt to appreciate the deliberate nature of LF photography, as well as the artistic possibilities afforded by working with LF cameras. Aesthetically, the little black frame has become a bit of an “edgy edge” – it adds a certain coolness factor to the image. Hence you find “frames” like this one as an option in digital photo enhancement tools or popular filter apps such as instagram etc. You could theoretically take a picture digitally and then add this little frame to it in post-production to pass it off as an LF image. I am pretty sure, however, that this is the real deal. Not only because Ascroft is an established photographer who would risk ridicule if he “enhanced” his picture in post-production with a fake frame. But there is also a tiny give-away that convinces me that the image originated on LF film – and that’s what made me gasp as it became apparent to me that this was indeed a genuine LF image: If you zoom in on the long sides of the frame, you will notice a row of little dots on either side of the image. These are the marks of the clips/tongs with which the negative was handled during processing and drying. (They are at the edge of the negative because you cannot touch the image part of the negative during processing without leaving fingerprints, stains or imperfections that would ruin the image.)

Ok, shut up, Guylty, about all that technical crap and NOW TO THE IMAGE ITSELF. What also made me squee about the image is the obvious reference to one of the greats of portrait photography, Richard Avedon. One of fashion photography’s most distinguished practicioners, Avedon moved into portrait photography in the 1970s. His portfolio contains some of the most iconic artists and public figures of the latter half of the 20th century. Just put his name into Google Image Search and you will immediately see what I mean: Avedon produced b/w LF portraits, photographing many of his subjects in front of a blown-out white backdrop – and often left the frame of the negative in the print.

The same in our shot of Armitage: Our man is pictured in front of a blown out white backdrop. He is pictured mid-stride (as if walking). While his body is in profile, he has turned his head to look towards the camera, giving us a half profile of his face. The camera has been set up about rib-cage/belly height. This effectively emphasises Armitage’s height, as the perspective makes us look up to Armitage’s face. While the background has been completely drained of colour and is brilliant white, the photographer has left hints of shadow underneath and behind the sitter’s left foot. This is no oversight – the shadow is needed in the shot in order to literally ground the sitter in the picture. If the shadow had been cut out in post-production, the figure would be “floating” on the white background.

Dressed in a formal suit with a crisp white shirt and shiny black leather shoes, Armitage cuts a dashing and distinguished figure in this shot. This is also reflected in his facial expression that is on the friendly side of neutral. There is a hint of a smile around his mouth and a benign glint in his eyes. This is a fantastic shot, technically and aesthetically. It could pass easily as a classy fashion shot, but will also work well as an illustration for an article in an up-market magazine. It would probably also sit very well in Armitage’s own actor’s portfolio, showcasing himself as a sophisticated (-looking) man – well-proportioned, slim, handsome, middle-aged.

However, other than that the image does not give away much about the sitter. Unfamiliar viewers will find it hard to find a particular facet of the sitter’s personality in the shot. As fans who are familiar with Armitage, that does not matter much to us. We can of course impose our own interpretations on him – in that sense the lack of context is what enables the image as a foil. We can interpret the lack of a tie as a sign of Armitage’s preference for a casual look, corroborated by his unshaven cheeks and jaw. We might also infer from the mid-stride pose that he is an energetic, dynamic man.

Both familiar and unfamiliar viewers will hopefully agree that this is an image that represents classic masculinity – a tall, handsome specimen, upright, proud, confident. And there we have it – the swoon factor. Perfectly captured in perfect photography. It fills me with pleasure to think that Armitage is finally getting the photographic representation that he deserves. Thank you, Mr Ascroft.

All text Β© Guylty at me + richard armitage, 2013. Please credit when using excerpts and links. Images and video copyrights accrue to their owners.

~ by Guylty on March 26, 2013.

100 Responses to “*ooof*: Large Format Armitage”

  1. Being old enough to remember only too well what a non digital camera is I enjoyed your analysis very much. Thank you for the Avedon tip. Now I know why this pic sounded familiar to me! I hope RA will do more very professional and beautiful promotional photos. I also deeply love the b/w profile portrait surfaced along with this one. These photos decisively deserve both an *ooof*… !

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  2. Yay for analog LF photography! It is a fine art, and Ascroft really shows us how fine with Richard. This is a great shot, yes, in the tradition of Avedon, but there’s more. That suggestion of action, mid-stride, and that hint of a smile — oh, to capture those with LF with the elaborate set up and the time demanded of both photographer and subject, that’s mastery. It’s not the click-click-click through rolls of 35mm, nor the zz-zz-zz of a digital camera (which incidentally drives my cat crazy). It’s perhaps as close as we can come to a painted portrait using a camera, and what a subject! *oof* is right.

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    • Ah Leigh – you understand me πŸ™‚ That is exactly what I mean. LF photography is just no comparison to digital. And even to analog 35mm. To play with the camera settings, to devise the set-up, to carefully frame and then the delicious moment of the shutter release… Do I sound as if I am describing an orgasm? *haha* – No, I didn’t mean to lower the tone here, but frankly, LF photography is more satisfactory than digital, if not climactic! I love the way you say “the closest we can come to a painted portrait”. I concur!!

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      • I believe that there is a pinnacle of the artistic moment akin to orgasm, when the resonance between art and nature is perfect. You hear it in Bach, for example, and you see it here.

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        • Lucky photographers – we have multiple orgasms. Every time we release the shutter. And then another one when the image has been developed and enlarged. πŸ˜€

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  3. Thanks for the photography lessons. I’m happy Richard is the subject of a more classic art form. So can I get the half-billboard size blow-up for my backyard? πŸ˜‰

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  4. As Leigh knows, I have longed for someone to paint the man’s portrait (or sculpt him *sigh*) and this type of photograph may be the closest we ever get to it. Sign me up for that billboard, too–we’ve got plenty of room for one out here in the country! Not sure how LSH would feel, however . . .

    I love this on many levels–the classic look of black and white, the way it references Richard Avedon (whom I am also certainly old enough to remember) and yes, the use of LF photography. Richard indeed looks sophisticated, confident, classy and so very handsome.

    Count me in as someone who loves the details on how it’s done (long, long ago I made a pinhole camera out of an oatmeal box in one of my college art classes) as both a photography and history buff.
    Oh, and I love Ansel Adams’ wonderful B&W landscapes. A favorite of my high school art teacher (and still good friend) Priscilla. πŸ˜€

    Thanks for the lesson and the ooof.

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    • It’s beautiful on so many levels. The craft that has gone into it, the processing, the set-up, all of it shows that it is deliberately and skillfully done. And it befits RA. As a photographer I would of course say that this is as good as a portrait, possibly better, because it is so much more realistic. A sculpture sounds good, too – although I am not sure whether I’d be able to cope with the onslaught of handsomeness in 3D…
      I hope I’ll have the opportunity to discuss the actual photographing with a LF camera in connection with another *ooof*. Although I actually can’t think of another example of RA in LF. Hm, or maybe I’ll write another *ooof* on this image and focus on the camera in that. I could do it on my own blog?
      An oatmeal box pinhole *smiles* – I made one from a cocoa tin in college, Angie. Thanks for bringing this up – a pinhole camera is essentially what the LF camera is. Well, with a few very cool additions that 35mm doesn’t have.
      Thanks for showing your appreciation!

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  5. Oh, and one more thing. I LOVE Mr. Ascroft for creating such top-notch images of my favorite actor. πŸ˜€

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    • Me, too. Thank you to both Mr. Ascroft and to RA for these wonderful photographs. I’m glad you’re going to *ooof* all of them, Guylty.

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      • Hehe, Mr Ascroft has won a few fans here, along the way, I think. I need to find out more about *him*… And I will definitely give the *ooof* treatment to all of his images – I knew I had to the minute I saw them. They really stand out from all of the images that have recently come out, even my until-now favourites by Victoria Wills.

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  6. I really love these oofs, Guylty! I was telling my friend who is an amateur photographer to read them, even though she’s not a particular fan of RA. I had much less appreciation for this photo before you explained about the process. Why would a photographer use this process in a shoot, if not for a specific assignment? I mean, I haven’t seen any billboards with this image recently! Wish I had, though!

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    • Thank you, Marie – for two very much appreciated compliments. Recommending my *ooof*s to someone for their photographic content certainly makes me feel very pleased πŸ™‚ And to hear that you can better appreciate the image due to some of my explanations is as good as it gets!
      As regards your question, why would a process such as this be used without specific advertising purposes in mind – the process of LF photography is more deliberate, lengthy and technically demanding, but that in itself is something that a lot of photographers enjoy. It is going back to the roots of photography. Shooting on film means that you *need* to execute your shot perfectly. It makes you slow down, look properly, think properly, apply your knowledge of photography. It is far more technical than digital “snapping” and shows a love for the craft of photography. Yes, I’d say that photographers still do this for love of photography. I certainly felt that way when I decided to take the risk and use this format for my final degree project. I am quite proud of having done that – noone else in my class of 40 people did it…

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      • I’ve occasionally seen RA compared to classic black-and-white era movie stars such as Clark Gable, and I certainly had that feeling on seeing him in a Forties-style suit as Heinz Kruger. I wonder if Robert Ascroft was deliberately aiming for that comparison by using this format? It has the look of a formal film studio portrait to me (but I’m no expert).

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        • IMHO I would say no. If you look at classic Hollywood glamour photography (it is called that without meaning what we know as “glamour models” nowadays), it is quite different from this. The main proponent of Hollywood photography was George Hurrell who photographed a veritable who’s who of stars in the 1930s and 40s. He can be credited with developing the glamour image of Hollywood stars, working in conjunction with the major studios. While he did shoot large format, his images are much less bright than Ascroft’s shot of RA. Hurrell was effectively “Painting with Shadow” (instead of “painting with light” – the literal translation of the Greek word photography) – his backgrounds tend to be darker, the facial features of his sitters are skilfully lit (with continuous light instead of flash) to emphasise moods or physiognomy. His imagery is stunningly beautiful and atmospheric. He was a true master of studio photography and I love his images. I have long thought that a portrait of RA in the vein of Hurrell would look fantastic – his stark angular features would look amazing with dramatic lighting and classic styling!

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          • Oooh! Thanks for that little lesson as well. I think the B&W aspect is what makes the casual observer say ‘classic’ or ‘vintage’. And I do think people instantly think back to what must be Hurrell’s famous shots. I appreciate being made aware of the differences.
            I hope someday a similar image of RA will be considered classic – and he as one of the great actors of our generation. πŸ™‚

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            • Pleasure, Trudy πŸ™‚ – again a little gem of knowledge from my finals. Glad to be sharing. – And here’s to hoping that we’ll see many more classy shots of RA as his star is rising ever higher.

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  7. Hubba, Hubba! It is amazing to me how different the impact of a really well crafted image is. RA is always gorgeous, but some of the photographs of him make him look a bit creepy. This one? YOWSA was the first word that came to mind when I opened the post. Thanks for another edifying look behind the scenes Guylty!

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    • “Gorgeous.” I actually *did* say that out loud upon seeing the image for the first time. And that applied both to the subject as well as the execution. Glad I am not alone in that!!

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      • Definitely not alone…this is one of those “take your breath away” shots. I’m always glad that I open these things when I’m alone in the office (I have o-mates) otherwise there might be a serious loss of academic credibility when I audibly *squee*!!

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        • LOL! I know what you mean. Even though I have my own private home office, I tend to do my *ooof*ing when noone is home or everyone has gone to bed. As regards loss of academic/professional credibility: I guess I am lucky in that I can always claim that I ogle Richard for the love of photography. … Yeah… right… *haha*

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          • *hehe* I read racy RA related fiction at work under the guise of course related (History of Sex) research πŸ˜€ Great minds you know….

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            • Well, either the fantasy of RA/his role or the actual course-related is the added benefit, depending on what comes first for you. Always great when pleasure and profession coincide πŸ˜‰

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              • Probably either or both depending on the day of the week πŸ™‚ It’s the trifecta when you add the fact that students always respond more when an instructor is “excited” about the topic. *ahem* Will have to work on dialing that aspect back at least a bit before trying this material in the classroom – thank goodness all of my students are, at least chronologically, adults! πŸ˜€

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                • Hehehe, I had some graphic visuals in my mind there. But hey, excitement is *always* good, especially when employed for the sake of science. I mean, really, you are doing this for your students. Selfless and noble. I like it.

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                  • Yep, purely altrusitic – that’s me πŸ™‚

                    The key component in teaching that course is to never let them see you blush – I can talk about monkey love, Greek pederasty, Chinese concubines and eunuchs (can’t forget the eunuchs), etc. all day long – no problem. I’m not sure I can pull it off when it comes to RA fic…don’t even get me started on the slash!! πŸ˜‰

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                    • I suppose, fanfic speaks to us on a different level, ahem, especially when in context with RA and/or one of his characters. It’s hard *not* to give something away about own preferences when discussing that… “History of Sex” sounds really interesting. Did you ever write anything anywhere about sex in the Victorian age. I am sure it has been done somewhere, anyway, I am just wondering because there was a very well written piece of N&S fanfic that I would just love to know whether it would be historically accurate. Mind you, even in Victorian times there were probably as many approaches as there were people…

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                    • It’s a very interesting class…it really depends on the mix of people in it as to how successful it is. Yeah, the “oversharing” aspect definitely looms πŸ™‚

                      I know a little about the Victorian Age – it is fascinating really, tons of repression outwardly, but reams of licentiousness behind the scenes πŸ™‚ In all time periods if you can think it, someone was acting on it somewhere – regardless of what social conventions of the period dictated. Vive la diffΓ©rence!

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  8. Ladies, can I quickly inject here that I am so so pleased to be in such good company of people who can appreciate truly great photography?? You have no idea how gratifying that is! It is just such fun to write these things for *you* and then find that you guys read and *understand*! I couldn’t wish for more.

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    • I love these analyses because it defines for me what it is that is so visceral about some images…as with many artistic media, I know what I like, what affects me, when I see it, but I don’t always know *why*. I really dig that you can give some perspective into the *why* πŸ™‚

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      • I think we probably all give each other new perspectives. You do that for me, too, when we discuss the images after I have written my initial response. In a way I slightly disenchant the images, especially when I am less complimentary about a particular image. I hope the “viscerality” (what’s the noun that goes with visceral?) still holds up!

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    • It takes me back to the happy days of my high school and college art classes and my own readings. I appreciate the craftsmanship involved in a photograph such as this using a time-honored, traditional format combined with the technical skill and artistic vision of Mr. Ascroft. You don’t always see these qualities combined so beautifully together so it’s such a pleasure we can share it, and you can do such a fine job explaining it to us in a very accessible way (and with such clear enthusiasm and appreciation for both the technical aspects AND the subject matter ).

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      • Thank you Angie. As a writer you have given me many hours of pleasure, too, with your wonderful RA fiction which I revisit again and again. When I started out in this fandom I silently read yours and other’s fiction, the non-fiction on blogs like this one and was amazed and impressed how you all had turned your infatuation with and/or appreciation of RA into something *constructive*. I wondered back then (about a year ago) how *I* could contribute to that. The *ooof*s kind of came from that. This fandom is so attractive to me because there are so many funny, intelligent women taking part in it. My previous “movie boyfriend” never elicited that kind of response… Well, he was no RA…

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        • Awww, thank you so much. *blush* That means a lot to me, to be able to give back to the community supporting this amazing muse. So just know that you are definitely repaying any β€œdebt” you may feel you owe me. You know, I’ve had crushes on other actors over the years, but nothing like the effect RA has had on me. Never dreamed any actor would lead me to write all that fanfiction, to do fanvids and photo editing and start a blog devoted to him. Only because of RA would it have happened, I am sure . . .

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        • poor sweet Keanu πŸ˜‰

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  9. I’m trying to formulate one meaningful sentence….I can’t…*ooof*!…just *ooof* Guylty πŸ™‚ Thank you.

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    • I know, I know, Joanna, I frequently find myself simply grunting when I see images such as this.

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      • *snort* I was actually beginning to make some headway on work- now I have an awesome sound effects reel playing in my head πŸ˜€

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        • Laugh out LOUD. I can flesh the fantasy out a bit. There is Joanna going *ooofooof*, then myself grunting like a deer in rutting season and over all that din a rhythmic little *snortsnortsnort* from you. We could probably start a band.

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          • ROFLMAO…man! I should have gone to the loo an hour ago – good thing I was sitting down when I read that one! Now just add in a couple of *squees* (I think they’d be a bit like chimes in this ensemble) and we’ll go on tour!

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            • *screams in hysterical laughter* I could keep this thing going all night with you, Obscura. Eh, did that come out wrong? But we might be on to something here… tadah – the RA fangirl orchestRA. I’d like some cello accompaniment with that, please *hehe*

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  10. *snicker* Nothing wrong with a well placed double entendre! (“Love in an Elevator” anyone?) It is probably a good thing that we are scattered all over – imagine what might happen if we all actually got together!

    orchestRA – I like it – I’m free this summer, but we might have problems booking the right cellist…(BTW still sitting at desk – the walk down the hall could be dangerous to anyone in my path…)

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  11. Another fabulous *ooof* analysis, gulty. I always enjoy them, but as a complete photography ignoramus, I have found this one particularly fascinating.Your description of the large format made me think “Yes! Life size cut-out!” πŸ˜€
    The first time I saw this image it took my breath away, as did all the Ascroft photos. It still does. Of course I love close ups where I can see every detail of his face -and hands if they’re in the shot- but head to toe, oh boy, he’s stunning. If drooling was a sound I could join your orchestRA! πŸ˜‰

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  12. Guilty you are such a photo nerd, I’m impressed. I didn’t understand anything about the technology but I get your point.

    I think I screamed or something when I saw the Ascroft pictures, because to me these pictures are art ,not just some regular pictures taken by a bored and tired photographer. Ascroft sure has some talent, I’ll praise him forever for these beautiful pictures of Richard.

    This picture is beautiful but my favourite is the b/w profile picture where Richard has a very classic look, it loks like a picture from the 50s, he reminds me actually of Johnny Cash in that. I’m in love with that picture, I look at it everyday, I just love Richards nose in that picture, his nose really is majestic.

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    • Hehe, I take that as a great compliment, Thora. Nerd is cool :-). And yes, the pictures make me squee, too, and I’ll make that profile portrait the next *ooof* on the list. I was already thinking in my head how I can work in a bit of LF camera work with that (even though I think it is a conventionally shot digital image). Thanks for your comment!

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  13. My dear delight, you pleasure-oriented, pleasure-loving, found guilty of it all, Guylty-Girl, giving us desperately pleasure-seeking RA-nuts what we so vitally need for our sophisticated delectation! Just the ordinary average isn’t sufficient for us!! LOL! The pleasure of indulging us with furthermore crucial knowledge in the special fields of photography, that is ultimate imperative to know as a fangrrl of prime rank; all the technical background information which is essential for us, for to understand, at least a little bit, why the pictures of this very masculine, ever so tall, and handsome specimen have such an impact on our innermost aquiver souls……Oh, and so on…..!!!
    What I intrinsically want to say: Absolutely brilliant! I’ve always been especially into the real (old-fashioned) photography. I mean that one, where you actually think about and plan what you are going to shot and not only click away 1000 tries, but just 2 or 3 takes. Slow and deliberate as you describe it. Wow, that was a super interesting read. I could/would love to sit down with you and have quite a looooong chat about photography (and more… πŸ˜‰ ) …ach Du weißt schon!!
    PS. We are so grateful for this picture, Mr. Ashcroft.

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    • Glad to hear that you like this kind of carefully crafted photography. Ah well, who wouldn’t. It is more about the appreciation of it. In a way I think that what I said about LF photography is also applicable to RA: He strikes me as a slow developer, taking his time to get into the business, being extremely deliberate about his craft which is meant for a long-term effect and not for quick gratification… I think he is quite aware of techniques and theories, and he knows how to apply them. Yeah, LF photography fits Mr A perfectly πŸ™‚
      Hehe, btw, I like being called a “delight”. You know what, G? Next time I am in M. I will get in touch and we’ll have a right old, real-life RA fangirling session over a cup of coffee. Hehe, and we must discuss THTDOS premiere in London πŸ˜€

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      • A fangirling session over loads of cups of coffee sounds great. Hope you find the way so far south any time soon!!! Yeah, London, of course, but I’m still grumpy that they’ve debarred us the pleasure of a summer-camp on Leicester Square!!
        I don’t know why exactly, but there comes a film to my mind which is called β€žThe Governessβ€œ with a young Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Minnie Driver, set on the Isle of Skye in 1840. Among other things the film touchs on the story of the invention and early days of photography. Maybe you’ve seen it, otherwise I really can recommend this darkish, slow paced, but beautifully shot film, which is rich in detail both in costumes, scenery and colours.

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        • Yes, it’s a major bummer that the next Hobbit instalment will be out in winter again. Another 2 hour wait in minus 2 degrees? The mind shudders… I’ll be there again, though.
          Thanks for recommending that film, G. I had not heard of it and quickly googled it last night. Sounds really good – I must get that out somewhere.

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  14. Goodness! I looooooove this photo – Im ooofing all over the place!

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  15. You girls had me going and I was going to comment much earlier, but my oldest son come home from work and well he don’t need to see any of this. The first thing that came to mind was hot damn, Richard is one sexy man. I like that it is a classy picture, the suit , white long sleeve shirt and dress shoes, but a bit informal with no tie. It is great to see a full lenght photo with those long legs. I like how Mr. Ascroft has captured Richard in all of his photos of him.
    I still have a 35mm camera that has film in it sitting in my dresser, with film I have yet to have developed. I kind of gave up using it and let the rest of the family take the pictures. I maybe should get a digital camera for myself someday. I like all the tech info on these pictures and it is good to learn something new even if it is old. A few years ago I watched a TV program on Ansel Adams and found it interesting, also around that time there was one on the start up of Kodak and what cameras used to be like. So all you have taught us is coming together.
    Now back to the *ooof* and I guess I will have to keep “singing” praise about these and many other photos or many just about Richard himself. Is there room for a singer in the musical group, my voice maybe a bit rusty to start, but will soon warm up.

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    • No singing allowed, Katie, only noises πŸ™‚ Which one is your Richard-Armitage-appreciation-noise?
      Oh, I would be dying to know what is on an old film that I have left in a camera… Especially when it is years since I last used it. It’s like a time-capsule, almost.

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      • I tend not to make noises with the boys in the house, we don’t want them to come and check up on me now would we. There maybe a little laugh, but mostly I just smile, sorry. So I guess maybe a little ahh will have to do.
        I think that I will have to take the film to our local Walgreens get it developed, they still do it on site I think, I will have to ask son 1 who works there. I am pretty sure I have trip photos, birthday party and who knows what else. I think it is around 10 rolls too.

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  16. I’d like to put in my order for a life-size cutout now!

    And I think our OrchestRA needs a humming section and I can be the section lead. πŸ™‚

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  17. Fascinating discussion, ALL of it! It blows my mind to realize what one photo, this new technology, and one hot, sexy man can inspire and globally stir up! I did not appreciate that photo when I first saw it. Now, after your equivalent of what we used to do in French Lit class, explication de texte, I realize how special it is. It’s been a great art lesson, even if I am losing sleep and eyesight, and getting no credit except my own pleasure from it. Thanks to everyone who commented.

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    • Thanks Lynne :-). And hey, getting your own pleasure from it may be the highest commendation a photo ever gets. How lucky we are to be given this sight for free. I mean, occasionally I pay to see RA’s handsome features (cinema, magazine), but looking at well-made photograph is almost priceless. I think I’ll print this one out and put it in a frame…

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      • Have you seen the custom-printed, custom-size, wrapped-canvas photo prints at zazzle? I wonder if the magic lady in London has the ability to do that.

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        • No, actually, I haven’t. Was just surfing over to zazzle. You know what I would *really* like? A custom printed large bath-towel with Guy or Thorin or some RA incarnation on it. To wrap myself into πŸ™‚ – because the Guy/RA bedlinen would not go down well with my hubs. Can’t blame him, I must say…

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  18. My dear S:

    Thank you for your detailed analysis of this most excellent picture. I agree with many of the things that have been commented. I will say, however, that – as a consummate romantic Pisces lady – the thing that left me speechless when I saw it was his stance. There he was, our lovely man, looking back at us, as if he had heard the commotion, paused to see what it was all about, then realized his Army soldiers were right behind him. I can almost hear him say: ‘Oh, there you are! Come on, let’s go. We still have lots of work to do.’

    Maybe I am just a sentimental fool but, what can I say in my defense that all of you don’t know already? The thing about Richard is that he is such a decent man, so wonderful, that he literally shines. I know he is not perfect or flawless (as much as I tend to idealize the people I care about, the realist side of my brain is also active), but his quality as a human being is so high, his heart is so good, that you can see it in his eyes. You can see it more when he smiles or when he’s talking but – since he is doing neither here – the eyes will have to do. When I first saw this picture, it left me speechless.

    I am teary eyed right now, thinking about why art is so important. The connections we make with any work of art, be it physical or abstract, are intensely powerful because at their best, they elicit visceral reactions to what we are experiencing. Memories are triggered, feelings evoked and in the process, new ones are made. Art speaks to very basic components of our soul – to our humanity.

    I am very grateful that my five senses work, and that my mind is still able to grasp lessons such as the one you have given us here. To see the work of a Master Photographer such as Mr. Ascroft, the fruits of the labors of a true artist, is a pleasure that cannot be measured nor valued in a standard way.

    Richard has no idea of the impact he has had and continues to have in our lives and those of so many other people around the world. His mere physical presence makes a strong impact, but it is his spirit that feeds my soul, that inspires me to dream, to work, to persevere, to achieve. He is a fantastic muse, and a gorgeous one at that and, who doesn’t like beauty?

    Again, thank you, my friend!

    ~B.

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    • It was an interesting stance, alright, B, I agree. I don’t think I have seen any photos of him where he is pictured in mid-stride but from the side. Usually it is from the front. I like you interpretation of it – the way he turns and looks at us.
      Art is our daily lifeblood, I agree. Without it, the world would be a poor place. It is what sets us apart, as human beings, from other species. I do hope that the artists that make our lives bearable and enjoyable have at least an inkling of their impact. RA might be too modest to acknowledge that publicly, but I hope for his own sake that he takes pleasure, satisfaction, pride and motivation from it privately.

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  19. I really enjoy reading your analysis of these RA photos…they’re entertaining and educational at the same time. Thanks for sharing your expertise. I was recently looking at some of my old photos and decided I wanted to get back into taking pictures. Your posts helped to inspire me. This photo of RA reminds me of the 60s. RA has such a classic look about him that he fits into any era.

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    • Wow, I am chuffed to hear that my ramblings may have re-awakened your interest in photographing. Do, do, do. Snap away. And always remember – we only get to see 10 great shots out of a 1000 duds. πŸ™‚ From practice comes mastery.

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      • I think this is part of why digital photography has become so popular — the capacity to make mistakes without “paying” much for them …

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  20. I need to go back and read all the comments, but first, off the cuff reaction:

    1) Fantastic post — I was really intrigued to learn about LF!
    2) I also thought *immediately* of Avedon and thought, “when they do a feature on him in the New Yorker after Hobbit 3, this is the photo they’ll use.”
    3) Loved his shoes.
    4) and yeah, this feels like an update of old fashioned glamor. Really well done by the photographer.

    OK, now to read all the comments …

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    • Heya and welcome back, Servetus – missed ya :-)!
      1) LF is really cool. I found myself getting right back into it, just writing the post. When I did my college projects via LF, I had a camera on loan from college. After writing the post on Tuesday, I actually started looking for a LF camera on ebay. Next time I have € 600 to spare, I’ll get myself a Cambo…
      2) Yep – the shot is really something for the classier, more serious end of the magazine market, and once the market has been saturated with enough dwarf love. I think it could easily push Armitage’s marketability for less action-based and more romantic drama related films. I hope his agents cop on to that.
      3) When it comes to shoes, Mr A has always been quite proficient even without a stylist, I think. Another prime example.
      4) Strangely, I never find these shots quite so “glamourous”. For me, glamour has much stronger backgrounds, not the blown-out white as in this. I guess it depends on the imagery that we have individually seen previously.

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      • re glamour — I saw what you wrote above *after* I wrote this, and I take your point. This isn’t a sort of literalist rereading of that stuff — I totally agree. Generically this is something different. And yet … (grasps at words)

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  21. And now to add — he has a really intriguing expression in his eyes and at the corner of his lips. This something I really like about him that I’ve remarked upon fairly frequently — there’s something about the implied motion in his face, even in stills, that makes you wonder what the next frame would have looked like. He is often caught in a sort of moment of transition from one mood to the next, here, almost as if someone’s calling his name to look back. Very sovereign. He might be about to turn in smile, he might be about to turn back and walk away …

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  22. Now that you mention that – in that respect it is precisely that which I found so compelling about the Ascroft shots as well as the Wills shots. Even though this is consciously posed, it leaves a lot to the imagination. It’s a “slice of life” that is less static than a lot of the dead-pan poses we have seen before…

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  23. […] any background” at all. I would consider a “background-less shot” what we saw in last week’s *ooof* – the blown-out white nothing-ness. This, on the contrary, is quite clearly a backdrop […]

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  24. […] that it has been carefully and time-consumingly *crafted* on LF film. (For more on that, check my old *ooof* on the full-length shot of Armitage by Robert Ascroft.) Whether these images here were genuinely […]

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  25. […] – that he produced from what was most likely just one day of shooting: He did the classic white backdrop portraits, he placed a suited RA in front of a relatively neutral steel door for several shots, he had a less […]

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  26. […] the beauty and attractiveness of his subjects. A photographer with a classic and classy approach. ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof […]

    Like

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