*ooof*: Richard Alphatage

UNF
For  a brief moment I thought I would just leave it at those three letters. They perfectly capture my reaction to the image I am *ooof*ing in this special edition of your weekly drool pool.  Well, you probably won’t let me get away with that – even though I suspect you perfectly understand what I mean. But hey – if this gives me a reason, an excuse and an opportunity to peruse one of the most recent Armitage images, then I’ll jump at the chance. So here’s to you, marie8astra, who actually suggested I pick this up *right here, right now*. This *ooof* is dedicated to you!

robertascroft-14

Richard Alphatage. Eh. Armitage.
Photographed by Robert Ascroft.
Image Sourced via RAnet.com




Oh, are you still there? My eyes had glazed over, my brain had switched off and I was momentarily breathing with my ovaries only. I find I have an almost vicereal reaction to this image. It hit me in the proverbial tumblr feels the moment I spotted it. Is there a reason for that or is this just a lucky combination of Armitage’s publicist’s timing and my own fertility? You know what my answer will be: Good photography *always* has an effect. And this is one of Ascroft’s finest. But made even better by his sitter. Let’s have a look at the technicalities.

Richard Armitage. *squeeee* Sitting on a block of wood. *jazzhands* In front of a white backdrop. *la ola* For Cod’s sake, Guylty, keep your pants on! *yogabreathing*  In Ascroft signature style, we have a full length, seated portrait of the artist as a hot casual man. Again shot under diffused studio light from above front right (cf. the Ethan Hawke image I linked to recently), we have a little shadow under the chin, obscuring part of Richard’s neck and right temple. This is actually quite clever lighting in that Armitage’s signature angle lines on his forehead have been obliterated: The left temple catches the light directly and attracts no shadow; the right temple is in shadow and therefore no angle is visible, either. Also, the soft lighting angled from above drowns out all forehead lines and adds to Armitage’s youthful appearance in this particular image.

The trendy youthfulness is also accentuated by the styling of the sitter: Armitage is casually dressed with jeans, t-shirt and open-laced sneakers. The t-shirt exposes his forearms and biceps *yum*, his long legs appear slim in the narrow-cut jeans. The t-shirt is not the usual tight little number that we have become accustomed to seeing in recent times, but slightly more loose-fitting, visibly bunched up over Armitage’s tummy area. Is this the equivalent to “the little black dress” – the little black tee? Well, I like what I see.

Apart from the delectable little black number that Armitage is sporting *hums,rollseyes,andlickslipsrepeatedly*, for me it is the pose and the facial expression that bursts my reproductive organ. Strangely enough – as this is so definitely artificially posed and could easily look like the proverbial (German) “monkey on a grindstone”. (The dictionary, btw, informs me that the correct BE equivalent is “to sit crouched, looking like a proper charlie” – cheers Richard, I am constantly expanding my vocabulary thanks to you!) He is not quite relaxed. His hands are clenched, and there is an expression of concentration on Richard’s face, particularly around the mouth, while his gaze is actually more of a stare. This could be because his pose cannot be particularly comfortable. Armitage is not only balancing his precioussssss assssssss on a little wooden block, but he has also angled his long legs a bit awkwardly with his right foot wedged against the box and his left foot at a strange angle. Ouch. (Believe me – that hurts! I have copied his pose for the sake of research, and it felt uncomfortable to the point of pain!)  My hunch is that he was directed by the photographer to do this, because the pose is pleasing in terms of the sadistic tendencies on the part of the photographer composition. The angling of the right leg to the side emphasises the slim thigh, while the forward angle of the left leg acts as a guiding line in the image. In fact, if you were to draw a line through the image, starting at the converse star on the sneaker and going up along the side of his leg, it would lead right up to… his face (girls!!! What did *you* think??? *tuttuttut*). Its continuation even follows his cheek line! And the fact that Armitage is holding himself fairly straight – stomach in, shoulders relaxed, chin up! – seems to support that hunch, as in portrait sitting most sitters have a tendency to slack their heads down. Pain or not, the effect is that of a dynamic feel to the image. You can imagine Armitage wriggling his arsitage on the box, or stretching his legs, or turning and twisting, stretching his arms over his head, arching his back – this is just one moment in the shoot (I hope that for his sake…), the pose and the styling suggest that to me.

The image also sports an effect that you might expect in a corny wedding photo, but not in a sporty portrait of a hottie. If you look at the picture you will notice that the corners – particularly the top two corners – appear darker than the centre of the image. This is an effect called “vignetting”. It can occur when there are objects obstructing the reflection of light back into the lens, or when the optic elements of the lens are shading each other (a lens is a series of prisms, essentially, that control how much light is allowed into the camera). In terms of aesthetics, vignetting serves to concentrate the viewers’ gaze onto the brightest part of the image (the centre), shading out the less important part (the edge). It is more or less a “framing device” in that it frames the important part of the image furthermore. It often appears “naturally” but I doubt it is unintended in the case of a highly skilled artist such as Ascroft. In fact, he uses it to add a bit of variation to the otherwise monochrome background, an infinity wall that gives the impression of an endless white background without a visible edge between wall and floor. And yes, the background is most probably white, even though it appears blueish in the image – probably caused by two different types of lighting used for illuminating the subject and the backdrop. But enough of technicalities.

It’s not that I have a penchant for seeing Mr A suffer for a portrait, that I find this image so evocative. It is the combination of all these things, I think, and the fact that this is a deviation from the recently rather suave and formal (studio) photographs, as well as the less streamlined press photography of recent days. (Where is my veil of silence? Oh, it’s already in use, draped over the brown-leather-jacket monstrosity from Tuesday…). This is a well-composed shot with a carefully arranged sitter, and lighting that enhances the handsome features and lithe limbs of Mr A. It also takes into account what Ascroft had photographed so far, and adds a bit of variety to the mix in terms of styling.

And then there is the face. *sighs* The concentrated look in his eyes. Not a smile, or only a hint of amusement (self-ironically, for acting the model?) and the lips in a resolute line. There. (Imagine this word said the way Harry says it when he rings Gerri’s doorbell for the third time after their first date.) There’s the alpha male again, uncompromising, confident, strong, energetic, forceful, benignly-nonplussed.  I love how the details add up to that. The t-shirt’s sleeves stretching over the biceps. The veins standing out on the hands and on the inside of his arms. The hair on the forearms appearing as blondish fuzz against the background. The dynamic pose. This is *ooof* personified. ” ’nuff said!”

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

~ by Guylty on May 2, 2013.

54 Responses to “*ooof*: Richard Alphatage”

  1. *sigh* It’s ALL good. Manly, Manly, Manly. I’d say more but instead I’ll just sit here with a fatuous smile on my face.

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    • *grins* yep. I haven’t dared venture anywhere near tumblr or the blogs today for fear of more visual onslaught. I just really can’t!

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  2. Confident, uncompromising alpha male. How well put !
    I very much love your analysis of this picture, Guylty, and now that you pointed it out, can see the diagonal line RA builds, which so well enhances the already devastatingly overwhelming effect of his eyes!

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    • Yes, isn’t that clever? One might think that a picture shot in front of a plain white backdrop is boring as hell, but then this kind of thing goes on. I really love it. (I must say that I am really learning from Ascroft as I am *ooof*ing along, actually…) Thanks for commenting 😡

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  3. Thank you for such a brilliant researched review. Love your posts. (Somebody PLEASE add ‘arsitage’ to the RA dictionary. Alphatage, too. )

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  4. I have no idea why but the left foot turned in at a slight angle…in those shoes…is what really moves me in this image. That and the veins I discovered on this arms when I zoomed in 🙂

    One of my all time favourites I think.

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    • Join the club Kathryn!!! Exactly those things. I think it’s in those slight “imperfections” (term used veeeery liberally here!) that the human-ness of the object of our admiration manifests itself. Definitely my favourite from now on.

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  5. Yay, guylty! Thank you so much for fulfilling my NEED to read your dissection of this most lucious photo. Thanks for pointing out that diagonal line. Now I keep staring at it. Amazing. I always learn so much from reading your *ooofs*! And the vignetting. As if we needed more to draw our eyes to the central image. Can’t draw my eyes AWAY from that image! Well done and thanks again!

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    • (graaaaaaaaaaaah – I had just written a lovely long reply – and then it vanished. arrrrrrgh)
      Big thanks back to you, marie, for suggesting and pushing (in the nicest possible way… for future reference: Guylty reacts very positively-strongly to flattery *hahaha*). I had hoped to be faster, alas a date with the theatre last night meant I had to leave a half-finished *ooof* behind…
      You know what – *ooof*ing has been really good for me, too. I learn so much for my own photographic practice from them. And my appreciation for good photography has been sensitised. Care and effort is very visible in all of Ascroft shots. And most of all the others I have done so far, too. Despite analysing them to death, I still take enjoyment from looking at them. And I never tire of RA. Win-win-win.

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  6. I have a confession – I try very hard not to look at the photos you “oof” until I have read your analysis. They make the photos that much richer! That line – this photographer is a genius.

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    • I am blushing here, Chai!!! Bless you for saying that :-). On the other hand, try doing it the other way, deliberately. Have a 2-minute-look at the next *ooof* before reading my analysis, try to remember what stood out for you – and compare what I come up with. And see what you bring to the table independently. My interpretation is not written in stone. It most probably will be enhanced by what you see, interpret and feel!
      As for the line – watch out for next week’s *ooof* that I already have in the pipeline. There will be some serious “line work” going on that will blow your mind. Seriously.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

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  7. “This is *ooof* personified.” Yeah, you summed it up right there. Still sitting here with my mouth open, quietly drooling.

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    • Yeah, isn’t it? As I said, I could have left it at UNF. (Maybe not, now that we suspect Mr A might be reading “blogs” *uaaaaah*

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      • Which reminds me–does he read the articles, did he click on the link, did he read my post about his nose? It was a very respectful post, of course. *thinks of “Peacock” and a few other things . . . reminds herself man likes a woman with a naughty streak. Thank heavens*

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        • *ggg* It’s one of those futile thoughts – we will never know. But if so, I think it is clear from everything that is written in “his blogs” that the authors do not mean to be disrespectful. If anything, they are using Armitage as a catharsis. Most of the time they simply gush, admire and promote. (We should be commended for that *haha*)

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          • LOL that’s why I often refer to my videos as being very tongue-in-cheek. Never meant to be taken seriously or meant to be disrespectful. I like making people smile and laugh and possibly get some relief from the stresses and strains of RL. And I love sharing good things with others. And Mr. A is a very good thing!

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            • Oh, of course they are [tongue-in-cheek]. So is my writing. But this expressive-ness is what is liberating for us, and special and complimentary for him who is the subject of them. Long live the OO (ogling objectifyers)!

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  8. What a great read, thanks! I hope one of your future posts will discuss the latest black & white headshot from Ashcroft – that look in RA’s eyes was like a laser-guided weapon of mass seduction! I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂 cheers!

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    • Thank you Andariel :-). Which one are we talking about? This one: http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/RobertAscroft-12.jpg I love that shot; he has a very similar expression on his face there as on the one in this *ooof* here. And yes, that shall be *ooof*ed soon, too. Thanks for requesting – I love requests *repeatsmantralike*

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      • Yes, that’s the one! Just looking at it again makes my heart thump wildly and I barely have any endorphins left after this week of joyful richarding! Thanks in advance for the future *ooof*! How have you found this week of Oztastic merriment?

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        • Frankly, I am reeling, Andariel. It is almost too much for me – too much to process, too many new pictures. And then all the reactions to compute, too. My poor eyes, ears and heart. Endorphin overdose, really.
          Looking forward to that *ooof* now, too.

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          • Today I honestly thought that “they” (RA and co) are literally trying to kill us!! That’s why my new fav phrase is weapon of mass seduction – but really destruction…

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          • “weapon of mass destruction/seduction” – apt, Andariel!!!! I was saying to a friend-in-RA today that I am convinced that the simultaneous release of more RARA goodness is no coincidence. This is carefully orchestrated PR. Not complaining, really, although I find it hard to deal with it *hehe*

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  9. *thud* *baver*

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  10. CAN NOT STARE AS LONG AS I WANT. STOP. HUBBY IS IN HOME. STOP.
    GREAT POST. STOP. THANKS 😀

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    • All I could manage was “whoa–way sexy!” I am amazed at your eloquence, Guylty!

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      • 🙂 Aw, thanks for that, Northern Gal! (I have – incidentally – kissed the Blarney Stone, so that might have something to do with my “gift of the gab”…)

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    • LOL, Joanna. Oh I feel you, I feel you. You should’vew seen me on Tuesday, surreptitiously clicking around on my laptop every time Mr Guylty walked in. Jaysis, I really was close to telling him to get the *f* out and leave me to my own devices…

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  11. Eloquent & funny as heck, as always! I find that the strikethroughed portions of Guylty’s text always seem to apply to me.*whistles innocently* Note: I am reading this blog post with a big dumb grin on my face in church while my 8 yr old daughter has choir practice! Hope I don’t get struck my lightning… It’s a Unitarian church so I guess I’m safe?

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    • LOL – you bad, bad woman, A!!!! I am sure your soul is already committed to hell (where Porter and Masuku are waiting for you – could be worse, I guess…) Haven’t really done any fangirling on hallowed ground yet, but that is more for the lack of appropriate hardware than scruples 😀
      Strikethroughs: I actually always think of you when I write my strikethroughs, because I know you like them. I love them, too – exposing the REAL truth behind the waffle *ahem*

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  12. Brava…excellent “coinage” I think my favorite way to look at this is to scroll up from the bottom…there is just something about the “every boy I know” look of the unlaced Converse followed by the “Holy @%#%$!” of the whole shot. *UNF* is right

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    • You know what, Obscura, I have just tried scrolling from below and you are SPOT ON. Whoa. It’s a similar effect to the sun going up, or simply waiting for something long awaited to appear. You see the less-consequential parts first and then BAM it hits you when the biceps appears and then the handsome face. Whoa – if I was a gif maker, that’s what I’d be making right now!

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  13. Oooooooo, fabulous *ooof*, one of my favourites now (may have something to do with the pic *ahem*) I Love the strike-throughs!
    As I commented at Angie’s, I feel happier knowing the lighting is responsible for the lack of lines rather than editing.
    PS Aaaahh, so “Arsitage” is your’s. I’m following you and didn’t know that!

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    • Hehe, strikethroughs rule 🙂 And yes, Arsitage is mine. Just couldn’t resist that pun (or the arse that inspired it *hehe*). Mind you, it’s not really that active there. There are simply not enough rear views to post. (Note to self: If ever photographing Armitage, take him from behind.) 🙂

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      • Oh, Guylty, the visual that just popped into my mind…

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        • (late reply because I am on weekend break away from civilisation where even my mobile doesn’t always allow internet access) oooops, the last part of my reply somehow came out wrong. I can imagine what visuals you have in mind, Leigh *ggg*. Not entirely unpleasant *haha*

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  14. Oooooo, fabulous *ooof*, one of my favourites now! Love the strike-throughs! As I commented at Angie’s, I feel happier knowing that it’s the lighting that’s responsible for the lack of lines, not editing.

    BTW So “arsitage” is your’s? I follow you and didn’t know that! *thumbs up*

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    • How come I haven’t yet seen this reply. Thanks Mezz – hehe, so you are an arsitage follower? It’s not that active, but when I started the blog I thought there was a gap that needed to be filled 😉

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      • I don’t know what happened. I thought the first comment didn’t go through, that I’d lost it, so rewrote it. Maybe it finally found its way here and that’s why you’ve only just seen it! 😉

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  15. You can “ooof” all you want. Maybe this “hot”picture of Richard will melt the 12 inches of snow we have gotten in the past 24 hours. The 3rd snow day ( off from school) in 3 weeks and it is the 2nd of May. We did finally have 3 to 4 nice days last weekend the early part of the week. All the pictures and everything from the Q and A have cheered me up, as snow this late is depressing.

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    • Snow?????????? In May? OMG – and I thought I was depressed at the hopelessly drawn out winter in Ireland (which has thankfully now come to a close. 15 degrees Celsius last night – I know because I attended an open air cinema event and it was fine). Does RA make you feel a bit hotter now? He is probably contributing to global warming singlehandedly and irresponsibly. Really, not fair.

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      • Tonight at about midnight May 3-4 it is sleeting and we are to get 1/8 to 1/4 inch of ice. Snowy and rainy weekend with temps about 31 F to 35 F or so. On Monday we are to get up to the low 70’s F and hopefully stay warmer, rain is ok. I don’t know about global warming, I have been thinking global freezing. Son 3 asked me if we get snow in June if we are having an ice age, I told him no but it’s been a strange year so far. It looks like a winter wonder land here, maybe it’s December 2013 all ready. All the new pictures have been great to look at instead of snow. The kids are even sick of snow. The first Saturday in May is the fishing opener in Wisconsin, we have a lot of lakes where I live, it is a big place to come fishing. The lakes are mostly covered in ice yet and some with up to 20 inches on them. So look at Richard I will and hotter I will feel.

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  16. […] of a number of other shots of Armitage that have been taken by a variety of photographers (click, click, […]

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  17. […] we are talking. This definitely was a favourite when it came out. So much so that I *ooof*ed it here and coined it the “Richard Alphatage” – that bicep just […]

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  18. […] of his subjects. A photographer with a classic and classy approach. ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof ooof […]

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