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Giovanni Boldini

Giovanni Boldini, where have you BEEN all my life? I just ran across this portraitist’s work for the first time an hour ago, and I’m amazed at the vigour, liveliness, and confident-woman sexiness he infused his female subjects with. This particular portrait is of French actress Marthe de Florian, Boldini’s former muse. Painted in 1888, it was never exhibited and only re-discovered in 2010.



Stolid

I was walking alongside Lake Ontario this evening with my youngest daughter as the light slowly dimmed and the lake calmed. The slate surface of the water lying almost inert beneath an indifferent grey sky seemed to form a kind of quiet partnership.



Summer’s shoulder

Last year in early July my girlfriend and I took a long weekend in the direction of cottage country. Sitting on the balcony of our resort room, I took a plain-vanilla evening picture of the placid lake in front of us and the far reflection of the opposite shore. And then I did nothing with it – until today, when I re-discovered the picture and subjected it to a great deal of exploratory re-working. The image that resulted is both traditional and also, I think, mysterious and even foreboding – the shoreline muddied by distance and blur and shadow, thin lines of birch trunks peeking out of the gloom like leg bones.

Restful, and yet.


Flow

Among other aspects of the urban environment I’m also fascinated by traffic flow, and by the attempts made by cities to smooth, maximize, or minimize it. In this photo, I see the basic problem of complexity meeting rigidity.


Summer ends

It’s August as I post this, so “summer ends” is meant only in the most tongue in cheek way. (Though it’s true.) I shot this over a year and a half ago, and I’ve always enjoyed the starkness of ice meeting cold, dark water – it’s probably the 19th-century romantic in me.


Identity

There are a lot of subject categories in photography: portrait, street, landscape, and so on. But there are a lot of photographs – at least a lot of mine – that don’t fall into one category or another. I took the photograph above while waiting for a meeting west of Toronto’s downtown core, after noticing an interesting alley at the back of a nearby parking lot. Is it “street”? There are no people in it. “Architecture”? Well, one can make out a couple of walls, so buildings are involved – but I’m not sure it’s about architecture per se. “Urban”? Maybe – if we treat “urban” as a catch-all for any photograph taken within a city. Not much of a category, that.

So much for categories.


Looking back

Almost every photographer will admit to getting pleasure from opening up a collection of raw shots they haven’t looked at in months, and discovering new beauty with the benefit of fresh eyes – or, indeed, of eyes that have gained in discernment and acuity as the photographer’s own practice has matured. I love this picture of Maude from last November, found this morning and looking as if I had just shot it yesterday.

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