Photo reviews – A portrait and the Parliament

Our review stream has reached the letter ‘P’, so for today, there’s a portrait and the Parliament. There isn’t anything more to connect the two, apart from Balázs Turay’s thoughts.

An old picture of the Parliament

It’s a bit moldy, and something has attacked the photo.
Perhaps it’s fungus because of inappropriate storage. It definitely deserved better, despite of all the hundreds, thousands of similar pictures taken from Batthyány Square on the other side of the Danube. Pictures viewed on a monitor, including my own, have the great disadvantage of being totally different from the original because of their size and the displaying technology!
You have to know that this paper photo, just like many others, looks way different when taken in the hand. Perhaps the colors are duller, the damaged parts have a strange surface—the whole thing is awkward and imperfect. This is how it can bear within itself the age, the fingerprints of the photographer, the dog’s ears at the corners and so on.

It is clearly perceivable that the picture is much more fragile and exposed to perils than the slightly sterile one which appears on your monitor. That’s why I prefer holding the original in my hands, or at least take a close look at it and make sure that it’s really a photo I am seeing! Because this picture was not produced by some silver-based procedure but by light, a lens and some electronics.

Then it was mock retouched, and created a file on a computer that shows something the author has not seen and stored improperly, that time hasn’t gnawed on, that hasn’t become a part of family memory and a source or part of legends.

Still, if the author takes on the disguise of this deteriorated photo, and starts to tell a tale, even if one that hasn’t ever happened, I’ll be eager to listen!

A double portrait

It is the gaze that matters, said the photographer to me. I agree. He also said the cat matters less! Well, of course, but without it, we might not realize that perhaps this man with the half-smile, cuddling it, might hide something of a cat in himself! Two good friends. Partners understanding each other. As I see it. The funny thing is, that the man’s gaze holds much more cat-like impishness, playfulness and curiosity than that of the kittie. Its gaze is more surprised, or perhaps muzzy, but it also may be silence before the storm, and this gorgeous blue feline, woken from its best sleep, might already be preparing to have a go at its master!

The two faces, the hands are really nicely arranged. The cropping is tight enough, allowing the photographer to concentrate on just a few important things. The background is fortunately blurred, which is most probably caused by a narrow aperture. For portraits, it is recommended to use a narrow-angle (tele) lens. For traditional small film lenses, this means 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, etc. Needless to say, you can also take good portrait pictures with a normal-angle (50mm) lens. However, wide-angle lenses tend to distort the faces when used from a small distance!

Balázs Turay