First Friday Showcase — Fran DeRespinis

Escalier No.1 © Fran DeRespinis

Escalier No.1 © Fran DeRespinis

As mentioned recently, this blog noted the effect caused by the Corona Virus to the world in general, and photographers in particular, including those locally in North Carolina’s Triangle area. In response to the cancellation of many of their exhibits, we have opened up this space to Showcase the work of some of the area’s most accomplished photographers, and share it with the widest audience possible.

Beginning tonight at 6pm, and on the first Friday each month going forward, a small series of their work will be exhibited, and we will hear from the photographers themselves, about their creativity and inspiration in the making of the images, and hopefully get a better understanding into their creative process in order to expand our own.

And so tonight, we launch the inaugural First Friday Showcase with the work of Fran DeRespinis.

Fran DeRespinis

The Escalier Series

When I photograph in an urban environment, it’s usually exterior shooting, out on the street. That includes architecture, skylines, environmental portraits, and the oddities of urban life. The last time I was in Manhattan, however, I also found myself inside, specifically Grand Central Terminal.

The high activity in the terminal was both energizing and challenging, witness to Grand Central’s own mantra of “Always Moving.” My first shots were of people coming and going, waiting and reading, pretty much standard fare. However, as I walked by a set of escalators, I saw people moving either upward or downward, in constant motion, yet standing still. I was immediately reminded of the French-American artist Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, with, as he called it, “…a static representation of movement…”. I wanted to capture that dichotomy.

Because the interior afforded me less light than I had on the street, I was shooting inside the terminal with a higher ISO (thus more sensor sensitivity), making it possible to use high enough shutter speeds to avoid blurry photos. However, the low light was now an opportunity: I guessed that by using a technique I had tried on flowers, shooting with a slow shutter speed and twisting my camera quickly in both directions during the exposure (first to the left then to the right), I would get movement and multiplicity. Looking at my test shot on my Leica Q’s LCD screen, I saw that I guessed correctly and adjusted my shutter speed. I then began photographing these people who were “always moving” but in “static movement”.

If you shoot in RAW as I do, as opposed to shooting in JPG format in which the camera’s software creates a “final image,” you have to do some post-processing to the RAW file or risk that the image will be rather lifeless in color, tonality, and contrast. For this homage to Duchamp, I decided to mimic the golden tones of his iconic staircase painting, but intensified the color and contrast to increase the sense of drama in the images.

Like Duchamp, I’m fascinated with transition, change, and movement. In attempting to capture those qualities in this Escalier series, I also appreciate the multiple faces, expressions, and body language the images created. Who are these people? Where are they going? Are those ghosts I see among them?

Escalier No. 6  © Fran DeRespinis

Escalier No. 7  © Fran DeRespinis

Escalier No. 8  © Fran DeRespinis

All photographs © 2018, 2020 Fran DeRespinis.

All Rights Reserved.

Fran Portrait

Click on Fran DeRespinis’ web site below to see more of his work.

2 thoughts on “First Friday Showcase — Fran DeRespinis

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