Lily, July 2015

Lily, July 2015. Pentax K1000, Voigtlander Nokton 58mm 1.4, Kodak Ultramax 400

I took this photo of Lily on a warm summer’s day last July in Carkeek Park, my favorite park in Seattle.

When I got the film back I was thrilled. Many of the photos had this great early ’70s vibe to them, like something from the cover of a Serge Gainsbourg album. The light, the grain, the knowing ingénue. I think Lily’s expression here is brilliant. She’s clearly young — with the backlighting and the position of the hands, almost childlike, looking much younger than she is— but not an innocent. Her gaze is direct, with a hint of challenge. Unafraid. But also natural, beautiful, at home in the setting and her own skin.

I don’t know Lily well at all, but this feels true to me. And feeling “true” is I guess the best I can hope for from any of my photos.

On the technical side it’s a mix of high and low. The low? We’re talking a $35 Pentax K1000 I bought off craigslist (I’ll save that story for later) and bog standard Kodak Ultramax 400. If you can still find film at your local drugstore this is probably the brand that you’ll find.

The high? I’m pretty sure I shot this with my all time favorite lens, the Voigtlander Nokton 58mm 1.4. Most of my favorite 35mm photos came from this lens. It handles beautifully, can be crazy sharp, and has superb bokeh and rendering. If I had to flee my house in a fire and could only grab one lens this would be it, no question.

I don’t know if it’s overdone, and don’t really care either way, but I’m a huge fan of positioning obstructions in the foreground out of focus area. Particularly when they can catch the light, like the leaves in the top left corner, I love the effect they have — the visual interest as well has the way they help to direct attention toward the subject. This is something I play around with a lot shooting out of doors.

Man, I can’t wait for spring…

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