Fi­nal Anal­y­sis

Amateur Photographer - - Final Analysis - Roger Hicks con­sid­ers… Roger Hicks has been writ­ing about pho­tog­ra­phy since 1981 and has pub­lished more than three dozen books on the sub­ject, many in part­ner­ship with his wife Frances Schultz (visit his new web­site at www.rogerand­ Ev­ery week

The phrases ‘ low key’ and ‘ high key’ are not as pop­u­lar as once they were, but they are still valu­able. They do not mean ‘muddy and murky’ and ‘to­tally blown’, though. The best of both will nor­mally have a full range of tones from the deep­est blacks to the bright­est whites, but not evenly dis­trib­uted. In a low-key pic­ture such as this, dark tones and blacks pre­dom­i­nate, while in a high-key pic­ture, light tones and white pre­dom­i­nate. Both light­ing and pro­cess­ing are im­por­tant: I do not know, but I sus­pect, that this is quite flatly lit, with the con­trast added in pro­cess­ing. Some­thing else I don’t know is whether Lea shoots film or dig­i­tal, but nor do I care very much: the fi­nal im­age is what mat­ters.

Low key and high key are nor­mally used to cre­ate mood, though low key need not nec­es­sar­ily be as som­bre as this: it can also be used to con­vey grav­i­tas and his­toric­ity. If that sounds pre­ten­tious, think of solid, wor­thy 19th-cen­tury pic­tures of Em­i­nent Vic­to­ri­ans or of ex­otic lo­ca­tions such the The Holy Land or Dark­est Africa.

A Pic­ture For The Ages

Then I re­alised: here, Erik and Lea com­bine the lat­ter two. And in­deed a third strand: the rich, dark, doom-laden en­grav­ings that or­na­mented so many 19th-cen­tury Il­lus­trated Bi­bles. This is very much a Pic­ture For The Ages. I use cap­i­tal letters so freely be­cause the Vic­to­ri­ans, in­clud­ing our Dear Late Queen-Em­press, were Ex­tremely Fond of them.

The theme of the Pi­età, the Mother of God cradling her cru­ci­fied Son, ap­par­ently dates back to about 1300; the most fa­mous is Michelangelo’s of 1498-1499. Here, Lea, as the Blessed Vir­gin, is a con­ven­tional me­di­ae­val in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a bib­li­cal fig­ure, but Erik as the Christ fig­ure is black. Then there are the chains.

One of the the­o­ries of what makes out­stand­ing art is that we can bring to it what we wish. I will not in­sult (or seek to tram­mel) my read­ers by sug­gest­ing what they may choose to see in it. Some will find it shock­ing; some, per­haps even blas­phe­mous. But for my money, it is out­stand­ing art.

If you’d like to see it bet­ter re­pro­duced than is pos­si­ble here, it’s one of nearly four dozen pic­tures in a slim vol­ume (16x24cm, 46 pages) called Seda­mon, avail­able from for 10 plus postage. Be warned, though: if you do buy it, the other pic­tures may in­spire you to see even more lay­ers of mean­ing.

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