Portrait of an artist

Sep 22, 2020 | GFX, Location | 16 comments

On the journey between Italy and the UK I decided to stop off and spend a couple of nights with my wonderful cousin Sarah who lives in the south of the Bourgogne region of france. It’s a fairly quiet place unaffected by centuries of progress. It has lived through industrial revolutions and technological revolutions yet remains relatively unchanged. Everything happens slowly here because life revolves around wine. For thousands of years this area has been allocated to the growing of grapes and in the 1861 classification the parcels of land, teroir, of the region were allocated a Cru status based upon the character of the wines they produced. More info about Burgundy

Sarah’s dear friend Jean-Claude Bligny got wind of my journey plans and commissioned me to take his portrait. Fabulous I thought, all I needed was good light and a backdrop. We had 20 minutes of the best light and four locations to shoot so we whizzed around and got the shots that we needed. I used my trusty GF110mm lens at f/2 and my GFX50s camera on a tripod.

The light was to contrasty at the start of the shoot and 20 minutes later it had lost it’s contrast and was flat. The moment of best light was like a Poisson distribution curve, a gentle rise to perfection before falling away.

Jean-Claude Bligny in black and white
Jean-Claude sketching

The vinyards of Santenay and the surrounding district made the perfect backdrop for this series of portraits. The colours of the leaves had just started to turn but perhaps we were a week or two early for the optimum colour.

I opted to shoot with the late afternoon sun and I encouraged further warmth in the shot bottom right in the panel above using a LUT in Lightroom. The rich, warmth of this look will be better placed alongside his paintings in books and catalogues.

Jean-Claude in his characteristic black suit.

Jean-Claude is a fascinating man who once spent time with the late Henri Cartier-Bresson. His art is fluid and free. His colour palettete warm and seductive. Jean-Claude is a gentle man with a charismatic yet understated presence. After the shoot, Sarah, Jean-Claude and I had a wonderful dinner together on the terrace at Restaurant Le Terroir in the town square of Santenay. I treasure these fabulous few hours that I spent with this remarkable man.

 

Click on his name below or the picture grid to go through to his website.

Bligny website

16 Comments

  1. Rose

    Dear Damien,

    Beautiful photos, the soft appearance of Jean-Claude and the beautiful landscape are beautifully displayed.
    I myself live in the Sevennen in France, a rough natural area where I enjoy the beauty that nature gives us every day.
    Stay safe in this difficult time,
    Rose

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Rose for those kind words. I do love the visual experience of France and the wine of course.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien

      Reply
  2. Luiz Henrique Xavier

    Wonderful pictures, Damien! You are a master of light! I loved Jean- Claude’s expression on the first B&W picture.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Luiz,

      Rapport, connection and the ability to give direction are often the biggest challenges in portraiture. Thank you for the compliments.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien

      Reply
  3. Michael Schmitt

    Wonderful portraits, as usual !!! All but the last one seems like unmodified ambient light. As far as the last/bottom image is concerned, was a reflector used to the right of camera?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you. Yes, just natural light. The last shot has a reflector just out of shot to the right of the frame.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  4. Jay Mijares

    Wonderful images, Damien! I like the fourth one down with its warm colors, but the last one is just amazing!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you for the compliments Jay. Sometimes the best results are from the simplest of setups.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  5. Fiona

    Beautiful portraits. What is LUT in Lightroom?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Fiona,

      Thank you. A LUT is a Look Up Table and is like a preset but far more useful as it is independent of slider positions. The film simulations by camera manufacturers are LUTs. I use these ones: https://iwltbap.com/

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
  6. Patrick

    Just incredible, Damien. I want to learn to find that light.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Patrick,

      I can show you how to find that light when we visit Tuscany no problem. It all comes down to timing for the desired contrast. Knowing what to look for is half the battle ;)

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply
    • Michael

      Exquisite images Damien as always. We’re all these images natural light only? Peace my friend.

      Reply
      • Damien

        Hi Michael,

        Thank you. Yes, just natural light. The last shot has a reflector just out of shot to the right of the frame.

        Kindest regards,

        Damien.

        Reply
  7. Ivan Deleus

    Whaw Damien, outstanding pictures. My favourite is the last one.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Ivan,

      The Hugo Boss suit among the vines has a classy resonance. It’s my favourite too.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply

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