Friday, 22 June 2012

Takehiko Nakafuji "Night Crawler" 1995

Takehiko Nakafuji "Night Crawler" 1995:

'via Blog this'

With apologies to anyone who isn’t on Facebook, but this was the best link I could find for a selection from Nakafuji’s Night Crawler, which I discovered in the May 2012 issue of BJP. There is a somewhat smaller but more accessible selection here.

It jumped out at me for its resemblance to Daido Moriyama, in that they are night shots in grainy high-contrast black and white, so it was no surprise to find the Nakafuji had studied under him. Night Crawler 1995/2010 is about Tokyo at night and concentrates on the differences between the ‘95 set and the later set. Sadly, it’s rather difficult to make head or tail of these differences in the rather limited viewing circumstances offered by Facebook and the other galleries. However I find the individual photos themselves very striking (not least I suspect because of the stylistic similarity to some of the stuff I’m currently producing).

The lead example in the BJP article is a case in point:


The overall image is dominated by the contrast between the very deep blacks of the shadows and the strangely luminous – almost ghostly – face of the girl under the umbrella. Incidentally, it is placed almost dead centre in the photo, which is contrary to conventional wisdom, but serves to draw even more attention to it. She seems to be huddled against the cold or even hoping to pass by un-noticed – I can’t help wondering what is happening just out of shot. The tilt of the picture also adds to the tension, as does the hint of activity in the background. It’s unclear if the intense white around the girl is a result of the lighting or has been added in the darkroom, but it does add to the shot by hgelping to isolate her from the surrounding shadow. One final thing that stands out to me (punctum perhaps) is the size of her shoes, which seem surprisingly large.

The article does not mention why Nakafuji uses the high contrast treatment, but I’d be interested in his take on this as it might help me understand my own interest in the style. One thing the set does make clear though is that it can be used quite effectively in people pictures – something I’m just starting to experiment with.

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