Friday, August 21, 2009

Plates of meat

click photo to enlarge
The extremities of the human body, as Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man" clearly shows, are the head, hands and feet. When an artist wants to show something of the character of a person it is usually the face that he or she chooses to portray. Leonardo's "Self-Portrait"or his "Study of Five Characters" are good examples of this kind of image. Through their expression, and by the lines that time etches on a person's face we can see (or imagine we can see) something of the underlying singularity of the individual.

Many painters and photographers choose to include hands in their portraits, believing that they too reveal something that lies below the surface of the person. A painting such as Egon Schiels' "Self-Portrait with Hands on Chest" clearly includes the hands in order to say something more about the person that is depicted. The famous photographic portrait of the English painter, Aubrey Beardsley, is as much about his hands and their very long fingers, as it is about the profile of his face. Of course, in all these kinds of paintings and photographs we as viewers don't necessarily see that which the artist intended. However, we do see something, and the hands definitely add to that something.

So what about the third of our bodily extremities - our feet? There are far fewer paintings and photographs of feet than there are of heads and hands, or heads with hands. It's not difficult to see why the latter pairing is rarely to be found: it requires the suppleness of a contortionist to get them in close proximity. But how about feet themselves: why are there so few images of them? Possibly because they aren't very attractive. But that of itself isn't a compelling reason. Maybe it's because they are more often hidden away under socks and shoes. And yet feet are full of character and vary enormously between individuals. Today's photograph is my small contribution to increasing the number of photographs of feet! I noticed my battered pair as I was standing in the kitchen on a warm evening. The under-pelmet lighting was throwing interesting shadows around them so I pointed my camera down and took this shot of my "plates of meat" (Cockney rhyming slang for feet).

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 20mm (40mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/8
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On