Invoking Rothko

Invoking Rothko

Camera: Fuji X-Pro1
Exposure: 1/25
Aperture: f/1.4
Focal Length: 23mm (35mm full frame equivalent)
ISO: 200

As my friend Jason Snyder (@jsnsndr) and I walked through the Art Institute of Chicago, we came upon this scene in front of Rothko’s Purple, White and Red.  This gentleman was standing in a fugue in front of this work, seemingly unaware of those around him.  Was this rapture or meditation or something else?  Because of the obvious implications for mental illness, I deliberately did not show this man’s face, but this image speaks to me as it is a reminder that art itself is most meaningful to the wider world when there are people there to appreciate it.

As an aside, when photographing in quiet places like museums, it is important particularly with images like this to have a quiet camera. A traditional SLR with the mirror flapping around attracts far too much attention which alters people’s behavior around you.  This is where the original film based Leica M6 with its cloth shutter (The new digital Leica M9 shutter is unbelievably loud) and now the digital Fuji X-Pro1 excel… Their shutter mechanisms are very quiet making them outstanding cameras for street photography or in more discrete situations.  While I’ve not done a scientific head to head comparison, I do think the X-Pro1 shutter is even quieter than perhaps, even the Leica M6.  That may have to be a future blog post…  At any rate, to further reduce the sound signature, selecting a slower shutter speed that has a less sharp acoustic signature also helps.  Though there is the risk of blur which may or may not be desired here.  In this case, the gentleman was standing very still which allowed for such a low shutter speed.



2 Replies to “Invoking Rothko”

  1. Nice shot – you nailed it. Indeed, I was too scared to get close and disturb the scene and from what I remember, my images are less intimate. And I even enabled electronic shutter on my xt1 to be extra discrete!

    1. Thanks! I keep forgetting about the newer electronic shutter in the X-T1. Need to experiment more with that. I just love the X-Pro1 form factor so… Cannot wait for the X-Pro2.

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