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©Randall Hobbet
Model: Shantia
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The obvious.
A very well balanced shot. Simple. Clean. Focused. A bit on the darkish side, but hey: it's a late night study after all.
The model is laid back. In a relaxed attitude.
A beautiful woman lounging on a sofa in an office like setting. Black and white contrast.
Soft and hard edges. Contrasts to magnify her aesthetics.
And I would have left it at that.
No reason to look further.
After a first look, if the photograph has grabbed my attention, I generally look at the author's title of the piece, if for no other reason than respect for his work.
"Late night study". OK.
At that point, impossible to say whether she is the subject of the study or studying herself. The pose makes it impossible to even ascertain whether she is awake and not sleeping or dozing off, her arms at her sides.
And again, the flawlessness of her curves, the purity of the lines enhanced by the matrix of contrasts at work would have been ample justification to leave it at that.
Except I noticed her toe nail. Black. Black on whites or at least light greys.
Now why would that previously missed detail suddenly stop me from letting it go? Why does it pull me back to reconsider everything in this photo? Or more to the point, to consider everything and not just let myself be subjugated by the sheer purity of its aesthetics?
There are lots of reasons that could explain that nail. If nothing else, the fact that the model had them painted black.
Now, just to make a point clear: I believe that once a piece of art is created, it frees itself from its creator and evolves on its own. This is one of the reasons why I never take into account the authors words about a specific piece when enjoying it. It doesn't mean I do not read them, but I do not let them interfere with the immediate perception.
Why does it matter? Well in this precise case, I do not take into account what the author writes about why he titled this photograph this way. You see, the question is not really to know why something happened (the black nail or the pose) but what its effect is. To detail my thoughts, I believe Randall also had a problem with this toe nail, or more precisely with all of them, which is why we do not see them and only the one the model could not fold without altering too significantly the pose Randall had set. Again, I may be totally wrong. We'll see.
All that matters is that this literal black "contrepoint" made me look much more closely at the portrayed scene because it seems somehow unnatural. Who would paint one's toe nails (even worse, just one nail) black and leave the hands clean? If nothing else, it piques your fancy. So you look again for what else you may have missed.
First, she is sculptural. No doubt. But not in a sexually connoted way. She is naked for sure, but that's almost an aside. No aggressive nipple, a breast profile so soft it is barely distinguishable from the ribs jutting out a few inches lower.
Second, she isn't resting. Though her performance hides the strength required for her pose, it is there. And the setting isn't comfortable either.Her shoulders rest but her head is stretched at an angle and her legs and arms are in traction, her abs firm and active. She is doing something. Looking at something most probably from the setting.
Third, indeed even from afar it is clear her eyes are not closed as I first thought. She is looking at something. But what? There's nothing there really to meet her gaze, save maybe the upper left side of her left leg which she has partially crossed over.
At that point I realize that initially her pose made me think (quite unconsciously) of a classical lounging pose à la Odalisque minus the rich setting and eventual callipygian bottom. Which is probably why I thought she was resting. But there's one more difference: she doesn't look our way. She doesn't pose. Actually, that's quite striking. She seems totally oblivious to her surroundings. Is she examining herself? Her curves, the firmness of her thighs? Passing time pretending to look for the telltale signs of cellulite?
It's like we are privy to an intimate scene. A stolen glance we have taken over our shoulder at an unsuspecting "she" passing the time. Actually, she is so impervious to us (or the author of the photograph) it may well be we aren't in the same time frame... memories?
If that is so, if that is the essence of this shot, I cannot but admire the subtlety, the delicacy of the exercise. Remarkable would be more appropriate. That could also explain the choice of a so very attractive model yet subdued in its physical expression. The innate quality of such fond memories. It could also explain the lighting. Dark but not somber, and exacting the right mix of precise detail and soft exposure. Classy. Very classy.

So that's how a single black toenail led me here. Madness or luck? :)

Won't read it again for fear of simply deleting it; being strung out so far on a limb with so little to show for it. So please be indulgent Randall as it's shot from the hip as straight forwardly as I could. ;-)
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
1 out of 1 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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n-l-e Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
:) (Smile) 
Chaosfive-55 Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Utterly beautiful...the goddess of Reverie!
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Edited Dec 16, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
A very fitting sobriquet! Thanks Jeff! :) (Smile) 
Chaosfive-55 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
:nod: My pleasure!  Happy Holidays to you and yours!!
Observer14 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
the sweetest of dreams...
the kind where you wake up, and though you can't remember the details, the sweet scent stays with you the rest of the day....
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
When I wake up with one of those dreams floating in my head in the morning, I go back to sleep for some "directed dreaming" to fill in the details! :D (Big Grin) Lovely comment Charles! Thank you so much! :) (Smile) 
Observer14 Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist

You are always welcome!  :-)
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Edited Dec 11, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Well, my undergraduate extracurricular activities were back at Duke University in North Carolina, lol, but I'm sure such experiences shape all of us even in very indirect ways. Thank you for the very nice comment beautyliesintheeye! Now I'm intrigued by what you might have said about that toe nail! :D (Big Grin) :) (Smile) 
I just saw your comment.
Apologies for citing Berkley instead of Duke. For some reason, it had stuck that's where you were.

The toenail... yeah... doesn't seem like much does it? Kind of weak... I know.
But its black. And as far as we (the observers) can tell: it's the only one. So.
Now please be patient, that I muster enough courage to launch into what has to be the weirdest critique of a simple (though beautiful)  BW portrait... lol

As an aside, I was trying to find the name of the artwork in the background because I know it (or at least one very similar), but all my searches were unsuccessful to say the least. It has become almost impossible to find things unless you already know what they are... humf...
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Berkeley, no problem, a very natural assumption. :) (Smile) 

The artwork... it kind of vaguely rings a bell for me too... seems like the typical 1950s poster decorating the Science Building of a University or the walls of a science museum. As I noted above it's a hotel just a block from the UC Berkeley campus... the kind of place to put up visiting parents, performers, or lecturers of the university, hence all the academic scenes in their artwork. 
beautyliesintheeye Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2016
Funny. I had noted this photograph. Liked it a lot. Enough to consider a critique. But those take careful consideration (hahaha! words!). In fact I almost did one on the spur of the moment (quite hastily as ents would say) save for one detail that stopped me. The toenail. For some reason, that had me reconsider everything.
Then this morning I realize this is one of yours... You are very talented indeed my friend. Whether that has to do with extracurricular activities at Berkley... ;-)
popandroid Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2016
pearwood Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh, wow, Randall. An image of peace. Stunning portrait.
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks so much Steve. I know it's a pretty dark palette... but seen full screen on my 27" monitor, it's...well, as I replied to DaddyHoggy....brings back poignant memories. :) (Smile) 
pearwood Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
That I can well believe.
untuox Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2016
So fine.
DaddyHoggy Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2016
Beautiful, so relaxed, intimate, a magic moment captured.
rdhobbet Featured By Owner Edited Dec 10, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks John. The setting is actually a hotel a block from the UC Berkeley campus and the rooms had many an academic theme (like the movie The Graduate, opposite wall) Made me remember those late nights studying at university and being distracted by my girlfriend. Magic moments indeed. ;) (Wink) :D (Big Grin) 
DaddyHoggy Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2016
Ah, distracting girlfriends...

:nod: :)
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Submitted on
December 8, 2016
Image Size
3.7 MB
Mature Content


1,141 (2 today)
119 (who?)

Camera Data

Shutter Speed
1/125 second
Focal Length
27 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Nov 14, 2016, 1:02:24 PM
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.7 (Macintosh)