PLATTSBURGH Photographer Michael Carrino’s latest exhibition, “Natural Light: Figure, Form and Portrait Studies in Black and White” opens Saturday at ROTA Gallery in Plattsburgh.
The exhibition explores his fascination with the mysteries of light as it brushes the human form.
“I had done a small part of it with three or four other photographers at North Country Cultural Center for the Arts a number of years ago,” said Carrino, who has been a teacher, poet and photographer in the Champlain Valley since 1971.
In the back of his mind, he always wanted to have a show of these images.
About the work, he writes:
“The black and white photographs included in this exhibition at the ROTA Gallery are examples I've accumulated over the years using natural light in figure, form and portrait studies. All of these photographs were taken using an old Nikon N-50 SLR camera and a 50mm lens. I have always loved B&W photographs, from my first encounters with family snapshots to my study of the works of Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Helmet Newton, Richard Avedon, and many other exceptional photographers. I've been fascinated by what these artists, often with a broad range of thematic interests, have created while exploring the evocative potential of B&W photography.”
Film has a quality, spontaneity, lacking in digital photography, in his estimation. His images range from the 1990s to the early 2000s and within the last year. He enlarged and framed works and thought they should hang in a gallery rather than his home or locked away in an attic.
“I’m not a real great judge of it,” Carrino said. “I learned black and white photography taking lessons with Shaun Heffernan who used to be here in town. My brother is also a photographer and does a lot of black-and-white figure and portrait work. It came important to me to do natural light.”
The exhibition features women exclusively. He may seek male models in the future and do a solo or combination show but for now it is what it is.
“In figure, form and portrait photography, the intensity and direction of light is, of course vital, whether in an exploration of pure form, or the evoked mysteries and wonders of an object or living organism. It could be a building or automobile, a tree or wave. In this group of photographs it's people. I can't stress enough the importance of the interest, insight, trust, and long patience of the women I worked with to produce these works.”
“Half of them have some nudity but not obvious,” Carrino said. “The old saying goes the difference between pornography and art is lighting, which in a way is a sense of what are you doing. Where are you shining the light? I’ve been hesitant to show them. I didn’t try that hard in Plattsburgh.”
Carrino also photographs landscapes, cityscapes and seascapes, as well as portrait and figure studies in both color and black and white.
“It’s hard to get models. They’re just harder to do. This is a secondary thing. The attraction is the light and how it hits the human body to me. It does it in a way that’s different in black and white. It seems really different how the light works on dressed or undressed faces, necks and shoulders.”
He’s fascinated by this interplay as well as his models' interaction with the setting and him.
His new images were spurred by Jason Robinson at LeZot Camera in Burlington, Vt.
“He took a liking to some older pictures I had shown him,” Carrino said. “I have them framed and enlarged. He said, ‘Why don’t you take some new ones?’ I had pretty much stopped.”
In the digital age, he finds models reticent to pose for a photographer.
“They’re afraid of where they’re (images) going to go. They associate photography to pornography and being used in that way. I tell them, my wife will be here. You can bring 10 people, your boyfriend, your husband, your mother. Bring anybody you want.”
He signs a contract with his models outlining usage.
“Someone would rather sit hours or days naked and have me paint them than for an hour-and-a half work of relatively subtle photography,” Carrino said. “It took a long time to accumulate the amount of work I have. And, I’m not showing all of it. Some of it is not as good as others.”
Email Robin Caudell:rcaudellpressrepublican.comIF YOU GO WHAT: "Natural Light: Figure, Form and Portrait Studies in Black and White," a photography exhibition by Michael Carrino. WHEN: Opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: ROTA Gallery Studios, 50 Margaret St., Plattsburgh.