Black Chicken

New Portraits Available in my Etsy Store by Neal Auch

“Extreme seductiveness is at the boundary of horror” ― Georges Bataille

I've added prints of these three portrait images to my Etsy store. These shots are all somewhat old, but they have not been available for purchase until this moment.

These portraits, like all of my works, are very much informed by the idea of memento mori (Latin: "remember to die") and draw inspiration from both religious portraiture and also 17th century vanitas still life paintings. These images might be thought of as an invitation for the viewer to reflect on the certainty of death and the fragility of life. In all three compositions we see beautiful models posed alongside decaying and rotting animal flesh, a reminder of the proximity of death and the vanity of pleasures of the flesh.

The first image of this series features infamous queer model Oscar James Grace holding an arrangement -- perhaps an offering -- of dead birds and dead flowers.

In the second image of this series model Laura Dynamite tenderly nurses a dead duck. I like the juxtaposition between the image of a woman nursing (an act associated to reproduction and the rearing of new life) with the decaying flesh that she cradles.

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Finally, in the third image of this series model Sarah Samedi poses alongside a real lampshade that I built out of raw and fetid goat stomach. This piece employs the rotting flesh lampshade as a reminder of the omnipresence of death. The eerie mottled orange light falling on the model's face reminds us of the spectre of mortality and juxtaposes nicely with the cooler tones of the studio lighting on her right hand side.

Enjoy!

New Marco Photography: Pig Head & Black Chicken by Neal Auch

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I've added some new close-up images to my gallery Inside!  First off, I had a chance to revisit the weird double-toe of the black chicken, pictured above.  I've shot black chicken parts several times before, and I think that this is probably the most technically challenging subject I've considered for this project.  Of course, there are all the usual complications of macro photography (shallow depth of field, stabilization, focus stacking, etc) but the most difficult obstacle to overcome here is the colour of the subject.  The skin of Silkie chicken of very nearly pure black and I wanted to shoot a low key dark image against black background.  It is extremely tricky to figure out how to light a black subject on a black background and still end up with an image that's clear and coherent.  It also doesn't help that the camera's light meter is pretty much useless in a situation like this; the camera wants to expose everything to mid-tone grey, which would mean drastically overexposing an image like this one.

Next I turned my attention to the eye of the pig.  This is my second time working with pig head, but my first time doing close-up work on that particular subject.  I find that there's something eerily human about pig eyes.  I don't know if it's the skin tone or the colour of the iris or what, but to me that first image looks oddly human.  For the second shot I peeled the pig's face off, revealing the muscle and flesh below, for a shot that feels (to me at least) much less human.

Finally I did some work with the pig's teeth.  The first image is the pig's molars; these reminded me a bit of a mountain range, so I opted for a 16:9 crop to emphasize that panoramic landscape-y feel.  The second shot is the front teeth of the pig, less majestic so I opted for the 2:3 aspect ratio that's pretty much the norm for my close-up work.

I have some exciting news and also more images of the pig's head are coming soon!  In the meantime, enjoy!