Thursday, July 29, 2010

portrait study of Lon Chaney Sr.

I've been a fan of Lon Chaney Sr. since I was a little kid. To me, his portrayal as Erik in The Phantom of the Opera is still bone-chilling.
But his work as one of films' premier character actors goes far beyond his more memorable roles as The Phantom or The Hunchback. That fact has been lost largely to the passing of almost 90 years, ..but it's also a fact that not many photos of Chaney, as himself, even exist, since he was a pretty private person off camera.

..Still, I wanted to generate a color portrait of the man 'out of character' that I thought captured his essence. I googled the best I could and this was about the best photo I could find;

Old photos like this can be a pain to work from. Either contrasty or washed out, and this one is no exception. In spite of the glorious and well-lit glamor photos by old-school Hollywood photographers like Josef Von Sternberg, George Hurrell, or Laszlo Willinger, there aren't really any richly lit photos of Chaney like that to be found.

But a little imagination and artistic license can add additional light sources, as well as reduce shadows and glare to a (hopefully) more accurate and rich image of what once was.

..That friendly but mischievous expression does seem to capture his essence.
I hope I've given the man's countenance a little due justice.

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