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Kora

The Kora is a Gambian musical instrument that sounds rather like a harp but is played rather like fingerstyle guitar.

It is the most recent instrument in my "Strings Attached" gallery at www.charlesLwebster.com



Lit with one strobe on a boom overhead with a 20deg honeycomb grid and a 24" x 36" softbox off left for fill, down about 2 stops from the key.

Shot with Canon 30D w/ EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro 1/200 @ f/11 ISO 100.

Yeah, cropped a little tight, I know. But my studio is really small and the instrument is quite large.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi Charles,

Just to get the feel of the instrument, do you have a wider shot. Then I will spend time visiting. I must admit, that going fast, I thought I was going to see pictures of a model named Kora, LOL. I thought, hmm, he's got a sense of humor as she doesn't have a head!

I'm used to your guitars, but this is new.

Do you play it or you have it just to photograph?

Asher
 

Rachel Foster

New member
I love the lighting on your instrument shots. I've been experimenting with flash and strobes (portrait work though).

How big is this instrument?
 
Kora - full figured

The Kora is quite large, being about 54-60 inches in length with the calabash that forms the sound box about 25-30 inches in diameter.

Here's the "mug shot" of the whole instrument

 
Portrait not product

Please see these pictures of stringed instruments as portraits, each lit to emphasize a particular feature much as you would photograph a person.

Thanks,
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
The Kora is a Gambian musical instrument that sounds rather like a harp but is played rather like fingerstyle guitar.

It is the most recent instrument in my "Strings Attached" gallery at www.charlesLwebster.com


Lit with one strobe on a boom overhead with a 20deg honeycomb grid and a 24" x 36" softbox off left for fill, down about 2 stops from the key.

Shot with Canon 30D w/ EF-S 60mm f/2.8 macro 1/200 @ f/11 ISO 100.

Yeah, cropped a little tight, I know. But my studio is really small and the instrument is quite large.
Hi Charles,

This is new for you in its complexity. I'm reluctant to walk away from it because to me it's been a challenge since you posted it and I have felt it's for me to accommodate not for you to change. I had been used to your streamlined minimalism in your guitar series. This is one new universe. Also cropping close makes it tough as the "boat" with the rigging wants to move forward to the left! The instrument is unusual to my eyes having gotten so accustomed to the polished shape of the violin, cello, base and guitar, (before electronics :) ). Here we almost have a community of features working together represented in different mother earth materials: the rich wood, strings, leather and cloth lanyard/strap.

The instrument, for sure is designed to have balance to use it and to be looked at. Here this has been cut so that we have exaggeration of verticals and there is very little relief in the lateral direction. Also direction is of any movement is right to left, contrary to progress in Western society. That's only an idiomatic preference but it's there, nevertheless. It's really tough to crop a real thing that someone has thought out and then make it whole again.

I am thinking that the issue is made more pressing only because I'm not seeing this on a large wall. The presentation is remarkably important for a composition as bold and awkward as this. It needs to be viewed in an accepting space which will then make up for balancing features which we are very good at adding. That's part of man's development: the ability to complete a puzzle.

So first I'd offer this as a smaller image say 400-500 pixels wide with a lot of free space above and below it. The other idea is to be very bold and say, O.K., it really wants to move right to left as a huge galleon. Well then, why not do exactly that.

So allow me to suggest an abutting black panel with added traveling space for the picture to breath and come to life:




Photo Charles Webster "Kora" black side panel ADK

I hope this merits your consideration, in any case, thanks for sharing your portrait of this unusual instrument.

Asher
 
Asher, the added negative space works well to balance the bulk and "heft" of the instrument. It would have been nice to have the space to shoot it that way, but your artificial addition works well also.

I chose to place the instrument so, because this is the position in which I first saw it. Held in the lap of the player as he faced the strings and the calabash faced the audience. I don't see a "ship-like" character to this instrument, but I visually connect the array of strings to a single-tower suspension bridge, such as is being built here across SF Bay.

Thank you for your comments and the welcome improvement.

You can see more pictures of the Kora by clicking "Strings Attached" on my web site.

<Chas>
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher, the added negative space works well to balance the bulk and "heft" of the instrument. It would have been nice to have the space to shoot it that way, but your artificial addition works well also.

I chose to place the instrument so, because this is the position in which I first saw it. Held in the lap of the player as he faced the strings and the calabash faced the audience. I don't see a "ship-like" character to this instrument, but I visually connect the array of strings to a single-tower suspension bridge, such as is being built here across SF Bay.
Charles,

Whew! I'm glad you approved of the addition of the black panel as that was a liberty I took and then I was concerned it was too bold. Thanks for being so open!

So the strings then are played like a harp? The suggestion of S.F. is interesting. I see a great schooner or Spanish Galleon, maybe one from a bizarre dream or movie but nautical anyway.

Concerning the direction of movement. Now, I'm not sure. Perhaps I'm wrong about it going to the left?
with the black space it could be coming or going, LOL! In any case, it's magnificent.

Asher
 
Yes, it is played like a harp, plucked with thumb and forefinger of each hand. The open, unfretted strings have a very harp-like sound but the playing style is more like finger-style guitar.

I thought more about the direction thing, and I see the instrument moving toward the calabash side, away from the strings, regardless of the pose or position. I'll try to post another that I think illustrates that feeling, a bit later.
 
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