In the picture galleries of TE we often see penetrating portraits of people from around the world normal, average, good people representing all walks of life, and once in a while a defining portrait, such as the one by Sabyasachi Talukdar . Most of us contribute incrementally to society, clearly some people more than others. Certainly the vast majority of us are quite average. And as of January 1, 2007 there was an estimated world population of 6.7 billion (or more precisely 6,685,072,397). World Population.
As an unusual post on TE, I am submitting a photo of someone quite extraordinary, a true genius who has contributed immensely to technology and to civilization. Professor Norman Ramsey , born on August 27, 1915 (that makes him 91 years and five months at the time of this posting) is one of the most significant scientists of our times. He was born in Washington, DC, which makes him arguably the smartest man to be born in this city. The son of a military officer who rose to the rank of colonel, Ramsey graduated from high school at the age of 15 in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas a town known to many Americans as the site, not of a great academic institution, but an infamous Federal Prison. He attended Columbia University and earned a bachelors degree in mathematics, then Cambridge University in England, back to Columbia, where he wrote the first Ph.D. thesis in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which about 45 years later became the basis of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology that has been a revolutionary medical imaging tool. During the early 70s he was a visiting professor at Oxford University. He served on the faculty of Harvard University for forty years, retiring officially in 1986. But during his time at Harvard, he invented the atomic clock that has revolutionized timekeeping, and made GPS possible. For this discovery he was awarded the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physics.
I took a series of informal candid photographs of him over breakfast while staying at his home on March 8-9, 2006. (I had given a talk at Harvard on March 8, and the Dr. and Mrs. Ramsey, who had attended the talk, made me their houseguest.) On the wall behind Professor Ramsey hangs a Black & White photograph of the King of Sweden, bestowing the Nobel Prize on him, and just below, the official certificate of the prize. What is quite astonishing is that this scientific giant is as modest and gracious, as he is brilliant. He is still as vibrant, although a bit less productive than he was in his heyday. His PhD advisor (I.I. Rabi) was a Nobel Prize winner; and the advisee (William Phillips) of one of his own advisees, won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics.
From the technical point of view, this portrait is a simple shot, using a flash, which, of course, highlights Dr. Ramseys silver hair, and brings out the colors of his clothes. In shooting the picture, and again in cropping it, I focused on his right eye. I wrote about this phenomenon in my book Math and the Mona Lisa. It was discovered in 1998 by Dr. Christopher Tyler, British-born psychologist working in San Francisco, that in most great portraits the vertical bisector passes through (or very near) an eye. This is true in all three of Leonardos miraculous portraits of women, it is true in countless Rembrandt portraits, and even true in some Picasso pictures, including the Portrait of Dora Maar (although, if Picasso knew about this principle in advance, he might have put the eye in the lower right corner of the portrait). Finally, I made the presentation mat in Photoshop, picking up the deep red/cardinal from Dr. Ramseys shirt. I would normally have placed his head a little higher in the frame, but I wanted to include the framed documents on the wall.
Critiques | Translate
cobbydale (1958) 2007-01-29 17:00
A fascinating shot Bulent. This would merit the two points as fine example of portraiture regardless of who the subject was, but given the story behind it, this is something special.
Thank you for sharing.
mesutilgim (88608) 2007-01-29 17:06
Merhaba Bulent kardeşim,
Çok çok güzel bir portre çalışması; yazdığın bilgilerle daha da anlam kazanmış.
Yar (793) 2007-01-29 17:07
thank you for the story. It is always nice to see portrait of the people who achieved something great in this ife, they look noble and for sure, deserve to be known by the communities
thea0211 (1365) 2007-01-30 3:44
wow ... the title itself makes me a bit shy: as ordinary people we use this word on a daily basis - but never are in fact aware of its true meaning
coming from you, on the other hand, makes us remember the real meaning of the word ... this portrait and your note pictures such a brilliant individual, now in his golden age ... reading about him and his acomplishments is a humbling experience - but a necessary one and i whole heartidly welcome it
thank you for sharing,
isabela_sor (47724) 2007-01-30 3:58
What do I like more here:the note or the picture?100 % now:both!The note is so complex and your picture simple but great!Every picture,every comment aand note of you is a provocation to think for us
All the best
delic (6735) 2007-01-30 11:31
Thank you Bulent for the great photograph and for the tribute to Prof. Ramsey. The invention of NMR/MRI technology is quite a mathematical achievement as well with multi-dimensional transforms.
setenay (7688) 2007-01-30 11:53
Gerçekten gümüş renkli saçları ile bu klas,janti, yakışıklı Prof.beyefendinin özelliklerine ve yaşanmışlığına Maşallah diyorum ve daha nice yıllar sağlıklı ömür diliyorum.
carper (96) 2007-01-30 12:55
It's not for the shot because the shot is for me a normal portrait shot, well taken and with a nice light. However after your note I had too critique this photo because this is scientist is also trek eerth, a very good photo job here Bulent.
martburn (533) 2007-01-30 13:20
The integrity of both the subject, your approach to the story and the posting as a whole make me realise that there is a depth to TE that I seldom delve into. Thanks
Ertan (2988) 2007-01-30 16:43
Merhaba Bulent Abi.
Harika portre bu.ve yazdigin notla daha cok anlam kazanmis.Tebrikler.
sothy81 (9588) 2007-01-30 21:10
Hi Bulent, this is a very nice contribution of your portrait photo to TE community. Very nice while he is reading...looks more natural. I would never knew him if you did not post this photo. Well done. Sothy
captainsgirl (3448) 2007-01-31 20:59
very nice portrait, wel done, nicely framed as well TFs
thanks for your comments on my photo "Vermont Covered Bridge" "o)
stego (24030) 2007-02-01 0:50
A very nice portrait indeed, presenting that admirable figure in his own environment. I think that his pose and your compo enable us to see not only his physical aspect but also something more.
Excelent lighting and sharpness, not so usual in indoor photos.
And, of course, very instresting and well written note.
TFS, Cheers, José.
john_c (24666) 2007-02-01 9:49
Good morning Bulent,
A crisp clear portrait shot. The lighting is very fine, with a well chosen exposure level. The sharpness is not overdone. I like the depth here, with the virtual porthole view through the window outdoors. Thanks for the informative note. I am passing this on to my son at university, who is in the same general field - something for him to aspite to! Well captured.
renerob (601) 2007-02-01 16:11
What a (EXCELLENT PORTRAIT), the silver hair the skin tones and sharpness is superb, well done,
Rosa_d_MonteLua (1506) 2007-02-01 16:22
Nice portrait with excellent colors and luminosity.
I like, particularly, the contrast created by the dark red, the greys and the white hair.
Good POV and fine expression in man's face.
TFS and best regards from Portugal,
ahmetgedikli (25587) 2007-02-01 16:55
Bir dehanın; çok net ve başarılı bir portresi... Elinize sağlık, selamlar,
jhm (143573) 2007-02-03 4:08
I can learn with these excellent note, your portrait is no as well as other portraits of other photographers, this is a scientific picture with a very well background, very well done! TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
Nilay (1323) 2007-02-05 15:36
merhaba Bülent Bey,
cok anlamlı ve soft bir portre çalışması,
renkler, detaylar ve herseyi ile cok güzel olmuş,
boonie (779) 2007-02-05 23:33
I can say with certainty that your note is just as, if not more impressive than the photo and that is saying a lot. The portrait is well presented. The framing is very, very nice. Image is sharp and the inclusing of the framed documents on the wall add greatly to the whole presentation.
Thanks for providing the information about this great individual.
sayan (2617) 2007-02-06 4:05
Hello Prof. Atalay,
This photo definitely needs to be recognised as I am in the physics community. A wonderful portrait of the great physicist. Like the way you framed the photo.
PJE (20758) 2007-02-07 0:32
Giving honor to those where honor is due. I think you have done a marvelous job of featuring Dr. Ramsey like this. Growing graceful with age, this photo is a fine tribute to his life and character. Excellent work Bulent. Thanks for sharing!
zeca (19762) 2007-02-07 22:23
Thank you for this portrait, Bulent! And it was very nice to read about it. This genious is really admirable...
I will keep Professor Ramsey in my mind every weekend, when I normaly use my GPS to go out to the blue waters.
Bluejeans (64249) 2007-02-09 13:34
Ola Bulent que belo retrato dum genio do nosso seculo, gostei da nota , parabens!!!
Um abraço Gonçalo
anesugur (18789) 2007-02-11 17:29
Merhaba Bülent Bey,
İşte çalışmaya ve bilgiye verilen değerin ifadesi.
Daha güzel bir konu olurmu?
O saçlar boşuna ağarmamış.
HuseyinUnal (136) 2007-02-13 19:55
iyi gunler Bulent bey,
TE deki tum fotograflariniz birbirinden guzel. Hepsinde herkes icin bir seyler var. Bu nedenle ben bu hakli ovgumu hem fotograf sanati hemde aciklayici notlariniz icin hemde Profesor Dr. Norman Ramsey'i bu guzel portresi ve hakkindaki laik oldugu guzel yazinizla taclandirdiginiz icin yapmak istiyorum.
Sevgi ve selamlar
branley (3681) 2007-02-18 5:25
I feel humble and ordinary when I look at your fine portrait of this great man, even more humble as I'm having an MRI scan on my ankle this coming Wednesday. No doubt, due to your post, I'll be thinking of Professor Ramsey when the time comes. I hope by now you've shown the professor your photograph and, more importantly, your note which is superb. Well done Bulent, a great combination.
recepyuksel (17808) 2007-02-23 14:57
gördüğüm en sıradışı portrelerden birisi,
Her ikinizi de içten tebrik ediyorum, saygılar sunuyorum.
molla (7129) 2007-03-13 16:07
I was a student at that time when professor Norman Ramsey won the Nobel prize, I was study graphic design at the Royal collage of art in Stockholm. and got one invitation to the Nobel prize banquet. But i didn't had any taxedo and tought it was to expensiv to rent one so i gave the invitaion to my best friend (who meet his wife at that banquet).
So many times i have regret that!
An other tread behind one Photo.
Of course im happy for my friend who has a lovely wife
arturo (31) 2007-03-19 17:36
i could imagine a more spectacular shot to celebrate a genius;-)...still the handshake in the background suggests a very thoughtful approach...i do not know what is more intersting in your note, the part describing Norman Ramsey's life or the info about the eye principle...cheers, arturo
nivaldo (15415) 2007-03-23 10:10
a beautiful homage for a great honored person!
You did it very well !
japiey (10163) 2007-04-26 13:03
Well captured, but the background images seem to me a bit distracted.. A slight change in angle would have given a real document of the "Genius". TFS.
danos (89943) 2007-04-27 4:12
nice your portrait of this great man.Very informative your note about the Professor Norman Ramsey.It makes impression the calm that has in his aspect.Thanks to Professor that made GPS possible.Million of people all over the world use it between them and i.Thanks for sharing.Well done.
ls7902 (7328) 2008-07-03 8:59
A portrait not many of us would have the chance to take. Rock stars maybe yes. A genius & rubbing shoulder with one. Unlikely. Thanks for the info on placement of eye. Best Regards. Latiff.
flippingirl320 (0) 2009-09-19 16:12
That's my grandfather!! You've captured him quite well I must say and I like the story :-)