Archive for June 2007

I was originally thinking of titling this blog entry “XX,” but then I thought that some folks might interpret that to be the Roman numeral for ’20.’ (Oddly enough, if I were to use the title “XXX,” then some might take it to mean something other than the Roman numeral for ’30’ – and that might draw the wrong kind of clientele for something like this blog – but I digress.) So, I’ve decided to settle on “Double X.”

In this case, that’s short for Double Ex – or ‘double exposure.’ I have wanted to work with the creative possibilities of in-camera double exposures for some time, and now and then I’d make a photo using the idea. It was all random and haphazard, though, and nothing was ever consistent. Sometimes I’d go out to a photo shoot with making a series of double exposures in mind but I’d just plain forget. Finally, at Prince Edward Island in Canada last summer, I remembered.

These photos here are images of Rachel on the island’s beautiful rocky coastline. One shows her ‘inside’ a large rock covered with barnacles (or barnacly-type things) and the other two show her as part of a stratified rock formation. One of the things I’ve tried to do was to show her as being a part of the rock, as if encased in it. I think these turned out fairly well, though I’ll try to hone my skills at this (if I can remember, that is).

These photos were made with my Pentax 67 camera, but I also made some double exposures on the island with my new Holga – though most of the were unintentional! Still, the results were somewhat interesting and I’ll try to post them sometime in the future.

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I grew up near Coney Island, the beach and boardwalk area known for its fun & games and cheap thrills. (The Cyclone, the famous roller coaster, was down the block.) I still live within an hour’s walk from there, but since my family moved away, I don’t go that often any more.

The area has been in the news lately as the Astroland amusement park has been sold to a real estate developer who wants to tear it down and build a year-round indoor entertainment complex with hotels and condominiums. (The community is against the condo idea.) At any rate, this summer has been declared to be the last summer of Astroland being where it is now and of Coney Island as it is now.

With this in mind, I’ve thought of the idea of making a series of photos of Coney Island this summer. The Holga is my camera of choice for this and almost seems made for a place like Coney Island. After all, both are cheap and meant for having fun.

I thought of beginning this project yesterday as it was the day of the annual Mermaid Parade, and I figured that there’d be plenty of colorful characters about. On the other hand, I’d hurt my back the day before and could have used this an excuse to stay home and watch TV. (I wrote about photographic inertia in an earlier posting.)

When I woke up and got out of bed, my back was still hurting – but I decided to head off to Coney Island anyway with my Holga and several rolls of 120 film. I also had not been doing much long walking without a cane since my foot surgery last October and this would be a good opportunity to start becoming active again.

In the end, I shot three rolls of film with the Holga. I already know that I messed up one picture. I took a photo of a retro model who was posing with two cohorts on the boardwalk for a bunch of photographers, and if I’m not mistaken, I took a photo of something else before advancing the film. (With the Holga, one does not need to advance the film to cock the shutter.)

I found this to be a major problem with the Holga when I first began using it last year – I didn’t always advance the film after each shot and before taking the next one I had to wonder if I had or hadn’t. It’s therefore easy to make unintentional double exposures – but I must admit that sometimes these are even more interesting than the single images! I’ll post some of those sometime down the road.

It’ll be a while until I develop the B&W film that I shot, but for now, here are some of the photos I made with my pocket digital camera, showing some parade participants along with the Coney Island scenery. The girl with the green hair recognized the Holga for what it is, and I told her that it’s my ‘real camera,’ with the digital just being for fun.
In the end, I didn’t stay for the parade as I try to avoid crowds, especially if I’m stuck in one spot. (Perhaps if I still had a valid press card from the NYPD as I did a few years ago it might have been different.) I don’t know yet if I got any good photos on film, but at least it was nice to get out into the sun and the breeze for a few hours instead of sitting at home in front of the tube.
(By the way, the fellow with the beard here looks a bit like a photographer friend of mine. He'll know who he is if he reads this.)

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Hi, folks. This will be another quickie post for me as I haven’t had time to really write anything. I’ll be taking a class at work all of next week that will require me to study at night so I can pass the test at the end – because if I don’t pass I can lose my job. (If only…….. )

Therefore, I’ve been trying to get in some new DVD watching this week while I can, and I’ve been enjoying the episodes of the second season of the new “Doctor Who” series with David Tennant. (I saw it when it was broadcast on the SciFi channel, but the widescreen DVDs look sooooooo much better.)

As for photography, today I’m posting another photo of Rhowena from my 2004 photo session with her in Nevada. I had scanned the negative of this one some time ago but never posted it online, thinking that perhaps it was a bit too ‘glam.’ However, I was showing it last week to a possible new model and she absolutely loved it (or so it seemed) and I’ve now decided to share it with the world. If anyone out there likes it, too, don’t be afraid to let me know.

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One of the things I love about Japan is how they manage to blend the traditional with the modern. Most of Japanese society is, of course, very modern, but they continue to hang on to what came before. One of these things is the kimono.

The great majority of Japanese women venture outside wearing modern, western-style clothing. Still, now and then, one does see someone wearing a kimono. Sometimes it will be a group of women, perhaps all dressed up to attend a special event. Such sightings are not terribly unusual, but it is definitely not too common.

Of course, when I see this, I try to get a decent photo or two if I can. I usually use my little digital camera for this as it has autofocus to help do things quickly and it can capture the colors that my B&W film can’t. It has flash, too, for dark or nighttime scenes. The photos you see here were made in Tokyo and Kyoto in the spring of 2005.

Kimonos come in a variety of patterns, from simple solid colors to very ornate designs. I’ve been told that elaborate wedding kimonos can cost thousands of dollars, but something like that is obviously not seen often on the street.

What I do find to be a bit unusual, as you can see from the photo at the bottom here, is that many (or most) of the mannequins used to display kimonos in stores and windows actually have western features!

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I haven’t written much this time as I’ve been busy scanning older negatives the last few nights. Here are a couple of them, showing Rei from Australia as photographed at a house in upstate New York in the fall of 2004.

There are still plenty of sheets of negatives to go through to decide which ones to scan. I’m pretty sure that you’ll see many of them here.

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I’m sitting here at home in New York writing my regular Sunday blog entry, so you’d think that everything is normal. Well, it isn’t.

This weekend I was supposed to be in Las Vegas.

I usually go to Vegas to visit family several times a year, mostly for long weekends, and so it started on Friday evening with a trip to Kennedy Airport. When I checked in with America West/US Airways, I was told that the plane was late coming and in would be late going out. That’s nothing new, and eventually boarding of the plane began (albeit an hour late) – but that‘s when the trouble really began.

First, we couldn’t leave the gate because a British Airways 747 was sitting right behind us. Finally that moved, but we didn’t get too far. At one point, the pilot told us that we were next to get on the take-off line. (That’s right. We were first on line to get in line.) He said that it was all due to thunderstorms ranging from New Orleans to west of Toronto and all flights from the east coast going west were affected.

After sitting there without moving for a very long time, the pilot decided to return to the gate to allow people to get off if they’d given up. Eventually, it all became academic. After more than two hours sitting on the plane, we were all kicked off. The flight had been cancelled.

Now, I’ve been kicked off of my fair share of subway trains, but never before from an airplane – and things continued to get worse. A US Airways employee gave out a phone number to call to book another flight. I thought that if I could book a seat on the 8 am flight, I might still be able to make a weekend trip worthwhile, but first I just wanted to get home and so I took a cab back.

(Others weren’t so lucky. I heard two women say that they were from out of town and had no place to spend the night. No hotel rooms were available, they were told, but they couldn’t stay in the terminal because they had to go down to baggage claim to get their luggage – and from there you can’t get back in! Essentially, these people were being thrown out onto the street, after midnight, with no place to stay.)

Once home, I tried calling that phone number but it was busy every time, so I just decided to give up on the idea of going at all. I did call again the next day (yesterday) to find out how I can book another trip. This time the phone rang, but instead of someone saying “US Airways,” the women at the other end said “Hello. Bridal World.”

Obviously (to put it mildly), this was not what I expected to hear. After I paused for a couple of seconds, having been dumbfounded, I repeated the phone number to see if I had entered it wrong. I had not. Then, already knowing what the answer would be, I asked if this just might be US Airways. Nope – but I wasn’t alone. The woman told me that about 15 people had already called asking for the same thing, so I had not written down the number incorrectly at the airport.

So there you have it. After the ordeal that my fellow passengers and I went through, we had been told to re-book by calling up a bridal shop in Pennsylvania!!!

Of course, there’s still more. I then phoned the real US Airways number and was told that for this type of cancellation I needed to fly again within seven days – something impossible for me to do because I have something called a job. Then I was told that my credit would be good for a year but I would have to pay a $100 re-booking fee. I again said that this was unacceptable and asked to speak with a supervisor. (Hey, I wasn’t the one who decided to cancel the flight, was I?) I never did speak with a supervisor, but the woman on the phone did and said that the $100 fee was being waived, so I guess I should be thankful for small miracles. (This does not negate the fact that I paid over $80 for car fare to and from the airport and for overpriced airport food.)

I can understand if uncontrollable delays or even cancellations happen due to things like bad weather. What can be controlled is the information given to passengers and how they’re treated. This is where the airline rates a big fat ‘zero.’ For one thing, they gave out a totally wrong phone number for rebooking. For another, my family in Las Vegas was actually told several times on the phone by the airline that the plane had left New York and landed in Vegas! (If not for my cell phone, they would have gone to the airport to get me.) Then there’s the ridiculous idea of charging people $100 to rebook a ticket for something that was not their own doing.

And people wonder why the airline industry is in trouble – and from what I’ve seen reported on the news, it’s only going to get worse in the upcoming years.

Finally, I’m posting some photos of Rhowena, made a few years ago (with infrared film) on a trip to Las Vegas when the plane actually took off and got there. I’m just glad that I wasn’t planning to photograph a model and didn’t have any show tickets this weekend. (As for next time, who knows?)

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I guess I’m not the only person in this world who from time to time just scratches his head in disbelief and astonishment. One such occurrence happened yesterday.

My blog here is linked to Stat Counter, a service that tells me how many visitors the site has had, where these visitors are located, which sites they linked from, etc. As I looked down the list of sites where people had linked from, I saw that it was fairly normal. Most people had come from art nude listing blogs or from other photographers’ blogs.

A certain amount, though, come to visit the blog from search engines. These people are usually conducting searches for ‘art nudes’ (or something similar) or on the names of models (Kerie Hart has been popular lately, for some reason). However, as I went down the list, I saw one search engine link that really had me puzzled. What sites were being sought???

Someone had typed in a search for ‘photos of women wiping their ass.’ Yes, I kid you not, someone was actually looking for that. My first thought, of course, was “Why??? Can’t they think of anything better to look for?” Next, my second thought was, “Why did they link to my site? I certainly have never taken or posted any photos like that.”

Well, you know those movies or TV shows where they record people saying all kinds of things and then splice them together to sound totally different? It would seem that search engines work the same way. Here’s how it found me and my blog:

· ... cameras up to their eyes without thinking of how to make their photos ... the force that keeps a photographer sitting on his/her ass ... side wiper must have been warped, as it wasn’t properly wiping ...

So, take part of a comment about people photographing Big Ben in London, something I’d written about the will to go out and photograph, then part of the story of my wintertime drive up to Montreal in 2004, put them all together and voila! – you’ve got people thinking that you’ve got photos of women wiping their asses.

I suppose I might have been a little disappointed that my site would attract such viewers who are not interested in art, but just imagine the disappointment those people felt when they saw a bunch of photos of nude girls, fully expectant of the images in store for them, only to find that everything was on the up and up!

As for the photo, here’s an image of Carlotta in a somewhat precarious position – though not as compromising a position, apparently, as what some folks would like to have seen her in.

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I was reading through my copy of National Geographic Traveler magazine last week when I came upon a two page story about the Ile de Cite and the Ile Saint-Louis in Paris. These are two relatively small islands, linked by a bridge, located in the middle of the River Seine in the heart of the city. The Ile de Cite was the first part of Paris to be inhabited and includes such places as Notre Dame cathedral, the Palace of Justice and the Concergerie (the final stop for people just before getting the chop from Madame Guillotine during the revolution).

The Ile Saint-Louis, on the other hand, is smaller and more intimate, without the types of public buildings its neighbor possesses. I’d been to Paris a few times before my last visit there in 2001 but had never been to the Saint-Louis, so I decided that year to take a stroll there – and so the story reminded me.

Actually, it reminded me of both islands, so today I’m presenting photos I made of both. Up top is a photo I made from the Right Bank, looking across to the Ile de Cite. Yes, that tall building at the upper right with the two towers and the steeple is Notre Dame. (You know, the one with the hunchback - in the Victor Hugo novel, anyway.) When I make a photo like this, I often try to include something in the foreground to give a sense of space to the scene. I think that works here, and gives a sense of the city’s layout, too.

Next is a photo I made while walking along the banks of the Saint-Louis. This is an arch formed by the underside of a bridge spanning the Seine. I liked the strong graphic sense of it, and to my eye, when viewed two-dimensionally, the shadow and its reflection looked like an inverted horn.

The third image is one that I’ve titled “Two Bridges.” In the foreground is the Pont des Arts, a wooden-planked pedestrian span near the Louvre on the Right Bank and an old art academy on the Left. In the background, running (left to right) from the Right Bank to the Ile de Cite to the Left Bank, is the Pont Neuf. (The name means ‘new bridge,’ but in fact it is now the oldest bridge in Paris at an age of 400 years.) The small triangular area with trees at the upper right is the western tip of the Ile de Cite.

Those of you who’ve kept up with this blog know that I’ve been traveling to Asia lately. That’s something I plan to continue, but when I read about places like Paris, Rome, London or Stockholm, it makes me think of changing my plans. If only I had more time and more money…………

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