The photo I’m posting here is part of my “Untitled Nude, 2003” series, but I like to think of it as “The Fabulous Rhowena Twins.”
Of course, if you remember a particular blog posting I made a couple of months ago (http://figuresofgrace.blogspot.com/2007/07/friday-13th.html), you’ll know that there is in fact just one Rhowena. The color images posted with the other entry were two separate images made with a digital camera that were combined together with stitching software. The monochrome image you see above, quite different from those others, was made as an in-camera double exposure.
The technique to do this is fairly simple though the execution is not necessarily so easy. Place your subject on the left side of the frame and cover up the right side of the lens with a black card (or similar item). Then place your subject on the right side of the photo and cover up the left side of the lens. While doing this, use the camera’s multiple exposure capability (if it has it) to cock the shutter without advancing the film, thus getting both images (or half-images, as it were) on the same piece of film.
While the idea is simple enough, it can be hard to do when you place your subject close to its other self within the frame as I’ve done here. You want to cover up enough of the lens so that each half of the frame is only exposed once – but if you cover up too much, then you’ll have an area of the negative in the middle than gets very little or no exposure, leaving you with a blank spot in the middle. (Ideally, there should be a small amount of overlap to avoid getting the blank area.)
I think I tried several times to get this image and wound up with those blank spots in the middle a few times. The image seen here worked – but just barely. In the middle on the negative is a narrow vertical area that barely got any exposure. When I printed this negative, I think the overall exposure time was something like 15 seconds, but I had to dodge (i.e. limit exposure to) that middle section for 13 seconds. In other words, the overall exposure was 15 seconds or so but the exposure for that middle strip was only about 2 seconds! To do the dodging I used a pencil, as it fit the shape of the underexposed area, but after making half a dozen prints I was only really happy with one and moderately satisfied with another.
Still, despite those difficulties, I’d like to try the technique again sometime, along with other multiple exposure methods.
As I wrote last time, now that the magazine in which my photos are featured is out and my major travels for the year are over, I’m going to try to get back to writing about my photos. I’ve decided to start with a few photos made in 2001 in the south of France.
I went down to France that summer at the invite of my friend George from Louisiana. I had met George the previous year at workshops in California and then (by coincidence) Provence. He asked me if I’d like to join him again in Provence, as one of the workshop models he’d kept in touch with was also a photographer and had offered to set up photo shoots with some of her own models. I was already planning to visit London and Paris the two weeks immediately prior to George’s plan for Provence, so it happened to fit into my plans and I said yes.
The four photos here are of a lovely, sweet natured girl named Emilie. The first two photos here were made on a memorable day when we ventured to the “calanques,” the rocky coastline of the Mediterranean Sea near Marseille. The day is memorable for two reasons.
First, George fell off of a rock in the morning and when I went over to take a look, I saw him sitting on that rock with blood pouring out of the side of his head, running down the side of his face and down his neck and chest. (It would have made a great color photo with the red of the blood and the blue of the Med behind him, but I thought doing so at the time might have been insensitive. George’s wife, though, told me that evening that I should have gone ahead and done it!) Anyway, George felt well enough to walk so we all packed up our stuff and climbed back over the rocks to the lifeguard station at the nearby beach. Paramedics arrived and treated George, saying that his wound was just superficial.
George decided to spend the rest of the day resting in the shade, so the models and I returned the “calanques.” This is the second memorable part. While climbing down a large rock, I saw that my shirt had gotten caught on something jutting out. I immediately yanked myself away – which was probably a mistake. From that moment on, over the next several days, I began getting pains in the left side of my chest that kept increasing in intensity. Eventually, I could barely move a muscle while trying to sleep without a sharp pain shooting through me. So, we had to cancel our last day’s photo session because I needed to go the emergency room at a hospital in Arles! (After an EKG and half a dozen chest x-rays, I was told that the pain was most likely caused by a pulled muscle.)
About the photos, the one at the top was made late that afternoon. I asked Kathy, one of the other girls, to hold her hand out so that it would cast a shadow on Emilie’s face as you see it. To me, it seems to add a sense of mystery to the image. The second photo was also made at the calanques earlier in the day. As you can see, at this point the sun was pretty high in the sky and was casting harsh shadows, but I still think the image works with her upper torso seeming to come out of the fabric.
The other images were made a day or two earlier at another location in Provence: the quarries at Les Baux. near Arles. Unlike the seaside setting of the first two images, the quarry area offered more in the way of shade and softer light. It also offered some graffiti, so I thought it would be cute to have a nude Emilie looking at another ‘nude.’ The final image here is a simple portrait of Emilie against a bright background. What I find interesting here, besides Emilie’s lovely visage, is how the shadow on her stomach gives the effect of her having an extremely narrow waste!
(By the way: if you’re reading this, Chris – this posting is for you.)
I haven’t written anything for nearly a week as I was away in Las Vegas for nearly that long. I just got back home tonight – and the plane was late, of course. Mel Brooks was on it, though. As I passed him by I shook his hand and told him that “The Producers” (the original, with Zero Mostel) is on my short list of top favorite films. (The plane ride out to Vegas last week went perfectly, but these days it’s asking too much to expect two straight plane rides to go without a hitch.)
Well, the big news is that the inaugural issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine – with an eight page feature on me and my photography – was officially released this past Friday. If you like my photography and/or B&W art nudes, I think you’d find it to be worth seeking out. The thing is that seeking it out is what you may need to do.
As I wrote before I left to go west, I found several copies at the Borders bookstore on Broadway in lower Manhattan. Those copies were in the Photography magazine section. I next went to a Borders location in Las Vegas – and they unfortunately did not seem to carry it. Apparently each store does things differently.
So, I went to another Borders in Las Vegas yesterday morning. I did so after calling and being told that the magazine was there. I first looked in the magazine section and didn’t see it there. Then I went to the cashier’s desk (as I was told to do on the phone) and asked for it. Yes, they had five copies of it – but it was kept away from public reach, laid flat, along with the sex, porno and gay magazines! I couldn’t believe it. And this was in Las Vegas - Sin City!!!!!!
I asked why the magazine wasn’t displayed upright so people could see it, and the young woman at the desk told me that to do so would be “inappropriate” – even though the cover photo shows no ‘naughty bits.’ Perhaps it’s just the word “Nude” that was the problem. At any rate, the way they had it, nobody would even know about it or know to ask for it if they didn’t already know about it. I guess it just shows that people in New York City are more sophisticated and artistically aware than those in Las Vegas. (I know, I know - that's not saying much.)
Then I got a message today from my friend Dave Levingston telling me that he found a copy of the magazine at a Borders in Columbus, Ohio, but that it was hidden away in the Foreign magazine section – even though it’s an English language publication. I guess the good folks in Ohio couldn’t imagine that a publication about artistic nude photography could have possibly originated right here in the United States of America. (I mean – what upstanding American could possibly produce such a thing? Jeez.)
So, the moral here is: if you want to get a copy of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE and you don’t see it, please ask for it! I think you’ll be glad you did.
In other news, I had breakfast on Saturday with a Las Vegas photographer named Terrell Neasley. I’d seen on his blog recently that he began photographing nudes not too long ago and that he admired my work a great deal. I’m always happy to meet with other photographers, especially those who are relatively new at what I do, so I offered to meet him one day. I could see that Terrell was very much a gentleman and genuinely interested in what he was doing photographically, and as he wrote on his blog (http://www.tnap.blogspot.com/), the four hours we spent talking about photography and looking at our respective work just seemed to fly by. I’m posting here a photo I made of him with an abstract nude from his portfolio that I liked quite a bit. I’ve added his blog to the blog list on the right here, too. I thank you again for your hospitality, Terrell – and maybe one day next year we can go out on a photo shoot together with a couple of models.
Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll return to my regular blog entry style of photos with commentary for my next entry. Stay tuned –and if any of you do get a copy of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE, comments would be most welcome.
Luciano Pavarotti was the greatest lyric tenor of his generation. He helped bring the beautiful world of the grand opera to masses of newcomers and set standards for opera lovers. He was called “the King of the High C’s.” Now, he is gone.
“The king is dead. Long live the –“
Well, we’ll have to see about that one. There was not a singer like Pavarotti for a long time before him and there likely won’t be another for a long time after. Even though he was pretty much retired and had long been past his prime, the fact that he was still around meant something to the world – and the world took notice when he left us. Although he had stopped singing publicly, it still feels like there’s a void.
Most people knew Pavarotti through recordings or opera broadcasts. Some others may have been lucky enough to see him perform live. I, however, had a closer connection with him (though I’ll be the first one to admit how tenuous a connection it was). For four years, from 2001 to 2004, I worked occasionally as a supernumerary at the Metropolitan Opera here in New York. (A supernumerary – or “super,” for short – is a fancy word for an extra on stage, or, as I liked to call myself, an actor in a non-speaking role.)
I enjoy many kinds of music, including classical and opera, so a friend of mine once suggested that I try to become a super at the Met as he had done a few times. I tried, and it worked. During those four seasons, I appeared in five different operas. I was an Egyptian soldier and treasure bearer in Aida; a yeoman of the guard in the party of the queen of Spain in Don Carlo; a French soldier in La Boheme; a vagrant who attends a church service in Tosca; and, in my favorite, I carried a banner in the court of the Chinese emperor in Turandot. It was a fantastic experience, being on stage and being in the midst of such great music coming from the orchestra, the chorus and the soloists. (Seeing what went on backstage was even more interesting than what happened on stage! Speaking of backstage, here's a BW photo of me backstage getting ready to go on in Aida; I'm the tall one on the left.))
I made my Metropolitan Opera debut (as I jokingly liked to say) on January 15, 2001 – with Luciano Pavarotti singing the role of the hero, Radames, in Aida. When I was offered the chance to be in Aida, I knew that Pavarotti would be in it, so I was thrilled to be able to be in it with him and tell everyone (jokingly) that I made my debut with Pavarotti.
As fate would have it, I began my Met career with Pavarotti – and he ended his career with me. I had never actually seen a full performance with him, so I bought a ticket to see him in his farewell to the Met (and staged opera) in Tosca. Afterwards, I was given the chance to perform in Act I of Tosca over several weeks, so on the night of his farewell, I wasn’t sure whether I should see the show from the audience or act in it.
Finally, I decided to do both – I did my bit in Act I on stage, changed back into my regular clothes and then went up to the Balcony section to take my seat and watch Act II and III from there. It was great to finally hear Pavarotti sing, even at that late stage in his career, and I timed the standing ovation at the end at around 10 minutes and 45 seconds, as I recall – and it would have gone on longer had Pavarotti and his bad legs been able to stand for longer. (I was actually sitting next to the reporter for the Associated Press and we both timed it.)
I was also able to meet him and get his autograph a couple of times, too (though sadly, no photos). The first time was following the Saturday matinee performance of Aida (on January 27, 2001 – the 100th anniversary to the day of the death of Aida’s composer, the great Giuseppe Verdi). I waited with a friend until the opera was over and sat outside the dressing rooms as the singers came back, all dressed up in their outfits. Afterwards, I waited on Pavarotti’s visitor line and peeked inside his room. I saw a heavy set man with a big beard wearing a shirt that was primarily red in color. It felt a bit like I was waiting to meet Santa at a department store. (You can see a scan of the autographed program here. Click on it to see it larger and read the names.)
Another time, Bill and Chelsea Clinton came to see Aida and visited the cast following the Act II curtain. I was standing just feet away from Clinton, Pavarotti and the Met GM Joe Volpe as they had a conversation, able to hear every word. Here’s a photo made on that occasion that appeared in both Opera News magazine and the National Enquirer! You can see me with my Egyptian headpiece on, standing on tippy-toe in the back between Bill and Chelsea. (Again, click to see it larger.)
The second time I met Pavarotti was following his farewell performance. After the show, I went backstage to retrieve my bag from my locker. I saw that some members of the public were being allowed backstage, so I joined them in a reception in one of the large spaces next to the stage. I’d heard that there would be some kind of presentation, but I waited and it never happened. Finally I decided to leave, but as I passed the singers’ dressing rooms, I saw a short line going into Pavarotti’s room. Sure enough he was there receiving people. I got on line and waited my turn. He seemed tired but in good spirits, and he signed the CD booklet seen at the top here plus that night’s program. However, that day was the birthday of a woman on the Met staff and he had just taken a piece of chocolate birthday cake – so not only do I have his autograph on that program (seen here), but his thumbprint in chocolate, too! --------------------------------------------
On the subject of men with beards, my good friend Dave Levingston has been visiting me for several days. It’s certainly good to have a friend like Dave around (whiskers and all). One of the reasons he came to New York was to pay a visit to Coney Island before it succumbs to development. I grew up by Coney Island and lived there for many years, so I was happy to take Dave over and give him a walking tour. He seemed to enjoy it. Here are a couple of photos of him looking rather un-New Yorker-ish in straw hat and Hawaiian shirt. Apparently some people thought that he was from Texas.
I went to the Borders bookstore near my office today to look for the premiere issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine (http://www.carrieleigh.com/), which includes an eight page feature on me and my photography. The official release date is September 14, but this Borders had several copies of it, so obviously the magazine is making its way to the public. All Borders and newsstands carrying it should have it by the 14th, but if you want to look for it now, go right ahead. The magazines come wrapped in plastic, so if you want to see the contents, ask to be able to remove the plastic. It’s worth taking a look at.
Finally, today is September 11. The office where I work is just three short blocks from the World Trade Center site, but on that fateful day six years ago I was at a photo workshop in southern Colorado photographing nudes. I was lucky. Many others weren’t. I offer my condolences to those who lost loved ones and friends in the tragedy, whether their grieving has ended or has not.
Well, it’s here. An advance copy of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine. The premiere issue. Volume 1, Number 1.
And a bunch of my photos are in it! (Can you tell that I’m happy about this???)
It has been several months since I received an e-mail (that was buried among the spam in my Bulk Mail folder, as I recall) from one of the editors of this new publication asking me if I’d like to contribute photos to the premiere issue. As the e-mail said, “Carrie and I are very impressed by your work and it fits into the style of her magazine….We would like to include you in the September issue.”
Well, I am always flattered when I receive comments like that, but I’m also wary of allowing my photos to be used in something that I really know nothing about. So, I called Gary, the editor, and spoke with him at length a number of times. He convinced me that their magazine was a legitimate effort dedicated to fine art, under the guidance of former Playboy cover girl turned art photographer Carrie Leigh, so I decided to go ahead and take part in the project.
Having the magazine now in front of me, I’m glad that I did. I can see that a lot of care went into its production. The pages are of heavy paper with a nice sheen and the images were printed using a quad tone (four color) process – something that’s not commonly used for magazines, from what I understand.
That’s the technical side of it, but of course that’s meaningless if the photographic art isn’t worthwhile – so I’m happy to report that the art work in this magazine is very fine, too. There are a number of pages devoted to me and my photography (and we all know how good that is…LOL) but there are similar contributions from a number of other fine photographers with varying styles. The one thing in common is that the subject matter is fine art nudes photographed in black & white.
I don’t want to write too much now as I think people should take a look at this magazine for themselves. The website for the magazine (http://www.carrieleigh.com/) lists the release date as September 14, though I’ve been told that some dealers may have it a little earlier. It will be available at Borders bookstores and newsstands (I believe) like Hudson News.
I'll just finish by saying that if you like fine art nudes - especially those in black & white - Carrie Leigh’s NUDE is something I think you'd enjoy seeing.
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Well, today is the Labor Day holiday here in the U.S., which means that most people here can get a little more sleep for a day. Thankfully, I was able to do so. In fact, this weekend was the first time since my return from Tibet that I felt awake enough to watch any videos. (I watched “Roman Holiday” on Saturday and “Sabrina” last night. I might complete the Audrey Hepburn trilogy today with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” )
Anyway, as far as my photography goes, I am still waiting expectedly to get my advanced copy of NUDE: The Art of Women (www.carrieleigh.com/ ) in the mail. As I wrote last time, all indications are that this quarterly publication has been produced with the highest quality. It should be an excellent showcase for my work and the other photographic artists included. Hopefully I’ll get it in a day or two.
For today’s posting, I’ve decided to write about the photo at the top. I picked up a few 11 x 14 inch prints of Tibet made at Adorama a few days ago and showed them to some people in my office. Everybody seemed to love this photo seen here. Here’s the story behind it: Most of the first half of my trip to Tibet was to a part of eastern central Tibet rarely visited by Westerners. On the way heading back west to the capital, Lhasa, we stopped for lunch in a small town called Bepa. Like many such towns, Bepa has one main street lined with buildings that have shops and restaurants on the ground floor. After finishing my meal, I had a few minutes to walk up and down the street to try to take some photos.
After photographing a number of different people, I came upon this group of kids sitting on the sidewalk in front of a building. The photo at the top was the one that I had printed up, but in fact it took four photos for me to finally arrive at this image. I’ve decided to post all four photos to show how this came about.
In the first photo (labeled ‘1.’), there are five kids. Three of them seem oblivious to me. Two are looking off at something else and the third seems only interested in his drink. For the second photo (‘2.’), I decided to move in closer, but I’ve only got the attention of one of the kids.
Then something else happened: a sixth kid showed up. The little girl with the pink pants and shoes (on the left end in photo 3) then took charge of the situation. She re-arranged everybody, fit in the new girl (the one with the red shirt, second from the right) and then basically demanded that I take another photo of the group! Of course, I was only too happy to do so, but as seen in photo 3, getting the attention of a group of kids all at once is not an easy thing. Finally, with the fourth photo (top) I was able to do so. Of course, besides these photos with my compact digital camera, I was taking photos with my Pentax 67 film camera, so there was some other give and take going on, as well. Still, I’ve pretty much explained things as they happened, and the kids seemed pleased when I showed them the photos on the back of my digicam.
Throughout these photos, the one thing that seems consistent is the look that the little boy in the green shirt was giving me. Either he is one helluva serious kid or I did something to really piss him off. In each photo, if looks could kill… – well, I probably wouldn’t have come back from Tibet alive!
So, that’s it for today. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend, everyone. For my next posting I hope to give you a report on the new publication. As always, stay tuned.