Archive for February 2008

I’m kind of busy here at home tonight, with plenty of things that need taking care of, so this will be a short entry tonight.

The photo I’m posting here is one of Jacqueline Chantelle in the forest at the Hocking Hills in Ohio. I made the photo when I was visiting my friend Dave Levingston last summer. Dave suggested this location and was kind enough to drive to pick up Jackie, and then head in the opposite direction to head out to the Hocking Hills. Of course, he had to do the whole thing again in reverse later on, so thanks for all of the driving, DL.

A lot of people have commented positively on this photo in other places I’ve posted it online, so I’ve I’m posting it here. You may have seen it on Univers d’Artistes, where I posted it along with some other photos of Jacqueline, but I think it deserves to be posted here, too.

Actually, the day this photo was made was a difficult one. The Hocking Hills area is a beautiful location, but when we got there a bunch of joggers were strolling around our chosen site, taking their time. When they finally moved on, I also had to contend with an upset stomach that had me running to the latrine every ten minutes or so. (NOT good for photography!) We later moved on to some other very beautiful spots, but again, too many people around made photography difficult to impossible. Even Jackie was getting upset and impatient at having to keep her clothes on. In the half day or so that we were there, I might have spent about an hour (if that much) actually photographing her.

Of course, coming home with an image like this one here seems to have made the whole ordeal worthwhile.

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Marjana Stanojkovska Photos

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Maja Gligorovska Photos

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I finally began filing away my film from Tibet today. Hopefully it won’t take me two years to finish the job, the way it took me that long to finish filing my two-year old film from Vietnam.

Normally, filing film for my travel photos takes longer than doing the same for nudes. With nudes, I pretty much just have to note the date, the name(s) of the model and the location. With travel, I have to really take care in noting locations and subject matter, including getting the spelling of names right - and with places in Asia, that’s not always easy. For some reason, though, the time filing today just seemed to fly by and I wish I’d had time to do more than 10 rolls. (Still, out of a total of 35 rolls, that’s not bad for a first outing.)

Of course, I’m anxious to scan the film and see the results as positives to share with the whole world wide web world, so I’ve scanned three frames just a while ago. Those three that you’re seeing here were made during my first day in Tibet, at
a place called Yumbalagang Monastery. This is said to be the oldest building in Tibet, though it was mostly rebuilt in the early 1980’s.

As for getting there, my small tour group was picked up at the airport by our guide and drivers and we rode east, following the course of the Yarlung Tsangpo river to Yumbalagang. As you can see from the top photo, it’s a pretty steep climb to the top – something you might not expect to do on your very first day at over 12,000 feet. Still, as you can also see, there are camels for those willing to pay to ride to the top. (What? Never heard of camels in Tibet??? For those traditionalists, there are yaks, too.)

I walked.

The other two photos show some prayer wheels on the outside of the monastery and some butter lamps on the inside. I’ll be posting more from Tibet over the
coming months as I file and scan more. Like I said earlier, hopefully it won’t take two years to get the filing done.

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It’s late now on Thursday night, so tonight’s posting will be a bit of a quicky.

The three photos I’m putting up now are images I made of the beautiful M__ on the beach at Malibu last summer. I scanned them last night. The way I usually work is to get a model set up in a good spot and then do variations of poses in that spot. Often I’ll just choose one to print or post – the one that I think is the best of the bunch – but on this occasion I decided to scan three and post all of them.

I’ve been communicating with M__ lately and she’s hoping to visit New York sometime toward the end of April. I’m hoping I’ll be able to work with her again at that time.

Otherwise, I’ve been thinking about how to best get my negatives organized here. I keep them in loose leaf binder boxes, but I really don’t have a good filing system. When I want to look for the film for a particular photo shoot, I have to go through the randomly arranged boxes and hope to find what I’m looking for.

I began a few years ago to organize things by putting a label on the side of each box listing the numbers of the pages contained within plus brief descriptions of the subject matter. Sadly, I never kept up with it – and the fact that my eyes can no longer read anything that small at that distance certainly does not help matters!

What I need to do now is to sit down and go through all of the boxes, assigning a number to each box and making note of the contents and the dates of the photos. I’ll have to keep a written record of this to consult, of course, and label the boxes with those numbers and probably the contents, too.

It’ll be a bit of work to do, but in the end, it should make looking for something – and finding it! – a lot easier.

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A few things to mention here today.

I’ll start by saying that I’ve been continuing my exercising by walking the stairs in my building. Saturday I walked 50 flights (5 flights up and down, 10 times) and today I did 55. I don’t plan on giving an update on this in every posting, but someone has already told me that he’s been so inspired by my exercising that he’s decided to give it a try, too. So, I’m mentioning it today in the hopes of inspiring someone else – or, at the very least, to inspire the already mentioned individual to keep with it. If a lay-about like me can do it, so can you.

Of course, I spend plenty of time in front of the tube, too, and this weekend I decided to catch up on some of my DVD watching – 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes (the original) and Twelve O’Clock High. I also watched two with the beautiful Gene Tierney: her debut film, The Return of Frank James, and the classic Laura. If you like beautiful women and you’ve never seen any films with her, you should remedy that situation. She was so gorgeous that I would have been happy to have photographed her with her clothes on!

Saturday was the day that I assembled my camera equipment and tried to fit it all into my newly purchased camera bag. The good news is that everything seems to fit (but just barely), though I needed to use many of the dividers from the old bag to make it work. The ones that came with the new bag would not have been sufficient.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, from what I can tell, this new bag is in every way inferior to my old bag. The waist belt on the old bag was fully integrated with the bag and really helped to distribute the weight. The belt on the new bag just slips through two loops on the bag’s side. When I pulled on the old belt to tighten it, it would tighten. With the new belt, because it’s not fixed to the bag, it just slides around my waist, not tightening anything.

The biggest problem, however, will be caused by the fact that the bag opens away from the body. When you open up a brief case or attaché case, you open the top away from you so you have the contents in front of you and not blocked by the top. For some bizarre reason, LowePro believes in opening the top the other way, forcing the user to reach around or over to get at the inside – and exposing the contents to the whole world in the process. As far as I can tell, if I want to change film or lenses, I will have to kneel down on one knee and then put the bag on my horizontally oriented thigh to do this. With the old bag I could have access to the interior while standing up. I just hope that it won't deter me from making changes because of the hassle involved.

In short, I don’t expect this bag to be much fun to deal with. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but I don’t expect my bag search to stop anytime soon.

I also scanned several negatives today on my new Epson V500 scanner. I continue to be impressed by it. As yet, I still have not installed the Photoshop Elements 4.0 to replace the 2.0 version that I’ve been using.

Today is Presidents Day here in the U.S., so I’d thought of writing a big thing about the presidential election, but I won’t. First of all, does anybody know if Presidents Day is supposed to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (in which case it should be called Washington-Lincoln Day) or all of the U.S. presidents? I’d like to think that it was the former, as I’d hate to think we’re all honoring people like Nixon or the current idiot living in the White House. (I’m not calling Nixon an idiot; only the current president.)

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the New York primary. According to demographics, a college educated Caucasian man like me should be voting for Barack Obama, but I just think Hillary’s the most qualified of the candidates left standing right now. Barack Obama is a very intelligent and well educated man, as well as being a very inspirational speaker, but I think he’d be a better president in four or eight years. I’m also dismayed that his campaign has become one of a cult of personality – or as one commentator put it, hero worship. Haven’t we learned enough not to expect the Second Coming in any politician (regardless of what Oprah might say)?

Still, if Obama gets the Democratic nomination, he’ll have my support. I respect John McCain as a veteran and someone who has not always walked in lock step with the Republican majority. In another year I might have considered voting for him if it were him against Obama, but considering what the Republicans have done to this country in the past seven years, I think we need a clean break from all that.

I’m putting up a few travel pictures this time. I’ve posted nudes with the last few postings, so for a change, here are some photos of people in Vietnam. (Forgive me if I've posted some of these already, but I'm starting to lose track of what I have and have not posted here.) I'll probably get back to nudes next time.

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Sofija Pelivanova Photos

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Svetlana Crnokrak Photos

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Sashka Pavlovska Photos
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Nadica Georgieva Photos
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I bought a new camera bag today. The two choices to replace my irreparable current bag both were made by LowePro, with one being larger than the other but the two both having the waist belt that I need to help me drag all of my gear around. Unfortunately, as I’ve written, the top of both bags opens the wrong way for my liking.

I had settled on the idea of getting the larger bag, as all of my gear should fit into it pretty easily. The smaller one, based on the dimensional specs, might be a little on the tight side, I thought. So, off to the camera store I went, fully intending to order the large bag.

When I looked at it, however, I thought to myself that it looked so – well - so BIG, and I asked myself if I wanted to carry something like that around with me all day when I’m traveling. Smaller is generally better, fitting more easily onto airplanes, less to worry about bumping into things, etc. So, on the spot, I changed my mind and decided to order the smaller one. The saving of about $60 didn’t hurt, either.

Of course, I need to find out if all of my stuff will fit into it properly, so I’ll assemble my Pentax 67 this weekend and put it to the test. Placing it side by side next to the current one, it seems to be about the same size, so hopefully everything will be okay. I have two weeks to return it to trade up to the larger one if need be, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that.

As to my new scanner, I haven’t had the chance to scan anything since my last posting, but I’ll try to do some more this weekend. I also need to replace my Photoshop Elements 2 with the Elements 4 that came with the scanner. I really don’t use it for anything other than very basic photo editing so I feel a bit reluctant to swap a program I’m familiar with for one that might not offer me anything better but may take some time to learn. I’ll give it a try, nonetheless.

Today’s photos were scanned by the new scanner last weekend. Showing Carlotta in the Nevada desert in 2006, these photos on 35mm Kodak HIE infrared film were the last frames (#s 37) on each of the two rolls I shot that day. For some reason, all of the other photos on those two rolls were covered with white specs. I cannot figure out how this could have happened, with everything ruined except the last frame on each. The other roll of HIE that I developed with these two, from another photo session, did not suffer from any problems. Just one of life’s many unsolved mysteries, I guess, but frustrating nonetheless.

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I finally got my new scanner on Friday. FedEx tried to deliver it unsuccessfully on Wednesday and Thursday, so I’d called and asked them to leave it with my downstairs neighbor who is retired and often home. He’s taken stuff for me before, and he did indeed accept it for me this time while I was at work - but they paid no attention to my delivery request. (It figures.) I was just lucky that my neighbor happened to see the FedEx guy on the way out and asked him who the package was for.

As to the scanner, it’s an Epson V500 flatbed scanner that scans prints and film (35mm and medium format). I tested it out a bit over the weekend and so far I’m pleased with it.

First, I scanned a couple of 8x10 inch prints. My old Epson scanner made scans of such things very quickly, but I was surprised that this scanner took a lot more time to scan them. Nonetheless, the added waiting time may be worthwhile. As I recall, scans of reflective material (prints and documents) did not employ the dust removal feature on the old scanner. The new one does, and I think the extra time is the software going to work doing it. The result: for the two prints scanned, viewing them at actual size, I could not find any dust that I had to spot or clone out. I can’t recall that ever happening with the old scanner. So far, then, so good.

I actually don’t scan many prints. The bulk of my scans are of film, so I scanned three 6x7 cm medium format negatives and three 35 mm negatives with infrared film. Epson advertises that scans are quicker as this new scanner uses an LED (or LCD) light source that does not need the warm up time that the lamps on old scanners needed. This seems correct. What’s unusual about the new scans is that the scan itself seems to halt with the blue progress bar on screen a little less than half across. It stays at that point for a bit, then progresses across to the end fairly quickly.

Again, I’m just guessing that this second half of the scan process is the dust removal software going to work. The result: scans requiring much less touching up than those on my old scanner – a definite plus.

I’m posting the three medium format scans here, all part of White Shirt series of studio nudes, in which I ask the model to put on a white dress shirt and ask her to work with it. The models are Ida Mae (top), followed by Kerie Hart and Liz Ashley.

So, the new scanner looks like it’s an Up. Time now for the Down - I took my camera bag to a place that had repaired a friend’s bag. The verdict: my bag is beyond repair. It’s just ripped and torn so much that any repair done now, the guy said, would only hold temporarily. So, I guess that’s the end of that. Time to finally admit defeat, cave in and buy a new bag. Damn.

Finally, a mix of Ups and Downs, but ultimately an Up: I started exercising again. I had tried going to a health club in the neighborhood in the past, but getting there finally proved too difficult to do. Yesterday, I began walking up and down the steps in my building. I did this in August to get in shape for my trip to Tibet and I hope to continue again. There are five flights of stairs in my building and I began by walking a total of 35 flights (five flights up and down, seven times). I’ll try to do it again tomorrow – and hopefully this time I can keep it up.

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I was reading on the blog of another photographer not too long ago that he had scheduled two photo sessions with models per week for each week of the month. That’s two times four, or a total of eight photo sessions in the month.

This really seemed like a lot to me. Perhaps this photographer is retired and has the time for this (hey, I wish I could join him!) but for me to do this, I’d have to photograph on both days of the weekend (which would be impossible, given that I have other things to do in life. )

This is an interesting comparison, I suppose, with the way that I photograph models – or at least, how often I photograph them. While this gentleman has eight days of photography lined up for this month, I worked with models for a grand total of eight days during all of last year! The way things are looking it probably won’t be much different than that this year.

Quite honestly, I think about eight days is enough for me, as I only have so much time and money to devote to my photography – with my travel photography taking up a lot of my time, too. The way I do things with film, for each hour I spend on location or in a studio with a model, I must spend a multitude in post-production: developing the film, cutting the film into strips, filing the negatives and annotating the pages, looking over the film to decide which ones to scan, then scanning them to post here and on my website, etc. Of course, I have not yet even mentioned the ultimate purpose of the photos: making fine art prints.

I also wonder if I’d become bored with it all if I photographed models too often. I once heard an interview with a Playboy photographer who was asked if he ever got tired of photographing the same thing. His response: “You have to eat every day, but do you ever get tired of it?” True enough, I suppose, but as a Playboy photographer who had to produce a certain kind of image, he could go on from one session to another without having to be creative and do things too differently.

With fine art photography it’s different, as one tries (or should try) to do new things in a creative manner. I often ask myself how long can I go on photographing in the same manner without trying different things. This question can be applied to many of the creative arts. I once heard of a musicologist who said that Mozart had reached a point in his life where he was happy with his style of composition and stuck with it after that point, whereas Beethoven was always searching for something new and different.

I doubt that many people will say that we shouldn’t listen to Mozart’s music just because he chose not to break out of his comfort zone – just as people who like the Playboy style of glamour nude photography shouldn’t stop looking at it because the style doesn’t change much. Still, for someone who’s trying to be creative, it’s a different story.

Getting back to quantity, one can ask this question: does the frequency of photo shoots affect one’s level of creativity? Perhaps it does. If I photographed often I might get bored sooner and force myself to break out of my comfort zone. I might also remember to try to do different things the next time if the next time weren't five months away. Then again, it might have the opposite effect. When I had a high concentration of nude photo sessions a few years ago, rather than making me more creative, I decided to give it up for a while and went off on a trip to Japan!

At the end of the day (or week or month or year), I guess we all have to do both what we’re capable of doing as well as what we are happy doing. Some photographers say that if they don’t photograph on a regular, frequent basis, they begin to feel nervous or out of touch with what they’re doing. I guess I’m not one of them. Eight days of nude photography plus a few weeks of travel photography per year would seem to be enough to keep me content – and even if I’m not using my camera, there’s always something related to my photography to do if I so desire.
Speaking of nudes, today's images are photos that I made at Big Sur in California in 2000 and 2001.

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