Archive for March 2008

Today’s posting is a follow-up to my blog entry before last. In that one, I posted some photos of model and artist Rachel in her studio at home. They were made after a very long drive to her home in Maine from Prince Edward Island, Canada in the summer of 2006. We were both very tired, but we carried on with doing some more photography the best we could.

After I made the photos of Rachel surrounded by some of her artwork, I decided to try to make some photos that integrated Rachel with her artwork. I chose to do this by using the multiple exposure capability of my camera to double expose Rachel with some of her own artistic creations.

The photo you are seeing here was done entirely in camera and was scanned straight from the negative with no manipulation other than appropriate cropping. Rachel, obviously, is the larger figure. I probably wanted to get in closer to the drawing so it would match Rachel in scale, but I don’t think my lens was able to focus that close, so this is what I had to settle for. (I guess I could have tried to match Rachel to the drawing, but I might have tried that and felt it didn’t work. I just don’t remember.)

Still, I like it, and I think the criss-crossing of the figures work well. (I don’t know what others will think.) I also like way Rachel’s figure appears double exposed onto the canvas backing of the drawing. It seems to give her real figure a bit of a drawn quality, so perhaps this is something I’ll explore for future photographic usage.

I’ll post more photos from this session soon.

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In the summer of 1988, the Olympic Games were held in Seoul, Korea. During this time, I remember that United Airlines ran a TV commercial highlighting its Far Eastern destinations – places like Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, the Phillipines, and so on, with people there wearing dazzlingly beautiful outfits.

“That looks really nice,” I thought to myself. “I should try visiting the Far East rather than just keep going to Europe year after year.” So it began, and Asia was in my mind as a place to visit. I had narrowed it down to either Japan or China for the next year, and ultimately chose China, as a trip there was the less expensive.

That trip that I chose also included a number of days in Tibet, as I’d been fascinated by that place up on high. Finally I was going to see it – or so I thought. The very next day after I made my tour payment to my travel agent, the New York Times had a front page headline which basically read: “China Declares Martial Law in Tibet.” One week later, the other shoe fell. My trip was cancelled due to an uprising by Tibetans against the Chinese who occupied their land.

Now, nearly 19 years later, the Tibetans have risen up once again in protest. The Chinese, of course, can’t admit that the cause of the unrest is their failed policy of religious and cultural repression in Tibet, so they’ve been laying the blame on Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who has openly renounced violence.

I finally made my trip to Tibet last year and saw both the beauty of the land and the beauty of the people in their spiritual devotion. Try as the Chinese may, the Tibetans refuse to let their Buddhist beliefs – and their devotion to the Dalai Lama – fade away. In the Barkhor area – the Tibetan section of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa - hundreds of pilgrims, prayer wheels in hand, still walk the ceremonial circuit around the sacred Jokhang Temple. Pilgrims also walk the circuit around and prostrate themselves in devotion in front of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s former residence.

(The photos posted here show monks in Samye Monastery, the oldest in Tibet, a woman I met at Trandruk Monastery and a girl who I came across just outside.)

Notice that I wrote “the Tibetan section of the Tibetan capital.” This would be like saying “the Italian section of Rome” or “the French section of Paris” or, indeed, “the Chinese section of Beijing.” The ideas seems ridiculous – all of Paris is French, of course – but in Lhasa it isn’t ridiculous, as most of the city is yet another Chinese place populated by Chinese shops and people. With the influx of Chinese into Tibet, Tibetans are becoming a minority in their own land, with most of the economic opportunities there going to the Chinese, from what I’ve read. (I couldn’t ask any Tibetans this, of course, as we were warned of the dire consequences that would befall a Tibetan for speaking out on such things.)

Likewise, religious freedoms are being denied. While pilgrims may walk around the Barkhor and the Potala, students and government employees are prohibited from being practicing Buddhists. Someone wanting to become a monk must be vetted by the Chinese to make sure that he has no family involved in anti-Chinese activities. The Chinese impose limits on the number of monks that each monastery may have, and they are forced to undergo Communist indoctrination and to renounce their allegiance to the Dalai Lama. (That would be like a Roman Catholic priest being forced to renounce allegiance to the Pope and the Vatican.) It’s no wonder that the Tibetans are angry that their world is being taken away from them.
(Meanwhile, as the Chinese continue to suppress the Tibetans, the nearby Himalayan Buddhist kindgom of Bhutan just became the world's newest democracy. It just had its first ever elections and is now a constitutional monarchy, having been previously been ruled by its kings with absolute power.)

I’ve been trying to come up with something comparable to the 1950 Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 comes to mind, but as Tibet has no oil, nobody really cared about Tibet. I think a better example is the Roman occupation of ancient Israel during and after the time of Jesus – a case of an invader building roads and public works but doing so for its own benefit and seeking to suppress and destroy the local culture. The Israelites rose up against the Romans several times, just as the Tibetans have risen up against the Chinese.

This year the Olympics are to be held in Beijing, and the Chinese want to put on a good show, showing the world that their land is one big happy place with one big happy family. If only it were true. So far, Steven Speilberg has resigned as artistic advisor in protest over the Chinese government’s support of the genocidal regime in Sudan. Champion distance runner Haile Gebreselassie has said that he won’t run in the marathon because the air in Beijing is too polluted. Now the unrest in Tibet shows the world how happy Tibetan people really are.

I guess that there are two ways to see to it that your people appear to be living harmoniously. The first is that you can actually make an effort to create harmonious living conditions. The other way is to tell your people, “Be harmonious – or else!!!” It’s obvious that with its campaign of repression the Chinese have chosen the latter method.

Now there’s talk of some countries boycotting the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. On the News Hour earlier this week, some Tibet experts warned that doing so would likely inflame the Chinese even more, put strains on China’s relations with the west and would cause the Chinese to punish Tibet even more. Unfortunately, when it comes to dealing with China, it seems to be a case of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’

Or, it could just be China’s way of saying to the world, “Be harmonious with us – or else!”

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Bojana Vasic Photos

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I’ve decided to do a post with some more nudes today, so here are some photos I made in August 2006 of a model named Rachel. As well as being a good figure model, Rachel is also a highly accomplished artist, so I decided to photograph her in her home studio surrounded by her creations.

Actually, these photos were kind of difficult for both of us to do. We had just arrived at Rachel’s home in Maine following a drive of about eight hours from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, where we had spent the previous week at a workshop. I think we were both pretty much dead tired at this point, but I wanted to take some photos of Rachel with her artwork, so we just soldiered on through.

The photos here show Rachel surrounded by her artwork – pretty standard stuff, for the most part. (Like I said, we were both kind of out of it – and I still had to get in my car and drive another hour or so to get to my hotel.) Besides these photos, though, I also tried to do some more creative work involving Rachel and her artwork. I’ll be posting some of those images in figure entries here.
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One of the reasons I’m posting these photos now is that I’m thinking over how to spend my vacation time for the rest of the year. Typically for me, I’ve just returned from one trip and immediately I begin to plan the next one (and the one after that, etc.). Being that I’m interested in seeing more of Asia, I was pretty sure that I’d try to go on a trip to Lakakh this summer. Ladakh is a Himalayan region of northern India where most people practice Tibetan Buddhism, and I think it will be an interesting follow-up to my trip to Tibet last year. Plus, I’ve never been to India.

Still, I find myself getting caught up in the dichotomy of being someone who photographs both foreign lands and nudes. Given that I have only so much vacation time, how should I use that time? Like I said, I was pretty set on India, but now I’m beginning to waver.

My recent trip to Southeast Asia followed up on my trip to Tibet in August of last year. That’s two trips to Asia in a little over half a year. On the other hand, I have not photographed any nudes since July, so I’m thinking that it’s time to let the pendulum swing the other way for a while.

One of the things I’m considering strongly is a road trip back to maritime Canada – Nova Scotia, to be more specific. There’s an excellent photographer of nudes up there named Eric Boutillier-Brown and I’ve been hoping to get up there to meet him and do some photography. I wrote to him recently and he responded very positively. Another reason for a trip that way is that I should have the chance to work with Rachel again as I pass through Maine.

I’ve also been in touch with Sarah Ellis, who has got to be one of my all-time favorite models to work with. She’ll be in San Francisco until the end of June and she suggested I go out there to work with her. She said she knows lots of good locations – so why not? I’ve not been to San Francisco since 1999, so this would be a good opportunity for a return visit. Maybe I can combine it with a few days in the Los Angeles area to meet up with some people I know down there. I’m also trying to arrange a photo shoot with an LA model who interests me.

Otherwise, it looks like I may finally have my chance to work with Carlotta Champagne once again when she's here in New York next week, so the 'nude drought' may be coming to an end. The other thing I want to do is to attend the Community Zoe fine art nude photographer and model get-together in September near Palm Springs in September. If I do get to go on all of these trips I’m considering, by the time 2009 rolls around I should really be hankering to get back to Asia again!

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Bojana Vasic

Born: 1989
Place: Skopje
Height: 180 cm
Weight: 61 kg
Bust: 89 cm
Waist: 62 cm
Hips: 92 cm
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Green

Title: Metropoiltan Top Model Macedonia (2004)
Technorati Tags: , , , , , , .

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It’s been a few weeks since I posted any nudes here, having devoted the space here during the past few weeks to my recent trip to Southeast Asia. I will continue with that later.

For now, it’s back to nudes. As always, the question is, “What should I post?” Lately it’s been mostly recent photographs, but today I decided to try something different. I went into the closet, pulled out a binder box holding about a hundred pages with negatives, and decided to scan a couple of frames to post here.

The resulting scans are the two watery images you see here. I made these images at a workshop in upstate New York in 1998. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been photographing nudes so long that these photos are now nearly ten years old – and I’d been photographing nudes for three years when I pressed the shutter release for these.

Actually, I have been thinking about my old negatives lately. I’ve been thinking of putting together a book project that will be something of a retrospective of my nude photography ‘career,’ and in order to do that I’ll have to go through all of the pages with nude photos that I’ve accumulated. Perhaps this is a first step toward that end.

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Ivana Stojanovska Photos

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I returned home safely from my trip to Laos and Cambodia late Saturday night. Thankfully, everything on the trip and the flights went pretty well, though I did return home with a bad back (from sitting too long on the plane?) and a bad stomach (from who knows what). Thankfully these things didn’t effect me while I was away, and luckily I’ve had two days off to recover before returning to work tomorrow.

Overall, I shot 36 rolls of BW film on the trip, but it’ll be a while until I can get the film developed, organized and scanned. As it is, I still have 25 rolls of film from Tibet to organize and scan (and I do feel very badly about what’s going on over there now).

As it’ll be awhile until I can post any of my BW photos, I’ve decided to post a series of photos made with my pocket Canon digital camera. These are higher resolution photos that I was unable to post while I was away as the file sizes are too large to upload without being edited down first (which I can do here but not on the road).

So, here we go. Highlights of my trip to Laos:

1. The sun on the horizon as seen from my flight to Hong Kong (above).

2. The dog ‘driving’ the motorbike that I mentioned on my first posting from Vientiane.

3. Some kids on the street in Vientiane.

4. A beautiful young woman who runs a fabric shop in Vang Vieng. I purchased something from her store.

5. Some seriously cute kids at a minority village we stopped at on the road north.

6. An elderly woman with a wonderful face, also in an ethnic minority village.

7. Palm trees at Wat Visunalat in Luang Prabang.

8. Monks in Luang Prabang doing their early morning rounds of collecting food donations from people – the food that they’ll eat during the day.

9. Kids at a ‘village book party’ – part of a book donation program by an organization called Big Brother Mouse.

10. An adorable face at another minority village.

11. I guess they wanted to make sure people knew where the bombs came from.

12. Glamming it up at the Plain of Jars (a place I wrote about previously).

13. Culture clash: sarong by Laos, socks by Adidas.

14. Detail of a young monks attire in Vientiane – orange robe, yellow sash, blue shoulder bag.

15. Hmong women who run a shop at the market in Vientiane.

16. Boarding the early morning Lao Airlines flight to Cambodia.

Yeah, maybe I should have split this posting of photos into two parts, but what the heck – here they are. The truth be told, I had actually planned to post photos from Cambodia today, too! Those other photos will wait for another day.

And for those of you hoping to see photos of naked women, I’ll try to post some of those here next time. Stay tuned.

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Maja Lazarevska for Play TV (Canada)

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March 14, PHNOM PENH - Well, here I am again, sitting in a hot, sweltering corner of the lobby of my hotel in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. (The rest of the lobby is nicely air-conditioned, so obviously the blowers are facing the other way.)

It's nighttime now, and I've now spent three days here in the capital. To my surprise, this actually seems like a nice city in the looks department. Although I'd read that it's the best looking of the cities built by the French during their colonization of Indochina, I still expected it to look rather shabby, but it actually looks pretty good, with fairly new looking buildings, lots of golden temple spires and a good amount of open areas.

It's also much, much larger than Vientiane, the capital of Laos. In Vientiane you could pretty much walk to any place you'd want to go. Not so with Phnom Penh. While Vientiane was a rather quiet place, this city has a much greater buzz to it. That buzz is composed of things like cars and motorbikes wizzing by, tuk-tuk drivers continually asking you if you want a ride to somewhere, beggars asking for money, kids asking you if you want to buy one of the books that they're hauling around (even while you're sitting and eating dinner) and - as was directed at me while walking to and from dinner tonight - propositions for the sale of marijuana and girls. (I think both Chinese and Cambodian were on offer for the latter.)

Our touring of the city began two days ago with a visit to the Royal Palace. I'd read that it had been modeled upon the palace in Bangkok, so I expected it to be a pale imitation of the royal palace in the Thai capital. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by a series of very beautiful and very elegant buildings. Not only that, it's also a lot less croweded with tourists than the one in Bangkok, so overall I'd give the nod to the palace here if I had to choose which of the two I like best.

I also went to Wat Phnom, the hilltop temple that was founded hundreds of years ago by a woman named Penh (for whom the city is named) and the National Museum, which houses a collection of beautiful sculpture produced by the Khmer empire of Cambodia.

Yesterday, however, was an altogether different experience. If the great temples that I visited at Angkor a few days ago represented the high point of Cambodian civilization - the great Khmer empire - then the places we saw yesterday represented its lowest point: the so-called "Zero Years" of the Khmer Rouge. These Cambodian communists under the leadership of Pol Pot set out to systematically destroy the entire history of Cambodian culture - and they killed a large percentage of the Cambodian population with it from 1975 to 1978. Phnom Penh was emptied and turned into a ghost town. If you were anything other than a farmer or a peasant, you were destined for execution. The Khmer Rouge revolution left no place for intellect.

The first place we visited was the Touel Sleng prison. This former school was the Khmer Rouge's chief detention and interrogation center, and only seven of the thousands of people who passed through its doors survived. From the outside it looks like an ordinary place, fronted by palm trees, but inside some of the greatest crimes ever committed took place. One can see some of the cells, but much of the space is taken up by photographs of the victims - men, women and children - systematically made by their captors. Again, everyone just looks so ordinary, like the Cambodians one sees today - the people working in the hotels, the shops and the restaurants, the monks in the temples, the children walking to and from school. I imagined the people in those photos as the people I've seen here in Cambodia this week and the enormity of it all began to sink in. The only crime of which the photographed people were guilty was that of being born and having lived in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Still, not all of the people who suffered are gone. Our tour guide, who was a child during those years, explained to us that his father and two sisters were killed during that period of national insanity, and you could easily see and hear him becoming very emotional and on the verge of tears while talking about it. I imagine that it must be very difficult for him to continually return there with tour groups to have to re-live the nightmare again and again.

After the prison we were taken 15 kilometers outside the city to the "killing fields" of Choueng Ekm where thousands of Khmer Rouge victims were bludgeoned to death, with loud music playing on speakers to mask what was happening from nearby villagers. Again, on appearance, the place seems rather ordinary - just a field. This particular field now has a number of open pits to indicate where mass graves were found. There is also a temple-like structures continuing the skulls of hundreds of victims found there. One can just hope that it will bring some peace to the souls of the departed.

In reading up on Cambodian history before the trip, I was somewhat suprised - though not completely surprised - to learn that after the Khmer Rouge fled into the jungle following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia (after Cambodia had attacked Vietnam), Pol Pot and his mass-murdering colleagues were actually supported by the Unites States government and its allies! (Yep, there's nothing wrong with supporting a bunch of genocidal mass murderers if it's all done to protect our national interest - right???)

As for Cambodia today - well, things seem to be getting better, but there's obviously a long way to go. After being ruled by an American-supported military government, the Chinese-supported Khmer Rouge and the Russian-supported Vietnamese, the Cambodians finally have their future in their own hands. Unfortunately, the hands that run the government seem to spend a lot of time lining their own pockets, as corruption is rampant, and much of the improvements here are apparently being made by non-governmental organizations. It's pretty sad when you see kids having to bother tourists morning, afternoon and night to sell books - and according to something I read at a restaurant where I ate today, these kids are just being exploited and really don't even benefit themselves from what they're doing. Still, thngs are obbiously much better than they were before.

The tour officially ended after breakfast this morning, so after breakfast I took a nice walk with some of the other tour people who were flying out tonight. In the afternoon I made an hour long visit to Wat Ounalom, a large temple close to the hotel, and spent some time speaking (in English) with some of the monks there. One of them even got a key and opened up one of the sanctuaries for me to see. Two other people on the tour left later tonight - I even let them use the shower in my room to get cleaned up before their flight - so now I'm the only one from the group left here in town. My turn to leave will be tomorrow morning.

So, overall, it's been a very enjoyable journey here to southeast Asia. The rest of the world has undergone some major changes while I've been away, I've seen. The governor of the State of New York is resigning due to a sex scandal involving prostitution and, right here in Asia, there has been another outpouring of protests in Tibet (and elsewhere) against its continued occupation by the Chinese. I guess I'll find out more about it all after I return home tomorrow night. (I just wonder how many movies I'll watch on the flight home.)

Be well, everyone.


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