Archive for January 2008

I just finished watching the Democratic debate on CNN (nice to see some civility there and some hope for the party, after all), so I thought I’d take a few minutes to make a posting before it gets too late.

The last week has been one of progress for me on the photographic front. The big news is that I finally finished developing my huge backlog of about 105 rolls of film (most of it medium format). What began back in September of last year ended this past weekend. These were actually all of the rolls of film that I shot this year – a weekend visit to Ohio in April, a week in Ohio and California in July and, lastly though certainly not least, my trip to Tibet in August.

Of course, it doesn’t end there as I still need to file those negatives into pages and annotate those pages properly. Before I can do that, I’ve got to finish doing the same for the film of my trip to Vietnam in 2006! (Yes, I’ve been lax in that regard.) So, there’s still a lot of work to be done before I can finally be caught up with things.

On another subject, it looks now like I may be able to get away without having to buy a new camera bag. I think I’ve solved the problem of the broken shoulder strap by using some hardware items to reconnect the strap to the bag. The next step is the get the torn parts of the bag repaired, which people tell me that a shoemaker should be able to do – so, I am hopeful.

The other thing that I’ve felt like doing is to help out Chris St. James in maintaining his blog, Univers d’Artistes . Chris has unfortunately been undergoing medical treatments for a serious condition and has not been aable to update his blog. As he had designated me as a Contributing Editor with the ability to update the site myself, I thought I’d take the initiative to keep the site going and made a posting last Sunday. Lin and Richard (of fluffytek.com) have recently sent me a story and photos to use and I was glad to see that Iris Dassault posted something today. More importantly, I just hope that Chris will get better very soon and I wish him a speedy recovery.

The photos I’m posting tonight were made in 2001 at a workshop in Colorado. These are scans of 8 x10 inch RC prints that I printed several years ago. I’m still scanning prints as I have not yet ordered a new scanner (just a lot of things to take care of here lately), but I do hope to finally take care of that over the next few days.

And on that subject, I will wish all of you, faithful readers, a happy and a pleasant weekend.

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Like many people, I like to read books. Like many people (and unlike many others), I don’t get much of a chance to read books. This is for two basic reasons. For one, I just don’t seem to have the time to read, with my photography taking up so much of my time. The second, and perhaps more important factor, is that I just don’t have a comfortable, well lit place for me to sit and read at home. (If I did, perhaps I’d be able to find more time for reading.)

Therefore, almost all of my reading is done while riding to and from work on the subway. I normally get a seat in the morning, so I can count on 30 to 35 minutes, and if I’m lucky enough to get a seat for part of the trip home, maybe about 15 or 20 minutes. Until recently, though, pretty much all of what I’d read were my travel and photography magazines and travel books.

A few months ago, something happened. I found myself without any magazines to read and with no travel books in mind. So, I did something I’d been wanting to do again: read fiction. In the past, I’d read science fiction by Arthur C. Clarke and works by Michael Crichton, plus classics like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick and The Pickwick Papers. All of those took a long time for me to finish as I read pretty slowly. (I remember reading part of Pickwick in a train car in the bowels of a ship crossing the sea from Sweden to Germany in 1995 because I couldn’t find an empty chair up on deck - but what a great book!)

I’ve got a number of books here waiting to be read, so I decided to start with a good adventure: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was an enjoyable page turner. After that, I went back to a magazine or two, followed by another book: Chocolat by Joanne Harris, the inspiration for the movie of the same name some year ago. How I came to buy this book is a tale in its own right.

I have been a fan of the French actress Juliette Binoche ever since I saw her in the 1988 film, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. (Hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since then.) So, when she appeared in the Broadway play Betrayal in 2000, I just had to go to see her – and, of course, I had to try to say hello to her and get her autograph by the stage door afterwards. The show was good - and I remember how I sat up there in the balcony with my binoculars in a state of disbelief that I was actually seeing her for real. Afterwards. she was very nice and signed the program with her name and the words “amitie avec tendresse.” When I told her that I'd been a fan of hers since seeing Unbearable Lightness, she said to me "Oh, that was so long ago."

Something else happened that was unusual. Often, it seems, a well know actor in a Broadway show will have someone assigned to accompany or look after him or her. (I like to refer to this person as “the handler.”) I haven’t tried to get autographs much after Broadway shows (to be honest with you, I haven’t seen many Broadway shows; they’re generally too expensive for me!), but when I have, most of the time the handler won’t allow anyone to take photos of the star.

With Ms. Binoche, it was different. I asked her if I could take a photo of her, and she agreed – and her handler did not raise any objections. The photo at the top here is the result. I think it looks pretty good for a photo made on the street with a point & shoot camera on a cold night. The handler even took a photo of Ms. Binoche and me standing together – but unfortunately he happened to focus on the building across the street behind us, so she and I were almost a total blur!

Ah, about the book. This was around the time that she was starring in the film version of Chocolat, so when I saw it at a bookstore with her photo on the cover (along with Johnny Depp), I thought that I’d go back with it to the theater one night and get it autographed, too (and maybe try for another photo?). Well, I never did go with it to the theater, but it was sitting on my shelf for over half a dozen years when it finally got to be read.

The book was enjoyable and I can recommend it, and it was interesting to compare it with the film version that I finally got to see on DVD several years later. The film follows the basic plot line of the book, but with one major difference. (Note: spoilers ahead.) Those of you who’ve seen the film will remember that the protagonist’s major rival is the strict, religiously obsessed Catholic mayor of the town, while the new young priest is basically a cool guy who’s afraid of disagreeing with the mayor. In the book, though, there is no mayor. It is the somewhat older priest who’s the real hard ass here. Not only that, he harbors a dark secret in his own past and his predecessor in the post was a nasty piece of work, too. Who knows for what reason changes are made when a book is transposed to the screen, but I wonder if this was done to avoid drawing the ire of Catholics. In the film, the mayor is ultimately shown to be a decent man who is really just misguided in his religious zeal. In the book, that really can’t be said of the antagonists.

What’s next? Right now I’m back to my travel books to prepare for my upcoming trip. After that? Well, I still have some Jane Austen, James Joyce, Henry James and Charles Dickens et al sitting on the shelf – but I just might try digging into that old yellowing copy of Alistair MacLean’s Ice Station Zebra that I’ve had for so long!

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Elena Vukanovska

Born: 10.06.1990
Place: Skopje
Height: 175 cm
Weight: 53 kg
Bust: 84 cm
Waist: 58 cm
Hips: 88 cm
Hair Color: Dark brown
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Titles: Miss Summer (2006)






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Jana Stojanovska Photos
Miss Macedonia 2007
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I went to B&H, the big camera store in Manhattan, to try to look for a new camera bag today. The one I have now suffered damage when I overloaded it to fly from Tibet to Beijing last year. Part of a metal piece attaching the shoulder strap to the bag broke from supporting too much weight, and the handle on the top was literally ripping apart at the seams when I tried to hand hold it. (This was in addition to the other parts of the bag that had ripped.)

I recently decided to try to get the current bag repaired as I did a search online and cannot find another bag as good as the one I have now. The husband of a woman I know is an artist who makes metal sculptures, so I asked her to ask him if he might be able to weld the broken metal piece back together. If that works, I’ve been told to try going to a shoemaker to get the ripped parts stitched up.

If that works, great – but I have to be prepared for it not to work, in which case I need to buy a new one. I’m looking for a camera bag that: 1) is large enough to hold my medium format SLR with 3 lenses plus my backup medium format rangefinder camera; 2) has a strap that attaches around one’s waist to help support the weight of the bag; and 3) has a top that opens up away from the body (shielding the contents of the bag from the rest of the world), as opposed to opening toward the body (as most bags do, exposing the contents of the bag for all to see).

What did I find? A couple of Lowepro bags that seem to be large enough and come with a waist strap but which open up the wrong way. The B&H online catalog also lists a bag by f.64 that looks large enough and opens up the way I want, but it does not have a waist strap! So, it would seem to be a choice of how the top opens or if it has a strap for the waist. Obvioulsy, I’d rather get my current bag get fixed because it’s the best one of all as far as functionality goes. If, however, I had to choose between the new alternatives, I think I’d have no choice to go with the waist strap option. Having a bag that opens the way I want is good, but if the bag is too heavy to carry around on my shoulder alone without any help, then it doesn’t do me much good.

As for getting a new scanner, I’ll try to address that issue this coming weekend – along with finishing the development of the last five rolls of film from the 105 or so that needed to be done in September. (I'll try to also catch up on something called 'sleep.')
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The two images seen here are of the model Hope Hoffman, who I photographed in the state of Maine in 2003.

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Photos: Vladimir Georgiev
Model: Milena Projkoska
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Hi, everyone.

It’s been a busy weekend. I went out Saturday morning to finally get an oil change for my car, then stopped off at the supermarket on the way home to get some groceries. I’d planned to do some laundry, too, but I just didn’t feel like it, so I ended up watching some Star Trek episodes on DVD.

I’d actually hoped to do the wash today, but that didn’t happen, either, as I spent much of today and yesterday developing 10 of the remaining 15 rolls of film that I’ve had. (I think I have enough clean clothes left until I can try doing laundry again next weekend.) Yesterday I took care of five rolls of film from Tibet and today I finished off the five rolls of 35mm infrared film that I shot at the workshop on Prince Edward Island in August 2006. I think I got good results from both places (and I have only five more rolls left out of a starting total of 105 or so!)

Of course, as I think I’ve said before, developing the film is only half the job, as I’ve still got to take the time (and a lot of it) to file and annotate all of these negatives. Hopefully some day some of the photos I developed this weekend will be seen here – but before that can happen I need to buy a new scanner, which I have not done yet. I do plan to make some phone calls and come to a decision this week (and order one, too!).

The photo here, by the way, was made at a workshop in southern Colorado in September 2001. My camera was on a tripod, fitted with a wide angle lens, and I asked one model to stretch out on the little sofa thingy while I asked the other one to sit in front of the mirror. I think the image works, with both girls together in the room but each one seemingly lost in her own world.
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The other thing I did this weekend was to watch the New York Giants defeat the Green Bay Packers in the NFL football playoff game yesterday. I’m a fan of both the Giants and the Miami Dolphins, and while Miami had a horrible season (I think they won only one game), the Giants played decently enough to get into the playoffs as a wild card.

Since then, they’ve been the underdog for all three playoff games and have won all three. Now it’s on to the Super Bowl against the undefeated and heavily favored New England Patriots. The Pats will likely be the winner, but the Giants came oh so close to beating them in the final game of the season. Coming off of these three playoff wins, the Giants do have a chance if they continue to play well and not make too many mistakes. A Giants’ victory would rank as one of the greatest upsets in sports history, and I’m not saying it’ll happen – but it sure could!
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Finally, here’s a follow-up to my posting about Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/22/us/politics/22giuliani.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin . It’s a New York Times story about how he used the city government to retaliate against people who criticized him as mayor – and how it cost the city and its taxpayers at least $7 million to settle law suits filed by those who’d been wronged by him. (I guess you won’t be hearing about this from his campaign, either.)

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Photos: Vladimir Georgiev









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Photos: Ivan Ivanovski









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Hi, everyone.

As I write this, I still have not settled yet on which flatbed scanner I will get next. All I know is that I need to get one pretty soon. Currently, my scanner can only give me scans from prints (and not scans from film, which are now being marred by a very discernable black line). Even then it seems touch and go: to make the reflected scans from prints that I’ve done the last few days, I have had to turn the scanner on and off several times as I keep getting a flashing red light rather than green. I’m just afraid that one of these days that green light won’t come on at all and then I’ll be out of luck.

Even if I purchase one this weekend, I’ll probably opt for the free budget shipping option – meaning that it may take a week or more to get to me. Still, I do have plenty of 8x10 prints on RC paper (I guess I made a lot of those in my earlier printing days), so as long as the green light on my current scanner eventually goes on, there should be no shortage of photos to post here.

When I do order a new scanner, I just hope that I can get it shipped by a method other than Fed Ex, which always tries to deliver packages here during the middle of the day when I am at work – which forces me to waste my time by driving over the the nearest Fed Ex depot where I may have to wait a long time (over an hour last time) for them to find it and give it to me. I much prefer UPS or the postal service.

The other need-to-get item that I may have mentioned is a new camera bag. I was thinking of going after work today to B&H, the big camera store in Manhattan, to look for a new bag. Ultimately I decided not to, as I’ve been feeling very tired lately (perhaps due to not sleeping well the last few nights), so I came straight home from work. Besides, I have this blog posting to write, too!

On the positive side, I have booked my next trip to Asia, which I will be embarking on sometime during the next few months. This may well be my one big trip of the year. After getting comp time for having put in a lot of overtime at work recently, I think I actually have time now to make a second big trip – but I may need to use my time to take care of some other things, and with two trips money is a big factor, too.

As for my art nude photography, I have not photographed a model since July of last year and I’ve been feeling like it’s time for me finally do so again. Unfortunately, that money factor is always present. A model who’s been recommended to me will be coming to New York from Canada in a few weeks and I would really like to work with her, but with the cost of the scanner and the new camera bag likely to equal at least $500, I’ve been forced to say no to her. Like it or not, I just have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to cost – but hopefully I’ll be able to get started again with the nudes before too long.

Regarding the nudes posted with today’s entry, the scans were made from some of my aforementioned 8x10 RC prints. The photos were made at a workshop during the summer of 2002. This was the only time that I ever photographed the blonde girl in all three of the photos, which is a shame, as she was quite good. The photo of her with her dark haired girlfriend somehow ended up being doubly exposed. It probably would have been better as a single exposure, but the accidental doubling seems to give it an odd feeling.

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Recently, Lin from Fluffytek.com – people who live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – wrote a blog posting about the American presidential election. The media coverage given to the candidates, I believe she said, was more about personality than policy – and that she had seen little coverage of the Republican candidates.

Well, that got me to decide that now is the proper time to write something that I’ve been thinking about for several months now – the time spent as mayor of New York City by Rudolph Giuliani.

Mr. Giuliani is a Republican running for President and is basing his campaign on his being “America’s Mayor” – a term given to him following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Well, I give Rudy some credit for being out there in the public eye after what happened – in contrast to our fearless leader, President George W. Bush, who ran and went into hiding.

A lot of other don’t agree with the America’s Mayor thing, though. The firefighters of New York City, who lost over 200 of the their ranks on 9/11 and were the true heroes of the day (along with the police department), do not support Rudy, saying that he bungled the handling of the 9/11 attacks and are asking what was it that he did that was so heroic. (You can read about it at http://www.rudy-urbanlegend.com/ and
http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=real_911_heroes_speak_out_against_rudy if you want.)

A lot of others weren’t thrilled by Rudy, either, including the man shown in the photograph above. I made this photo on the street near City Hall during Rudy’s time as mayor. I used to carry around with me a point & shoot camera loaded with B&W film, and this scene just begged to be photographed.

I suspect that the man holding the two placards was an artist and was protesting Rudy’s desire to create a commission to prevent art that it deemed ‘indecent’ from being shown at publicly-funded institutions. (Any artists reading this should take note.) This whole thing began when a painting of the Madonna (Jesus’ mother, not the singer) by African artist Chris Ofili was displayed at the Brooklyn Museum. The artist (himself a Roman Catholic, I believe) had used elephant dung – a material traditionally used by African artists – as part of the artwork, and naturally this created a great uproar in the media from religious conservatives – and from Rudy, who wanted the painting removed.

Listening to the media and the painting’s critics, you’d think it was a very traditional Western representation of the Madonna that had had gobs of shit splattered all over it with anti-Christian abandon. Instead, the painting is very African-looking in style and the elephant dung does not seem out of place at all. (See the painting at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~museum/armory/ofili.html .) Thankfully, Rudy lost his court case to have the painting removed and the ‘decency commission’ was never formed, but the whole incident should tell you something about Rudy’s views towards the arts.

Here are a few other things about Giuliani’s years as mayor that you are not likely to hear from his campaign:

1) During the term of his predecessor, David Dinkins, Giuliani held a rally of police officers on the steps of City Hall protesting the ineffective mayoral leadership of Mr. Dinkins. However, when he became mayor himself, Giuliani prevented anybody else from holding rallies or events in front of City Hall to protest his work as mayor. (In other words, do as Rudy says, but don’t do as Rudy does.)

2) In the midst of rather bitter contract negotiations with the United Federation of Teachers, Giuliani reportedly said that only he truly cared about the education and well-being of the city’s students and that the teachers did not. However, when his favorite sports team, the New York Yankees, won the World Series, Giuliani actually told kids that it was okay for them to play hookie and skip going to school to attend the parade he was holding for the Yankees. (Yep, Rudy sure cared about the students’ education. They must have really learned a lot how to read, write and do math at that Yankees parade.)

3) Shortly after 9/11, when the city’s economic future was on shaky ground and the City government needed to hold on to as much financial resources as it could, Giuliani gave $25 million tax breaks each to both the New York Yankees and the New York Mets baseball teams as a going-away present when he left office. (Hey, I’m a big baseball fan myself, but whose financial well-being should the mayor be thinking of: that of the people and their government or that of some very wealthy sports franchise owners? Obviously, Rudy felt that the owners needed it more.)

4) When Giuliani left office as mayor, he had all of the records of his mayoral administration – over 2,000 boxes worth – carted off to his private warehouse to ‘organize’ them. The fact that these are public records belonging to the people of the City of New York and not to Giuliani himself evidently was given no thought. (After all, if a man like Rudy will be running for President of the United States, I don’t blame him for not wanting anyone to go through those records and finding anything incriminating against him and his adminstration.)

5) Finally, while thinking of writing this posting last month, I came upon this news story which echoes the previous paragraph but goes even further: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2007/12/21/ap_impact_giuliani_secretive_as_mayor/ . According to this story, not only did Giuliani have all of those records carted off to have who-knows-what done to them, but his adminstration was one of the most secretive ever regarding the release of public information – even though his campaign claims that it was the most open and transparent!

Of course, there are many more things about Rudy’s years as mayor that you won’t be hearing from his campaign. To be fair, I did think that Giuliani’s first term as mayor was a definite improvement over that of his predecessor, which as I said was pretty ineffective (though Dinkins did initiate the addition of more police officers to the force that helped the crime rate drop during the Giuliani years). As I recall, it wasn’t until his second term that he began to really act power hungry and like a megalomaniac. Personally, I prefer his views as a moderate conservative over those of his even more conservative Republican rivals, but having seen him for eight years - not as the fictional “America’s Mayor” but as the real life mayor of New York - I would not want Rudy Giuliani to be President of the United States.

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It’s another late night here in New York as I sit down to write this. I finally finished working overtime on Tuesday night and left the office to return home my normal time yesterday and today, but I have to admit that I’m still feeling kind of tired from it all. Additionally, a lot of stuff piled up here that needed to be taken care of, which is one reason why I’m off to a late start writing this.

I had wanted to write about my plans for 2008 last time but decided to wait until this posting to do so. Perhaps ‘plans’ is too strong a word for what I’m thinking of – just as the word ‘resolution’ is too strong for some – some I’ll just say that these are some things that I would like to do (or at least try to do).

I’ll start off by writing about something I know that I’ll definitely have to do: spend money!!! Two things of great importance need replacing rather soon and neither one is cheap. First is my scanner, which is what I use to scan my negatives so I can post them here on the blog , my website and other places. The one that I have now is an Epson 4490 flatbed scanner that scans 35mm and medium format film. I bought it less than two years ago because my previous Epson scanner was giving me black lines through my film scans.

Well, guess what. The new scanner is now doing exactly the same thing! I also sometimes have to turn it on and off several times until it’s ready to scan (as happened tonight). I explained this to the repairman at the place where some work was done on it last year, and he suggested that it would probably be better to just get a new one.

So there it is. It seems that every scanner I buy needs to be replaced once every two years or sooner. Wonderful. So, the question now is, what do I get next? Any suggestions anyone for a flatbed that scans medium format film? Right now I’m considering getting the Epson V500, which is a step up from my 4490 and also uses an LED light source rather than a lamp. I’ll need to make a decision soon as a scanner is something I really depend on.

For now, I’ll hold onto the one I have now until I get a new one – and as I’m still able to make reflective image scans with it, I scanned some old 8x10 RC prints tonight to post here. These are photos that I made way back in 1995 and 1996 – my first years photographing nudes – so you can see if I’ve gotten any better in the past ten years or so.

The other thing I need to get pretty soon is a new camera bag. As some of you may have read here last year, my current camera bag seems to have carried its last lens. I bought the bag back in 1995 when I bought my medium format system and, though it’s been falling apart for years, I’ve held onto it because I can’t find another bag as good as this one (and it is no longer made).

Finally, flying from Tibet back to Beijing last year, I loaded so much into the bag (trying to reduce the weight of my suitcase to get it under the checked baggage weight limit) that the shoulder strap broke off and the handle on top of it was literally ripping at the seams. Again, I’ll have to see what’s out there and hope that something will be good for me. Whatever it is, I have no doubt about one thing - it will be costly!

Now, as to other plans, I do intend to continue my series of travels to Asia. I’m hoping to go on a trip to Laos and Cambodia in the next few months – a first visit to Cambodia and a second one to Laos, which is a fairly quiet place that I rather like. Now that I’ve gotten some more vacation time from all of the overtime that I worked recently, I may have enough time to go on a second trip – perhaps to Mongolia or China.

Of course, I also intend to continue photographing nudes. Unlike my travels, however, photographing models is not something that I plan too far ahead if at all. I haven’t worked with a model since July, so I’d thought of making plans to do so sometime very soon, but with the expenses that I mentioned above coming up quickly, I think I’ll hold off for a while longer.

To photograph models here in New York, I have the choice of either working in the makeshift studio I set up in my living room with tungsten lights and a gray or black backdrop (very, very limiting) or finding a location elsewhere (very difficult in a highly populated area like New York City – and too cold most of the year, too).

I am hoping to attend the annual Community Zoe get-together in Sepember, which should give me the chance to work with several models over several days, but other than that nothing is planned. I’ve thought of taking a drive up to Nova Scotia for about a week to work with models there, and Dave Levingston has asked me to come out to visit him again to work with models he knows in his area, but if I take a second long-distance trip as described above, I won’t really have the time to do either of those things.

Otherwise, here are a few other things that I’d like to do:

1) Get back to printing. There’s nothing wrong with scanning negatives and posting them on the web, but that does not an art object create. The actual art objects that I seek to create are well made B&W fiber prints that I make myself. I haven’t done this for several years and now it’s time to get back.

2) Try to get those prints on the wall. I should try to enter my photos for exhibition opportunities, and there’s a cooperative gallery here that I’ve been thinking of joining for quite a few years. Maybe it’s time that I finally applied for membership.


3) I’m someone who always seems to get less accomplished than hoped for when doing things, so I should try to structure my time better and spend less time sitting in front of this screen and talking on the phone. There are plenty of negatives that need to be put into pages and plenty waiting to be scanned – as well as there being plenty of DVDs waiting to be watched for the first time – so I should be more diligent.

4) Make my 2009 calendar available on time in early December, not in very late December as with this year’s (though some people have bought a few).

5) Begin working on a book project of my nudes. Other photographers have done this with photos from just a few years (or even less than one year), but I’ve got a dozen year’s worth of nudes to choose from. Of course, going through all of my nudes from 1995 onward and choosing which ones to include will be an enormous task – but one needs to start sometime.

6) Get out and view more art. I just renewed my membership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the tune of $95. It takes a long time for me to get to and from the Met by subway, so one reason I joined is that it would get me to go more often on the theory that I’ve already paid for my admissions. That really hasn’t worked out as planned and I’ve missed seeing a lot of wonderful exhibitions (like the Rembrandt and Dutch painting show that just closed), so I should try to go more often. The same goes for the International Center of Photography. Galleries don’t charge for admission, but I used to go to them quite a bit and just don’t do so anymore. Time, like I said, to get out there into the art world again.

So, with that one, I will call it a day – or rather, a night. I’m not sure what I’ll write about next time, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. Stay tuned.

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