Archive for May 2008

It’s been a busy last few days for me. A meeting after work on Tuesday. Visiting a friend whose mother passed away on Wednesday. Then yesterday, I had another doctor’s appointment and had to complete the paperwork and write up my artist’s statement for the Artful Nude exhibit in Colorado coming up this summer.

So, I really haven’t had much time to scan any more images or to think of what to write here. Still, I do have a couple of images to offer today.

The images I’m posting here are from the same negative. The difference is that one has been turned 180 degrees from the other (turned upside down, so to speak, or topsy turvy) and one has been cropped a bit. Of course, I’m not really saying that one has been turned upside, because that might suggest that one is primary and the other is secondary. While it is true that I worked on one image before the image, I really think of these as two different and equally valid interpretations of the same negative.

As for the creation of that negative, this is a photograph of Rachel that I took in her studio in Maine two years ago, following our return from Canada. As I’ve written here before, Rachel is a very accomplished artist and I wanted to create some in-camera double exposures combining her with some of her own artwork. With this particular image, I was looking to create a yin-yang type of effect – the two halves different yet complementing each other and fitting together to create the whole.

Was I successful? If you have any thoughts, do let me know.

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I haven’t made a posting for nearly a week, as I’ve been busy 1) trying to get my apartment straightened up, and 2) waiting for back to feel 100% again. (I’m still waiting, though it does feel better now.)

As for this weekend, I’ve been doing things like shopping, laundry, watching the Mets beat the Yankees, etc. I had thought of getting back to filing more of my Tibet photos, but I think I’ll wait a bit longer for my back to get better before tackling that again. I was thinking of trying to get back to exercising by walking the stairs in my building again today (and I may still be able to do it), but I do have a lot of other stuff to do around here, including finally filling out the paperwork and prepping the photos for the Artful Nude exhibit in Colorado this summer.

I haven’t posted any travel photos for a while, and none from Cambodia since I returned from there a couple of months ago, so today will be the day that I do. Rather than putting up some photos taken across Cambodia in general, today’s images are from something specific.

The afternoon that my group visited the great temple of Angkor Wat (just one of many places in the overall Angkor area, by the way), we encountered a wedding party that was leaving the temple as we were departing, too. I don’t know if the wedding ceremony was actually held at the temple or if they just went there to have some photos taken. Either way, it was an interesting thing to see.

Cambodia is a very poor country, but it would seem that if people can afford to splurge for something important like a wedding, they do it. The bride was decked out in white with a lot of jewelry (though perhaps a bit too much makeup). The groom and his men were wearing bright white suits. The bridesmaids were wearing white and green and they all appeared to be having a ball, laughing amongst themselves and with others. (I even got one to pose with me for one of my arm’s length self-portraits – though her attention is obviously focused elsewhere!) The bride, on the other hand, seemed very serious the whole time.

I managed to get just one photo of the wedding party with my film camera (as I had just one shot left on the roll and no time to re-load), but I was able to get a few with my little digital camera. I think the best of the photos was the last one that I took, which is the one posted at the top – the bride and groom about to get into their car.

However, I have to say that my personal favorite photo of the bunch was the one I made next to last and that’s posted at the bottom here: the newly minted husband giving his bejeweled bride a drink from a bottle of water. In a place as hot as Cambodia, even brides need to make sure they stay hydrated!

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I had planned this weekend to finally get to work once again filing negatives from my trip to Tibet, but that hasn’t happened. My back went out on me last Thursday as it does from time to time, and as it’s still hurting, I really didn’t feel like being hunched over a table filing negatives and annotating pages for several hours, which is what I’d had in mind. (Someone at my office noted on Friday that from the way I was walking, it looked like I’d just gotten off of a horse.)

So, I decided to go back into the negative archives and scan some more images from my photo session with Carlotta Champagne out in the Nevada desert a couple of years ago. It’ll likely be some time until the film from my studio session with her last month will be developed, so I thought I’d post these “oldies” here today.

Actually, my bad back is just the latest in a series of things that have been bothering me over the past month and a half. Thankfully, though, it looks like the other problems will be resolved before too long. I went for an endoscopy yesterday (it’s strange seeing photos of your own stomach, etc.) and the doctor says that what’s been ailing me is nothing to really worry about. I’m someone who has a history of suffering of from anxiety over medical procedures, and while I felt a bit nervous, it was nothing overwhelming and the whole thing was reasonably painless.

So, I’m hoping that once that’s taken care of and my back returns to normal (and it is getting slowly better, as it usually does when this happens), I’ll be able to get around a bit more and do more things.

I actually had a photo shoot planned for outdoors today with a model named Stephanie Anne, but as it’s rainy, windy and chilly, we decided to opt for a postponement. I supposed it’s just as well, given how I’ve been feeling. If the weather were good I would have gone ahead with the shoot, but perhaps it’s just as well that I’ll have time for my back to get better before dragging my camera gear around again.

This blog entry is also something of a milestone. While it is not my 100th blog posting overall, it is the 100th entry that I’ve written from home (not counting the ones I’ve done while on my travels). I always write up my postings first in MS Word and save them numerically, so that’s how I know that this is number 100. Let’s see how many more I can do over the coming years.

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I just saw a segment on the nightly network news broadcast regarding how much people are crunched for time today. With multi-tasking, people now do 31 hours worth of work in 24 hours, it said. The downside, of course, is that the more you do in any given stretch of time, the less quality you achieve with each thing.

That news segment was rather coincidental, as I was planning to write today about managing my time and something I have dubbed “the 8 o’clock rule.” I may be good at photography (or so some people tell me), but I really need to work at managing my time better. One of the problems is sitting here in front of me: my computer. I guess I’m not the only one who can sit down and find that hours have gone by and at which point you ask yourself, “What have I accomplished?”

So, I have set a goal for myself: to be finished with all of my internet business for the day (including wasting time surfing around) by 8 p.m. After that, it’ll be time for other things: relaxing in front of the TV watching a video or a ballgame, developing film, filing negatives or even using the computer to scan negatives. I also want to finish off things like paying bills before 8, too. I’ll also continue to check my e-mail and such things briefly before going to bed each night.
So far, in the few days that I’ve implemented this, I’ve been pretty successful. Let’s hope that I can keep up with it. I’ve recently switched to a new e-mail account because of the avalanche of spam I’m getting out the old one, and that takes up time, too.

By the way, the photo at the top was made at a workshop in Woodstock, New York, a couple of years ago.
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I read with sadness today that a photographer named Yuri Bonder died a week ago at the very young age of 41. I really didn’t know much about him, other than that he lived in Israel and had apparently moved there from Russia or another part of the former Soviet Union. All I knew about him were the photos that he posted on Deviant Art – and they were great. Yuri excelled at both nudes and portraits (the latter both formal and on the street) as well as things like landscapes.

I think I once sent him a message on Deviant Art saying that if I ever were to visit Israel again, I would want to try to meet him. I never received a response, but now the point is moot. That meeting will never happen. An excellent photographer is gone – and as a photo of his son is prominently displayed on his DA main page, obviously a father, too. My thoughts go out to his family.

You can view Yuri’s Deviant Art page at http://yuribonder.deviantart.com/ and his website at http://www.yuribonder.com/?lng=eng .

I don’t normally post other photographers’ work on my blog here, but in this case I think it is appropriate. You can see a few of his photos below.

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PS The time on my computer now reads 8:00 p.m. Just in time, I guess.

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One of my mother’s best friends died two days ago. From what I understand, she died from ailments related to her having been a long-time cigarette smoker. She was not very old – just 61 years of age. What a senseless loss. Still, I suppose she was lucky in a way. One of my aunts died from lung cancer from having smoked cigarettes. She was only 48 years old at the time.

And still, despite people dying like this every day, millions and millions of people continue to pollute their bodies and destroy themselves with this shit we call tobacco.

Of course, people who smoke say things like “My uncle Joe smoked three packs a day and he lived to be 95.” Well, lucky for Uncle Joe – but so what? As it happens, today is May 4, 2008 – the first anniversary of my having been hit by a car last year.

That’s right. It was one year ago today that I was crossing the street when a car hit me, knocking me down and causing my head to smash into the ground so hard that I was knocked silly and had to be carted off to a hospital emergency room strapped down to a stretcher, half-choked by the neck restraint they put on me. What does this have to do with smoking cigarettes?

Like “Uncle Joe,” I was lucky. I got hit by a car but managed to escape with a couple of busted fingers and a concussion – not too bad, all things considered. So, just because I managed to get away lucky, does that mean that any of you out there would be willing to step in front of a moving car and get hit just for the fun or the thrill of it? Heck, there’d even be an insurance payment in it for you if you survived. (I got one.) Doesn’t the thrill and the potential for money make it worth giving it a try?

No, of course it doesn’t – but cigarette smokers go ahead and do the same thing every single day by lighting up. The question is: why? After all, people don't generally wake up in the morning and think to themselves, "I'm going to ingest arsenic just for the fun of it," so why should tobacco be different?

Not being a smoker, I can’t really say, but I think a lot of it has to do with image. I once heard that tobacco companies used to place beautiful and elegant looking women (maybe men, too) sitting in hotel lobbies smoking cigarettes to make cigarette smoking appear to be beautiful and elegant. You know: if you smoke cigarettes, you’ll be sexy, you’ll be beautiful, you’ll be hot, you’ll be cool.

Personally, I don’t see what’s so cool about being a patsy. That’s right, a patsy – to a bunch of tobacco company executives who are pissing in their pants with laughter as they happily stroll to the bank, knowing that they’ve hoodwinked you into spending your hard-earned money to buy a product that can bring you nothing but disease and death. (You think the cost of a pound of beef is high? Try figuring out how much a pound of cigarettes costs.)

Naturally, it’s more than just people sitting in hotel lobbies that get people started on smoking. Among other things are all of the films and still photographs made over the years (and that continue to be made) that make cigarette smoking appear to be something desirable. As far as I’m concerned, every single photographer, filmmaker and image maker of any kind who has made cigarette smoking look cool, hot, sexy or attractive in any way has got the blood of thousands on their hands – and if anybody has died as a result of their imagery they can spend eternity burning in the fiery pit of Hell!!!

As for my image at the top here, I can remember how it was made. I was at a workshop in Tuscany ten years ago and we were photographing a local girl, Beatrice. Someone asked her to light up a cigarette – and I was so furious that I stormed out of the room in anger. How dare someone put somebody else at risk like that for the sake of a photograph? Yes, I’m pretty sure that the girl was a smoker, but I would no more give a cigarette to a smoker than I’d give a stiff drink to an alcoholic. If they want to destroy themselves, we don’t need to encourage it.

At first I refused to take a photograph of the girl smoking, but then I relented. I took a few photos of her that way – but only on the condition that if I ever displayed one, I would give it the title “Suicide Attempt,” because that’s what I consider smoking to be. I have never shown it until now, so at last I’m able to follow through with my intention. (Fortunately, most of the photos I made of Beatrice - some of which you’re seeing here, too - were without the cigarette.)

Then there are those people who are afraid to quit smoking for fear of gaining weight after quitting. I once saw a poster at a store in Berlin, Germany, that addressed that pretty well. "Smoking makes you skinny" the poster said (in German, of course) and it showed a picture of a skeleton.

Ultimately, I guess, it’s up to each individual to decide how suicidal his or her behavior should be. Even though governments ban other products as lethal as tobacco, people can smoke themselves to death just as they can drink themselves to death. The main thing is that I don’t have to be affected by their behavior, so as long as I don’t have to breath in the smoke from other people’s cancer sticks, I guess I can’t complain. That still doesn’t leave non-smokers like me totally unaffected, because we feel the pain and the loss when our friends and loved ones succumb to the murderous plans of the tobacco companies and those who support them.

Unfortunately, there are those who still aren’t able to complain – and it really upsets me to see parents smoking with their small children around them. (Not enough to poison themselves; they'll got to poison their kids, too.) Even though smoking indoors is now banned in many places, the outdoors is not necessarily safe, either. Just try walking down the street behind someone smoking a cigarette - or even worse, a cigar - and you’ll end up breathing in the whole stream of smoke (or so it feels).

Sir Walter Raleigh is credited with popularizing tobacco in England after his visits to the New World, so it’s ironic that John Lennon of all people should put it so well in the Beatles’ song, "I’m So Tired":

“I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get.”

(For another blog posting on this subject, see the one by Fluffytek from last month: http://www.fluffytek.com/blog/2008/04/cigarettes-death-sticks-or-creative.html )

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Sara Leshi/Сара ЛешиSara Leshi/Сара Леши











Macedonian top model Sara Leshi will be a part of 25-th international Miss Hawaiian Tropic 2008 in Las Vegas. All participants will be hosted in the "Golden Naget" hotel. The final night will be on 10-th of May.

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