Archive for September 2008

It’s been quite a while since I posted any travels images from Asia here, or even scanned any, for that matter. So, I’ve decided to take care of those two things today. I’ve just scanned some of the negatives that I made last year in Lhasa, Tibet, at the Jokhang Temple – Tibetan Buddhism’s most sacred site – and here they are.

Walking around inside the Jokhang, one get’s the sense that it’s a very old place, made special by all of the years that it’s seen. It’s filled with statues of Buddhist figures, the light of butter lamps and the movement of pilgrims walking through its ancient corridors. Sadly, photography was not permitted inside, as I recall (and I’d have needed a tripod, anyway, which I didn’t have with me), so I had to limit my photography to the temple’s outdoor areas.

Fortunately, there is a lot going on outside, with monks and pilgrims studying and walking about, and there was a lecture going on when I was there, too, which helped me to get some interesting images, I believe.
In other news, Ivory Flame left my abode on Friday morning to move to some hotels in Manhattan for the remainder of her visit to New York. Things did not exactly go as planned with that: the car I ordered from car service showed up half an hour late; it took us at least half an hour to get through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Manhattan (rather than the normal five minutes or so); and, we were stopped not once but twice by the police!

I ended up accompanying Ivory to Manhattan, though that was not part of the plan. The car was to pick her up and I would take the subway train to work as I normally do. With the car so late and my not wanting to leave her waiting by herself, there was no way I could catch a train that would get me to work on time. The driver said he could get me to lower Manhattan (where I work) on time, so off the two of us went.

Things were going reasonably well, despite some backed up traffic, until we got to the Battery Tunnel toll plaza. We had made good time by riding in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane, but that lane requires the car to have an E-Z Pass to pay the toll electronically. Our car and driver didn’t have one, so a cop pulled him over. After several minutes, the cop let the driver go with a warning, but we had to exit the toll plaza.

We got back a few minutes later and went through the cash toll lane, but the traffic into the tunnel was a real bottleneck. For some reason the left lane in the tunnel, once we got in, was moving pretty fast. Unfortunately, we were in the right lane, which seemed to move at a snail’s pace! Eventually, about half an hour later, I figure, we made it to the other side of the tunnel – which is when we were pulled over by the police yet again. Why?

In the tunnel, I had mentioned to Ivory how the patterns of lights in the tunnel looked interesting as they swirled about impressionistically on the tunnel ceiling. Maybe she had noticed them herself, too. So, she asked the driver to roll down her window, she stuck her little digital camera out and took a few snaps.

Doing that, unfortunately, is a no-no ever since 9/11, so the cops must have seen it or it was reported by someone, and they pulled us over. Ivory showed them her passport and explained that they were just some artsy tourist snaps, and ended up deleting them from her camera. No serious harm was done, but it was yet another strange thing happening on a strange morning. I finally got to work an hour late – though if I’d taken the train after all it probably would have been no more than ten minutes!
The baseball season ended for me yesterday. To quote Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again.” Last year, the Mets went into the final weekend of the season with a chance to make the playoffs if they won both games. In the penultimate game, they got a sterling pitching performance from their starting pitcher, John Maine (who nearly pitched a no-hitter,) to win the game, but they ended up blowing the final game and missed the playoffs. This was all after they had blown a seven game lead in the standings.

This year, they’d blown a three game lead in the standings but still had a chance to make the post-season by winning. As happened last year, their starter turned in a gem in the second-to-last game, with Johan Santana delivering a three-hitter on short rest – but as also happened last year, they couldn’t put it together to win the last game and once again came up short.

The baseball season is 162 games and six months long, and to lose out this way yet again is like trying to add up 162 numbers on a calculator for something important and when you’re about to finish up that last number, you make a mistake and need to go back to the beginning to start adding them up all over again. The difference with baseball is that you have to wait six months to start again.

Yesterday’s game was also the final game to ever be played at the Mets’ home, Shea Stadium, which will be replaced next year by a new stadium. There was a ceremony following the game that I watched, with a lot of old players invited back to walk on the field one last time. It was nice to see these players again, many of whom I grew up with as a Mets fan, but then I saw something that started the tears to flow from my eyes.

Each of the players would cross home plate one final time, and I expected them to just step on it. Most of them did, but the first player to cross home was the great Willie Mays, who played for the Mets at the end of his career. (I was there at Willie Mays night in 1973 when the Mets honored him.) I guess Willie is not in the shape he used to be, as he walked slowly and had someone to accompany him for support. Still, rather than just walk across the plate, he bent down and reverently touched his hand to the corner of the plate – like a religious pilgrim touching a sacred relic.

And that was it. I just started to cry, thinking of this man and his reverence for the game, at a time when so many players seem to think they’re bigger than the game. It also made me think of all of the times I went to see games at Shea – first with my father, who used to be a security guard there; then with friends during my high school days and later with my cousin who passed away several years ago.

Seeing this ceremony was like seeing an old friend who you know you’re seeing for the final time. At first you’re happy to see the person, but as your get-together reaches its inevitable end, you know that you’ll never see this person again and, somehow, your life will just never quite be the same.

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I wanted to make a posting here one of the past two nights, but I was busy. Ivory Flame was on her way here to stay with me for a couple of nights as part of her visit to New York City, so I had to take the time to make my apartment presentable to a visitor. (Actually, it’s probably a good idea to have visitors over now and then as an impetus to clean up.)

There were some questions of how she would get to my place from Newark Airport, but in the end I thought it best for me to just drive there and pick her up. At first she’d thought of taking a taxi here, but I did that last year on my way back from Tibet and the cab ride cost me $100. I didn’t want her to have to pay that, and the other alternative was for her to take the bus from the airport into Manhattan where I could have met her, but that would have meant dragging her bags through the subway during the rush hour – also not a very merry prospect.

So, off to the airport it was once I got home from work today. Ivory’s plane was scheduled to land at 4:30 pm, and as I couldn’t get to the airport any earlier than 6:30 pm, it meant she’d have to wait at least two hours for me. This seemed a bit ironic, as she also had to wait a couple of hours for me to pick her up two weeks ago in Palm Springs (which I wrote about recently) when I had trouble with my rental car. As it turned out, her plane today was half an hour late, which lessened her wait a bit, and she certainly looked a lot better today after her wait than she did in California, as she didn’t need to endure the hot desert heat this time.

So, for the second time this year, I’ve got a model from England staying with me (Maria Eriksson was the first, back in April), though this visit will be shorter than the first one. I never did get to work with Ivory when I first met her a couple of weeks ago at the Community Zoe event, and sadly there’s no real time for me to do so while she’s here. Still, I’m sure it will be nice to get to know her a little bit better as a person.

After all, models are people, too.

(By the way, that is a photo of Ms. Flame at the top here, looking quite cute and lovely and proud with her little Union Jack. It was my favorite snapshot taken at the Community Zoe event, and I doubt that even a nude photo could have gotten her any better looking.)

Addendum: I just took a few photos of Ivory wrapped up in the bedsheets on my sofa. She looked so cute that I couldn't resist. Take a look below and I think you'll agree.

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Marijana Dimovska/Маријана ДимовскаMarijana Dimovska

Born: 07.12.1989
Place: Kumanovo
Height: 176 cm
Bust: 86 cm
Waist: 59 cm
Hips: 90 cm
Hair Color: Dark-brown
Eye Color: Dark-brown

Photo by: Vlado Georgiev

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I thought I’d write a little more about my time at the Community Zoe gathering that took place last week in Twentynine Palms, California. As I wrote last time, this an event – the seventh of its kind – where photographers and models who work in the art nude genre get together to meet other, hang out, talk photography, etc. A lot of people also go out (or stay in) to make photographs, too, so it’s a chance to create some new imagery, as well.

It’s hard to say which, for me, was more important – meeting friends old and new or going out to photograph more models. If I had to choose one, I’d go with the former. While it’s always good to go out and create, I already have a big backlog of film to develop, and there’s no substitute for having meaningful contact and relationships with other people – especially those with an interest in photography.

In addition to meeting people and taking photos, there were also some other events of note that took place. Most nights there were some computer slideshows put together by some of the Community Zoe members, highlighting their art nude photography. In general the quality was very good, with some of the images presented being quite stunning.

My slide show was on Wednesday night and was generally well received. These shows were presented outside on the grounds of the hotel where we stayed, and unfortunately, during the section of outdoor nudes presented to the music of Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez,” some music started blaring loudly from the pool/restaurant area. It pretty much overpowered the slow, beautiful music of Rodrigo – music that was essential to that part of the slideshow – but unfortunately there was nothing I could really do about it. Just my luck that that would have to happen at the time I needed it the least, but I just had to live with it and move on.

On the night before the first slideshow, I was one of the photographers who participated in what I called “Show and Tell”: a chance for people to show actual prints and to trade them for the works of others if one so desired. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry prints with me in my suitcase, but shortly before I went to bed the night prior to my departure, I decided to give it a go. It was very late so I didn’t put much thought into what I took. I just looked through my ‘B’ portfolio binder (‘A’ having my best work) and quickly took out about ten 11 x 14 inch prints that were not represented in my slideshow.

Despite the hurried selection of prints, people seemed to like them so bringing them along was justified. I even traded a couple of the prints for two beautiful platinum prints made by the Chicago-based photographer Ted Preuss.

As for models I worked with, last time I mentioned the first three that I photographed. The next three I worked with were Rebecca Lawrence from North Carolina, Stephanie Anne from New York and Jin from West Virginia. While I have developed some film which each of these models, I haven’t had the chance to scan any of them. So, today, I’m just posting a few more photos made with my pocket digital camera. (Jin is at the top, then Rebecca, then finally Stephanie among the cholla cacti.) Expect to see some of the film images here before too long.

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I returned home late last night from my week spent at this year’s annual Community Zoe gathering at Twentynine Palms, California. This is a town that’s about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs in the California desert, and is located just a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park. CommZoe is a website dedicated to fine art nude photography, so the people who attend are photographers who do art nude photography and the models who grace this genre.

These events have been held annually since the first one in 2002, which was pretty much an impromptu get-together from what I understand. I attended the events in 2003 near Woodstock, NY; in 2004 at Joshua Tree, CA (just down the road from this year’s event); and in 2005 at Flagstaff, AZ. I’ve always enjoyed attending, as it gives me the chance to meet old friends and make new ones (both photographers and models), plus the opportunity to create new work, too. I was unable to make it the past two years, but this year my schedule permitted it, and I was able to stay for the full week, too.

Things could have gotten off to a shaky start for me, as my flight out of New York City coincided with the day that tropical storm Hannah was attacking the east coast. Fortunately, my flight was early enough (6:45 am) to avoid any delays. Things did not go so well once I landed in Palm Springs, however.

Once I picked up my rental car near the airport, I needed to pick up Madame Bink, one of the models who was attending the event. On the way to her hotel, about six miles from the airport, I noticed that the car had very poor pick-up. I’d press the accelerator to the floor but the car would barely go over 30 MPH. Then the driver behind me motioned to me, pulled up next to me and told me that smoke was coming from one of the tires!

That got me pretty scared, but I decided to continue on to Madame Bink’s hotel, where I found her sitting in the lobby waiting for me. I explained the problem with her – and then I spent a lot of time on my mobile phone explaining the problem to the rental car company and trying to work out a solution. A tow truck arrived to take the car away, but I thought I’d have to take a cab back to the airport to pick up a new car! Finally, though, someone from the rental agency drove out to pick us in another car, and then drove us back to the airport rental location to get things straightened out.

Unfortunately, another model, Ivory Flame, was also waiting for me to pick her up. She was to arrive by bus in Palm Springs earlier in the day, but when her bus was delayed, her arranged ride could no longer get her. So, she called me and I agreed to take her with me, too. By the time we finally got to her, she’d been sitting outside for a couple of hours, at least, in the hot desert heat – though for someone with very fair skin she seemed to have held up fairly well. When the three of us finally arrived at the hotel in Twentynine Palms it was pretty much nighttime – and we were all glad to be there at last.

As for photography, I worked with nine models over the course of six days, using 45 rolls of 220-size B&W film with my primary camera, the Pentax 67, but also exposing four rolls of 120 film with my Holga, a $20 all plastic camera that has a large cult following. Even though I have 58 rolls of film from earlier in the year waiting to be developed, I’ve decided to do at least one roll of film from each of the models now in order to have something to show to them and to others. I’ve already developed three and the results look fairly good.

For now, I’m posting photos made with my pocket digital camera of the first three models I worked with: Madame Bink (middle photo), Rael (top) and Claudine (bottom). I’ll write more next time.

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Maja Petrushevska, Dragana Chuprina and Bojana Vasic, members of "Crnokrak" model agency were in Belgrade on a international miss "Slovenian Beauty" 2008. Dragana won the title "Miss Charme"

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Dragana Chuprina/Драгана ЧупринаDragana Chuprina

Born: 1990
Place: Tetovo
Height: 175 cm
Bust: 93 cm
Waist: 60 cm
Hips: 90 cm
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Brown
Titles: Miss Summer-Macedonia(2007)

Technorati Tags: , , , , .

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It’s been a week since I posted something here, but I’m trying to write quickly as I've got a lot to do tonight. Tomorrow, I’m flying to California to attend the annual Community Zoe get-together of art nude photographers and models. I haven’t been able to get to this event the last couple of years, but I’m looking forward to meeting some old friends and hopefully making some new ones, too. (The photos posted here were made at past Community Zoe events. The models, from the top down, are Kat, Rei, Jessica and Joceline.)

For the past week, I’ve been busy getting my things together for the trip, but I also spent a lot of time working on my new website. I began work on it a few months ago, but I hadn’t done any work on it for quite a while. I figured that as I’m paying for it, I might as well do something with it. I accomplished a lot this week, and I’m thinking that I may be able to launch it next month if not later this one. Pretty much the only things I need to are finalize the look of the home page and then load the photos into the galleries.

Unfortunately, the latter is not a simple thing to do. Whether horizontal or vertical, the thumbnails show up as squares – so if the image is a vertical, there are white spaces on each side; if it’s a horizontal, the white spaces are above and below to create a square. I really don’t like this, so I’ve been overlaying my photos on a gray square to match the color of the gray background I’ve set up. Before I do much more of this I’ll call up to find out if there’s another alternative, but right now I don’t see one.

I probably will also need to re-scan some photos. When I scan a negative now, I scan it for 8.5 x 11 inches at 300 dpi. I then save that as an uncompressed TIFF file, and edit it down for posting. This way, I can always rework the original scan if I want. Sadly, for a lot of my early scans, I don’t seem to have saved it as a large, unedited file, so I’ll just have to scan those all over again if I want to use them.

Otherwise, I spent time this past two weeks watching some of the political conventions. I’m glad that the Democrats had their act together. I thought that Hillary made the best speech (Bill and Barack were good, too) and one wonders why Obama didn’t choose her as his running mate.

As for the other convention, I voted for Hillary in the primary and will be voting for Obama in November, but I felt that I should give some of the Republican goings-on a look out of general interest. From what I saw, a lot of it seemed to be a big exercise in hypocrisy. I missed Mitt Romney’s speech – apparently he was putting down “Eastern elitists,” conveniently forgetting that he’s an Eastern elitist himself. Rudy Giuliani, who I’ve written about before, showed himself to be the low class sleazeball that he is.

Of course, Sarah Palin was the big draw, and I watched her speech with as much interest as everybody else. She came across as personable, I suppose, but my first thoughts upon seeing and hearing about her family was that we may have the successor show to “Meet the Osbornes” in the making.

As for the remainder, I don’t think she mentioned anything about education or health care; her comment on the economy was essentially the tired old line that Democrats will raise taxes (even though independent sources confirm that Obama’s tax plan will cut taxes more than McCain’s). She spoke out against Washington politics and wasteful spending, but failed to mention that when she was mayor of her town in Alaska, she hired a Washington lobbyist to procure $27 million in Federal pork-barrel spending for her town, or that Alaska receives more earmark money per capita than any other state in the nation.

Perhaps the biggest hypocritical point was the one where she was actually correct. She said that the special interests had sunk McCain’s presidential campaign in 2000. She’s right. They did. What she didn’t say was that the one’s who did it were the Bush campaign and his Conservative Republicans backers! In other words, people like Palin and her Conservative cronies torpedoed McCain in 2000, and she has the audacity to try to make us think it was somebody else.

The idea of “somebody else” was also evident during McCain’s speech last night. The crowd applauded when he talked about how wrong things are in Washington, never seeming to admit that it’s the Conservative Republicans - that is, themselves - who’ve been running Washington for most of the last eight years and who’ve gotten us into this mess.

(I heard a McCain TV ad today. It said that an Obama administration would give us years of budget deficits and unbalanced budgets – as if the Bush administration hasn’t given us years of those things already!)

Quite honestly, it’s really sad what’s happened to McCain. Back in 2000 I would have given him serious consideration had he gotten the Republican nomination. I had a great deal of respect for him in those days when he really was a maverick. Unfortunately, that John McCain is gone, as he now seems to be in the back pocket of the Conservative wing of his party (just like the unnamed George W. Bush). Selecting his first choice for Vice President – the independently minded Joe Lieberman – would have been a maverick move.

Instead, he chose someone who’ll appeal to the Conservatives and who he hopes will win over disgruntled Hillary supporters – hardly a maverick choice. The fact that she’s been so readily embraced by the Conservative establishment proves that. He’s also changed his tune on tax cuts for the wealthy (he was against them; now he’s for them), he said he’d close down Guantanamo (but he doesn’t talk about that anymore) and so on.

John McCain had said that he’d rather lose an election in order to win the war in Iraq – but it also looks like he’s willing to sacrifice his principles in order to win that election. The brave and courageous hero who proudly held out against his captors in North Vietnam has now surrendered to the Conservatives in the Republican Party.

Like I said, that’s sad.

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