Archive for February 2009

This will be a quick posting tonight, as I haven’t had time to really think up anything to write. It’s been a busy week: listening to the President’s speech, working on my income tax, making hotel reservations for my upcoming travels, developing film, making peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch, etc. Tonight I had a union meeting to attend, and had stuff to do when I got home.

As far as the film goes, I think I’m down to only 33 left to go. By early next week it could be only 15. Is that a small glimmer of light that I see at the end of the filmic tunnel?

So, before I go, here are a few random thoughts.

1) I’ve gotten some photo magazines that I’ve subscribed to in the mail recently: Aperture, B & W, but the one I’ve begun to read is American Photo. This new issue is one in its “master” series, devoted to the work of one photographer – in this case, Annie Leibovitz. This is only the fourth time they’ve down this, the other three photographers so honored being Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helmut Newton. While I think Ms. Leibovitz has down some good work, am I the only one who thinks that she doesn’t quite belong in the same category as those three others? (Oh well. At least she’s not as overrated as Nan Goldin.)

2) On the way walking home from the subway station tonight, I had the misfortune to walk behind a bunch of cigarette smokers. Jee, was that awful. (Cigars are even worse.) I had to speed up my pace to get in front of one to escape the cancerous smoke trail, only to find still more ahead of me! So, in order to safeguard non-smokers from people who enjoy poisoning themselves and don’t care if they take others with them, I suggest one of the following:

a. Smoking a cigarette outdoors within 100 feet of any non-smoker should be made illegal; or

b. The tax on cigarettes should be made so high that smokers will have to choose between spending their money either for cigarettes or for food. If they choose to buy food, that will get rid of the smoking problem. If they choose to buy cigarettes, then presumably they will die of starvation, which will also solve the problem. (Not being able to buy food because one buys cigarettes instead will disqualify someone from getting welfare or any other form of relief under this plan.)

I, of course, would prefer plan ‘a,’ but if plan ‘b’ is necessary……well hey, they’re the ones who are polluting my lungs with their poison – not the other way around.

3) I listened to a recording of Verdi’s opera Il Trovatore with my headphones while at work today. This is the next one that I’ll be seeing at the Met in a few weeks. This was a newer recording that I bought yesterday and it sounded great. (I also have an older recording but haven’t listened to it for a long time.) Now I can’t wait to hear it and see it live and in person.

So, that’s all for now. I think I’ll relax for a little while and watch another episode of The Honeymooners. A little (or a lot of) laughter is always good before making a PB&J sandwich and then going to bed.

(For those who are interested, that’s Tamara at the top, photographed last year near Zion National Park in Utah.)

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Sometimes during my travels I’ve seen or experienced something that leaves me shocked, awestruck or somehow overly impressed to the point that it’s hard for me to believe what I’m seeing or experiencing.

One such hard-to-fathom moment happened when I was in Cambodia last year, during a boat ride on the Tonle Sap lake, not too far from the city of Siem Reap and the great ruins at Angkor.

For one thing, the Tonle Sap lake is a pretty amazing thing in itself. During the summer, its size increases to 13,000 square kilometers from the 2,500 that it is in the winter. I was there in the winter, and at that time it’s still very large, but in the summer, the rivers that the lake feeds into (the Mekong and the Tonle Sap) get backed up by heavy rains and that extra water goes into the lake, making it bigger and bigger. On the way out to the lake last winter, I saw houses on stilts that must have been at least 15 or 20 feet off the ground. I just imagine that those houses may be at lake level during the summer.

Anyway, during the boat ride, we stopped off at a large, floating souvenir stand, with shops selling touristy things, plus a restaurant, etc. After we left, a boy of perhaps ten years old floated up toward us. He had only one arm, but that’s not what was so unusual.

What was strange was that he was not in a rowboat or some such thing. He was actually floating on the water in a large metallic bowl! I don’t remember if he was begging for money or just wanted to say hi, but I couldn’t believe it. Here’s this kid with only one arm, holding a paddle (just a stick, really) with that arm, floating in a bowl on a very deep lake. I don’t know how long he’d been floating in that thing, but I couldn’t help thinking what would happen if that bowl somehow got flooded and sank. Would he be able to swim to safety with just one arm? Would that stick be able to support his weight? I hope he never has to find out.

Somehow, as the boat was pulling away, I managed to get a couple of photos. The one at the top here is the second one. The first one (second down) is on the soft side, as I was hurrying so much that I didn’t take the time to focus properly. The third photo shows some boats on the lake, backlit by the sun.

Another special moment happened Thursday night when I went to see Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine at the Metropolitan Opera. Puccini is very well known for such operas as La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Turandot, but for some reason La Rondine is not performed that much (perhaps because nobody dies in this one…LOL). The last time the Met staged it before this season was way back in 1936.

Well, that much of a hiatus is certainly not justified, based on the music, much of which is just gorgeous. The opera as a whole may not be too famous, but its first act soprano aria, “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta,” is – and it was wonderfully performed by the Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu (who happens to be my favorite singer).

Still, as beautiful and lovely as that was, it was not the special moment. That came toward the end of Act II, when the quartet of lead singers was singing along with the chorus. It wasn’t as memorable a tune as the one in the first act, but it was very beautiful and everything just came together perfectly and magnificently. I just sat there enthralled and entranced, wishing that it could go on all night. Of course, it didn’t, but for one brief shining moment, all was right with the world.

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Model: Sanja Nikolik
Photos: Dejan Panovski, Chedo Popovski and Darko Moraitov
Technorati Tags: , , , , , .

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It’s been an eventful past few days. The action began on Thursday when I went to the doctor to have my four sets of stitches removed. (Yes, it hurt, but really only the first set - though that hurt enough for all four, I think.)

Friday, thankfully, was less painful, as I went to the Metropolitan Opera to attend that evening’s performance of Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lacouvreur – an opera based on the life of a famed 18th Century actress who carried on a long affair with the Count of Saxony (apparently a rather extraordinary fellow in his own right) and who died under mysterious circumstances at a fairly young age. Cilea wasn’t a great composer like Verdi or Puccini, so while this isn’t a great work, it certainly is a good one and I enjoyed it. I do have a ticket to see one by Puccini this week.

Despite getting home around one in the morning Friday night, Saturday was a full day, beginning with a trip to the dentist. Next was a trip to Manhattan, which began with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today’s the final day for a special exhibition regarding art and love in the Italian Renaissance, and I wanted to see it before it closed. It included some famous artworks from European collections which I’d only seen in books, so it was definitely worth the trip.

Just as much a reason for visiting the museum was the opportunity to have lunch there with Stephen Haynes, who was visiting New York for a few days. It had been several years since I’d had a chance to meet with him, so it was good to see him again and talk about photography and other things. I hope we can do it again.

After lunching with Stephen and seeing the exhibition, I headed downtown to do some photographic stuff: I saw the photos on display that will be auctioned at the Swann Galleries this week, stopped off at the Staley-Wise Gallery to see the current show of Mary Ellen Mark photos and then picked up some photo supplies at K&M Camera in Tribeca.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was spent at home and I got a lot done. I developed nine rolls of film, filed a dozen other rolls, bought airline tickets for my next big trip and still had time to watch a movie and two episodes of The Honeymooners. I often get upset with myself for wasting time doing unimportant stuff (like surfing the web), but yesterday showed just how much one can get done by sticking to the plan.

So far today I’ve developed six rolls and may be able to do another three before it’s over. If I can do that, it’ll take me into September of last year, and the 40 rolls I still have to develop from my trip to the Community Zoe get-together in California. That’s a major task, but if I stick to the plan, it will get done. It’ll be just a matter of time and effort.


Today’s photos are the result of some earlier effort. These are some informal portraits that I made of Carlotta Champagne when she visited my studio in April last year. They’re among the negatives that I recently developed and filed.

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Anita Aleksoska/Анита АлексоскаAnita Aleksoska/Анита Алексоска

Anita Aleksoska/Анита АлексоскаAnita Aleksoska/Анита Алексоска

Anita Aleksoska/Анита Алексоска

Model: Anita Aleksoska
Photo: Dejan Milicevic
Equipment: Olympus E-3

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Well, I’m continuing on my merry way with developing film. I achieved my target of doing 15 rolls for the week, and will see if I can do the same beginning tomorrow. I’ve now taken care of all of the film from my photo sessions here in my home studio made with Carlotta Champagne and Maria Eriksson in April of last year and with Jessamyn in May. I’ve even started on the photos I made at the Woodstock workshop in June. By the end of the upcoming long weekend I may be into August.

Still, I may need to take a break from developing after that to file the film away, which can be time consuming.

As good as developing film is, the major event happened on Sunday, when I shot my first photos in about three months. It was another session in my home studio set-up, this time with the very lovely Julie Max – a girl originally from Siberia but now living in New York. Julie possesses a fashion model’s face and figure (not surprising, as she is a fashion model!), has skin that is just about perfect and she is very experienced, having worked with quite a few well known professional photographers. So, as expected, working with her was quite a pleasure.

Regarding the photo shoot – well, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m still really trying to find my way with studio work and with lighting. This time I tried something different – using an umbrella to light Julie with nice, soft light but using a straight light to illuminate the backdrop. It illuminated the backdrop, all right, but perhaps too much so. I haven’t developed any of the film yet so I can’t really say, but looking at some of the digital snapshots I made (some of which I'm posting here), it looks like the background is somewhat too bright. If I try this lighting set-up again, I may have to use the dark gray side rather the light gray that I used this time.

I tried a few other things, though, and ultimately, I think I’ve got a handful of good images worth printing, which is about as much as anyone can expect from a photo session, I guess. Hopefully it won’t be my last one with Julie.


In other news, I should have my four sets of stitches taken out on Thursday. Hopefully it won’t hurt too much.

I'm also having difficulty accessing those blogs with the voluntary adult content warning at the beginning. (Yes, this includes you, Mr. Neasley!) Removing the adult content warning and letting the objectionable content warning take its place seems to work in letting me (and I presume, others) read it, so perhaps you'd consider doing so. Thanks!

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Things have been busy with me since my last posting on Saturday. The week began on Sunday with my undergoing some minor surgery. The procedure went well, but I’ve still got four different sets of stitches in me that I need to have removed next week. Considering how queasy I am with medical matters (I still need to do blood tests lying down, and I got dizzy, nearly passed out and had to be stretched out in the recovery room before they even laid a finger on me when I had my hernia surgery seven years ago), I think I held up pretty well.

Photographically, I’ve been trying to do some catching up. I hadn’t developed any film since early October and hadn’t filed away any negatives into pages for quite a while, either. I really hadn’t planned to do any this week, but I thought to myself, “Oh, what the heck. No more excuses!” and actually got some done. Sunday (during the Super Bowl), Monday and yesterday I spent time filing a total of 24 rolls of film from my trip to Laos and Cambodia last March. I should be done filing the remaining rolls from the trip before too long.

As for developing, I took care of the last three rolls of film from that trip to Southeast Asia and also the last three rolls of film from my photo session with Carly Champagne in my home studio back in April of last year. I look forward to scanning and posting them once the film has been properly filed. The next photos set for development are those from my sessions with Maria Eriksson in late April and Jessamyn in May.

So, I think that leaves me with 77 rolls to develop, but if I work at maximum capacity (about 15 rolls a week), I can be done before the end of next month – if I can get more of the developer I use, which the camera store was all out of when I visited this week. I guess I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed.

As some other bloggers have mentioned, French PHOTO has posted on its website the images that they selected as finalists for choosing which would actually be in the magazine. I sent in twelve images and I see that eight – count ‘em: eight – were chosen as finalists among the overall 310 or so finalists. (You can see them here.) That means that my photos accounted for over 2.5%, or 1/40, of the total. So, you’d think that one of my images would surely be in the magazine, right? Well, fat chance! I’ve been told that none at all made it into print. Zero. Zilch. Null. At this point I’m left to just scratch my head and ask “What does a guy have to do???”

I mentioned in my last posting that I’d be putting up some nudes this time, and so I have. I just scanned these three photos that I made in 2001 at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument (now, I believe, a national park) in southern Colorado.

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