Archive for August 2009

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I tried printing photos again yesterday. I did so two weeks ago without success, but it was better this time. Perhaps it was just new printing paper that I needed to get.

The first negative that I tried to print was one of my Holga images of Madame Bink (at top), made last September in California at Joshua Tree. I tried printing this one last time, so I thought I’d try it again to compare the old paper (three year old Forte) and new (Oriental) papers. I chose this negative to print as I like the image and I figured that the print would not require any dodging or burning, which would keep things simple.

Unfortunately, it probably was not the wisest choice to begin printing after three years by starting with a very underexposed negative, as this one is. Still, I went ahead with it two weeks ago, and the results were too low in contrast. Yesterday’s prints were definitely better, and though the contrast could have been greater, it was still acceptable.

The other print from last time that I tried yesterday was this photo of some cute kids in a village of the Lanten minority ethnic group in Laos. Again, the results were better, with the image from the medium format negative looking very clear.

Sadly, as Lin from England wrote about Stephen Haynes’ blog photos of kids at the Minnesota State Fair, photos such as this one could get you arrested in the UK. I presume that such things apply to posed photos on the street as well as candids. (Perhaps Elizabeth I should have just let the Spanish win the battle way back when.)

Finally, I decided to print another Holga image, as I hope to enter the next Soho Photo Gallery Krappy Kamera Competition and I’d like to get some prints ready for it. The one I chose was this freaky unintentional double exposure image of Rachel, made at a workshop on Prince Edward Island in 2006. It may be the best Holga photo that I have.

Now that I’ve started printing – and feeling like a real artist – again, I went to keep at it, but I don’t plan to print too often. If I’m lucky, I’ll do it once or twice a month on my bi-weekly three-day weekends. I hadn’t planned on it originally, but I may try again in two weeks.

I had hoped to develop film then, as I plan to do most of Labor Day week (I’m taking the week off from work), but looking at my schedule, I see that my next possible day for printing after that won’t be until November. (A family visit and other things on the weekends between now and then will prevent me from doing any printing.) So, it’s either two weeks or more than two months, and I think I’ll probably go with two weeks.

While printing yesterday, I listened to some CDs with British and Celtic themes. Jethro Tull’s Aqualung album, along with other songs of theirs on a disc I compiled. A few of my compilations of favorites Celtic songs from Scotland, Ireland and Brittany. The first two that I listened to however, were the two most recent albums by the British singer and songwriter Al Stewart. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time but I only had three of his albums from the mid-1970’s.

That’s what I consider his ‘classic’ period, but Stewart’s been recording from the late 1960’s up to the present and I’ve been doing some catching up lately. Those two recent ones were purchased last week and my darkroom session was the first time I listened to them. I’m listening to one of them now, and I’m glad that his work is still good.

One of the things I like about Al Stewart is that his lyrics are very intelligent and literate. On his latest album, there’s a great song about a football (soccer) hero who dreams of scoring a big goal that’ll be long remembered, but instead he missed the shot and is forever remembered for not passing the ball instead.

My favorite of his lyrics, though, deal with history and myth. He’s written songs about Helen of Troy, Nostradamus, the French revolution, etc. Probably my favorite of his songs is called “Roads to Moscow,” about the Second World War, told from the point of view of a Russian soldier. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Two broken Tigers on fire in the night
Flicker their souls to the wind
We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin
It's been almost four years that I've carried a gun
At home it'll almost be spring
The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin”

Rod may be the more famous of the Stewarts, but while I like some of his work, I’ll take Al’s literate songs over his any time.

Finally, for those who are interested in World War II and its aftermath, particularly involving the Soviet army, I read that there’s a new film out called “A Woman in Berlin” that deals with the travails of German women at the hands of their victorious Russian occupiers. Apparently this is a subject that has been swept under the rug for many years, and even the woman who wrote the book – her own story – that this film is based upon used the name Anonyma and had her identification hidden until she died.

The film doesn't seem to have a website of its own, but you can see the trailer here.

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Not too much to write tonight. I spent time this week filing away the remaining four rolls of film that were developed in order. I’ve got five more developed rolls that I jumped ahead with, so those will have to wait until the intervening film is developed before being made and made easier for scanning.

I’m planning to take off the week of Labor Day from work (and I am looking forward to it!) and I want to use that time to try to catch up on my developing, as well as other things. Not having to set the alarm clock will be a good thing, too.

I also scanned some negatives this week from my workshop with Kim Weston in Colorado last year. Today’s photo is from that series.

This weekend will also be a major one, as I will try to do some silver printing again with the newly purchased paper. Hopefully it’ll turn out better than last time.

Otherwise, I made a phone call to the Metropolitan Opera this week and spoke with the new man in charge of supernumeraries (i.e. spear carriers). I’m thinking of re-starting my “acting” career at the Met, so I sent in a letter last week and called a few days ago.

I was told that my letter was received and that the Met will need the most people for Aida, which will be one of the early operas staged this season. There’ll be an audition day next month (something I never had to deal with before), so I guess I’ll go down to see if they can use me. Aida is on the Met’s Live in HD schedule this year, so who knows? I may be able to finally make my High Definition debut, after all.

Lastly, welcome to this blog's latest Follower, Sukumar. I've known Sukumar for several years so I'm glad he found me here.

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As I wrote in my last posting, I took down all my nude images from my Deviant Art profile. I left my travel images up, basically because there were a handful of people who actually seem to like them. How many?

Well, I posted a photo from my 2005 trip to Japan about five days ago. The photo (above) was made in the town of Nikko, a very lovely place that houses the Toshogu Shrine – the burial place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the great family of Tokugawa shoguns. As I was walking uphill toward the shrine on a wide stone pathway, I espied a leaf with several blades standing up alone, and I decided to frame it in front of an out-of-focus temple in the background. It’s a quiet image and I like it.

Anyway, after five days on Deviant Art, I see that a total of 17 people have viewed the image. Three people have listed it as a Favorite.

Maybe people did mostly visit my DA page just for the T & A, after all.

Photographically, I haven’t too much in the past few days. The biggest thing is that I went to B&H and bought a new box of photo paper. The Forte paper that I had been using is no longer being made, so I decided to go with Oriental Seagull, which I’ve been told is a good paper, too. I’ll have to learn to use it as it’s new to me, but after three years out of the darkroom I may have had to re-learn how to use the old paper, too. I hope to begin using it soon.

Otherwise, I filed away about a dozen rolls of film, all from my trip to California last September. I still have film from that trip to develop, which I will hopefully take care of next month. I've already got a photo session arranged for next month with a model from California, and just heard back from a Canadian model I've worked with who may be in town later this year, so I need to get moving on taking care of the older stuff.

I went to see a baseball game today. I hadn’t planned it this way, but it works out: the last baseball game I’d seen was in May 2005 in Hiroshima, Japan – on the same trip on which I made the Nikko leaf photo.

Today’s game was much closer to home, right here in New York at the Mets’ new ballpark, Citi Field. It’s a nice stadium, smaller and somewhat more intimate than the Mets’ old place, Shea Stadium. The food was way overpriced as expected, but I guess it’s that way at every stadium these days.

As for the game, it was a bit unusual. The Mets’ starting pitcher got shelled and didn’t make it through the first inning. The opposing starter was the Mets’ former ace - a very popular player – and he got a loud ovation from the fans. The most unusual thing, though, was that it’s not every day that you can see an inside-the-park home run AND a game-ending, unassisted triple play in one game!
Finally, a thank you to ellarose1923, who is the latest Follower to sign on to my blog here. I appreciate your interest, Ella, and I hope you'll enjoy your visits.

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Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009

Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009

Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009

Jana Stojanovska for Bella collection, Summer 2009

Model: Jana Stojanovska
Editorial: Bella collection, Summer 2009

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I’ve got a bunch of things to write about today, so I’ll start with this:

I have deleted all of my nude images from my Deviant Art profile. I did this in solidarity with the writer and model Unbearable Lightness, who has written (see here and here) about receiving a lot of insulting and threatening comments since Deviant Art began allowing people to link other people’s images to website like Facebook and My Space. Apparently these comments are coming from people who claim to be over the age of 18 but are not.

I’ve also done this in support of the Canadian art nude photographer Eric Boutilier-Brown, who has complained about Deviant Art allowing unauthorized use of artists’ image and has taken off his photos, too.

Will things at Deviant Art change for the better? Only time will tell. I’ve decided to leave my travel photos on my Deviant Art page as there are some people who seem to appreciate them and aren’t just there to ogle naked chicks. As for the nudes, they are off the table there indefinitely. It’s too bad, as I like the look of the site.

For those interested in seeing my travel images, my Deviant Art page can be seen by clicking here.

I also tried printing photos for the first time in three years on Sunday. I actually have not printed regularly for six years, but I decided that enough is enough and back I went into the dark. The results? Well, nothing worthwhile, to be honest.

I began by trying to print one of my Holga images from last year, as I figured it wouldn’t need any real dodging or burning, and as I plan to print the Holga negatives full frame, I wouldn’t have to worry about cropping. What I failed to take into account was that this was a rather thin (that is, underexposed) negative. That’s because the photo was made in a shady area and the Holga doesn’t really allow you to change your shutter speed to make it longer.

The way to handle a thin negative is to print with increased contrast, and as I use variable contrast paper, that’s what I did. The result of the first print was that it was still too flat looking and low in contrast. So, I increased the contrast again – and again – and again. At last, I set it to maximum contrast, which should have taken the contrast through the roof, but the print still looked very flat.

I moved on to another, properly exposed negative made with my medium format SLR, and while that was better, the print lacked a certain bite to it. I’m hoping that these contrast problems are just the result of using three year old photo paper. Someone suggested I try it to see if it’s still usable, and perhaps it just isn’t anymore. I’ll buy some new paper and see what happens next.

So, the results of printing were not to my liking, but at least I got started again – and that’s the main thing!

I also had the day off from work yesterday, and given that there was a heat advisory in New York, I decided to stay in. I put the time to good use, filing away 15 more rolls of film. I also did some organizing of my CD collection, finding that I had mistakenly bought duplicate copies of not one but two albums – a Shangri-la’s compilation and an album of opera duets by Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon. This is the second Netrebko album that I’ve double-dipped on. Either I like her enough to subconsciously get two, or I don’t like her enough to even remember having gotten the album in the first place. (I’m not sure which.)
As most of you probably know, these past few days marked the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock music and arts festival – or, as it’s come to be known as, “Woodstock.” What many of you may also know but some do not is that Woodstock did not take place in or near the town of Woodstock, New York. Rather, the big concert was held 40 years ago in Bethel, New York – which, according to Mapquest, is 66.29 miles and a drive of 96 minutes from Woodstock.

How the concert got the Woodstock name I don’t know – maybe it was to have been held there initially – but I visited the concert site in September 2004 with a friend. As you can see from the photos, there’s a monument marking the event at the bottom of the field where it took place. Unlike 40 years ago, thankfully, there was neither rain nor mud when I was there.


Finally, the black & white photos I’m putting up today are Holga photos from last year (though none of them is the one I tried to print). The model is one of my favorite people in the photo/modeling world, Joceline Brooke-Hamilton.

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I scanned some more negatives today. Some were made with the Holga, some with the big Pentax. After scanning a lot of partially fuzzy Holga photos, it was a bit of a shock to see sharp images again, I have to say. Still, each type can yield a successful image if done properly. I just hope that I have some that are.

Today’s photos are more from the Holga series, this time with the model Jin Seno. I photographed Jin just outside of Joshua Tree National Park, by the house she was staying in while she was in the area. I hope I can we can work together again some time.

I went to the post office this (Saturday) morning to pick up a package. Another package from the same company was left in front of my door earlier this week, so why I had to go to the post office to get this new one, I don’t know.

It used to be that there was a special line at this post office for people there to pick up packages, different from the long one of people waiting to mail things out. Then the pick-up line went the way of the Dodo. I called up to complain but was told they didn’t have enough staff.

Normally, there were three windows open to serve the people on line. Today, there was only one – one!!! – window open. The woman in front of me was there to get a package, too, and she asked the supervisor why there was no pick-up line. He said that his branch had been allowed to remain open, but that the staff had been cut even further – even since last month.

I’ve dealt this supervisor before, and he does try to be helpful, and today he helped out by getting the packages for the people waiting for them. “Good morning, Mr. K____,” I said to him. “What’s good about it?” he grumbled back before he left to get the packages.

The woman who’d been in front of me said she felt like complaining, and I asked her why, noting that this man is very helpful. “I don’t like his attitude,” she said. I responded by saying that I prefer to have someone who’s helpful and has an attitude, rather than someone who’s cheerful and does nothing.

Either way, I don’t see the post office situation improving any time soon – if ever!

I read a couple of interesting pieces on the NY Times website today. One was by the always interesting Paul Krugman, writing about the battle over health care reform. I have to admit that I haven’t been keeping up with the details of the plan, and today I read for the first time about the “death panels” that people like Sarah Palin have talking about. Apparently, she’s claiming that these panels will pull the plug on seriously ill patients just to save the government money.

It’s interesting, Krugman writes, that the idea that started the whole thing was initiated by a Republican senator, and even this senator admits that the whole thing has been twisted into something far from what was intended. Read the story here and also here.
The other story, also alarming, was about growing xenophobia in Germany, in particular the case of an Egyptian woman murdered there by a neo-Nazi type. There was a great outcry among Muslims, it said, including Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denounced this German “brutality.”

Jee, isn’t it odd that Ahmadinejad (or, as I like to call him, Ahmadinanutjob) claims that the German brutality that killed millions during the Holocaust never happened, but the murder of one Muslim woman has him so upset? What people like Ahmadinanutjob need to learn is that by sanctioning the murder of Jews (or any group), he’s also sanctioning the murder of his own Muslim people, as well. Sadly, though, some people never learn.

Read the story here.

To finish on a somewhat lighter note, I came across this a few days ago. It’s been making the rounds, but in case you missed it, click here to see what happened when a vacationing in Canada tried to make a self portrait photo.

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Well, my run of visitors to New York has come to an end. Last month, a few weeks after my returning home from Europe, my mother came to New York to visit me for several days. Then my friend Dave Levingston came to New York for several days and stayed with me. Then, as I wrote last time, my friend Terrell Neasley visited New York for a few days, and though he didn’t stay with me, I did spend a good part of two weekend days with him.

Now, I’m hoping that I’ll have a good run of time for myself so I can catch up on some stuff here. I’ve already gone through most of the junk and non-critical mail that piled up while I was away, but more needs to be done.

Of course, I’ll try to catch up on some photo related stuff, too. That includes scanning negatives, which I haven’t done for a little while. Tonight I’m continuing to post my Holga series of nudes made at Joshua Tree National Park in California last year. The model is Stephanie Anne, a young woman I first met last spring when she was living right here in Brooklyn. (She has since moved back to her native New Mexico.) The negatives were scanned sometime last month.

Stephanie was good enough to come out here to me on the south end of Brooklyn - something other people claim is too difficult to do (in other words, that they’re too lazy to do) – and we met for lunch, even though we had no photo session set up. It was a Saturday, and when I picked her up with my car, I had the radio set to the weekly Metropolitan Opera broadcast. It was then that Stephanie told me that she’s a music lover from a family of musicians.

Later in the year, when I was driving her out to the park for our photo session, I decided to bring some opera CD’s to play in the car. Upon hearing the music, Stephanie cranked up the volume so high that even I was taken aback by it – so it was nice to find someone who likes listening to that kind of music rather than complain about it.

The photo at the top, to explain a bit, is the result my asking her to do her “blowfish” face for me. I had seen that in another photo she had done, but she said she’d already done it with somebody else and did not want to repeat it. I asked her to come up with something else unusual, and the result is what you see at the top.

As with the other models I photographed at Joshua Tree, I’ll be posting some (more serious) non-Holga photos as well once I can scan and develop some more.

On the subject of opera, I wrote last time how I get a ticket to La Boheme at the Metropolitan Opera starring the popular Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko. Well, one of my Facebook friends sent me a message telling me that Ms. Netrebko has opted out of appearing in La Traviata at the Met in the 2010/2011 season. Apparently, she wants to do other things and doesn’t want the Met production, based on the 2005 Salzburg staging she was in, to compete with the DVD of that Salzburg production. (I have the DVD but haven’t watched it yet.)

I wrote back saying that I’m more concerned with La Traviata this coming season, as I have a ticket to see it with my favorite singer, Angela Gheorghiu, and I don’t want her to cancel on me in this opera as she did a few years ago. (She also failed to show up for the Tosca I had a ticket for in Berlin a couple of months ago.)

Well, as the saying goes, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. She’s still in the Traviata as far as I know, but I read today that she’s backing out of the other opera she’s supposed to be in and that I have a ticket for: Carmen. She’s opting out of six of the eight she was scheduled for, claiming “personal reasons.” As all six shows (and neither of the other two) feature her husband, the tenor Roberto Alagna, as the leading man, the reasons may be personal, indeed.

I could exchange my ticket, but I probably won’t. Her replacement is the beautiful and talented young mezzo-soprano, Elina Garanca, who I have not seen yet, and the rest of the cast is good, too. Of course, if I want to risk disappointment again, I can always get a ticket for one of the two that Angela is still supposed to be in and cross my fingers. I’ll see.

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It was a busy weekend for me, this Saturday and Sunday just past. I had some time on Saturday afternoon before I went out, so I used the time to finally get to work again on my new website. I pretty much had gotten it where I wanted it to be (or so I thought - more needs to be done), with the majority of the work left being to prep photos for uploading to the site. This time, I worked on the gallery of art nude photos made in California.

The big news of the weekend, though, was that my friend Terrell “Big T” Neasley was making his first ever visit to New York City. I’ve visited with Terrell a number of times in Las Vegas, where he lives, but never before here in NYC. He spent most of Saturday seeing sights in the city with another friend of his who lives here, but I met them that evening for dinner at the South Street Seaport. (You can see a photo of us here with our Russian waitress.)

After dinner, I lead Terrell and his friend on a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, as it offers a great view of the city and I wanted him to be able to say that he visited Brooklyn. (I forgot, unfortunately, to try to sell the bridge to him!)

I normally don’t schlepp into Manhattan on both days of a weekend, but I did it this time. I met Terrell on Sunday morning at his west side hotel, and from there we walked over to B&H, the big photo store. (I told him that it’s “just slightly bigger” than the place he goes to in Las Vegas.) At the store we met my friend Dean Lavery, who I had seen the week before when Dave Levingston was visiting me from Ohio. The two of them seemed to have a lot to talk about regarding photography (see photo) while I just stood there listening.

After that we went to the Tick Tock Diner for lunch, but I had to leave Terrell after that, as he had a mid-afternoon flight to catch back to Las Vegas. His visit to the Big Apple was very short, but I think he had a good time here and I hope he’ll come back again before too long.

My day, though, in Manhattan was not yet over. From lunch I took the subway up to the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Sunday was the first day for subscribers to exchange subscription tickets for other performances, and that’s what I did – trading in a ticket for Richard Strauss’ Elektra for a performance of Puccini's La Boheme with opera’s current hottie, Anna Netrebko, starring as Mimi. The transaction cost me five dollars, but getting Puccini for Strauss is well worth it.

From there it was back to the subway to head to the International Center of Photography to see its Richard Avedon exhibition – the first museum show of Avedon’s work, I read, in over 30 years. Avedon was a great fashion photographer and this show included many of his classic images. (You can see some of them posted below here.) I’ve seen Avedon’s work before, but what struck me this time was how he wasn’t afraid to make some prints so contrasty looking that the model’s face would turn into almost a white mask, punctuated only by the prominent features of the face.

I finished off the day by returning to B&H to get some materials to allow me to do something photographic that I haven’t done in several years. Stay tuned here to find out if I actually do it.

Until then, be well, everyone.

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Aleksandra Rea for Tea Moderna MagazineAleksandra Rea for Tea Moderna Magazine

Aleksandra Rea for Tea Moderna MagazineAleksandra Rea for Tea Moderna Magazine

Aleksandra Rea for Tea Moderna Magazine

Model: Aleksandra Rea (Aleksandra Nasteska)
Editorial: Anna Kosturova SWIM 2009; Cuche Bikinis 2009
Photographer: Greg Swales
Styling: Claudia Da Ponte
Assistant stylist: Jennifer Cheng
Make up: Izabella Windak Rabeda,
Hair style: Codey Blair
Editor: Goca Manasievska
Location: Vancouver
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After a few detours, I’m now returning to posting the nude images that I made with my cheap, plastic Holga camera in September of last year in and near Joshua Tree National Park in California. Today’s photos are of Rebecca Lawrence. I hope you like them.

As I mentioned in my last posting, and as you may have seen already on his blog, my good friend Dave Levingston came to stay with me for several days, beginning Friday night. First Dave called to tell me that his flight would be an hour late due to bad weather. Then he called to say the flight would be two hours late. Then he called to say that it was cancelled. Then he called to say that it was not cancelled.
Eventually, he got here. On Saturday we rode up to Woodstock, NY, to attend a lecture by Mary Ellen Mark at the Center for Photography there. She’s a great photographer and it was good to see so many of her images, both of ordinary folk and actors and directors on film sets. (My favorite was the one of Tim Burton with a squirrel, no doubt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.) We also were treated to the very first screening of a rough cut of a short documentary film she’s made.

Dave spent Sunday and Tuesday out on his own, but on Monday we went to the Museum of Modern Art, as it’s pretty much the only art museum here that’s open on Monday, as far as I know. As Dave wrote, the main photography gallery was closed for re-installation. What photography we did see there was generally pretty awful. There were a few photos that were in mattes measuring about 11 by 14 inches. The photos themselves (if they can be called that) measured about one-quarter of an inch by one inch. (I am not exaggerating.) If this is what curators think of as good photography, I think I’d rather be a bad photographer.

Anyway, Dave returned home safely today to Ohio, and I enjoyed his visit.

On the subject of good and bad art, I read the following today in a recent issue of Art News magazine, in a story about the late Italian “anti-art” artist Piero Manzoni:

Manzoni’s undeniable masterpiece – a sequel to Duchamp’s urinal – is Merdo d’artista (1961), 90 signed and numbered cans supposedly containing the artist’s own excrement, 30 grams each and “made in Italy,” which he sold at the daily price of gold. They’re now worth far more: some years ago the Tate bought a can for $67,000.

And I wonder why I can’t get a museum to collect my photos.

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