Friday, October 29, 2010

Amsterdam: A Warm, Dry View

I had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam for the first time last week, which was a great experience in a very cool city.  And by cool I also mean the weather, which was in the 40s and raining for a good portion of the trip.  I did the trip with my friend Candace, who is a great travel partner.  The last day of the trip we decided to take a bus tour out to see a couple of villages and the windmills, which of course meant that the weather that day was really the worst of the week.  This is a collection of photos shot that day, originally to be titled View from a Cab: Amsterdam, but the photographs were also shot from the bus and the boat so that didn't seem quite accurate.  There are times when shooting the outside world from the warm dry cab/bus/boat really seems like the way to go, so I hope you enjoy this set.

Friday, October 1, 2010

On Graduation

Well, the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University Washington DC Campus Full Time class of Jan 2010 has graduated.  (CDIABUDCFT10 for those of you who like acronyms.)  Well most of us have anyway, as in most endeavors there are a couple of stragglers who for various reasons have to finish up the final requirements to get their certificates, but for the sake of this conversation I will say that we have graduated. 

At age 41, going back to school was an interesting decision.  I knew that there were skills I wanted to learn, techniques to make my photography better, a whole realm of post production skills into which I had barely scratched the surface.  I can say that I started to accomplish those goals, but the journey isn't over simply because I have the piece of paper they give you when you finish the program.  Life should be about learning, and I will continue to learn and grow as a photographer and an artist.  I have to admit that a big part of the decision to go back to school was to break myself out of what probably should be described as a period of depression and loss and get my mojo back.  In that regard I was mostly successful.  I wanted to recharge my creative batteries by forcing myself to explore areas of photography I would not normally pursue.  I also wanted to meet some creative, like-minded people who were pursuing their passion for photography as well, and that was the most satisfying part of the last 9 months.  I'll take a moment here and salute my classmates who are all on their own journeys of creative (and hopefully financial) fulfillment.  I enjoyed the time I spent with all y'all (to use the southern vernacular), and I look forward to seeing your growth as photographers and artists.  Thanks for putting up with me.

OK, enough with the blah, blah, blah.  Get on with the photography already.  As you may have read in my last blog, I bought a film camera about a year ago, and I am in the process of scanning in the film that I have shot over the last year.  One of the images I pulled out was the very first image I shot at CDIA in Nov 2009, before I even made the decision to attend their program.  I had stumbled across the campus while looking at galleries during FotoWeek DC, with my new Lubitel around my neck, and the outreach director Bill offered to give us a tour.  One of the full time classes was shooting table top product photography and one caught my eye so I asked if I could take a shot with my analog camera.  So without further first CDIA image!

I know.  Stunning.  Well anyway, I thought I'd also share with you the images I selected for my graduation presentation.  I was disappointed when the school declined to print one of my fine art nudes for use in the gallery show due to "building restrictions."  Chalk another one up to American conservatism.  Which reminds me to tell you about my Facebook photo gallery entitled "Stop in the name of American Squeamishness":  A collection of publicly displayed nude art from my European trip last year.  I have included the "controversial" images here, and you can decide for yourself rather than having someone else tell you what you can or cannot view as art.

 This was my 1st choice for the print show. Denied.
 Here were my 2nd and 3rd choices.  Also denied.

These are the 2 images the school printed for the graduate gallery.

These are the images I chose for display in the student slideshow presented at graduation.  They did include the side view of Rebecca in the river for the show, but not the other nudes.  Again, as a fine art nude photographer, I was disappointed, but maybe after California legalizes pot next month the nation will loosen up just a bit.

So there you go.  That's my blog for today.  Hope you enjoy, and see you next time.

Monday, September 13, 2010

NYC: Two Seasons, One Lubitel 166

A year ago, Madrid.
Wandering through the streets of Madrid, on my own, exploring, I find a shop called Lomography.  A camera store, but carrying different tools than the megapixel based cameras I have learned and are familiar with.  Film.  Quirky.  A twin lens reflex camera catches my eye on the shelf.  Boxy, black plastic, but sexy, it calls to me to take a step back from the speed and instant gratification and try something slower, more deliberate, more 1952 Russian.  I make myself embrace the delayed gratification and wait to buy it until I get home.  When it arrives, complete with black and white film, the first images I make are of the woman who is my best friend and lover, sitting on my bed in her ball cap, browsing the photography book that also came with the camera, excited about my new "toy".  They are the last images I will take of her.  Two weeks later, without warning, the relationship is over, before I have even have a chance to have the film developed.  But that is another story with photographs I do not share.

December last year, New York City
I have a good friend, Carly, who was living in Stamford, CT with her boyfriend at the time, so around the holidays I find myself in New York City with them, seeing some of the holiday lights and sights as the city drops into evening.  I have my new camera and I am still learning to use it well.  We stop into one of the largest camera stores in the city and I buy a light meter that compliments my new camera, meaning that it was probably also produced in about 1952, but it was cheap and helps me get a better sense of where to go in my new quest to at least create a reasonably exposed image.  I load the camera with color slide film, also a first for me, and we set off toward Rockefeller Center.  It is cold, and I pass a courtyard that on warmer days is home to a waterfall fountain. 
Now it is more static.
Rockefeller Center is one of the busiest areas of a busy city, and today is no exception.  We arrive in time for the last of the daylight to slip away.

I get quite a bit of attention with my camera, even from the cops keeping an eye on the crowded plaza.  People ask me "is that a point and shoot?', which of course it is, but not in the sense they are are asking.  The lights and crowds, the skaters and the dozen or so Salvation Army bell-ringers, all make for a festive atmosphere which I attempt to hold my camera steady enough to capture on film after I remember to wind to the next exposure and set the shutter to be able to take the image.
We step into a wine bar to get out of the cold for a few minutes.  By the time we come out, it is full on night.  We want to head for home, but I cannot resist making one final image.

August 2010
I am back in New York for my friend Candace's birthday.  A heat wave has stifled the city for a couple of weeks, but today the weather is beautiful.  I have not had a very good trip.  At the restaurant the night before, I passed out, hit a bunch of furniture on my way to falling on the floor, and woke up on the floor of the restaurant dazed, battered, and bleeding.  This was followed up by a visit from the NYC paramedics, then by throwing up my dinner about a half hour later.  Candace was very kind to me, especially after I made such a commotion, but I had to miss most of her party in favor of spending most of the night at the Beth Israel emergency room where it was determined that I had not had a heart attack or stroke and that I did not have a concussion.  It was also determined that they could glue my eyebrow back together in lieu of stitches.  It will not be determined, however, that I have fracured my right scapula until I get back to Virginia two days from now and I go in for x-rays.  But for today I am out with my Russian camera again, looking like a boxer after losing last night's match, trying to enjoy the city in summer like the children in the water fountains behind the Museum of Natural History.

With my injuries, I find the thought of a nice quiet park bench to be more appealing.

As the afternoon moves on toward evening, I find myself along the Hudson River.  There is a great walking path and the whole place feels relaxed and uncrowded especially compared to Rockefeller Center around the holidays. 

The only place that is somewhat crowded is the beer garden/restaurant I find at 79th St.  Although I have to sit outside on a wall, I cannot complain too much.  After all, the weather is spectacular and I am well medicated on ibuprofin, which is keeping my bumps, bruises, and breaks from being too uncomfortable.

Walking back at sunset, I find a playground, now quiet without the laughter and noise of children at play.  I stop to play in my own way, using the quiet and the golden light to capture the stillness of the ending of another day, alone in a city of millions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rebecca Lawrence-Shenandoah Aug 2, 2010

I had the opportunity to work with Rebecca again yesterday.  We headed out toward the Shenandoah river, without an actual location picked, hoping to come across a good spot.  After spending over an hour driving along the roads that parallel the river, finding nothing but "no trespassing" signs, we finally found an empty public boat landing.

 This spot was great for about 10 minutes until a vanload of canoers showed up and "caught" us.  I'm sure it was more of a thrill for the group than it was for us, because it meant that we had to try to find another location.  Fortunately it only took us about 5 minutes heading upriver to find another good spot. 

Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you.  Away, you rolling river......

OK, is everybody singing along?  Anyway, we've had a dry hot summer around here, so the river is fairly tranquil.  About 100 yards above this tranquil spot, was a small "rapids," so we moved upriver again.  When we got there, Rebecca asked where I wanted her to set up, and of course the answer was "on the big rock in the middle of the rapid."  Even though the river is down, getting out to the exposed rock through the current, over the moss-covered rocks,without falling in or dropping the camera, was challenging, but getting her there was well worth the effort.


Getting her out was equally tricky, but she was willing to brave the current and pose in the middle of the river one more time for the sake of our art.

Another beautiful job done by Rebecca!  Hope you enjoy.  If  you would like to support your friendly neighborhood photographer by purchasing prints of any of this series, please contact me.  As always, these images are copyrighted and may not be used without my permission.