Lauren & My Beauty Dish
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Mamiya RB 67 Pro-SD 140mm lens
Beauty dish attached to Visatek monolight
Fuji b+w FP-3000B
Makeup and Styling Rebecca Stewart
I took the pictures in this blog today.
I still remember the excitement of seeing my first camera behind a pawnshop in Washington DC in 1956. It was an Agfa Silette. I bought it for $25 and I asked the man who sold it what kind of film I should buy. His reply is easy to remember after all these years, “Buy the best film made, Kodak Tri-X. That morning, in DC, on a road trip with some of my St. Edward’s High School (Austin) classmates had not begun well. We had gone to a session of the US Senate which I found boring. We then went to the office of our Texas senator who gave us each a card signed by him attesting to our presence at that day’s Senate session. I looked at the man with the big ears, Lyndon B. Johnson and as soon as I was out the door I chucked the card into a waste paper basket. I would certainly do things differently now!
|Same as above but with Fuji Instant Colour 100 ISO film|
Through the years I can remember with delight, my first SLR, a Pentacon-F with a 50mm Tessar lens, my first enlarger, a Durst, and my first really good camera, a sued Pentax S-3 which I bought used at Foto Rudiger on Venustiano Carranza in Downtown Mexico City in 1963.
I can remember my first studio in Vancouver, a shared space on West Pender and the big studio with a cove on Hamilton Street before Yaletown became fashionable and expensive.
Perhaps some 25 years ago I bought a demo Dynalite power pack with three flash heads that served me well and has served me well until now.
The Dynalite heads had a recessed flash tube in a built-in reflector. In their time they were state-of-the art small and powerful. The recessed heads took all the abuse I gave those lights. Until quite recently I could take pictures using these Dynalite heads with an optical spotlight, a Fresnel spotlight, an umbrella (I abandoned umbrellas early in my career) and with my fave the softbox (small, medium and very large). I have a Profoto ring flash adapted for use with a Norman 200B portable battery pack and with that Norman I can light in strange ways with the bare flash bulb. I can light a room in a 360 degree angle.
|Fuji FP-3000B Instant Film|
But I have never been able to buy and use a beauty dish (sometimes called a beauty light) because I could never fit my recessed Dynalite head into the back of it.
A month ago Focal Point closed. I bought a Visatek mono light (the power generator is built into the head as one unit as opposed to my Dynalite that has flash heads connected by cables to a power pack). The Visatek has protruding flash tube that easily fits into a beauty dish.
From Ken at Beau Photo I purchased a largish Chinese made beauty dish. Horst Wenzel elegantly adapted it to fit my Visatek light.
Today Rebecca (15) made up her sister Lauren (10) to resemble the look and eye makeup of Claire Bloom in Limelight a film I saw with the girls some months back.
I snapped some pictures of Lauren which Rebecca styled for me with expertise that shows promise. I used the beauty light with my Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD with a 140 mm lens. At close quarters the Visatek at minimum power gave me f-16. I shot with Ilford FP-4 processed in Kodak T-Max Developer, and with Kodak Ektachrome 100G (I will have to wait until Tuesday noon to get the results from The Lab. I also took two Fuji instant 3200 ISO film shots and one with the Fuji Instant colour film.
|Same as above but with Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Time Machine at Platinum Print setting|
I am excited with the results. It is an excitement that is no different from that first camera, that first enlarger…
That excitement of experiencing something for the first time rejuvenates the soul and placates the ills of one’s body.
|Fuji Instant 100 ISO film and Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Time Machine at Early Colour setting|
|Fuji FP-3000B negative peel scanned (left) and then reversed (right) showing the Sabattier Effect|
|Ilford FP-4 100 ISO Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Time Machine at Platinum Print setting|
|Same as above|
|A beauty dish similar to mine|
City Lights At The 85 Year-Old Orpheum With The VSO
Friday, November 09, 2012
Manuel M. Ponce
Estrellita de lejano cielo
Que sabes mi querer
Que miras mi sufrir
Baja y dime si me quiere un poco
Porque ya no puedo sin su amor vivir
Tu eres estrella mi faro de amor
Tú sabes que pronto he de morir
Baja y dime si me quiere un poco
Porque ya no puedo sin su amor vivir
|Bramwell Tovey |
Music Director -VSO
One day, around 1951 in Buenos Aires my friend Mario and I (we were both 9) went to see a Tarzan movie at the Saturday series sponsored by our local Capuchin monks who were building a very large new church next door to the little community center and movie house. They charged us a token fee but we knew our money was going to a good cause. As we left after the show we were approached by a chubby Capuchin who asked us our names. He asked me to what church I went to. When he questioned Mario, Mario replied, "I don't go to church I am a Jew." I will never forget the Capuchin's smile as he placed his hand on Mario's arm and told us, "We share the same God and that is what is important." I thought about that for the rest of the day but I never confronted my grandmother, a staunch Roman Catholic with what to me was a clear difference of opinion.
That memory has lingered in me for years and it came back most suddenly this Thursday when Lauren (10) and I went to the Orpheum for a performance of the VSO, directed by Bramwell Tovey called How To Make Movies & City Lights
. The latter, with the VSO playing the Charlie Chaplin score, was the better known of the two films projected on a giant screen above the orchestra. The other, a 1918 shorter film was accompanied by Maestro Tovey’s lively one man performance (fully improvised) on what looked like an ancient standup piano.
If someone had asked me if I had ever seen City Lights
I would not have been sure to answer in the affirmative. But once the film began to run and I knew what was going to happen and recognized all the faces I remembered that in fact I had seen that film on a Saturday showing by the Capuchins perhaps not long after, or even before, Mario and I saw the Tarzan flick which I now remember having been one that featured Buster Crabbe. Memory is so strange. It poured in as Lauren and I watched the action unfold.
Every time the blind flower girl performed by Virginia Cherril appeared on screen the VSO played a tune that sounded suspiciously like Mexican composer Manuel M. Ponce’s Estrellita
which he composed in 1912 well before Chaplin’s masterpiece of 1931.
During the interval Lauren asked me about the one ton chandelier and we discussed not wanting to be below during an earthquake. We were up in the rafters so Lauren was able to gaze on the painted cupola. I remembered how on May 13, 1980 when her mother Hilary had been 11, we and her older sister Ale had been munching on a bag of fish and chips at the very place, the Orpheum Theater. John Eliot Gardiner was directing the CBC Vancouver Orchestra in a series called A Little Lunch Music.
The program featured Bach’s concerto in D minor for 2 violins.
That year Gardiner had begun to verse the ensemble in baroque performance practice, and had introduced period bows and tuning. At the concert Gardiner showed us the difference in sound between the modern and baroque violins. I was hooked to the latter’s quieter but warmer sound. But I must add here, most emphatically that it is really hard to beat a musical director who can play jazz piano and improvize on a Chaplin film! Tovey is our very own.
During the performance Hilary’s eyes had gaze upwards to the cupola. Here I was with her daughter in the same place savouring very good music and a beautiful film.
The evening began with the surprise performance of Michael Dirk on the original 1927 Wurlitzer Theatre Organ. The evening was dedicated to the celebration of the 85th anniversary of the Orpheum.
Thank you Maestro Tovey and the VSO for a splendid evening that I think will someday provide my little granddaughter with memories that will come back gushing when I am long gone. But we know that the Orpheum will still be there.
How about securing that 2000 pound chandelier?
Addendum: Some months ago after a Saturday night family dinner we sat down to watch Chaplin’s 1952 film Limelight
with Claire Bloom. Both my granddaughters loved the film but Lauren was particularly interested in Bloom’s role as Lauren dances at the Arts Umbrella Dance Program on Granville Island.
After the Thursday VSO show she asked me if she could dress up as Claire Bloom in Limelight. I asked her sister Rebecca if she could handle the eye makeup. She did and not only that but she managed to style her perfectly.
Jacqueline - Model
Thursday, November 08, 2012
My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Jacqueline - Model
Alex approached me for The Red Shawl Series wanting, among all the portraits, someone labelled as “Jacqueline: model,” and I nearly reconsidered the title I held to be true of myself (as I have held so many titles in my small 25 years). “I am not a model, really,” I had told him, but at the moment he had found me I was playing that role. I had become a model, stumbled upon it almost by mistake; letting the face I had always found strange (even ugly) become a face for others to see. I was at a point when I was more vulnerable and also more confident than I had ever been; I was beginning to find myself and who I am. That was only a few weeks ago. I am still learning the title I hold. I have been—at various times—an academic, a writer, a teacher, what Anne Sexton called “Her Kind,” and, most recently, a model. Alex caught me at the beginning of the last title. For him I was a model, and for him I continue to be.
In my first conversation with Alex I said that I could, at best, call myself a dabbler. I think it would be more accurate to call myself a 25 year old, searching for where I belong while overcoming pitfalls beyond my age and living to experience joys I have not yet known. I have tried on what I can to see what fits, I have been what I could be in the face of what has befallen me (and in the shadow of mistakes I have made). In my first conversation with Alex he mentioned that he knew nothing about me except that I had very large eyes, and since then I have told him perhaps more than he cared to know. He also mentioned the movie Funny Face
and my own funny face lit up (he could not see this as the conversation was by phone): he was playing Richard Avedon to my Audrey (or Jo Stockton as the film would have it). I felt like a model. I felt comfortable having that title next to my name as I went to his house, wore his mother’s shawl, met his Rosemary and a cat while he showed me his books and his pictures. We began to collaborate, and continue to plan future collaborations during what he calls his “bell curve” and what I see as a linear continuation of an admirable career—he wears a few hats himself, but has done so without dabbling. I seek such focus in my own aspirations.
When I first touched his mother’s red shawl (red being my favourite colour, and my lips painted to match), I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It felt like a precious item in my hands, woven with the history of his mother’s and the people who have worn it for him now—the fabric that binds us all together. Could I do it justice? Would I wear it correctly? He told me to do what felt natural, and I wrapped it around me the way I felt it would have been worn in 1952 (the date he had given me). Immediately I was told that I had done the right thing, and I sat for him and was given the Polaroid of his “single shot.” He compared my off kilter wearing of the shawl to a Balenciaga creation, and again my face lit up: he saw what I saw, and what I had aimed to do. Since then I have believed we are of similar minds, and that is the beauty of collaboration. Our next shoot, this time in my small apartment, was meant to be inspired by Egon Schiele: a suggestion he made without knowing a poster with the artist’s name hung above my bed. When he arrived at my house he told me he was thinking of Sylvia Plath as he had been reading Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters
, again unaware that the collected poems of each were on the shelf next to my bed. Out came the blonde wig, and he captured a better side of me: making me his model, and a new collaborator and friend. I am now reminded why art excites me, and the position modelling has afforded me to meet new people and to collaborate, pose, and indulge my own vanity (as most artists do, as many dabblers cannot escape doing). I am excited by what I can do, and the collaborative role I can play as I freelance model and meet photographers like Alex with whom I can share a vision and make it into reality. It is about beauty; it is about art.
A man in my life has seen many of the photos taken of me, and maintains that the quick Polaroid Alex has given me for this series is his favourite of them all. Perhaps that’s instant magic—Alex asked so little of me in this portrait, and something we both loved came out. I feel as though I owe the photographer a poem, but I model more than write these days. I offer instead a fragment of a poem by Ted Hughes from the aforementioned Birthday Letters, titled (appropriately, for its connection in fabric, in history, to the red shawl, to Plath) A Pink Wool Knitted Dress
In that echo-gaunt, weekday chancel
In your pink wool knitted dress
And in your eye-pupils, great cut jewels
Jostling in their tear-frames, truly like big jewels
Shaken in a dice-cup and held up to me.
André De Mondo
- Real Estate Agent
Johnna Wright & Sascha
Director/Mother - Son/Dreamer
Decker & Nick Hunt
Cat & 19th century amateur
Vancouver Sun Columnist
Statesman, Flag Designer
Vancouver Sun Columnist
Lauren Elizabeth Stewart
Jacqueline Times Four, Five...
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
|Kodak T-Max 400 pushed to 1600 & developed in Kodak T-Max Developer|
My last blog from my vantage point of today, November 11 was on Tuesday November 6. It is this one
. Many things have happened since I last posted it. I will in the next few days fill in those missing day. Perhaps it all began as I was taking pictures of Jacqueline on Tuesday in what many photographers would say my approach was insane an unnecessary.
|Kodak Tri-X Professional pushed to 1600 & processed in Kodak T-Max Developer|
In July 2011 when Rosemary, and our granddaughters Rebecca and Lauren were standing a late afternoon on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim I had a pile of cameras with me. I had a Pentax Mx with a beautifully corrected 20mm wide angle. I had three Nikons (two FM-2 and one FM. I had a bag with a heavy Mamiya RB Pro-SD and a smaller case with a Noblex swivel lens panoramic that handles a negative or transparency that is 7 inches long. Next to me was a young man with an expensive Canon DSLR. That’s all he had. I knew he was going to zoom in and out and shoot RAW. In the comfort of his home, days later he would opt for colour or b+w or with contrast or without. Or he could even stitch (the term used in digital photography to combine several pictures seamlessly) together and produce a panoramic that my rival or improve my Noblex’s. I looked at him with a certain amount of jealously and considered myself an idiot having to use so many cameras to “cover” the Grand Canyon
|Kodak T-Max 3200 rated at 1600 ISO & developed in Kodak T-Max Developer|
I chose to photograph the beautifully elegant Jacqueline with five cameras. There was a bit of order in the chaos in that I loaded the four Nikons (two FM-2, one FM and one F-3) with different films all that I would rate at the same ISO emulsion speed to prevent problems with forgetting the exposure settings dictated by my Minolta meter. My films were Kodak Tri-X Professional, Kodak T-Max 400, Kodak T-Max 3200 and Fuji Superia (1600 ISO colour negative). Just in case this wasn’t enough I brought my Mamiya RB along with two film backs. In one I had Ilford FP-4 100 ISO and in the other Kodak Ektachrome 100G. Plus, of course, my latest Sword Excalibur Fuji FP-3000B Instant B+W film.
With the 35mm Nikons I used three lenses, a 50mm, a 35mm and a 24mm. For one shot in colour I used a fisheye. With the Mamiya I used the 50, the 140, and the 250mm lens.
It was hell as I would tell Jacqueline not to move as I would unbayonet the 35mm lens from one camera, put the camera to one side and get the next one to almost take the exact same shot.
I like the fact that the pictures are not identical and that my movement in one direction or another was sufficient to provide me with surprises.
|Fuji Superia 1600 colour negative film|
In all of the above there was one nice factor that kept the b+w film on the same page. I purchased a Kodak develop I had never ever used. It produces finer grain in pushed films (consider that I pushed the Tri-X and the T-Max two stops from 400 ISO to 1600 while pulling the 3200 T-Max one stop to 1600) than my work horse Kodak HC-110. My philosophy on HC-110 was that if it was good enough for Ansel Adams it should be good enough for me.
|Fuji Superia and interpreted in Corel Paint Shop Pro X2 Time Machine - Early Colour|
The results showed me that the next time around I will not use the T-Max 3200 when I can get the same speed at 1600 with less grain with either Tri-X or T-Max 400. For skin I must state unequivocally that if you want to show off smooth skin (in this case Jacqueline’s) the T-Max 400 is the ticket.
I long to have a philosophical argument on the merits of shooting with intention before (my method), with the DSLR photographer shooting RAW now and deciding on intention for later. I will argue up and down that there has to be merit in looking at four or more different variations shot with different cameras to the idea of making the variation from the same exposure with one camera.
Wally, Sylvia & J
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD 50mm lens
Fuji b+w instant print film 3200 ISO
Taken November 6, 2012, 12 noon
Last week I photographed J for my red shawl series. On November 1, my NY Times
had an article called Egon Schiele’s Women
a show at Galerie St. Etienne
in New York City. Egon Schiele is an Austrian painter I have admired for a long time.
Yesterday at my Oakridge branch of the Vancouver Public Library I perused the box of books that are either rejects or books given to them that the do not want. There was a poetry book. The sign on the wall noted that hardcover novels cost $3.00 and hardcover non-fiction was $2.00 the librarian looked at the pristine Ted Hughes Birthday Letters
, smiled and said, “I will give you a deal I will charge you $2.00.”
I took the book home and read it cover to cover. Except for two poems the rest are about Hughes’s wife Sylvia Plath. In the fall of 1955 Sylvia Plath traveled to England on a Fulbright Scholarship.The first poem in Birthday Letters is:
Where was it, in the Strand? A display
Of news items, in photographs.
For some reason I noticed it.
A picture of that year’s intake
Of Fulbright Scholars. Just arriving—
Or arrived. Or some of them.
Were you among them? I studied it,
Not too minutely, wondering
Which of them I might meet.
I remember that thought. Not
Your face. No doubt I scanned particularly
The girls. Maybe I noticed you.
Maybe I weighed you up, feeling unlikely.
Noted your long hair, loose waves—
Your Veronica Lake bang. Not what it hid.
It would appear blond. And your grin.
Your exaggerated American
Grin for the cameras, the judges, the strangers, the frighteners.
Then I forgot. Yet I remember
The picture: the Fulbright Scholars.
With their luggage? It seems unlikely.
Could they have come as a team? I was walking
Sore-footed, under hot sun, hot pavements.
Was it then I bought a peach? That’s as I remember.
From a stall near Charing Cross Station.
It was the first fresh peach I had ever tasted.
I could hardly believe how delicious.
At twenty-five I was dumbfounded afresh
By my ignorance of the simplest things
|Wally in the Red Blouse With Raised Knees - Egon Schiele|
Reading about Hughes’s first peach at age 25 reminded me of my first peach yoghurt when I was 21. I have never ever wanted to try yoghurt as I thought it was rotten milk. One day at the office of the Senior American Naval Advisor in Buenos Aires where as a sailor in the Argentine Navy I worked as a translator, I was offered yoghurt. Edna Gahan, my typist (she received a generous salary and I earned $2.00 military pay a month) told me that her peach yoghurt (La Vascongada brand) was wonderful. I refused her offer of a spoonful. I finally relented. I have loved yoghurt since and especially when it is peach flavoured.
The other item in the above poem that grabbed my eye was that Sylvia Plath was a blonde.
Today I photographed J. Here for your perusal is J wearing a blonde wig. Is she Wally in Red Blouse With Raised Knees
by Egon Schiele or Sylvia Plath? You decide.
Four & One - An Alexandria Quartet
Sunday, November 04, 2012
|Alissa & her recorder, Nikon FM-2 35mm lens Fuji 1600 ISO colour negative|
In 1957 I purchased a Pentacon-F single lens reflex with a Tessar F-2.8 lens. At the time there was a burning argument between conservative photographers who favoured the rangefinder cameras (Leicas and the Contax) to the new-fangled clunkers that showed exactly the image you were going to get without suffering what was called parallax.
The SLR won out and rangefinder Leicas are usually found in a pristine state behind a hermetic glass cabinet.
|Nikon FM 35mm lens, Kodak Professional Tri-X|
It only recently that Leica looked at the numbers and stopped making film cameras. They make digital cameras for which you could for the price you can buy half an Audi A-4.
When digital cameras first came out, photographers had heated conversations as to what was better, film or digital. Looking at my London Drugs photo counter today where I bought button batteries for my Nikon F-3, two Nikons FM-2 and one Nikon FM, I noticed 6 rolls of film for sale. If an argument was won, it has to be that digital cameras have vanquished the film camera. Except for a few “artistes” and some real artists (few, since many artists in photography shoot digital) our world of photography is digital.
In many cities of the US and in many parts of the world you will be hard-pressed to find a lab that will process slide film (Kodak E-6 process) or colour negative (Kodak C-41) and various types of b+w film (not counting the chromogenic b+w films like Ilford XP-2 that are processed as C-41).
In Vancouver we have at least five good labs (I go to The Lab
) and you can routinely have C-41 (Kodak or Fuji colour negative film) processed in a few hours at London Drugs. There may be others that will perform this service. The reason for this, besides one of having a large population of older people who will not trash their metal-based 35mm film cameras, is that Vancouver(and the Lower Mainland) has quite a few photography schools, institutes and community colleges, plus the Emily Carr University of Art & Design which all feature film photography in their curriculum.
|Nikon FM-2 35mm lens Kodak 3200 ISO rated at 1600.|
This enables Beau Photo
(on 6th and Granville) to sell professional photo equipment but also photographic paper and a shelf of film that would make any foreigner from Seattle (as an example) have a glorious solarizing orgasm.
Today I had a pleasant (and most friendly) argument, on the phone, with a photographic colleague (of my generation) who embraced the digital revolution in photography in our city before just about anybody else. He was arguing (pleasantly and friendly) with me. The only digital camera in my possession is an iPhone 3G.
At the end, the argument boiled down to this one argument which I see under the light of heavy duty philosophy, one that would be shunned by most skeptics. My colleague likes to shoot RAW. This means that he covers all his bases (and his rear end) with a method in which a camera will shoot a very big file which you can later modify to your heart’s content. You can convert the image to b+w; you can achieve a pseudo b+w Infrared film effect; you can make it grainy, you can make it look like whatever suits your mood. You an increase the contrast or go in the opposite direction. And if you photographed a penguin in the Antarctic you can place that penguin on Ellesmere Island.
|Mamiya RB-67 Pro SD 50mm lens, Fuji Instant 3200 ISO print film|
My argument, and I do hope that some readers who have gotten this far might understand an even appreciate, is that one picture taken in the RAW format, no matter how you manipulate it, is still that one image. My argument to my colleague’s idea of not making decisions until after is that the four images here were all taken by four different cameras. They may vary (colour, the grain of the film) but they are different pictures taken at different times in which I may have put a camera down and taken out its lens and put it into the next. The squarish one is square as it is a 7x7 cm Fuji Instant 3200 ISO film taken with my medium format camera.
This brings to mind Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet
, four novels seen from a different protagonist’s view point. My photos are not that radical but I would hope that somehow four pictures may be in my case better than only one.