A Camellia Is Not A Rose But A Bic Mac Is Always A Big Mac
Saturday, April 13, 2013
|Camellia japonica "Flore Plena Alba' |
Of late I have noticed that I get next to no phone calls and the emails are from places I have purchased something. I need to unsubscribe. In this age of communication I feel utterly isolated.
I have further noticed that the media and social media have made an industry of interest in the obituary. This is a growing trend as death cannot be stopped.
|Camellia x williamsii 'Donation' |
What is interesting to me is that this on-line ambulance chasing is almost always low brow. Interesting to me is that the very recent death of Maria Tallchief a prima ballerina who was a muse to George Balanchine was not mentioned by any of my friends on facebook. Nor was any mention made of the great South African photographer Willoughby Blew who died last week at the ripe age of 105.
The fact that the world has shrunk has meant that a Big Mac in Vancouver tastes the same as one in Buenos Aires (in spite of Argentine beef) and that our media is all about American TV, films and music. Globalization is equal to a kind of “give me more American”.
I am proud to write here that I have never ever seen even five minutes of Game of Thrones
which was the recent recipient of a devastating essay by Shannon Rupp on The Tyee
. Gives us more Canadian culture gives us more Game of Thrones.
I regularly do not read The Tyee as I am not remotely interested in anything about the NDP (boring) or the Liberals (even more boring) or essays on US TV series, US films and other media. I found out about The Tyee essay on the Game of Thrones because there it was on facebook.
Perhaps my isolation is more about living in a world that I increasingly feel is no longer mine. I read that they will tear down the Georgia Viaduct. This is irrelevant to me. In fact I find the Vancouver Courier
, which has featured that soon-to-be-even quite frequently, now even more boring than reading about our BC Liberal Party. We keep our Couriers to line our granddaughters’ Guinea pig’s (Penelope) cage. I still remember fondly the article in a Courier of the past that out scooped the Vancouver Sun
on the story of a manse in the West Side that was serving as a house of ill repute.
More than ever my mantra has become Emily Dickinson’s, “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.”
Today, a day of sun, showers and hail, I spent mostly in the garden, transplanting some roses, scraping moss from our boulevard with a spade and manuring my hostas.
Lauren helped lift a wall to wall carpet from one of the upstairs rooms to reveal a pretty nice wooden floor. There are two definite advantages to living in a neighbourhood where houses go down to be replaced by new ones. The new ones we pillage for piles of cut lumber (to end its days in a landfill) which we have been burning in our den fireplace as we watch Rachel Maddow at 6 pm. When these new houses are almost finished we throw all our pruned branches into their street bins, our large green bin cannot accommodate all the stuff from our spring garden.
I am not all that fond of our four camellias. They have no scent. They may look like roses but they are not. The only camellia I have a deep respect for is Camellia sinensis which happens to be were tea comes from. There are two camellias shown here. The white one, Camellia japonica flore plena alba
came from a house that was torn down some 15 years ago which we raided on weekend evening. The other, Camellia x williamsii
‘Donation’ is a recent acquisition by Rosemary. I scanned them during one of today’s showers and then I reversed them in Photoshop.
It is enough to me to look at the reversed images of those false roses and think, they are beautiful and they have no connection to chopped heads or fire spewing dragons.
Georgina Elizabeth Isles - Figure Model
Friday, April 12, 2013
My Mother's Red Shawl - El Rebozo Colorado
Georgina Elizabeth Isles - Figure Model
They ask why I give my naked body to be stared upon. What I think about as I watch men move around spaces trying to capture my bum at a certain angle, or my small breasts in a certain light, occasionally muttering words of satisfaction, or direction. Why I love the voyeurs of my body (and they are all voyeurs).
Whilst I sit and wait for the drawers to draw and photographers to photograph, I always think of you; Bob. I travel more now you are gone. I speak less. They try to capture what I could only give to you; my heart and abandoned body, lying bare as your canvas. My gosh, did you draw Bobby! Did you shade me grey and darken my shadows? Shine light where there was none? If only they could capture what you took. Pray, at least they have what you left behind; the little girl who gave you all, and all at once lost it, to you.
I believe they met a girl like me once, and forever they will chase her to their canvases. Again and again they load their film and click. I will sit here and wait until you return.
Author/Lawyer/Assistant DA Travis County TX
Brother Edwin Charles Reggio, CSC
Mentor & Teacher
Raúl Guerrero Montemayor
Yeva & Thoenn Glover
André De Mondo
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
A Fine Day In The Garden With A Fine Finish
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Today was a fine day to work in the garden. But I first had to pay my rheumatologist, Doctor Alfonso Verdejo a visit in the morning. Then with Rosemary in the car we went on a shopping spree for cat food and other stuff we needed, On the way home I filled my lawnmower jerrycan with gasoline and mowed the lawn for the first time this year. I did some heavy pruning until I hurt all over. But thanks to my very expensive every-two-week injection I know I will be able to move tomorrow.
I cleaned up late afternoon and especially made sure my fingernails were very clean. I prepared a tea tray and set up my portable studio. I opened the door to the very lovely and very English Elizabeth Isles, a figure model who has just arrived in Vancouver. She will be part of my red shawl series. I explained that in some way I wanted the pose to reflect what she loves to do which is to patiently and unmovingly pose for painters and photographers. Her idea was superb and in the Fujichrome colour transparencies we arranged it so that the finger of one hand was touching the other.
Here she is in a scan of a 3200 IS0 Fuji b+w instant print. Those who read this blog will have to be patient, as I will for Elizabeth to write her essay before I post her red shawl portrait.
The Red Shawl Project
Because I Can
My Turquoise Years & The Grand Coulee Dam
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
A good play is supposed to challenge, inspire and question ones’ beliefs while entertaining us.
|Grand Coulee Dam - Photo by Alex W-H|
Tonight I attended the opening performance and premiere of M.A.C. Farrant’s My Turquoise Years
(directed by Rachel Ditor) at the Art Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage. My companion was my teenage granddaughter (16) Rebecca.
I am happy to report that My Turquoise Years
did not challenge, inspire, or question any of my beliefs.
It entertained me grandly, and for once nostalgia (I was 18 in 1960) was exactly what I needed in the company of a granddaughter who is having issues much more complex than Bridget Esler’s Marion who is about 13 and the idea of sex is still a yucky kind of thing. In her world The Pill had yet to be introduced and you could not buy Plan B at the Safeway drugstore on the morning after.
The play helped me understand (I did learn something important!) that whatever problems my Rebecca might have they are nothing to that of the precocious and intelligent Marion whose mother abandoned her when she was a little child and upon meeting her many years later falls asleep listening to a daughter she did and does not love.
I think that my Rebecca was really the real recipient of all that challenge, inspiration and questioning of her own beliefs in a world where spirituality is godless and involves flaming swords (with special effects) and not wielded by Lucifer and where angels are Hobbits and magic consists of wizards going to magic school. Rebecca might just see her mother with a better light tomorrow morning when she is nagged to do this or that.
The play was a delight. Michael Rinaldi and his trio with Marr and Anderson was grand. No matter how many times I see Peter Anderson, the real professional that he is with that right understated touch, I can never forget his perfect Quixote
. But in the end he does find his Dulcinea in his constantly nagging Elsie (played by Wendy Noel) and the whole family minus that nasty mother (a marsupial perhaps) does achieve that Holy Grail that is a trip to the Grand Coulee Dam.
Dawn Petten (Maudi/Rae-Ella/Nancy should quit acting. Not because she isn’t a perfect actor who had me roaring at anything she said, but because she might have an even better future as a comedian.
But the real revelation of the evening, a most pleasant one, was David Marr’s role as Marion’s father Billy. After years of seeing him in Bard on the Beach where he pontificates with that perfect Marr diction and accent (I do remember his good role in being Tennessee Williams’s Man Friday in His Greatness
) this is the first time that I really saw genuine humanity, which moved me. It seems that he has finally let go and the David Marr that I experienced tonight is one that I hope to see again and again.
I am one of those persons (my granddaughter, too) who has visited the director’s home. Rachel Ditor is also listed as the dramaturg (Ditor directed and dramaturged?). In that beautifully decorated with understated good taste apartment, and having observed Ditor’s clothing and shoes through the years I think I can attest that any play directed by Ditor will be one of understated elegance and good taste. My Turquoise Years is such a play.
A Day In The Darkroom & A Solarized Violin
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
It is late Monday night. I have had a pleasant and most unique day. I spent most of it printing negatives in my darkroom. This is something I have not done in a long while. For my Duthie Gallery
show in May I am spending more time with what interests me and that’s my erotic output. I will have small giclées from the Fuji Instant Negative peels that I cannot print in the darkroom. Many of those giclées printed by Grant Simmons will manifest the random and to me wonderful Sabbatier Effect
that some would call solarization a la Man Ray
. But solarization happens to prints and the Sabbatier Effect is that of negatives.
But before I make up my mind on those giclées (art speak for well printed inkjet prints on good and thick paper) I am working on a series of 8x10 prints (three of each). Today I locked my enlarger at a precise height to print my 6x7 format negatives. Perhaps tomorrow I will work on the 35mm format.
To save money I am exhausting my existing, and extremely old paper stock. In particular I found an unopened box of 100 sheets of Agfa-Gevaert Brovira BS 119 paper. It is extremely old, at least 15 years old. As expected the paper has lost some of its contrast zip and it is less sensitive to the light of my enlarger. I will have to be careful what negatives I pick to print.
A negative of Bronwen Marsden holding her old violin seemed to be a good place to start. I managed printing, after wasting a couple of sheets, three good ones which I then selenium-toned to increase the black and to make the photograph archival. The blue version is simply the above image reversed in Photoshop.
I decided then to experiment in trying real solarization. I partially developed a print and then turned on the overhead light for a couple of minutes. Because the paper lacks contrast it became quite dark but it did solarise. I increased the contrast after fixing the image by bathing the print in a solution of potassium ferrocyanide. What you see is the scanned version of the print in which I have upped the contrast a bit with Photoshop. This is one image that if I decide to use in my show I will probably go via a giclée.
In years past I would smoke a pipe in my darkroom, which always had poor ventilation. I would have a stereo playing music of my liking, in particular my fave from my very beginning of printing in the early 60s, Stan Getz’s Focus
I have long abandoned the pipe and I prefer to concentrate without music. The day was still a pleasant one and the smells of the chemicals a reassurance that my world is still around. There are those who say that selenium toner is a carcinogen. I have used it since the 70s. My guess is that at my age of 70 I need not worry that selenium will kill me. It will have to be something else.
Because I Can
Monday, April 08, 2013
|Alexandra Hill - Soprano|
A couple of weeks ago I attended a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion at the Dunbar Heights Anglican Church. I wrote about it here
. Today soprano, Alexandra Hill
came to my house to pose for my red shawl
series. I had tea and cookies waiting for her. When she arrived she was even taller than I imagined and very sweet. The latter was a surprise as I could not discern much about her during her performance at the church even though I was sitting on the front row and the concert was an intimate one. Having the young woman across from me over the living room coffee table made the difference.
She sat down to pose and she was perfect. I normally tell my subjects to lean forward. She sat and did not have to lean forward. She was in complete control. She calls this technique the Alexander Technique named after actor Frederick Matthias Alexander who lost his voice because of stress but found a solution.
Had I been about to jump off a building in suicidal despair, just looking at the vision through my camera’s viewfinder would have been enough to make me defer my self-immolation to another day.
Why did I contact her to come to pose for me? Because I can. And I as so often say, "Thank God I am a photographer and not a plumber."
Technical Info: I used a Mamiya RB-67 ProSD with a 140mm macro lens. The film is Fuji's Instant b+w FP-3000B. I scanned the instant print. My light was a 3 x 4 ft softbox and because the film is rated at 3200 ISO I did not fire the flash and only used the modeling light. My exposure was f-16 at 1/8 second.
Black Folds & Soft Contrast
Sunday, April 07, 2013
For anybody who might be reading here besides looking at the “pics” you might know that I will be having a gallery opening in Celia Duthie’s gallery
in May. I have been instructed to stress three aspects of my photography, the portraits, the plants (and particularly the plant scans which I call scanographs) and the erotic. I firmly believe that the retirement community of Salt Spring will look at a picture of, let’s say, Martin Scorsese and wonder, “Why is he wearing a beard?” And they will immediately go to the next, “Who is this guy Gene Simmons?” And they will not buy.
They will look at large scans of Rosa
‘Reine Victoria’ and comment, “What a nice rose. Honey we should have one of those roses in our garden.” And they will not buy.
This leaves the erotic element of the show as the only possibility of having any sales. Galleries exist to attempt to make money. And it would be nice to have some of that money trickle down to this un-Republican poor guy.
What this means is that I have been studying and looking over my erotic stuff. The possible conflict of Duthie telling me that her gallery is a family gallery might be softened by having the erotic stuff in a separate room and having husband Nick Hunt stand guard and shoot (I mean shoo) minors away. Will the idea of a room only open to a select few liberal adults become a draw? Might I sell some of them?
Meanwhile it has been fun to select and see what I will print in my darkroom in the next few weeks or having my artist friend Grant Simmons print as giclées.
The pictures you see here are standard 6x7cm b+w negatives. I will explain the look.
In my years (since 1962) of having printed in my darkroom I have swung from making prints that are in extreme contrast to prints that have soft lack of it. During the years that Chris Dahl was art director at Vancouver Magazine
he instructed me to use a technique called split contrast control. I would use variable contrast b+w photographic paper and initiate part of the exposure from my enlarger using yellow filtration. Yellow filtration is for low contrast. Then I would finish off the exposure with a maximum amount of magenta for high contrast. The prints had a weird but interesting look of soft and hard.
With the advent of scanning my negatives with my Epson V-700 I am now able to have far more control of contrast. In the last few days I have discovered that when I press the re-set button of my scanner after I have scanned a negative, the negative becomes very dark and it has a slight magenta colour cast. With a little fiddling after in Photoshop I bring back a bit of the contrast. I like the look of these. They are soft, intense and if they were darkroom prints people would say they were made with very good paper with lots of silver in it.
In my photography and figure photography I always put an emphasis on hands and I avoid neck folds and armpit folds. Why? They are particularly ugly because folds are always the blackest black in a photograph. They will be the first thing your eyes will gravitate towards. I avoid them like the plague. One of the advantages of having some experience with figure study is that one learns how the body responds to movement and how limbs fit into the picture. There are many ways to avoid folds. There is no excuse for me to show them.
Here you see folds in all their glory. These are armpit folds mimicking far more interesting ones.