Saturday, February 28, 2015
All photographs are scanned Fuji Instant film prints and or their negative peels.
About 15 years ago I met up with Argentine painters Nora
Patrich and her then husband Juan Manuel Sánchez. They were living in Vancouver
and soon after meeting them at tango classes we became friends. They lived a
bohemian life of staying up until all hours of the night. I could call them up
at any time and I was immediately asked to come over to sip a mate and talk
about art. By the year 2000 we had exchanged our ideas of what it was like back
in our Buenos Aires that we decided to embark on the subject of Argentine
nostalgia. It is amazing how stupid I was that it was only then that I
understood that to have nostalgia for a place you have to be elsewhere!
I found a beautiful woman called Linda Lorenzo
and we used
her to illustrate all our nostalgias (always rosy when you think about it). For
a year Linda was our muse. I have never produced so many photographs or been so
inspired. But this has changed.
and Juan Manuel Sánchez
separated and went back
to Buenos Aires on separate airplanes. I miss them lots but had to fend for
myself and find muses to inspire me to keep taking photographs. Since 2000 I
have found a few good ones. In none of my dealings with them did I ever feel I
was in a rut. I tried different approaches, different lighting and film
combinations. In the last three years I have been also shooting with a digital
camera, a Fuji X-E1.
My principal artistic interest in photography is the portrait.
If I see a wonderful landscape, I buy the postcard. Ancillary to my portrait
work is my love of the female form. Ancillary to that is my love in the pursuit
of the erotic image.
I have noticed that with age (my aging) my ideas have become
more subtle. They are more fun. I like the challenge of taking pictures of
women that I am no longer interested in because of that gulf of extreme age
difference. This means that all my conceptual exchanges with the neurons of my
brain are above the waist and (if you believe that the heart is also engaged in
that area) above the neck. I arrive at what I do by thinking about it and
relying (paradoxical as this might seem) on the feel of experience.
From my vantage point on a balcony of the Chan on an Early
Music Vancouver production of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio
on December 21 I saw on
stage some lips of extreme redness amongst as sea of musicians dressed in
black. The perfectly red lips were property of West Virginian-born, recently to
Seattle via Oberlin, baroque cellist Juliana Soltis. During the interval I
watched her on the wings. She was wearing a remarkable black taffeta dress and
sported an extremely short haircut.
Her dress was very long and hid her shoes. It seems one
of the violinists did see them and had warned me to watch out for them. The
violinist told me, “Her shoes somehow match the exquisite blue cello cover.” Subsequently I have found out that the exquisite blue cello case was custom made in Ukraine to fit what is a smaller cello in the baroque style without an endpin.
The long story made short is that Soltis drove up from Seattle and posed for me
during two days a week back.
During the two-day session Soltis kept telling me, “You
don’t tell me how to look at your camera.” My reply was simply, “I will if I
Since 2000, before and after, I have been lucky to meet
up with interesting subjects who in most cases were naturals and my
instructions to them during photographic sessions were minimal.
The worst cases are the old-style professional models who
have been photographed many times and do model poses or purse their lips and
look at you in an overtly sexual manner. I prefer those who have not posed
before and who many not have any predisposition for certain poses.
Then there are others in which communication is wordless
Soltis was like that. She would sit and the pose seemed
to be right, or almost right.
Best of all was her enthusiasm and the alertness
(intelligence) that I have for some time now associated with musicians.
I took quite a few photographs with both film cameras and
my digital Fuji X-E1. The sampling you see here are the one of a kind results
taken with either Fuji’s 100 ISO colour instant film or with the 3200 ISO b+w
film. It is amazing that most if not all were just about perfect.
There is a streak of sensuality that runs through them.
The 40-year gulf between us on the one hand a safety valve but it is this very safety
valve that may promise more interesting photographs to come.
Captain Kirk, Spock & Yielding Flesh
Friday, February 27, 2015
Two events have led to the inspiration for this blog. One
was the announced death of Leonard Nimoy today and the other a most recent two-day
photographic experience with a Seattle cellist.
My introduction to Star
was in Mexico in the late 60s in Mexico City. It was called La Odisea del Espacio
. It didn’t take me
long to find a reason as to why I liked the show. I saw in Captain
Kirk the impulsive man whose emotions were primary in his actions. Spock
all logic with suppressed emotions. This was an obvious conflict. You could call
it a three-act-structure TV show with an additional internal three-act one particularly
championed by TV producer/author Stephen J. Cannell
. He said that any of his TV
series were successful because each one introduced a hero, then a conflict with
an anti-hero/villain which resolved in the third act.
Star Trek’s internal third act was the conflict between the
emotion of Kirk and the logic of Spock. The solution, almost always, was the
intercession of Doctor McCoy’s (interesting that his name was Leonard)
We humans in many philosophies are seen as a blend/conflict
between the heart (within the centre of our body) and that upper region mind
embedded by the magic of electricity in our brains.
For 40 days and 40 nights (the origin of these 40 days of
Lent) the devil tempted Christ in the dessert addressing Him to the perceived
weaknesses of His body through his heart. Christ’s mind prevailed and the devil
failed in his purpose.
Sometime in the late
70s I took some infrared nudes on Wreck Beach and something within me
opened to what led to an obsession for years and even now. I remember showing
those first results to Mac Parry who at the time was editor of Vancouver Magazine. He looked at my
pictures and smiled. He smiled as someone who knew all about it and could
predict my course into the obsession that has taken me in my pursuit of the
erotic through photography.
I must confess that I attempted to dabble in pornography
but my efforts were always thwarted by an internal mechanism that I call good taste.
Every time, my photographs became, to my chagrin, “tasteful” in the eyes of the
few artful liberals in this city of mine.
So when I was taking head shots of the Seattle cellist, one
with unprecedented liberal views even though she hails from a state that was
brought into the American Union by Lincoln's presidential decree, I told her that at my-now-advanced-age of 72 my view of Eros was purely in the Spock zone. At long
last I am not at the beck and call of that Kirkian below-the-black belt.
Long ago when I was still subject to an erotic duality I
called up a favourite subject and asked her, “What is erotic?” Her answer was a
strange and short, “Yielding flesh.” Since then I have come to understand that. When I
was taking pictures of the cellist I noticed that the two notches of the body
of the cello were embedding into her thighs. I inquired and was told that she
actually has permanent marks. She also added that to her and most cellists, the sound of a cello is felt through the stomach. I wonder if this, in my mind, Kirkian view
of music might not someday be shifted upwards, as she gets older, into the realm of the mind or
will Doctor McCoy prevail with a “Jim, for God's sakes she’s human.”
The cellist or the cello, take your pick.
A Cello, Fishnets & A Bundt Pan
Thursday, February 26, 2015
Of late the cello has been much in my mind.
I have photographed two cellists. One, Marina Hasselberg
, a local, the other (whom I first noticed here) Juliana
I found the poem
below and thought it went well with the accompanying photograph.
My eldest daughter pointed out that the picture looks like
it has been taken in a clothes dryer. Her comment:
Clean and pristine,
it looks like she's in the dryer. Hey, is that dress blue?
I took the original photograph with a Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD
with a Polaroid back loaded with the now discontinued (alas!) Fuji Intstant b+w
film FP-3000B which is rated at 3200
ISO. At one time the 2¾x¾ inch print was more or less useless. But with the
advent of good scanners (mine is an Epson Perfection V700 Photo) they produce
viable images that look pretty good enlarged. Best of all this b+w film has a
peel (we photographers used to throw them away) that produce interesting “negatives”
that solarize (the correct term is the Sabattier Effect) randomly.
The procedure is to dry the peel with a hair dryer before
dust will settle on the sticky surface. Once dried, I scan the peel. I then
reverse in Photoshop this digital file.
Above is the original peel un-reversed. Note the brownish
tint is some of the parts of the dress. This tint appeared when I forced dried
the peel. When you reverse the image in Photoshop (and I always choose to do
this RGB colour) the tint of the peel is also reversed and the brown tint
For the picture I use a very large ring flash. It looks
very much like a Swedish bundt baking pan. I insert my Mamiya in the middle
hole but (important) I do it with the lens and camera crooked. The lens then “sees”
the reflection on the metal edge of the ring flash.
The poem does mention:
“came clothed in
scarlet velvet and black”
It would have been all too easy for me to change that to “came
clothed in blue velvet and black”. I would think that Mr. A.E.K.G Navril would
have objections. Don’t you think?
Largest of her sisters but smaller than her brother,
Who’s deep, booming voice echoes around.
(She however has perfect pitch; a lot like her brother in
volume and sound) .
Came clothed in scarlet velvet and black,
Her belly and back hold her strong ribs intact.
Head sitting high on her ebony neck.
She is beautiful and clean and absolutely pristine.
With a heart so pure it leaves you wanting more.
Sings classical and rock; body the colour of fire like hot
Her hair is much lighter with not a strand out of place,
Rosined and shiny and perfectly straight.
Her hour glass figure is smooth and curved.
When she’s in your arms it’s hard to feel un-nerved.
‘F’ is her favourite letter,
I hear you ask why? –
Because that is what she has tattooed on both of her sides.
Ready to play all day and all night.
The bow is awaiting with hair tied up tight.
She’s tall, and she’s pretty and easy on sight,
Light under fingers,
Rests slightly on thighs.
You read the page she holds the scroll.
Together in harmony, to make the music you’re told.
The Fox Cabaret & Wine (not beer) Is Anconite
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
|Fox Cabaret - Feb 25 2015|
I have a
confession to make. When I arrived in Vancouver in 1975 determined to make my
career in photography I resolved there were four things I was never going to do:
years I had done two and tried a third. I was assigned by Vancouver Magazine to
photograph the wedding of poet Susan Musgrave to bank robber Stephen Reid
at a maximum security prison at Kent. I also photographed D.O.A. Joey Shithead’s
wedding since I was unable to refuse. I photographed both my granddaughters
from a very early age. I never did a Bar Mitzvah.
to shoot pornography but failed. My definition for pornography is that it is
something done in bad taste. All my pursuits in shooting it were thwarted by a
built-in good taste mechanism.
|The countertenor & the tenor|
concert The English Orpheus a co-production between Early Music Vancouver and
Music on Main at the Fox Cabaret (a former rather infamous porn theatre) was
all in good taste in spades. Spades might here be better represented by hearts as the colour scheme of the re-born
Fox Cabaret is a lurid red and the program with the two warm hearted
performers, Charles Daniels, tenor, and Alexander Weimann on harpsichord and
piano was straight from the heart.
concert was packed and this is probably due to the savvy of two men. One is EMV
Artistic Director Matthew White who has brought the modern use of up-to-date
techniques in promotion and social media to an organization that was
honed by his predecessor José Verstappen. As a former countertenor (in hiatus?),
White has the connections (world-wide) with the best baroque performers
around. To have brought the English tenor Charles Daniels for this intimate
concert borders on the unbelievable.
|The German & the Englishman|
other man is the dogged (but pleasant with
an ever present smile) David Pay who has an
eclectic interest in music that can never be pinned down to this or that. He started
sometime around September 2006 (note my portrait of him) with the idea of
featuring concerts and other arts at the Vancouver Heritage Hall on 3102 Main
Street. Pay’s Music on Main branched out into smaller venues like the now closed
(alas!) Jazz Cellar where he once featured Alexander Weimann playing jazz on a
from tonight’s success, the next two concerts An American Tune on April 14 and
J.S. Bachwards on May 5 look awfully promising.
|David Pay at Heritage Hall, Sept 2006|
program featured Charles Daniels singing works of Purcell, and for me many
surprisingly wonderful unknowns like William and Henry Lawes, Christopher
Jenkins, John Blow and the strangely named Senior Baptist. He was accompanied
by Pacific Baroque Orchestra Musical Director, Alexander Weimann on the
harpsichord. It was a perfect combination of like minds. You might wonder how
that could be as Weimann is German (in that precise way we all pigeonhole
Germans) and the other, Daniels a most English man.
consider that Queen Victoria amply made sure that her royalty descendants would all be
English or German (and Russian), then this outwardly odd paring makes sense.
Daniels is a tenor that this amateur blogger recognizes as having a special
talent in diction (you can almost understand his German when he sings in it)
but best of all if you are not drawn to reading the lyrics on the program and
your are close enough to see him (as I was tonight) you will notice how his
face acts the part, the words, the emotions.
first half of the program featured songs on the themes of sleep, dreams, death,
love and a bit of women, wine and song.
second half (can we thank David Pay for this?) featured Weimann on the piano (I can almost assert my suspicion that he is unable to play the accordion) and works by more modern (except for one piece by Purcell) composers I never heard of,
Ivor Gurney and Frank Bridge. There were a couple of compositions by Daniels
himself. But the best part were poems (Winter Words) by Thomas Hardy set to
music by Benjamin Britten.
music was superb and the poems so evocatively sung by Daniels made me resolve
to go to my Vancouver Public Library to get more Hardy.
note the b+w strip of pictures I would suggest that the presence of the
Fotoautomaton at the Fox should be an ancillary reason for attending concerts
there. With the simple tap of your Visa ($2.24) you sit, have your picture
taken (4 exposures) and five minutes later you have an exceptional, of doubtful but analog quality, souvenir unlike
anything in this digital age.
|Alexander Weimann & Charles Daniels|
There was a bonus tonight. I was invited by White to accompany him and Daniels to a nearby craft beer establishment. It seems that Daniels has somehow solved the problem of jet lag, changing from street clothes to concert ones, etc to still enjoy the custom of a pint when the occasion arises. It was fascinating to listen to the tenor and the countertenor talk about musical conductors and performers and to dissect all the inner intricacies of Handel's music and in particular some of the funny moments in his Messiah. I felt blessed and happily went home not feeling a shred of guilt of having attended a performance held at a former film house of ill-repute.
Alex At The Fotoautomaton At The Fox Cabaret Feb 24 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
|Feb 25 2015|
Blurs At Arts Umbrella Q7 - February 22 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
Sunday Performance Series 2015
February 22, 2015
Arts Umbrella Q7