My Best Picture 0f 2016- Olena - She of the Blue Hair
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Looking back on 2016 on this January 1, 2017 (and filling a
gaping blog hole for December 24) I believe I can assert that my photograph of
Olena and her blue hair was the most surprising photograph that I took.
It wasn’t an entirely Kosher photograph as I was giving some
lessons to my baroque bassist friend from Portland, Curtis Daily on the taking of
portraits using a studio flash. Protocol would stipulate that I stand back and
let Daily take his photographs. The fact was that I was squeezing some off with
my digital Fuji X-E1. Being an old man I know that light has what is called
colour in Degrees Kelvin. Daylight is at 5500 Kelvin
. The usual balancing in
colour for studio flash is to get as close to that number as possible. The age
of the flash tube can make that number vary. When Curtis was taking his
pictures with his Mamiya RB-67 and connected to the flash (using daylight
balanced colour film and or b+w film) I was using my Fuji with no connection to
the flash. I had set it at 3200 Kelvin which is the colour temperature of TV
and Movie lighting. It is also close to the colour temperature of the
continuous lights of the flash commonly called modeling lights. So Olena’s skin
is of the correct colour but the light outside the Venetian blinds is daylight.
This is why they are blue.
I can only thank my Rosemary who after nagging me for
years in August 2013 told me I needed to smarten up and modernize with a
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Friday, December 23, 2016
petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer's morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
As I write this my year is winding down. It is December 31 (in spite of the date of the blog as I had some empty spaces)
in a late afternoon and there is snow outside my oficina window. Rosemary and I
will be starting a new year (with a whole year under our belt in our Kitsilano
duplex). Rosemary has yet to completely let go of the sorrow in her of not
being in our grand old house on Athlone with that big corner garden. As she
struggles with a new pain of arthritis and a bad left knee I believe we may
have taken the best route in moving to our smaller home.
We are beginning the new year with a brand new and lovely
Chevrolet Cruze. We are still in grief at the loss of our erstwhile dependable
Chevrolet Malibu. At least Rosemary never so its ignominious presence on a
platform at Dueck’s when I went to retrieve stuff we had in the car. It almost
reminded me of finding my female white cat, Polilla dead in our garden eviscerated
by a raccoon a few years ago. She was
not a pretty sight. I rapidly buried her and Rosemary never saw her.
Of the 85 plus roses we had in our old garden we now have 24
or 25. In the cold and what looks like a dying garden (which it isn’t) I hope
for spring and the sight and scent of my roses.
The picture here is to remind me that at my age, when my
body is winding down, the imagination, and that erotic one that I welcome even
now, is still in play. I hope this coming year to shoot some more with the same
kind of subtlety that old age showers on me and which I do appreciate and
More Emily Dickinson
The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman
T were blessed to have seen
Zemblanity, Serendipity & A Slow Christmas
Thursday, December 22, 2016
|L to R - Christian Thorvaldson, Steven Hamm, Ziggy Sigmund, Terry Russell and Thomas Anselmi|
William Boyd coined the term zemblanity to mean somewhat
the opposite of serendipity: "making unhappy, unlucky and expected
discoveries occurring by design". A zemblanity is, effectively, an
Serendipity means a "fortunate happenstance" or
"pleasant surprise". It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a
letter he wrote to a friend, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had
made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip.
|A Graham Walker Christmas|
There is a bit of both in today’s blog. The serendipity
is that in the heels of having found the envelope that contained the
Christmas card from my graphic designer friend Graham
Walker I found today in a box of old LPs a small 45 RPM sized record (it plays
in 33 1/3 RPM) the 1985/1986 Christmas record sent to me from the folks at Zulu
Records. It contains four Christmas songs (unusually performed) by four
Vancouver alternative/punk bands called Slow, Go Four 3, Brilliant Orange and
Having decided to blog about it and to use the special
photograph of Slow that I took for Vancouver Magazine I went to my Slow file.
It was then that I remembered (zemblanity enters the
stage here) that a few years later (or perhaps earlier the Cramps had performed
at UBC and Slow and the Modernettes where the warm-up bands. We photographers
have been known to make mistakes and here was one of my worst. After taking
pictures of the three bands I forgot I had film in my Mamiya RB-67 and when I
opened that back to insert a new roll… I need not go on. The fact that zemblanity
did bring a tad of serendipity in that a few of the images were salvageable.
As I write this blog I am filled with the warmth of a
rosy past about Vancouver bands that were as good as anywhere else in the
world. They did not take themselves all that seriously.
I suspect that the photograph of Slow with toys may have
been a Vancouver Magazine Christmas special for Les Wiseman’s In One Ear column.
Others can be seen here.
A docile Gentleman - The Road to Bethlehem
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Christmas for me was always Christmas with my father and
mother. But also with my Spanish grandmother who would tell me stories of
Christmas in Spain. In Spanish a Christmas carol is a villancico. She would often sing one that included a part about
gently telling a donkey (borriquito) to giddyap, to go faster, that we will be
late, that we are going to Bethlehem and that tomorrow is a feast day and the
next day, too.
Arre burro arre
Anda más deprisa que llegamos tarde
Vamos a belén
Que mañana es fiesta
Y el otro también
Thinking about it I realize that the stanza in question
is all about the fact that in Latin American countries and in Spain Christmas
Eve is almost more important than Christmas Day. That has been the case in our family since I can remember. As a
child I was taken to Midnight Mass and presents could not be opened until
after. I was told that Santa Claus also went to Midnight Mass.
The custom now with us in Vancouver is that my daughters
(one with her husband and two daughters) and my other daughter all partake of a
Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) dinner which I prepare with the exception of
Rosemary’s stellar Yorkshire Pudding. I will barbecue a roast beef, roast
potatoes, carrots and onions and make my special gravy for the pudding. I
prepare a cranberry sauce with fresh orange juice and orange zest.
After the leisurely dinner by an open fire I try telling
my granddaughters that I am tired and that we should open the presents the next
day. They ignore me and so we open presents. Sometime during all this I have to
woo them all for our traditional Christmas photograph.
This year will mark the first one where after 30 years we will not have our Christmas dinner in the old house on Athlone. I can only hope that Rosemary will see Christmas in Kitsilano as one that we will remember by having many more.
The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman (1487)
The Savior must have been
A docile Gentleman —
To come so far so cold a Day
For little Fellowmen —
The Road to Bethlehem
Since He and I were Boys
Was leveled, but for that ‘twould be