La donna velata
Saturday, December 09, 2017
La velata, or La donna velata ("The woman with the
veil"), is one of the most famous portraits by the Italian Renaissance painter
Raphael. The subject of the painting appears in another portrait, La Fornarina,
and is traditionally identified as the fornarina (bakeress) Margherita Luti,
Raphael's Roman mistress.
It doesn’t take much in my mind to associate two famous
paintings by Raphael with my b+w portrait of Kimberly Holcomb.
|La donna velata|
Friday, December 08, 2017
Baroque pearls are
pearls with an irregular non-spherical shape. Shapes can range from minor
aberrations to distinctly ovoid, curved, pinch, or lumpy shapes. Most cultured
freshwater pearls are baroque because freshwater pearls are mantle-tissue
nucleated instead of bead nucleated. Cultured saltwater pearls can also be
baroque, but tend to be more teardrop-shaped due to the use of a spherical
Baroque pearl, pearl
that is irregularly or oddly shaped. Pearl formation does not always occur in
soft-tissue areas, where the expanding pearl sac grows regularly because it
encounters no appreciable resistance. Pearl cysts are sometimes lodged in
muscular tissue, for example, where, unable to overcome the resistance of tough
muscle fibres, they assume irregular or unusual shapes.
Baroque pearls were
highly prized by Renaissance jewelers, who saw them not as misshapen products
of sea mollusks but rather as unique and exquisite natural forms. They were
often used in pieces of jewelry to form the bodies of figures. A superb example
is a piece from the 16th century known as the Canning Jewel (Victoria and
Albert Museum, London), in which a large baroque pearl is used for the torso of
a sea figure having the body of a man and the tail of a fish, the whole mounted
in enameled gold set with pearls, rubies, and diamonds.
Ever Since I was a little boy I would watch my mother and
grandmother open a big black metal box that contained the jewels they had
inherited or purchased through the years. There was one item that I always
wanted to hold in my hand. It was string of pearls that my mother called her
baroque pearls. She pronounced it the English way, barock. My Scottish friend
Graham Walker with whom I attend many of the Early Music Vancouver concerts
also pronounces it as barock,
I told Rosemary that for the all-woman performance of many
of our favourite Vivaldi works this December 23 at the Chan (including the
magnificent Gloria in D major, RV 589) I wanted her to wear my mother’s pearls.
We looked and we looked. They were gone! I suggested that perhaps we had
forgotten that we may have left them in our bank box. Rosemary’s text from the
bank, “They are here,” was a relief and most satisfying.
My wife and two daughters Ale and Hilary (in their 40s) and
our 15-year-old granddaughter will be sitting all on a row on the 23 savouring
the Gloria which has been part of our family tradition for our Nochebuena
(Christmas Eve) dinner since 1971.
In fact we first heard the Pacific Baroque Orchestra for the
first time in 1996 at Ryerson United Church when they performed that work with
the Elektra Women’s Choir. This time around it will not only be the chorus and
soloists but the orchestra, too will all be women!
Since Rosemary and I lived in Mexico City from 1968 to 1975 (and I had lived there off and on since 1955) we knew all about baroque churches with their elaborate gold leafed retablos (altars and altar pieces).
In Mexico we learned of an even more intricate and elaborate form of the baroque and this was in the difficult to spell word Churrigueresqe named after Spanish architect architect and sculptor, José Benito de Churriguera (1665-1725). The style was important in Spain until the 1750s but was copied and elaborated with even more complication by Mexican architects.
You can bet that on December 23 while we listen to "the women" our memories will be of flickering lights in complex gold leafed Mexican retablos.
George Did Not Make It To Spring
Thursday, December 07, 2017
Sometime in the 90s I met up with Tsleil-Waututh leader Leonard
George at the North Vancouver aboriginal burial ground. It was a very cold
early December afternoon.
Vancouver Magazine at the time had a last page feature where
they answered readers’ questions. Someone had asked why so many of the
tombstones in the North Vancouver cemetery (perhaps they were not aware that it
was a First Nations one) had the surname George or John. I was dispatched to photograph a tombstone.
I could have easily answered that question as in my first
Vancouver job in 1975 was at Tilden-Rent-a-Car. I was told never to rent a car
to anybody with the surname John or George. Since I did not know what this was
all about I persisted and asked why. The manager angrily answered, “Because
they are Indians. Never rent to Indians!”
Within a week a gentleman by the name of Moving Rock came in
and wanted to rent a station wagon. I looked at him and at that point I knew I
was going to give him a car no matter what. The man and car disappeared weeks
later. The station wagon was found somewhere in Arizona. I was almost fired.
Len George was there at the burial ground to make sure I
took my pictures with respect to the buried. He explained as it began to snow
that there was a belief that people lived winter with the anticipation of
spring. If they were alive when spring came then they would survive another
I find it interesting that George died this past December 6
at age 71. I am 75 and I will keep in mind the gentle man’s belief.
Jonas - Good Joby!
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
|Jonas - iPhone3G properly clamped to the Joby|
My new camera, the dedicated, no longer a phone, iPhone3G has
left me excited at all its possibilities. Its one failure is that when I use it
in my small Kitsilano studio with the hot lights that are built into my studio flash
system the exposure used is a slow shutter I cannot control.
Because the iPhone is heavy it feels firm in my hand. But
some of the resulting pictures have been a tad soft because of “camera” shake.
I went to Leo’s on Granville
and friendly Jonas showed me
four clamps with which I can attach my iPhone3G to my heavy Manfrotto tripod.
We decided on the more expensive Joby as it can easily be switched from iPhone
vertical to iPhone horizontal.
I love the service of Leo’s because it is a real camera
store. The smell (heavenly) when I enter the shop is of camera metal. Their
back-up to everything I have bought through the years has been excellent.
A few years ago in a magazine shoot in my Kerrisdale home my
Fuji X-E1 would not fire my studio flash. In desperation I called up Leo’s and
asked for Jeff Gin my point man there. Because it was Wednesday (Gin’s day off)
he was not there to help. They put on Jonas who immediately asked me, “Alex do you have your Fuji on silent mode?”
Modern cameras exercise free will and, sure enough, they do
stuff without their human masters telling them. It was on silent mode (and why
would a camera not fire a flash on silent mode? Don’t ask me). The problem was
La Dame en bleu
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
|Sandrine Cassini - November 2017|
This photograph of my friend the luminous dancer Sandrine
Cassini was severely overexposed on my Fuji X-E1. I had not yet adjusted the
ISO rating of the camera to my studio flash settings.
Because I no longer have a darkroom and particularly since
these photographs are digital to begin with I have been adjusting this past
year to a fully lit darkroom that is my oficina. I sit comfortably at my
Edwardian desk where I have a Dell/Sony Cathode Ray Tube monitor. I look out on
our deck with all its bare bones winter colour. The birds are flying around. They
like the birdseed I place in the pots every day.
Not quite a month ago we were visited by Cassini who
occupied our guest room. She had a heavy schedule of auditions but did consent
to pose for me a day before she left. I long for her to come back so I can take
more photographs of her.
There is something about her face, her athletic and graceful body and her French
accent that somehow in those dark and rainy days of November she made me not
notice the gloom.