Mocambo Again & the Nevado de Toluca - 1968
Saturday, December 28, 2019
Somehow thinking about our Nochebuena
(Christmas dinner), a few (?) days ago, of
which I will write about shortly, seems to have happened at an undefined time
and day in an uncertain past.
In my profession of free-lance photography I never
experienced that Monday to Friday thing, I felt strange when people would ask
me, “How was your summer?” I worked when I could get work all year long.
It was my Rosemary who had her 9 to 5 job and that had us on
a schedule and a pattern of either her driving to work or me doing it. As soon
as she stopped working and my photography went by the way of deadened
journalism we began to confuse the days of the week.
These days, almost every day feels like a weekend.
In my boyhood the hot Buenos Aires summer days in that
period between Christmas and Los Tres Reyes (Epiphany, January 6) was an
eternity of waiting. It was on the 6th when we received the really
neat toys which were deposited by our shoes outside the bedroom door.
Now in this waning year the days between Christmas Day (we
do nothing on that day as we celebrate Christmas Eve) and New Year’s, are confusing. They are neither short nor long and the day of the week they are is
a conundrum of doubt.
But it is on those days when one can do what old people like
me do which is to reminisce of our past. Not exactly as I have written here
exciting plans for 2020.
I brought back my blog
from long time ago about New Year’s
in Houston, Texas (a drunk New Year’s) and another when Rosemary were either
married or not quite married. The photo, probably taken by a chap selling
coconuts with rum, was in Mocambo, a beach in Veracruz. Rosemary was wearing a
dress that she has forgotten she ever wore.
I cannot. It was in this very short dress that I had spotted
her a few months before (from the rear outside an English school). I saw the
dress, the beautiful legs and the long, blonde, straight hair (she used an
What is amazing is that the photograph that appears in that
blog, was a scan of a small photograph from our now discontinued family album.
The picture you see here is from the original colour negative. There is
something to be said about being able to find negatives that I took so long
In that sheet of colour negatives there are many that are
most interesting featuring my mother, Rosemary and our baby Alexandra Elizabeth
and her godmother.
Godparents are very important in Latin American countries.
They indeed are called to help if parents die or when financial assistance is needed.
The relationship between a parent and a godfather makes the godfather “mi
compadre” or my friend I share my fatherhood with. The term for godmother is “mi
comadre”. Sometimes in a politically incorrect century I Mexico, comadres were
women who liked to gossip.
The two extra pictures here were taken around 1968. They are
in the crater of the Nevado de Toluca:
Nevado de Toluca ( 4,680 m,15,350 ft) is a stratovolcano in central Mexico,
located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Mexico City near the city of
Toluca. It is the fourth highest of Mexico's peaks, after Pico de Orizaba,
Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl. The volcano and the area around it is now a
Etymology: It is often called by the Nahuatl name
Xinantecatl which is usually translated as The Naked Lord, Señor Desnudo in
Spanish, although other etymologies have been suggested such as "Lord of
the Corn Stalks", Tzinacantecatl or Zinacantepec (Mountain of the Bats).
Further evidence regarding the etymologies of this mountain has surfaced after
many archeology discoveries in and around the area. It has been concluded that
its correct etymology is Chicnauhtecatl meaning "nine lakes" as the
top of the cone has various deep lakes.
There is a dirt road that winds up into the crater. One of
the lakes is called The Lake of the Moon. We went in our blue VW with our
compadre Andrew Taylor. Some hardy souls treck up the inside sides of the
volcano and ski town. There is no chair lift to go up again!
I am wearing a ceramic fired peace symbol I had purchased at the end of 1967 as well as the US Marine Corps jacket that was surplus probably because it had a repaired patch,at the height of the crotch, where the previous owner might have been shot in Vietnam. The scarf I lost many years later when running during a windstorm in Victoria during a photo assignment. I cried when I lost it as it had been given to me by my Argentine girlfriend Susy during a miserable Buenos Aires winter.
The Exciting Photographic Possibilities For 2020
Friday, December 27, 2019
|Claudio Ronco, Olena, María Catalina O'Reilly 2019|
In waning days of the year I have the urge to call up people
I have not seen or heard from for years. Because many have abandoned their
landlines, Canada 411 is of no use to find them. Some of these people from my
life are irrevocably lost. But I am not the only one with this customary
year-end desire. I have received a few calls and emails out of the blue.
One of them was a local photographer who told me about our
Vancouver photography scene as it was (the good old days?) and how so much had
changed. I discerned a considerable level of melancholy and I did my best to
Sounding positive about photography in this 21st
century for young photographers getting out of school, has to be real downer.
There are few magazines or newspapers to hire them and stock photo agencies
sell pictures so that these new photographers are not sent to Paris or London
to take photographs.
For me, since I am obsolete, redundant, retired &
inconsequential, I am not affected by the above. I am settled with my Rosemary
in our Kits digs and we don’t need anything.
With that in mind I can assert here most positively that photography
for me is alive and well and full of boundless possibilities.
Looking at a photograph of mine (either a scanned film one
or from my digital Fuji X-E1) on my monitor, fixing it to my liking and then
pressing print, in a few minutes my Canon Pro-1 spits it out exactly as I see
it in my monitor. I need not make another. One is sufficient.
While that is not a darkroom printed photograph (in an
unventilated darkroom that mine always were) it is a very good facsimile of the
real thing. I do this in daylight with a pleasant mug of tea on my desk while
looking out of the window of my oficina on the garden that has been put to bed.
I do not feel guilty.
And then there are all the advances of this century’s
technology. Who would have thought 10 years ago that I would pack my compact
Metz BL-400 in my hard suitcase with a Manfrotto light stand that fits (even
though it extends to 7 ft) and a small Chimera soft box? The folks at airport
security ask for an explanation and they invariably smile when I tell them that
I am traveling with a studio in my carry on! With that unit, my digital camera
(an extra Fuji-X-E1 as backup) and my Minolta Flash Meter III all is possible.
Who would have known that Rosemary and I could travel to
Venice and to visit our friend, period cellist Claudio Ronco, (and his wife Emanuela
Vozza who also plays the cello) and to photograph him with a studio light by a
canal? We used a not very long extension cord from their kitchen window.
Then a few months later in Buenos Aires I had no problem with
the 220 voltage of my native city as the Metz can handle both 110 and 220. I
purposely and severely underexposed my Fuji X-E3 to get the effect you see
here of my niece María Catalina O'Reilly. It was also there where I photographed these lovely tango dancers
in our hotel. They normally dance on a nearby street corner.
The image of Olena by our Chickering is something that I
could have never really done with film. I played with the Degrees Kelvin colour
temperature and with window light I achieved that pristine almost white skin so
difficult to do in the past.
For me these three images show that I have lots of exciting possibilities
in this coming year.
Sue Lyon - July 10, 1946 – December 26, 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019
Sue Lyon, Star of ‘Lolita,’ Is Dead at 73
|Sue Lyon - Photographs - Bert Stern - Petersens Masters of Contemporary Photography - Photo Illustration - Bert Stern - How to Turn Ideas Into Images|
She was 14 when she was cast in the title role of Stanley
Kubrick’s 1962 film of the Nabokov novel. It remained her best-known credit. The film was memorably promoted with a photograph taken
by Bert Stern in Sag Harbor, N.Y., showing Ms. Lyon in heart-shaped sunglasses
sucking on a red lollipop, “despite the fact that neither the sunglasses nor
the lollipop appear in the film itself,” as The New York Times noted years
later. The trailer worked the tagline, “How did they ever make a movie of
NY Times Obituary December 27, NY Times
I have written a few times here
inspiration from photographer Bert Stern. There do not seem to be photographers
of his ilk in this century. And imagine how on his way to photograph Sue Lyon
spotting those sunglasses with hearts somehow defined the film even though they
were not present in the film.
Sometime around 2019 I discovered a connection between
Edgar Allan Poe and Vladimir Nabokov. I wrote about that here
. And then former Vancouver Magazine
Associate Editor, Don Stanley showed up at my door with a copy of The Annotated
All that brought me to the fact
that I had photographed an adult Vancouver actress called Corrie Clark who was
constantly being cast as a young girl. Her ambition was to someday wear makeup
and look her age!
I photographed Clark with the image of Nabokov’s Lolita
in my head. She was perfect. She is also here.
While some folks might have read Lolita or seen the Kubrick film, as a photographer both were in my mind. I was particularly aware of this when in 1986 when my two daughters were in their early teens I told my Rosemary that I was going to hire art photographer James Labounty to photograph them. She did not understand. I explained, "I am their father so I would photograph them as little girls. Labounty will see them as women."
This duality is one that obsessed 20th century painter Balthus
. Many thought he was a fiend but he explained until he died about wanting to portray in his paintings that moment when a girl becomes a woman.
Dreaming in Ektachrome
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
One of the
most enjoyable features of that past century that was the 20th was
the importance of journalism. It was for me an era where a dream one night
could be a reality a month later. Why a month? This was because I was a gainfully
employed magazine photographer in Vancouver and in many cases in the rest of
Canada and beyond. You pitched a story at the beginnig of the month and if you were lucky you would see it in print by the end of it,
cohort, Les Wiseman (began as a writer of rock music for Vancouver Magazine in a
column called In One Ear and finished as associate editor before moving on to
teach journalism) and I liked to watch the marvelous local stripper scene in
many pubs in the city. Wiseman imbibed beer and I drank expensive soda water.
back at that scene from this different century it all seems quaint and, clean.
The local bars were run like ships and you could lick the floors. This all of
course was happening, as yet no man could sit at his computer with a beer on the
side and look at pornography. Not that any of the strippers Wiseman and I liked
where anywhere close to representing any association with that ugly word.
feature about our local exotic dancer scene was that the women involved
realized how important it was to choose their music. Some were daring in
dancing to Lou Reed or to tunes by local pop or punk bands.
who you see here, liked to dance to Roxy Music’s Avalon. She had a perfectly voluptuous
body that somehow was paradoxically slim and elegant. Her face could have launched many ships
to their eventual destruction. But it was her very long hair that was her piece
de resistance. It was long enough to reach beyond her waist. She would somehow sway
that hair, much in the same way as a cat can control its tail. Without any
clothes her hair was her most important item of clothing.
photograph you see here is a Kodak Ektachrome. I took this one and others and
was well paid for them. Wiseman and I went to Vancouver Magazine Editor Malcolm
Parry with the idea that Wiseman explained more or less in this way, “We want to do an article on the stripping
scene in Vancouver from the business side of it.”
And so it
was. And this Ektachrome somehow reflects for me an age when it was all less
complicated and dreams came true.
Christmas Eve 2019 With a Guardian Angel
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
|Christmas Eve in Kitsilano 2019|
had a digital camera de idea of taking a Christmas Eve group photograph was
instantly solved by using the then old-fashioned Polaroids. The idea was to
post on the same night the picture and the blog.
it got more complicated. To begin with there is less room in our duplex living
room. We have to scrunch into the corner with the Mexican hanging chair. Then
there is the idea that most don’t want to pose and want me to hurry. I believe
that the result (3 exposures) is the worse one yet.
Last year’sphotograph I took in my youngest daughter’s home in Burnaby. We kept a
tradition that had lapsed when our friend Abraham Rogatnick died 7 years ago.
This is the idea of having someone not from the family at dinner. We had our
friend, Portland baroque bassist Curtis Daily with us. And somehow I was able
to convince both my granddaughters to pose together. That was impossible this
year. Had I insisted we would have had a scene.
|Lauren & Rebecca Christmas Eve - Burnaby - 2018|
other hand this 2019 Christmas was most unusual as we had with us as a guest, a
British-born actor Bernard Cuffling has reprised many times in the stage
version of It’s a Wonderful Life, Clarence the Guardian Angel.
with a very special gift which we instantly put on our tree. At the end of his
first run of It’s a Wonderful Life he was given as a memento a ceramic angel’s
wings with a little bell (the significance is that when a bell rings an angel
gets his wings).
with his marvelous baritone entertained us at the table with many a tale of his
meeting up and acting with actors that we all know. What we did not know is
that he was a personal friend of Ginger Rogers.
was roast beef (I cooked it), Yorkshire Pudding (Rosemary is famous for it), my
gravy for the pudding, my homemade cranberry sauce, Keen’s mustard, barbecued
vegetables, cucumber salad (Hungarian style) and Argentine Malbec. For dessert
we had flan, and merengues with fresh fruit. We finished with Yorkshire Gold
remarked that he had not had Yorkshire Pudding for 25 years. Thanks to Cuffling we learned something else that for me was the high point of the evening.
For the first production of That's a Wonderful Life at the Arts Club Theatre, Cuffling enquired if he was going to get his wings. He was told there was no budget. Arts Club Theatre Artistic Director (he has a good memory) Bill Millerd said, "We have a pair of wings in storage that were used by Dennis Simpson in Angels in America." With some adjusting using a coat hanger, Cuffling got his wings.
This was special for me and for Cuffling as we both had met (and Cuffling worked with him) Dennis Simpson who died some years ago. To remember those who are not with us is what makes Christmas a melancholic delight.
|Anne Macauley & Dennis Simpson|