La Abuela Española de Helena Bonham Carter
Saturday, July 09, 2022
|Helena Bonham Carter Jan 1996|
On January 1996 I had the pleasure of going to the Sutton
Place Hotel to photograph Helena Bonham Carter. I had done my research and I
had found out she had a Spanish grandmother. The writer, thinking that she
might open her motherly instincts by bringing his small baby boy had a bit of a
rough time. As soon as he was over I said, “¡Señorita Bonham Carter, qué placer
en poder tomar su foto!” She answered in perfect Spanish. The writer and baby
left the room and I had a wonderful time taking her portraits.
Somehow she located me and sent me a nice thank you note in
perfect Spanish. Her agent ordered some of the photos. Some years later she was
seen lots with Kenneth Branagh so when I photographed him I gave him a little
pewter frame with her snap in it and I told him to give it to her.
In this blog I am including a couple of experimental
effects. The vertical one is a b+w lith film positive mounted on a silver card.
I like all the bits of stuff include in the shots. The second is what I call my
scanner negative sandwich without mayonnaise.
Function Follows Form
Friday, July 08, 2022
This 21st century is far more complex than the last one. In that
21st if the black phone rang you answered it. Now we have multiple
options and even the ring has been made obsolete. Your phone might alert you with
Art Bergmann’s Hawaii.
Photographic equipment is now very complex. The mantra of
the 20th was “Form Follows Function”. Stuff looked clean and simple
because it was so. Now, that has been reversed to Function Follows Form.
Cameras are complicated and none have a button that leaves the camera as you
want it. At any given moment that wonderful digital camera will exercise its prerogative
of inanimate free will and do something that even your camera manual will not
be able to help you.
|Kodak Special Order 410|
But for a long time I have indulged in a fairly complicated
shooting technique. It may have begun in 1977 on Wreck Beach when I
photographed a lovely MW with four cameras. One had Kodachrome, another had
Koda b+w Infrared Film, a third had Kodak Plus-X and the fourth a new-fangled
film called Kodak Special Order 410 (it subsequently became Special Order 115
and from there it was launched as the sharpest and finest grain film ever
manufactured, Kodak Technical Film. Both the 410 and the Infrared film had
extra sensitivity to red light and rendered human bodies beautifully.
Consider that I may have used the same lens with all four
cameras so this involved screwing and unscrewing those Pentax lenses. And the
speed of those films were all different so I had to be careful how I used my
light meter. The Kodak Infrared Film camera had a deep red filter and the lens
has to be re-focused to the infrared film spectrum. I could not use that red
filter with the other cameras.
|Kodak Black + White Infrared Film|
To this day in my little Kitsilano studio when photograph anybody I will use my digital Fuji
X-E3, a Mamiya with two backs, one with colour negative film and the other with
b+w film. Sometimes I will use a third back with Rollei 120 Infrared Film. And I
might use a couple of Nikon FM-2s.
My peers tell me that I make my life much to complicated and
that with one digital camera I can cover all those bases. My counter argument
is that every one of those digital variations, (colour, b+w, etc) will still be
that of ONE take.
|Kodak Plus X Film|
There is a charm when your subjects may move or shift thepose
while you pick up a different camera. I love that randomness.
And so for me sometimes Function Follows Form.
But this technique that I practice for my personal projects, was not always the one I used for magazine jobs. Film was expensive so in the 80s I might have shot three jobs with one roll of 36 exposures 35mm film. Or one that used to scare magazine art directors was when I showed up with only three shots knowing that one of them would be the one they would use. And of course digital wedding photographers take thousands in one day.
And why not, here is a technique of mine in 2022 (45 years later from these Wreck Beach photographs) which is a scan of two negatives and since I scan in RGB I have given it a blue colour.
It's On YouTube but...
Thursday, July 07, 2022
anything can be found if you know where to look. But to know where to look you
have to know that it exists.
quote by yours truly.
my favourite records is one that my mother had at her home school, Aluminio
School in Veracruz, Mexico. She taught the children of ALCOA Aluminum which was
based there. When she moved from there to our little house in Arboledas, Estado
de México in 1971 she brought her belongings including this record.
wooed Rosemary in 1967 I would drive her to Veracruz and we would have romantic
weekends in my mother’s house. I often took Rosemary to the Zócalo (City
Square) and we would have the famous coffee (the best I have ever had) at the
corner establishment called Café de la Parróquia which was next to the the main
church (La Parroquia). We liked to sit under the portales (roofed corridors)
because the marimba groups played there. We enjoyed the clanking of the old
marimbas were typically Jarocho (a nice synonym for Veracruzano) and they would
make extra money when you made a request. One request I often made was to tell
them that my soon-to-be-wife was called Rosamaría. On the spot they would play
some obscure son Veracruzano (a Veracuzan son is a tune) and inject on the spot lyrics usually describing her
magnificent looks. Another feature of the marimba is that all the members of
the group would have a chance to sing one of the stanzas in their own style.
Recordando Andrés Huesca has recordings made in 1940 including one of La Bamba which is the best I have
ever heard. The lyrics are modified to the taste of every member of the group
(4 or 5) so you get to appreciate their different voices.
listen to this record I am immediately transported to a pleasant afternoon at
La Parroquia over coffee with my Rosemary.
The CD in
the photograph is by an Argentine young man who is a master of the chromatic
harmonica. In 2019 Rosemary and I went to Buenos Aires in September. On a
Sunday we went to Plaza Dorrego which is in the oldest BA neighbourhood of San
Telmo. At the square there are wonderful antiques. Nearby dance groups dance
the tango and there are some mimes, also.
were on the square I told Rosemary, “Someone is playing Astor Piazzolla’s
Oblivion." We walked a few yards and there was the duo of Santiago Álvarez on
the harmonica and Agustín Luna on guitar. When they finished I was exhuberant. I told them that I was an Argentine from Vancouver and asked them if they
knew Alfonsina y el Mar by Ariel Ramírez. They immediately announced that they
were going to play that song for their new Argentine friend who lived in Vancouver.
the CD for $3.00.
December when I went as a widower to Buenos Aires I hired the duo to play a
concert in honour of Rosemary at my hotel and I invited friends and relatives.
The book in
the photograph is about a German photographer, August Sander (17
November 1876 – 20 April 1964) who dedicated his life to photograph all the professions of his
country. From paupers, bakers, intellectuals and even Jews, that if you noted
the dates you knew they would not be living much longer, he did them all and
always with a tremendous respect for their humanity. Since he probably did not
use lights he was careful to take his shots with a very large camera under low
contrast lighting (overcast days).
inspired by August Sander when I photographed the serious (but really funny) Vancouver
artist Rodney Graham.The blog with the photographs is this one.
A couple of
weeks ago my daughter Hilary and I went to the Pacific Cinematheque to see
Sunset Boulevard. For reasons I have not figured out we had never seen it. One
of the best moments in the film is when Gloria Swanson does a personification
skit of Charlie Chaplin for William Holden.
What is the
link to all the above?
Yes you can
find anything in YouTube. But you have to know it’s there. It is difficult to
find it randomly, although random searching of YouTube is like the old-fashioned
library card catalogue.
record is there in its entirety. There are two versions of Oblivion being
played by Santiago Álvarez. There is a video where an erudite man explains the
significance of August Sander.
course if you put Gloria Swanson,
Chaplin personification you get:
Swanson Impersonates Charlie Chaplin
Recordando Andrés Huesca
Oblivion with Agustín Álvarez and Agustín Luna
Oblivion with Agustín Álvarez and a full orchestra in a French Park
Wednesday, July 06, 2022
|Seance by Neil Wedman|
This blog published 20 August 2022 I will put back into 6 July 2022 to fill missing holes.
Ikea Panda Bear
Luckily my Blogger blog has a pretty good search engine. Now with my 5635 blogs I check to see if I have written on a subject in particular before. There are two for which I have. One has to do with the humanity of inanimate stuff and the other is about routine and how that plays in my life in this terrible 2022.
My friend Ian Bateson is constantly telling me that I am reiterating myself. He is right. But I like to do that and perhaps add to the mixture.
At night, when I get into bed, and turn off the lights, Niño and Niña get as close as they can to me. In these hot days I have brought in a fan and they sleep on the foot of the bed and not on me.
Once the light is out I feel the presence (I call it absent presence) of Rosemary on the empty spot on the bed on my right. And I grieve and this has not changed since she died on December 9 2022.
To this idea of the absent presence I must now see it from another angle.
Weather permitting in late afternoon around 5:30 in the summer, I walk with Niño around the block. Most of my neighbours and passers-by know him by name. I take the same route that Rosemary took and I follow her advice not to shout after him when he lingers in some garded. “Be patient with him,” she would tell me.
That absent presence by the bed here in a back alley seems to need a different definition.
I have told my two daughters that when I talk to them I remember Rosemary but not in the same way as when I look into the eyes of Niño and Niña. Rosemary, the two cats and I slept together. That is an important difference.
I have written before how a dead cat when immediately replaced by a new live cat, that live cat inherits in some magical way the catness of the previous one. It is almost like cats have a Platonic essence that can be transferred in a way that humans are not able to.
I do not believe in ghosts and yet when I walk with Niño, does he also feel that absent presence?
Red Petioles and the Man From Franklinton
Monday, July 04, 2022
|English Rose - Rosa 'Darcey Bussell' & Hosta ' First Blush' 16 August 2022|
This blog which I published on 16 August 2022 is now placed on 4 July 2022 to fill some missing holes,
Hosta guru Bob Solberg has been determined to develop a
hosta with red in the leaf and he succeeded with this hosta. Hosta 'First Blush' not only has green
leaves with red petioles that extend into the leaf blade but also a thin red
margin around the leaf.
The above is from an identified hosta nursery. Solberg's hosta
was introduced in 2016. My specimen was brought by some friends from the Vancouver Rose
Society this year when they came to my open garden in the beginning of June. I
have yet to see the flowers and I will have to wait until next year for a scape
(hosta nomenclature for the flower stalk) to see how red it might be and the
stalk of the leaf (petiole), too.
But today I noticed that one of my Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’
flowers was past its peak and I thought the combination in a scan would be
Bob Solberg is from Franklinton, North Carolina where he has
a nursery called Green Hill Hostas. Solberg is one of the most active hosta
hybridizers in the US.
I have met him many times and I last saw him this year at
the National Convention of the American Hosta Society this past June in
Minneapolis. He gave a most interesting le
Many years ago (1992) he knocked on my door in my hotel
in Columbus, Ohio (it was the National Convention) and when I opened the door I
face a man who looked like an officer from the Confederate Army. He whispered
and placed in my hand Hosta ‘Patriot’ which was the hot new hosta that had
been introduced the year before. I felt like perhaps I was buying drugs. But I was wrong about the man who has an easy
He is obsessed with the idea of bringing red into hosta
leaves, petioles and scapes. I wonder if these hostas will not come to resemble
rhubarb! Are red hosta flowers next in his agenda?