High on Knees
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Del lat. tardío rotella 'ruedecita', dim. de
The knee has been in my thoughts of late as my Rosemary
had her left knee replaced four weeks ago. I am now her nurse and she is
healing just fine. We go for short walks every day.
According to my Spanish dictionary the word for knee in
Spanish comes from the late Latin from the word rotella or little wheel.
When I photograph people I have my own person rule on
cropping. I crop above the knee halfway on the thigh. If not I go all the way
to the foot and I never crop out the foot and only include the ankle.
Here are some knee shots of my friend Kimberly Klass who
died some years ago. She was a wonderful subject and I must state here that while
she was very beautiful and voluptuous she had most handsome knees.
A Dish of Gnocchi
Friday, July 21, 2017
My understanding of S&M has been something that has
eluded me since I discovered its existence.
A most prominent Vancouver poet once demonstrated how she
improved her earnings by banging her black pump hard on a table of the Railway
Club where we had our customary Thursday lunches. It seems that businessmen
paid her good money for her to walk on their backs with said pumps. I could not
imagine finding pleasure in being exposed to such excruciating pain.
My friend M, a lovely Italian, liked to play tough by
wearing some of the trappings of S&M. But she might have been doing this at
a time when punks ruled and had adopted some of them.
Voluptuous as M was she
could not hide a soft touch, a feminine touch, a sympathetic touch that made
her such a good friend to chat with over coffee on Commercial Drive.
In spite of her pleasant smile somehow she could not hide
a sweetness that was tinged by a little sorrow. The only time she would not show
it was over a dish of gnocchi at Carlucci’s on East Hastings.
La Rubia de Categoría
Thursday, July 20, 2017
As a little boy (I have begun at least 100 blogs with that
line) in Buenos Aires most of the people I knew had brown, dark brown or black
The few that had blonde hair were either my English
relatives or American girls at the American Grammar school I attended. I was besotted
with Mary Lou Chase when I was in the fifth and sixth grade. She had very light
blonde hair. I dreamed about her every night for a long time. The only other
blonde of note was Evita. She had her hair pulled back into a bun very much
like my mother’s hair. She came to our school to plant a tree. I could not get
my eyes off her face and her blonde hair.
When we moved to Mexico City in 1954 rubias (blonde women) became güeras (with one special exception mentioned below).
For many in Mexico in that time there was an expression (a most racist one) in
that when one was about to get married the person was invariably asked if he or
she were marrying a light-skinned person. The expression in question was, “para
mejorar la raza,” or to better the race by lightening the skin of one’s
subsequent children. I remember seeing many ads in Mexico City buses featuring skin lightening creams. TV beer ads of the makers of Corona featured American blondes (with obvious American accents when they spoke in Spanish) and said, "Corona, su rubia de categoría."
It wasn’t until the Mexican Olympics I968 that Mexicans began
to trumpet themselves as the bronze race. There was by then a genuine effort to
put away a racism imposed by the lighter-skinned Spaniards who conquered Mexico in
the 16th century.
But I was not going to adopt any of those ideas. It was in
1968 that I saw (from behind) a blonde woman with very long hair, wearing a
mini-skirt to show off her legs. I determined then that I was going to marry
her. And I did.
Sometime in 1979 I was befriended by the son of the Chief of
the Mexico City Police who had been sent on exile (for safety reasons) to
Vancouver. He had a neat business of importing shoes into Canada that were made
by Mexicans in Mexican prison. He liked to come to my house to build my
collection of 1000-plus jig-saw puzzles. One day he asked me to photograph his
lovely Mexican girlfriend who happened to be blonde (not a real one to my
I used Kodak B+W Infrared Film which I knew would lighter
her skin to the satisfaction of her beau. I have long forgotten her name.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my
soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the
palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in
the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She
was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was
always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of
fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an
initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years
before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a
murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit
number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs,
envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.”
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
The Ocean is the Sky
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Fernanda Rangel Mar 2015
In paradise the ocean is the sky
Where the birds swim by
And fish fly from tree to tree
Trying to not bother a single bee
Starfish light up the night
That sure is an astounding sight
Sea horses gallop through mountains
They all go their own ways
Butterflies flutter around kissing corals
To get a taste of their sweet succulent nectar
This is paradise
And the ocean is the sky
In this world that is upside down
The Golfer's Indumentum
Monday, July 17, 2017
|Rhododendron 'Golfer' July 17 2017
Rhododendrons have a great reputation in my city of
Vancouver because they thrive in our cool and rainy weather. Some Rhododendrons
do not like harsh direct sunlight.
Many of the rhododendrons here have lurid colour of red,
orange and shocking pink. Those colours seemed to be the only available until
Nixon went to China and the subsequent opening of the forbidden kingdom.
There are rhododendrons with other colours and quite a few
that have scent. One of my faves Rhododendron decorum
has white flowers that
smell of ripe watermelon.
After their burst of flowers in the spring rhododendrons can
be boring. But that should not be the case. Many have interesting leaves with
indumentum. This is a covering of little hairs, fuzzy at times like the inner
ear of a cat. The indumentum can be on the bottom side of leaves and it is then
In years past I used to take my then young granddaughter
Rebecca to the rhododendron walks in VanDusen and at the UBC Botanical garden
and I taught her to rub the underside of rhododendron leaves. She was charmed.
Not too long ago I visited my plantsman friend Alleyne Cook
and his wife Barbara (a plantswoman) at their garden in North Vancouver. I
spotted an interesting smallish rhododendron (notice how I avoid that ugly word
rhodo) with an almost white tomentum. I asked him what it was. He replied, “Golfer.” I asked again and he repeated himself. I asked
again and he finally shouted (with his New
Zealand accent, “Golfer!” I got the
Golfer now grows in our small Kitsilano garden. Here it
is sporting its lovely leaves.
|The underside has a very soft tomentum.
The Real McCoy & Only Butter is Butter
Sunday, July 16, 2017
My mother used the term “the Real McCoy” since I can
remember. I am not sure that folks born in this 21st century would
use the term or be familiar with it. Perhaps they might say, “the real thing.”
Or as in ads in that last century, “Only butter is butter.”
In my photographic life I have always attempted to be
genuine and not to attempt to fool people with what or how I do stuff. I eschew
all those social media photographs where people confess, “Captured without
For many years (1957-1967) I avoided the use of green,
yellow or red filters when I shot with b+w film. My philosophy was that the
filters would enhance reality and thus the new reality would be fake. But I
found out that particularly yellow filters compensate for the fact that film
(all film, colour, b+w, video and digital) is sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Humans cannot discern UV. Thus a dramatic sky will be rendered less so by unfiltered
b+w because the film’s sensitivity to blue will make the sky lighter. So clouds
will not contrast as much. The yellow filter makes b+w film more like the human
Some of us know that deep red filters on b+w film and b+w
movie film (when underexposed) give us night for day in those Westerns with
puffy clouds. The red filter at the opposite end of the spectrum (from blue)
will become black.
And so I have used filters since.
The deep red filter is part of the package that we who used
to shoot Kodak B+W Infrared Film (I still shoot it as I have many rolls of this
discontinued film in the fridge). When you used the filter with the film you
had the problem that anything red was rendered much lighter (good for removing
blemishes or freckles from redheads) and lips looked ghostly. I learned to use
purple or blue lipstick so that lips would look normal.
Another problem with the film is that you had to focus your
lens and then go back to a little red mark on the lens (good lenses used to
have the infrared mark). This is because the film’s sensitivity to red light
focused at a different plain of focus.
Seen here are three photographs I took of the lovely Virve
Reid (she looks like a blonde because she was a redhead, figure that one out!).
I have for no good reason tinted the pictures green/yellow. Then there are two additional
photographs taken with normal film (medium format). One of them I converted to
fake infrared with the Corel Paintshop Pro XII Infrared Tool.
Is this the real McCoy? Is only butter butter?