A Cat & a Woman
Saturday, December 02, 2023
|Rosemary & Niña - 5 December 2020 - 3 days before she died
In my life I had my mother, grandmother, girlfriends,
girl cousins & aunts, two daughters, two granddaughters, friends that were
girls or women and I have photographed many women in my career as a portrait
photographer. Sometimes, as all we men know, they can be an enigma.
|Niña on yours truly 5 December 2023
My Rosemary was not quite one. I first saw her sometime
in mid-December 1967 and by 8 of February 1968 we were married.
An important female in my life is my feline Niña.
Rosemary and I adopted her and her brother Niño at the SPCA five years ago.
Niño immediately adapted but not Niña. When people would come for a visit she
would hide in a closet. From the beginning she adored Rosemary and avoided me. I
would say that only last year did she come around. Now she does not hide and allows
perfect strangers to pet her.
Now in the last three months she is
inseparable from me. When I am on the bed she gets on top of me and in my face.
The happy result is that I tend to stay and do nothing for much of the day.
So Rosemary was a quick woo. Niña played hard to get.
That’s women. They are enigmas.
Objects they Owned & Touched - a Memory
Friday, December 01, 2023
In my 81 years of existence I have no concept of what living
alone, getting a divorce or being single might be.
I can add that I never tell mother-in-law jokes because
my mother-in-law was always far away, and when she came on visits, she was most
My Rosemary’s mother-in-law loved her. My mother lived with
us from 1970 until 1972 in Mexico City when she died. She kept telling me to treat Rosemary
well as, “Alex, she adores you. You are a lucky man.”
|Rosemary, my mother and Alexandra - 1968 - Veracruz
As a portrait photographer, seeing all the framed
photographs of my family on the wall or remembering the photographs of my
mother in our family album, make me think that the memory of a person’s face,
voice and smell are paralleled by the objects they owned and touched. I can say
the same of the plants in the garden that I shared with Rosemary.
Both Rosemary and my mother had a thing for knives. The
large Mexican made a stainless steel one with the brand name “Barrilito”, or little
barrel, was the only one my mother ever used. The serrated knife was Rosemary’s
opinion (she was right) that you never had to sharpen them.
And so when I see these two knives in my wooden knife holder I
think of the two. I smile and then feel sad.
When I see my youngest daughter Hilary it is no different from seeing the two knives. Somehow she looks like both my mother and Rosemary.
Fujifilm Canada Pulled all Stops for Us
Thursday, November 30, 2023
|Hannah - Fuji X-E3 30 November 2023
|Fuji GFX100II - 30 November 2023
Today I went to an interesting photographic function
hosted by Jeff Gin's Kerrisdale Camera Ltd and Fujifilm Canada at the Film Works Studio Company. We photographers
were invited to try out a GFX100II camera that is 104 Megapixels larger than a “full
frame" 35 mm format. It can also record 8K video.
The studio had a large white cove and all kinds of lights that
were made ready for our use. In another room there was a handsome male model
with books behind him. I opted for the lovely English Hannah.
I was able to use a camera much larger than mine. I went for
my recent idea of only taking one photo. I was helped, as I am much too old to
adapt for a camera that is much more complex than my Fuji X-E3. The picture here did not in any way tax the camera in doing what it is capable of. I attempted to imitate some of the pictures that I shoot with my X-E3 where I purposely underexpose.
One of - featuring Jeff Gin who some years ago got me into my first digital camera a fab Fuji X-E1. Now it is my backup for my X-E3 that I used today.
This did not stop me from taking a snap of Hannah by a mirror
in my selfie tradition. When she was posing for another photographer I was able
to take some spy shots with my noiseless digital shutter. The pictures you see
here I exposed at ½ second while moving my camera from up to down.
There was lots of good food and drink. Talking to other
photographers was the best part.
One of in Silence
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
|Jeff Gin - 29 November 2023
The Japanese have an artform where the artist upon
placing a pencil or brush on paper cannot lift it until finished.
I have a similar restriction these days that entertains me.
It consists in taking only one exposure for a portrait. I have had two sessions
like these in in the last two weeks. One was the dancer Julian Beairsto and the
other today of my friend Jeff Gin.
|Julian Beairsto - 22 November 2023
The method has the following settings on my Fuji X-E3
ISO 200, at f-1.7 at 1/30 second with the modeling light
(not the flash) of my small softbox close to my subject’s face. I like to use
the digital shutter as opposed to the regular shutter of my Fuji as it does not
click. My subjects do not know when I have taken the photograph.
The resulting photograph when I download it to my computer
is a pitch black rectangle. With levels and with the shadow/highlight app of
Lab Colour in my 19 year-old Photoshop 8
I get a result that I like because the noise (a digital term) resembles the
grain of fast film. In my past as a magazine photographer I have always understood that limitation is a fast way towards creativity.
After that first and only exposure I duplicate it into my
Corel Paintshop ProXII and use their cyanotype app.
I was very happy with Jeff Gin’s portrait as it was the only
way I could thank him for installing my new P&Epson injet printer. He was
able to take two nice prints home.
Why do I have a new printer? For me it is a proof and
scandal that Vancouver has become a backwater provincial (in the worst meaning
of that word) as only one person repairs Epson stuff in Vancouver. My printer
has been with him now for two months.
It further suggests that few photographers print their
pictures. They shoot photographs with thousands of megapixels and then show
them on their phone. They do not seem to understand the pleasure of holding a
photograph in your hands.
Thank you Jeff Gin
We Guys & No Loss
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
|Air Canada lavatory 2021
In this century there is this urge to catalogue and
St. Isidore - patron saint of the internet
I have an artist friend who talks about the categories in
art such as sculpture, painting, etching, but never mentions the Vancouver
craze for installation art.
Of me he includes in his category of you guys
(photographers). I feel slightly offended. It is as if we are Martians or not
My problem with all that began when I was a little boy
and my mother was going to give me a whipping because I had misbehaved. My
grandmother would come to the rescue and say, “Nena you have to be patient with
Alex because he is an artist like me.”
As a magazine photographer in Vancouver beginning in the
late 70s I quickly understood that to call oneself an artist would result in a
quick bitterness as few photographers were seen to be artists.
It was my friendship with Argentine painter Juan Manuel
Sánchez in the late 90s when he said I was an artist that I began to accept that I could be an artist. I have
never paraded this fact, as it is very difficult to be accepted as one in our
Vancouver that so loves conceptual and installation art.
But going back to my artist friend I do see an important
difference between him and “us guys”. He paints and sells. I wonder all the
time how artists who sell survive the loss of their creation.
We guys keep our negatives, slides or our digital files.
We might exhibit photographs and write below “One of 10” but we know we have
that negative in our files.
I have never felt that loss except when I am looking for
a particular image and I have either misfiled it or lost it altogether.