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Here’s a fairly short post from me today, this time with one of the photos from my 2012 trip to Canada with Dane St. Clair and Erica Jay.
The photo was made early one morning at a beach on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. It was actually a photo that I had to make twice. Looking down the beach, I was interested in the mountain with the sharp, pointy peak that can be seen in the distance. I decided to try to get Dane and Erica to have their bodies mimic the triangular form of the mountain by bending their bodies into a similar shape.
So, I got things set up…but before I could actually capture the image on film, a band of low lying clouds floated by and obscured the point on top of the mountain. (It just had to happen at that particular moment, didn’t it?) Naturally, this effectively ruined what I wanted to do, but I went ahead and pushed the shutter release all the same.
After that, we went on creating more photographs. Before we left the beach, though, to head back for breakfast, I looked over to the peak and I saw that the clouds had moved on and that we once more had a clear shot. I asked the girls to get back into their jackknife positions and was finally able to create the desired image that you now see here.
It’s a good thing that we left when we did, right after this photo was made. As I recall, it just started to drizzle, and another car was heading up to the beach, too.
Sometimes, as the saying goes, it’s all in the timing.
I made a post a little over a month ago proclaiming that one of my photos had just been published in the annual Concours Amateurs contest issue of the French magazine PHOTO. In the old days, copies of this January/February issue of the magazine would become available for purchase at American newsstands around the second week of February. For some reason, distribution seems to have slowed down quite a bit, as it doesn’t usually reach our American shores until the middle of March.
However, one of my Facebook friends in France, Raphael, was kind enough to send me a copy of the magazine, which I received last week. If you read the post last month, you may remember my writing that this is the sixth time that one of my photos has been published in the contest issue since 1999, but the first time since 2007.
Therefore, to celebrate my being back in print again, I’ve decided to make a post about all of these successes.
While my first time in the magazine was in 1999, that was not the first time that I made a submission for the contest. That was two years earlier, I remember, when I sent in some photos in late 1996 for the 1997 contest issue. When I say “sent in,” I really mean ‘sent.’ Today, submissions for the contest can be done online, but back in 1996, one had to physically send a bunch of prints in the mail off to France.
Then as now, the magazine allows twelve photos to be submitted by each photographer, so for several years, I packed a dozen 8 x 10 inch RC prints into a large envelope and mailed it to the magazine’s office just outside Paris. Of course, I knew that I would never see those prints again, and with several tens of thousands of photos submitted, I don’t blame the magazine for not even trying to send them back. (They were supposedly destroyed afterwards.)
None of my photos were printed in the 1997 issue, but I did get in another way: in each issue, spread across two large pages in teeny tiny type are the names of the many many people whose photos survived the first cut in the selection process – and there I was! So, at least that was a little encouraging. I began photographing nudes in 1995, and after seeing this issue of the contest issue of the magazine for the first time, with a section devoted to nudes (can you imagine an American magazine having such a thing?), one of my goals was to get published in it.
As I recall, I waited an extra year before submitting again to make sure that I had some really good work to put forward, and made a submission for the January/February 1999 issue. Then as now, if your photo is included in the magazine, you are not notified about it. You have to wait until you see an actual copy of the magazine to see if one is there or not.
So, one day in February 1999, I took a lunchtime walk from my office in lower Manhattan over to the World Trade Center, where I went down to a large newsstand on the concourse level. I walked in, and there it was in front of me: a stack of the new PHOTO contest issue. That’s when I began to get really nervous. I can still remember how my heart was pounding like a jackhammer as I picked up a copy and began looking through it. I found the section of nudes, Charme, on page 28. It was all text, with a full page photo opposite it on page 29. Then I slowly began to turn….
After that, most pages had eight or nine roughly baseball card sized photos each. Page 30. Nothing. Ditto for page 31. I turned again…. Page 32 had a single photo, not mine. Then page 33….
And there it was! One of my photos, smack dab in the middle of the page!!! It was a photo that I had made in New Mexico near Santa Fe in 1997, and one of my best. So, as you can imagine, I was thrilled to see it. This may be difficult to explain, but greater still than the joy of seeing the photo on the page was the sense of relief that it had not been ‘not published.’ That’s because I had sent in good work and would have been really really disappointed if nothing had been selected.
Ironically, the photo to the immediate left of mine was by a Canadian photographer named Dan Cardish, who I would become friends with several years later. It wasn’t until after I had known him for some time that I looked at the magazine again and realized that his photo was next to mine.
Now that it’s gone in the wake of 9/11, the event that I just described is perhaps my most vivid memory of the World Trade Center.
Of course, I continued to submit after that, and another photo was chosen the very next year for the 2000 issue. With over 40,000 or 50,000 photos submitted every year and only about 500 published in the magazine, it is very much a numbers game, so I was disappointed but not surprised when nothing of mine was chosen for each of the next two years.
Then, in 2003, one of my photos was again selected, and then again in 2004. It looked like a pattern was developing: two years in, followed by two years not. The pattern continued when nothing was printed in 2005 or 2006, but something was in 2007. Unfortunately, it stopped there. Nothing was chosen in 2008 – or 2009, or 2010….
It was getting very frustrating. I knew I was submitting good work, but that didn’t seem to be good enough. Eventually, submissions went from sending prints to sending in a CD (I think) to now doing it online. A few years ago, the magazine’s website showed that ten of the twelve photos that I had submitted were finalists, so surely one of them would make into print, right? Well, wrong!
I was even thinking of throwing in the towel and not even trying anymore, but as submitting doesn’t cost anything, I figured that I had nothing to lose by trying. In 2012, I actually didn’t submit anything, as the deadline for doing so was shortly after I had regained power following the twelve day blackout here at home caused by Superstorm Sandy. (I had, as you might understand, other things to take care of first.)
Now we’ve reached the present issue, for which I submitted photographs from my 2012 Maine /Canada trip and last year’s trip to Iceland. The one selected was made in Maine. Are these photos any better than the ones that I had submitted during the previous six years? I guess that’s up to other people to decide.
So, I’ll have to see what happens next year. Perhaps I can start a (good) pattern again.
Iceland is a place of many natural wonders, from ice caps to volcanoes to waterfalls. One such place is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which is located on the country’s southeast coast.
(Actually, calling Jokulsarlon a “glacier lagoon” is a bit redundant. Just as saying “the Sahara desert” is redundant in that ‘sahara’ is the Arabic word for ‘desert,’ so does ‘jokulsarlon’ mean ‘glacier lagoon’ in Icelandic.)
It’s a popular place on tourist itineraries, being located right along Iceland’s main road that circles the country. It’s also a place where I had hoped to get some nude photographs with my two models, but I couldn’t, as we were there when a lot of other people were around, and the weather wasn’t exactly cooperative, either.
Still, it is quite a place, so I decided to spend some time there walking around and photographing. Basically, icebergs from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier bordering the lagoon – one of the glaciers reaching out from the mighty Vatnajokull ice cap that covers a large percentage of the country – break off from the glacier and float in the lagoon before finally being carried out to sea through a narrow channel. I’ve read that the icebergs can float in the lagoon for as many as five years, and that the ice they hold can be several thousand years old.
You can get a bit of an idea of what the lagoon is like from some of my wider view photos, but there’s more to the lagoon than that. I think that people tend to think of icebergs as massive pieces of ice – and they would, of course, be correct – but smaller pieces of them can break off or be left behind when the rest of the berg has melted.
It was one of these smaller pieces that I happened to find floating near the shore. It looked really beautiful to me, so I picked it up and admired it. It was about ten inches high and looked like a leaf of some sort. An ice leaf – or an ice sculpture, an example of nature’s art.
I knew that eventually nature would take its course and that this lovely, natural objet d’art would be melted to a watery end. Still, one of the abilities of photography is to capture things the way are at that very moment, so I decided to try to preserve this beautiful piece on film the best I could. The shoreline there is comprised of small stones, so I found a good spot, placed the leaf down and made some photos with my 105mm normal lens.
Still, I really wasn’t too happy as the lens’s minimum focusing distance wouldn’t let me get close enough to it. So, I switched to the 135 mm macro lens that I had bought not too long ago. It was just for situations like this that I had brought it along, and I think it did the job well. You can see the image at the top here.
I also came across another interesting ice “sculpture” that you can see here in another photo. I believe that I found it where you see it here, but I’m not sure if it got there naturally through tidal movements (if there are any in the lagoon) or if someone else had put it there. (Is it me, or does anybody else think it looks a bit like a pig, or perhaps a dog, of some sort?)
In my final blog post of 2013, I wrote a brief recap of the photographic work that I did last year. I included scans from negatives for all of the photo projects I had embarked upon, except for the last one, as I had not yet gotten the film developed at the time of writing.
Well, that problem has now been remedied. All 14 rolls of 120 film, shot in September with Nadine Stevens at the Delaware Water Gap region of northwestern New Jersey, have now been developed and filed into pages, ready to be scanned.
I had actually planned to watch a movie last night, but I was so interested in seeing the results on the film that I began scanning negatives instead. Here are three of them.
The photo at the top was made late in the afternoon on our second day of shooting at the Delaware River itself. As we were out in the open and there was plenty of sunlight, I chose to forego my standard film, Ilford HP5 400, in favor of the slower Ilford PanF50. Not only does the ISO 50 film have finer grain the 400 speed film, its slower speed also allowed me to use a wider aperture to blur the background much more than I could have done with the faster film.
The other two photos here were, however, made with the HP5. The one in the middle was made on the afternoon of our first day of shooting at a partially collapsed building. The photo at the bottom was made outside an abandoned house the following morning.
Looking over the negatives, I think I’ve got quite a few more good images to scan. Hopefully you’ll get to see them sometime in the future.
I drove on Saturday night from my home in Brooklyn to the other end of Brooklyn to attend the opening night reception for the “Out With The Old…” photo exhibition at the Bushwick Community Darkroom. (Actually, I drove there twice on Saturday, as I needed to bring the framed print over in the afternoon.) I have been on the Darkroom’s e-mail list for a while, but until this time, I had never been there before. I’m glad that I went.
The Bushwick Community Darkroom is the kind of place that I like: a darkroom for those people like me who are dedicated to developing film and making silver gelatin prints. It’s not a big place, but apparently there are a fair amount of people who go there to make prints and develop film. It was set up by a young woman named Lucia Rollow, who, as she told me, needed a darkroom where she could do printing. So, she managed to create a darkroom for others, too, and it appears to be a bit of a neighborhood institution. Good for her!
When I was there in the afternoon, I even met a fellow who had travelled all the way down from Harlem to do his printing, and that’s quite a haul by public transportation. He told me that he used to shoot digitally, but once he got introduced to darkroom printing, he couldn’t go back. That’s the kind of dedication that I like.
My print on display is a photo of Aubrey made in Iceland last summer. In fact, all of the photos on display were shot last year. My print is on the wall next to the other nude in the show, a print by Eric Jiaju Lee. Eric was there, too, so we had a nice conversation talking about things. In fact, there was a nice turnout, so the space was fairly crowded, and I had nice chats with a number of people, including the curator for the show, Scott Nyerges.
So, overall, it was worth a couple of trips to the other end of Brooklyn. I hope that I’ll be back again.
The Bushwick Community Darkroom is located at 108 Thames St, Brooklyn, New York 11237. My print and the others should be on display for several more weeks.
In 2003, 2004 and 2005, I attended the Community Zoe gatherings of photographers and models. I was unable to attend in 2006, but I did prepare a DVD slide show of some of my travel and art nude photos to be shown there in my absence.
For the more than seven years since that time, a copy of that DVD has been sitting on the shelf here. I’ve decided to upload this to the internet on Vimeo so that it can once again be seen.
So, if you’re interested, take a look and let me know what you think of it. I have made a few more slide shows of my work, and I’ve thought of new ones that I can put together, so who knows? Perhaps I’ll post more at some time.
For now, enjoy this one from 2006:
Opening Night in Brooklyn this Saturday