Hitting The Slope

Nude, Iceland, 2013

Nude, Iceland, 2013

I’m afraid that today’s post will be a rather short one, as I’ve got a bunch of other things to take care of here at home tonight.
As my last posting was of some photos from Canada in 2012, today’s photo is another from my trip to Iceland last year.  As in an earlier post, the photo shows Aubrey modeling among the grasses at the head of the canyon known as Fjaðrárgljúfur.
While most of the photos of this canyon (or gorge, as some call it) are of a view looking down the length of the canyon, split by the Fjaðrá river, there are other good photos to be made here.  In this case, I liked the way that the canyon wall here has a nice diagonal slope – and I do like diagonals in composition – so I asked Aubrey to place her figure in line with the slope.  I think she did an admirable job of it.
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The Floating Head

Nude, Nova Scotia, 2012

Nude, Nova Scotia, 2012

My last post was dedicated to some of my travel photography, so this time it’s back to nudes.  Today, I’m choosing to go back to my very successful trip to Canada two years ago with Erica Jay and Dane St. Clair.
On this particular day, the three of us went out with local photographer Eric Boutilier-Brown and local model Kyla Nicolle.  In the afternoon, Eric took us to one of his favorite locations – a place in the forest with a shallow river near Halifax, Nova Scotia.  I had been working with Erica and Kyla, who were in the river, and Eric was working with Dane.  When Dane had finished working with Eric, she came over to me and asked if I would like to include her in what I was doing.

3311_4 - Erica Dane and Kyla_nr Halifax

At that moment, Erica and Kyla were standing side by side, facing the camera.  Yes, I thought, including Dane would be good to make it a trio.  Upon further thought, I decided that while good, three models standing together looking at me would be a little ordinary.  I wanted to do something different, so the bizarre side of me took over.  I asked Dane to get between Erica and Kyla, and then crouch down so that only her head could be seen above the water, as if it were floating by itself – hence, the title of this post.
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Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa, Japan, 2010

Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa, Japan, 2010

It’s been a while since I posted – or even scanned – any photos from my three trips to Japan, so I thought I’d remedy both of those deficiencies today.  Photos have been scanned, and here they are being posted.
I decided to scan some photos from my most recent trip to Japan in 2010 simply because it’s easier to find the negatives from a relatively recent trip than from trips made five or six years earlier.  (I really do need to get to work one day cataloging all my negatives so that I can know in which binder to find whatever it is that I seek.)

3008_04--Kanazawa_Oyama Shrine at night

These photos were made one night in the city of Kanazawa in western Japan.  I had been there on my first trip to Japan in 2004 and visited the area again in 2005, but both of those visits had been day trips from Kyoto.  The third time I stayed overnight, and decided to take advantage of that by paying a nighttime visit to the Oyama Shrine that was located close to my hotel.

3007_06--Kanazawa_Oyama Shrine at night

It felt a bit eerie being there at night by myself, setting up my tripod and composing images in the dark, with the occasional passer by moving about but never stopping.  Getting a good exposure reading at night can be difficult, and here I did what I normally do in these situations: I used the spot-meter attachment for my meter and metered off an  area that I wanted to expose properly.  This often gives me an exposure in excess of one second, and to compensate for reciprocity failure, I usually multiply the exposure time by two or three, so that one second becomes two or three seconds.
Even though I still have a lot of negatives from Japan to scan, I would still like to go back for more.
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In The Black

Nude, Iceland, 2013

Nude, Iceland, 2013

I see that it’s been nearly two months since I posted any photos from last year’s trip to Iceland, so here are a few more now with Aubrey.
These were made on a beach area composed of black volcanic sand on the coast of southeastern Iceland.  I went out there with the local Icelandic photographer (and new friend) Siggi Marason, who was very helpful to me in preparing for the journey to this land of fantastic landscapes.

3449_6 - Aubrey

I had hoped to get more photos at this stunning location as nobody else was around, but unfortunately the road that passes through here leads to a lighthouse that is somewhat popular with tourists, and eventually those tourists in their vehicles began to show up.

3448_7 - Aubrey

So, even in a sparsely populated place like Iceland, you’ve still got to get up very early if you want to photograph nudes.  Having said that, outside the Reykjavik area, I don’t think there’s a place in Iceland where you cannot photograph nudes if you choose to get out early – or, being that it never gets dark in late spring or early summer, stay out late.

3446_8 - Aubrey

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Nude, Nova Scotia, 2012

Nude, Nova Scotia, 2012

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.
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PHOTO France



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.
The 2014 issue

The 2014 issue

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.
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Nature's Sculpture, Iceland, 2013

Nature’s Sculpture, Iceland, 2013

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.)

3442_3 - Jokulsarlon

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.

3444_4 - Jokulsarlon

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.

3444_3 - Jokulsarlon

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?)

3443_7 - Jokulsarlon

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