Mexican Standoff

Nude, Mexico, 2019

Yes, it has happened again – another long stretch of time between blog posts.  All I can say is “mea culpa,” though perhaps “guilty with an explanation” may be more appropriate, as the reason for my absence is that I’ve been feverishly scanning the photos from my trip to Mexico in March in order to put together a video to show at an upcoming photography event that I’ll be attending.
So, the good news from this is that I now have quite a few more photographs to post here.

As the reason for my being away from the blog has been the photos from my trip to Mexico with UTadventure, I guess I should show some of those photos.  I’ve posted some photos from the beginning of the trip before, so here are some photos from late in trip, made at a funky hotel in the Yucatan region.  The models featured are (from the top down) are Kate Snig, Dasha U and Sienna Hayes.

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Ride a Rock Lion

Nude, Iceland, 2014

I see that it has been quite some time since I posted any photos from my trip to Iceland in 2014.  Yes, believe it or not, I have more photos from that grand adventure – and I think there are still some good photos from it that I have yet to scan.
My last post from the trip (here) showed Nadine and Zoe at a waterfall on Iceland’s south coast.  At that point, we were heading back west toward the capital, Reykjavik, and we then passed through the city to continue further west and north toward Iceland’s Snaefellsnes peninsula.
There, on that peninsula, is an amazing lava field that I had been to the year before.  A narrow, twisting dirt road winds its way through it – so narrow that one cannot even pull one’s car over to stop as you’d block the road – but I did find a spot where I could pull over, and near this spot was the lava formation seen here.
To me, it resembles an animal, perhaps a lion.  When I said I’d like to get a photograph of it, Nadine ran right over and clambered all the way up on top of to ride the rock lion – doing so, of course, in true bareback fashion.
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Istanbul

Two Men Drinking Tea, Istanbul, 2019

I’ve gotten the first rolls of film from my recent trip developed – all of them from Istanbul, Turkey.  When I get film developed, I am always interested in seeing the results that I got.  However, with the first rolls of film from a foreign trip, there’s also the concern of what the x-rays machines did, and my film had to go through twice at the airport in Istanbul and once in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, but the film appears to have survived – perhaps thanks in part to the heavy lead bags that I keep them in.
(On this trip, there were more than the usual x-ray machines to deal with, as all four countries that I visited required luggage to go through when entering the country.  Fortunately, I got my film hand checked at the airports in Istanbul and Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and at the land crossings into Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.  The same went for entering the airports in Istanbul and in Turkmenistan.)
As for the photos on the film, I am happy with the results, from what I can see from the negatives on the lightbox.  I’ve only just begun to scan them, so here’s one of my favorites for you.  I was walking in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, heading from Taksim Square down to the Galata Tower, when I came upon these two fine gentlemen drinking tea.  I loved the whole look of the scene, with the fanciful mural on the wall behind them, so I just had to ask if I could photograph them.  Thankfully, they agreed.
Stay tuned for more.
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Home from the Silk Road

Nude, Mexico, 2019

This is my first posting in several weeks, as I recently returned home from a long road trip away to Istanbul, Turkey, and three countries on the old Silk Road in central Asia – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.  It was a great trip to a fascinating and historic part of the world that does not see too many visitors, so it was good to finally go there.  I look forward to getting my film back from the trip and sharing the results here.
The four countries that I visited on this trip were all places that I had never been to before, so combined with my first ever trip to Mexico in March, I increased the list of countries that I have visited by five this year.  As I don’t yet have any film photos to show from my recent trip, for now I’m sharing a photo from the trip to Mexico, featuring the lovely Sienna Hayes striking a beautiful pose.
Stay tuned for more photos from both trips.
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Red

The Red Pyramid looking towards the Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

When one thinks of pyramids in Egypt, the natural inclination is to think of the renowned pyramids at Giza, which includes the Great Pyramid of Khufu and those of his successors, Khafra and Menkaura.  However, there are other places where pyramids are to be found.
In fact, there are numerous sites with pyramids stretching north to south on the west bank of the Nile outside Cairo.  I think of this stretch of desert as “Pyramid Row,” and when you’re at one location, some of the pyramids at other sites can be seen in the distance.
As I have written before (here), one such place is Dahshur, located to the south of Giza, where a Fourth Dynasty king named Sneferu – the father of Khufu – had the so-called Bent Pyramid constructed around 2600 BCE.  However, that was not the only pyramid that Sneferu had built.  In fact, there were three of them.

The Red Pyramid, Dahshur, 2017

I will try to write about the first one another time, after I’ve scanned some photos to show, but now I’m presenting some photos of the final pyramid, the so-called Red Pyramid, that was built to the north of the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur.  The name of this pyramid comes from the reddish limestone used to build it, though in antiquity this stone would not have been seen, having been covered by a shiny white limestone casing that was removed in more recent years.
However, what it also notable about this structure is the fact that it was the world’s first true smooth and straight sided pyramid, following after the Step Pyramid at Saqqara and the aforementioned Bent Pyramid.  It’s also one of the largest pyramids in Egypt, rising 344 feet above the desert, eclipsed in size only by the pyramids of Khufu and Khafra at Giza.

A reconstructed pyramidion (capstone) found at the site, with the Red Pyramid behind it, Dahshur, 2017

On a more personal note, when I think of the Red Pyramid, I think of a lost opportunity to explore.  While I have managed to climb to the center of the Great Pyramid and some other pyramids, I never made it that far into the Red.  I did begin to climb down inside its narrow tunnel, but I took some other people’s advice and decided to back down rather than go facing forward, and all I could see was the light from the outside getting smaller and smaller as I backed down, which made me feel like the walls were closing in on me, so I basically froze and decided to end my descent.  In other words, I chickened out.  Hopefully I’ll have the chance to try again one day – and this time I will try to go down facing forward.

 

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Back to Moab

Nude, Utah, 2018

I went away for a few days this past weekend to once again attend The Desert Adventure art nude photo outing in the vicinity of Moab, Utah.   I had gone last year and I enjoyed it, so I thought I’d go back again.
The event is planned by model Monique (with her outfitter/outdoor specialist partner, John), and for this session, her modeling partner was Eva Luna, who I had not worked with previously – though now I am happy to say that I have.
Unfortunately, my primary camera – the Pentax 67 that I have carried around the world with me for over 20 years – broke down about halfway through the weekend, with the mirror getting stuck in the up position.   Fortunately, I have a good Fuji 6×7 rangefinder camera as my backup, and though it’s not as versatile as my Pentax system, having only a fixed, non-changeable lens, I do believe that I got some good photos with it, as well.  (Now let’s hope that I can get the Pentax fixed before I need to use it again.)
While I have begun to have my film from this weekend developed, the truth is that I still have a lot of last year’s film to scan, as I underwent knee surgery shortly after last year’s event and got sidetracked because of that.  Hopefully I’ll have time to scan photos from both this year and last, but for now, here’s a photo that I recently scanned from last year, featuring Monique and that event’s other model, Celina.
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First Photos from Mexico

Nude, Mexico, 2019 – with Kate Snig

I wrote in a blog post at the end of last month (here) that I had recently returned home from a trip to Mexico.  As I have now gotten all of the film from the trip developed, and have begun to scan them, I thought I’d post a few images.
Regarding the trip, it was organized by UTadventure, and for nearly a week we stayed at a beautiful, old hacienda on the Yucatan peninsula, outside of the city of Merida.
This was my first trip to Mexico, and in fact, to any primarily Spanish speaking country.  This may be a bit surprising to followers of my blog, as you should know that I like to travel the world, but also because I studied Spanish for three years in high school.  Finally, I would be able to put some of it to use – though I admit that I did a lot of reviewing before I left home.

Nude, Mexico, 2019 – with Sienna Hayes

Flying into Mexico City from New York on the first leg of my flight, I could see from my window seat that Mexico’s capital city is located in a mountainous area.  From the flight into Merida, however, flying first over central Mexico, then over the Gulf of Mexico and finally over the Yucatan peninsula itself, I could see that the landscape of Yucatan is completely and totally flat.  In fact, it seems to be just about as flat as flat could be.
Regarding Mexico, I loved it my entire time there (well, except at the airports) – the culture, the architecture, the food, the light (though, as almost everyone advised me, I did not drink the water).  Of course, to that list I must add the people of Mexico, who were very warm, friendly and welcoming – hardly the “rapists and murderers” that some people would want you to believe them to be.

Nude, Mexico, 2019 – with Dasha U

As for the photography, we had three very good art models to photograph – Kate Snig, Sienna Hayes and Dasha U.  As noted in my above-referenced blog post, I had worked with Sienna previously in New York, but I had not worked with Kate and Dasha before.  I think I came home with good photos of all of them.
Here now are one photo of each of them, photographed on the grounds of our hacienda on the first day of photographing.  More will follow in the future.
As for Mexico, this was my first visit there, but I hope it will not be the last.
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Notre Dame

Notre Dame and the Seine, Paris, 2000

Like many people around the world, I am saddened by the news of the great fire that has devastated the medieval cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.   Though there appears to have been a lot of damage done, especially to the roof and of course to the spire that collapsed, hopefully it can be successfully rebuilt.
I have visited Paris several times, but not for a while.  I think my last visit there was in 2001.  Here’s a photograph that I made of Notre Dame the year before.  I had read that it is difficult to use a tripod on the street in Paris, so for this nighttime photo I set my camera on a small table tripod, which I placed on the thick stone wall of a bridge crossing the river Seine near the Place St. Michel, as I recall.
I used a spot meter to take a reflective light reading off of the façade of the cathedral, which was likely around two seconds or so.  For shutter speeds of greater than one second, reciprocity failure can kick in, meaning that beyond one second or so, the light coming in through the lens at the proper shutter speed may be insufficient to make a good exposure (for scientific reasons I won’t get into now), so extra exposure is needed.  Typically, for a two second exposure reading, I will make exposures of four to six seconds.
Whichever shutter speed I used for this particular image, I appear to have gotten it right.
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Getting Hazed

Untitled Nude, 2018

I returned home last week from a week-long photography event in the Yucatan, Mexico.  It was my first ever trip to Mexico, and hopefully not the last.  (I went by airplane, so I guess I flew over the wall.)
One of the reasons that I went was that I had never been to Mexico before, but another was that one of the three art models at the event was Sienna Hayes.  I had photographed Sienna when she was in New York last summer, and as I found her to be a very good model to work with and got good images, I decided that it would be worthwhile to work with her again at greater length.

I’ve had the first set of film from the event developed and am currently working on scanning them, but for now, I thought I’d make another post with photos of Sienna from last summer.  (You can see my first post here.)
Hopefully I’ll be able to make some posts about the Mexico event before too long.

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Bent

The Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

Everyone knows about the pyramids of Giza in Egypt – the Great Pyramid of Khufu, plus those of his successors, Khafra and Menkaura.  These monuments of the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt’s Old Kingdom are renowned, but they were not the first of the pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians.
The first of those pyramids was the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, built for a Third Dynasty king named Djoser.  (It was originally a single level tomb building that just got bigger and higher.)  There were some others built, too, prior to the pyramids at Giza, perhaps the most interesting and unusual being the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur.

The Bent Pyramid, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

What is unusual about this pyramid is that, as its name suggests, it bends in the middle, with its lower level inclined at an angle of 54 degrees, but about midway up shifting to a shallower angle of only 43 degrees.  I have read in a recently published book that this change in inclination may have been intended from the start, to make the pyramid resemble a squat type of obelisk found in certain Egyptian temples, but over the years most people have thought that the change in the inclination was not originally planned, but was a necessary change in order to prevent the pyramid from collapsing.  (This would also show that the pyramid form was developed by the Egyptians over time by trial and error, rather than being constructed by space aliens, who would presumably have known how to build them properly.)
This pyramid was built around 2600 BCE for a king called Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, who actually had three pyramids built – the Bent Pyramid, an earlier one at Meidum that partially collapsed in antiquity, and a later one, also at Dahshur, that was the first true straight edged pyramid built, which is called the Red Pyramid and is only slightly smaller than the famous Great Pyramid at Giza.

The Bent Pyramid (foreground) Looking Toward the “Black Pyramid” of Amenemhat III, Dahshur, Egypt, 2017

I mention Giza again at this point to also compare it to the site of Dahshur, as comparing the two is like comparing the ridiculous to the sublime.  Everybody who visits Egypt goes to see the pyramids at Giza, at while it is certainly a must-see site, it also has a circus atmosphere of sorts, filled with lots of tourists plus locals forever trying to sell you all kinds of stuff and trying to convince you to ride on their camels or donkeys.
Dahshur, on the other hand, is the complete and total opposite.  Perhaps because the pyramids are located near an army base, when I visited in 2017 the place was almost deserted, with just a handful of other tourists (if any) and not one person there trying to sell anything to you.  For this, I think Dahshur may be my favorite place in Egypt.  It is the Egypt of old, the Egypt as I would like to imagine it – with nothing there to occupy your mind but the wind and the sand and the stones of old.

The Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt, 2017

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