Guinness as Usual

Untitled Nude, 2014

Untitled Nude, 2014

It’s getting late here in New York, and the clock is ticking away, but it has not yet struck midnight, so the day is still March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day.
Why the rush to make this post before today becomes tomorrow?  I dropped off some film to be developed yesterday and I picked it up today.  These were the last photos that I made, back in September of last year.  (Yes, it has been that long since I’ve picked up a camera and used it.)
As I looked through the loupe at the lab, eagerly looking at the results on the nine rolls of film, I noticed my muse, Zoe West, sitting in the room opposite a poster on the wall that says “Guinness as Usual.”
How appropriate, I thought, for me to be coming upon this half year old image on St. Patrick’s Day, of all days.  Was it coincidence, or, as the saying goes, “the luck of the Irish”?
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Back to Snaefellsnes

Nude, Iceland, 2013

Nude, Iceland, 2013

I still have not finished posting (or even scanning) all of the good photos from my trip to Iceland in 2013, and I see that the last time I made a post with them was in late September of last year.  I hadn’t planned to go that long without continuing the series, but somehow that is what’s happened.
Well, what’s done is done (or, in this case, not done), so all I can do is pick up with it now.
In my last post (here), I showed some photos of Brooke Lynne on a rocky beach on the western part of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.  Today I will continue that with a few photos of Aubrey in the same location.  The difference with some of these photos is that the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean are visible in the background.
As I noted in my earlier post, the weather was very cold and windy that morning, and I have to once again give all the credit to Aubrey and Brooke for posing in such difficult conditions.

3459_7 - Aubrey

My primary camera is a Pentax 67 SLR, and almost all of my photos are made with that, but these photos of Aubrey were made with my backup medium format camera, a Fuji GW670 rangefinder.  I had loaded a roll of 120 film into the Pentax and a roll of 120 into the Fuji, thinking that I could get twenty photos of the two models together (ten frames on each roll) without stopping to reload, but it was so cold that, at the models’ request, I only did one roll of each.
While a fixed lens camera like the Fuji may not be as versatile a tool as an interchangeable lens camera, it is nonetheless a very fine camera with a very good lens and I am happy with the results.  Again, though, most of the credit for the success of these photos must go to Aubrey.

3460_3 - Aubrey

 

3459_8 - Aubrey

 

 

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La Bella Violinista

La Bella Violinista, Venice, 2009

La Bella Violinista, Venice, 2009

Last month, I attended a concert in a small performance venue by the Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti.  It was an excellent show, especially as I arrived early and got a seat in the front row.  In addition to being a highly skilled musician, Ms. Benedetti is a beautiful young woman, too.
This reminded me of hearing a performance by another beautiful violinist.  Rather than taking place in a small underground space on Bleecker Street in Manhattan, the performance occurred in the wide expanse of Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) in Venice, Italy.
As I have written before, Venice is one of my favorite places to visit.  La Serrenissima – the most serene republic – it was called.  As there are no automobiles there (other than on the Lido), it is a remarkably quiet place, and therefore an excellent place to hear outdoor music.
Piazza San Marco is lined with cafes and there are a lot of small tables set up in the square for people to sit and enjoy their repast.  There are also a few platforms set up on which small orchestras play, both daytime and evening, to serenade the people there.
These are photos are one particular violinist who caught my eye one afternoon on my visit in 2009.  It’s moments  like this which make visits to this special city so worthwhile.

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2868_06 - Venice-La Bella Violinista

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The Juror’s 1st Award

LightBox 02 - Photographic Nude 2015
I was away visiting family last week, so unfortunately I was unable to make a post then.  I had hoped to prepare one before I left, but I just had too many things to do before I went away.
Still, last week did bring some good news.  In fact, it was very good news.  I made a post last month which included mention of one of my photos having been selected for The Photographic Nude 2015 exhibition at the LightBox Photographic Gallery in Astoria, Oregon.
Well, I found out last week that the juror, Robert Gojevic – founder and editor of online BLUR magazine – had selected my photograph for the Juror’s 1st Award, which is to say, the top prize in the show!  (Thank you, Mr. Gojevic!!!)  I wrote last time that one of my photos from last year’s trip to Iceland had just been published in PHOTO France, so I guess I’ve been on a little bit of a roll lately.
Thus, as you can imagine, I’ve been feeling a little like I’m on Cloud 9.  I think the last time that one of my photographs had won first prize in a competition was back in 1998, when a color photo from Iceland won first prize in its category in the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts’ “Assignment: Earth” competition.
Since then, I’ve been happy just to have my photos selected to be in juried shows that I’ve entered.  Winning the top award, like winning the lottery, seemed reserved for someone else, so it felt a bit unreal to find out that one of my photos had actually finished first.
On the other hand, I can’t say that I’m totally surprised that this particular image, “Nude, Nevada, 2006, #1,” with model Carlotta Champagne, is the first winner in a long while.  It’s been one of my more popular images when I’ve posted it online.  It received a Daily Deviation award when I first posted it on Deviant Art, and it received a two page spread in the premiere issue of Carrie Leigh’s NUDE magazine.
Nude, Nevada, 2006

Nude, Nevada, 2006, #1

Still, that’s never guaranteed success elsewhere.  During the six years that I failed to get a photo published in PHOTO France’s contest issue, I submitted this image to no avail.  I entered it in the Black & White Spider Awards last year and the best it could get was a nomination, along with many other photos.  I’ve also submitted it to a number of other gallery shows without it getting selected.
So, I guess I should enjoy this success for what it is, as there’s no way of knowing when – or if – one of my photos will finish first again.
Of course, I should also congratulate all of the other photographers, including my good friend Dave Levingston, whose fine work is included in the exhibition.  Just to be included at all in a show of this quality is an honor in and of itself, prizes notwithstanding.
Regarding those other photos, you can see them all on the gallery’s website by clicking here.  I’m also posting some photos of the artwork on the wall at the gallery, taken from the gallery’s Facebook page.  It looks like a very nice exhibit to see in person and I’m sorry that I couldn’t be at the opening reception myself.
For those of you who are or will be in Oregon, the exhibit will be up through April 5.

LightBox - Photographic Nude pics on wall 03

My photo is second from the right.  Perhaps that's an award tag beneath it.

My photo is second from the right. Perhaps that’s an award tag beneath it.

Dave Levingston's print is second from the left.

Dave Levingston’s print is second from the left.

LightBox - Photographic Nude pics on wall 04

LightBox - Photographic Nude pics on wall 05

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Another Photo in PHOTO

Nude, Iceland, 2014

Nude, Iceland, 2014

A few months ago, I posted some photos from the beginning of my trip to Iceland last summer.  I really hadn’t planned on posting any more from that trip until I had finished posting more photos from my trip to Iceland in 2013 (and I do indeed have more).
However, I will break with that plan today to post and write about another photo from the 2014 trip.  That’s because I found out today that one of them (yes, the one at the top here) has just been published by the French magazine PHOTO in its annual contest issue.  You may recall that I wrote about a year ago (here) that one of my photos had been included in the contest issue after a six year absence, so it’s gratifying that I was able to get in a second year in a row, and for the seventh time since 1999.  (You can see a post about my other selections here.)
Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the magazine as it was just published in France and it normally takes a couple of months to reach the US.  Before I forget, I should mention that my friends Dave Levingston and Gary Mitchell had photos included too, so it’s nice to have some good company.
Here is a photo of the page with my image on it as well as that of my friend Dave (the one in color with all of the greenery around the model).

PHOTO France 2015_sm

So, how difficult it is to be included in this contest issue?  Well, the magazine folks claim that it’s the largest photo contest in the world (and the magazine is distributed worldwide) but only about 300 photos are printed in it out of the more than 50,000 they say that get submitted.  That’s about two-thirds of one percent being selected, so the odds are pretty long.  On the other hand, the Nude category may not get as many submissions as other categories, which may make the odds a bit better, but I still think that being selected is beating the odds.
On a potential down note, I’ve been informed that the ownership of the magazine has changed and that the magazine is being reformulated with a new editorial focus.  I just hope that the contest will continue each year, as there aren’t that many photography magazines that are open-minded enough to show nudes, let alone have an entire category devoted to it.
Anyway, about the photo itself – yes, that is a nude model in a body of water with icebergs floating in it.  The brave young lady is Rebecca Tun from England, who was kind enough to arrange the schedule of her trip to Iceland last summer so that she could work with me for a couple of days.
The location is the famous Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, into which icebergs break off from the glacier next to it and float in the water (sometimes for several years) before washing out to sea through a narrow channel.  I had paid a visit to the lagoon the previous year, and though the weather didn’t allow for photographing nudes, I saw that it could be a great background for nude photographs.
Unfortunately, “famous” often means “crowded,” and in this case it was no different.  Still, I noticed that the crowds did thin out when getting farther away from the tourist center, so I hoped that by walking away a good distance there would be enough privacy to photograph nudes.

PHOTO France 2015 cover_sm

This is what I tried with Rebecca, and eventually it worked.  We found a spot on the shore of the lagoon that was hidden from view, and I proceeded to photograph Rebecca on the shore with the lagoon behind her.  It was then that she told me that she wanted to go INTO the water!
Earlier that day, when photographing along the rim of a canyon, Rebecca had volunteered to walk out to a very precarious and dangerous looking spot on the rim.  While it would have made for a fantastic image, it was just too dangerous a spot for her to try to reach, so I said no.  Regarding getting into the water to model, I considered the risk.  She had modeled for a few minutes on top of a small iceberg that had washed ashore near another glacier, and as the members of the Polar Bear Club in New York City survive taking the plunge into the icy waters of Coney Island every New Year’s Day, I decided to allow Rebecca to go in as long as she didn’t overdo it.
Adventurous as ever, Rebecca then told me that she wanted to swim out to one of the icebergs, but I decided to draw the line there.  Venturing further away from the shoreline would have increased the likelihood of her being seen by other people, but more importantly, I would have been unable to help her if she became physically overcome by the cold and unable to swim back.

When she finally came ashore to dry off and warm up, I asked her how cold the water was and how difficult it was to be in it.  Her response was that it was indeed cold, but that it wasn’t too difficult to take as it basically made her lower half numb.  (Yes, I am indeed glad that I didn’t let her swim out to that iceberg.)
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Back to Japan

Mount Fuji, Japan, 2010

Mount Fuji, Japan, 2010

Now that I’ve finished working overtime, I can get back to doing other things again.  One of those is definitely straightening up my apartment, but another is getting back to going to museums and galleries.
Last weekend, I went with a friend to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  We saw the temporary exhibition of cubist art from the Leonard Lauder collection, among other things, but my main reason for going to the Met was to see an exhibit of kimonos in the Japanese art galleries that was about to close.
As expected, those kimonos were beautiful – many of them quite stunning, in fact – and it got me to thinking of my own trips to Japan.  With that in mind, I looked over the photos that I have scanned from my three trips to Japan.  From the first – and shortest – trip in 2004, I saw that I had scanned a fair amount, although more definitely needs to be done.
From the second trip, 15 days in 2005, with the exception of the photos that I made at an archery competition in Nikko (see my last post for one of them), I had only scanned five photographs.  Yes, that’s right.  Five.
From the most recent trip – two weeks in 2010 – I had scanned twelve.  While that’s better than just five, it still is not a lot.  With that in mind, I decided to go into my archive of negatives and scan some more from Japan.  While I had wanted to go back my 2005 photos, the 2010 negatives were easier to find, so that’s what I decided to go with.
2997_05--Kanazawa_Kenrokuen

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa, Japan, 2010

 Of the photos you’re seeing here, the one at the top is of one of Japan’s most identifiable symbols:  Mount Fuji, photographed from the Hakone region.  (By the way, the Japanese call the mountain “Fuji-san,” not “Fuji-yama” as some people in the west think it’s called.  The “san” in this case means ‘mountain’ – derived from Chinese, I believe – and not ‘mister.’)
As for the other photos, they were made at the Kenrokuen garden in the city of Kanazawa.  This is considered one of Japan’s finest gardens and it was my second time there, as I made a day trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa on my first trip to the the country in 2004.  Whether it is a first visit or a second visit – or, I suspect, a hundredth – this is delightful place to walk and observe the Japanese vision of idealized nature.  Naturally, it’s a delightful place to photograph, too.

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2998_07--Kanazawa_Kenrokuen

 

 

2998_09--Kanazawa_Kenrokuen

 

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Competitions

Nude, Nevada, 2006

Nude, Nevada, 2006

Okay, folks.  I am back.  From the third week of October through this past Saturday, I worked 130 hours of overtime at work.  That’s what the busy season at my job can be like.  It’s over now, so I can once again – hopefully – post my work here on a more frequent basis.
I actually began to write this post about two months ago, but not having a lot of free time and some technical difficulties in trying to copy from web pages (which I still have not figured out) set me back.  Now, at last, I have the time to finish writing it.
Over the past few months, I have either entered several photography competitions or the results of earlier submissions had been announced.  Here are the results.

 

Archer in Competition, Nikko, Japan, 2005

Archer in Competition, Nikko, Japan, 2005

 Far Away Places
The Darkroom Gallery in Essex Junction, Vermont (near Burlington) is a place that I have submitted to a number of times over the past few years.  My work was selected for its art nude exhibitions in 2012 and 2013, and I even drove up there to be at the opening receptions each time.
There was no art nude exhibit in 2014, but as I don’t only photograph nudes, I did enter some other competitions.  Early in the year, one of my photos was included in the Five Elements exhibition – my first non-nude photo to be selected by a gallery in quite a while (or perhaps even the first time ever).  I’m happy to say that another of my travel photos was also chosen for another exhibit, Far Away Places, in November.  The photo selected was “Archer in Competition, Nikko, Japan, 2005.”
You can see the full gallery of exhibited images here.

 

The Power of Nature, Iceland, 2013

The Power of Nature, Iceland, 2013

 Water
I attended some workshops at the Santa Fe Workshops in New Mexico way back in 1997 and 1998 – two art nude workshops in 1997 and two more in 1998. Those were in my early days of doing art nude photography, and taking those workshops really helped me to take a big step forward.
I had planned to only take one workshop in 1998, but I ended up going for two because I was given free tuition to one of them. How?  By winning first prize with one of my color travel photos of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland in the Assignment: Earth competition, sponsored by the Santa Fe Center for Visual Arts.  (I could have gone to just one workshop tuition free, but as there were two that interested me in consecutive weeks, I decided to go for two.)
Since then, I have wanted to try to repeat my success with one of my black & white images, so I submitted four images to the Santa Fe Workshops’ recent “Water” competition – all of them from my two recent trips to Iceland.
How did I do?  Well, sad to say, I did not win any of the four categories.  (I only submitted to two of them, actually.)  Still, out of the 3,791 photos submitted by 904 people from 26 countries, one of them – “The Power of Nature, Iceland, 2013” (aka Aubrey vs. The Waterfall) – was one of 46 images selected for Honorable Mention.  So, getting one in the top 50 out of 3,791 isn’t too bad, I think.   Not only that, I was also told that my other three submissions made the top 100, too!
You can see a gallery of winners and honorable mentions here.
Nude, New Orleans, 2004

Nude, New Orleans, 2004

Spiders
The Black & White Spider Awards are an annual competition for black & white photography.  I have wondered if it’s worth entering, but as some people I know have been winners in the amateur competition, and as some well known photographers that I am familiar with enter the professional competition, I decided to give it a try by entering last year with a dozen photos in different categories.
The results?  Well, I have to say that I was disappointed that I wasn’t a winner or even an honorable mention in any of the categories.  However, I did have images nominated in three categories – one in Portrait (“Girls With Antlers, Nara, Japan, 2005”), one in Nature (“Shadows and Peaks, Alaska, 2011”) and two in the Nude category (“Nude, New Orleans, 2004” and “Nude, Nevada, 2006”).
Girls With Antlers, Nara, Japan, 2005

Girls With Antlers, Nara, Japan, 2005

Shadows and Peaks, Alaska, 2011

Shadows and Peaks, Alaska, 2011

 To show how unpredictable competition results can be, I also entered the two images that were selected in the “Far Away Places” and “Water”  – and neither of them even got nominated.
You can see my images among the winners and nominees here, here and here.
 
The Photographic Nude 2015
This particular competition for an exhibit at the LightBox Gallery in Astoria, Oregon, is so recent that I submitted my photos last week and only found out yesterday that one of them – “Nude, Nevada, 2006” – has been accepted.  (Yes, the same one that was a Spider Award nominee, at the top of this post.)  The exhibition will begin next month, and I imagine that all of the accepted images will be up on the gallery’s website at that time.  This is the second year in a row that I have submitted images to this juried show and the second year in a row that I have had a photo selected.
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So, that’s all for now.  What’s coming up?  Well, I am waiting anxiously (as I do every year at this time) to find out if one of my photos was published in the annual contest issue of the French magazine PHOTO, which is distributed worldwide.  Since 1999, one of my photos has been published seven times, including last year.   However, as that was the first time in seven years that a picture of mine was included, I’m rather on edge to see if I got in two years in a row after a six year drought.
This issue (Jan/Feb) normally doesn’t hit US newsstands until sometime in March, but I’ve contacted a friend in France who said he’ll let me know if I got in when the issue is released there.  If I do have a photo included, I will definitely make it known here.  (If not, then……)
I also just submitted portfolios of art nude photos from my recent trips to Iceland and Canada to Black & White magazine, but finding out if anything will be published is a long term thing that will take several months, so I am not holding my breath on that.
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