Weekend at Woodstock

As I wrote in my last posting, I went up to Woodstock, New York, for a two-day photography workshop this past weekend. The Center for Photography at Woodstock is where I began to photograph art nudes and to take black & white photography seriously, way back in 1995, so it’s nice to go back there and meet other people interested in photography. It also makes a good getaway out of the city and into the fresh air of the country. For a number of years I attended two workshops each summer – one devoted to nudes, the other to something else such as landscape, architectural or aerial photography.

I learned the basics of art nude photography in my early days there, but now I’m at the stage where I can photograph nudes fairly well (or so some people tell me), so I’ve begun to think of how I can do things differently and perhaps more interestingly. This weekend’s workshop, though it had nude models on hand for photographing, was about photographic creativity rather than just nudes. The instructor, Josephine Sacabo from New Orleans, showed us some amazing images that she’d made by combining different negatives and using solarization.

I prefer to do my creativity in camera and not have to do too much in the darkroom, so I continued to work on my multiple exposure series. Josephine noted that a weeklong workshop is much better for giving feedback than a weekend workshop, and as I work with film rather than a digital camera, I wasn’t able to show her any of my images from our day shooting on Sunday. She did say that we could e-mail some of our images from the day to her for short critiques, so perhaps I may try to do that sometime once the film is developed – and take it from me, that won’t be any time soon!

At the urging of one of my fellow participants who I came to call “my agent,” I also showed my portfolio of nudes to the owner of a photo gallery in town. He said that they’re good but not what he’s looking for. Oh, well – you can’t expect success the first time out. I certainly wasn’t surprised, as most of the photos in the gallery were made through alternative printing processes or were in color. Little or no silver prints were to be seen, but that’s what I print.

On the other hand, he did suggest another gallery in town that displays and market the nude images made by its owners – so I guess that’s worth a try the next time I’m up there.
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I was saddened yesterday to read about the death of Cyd Charisse, the beautiful dancer and actress who appeared in films primarily in the 1940’s and ‘50’s. I had been a big fan of hers ever since seeing Singin’ in the Rain on television quite a number of years ago. That film is set in Hollywood during the transitional days from silent films to talkies and it got me interested in the films of the silent era.

It also got me interested in the films of Cyd Charisse. In one very colorful and fanciful segment called the “Broadway Melody Ballet,” Gene Kelly slides across the polished floor on his knees – only to be confronted by the long leg of a woman in green wearing a Louise Brooks-style bob of hair. The ensuing dance sequences made my jaw drop – and it wasn’t because of Gene Kelly!

“Wow!!!!!!,” I thought to myself. “Who is that???” I knew it wasn’t one of the major cast members, and I don’t think there were credits at the end to identify the cast members. I did remember that the name of Cyd Charisse was in the credits and I knew that she was a dancer, so I guessed it was her.

I was right. From that moment on, I tried to see more of her films. With the exception of Brigadoon (also with Gene Kelly), I think I’ve seen her in most or all of her major rolls: in the musicals The Band Wagon, Silk Stockings (both with Fred Astaire) and It’s Always Fair Weather (another with Kelly), the comedy Meet Me in Las Vegas (with Dan Dailey) and the noirish crime drama, Party Girl (with Robert Taylor). If you’re interested in dance (and yes – I mean you, DL) or just want to see how great and entertaining a dancer can look on screen, I’d recommend seeing any or all of these films.

I actually had the chance to see her when she was appearing on Broadway in the early 1990’s in Grand Hotel, playing the part of an aging ballerina. I went to see that show with a number of people from my office on a freezing cold night in February, but the play was ruined for me before it even started. The dreaded white slip of paper was found in my playbill, and sure enough, it said that Cyd Charisse would not be appearing that night. I suppose I could have tried to go another night, but I never did. I guess the loss was mine.

In short, Betty Grable may have been the “Girl With the Million Dollar Legs,” but for my money, I’d have gone for Cyd Charisse’s gams any time. The movies would not have been the same without them.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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1 Response to Weekend at Woodstock

  1. Your new photographs are simply inspiring. Thank you!

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