Oh, My Aching Back!!!

Himeji Castle, Japan, 2005

I hurt my back again yesterday.  This is something that happens from time to time when I sit a certain way, turn a certain way or do something like that.  I’ll be feeling fine, I’ll sit down, and when I try to stand up – oy!!!
This time it may have been sitting in front of the computer here at home that did it yesterday morning.  My back was bothering me so much that I was barely able to bend forward enough to put my socks on.  When I got out of bed this morning it hurt so much that I just had to drop to my knees.  A hot shower, though – and perhaps the ibuprofen that I took – has helped.
Sometimes these back attacks can strike at inopportune times.  It happened once during the time when I was working at the Metropolitan Opera as a supernumerary (i.e. extra) in Puccini’s final opera, “Turandot.”  My part called for me to carry a ten foot high banner on stage, after walking up a flight of rickety stairs about fifteen feet high.  The way my back was killing me, especially with the back spasms I was having, I don’t even know if I could have made it up those steps carrying my prop.  If I could make it up and then had a bad spasm, my banner could have taken out half the people on stage.  (Well, maybe not half, but it could have done a lot of damage.)
Needless to say, I opted out until my back was better.
Then there was the time it happened in Japan in 2005.  I remember how it happened:  washing my socks in the sink.  There I was in my hotel room in Kyoto, leaning forward while wringing the water out of a sock, and all of a sudden – oy!!!!!!!!!
As bad as it hurt, and even though I was having spasms every few minutes that would literally make me freeze in place when it happened, I was determined to not let it stop me from doing what I had planned to do.  I had not gone all the way to Japan to just lie around in the hotel.
The next day, I had plans to make a day trip to Himeji.  The castle in this city is the finest original castle still existing in Japan (as opposed to castles rebuilt after the Second World War).  It’s truly worth the effort to go and see it.
Taking a train to go someplace is one thing, but climbing up the steep steps of a Japanese castle with a bad back, carrying twenty pounds of camera gear, is something else.  I really wasn’t sure if I should even try, but when I saw eighty or ninety year old little old Japanese ladies doing it, I figured that I might be able to make it, too – and I did.
The two photos here are of Himeji Castle – which is called “white egret castle” for its resemblance to a bird – and give just a hint of how fine and beautiful it really is.


Despite my aching back, I still went into Manhattan as planned yesterday to go to the International Center of Photography.  (I’m also scheduled to photograph a model tomorrow, and you know that my back won’t stop me from doing that!)
 The exhibit at ICP was “The Mexican Suitcase,” which I had read about last year.  Not actually a suitcase, the object in question was three boxes containing negatives made during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and 1937 by Robert Capa, David (Chim) Seymour and Gerda Taro.  During the chaos of that event and World War II, the negatives had been sent for safekeeping and somehow ended up in the possession of the Mexican envoy to the Vichy government in France, eventually winding up in Mexico City.  Not long ago, they were returned to the heirs of the photographers.
Of those photographers, I had of course heard of Capa and Seymour but not Taro. Having escaped Hitler’s Germany, she was a young photojournalist who was tragically killed covering the war in 1937.  It’s believed that she was the first female photojournalist to die in action.  She was only 26 years old.
Robert Capa is known for his photo of a soldier being killed during the war in Spain and then for his photos of the Allied landing at Normandy on D-Day.  Sadly, he too was killed in action covering the Vietnamese war of independence against the French in 1954.
As to the exhibit, it was primarily enlarged contact sheets from the found negatives along with quite a few vintage prints of the photographers’ work from the Spanish Civil War, along with numerous vintage publications of their work.  Anyone interested in the history of photojournalism should try to see it. For more info, click here.
As usual while at ICP, I made a visit to the book store.  Rather than looking at books, I spent most of my time looking over the cheapo plastic cameras they have – Holgas, Dianas, Lomos and the like.  In this age of hearing more and more blather about digital cameras, I find myself drawn to these plastic cheapies as a source of fun in photography.
I have one Holga now.  Who knows what will follow.


For those of you out there who are more interested in photography of the nude, I recommend that you take a look at the latest blog post by my friend Bill Ballard.  He asks some questions about why people photograph nudes and why other people treat photography of the nude differently from other kinds of photography.  See it by clicking here.  There’s also a nice nude photo posted with it for your viewing pleasure.
Finally, I’ve spent some more time this weekend working on my new blog here on WordPress.  As you can see, I’ve added my blog links on the right – something I hadn’t yet figured out how to do until recently.  With this, I think the new blog here is pretty much up to speed.  I may want to make a few more changes and additions if I can find out how to do so, but this will probably be the last posting that I make here and back at Blogger. 
If you wish to keep reading about my photographic adventures, please change any settings you may have from the old to the new.  As mentioned last time, you can now also subscribe to the blog to be automatically notified of new postings.

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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