Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weiss Engel

Slowly catching up... these were from a while ago, but seem like just a week or two back. The angelic Engel in my studio... might get another shoot with her this weekend if things go well. Probably outdoors this time, if things go well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

California: Ranch Undressing

Workshop day 2 was "hot and cold" as they say... the weather remained hot and virtually cloudless, but dry with more shaded areas, so pretty reasonable. The models were great, and I even managed to work with a couple of "bonus" models -- one of the wardrobe assistants (who despite denying being a model, is actually quite an experienced model), and one of the other photographers, which is always fun -- even though I myself hate being on the other side of the camera. But I digress.

One harsh to my Cali mellow was that during a shoot late in the day, I'd forgotten that I pulled the card from my camera to pull images off it, and didn't put it back. SOMEHOW my camera was set to shoot without a card (this is a setting used when photographers connect the camera directly to their computer), so some of my favorite shots of the day disappeared into the ether. Once I figured out that I'd done it, the model was kind enough to redo a couple of the shots, but it's hard to re-capture a moment, and I can't help but think that the ones that evaporated were supergreat. As some wise man once observed, "Never enough time to do it right, always enough time to do it over."

So, shortly after this episode of stupidity, we were all gathered to review a slideshow of what people had shot during the course of the workshop (the reason I had pulled the card from my camera in the first place, even though I didn't manage to find a laptop I could borrow so I wasn't able to submit). As I tend to do in those situations, I just kept kicking myself for the shots I didn't get, and how well most everyone did. Most people took full advantage of the colors of the setting and the wardrobe options and got some real eye-popping images. As I'm prone to do, I opted to shoot mainly nudes, mostly B&W, concerning myself more with light, shadow and texture. But I still feel I missed the opportunity to break out of my habits (rut?) and do something different, but I have a hard time doing that when I can hear the meter running. Once I'm home, I may look into more of that sort of thing, but I won't have the access to the wardrobe and styling pros I had there.

After my little rant about shooters "poaching" shots over the shoulders of photographers, I got an e-mail from the organizers asking people NOT to post those shots. A number of the shoots were specifically intended to appear in Marquis magazine, but if they appear elsewhere, even on ModelMayhem, even if it's a "behind the scenes" shot, Marquis won't run them. Apparently, at least one set of shots has already been compromised. So, in addition to the aggravation these poachers cause, now there's a chance of actual damages that will cost the organizers money and put their publication at risk. This also affects the companies providing the wardrobe, the stylists, the MUAs, the models, everyone. So, a lesson to photographers: don't poach, don't tolerate poaching.

As I was leaving the ranch location, I happened to look down and see a USB "thumb drive" lying on the ground. I picked it up and noticed that it looked like mine, but how would mine have gotten there? Virtually everyone was gone, so I figured I'd just check out whose shots were on it and mail it to them. Got it to my computer, and sure enough, it WAS my drive. Dumb luck that I happened to be the one to find it... very odd. The two shots with this article were among the random stuff on the "recovered" drive, so I figured I'd use them for this post. Miss Kittie and Engel...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hollywood Minute

You may need to click this little poster to see the big one, but this showed up on my computer the other day, and I just had to comment on one aspect of Hollywood that drives me nuts... The names along the top are "Cage, Cusack, Malkovich" plastered across the foreheads of John Malkovich, Nicholas Cage, and John Cusack. Huh? Why make it look as if you're telling us who these shadowy faces belong to, then mix them up? I know the reason... the biggest star has to be in the middle, but we read left to right, so their name has to be first on the left, and there are Hollywood rules for this kind of thing, but they BUG me. And that so does NOT look like John Cusack... I think they beefed up his jawline or something. But this "filmed deal" (aka movie) is 10 or 15 years old now, so it doesn't matter, but they still do this stuff now. Just a little Hollywood rant while I'm in the vicinity. Pay attention, Hollywood!

Speaking of old, irrelevant movies, "Jurassic Park" was on tv last night, so I half watched it on while I was doing other stuff. Funny to see Samual L. Jackson in one of his first big roles and NOT dropping the MF bomb every other line. Also, forgot that the guy who played Newman on Seinfeld plays the bad guy, the low-bidding contractor. (Halliburton?) And one of the last shots of the film is a slow, loving pan across the park's never-to-be-visited gift shop, that works on an ironic level because of the events of the film, but also on a marketing level to the kids and parents in the audience. "Look at all this Jurassic Crap that'll be waiting for you in stores after you leave the theatre." Sort of like the merchandising scene in "Spaceballs" except not played for laughs.

One musical note... having seen the Apple iTunes ad featuring the new Coldplay single "Viva La Vida" I picked up the CD on impulse when I was in Target the other night. Had a chance to listen to the CD on the way back from Lancaster, and once again, the edit/mix on the TV ad is substantially better than the actual track on the CD. Not sure how they do it, but it seems pretty consistent... the U2, Lenny Kravitz and Bob Dylan ads were also like that. Maybe the record labels should get Apple's ad agency to produce their records in the first place.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

L.A. Woman

Are you a lucky little lady in the City of Light,
Or just another lost angel...City of Night

L.A. Woman by The Doors

Driving home from the first day of the workshop, this rock epic hit the radio, and even though I was in the AV (Antelope Valley) it seemed appropriate somehow in a non-literal sense. Had a good day's shooting including a lot of time with Trish, punctuated by a fair amount of standing around. Guess that's bound to happen with a 2:1 photographer-to-model ratio. The other thing that leads to is a lot of "snipering" or "poaching" or "over the shoulder" shooting when you have extra photographers hanging around. I'd be setting up a shot when someone would just wander up and start snapping the model, posing or not. I'd turn around to change my memory card and someone would tell the model to move someplace else. Or models would be changing or just trying to relax for a couple minutes and people would take shots without even getting an OK from the model. Obviously, you can't blame the models, who are in the bad position of trying to keep the photographers happy, and don't know who is scheduled with whom, so they just consent, figuring the photographers will work it out. I'd almost brought it up during the pre-shoot meeting everyone had, but figured that since there was actually a portfolio review to qualify to attend, that everyone would be professional about things.

The location was very cool, but the heat and the time of day made it tricky shooting in a lot of the places, as well as a few restrictions, and just the size of the crowd. But I guess the expenses required that many photographers to attend, so it was what it was. Today's location is a ranch out in the desert, and the forecast is hot again.

Still the models are great, and while I've been doing mainly nudes, the wardrobe, hair and make-up people have been doing some fantastic work despite the heat.

More good news... sunblock works, apart from running into your eyes. And it was such a dry heat that sweat and water evaporated quickly, so I stayed pretty comfortable throughout the day, although it was GREAT to come back to an air-conditioned hotel room...

The shot above is Chase again, who I'm sure was an L.A. Woman at one time.

California: The High Desert

Made it to LAX and LA with no problems. Discovered on the plane that the little leather part on the headrest isn't merely decorative... it adjusts up and down and the sides fold forward to cradle your head to help you sleep without your head lolling to one side. (How come the flight attendants don't demonstrate THAT before takeoff?) Despite being quite comfy in my exit row seat, didn't manage to get much sleep. I now have had almost two days to adjust to jet lag, so hopefully that won't present a problem.

The big problem will be the heat. They call this part of California "the high desert" evidently because you'd have to be high to live here in the summer. My friend Dave was trying to reassure me "oh, it'll be a little cooler because it's the high desert, rather than the low desert... well, the low desert is Death Valley." It's almost 8am and the weather now would be perfect if it lasted all day, but the high is supposed to get up to 105 or so... maybe the workshop should have started at dawn, but instead actual shooting won't commence until 10:30 and go until about 5:00 for peak brain-frying efficiency.

Sat next to Lori, the event organizer, at dinner last night, and she admitted she wasn't thinking about the heat when she set it up. I guess if you've lived in California for a while, it's just something you deal with. It was good hanging out with her, three of the other photographers, a couple of the stylists, and one of the models. Just met a couple other photographers down at the hotel breakfast thing, and so far it seems like a good crowd. Just hope I can keep my mental focus through the day on what *I* am doing instead of what's going on around me.

Went to Target after dinner last night and stocked up on some "heat beating" tools that might help a bit, including a soft-side cooler that can double as an auxilliary camera bag... large enough to hold an extra lens or two, memory cards, a towel, a bottle of water, a couple ice packs. A LOT better than carrying my regular case that's loaded with "just in case" stuff I probably won't use, so that will stay in the car or "home base."

So, despite all this bitching, I AM excited to see what the day has in store. Looking forward to seeing the location and seeing what instruction is offered and working with the models and hopefully getting good stuff... wish me luck!

The shot at top is Chase from Florida... it reminded me of the desert for some reason...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicago Connection

Chitown... City of the Big Shoulders, Meatpacker to the World, whatever that meant at one time. Have a longer connection here than I thought, but I dimly remember booking the earlier flight out of Dayton just to give myself a little more time to make the connection. My luck at O'Hare last time was just dreadful, but so far, so good. My connecting gate was quite nearby, so no trams or moving sidewalks or "sliding doo" required. Found a Chili's to grab a bite, but wi-fi is $6.95, so I'll just do the old compose offline, upload later trick. Speaking of Chicago, the top photo is another of Sara Swa, one of Chicago's outstanding models.

Blog readership seems to be off here somewhat since Candy Poses and Orixx both shut down their blogs. Had a nice spike with the front page features, but I've been replaced there by Stephan De Lay, which is something of an honor unto itself. (On edit: Orixx will be reinstating her blog on a private basis... if you were a regular reader, contact her for an invitation.) Both Orixx and Candy have said they're getting out of the modeling game, and will be limiting themselves to very select projects with established contacts... sad to see these two wonderful models "retiring" but I understand the decision and I wish them the best in their future pursuits.

Chicago is also the "birthplace" of Playboy Magazine, and coincidentally, a couple models I've worked with are on newsstands now. Congratulations to Heather, the singer/model featured in the sidebar at left. She popped up in the July Playboy "Grapevine" section in a shot by DK... I haven't seen it yet, but I imagine that will give her music and modeling careers a boost.

Another model I've shot, Destiny, also has a photo in the June/July Playboy "Lingerie" Special Edition -- the Special Editions are the photo-only magazines they put out for those who REALLY have no interest in "reading Playboy for the articles." Destiny is in the "Casting Call Ft. Lauderdale" feature in the back of the book, looking good. Maybe she'll get a full feature soon as a result. Keep hoping to find a time to work with her on one of her trips back to Ohio, but it never pans out. Congrats to both Destiny and Heather.

Well, the check is paid, the turkey sandwich is gone, the tryptophan is kicking in, so I'd best get to the gate and get on my plane. Hoping to be able to nap for most of the five hours and frighten the rest of the passengers with my demonic snoring. Sounds like a bad Stephen King plot... next report: LA!

Come Fly with Me

First things first... these shots are Starlitt, not your average auto parts store employee. I had the good fortune to shoot with her during the Chicago trip a while back, with a really excellent location to enhance things. At the time, the landlords were trying to "upscale" the location, so would probably prohibit photography in the common areas and empty space, so I'm lucky to have gotten in under the wire. Star was a hoot to shoot, and game for my various ideas, including climbing into treacherous spaces and getting dirty as one only can in ancient warehouse space. She was even willing to pour gasoline onto a radiator... well, at least pretend to. Debated adding faux flames to this one, and may yet, but for now the potential for flames works for me.

At last report, Frank Sinatra remains dead, while Larry King still roams the earth. Where is the justice?

Sitting in the Dayton Airport, enjoying the luxury of free wi-fi, despite the block placed on -- I was hoping to catch up on those e-mails. Waiting to board the puddle jumper to Chicago, then onto LAX. My friend Dave gave me the secret route from the airport, avoiding the freeways, which I will attempt to do for the duration of my visit. The workshop is a fantastic opportunity to work with some world-class models in some outstanding locations -- I need to leave my stress and anxiety here on the ground in Ohio and arrive in LA with a Zen mind, ready to make the most of the trip while still just being in the moment and go with the flow.


In addition to the workshop, I'm scheduled to work with a couple of amazing models in LA on Monday, with some help from my new friend/location scout/concierge, Lizzy, sister of the renowned A. Owen Layne. Ask for them by name.

Flying with my "old school" iBook that's about 7 years old rather than my slightly less ancient one which has mysteriously disappeared... this is one of the first post-toilet-seat models. Could not install Lightroom because it's not up to specs, could not install Photoshop, so it's basically just good for surfing and e-mail. I'm guessing I'll be the only photographer there without a spiffy high-end laptop, editing images on the spot. Perhaps I can rely upon the kindness of strangers to edit one or two images. Or the shots will join the queue back in Ohio. To go with my lappy is the equally, uh, utilitarian case,.. half of a padded envelope that fits like a glove. At least it's the same sort of scruffy, scratched white as the iBook. Maybe I'll start a trend.

The recorded voice just told me that the HSA Security threat level is "Orange" which as I recall, it has been for almost 7 years. What's the point of this color-coded system if the color never changes? The paranoia is becoming really tiresome... ended up going to the store at about 12:30 last night in search of tiny bottles of sunblock and aloe, but no luck. Hard to believe we crow about being the strongest country in the world, yet we're afraid a 4-ounce bottle of Coppertone could result in tragedy.

Something just occurred to me about this free wi-fi... I wonder if TSA monitors what's going across the wireless wire?

Well, things are starting to get busier here at gate B18, so I think we must be about ready to start boarding... a few large men in black suits and sunglasses are approaching me, so I should probably go ahead and hit "publish post."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More random notes...

Kate -- the shots here are of a lovely new model working under a couple different names, so I'll just call her Kate. Quite a few nice shots from this recently edited set, so look for more soon.

Erotic Art of Today -- just got word that the oh-so-modestly titled "The World's Greatest Erotic Art of Today - Volume II" is now shipping, and my complimentary copy will be on its way to me soon. I was considering buying a supply to make signed copies available, but the logistics just aren't going to work out. If you're interested in getting an unsigned copy, please click these links: Vol. II - Hardcover ($32.97+shipping), or Vol. II - Softcover ($23.07+shipping). Again, this book features my "Cruel Shoes" shot of Iris as well as photos and art from many talented people from around the world. As was pointed out elsewhere, the work was selected from those who paid to enter the competition, but nevertheless, the competition was quite strong, with many well-known artists taking part, and many beautiful pieces not making the final cut. "The World's Greatest" part of the title seems a bit grandiose... simply calling it "Erotic Art of Today" would sit better with me.

No time to blog -- technically, I should NOT be doing this. Have a ton of stuff to take care of before heading out to LA this weekend for what should be an amazing workshop and a couple of other fantastic shoot opportunities. Going to get the full coverage on the rental car, too, you betcha. Hope to be able to report in from the road, but who knows?

Pitch a Fit -- speaking of cars, as you may have heard, I'm shopping again. I'm seriously considering a Honda Fit, their peppy little hatchbackish thing. I have driven one, and I actually fit in the Fit. I've never bought a "new" car before, but it might be time, rather than spending a lot of time trying to find something and rolling the dice on its reliability. While it's small, it's smartly designed, so should make it easy to haul stuff around to shoots if needed. But if anyone else out there has recommendations for something in the same (or lower) price range, especially something that might be available used, be sure to let me know.

Passed -- Dancer and actress Cyd Charisse passed away just recently. Probably best-known for her "Broadway Ballet" scene with Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" she had about the best legs ever, once insured for $5 million. Check 'em out. Seems there's been a lot of celebrity deaths lately, but I guess there always are.

Bo Diddley is certainly someone I expected to live forever.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ki$$ and Make-Up

Saw an interesting item online this morning... SG vs. Lithium Picnic lawsuit settled. I guess I am, for one, among those who believed the line that this was an important "freedom of expression" and "rights of the artist" sort of issue. So, I contributed a bit here and there, and posted a link for a while.

But in summary, it appears that after railing about $uicide Girls being the embodiment of evil and oppression, LP has struck a deal with them to do more work for them, reinstate a lot of his old work, and he's now touting memberships thru his affiliate link to help cover "legal costs" associated with the case.

So, what the hell? I became an SG affiliate. If it's good enough for LP, it's good enough for me. Click here or the banner below and join to help me recover the cost of what I contributed to the LP Defense Fund. You'll see lots of naked women from all over the world, many with tattoos and piercings, if that's your style. - Pin-Up Punk Rock and Goth Girls

My photo is "Infamy" from a set she asked me to shoot for SG a couple years ago, but I don't believe she ever actually submitted. Probably for the best.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random Rants

Item: Feeling lucky? Friday, June 13 from 5-10pm stop by to visit the "Artists of Front Street" space at 411A East Fifth Street in Dayton's Oregon District, next to Ned Pepper's. Dave Levingston will be there for part of the evening, and I'm planning to make an appearance a little later in the evening. Dave and I have photos on display among a variety of other artist's work. Stop by, take a look around, and spend that Economic Stimulus Check that's been burning a hole in your pocket.

Item: Enron Redux? Been hearing reports that the high price of oil has very little to do with the cost of production, but the price is being manipulated by speculators who are keeping plenty of available oil off the market, waiting for prices to rise before they sell, even to the point of taking physical delivery of the oil and storing it. This is the exact same thing that Enron did that resulted in the obscene electric prices and "rolling blackouts" in California -- artificial shortages to justify price gouging. In 2001, oil was about $28 per barrel, adjusted for inflation. Today, it's $140 a barrel, with $200 predicted for 2009. Is there a shortage? No... look at any gas station. Is domestic demand rising? Not substantially. The prices are simply being manipulated, Enron style, due to Republican-induced loopholes in the law. The Farm Bill that Bush so vehemently opposes is said to contain a provision that would close the loophole and rein in the speculators, which could be the real reason he's so opposed. (Removes tinfoil hat.)

Item: Exxon out? News was out today that Exxon will be getting out of the retail gasoline business very soon, shifting the ownership to distributors. Why? Well, there's no money in it. My mechanic, who pulled his gas pumps last year, explained the math to me. An independent station like his has to buy a truckload of gas and pay close to $40,000 in cash up front, and if the price stays stable, he might make $800 on his $40,000 investment. If the price goes down, he loses, if the price goes up a lot, he may make a little more, but it's simply not worth the risk and tying up cash. The tanks had to come out because they have to be insured and for environmental reasons, and he spent nearly $70,000 getting OUT of the gas pumping business. Of course, I imagine Exxon-owned stations were more profitable, but considering how much they can make on delivering the tanker to the station, operating the station must be more bother than it's worth.

Item: Fair Weather The semi-annual Yellow Springs Street Fair will be going on Saturday, June 14, from 9-5 or so. Food, arts, crafts, social causes, and random stuff will fill the main street of this sleepy little town, and it's always good for people watching, too. I shot these two entrepreneurs revolutionaries almost 3 years ago at the Fair. Should be good weather, so I'll probably go out and start getting used to sun and heat, just in case that kind of thing would be handy at some poing in the near future. One of these years, I'm going to get organized and set up a booth at the fair and try to sell some prints and books and stuff.

The model photos are Sara Swa shot during my Chicago trip. She was great to work with, and is definitely on my list of reasons to return to Chicago. More from her soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Musings on Danaid

Got a nice surprise the other morning when I saw that has again featured one of my shots as the main image on their website, giving prominent credit to the model, Danaid. I'm sure it was more about featuring her than me (just based on the size of the type) but I would totally support that decision, as she's an outstanding model who's made me look good whenever we've worked together.

She's a trained artist with quite a bit of experience with sculpture, which she is able to translate into her modeling -- she is especially a fan of Rodin (hence the name Danaid) and she reflects his unabashed sensibilities when she poses. I first met her at a Collingwood group shoot where we immediately hit it off and seemed to speak the same language. A true art model, she has no real interest in fashion or glamour work, but instead is more intent on form and line, light and shadow, texture and sensuality. She's going back to school to pursue her MFA, and sadly, some changes in her personal life have pretty much put a halt to her modeling, but we do keep in touch, and I do maintain hope that we'll get to work together again at some point.

So, for all the visitors, here's a collection of some of my work with Danaid. Enjoy responsibly.

And Danaid, thanks for everything, and for making me look good.

For the English version of the original NuExpo feature, check the comments on this entry.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A vote for change we can believe in...

Model Carlotta Champagne has been in numerous Playboy "Special Editions" and appeared on their website, but now she's looking to achieve Playmate status, and you can help her out... Visit her page on the Playmate search, and cast your vote!

I've had the pleasure of working with Carly a couple of times... it was interesting going for dinner after the shoot with somebody who was wearing a Playboy jacket who was ACTUALLY associated with Playboy, instead of just buying something at the mall.

Friday, June 6, 2008

An "exerview" with McCain

Over on Mom Smells Like Vodka, the always brilliant Lara has assembled an "exerview" of John McCain (as opposed to an interview) comprised of his actual responses to legitimate interview or "town hall" questions. It's more than a little frightening to think he's the best the Republican Party has to offer.

Ordered some yard signs from today... one for my yard, one for my dad's yard, and a replacement for when one or the other gets slashed, burned, stolen or otherwise defaced by one of the pinheads who leaves Klan literature in my driveway every MLK day.

Angel on a rainy night

Some of the highlights from my shoot with Angel on a cold and rainy night a few weeks back. We had our first shoot last year, which was one of her first modeling shoots, and we were both quite pleased with the results. She's since started doing more modeling with area photographers and attending group shoots to diversify her portfolio, and seems to be having a great time doing it. She's trained as a dancer, which translates into a strong ability to pose and be aware of what her body is doing when she's posing.

She'd been sort of fascinated by the rain that was falling for the duration of the shoot, so I just decided we should go out and do a few shots in the rain. Afterward, we did the wet hair shots in the studio, which are probably my favorites of the night. Thanks Angel for the shoot, braving public nudity in the rain, and for your patience. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kick out the Jams

Over on the Detroit Jam Sessions blog, I'll be posting a selection of images from each of the four models I shot that weekend. The first ones of Vassanta went up today, with the other models to follow on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so stop by often to check 'em out.

And I couldn't make a post with this title without a nod to Detroit's own MC5 (Motor City 5) performing their signature song, "Kick out the Jams."

And here's a spirited cover by the crazed Seattle band, The Presidents of the United States...