Friday, June 30, 2006

Blurring the edges

This is Andrea, aka The Sad Alligator, from a group shoot last Halloween. It was one of my first times using a gadget known as the LensBaby II, and I'm not sure if it was beginner's luck or her particular combination of striking beauty, the pink hair, her wardrobe and her tattoos, but they are still among my favorite shots made with this unusual lens.

It's basically a single optic (like a magnifying glass) mounted on a flexible tube about an inch long. By pushing on the ring that holds the optic, one can selectively focus on just a small area of the subject. The area surrounding the point in focus takes on the dreamy/blurred quality visible here, and the effect gets more dramatic the more the lens is angled relative to the camera sensor. In some ways, it's a micro version of a view camera lens but with sort of the opposite objective. View camera users generally work to keep an entire plane in focus (such as the front of a building) and also shift the perspective, but that's another lecture. With LensBaby, generally the goal is to get the effect while keeping only a small part of the image sharp.

Anyway, for what it's worth, this image is unaltered from when it was shot, except for minor exposure/color correction (the lensbaby tends to throw a warm cast on images). Since it is so basic, almost primitive, it takes a certain amount of luck and/or persistence to get the effect and have the desired area in sharp focus. Looks sharp in the viewfinder, even on the camera LCD panel, but actually opening the file is anybody's guess.

I don't use it as much as I did when I first got it, but now and again, I'll pull it out and still I'm often pleased with the results. I'll probably use it a few times during the many shoots I have lined up for July. Stay tuned!

Great Minds?

In a case of "parallel development" or syncronicity or simply two photographers seeing something fairly obvious, I present today's image of Chrystyne, enjoying the racier bits of the Good Book in a Columbus motel room.

I bring it up because today in his excellent blog, Hotel Room Nudes, Don Nelson features a shot very much along these lines thematically. And coincidentally, also shot in a Columbus motel room.

I'm sure neither Don nor I were the first to have this notion, and while he took his trademark low-key approach, Chrystyne and I were going for something a little more retro with the harsher lighting and her Bettie Page wardrobe selection. But I thought I'd post this now so that there was no question that it's coincidence, not a knockoff.

Then again, I must acknowledge that Don's hotel room work sets the bar I've aspired to on the occasions I've shot in hotels. He was kind and patient enough to answer a number of my newbie questions before my first hotel shoot -- the trip that included the session with Candy mentioned a few days ago. His work continues to inspire me in more ways than one. Cheers Don!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Valiant effort

Here we see Sarah, a favorite of mine for obvious reasons. We might shoot this weekend, we might not, depending which way the wind blows. Cross your fingers...

Don't ask me why, with so much other stuff to do, I instead squandered time trying to spend the monthly upload allowance on my Flickr account. While I made a valiant effort, I didn't manage to use it up. They're pretty generous, actually. I did upload quite a lot of images, many of which haven't been on my other portfolio pages before. It's in no particular order... some of it's a little older -- from late 2005 or early this year. A lot of it is fashion/glamour type stuff rather than the art nudes everyone expects from me. One shot even goes back to my college days (hey Becky). See if you can figure out which ones are which. There may be a pop quiz.

And thanks to Dave Levingston for his kind comment on the last entry, as well as other generous gestures. In case you don't know Dave, he is pretty much the king of the outdoor nude, and does a lot of other incredible work. Hard to believe his space is maybe 50 yards from where I shoot... then again, his space is as big as all outdoors. As is his generosity and talent. Check his site, order his book, and offer him a drink should your paths ever cross.

Leap of faith

Just to show a bit of how things sometimes go at a shoot, here we have the energetic Sara risking life and limb while getting some serious air off the ladder. You can see a nice selection of shots from this session on my Flickr gallery... comments welcomed and encouraged there, too.

I think I'm looking to have my models do more physically in terms of motion, as well as more demanding posing, and want to start getting them a little wet and/or messy from time to time. Stay tuned.

And models, you've been warned. ;)

BTW, my sister is in town for the next week, so blogging will taper off most likely for a while.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Sometimes in a photo blog, you post a picture just because you want to. This is a favorite of many favorites from a recent shoot with Charity, aka Sleep To Dream.

Abundance or Scarcity

Had a long IM chat with the ever-popular Lindsay (smiling here) this afternoon regarding several weighty matters I won't go into here. They've been rehashed ad nauseum in various online forums, but the discussion was triggered by a remark another photographer made to her: people should get (paid) exactly what they are worth. Believe it or not, that is controversial in this little subset of society.

Another point that came up though that I thought might be worth considering further. Before the internet and the ubiquitous "online gallery" and photo blogs and such, I ventured to guess that it used to be that an amateur photographer would be lucky to have 50 different people ever see his portfolio. Maybe friends and family visiting his home would see a framed print or two on the wall, some might receive them as gifts. If he was ambitious, work might be shown at a local camera club meeting and be seen by a dozen or so members. If he was quite fortunate, there might be a local gallery show or contest and a few hundred people might see the photographer's two or three most outstanding pieces of work. Then there were the lucky few who would get work published someplace, but that was a long-shot at best, especially for the guy processing film and making prints in the lab in his basement or bathroom -- once or twice a month if he was lucky.

Contrast that with today. According to the counter, my OMP portfolio has been viewed over 22,000 times in seven months, and I have about 200 images there. Add a few thousand for my Model Mayhem, a few hundred for other online venues, and that's a pretty substantial number of people who have seen my photographs... roughly the circulation of some magazines even. And I'm small potatoes, basically. And I'm one of nearly 200,000 photographers on OMP, with thousands more spread out over other sites.

Add to that, I have my images on the portfolios of 2 or 3 dozen different models. For instance Amber (the smokin' model from the previous entry) has nearly 615,000 views of her OMP page -- many of those no doubt repeat visitors. But, it's feasible to think that as many as a million different people have seen one of my images, however briefly, on one of these sites.

It brings to mind the old notion that "more people will see a losing contestant on tonight's Jeopardy! than saw Sarah Bernhardt in her entire career." (Sarah Bernhardt being a famed stage actress before the days of TV and movie crossover.) Who knows? By that logic, it could be that more people have seen one of my images on their computer screen than have seen an actual Edward Weston print in the flesh. It also brings to mind the idea posited by Andy Warhol: "In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes."

So, what's the effect of this abundance of exposure? Discuss...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Habit forming

It seems that blogging needs to become a habit in order for it to be worthwhile at all. I guess the argument could be made that one should blog only when one has something to say. But on the other hand, I'm sure there are a million blogs that started with good intentions, and petered out after a couple weeks. I've been guilty of a couple of those myself. I'd like to try to keep this one going though, so may just post for the sake of posting to amuse the handful of visitors this seems to get, mainly spilling over from Candy's blog. Maybe it will become a habit, like Amber's smoking.

If you have read these entries, or just looked at the pictures, be sure to say "Yo!" or something in the comments section. Do you like today's image, dislike, disapprove of hot models smoking cigarettes in photos? Let me know!

Monday, June 26, 2006


For some reason, feeling rather odd and disconnected today. Maybe lack of sleep, maybe stress, maybe just allergies. Since I don't have much to say, I'll attempt to disctract you with this shot of the lovely Alicia, where we tried to do something a little more "Playboy" style with rather limited resources. I really like how it turned out, and with all the "artistic" work she and I have done recently, sometimes I forget how pretty her smile is. Look for more from this shoot soon.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Nothing's sweeter than Candy

Received a nice little blog site tribute from one of my models, Candy. She recounts that our shoot was her first time shooting nude (apart from with boyfriends), and that she found the experience positive enough that she felt confident persuing more nude modeling. Now it seems she has a hard time staying clothed before the camera -- lucky for us.

Last November, I'd actually booked a shoot with a fairly high-profile LA model who was temporarily staying in the DC area, and decided to book a few other shoots to make the most of the trip. I had two nice, but fairly uninspired shoots on Friday, and Saturday the model I'd travelled to shoot with flaked on me, including keeping my deposit money, so I'd wasted the entire day, and it felt like the trip was going to be a complete waste of time. Luckily, Candy showed up on Sunday morning for our shoot and saved the day...and the trip.

I don't know if she realized it at the time, or even now, but she was among the first nude subjects I'd worked with, too -- as I recall, maybe the fourth or fifth for me, so I was a bit nervous myself. She was also basically the first model to approach me wanting a "concept" for a shoot -- she had collected dozens of Rx bottles of various sizes and types, so we decided to create something of a total debauch. The girl with the blood red hair in fishnets, heels, lingerie (at least for a few) splayed across the hotel bed surrounded by pills and bottles. Looks like a cross between a drug orgy and a suicide attempt. If I had it to do over again, I might throw in an empty vodka or Jack Daniels bottle to complete the effect, and maybe made her look a little less perfectly beautiful, but I still think we achieved the desired effect.

Sadly, we didn't have a lot of time for the shoot, as I would have loved to explore some other ideas with her, and just do some artistic figure work with her. This shot just hints at the potential she's since unleashed as a figure model. I'm going to have to plan another trip back east to work with her again. So, thank you, Candy -- for the tribute, and for making that trip a success instead of a total write off.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Batting practice?

Another group shoot coming up, this time the "Lingerie Shoot" at the Camera Club on Sunday, featuring Megan (shown here from my shoot with her earlier this year) and Mechka (see my "Showcase" post below). Since I've done what I feel were successful studio shoots with both of them, it's strange that I still feel compelled to go to a "batting practice' type group shoot where I'll be lucky to emerge with 50 frames, and maybe a few decent shots that will be largely similar to shots done by the other 10 or 12 shooters in attendance.

The "batting practice" style group shoot is where the backdrop and lights are set by the organizer, the model steps onto the set, and the first photographer steps up, directs her for four or five poses/shots, then steps aside for the next photographer, etc. until each photographer has had a chance to shoot, then either another model steps in, or everyone waits for the wardrobe change. I'm not sure I'm wired for that setting -- it's not bad practice at model direction because you have very little time to get the model into different poses, but there's no time to "warm up' and establish any sort of rapport, and I don't like the idea of another photographer breathing down my neck to finish so he can take his cuts. I don't think I've gotten more than a handful of shots at these things that have been worth adding to my port even temporarily. And if I do manage to come up with an interesting approach or pose at the shoot, generally the next three guys in line mimic it, so any original thought is immediately compromised and copied.

But is there an original thought left when it comes to photography? I know a model whose signature image is her wearing a custom-made gas mask, and it's a striking image that has gained a lot of attention for her and the photographer. But I was flipping through an Edward Weston book of nudes from 75 years or so ago, and what's there? A nude model wearing a gas mask. Not one of his best known images, but it shows that the gas mask idea is not new or original, and may not even have been when Weston made the image back then. So it seems to me that originality in photography is more about execution of an idea in a distinctive and satisfying manner -- that's the best we can probably hope for. And maybe that's the challenge of attending the group shoot this take the circumstances that everyone else shares, and find a way to create something that stands apart from what everyone else does with it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Notorious Chrystyne

Just got through editing shots from a recent shoot with Chrystyne, aka "Disco Bitch" despite being very sweet and not noticeably disco. Less than ideal conditions (me, her and up to four other people in a tiny Red Roof room on a rainy Saturday) but we got some nice shots, including this playful little number. This was a paid shoot, and somehow she and I caused some brouhaha because she chose to do this shoot with me at the hotel over doing a couple free shoots at the group event later in the day -- a couple photographers saw it as a slight to their artistry and made some noise to that effect. To my mind, despite W's best efforts, this is still a free country and she can work with whomever she chooses, especially outside the confines of the group event. I didn't even know there was a controversy until a day or so before the shoot. So anyway, for that reason, for purposes of this blog she is "The Notorious Chrystyne." She's indicating that she'll submit some of the shots to a publication, so keep your fingers crossed for my first REAL magazine tearsheet.

This photo also brings to mind The Notorious Bettie Page -- the recent Bettie Page biopic, starring the astoundingly beautiful Gretchen Mol as Bettie. Saw it last week, and enjoyed it quite a bit, although there's not a whole lot of story to it. It was an interesting snapshot of the times when photos that are fun and tame by today's standards were scandalous to the point of holding Senate hearings. Sadly, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to the more repressed days of old. Now, if a broadcaster slips up and lets an 'f-bomb' get past the tape delay, or Janet Jackson gives the world another peek at her nipple, the fine will be up to $320,000 per incident, just recently increased tenfold. But, if you own a coal mine and choose to ignore safety standards and workers get killed, the fine is in the $10,000 - $25,000 range. So, the lives of all the miners who died in the Sago mine disaster earlier this year now add up to less than someone on live TV or radio saying the word 'fuck' -- what's that say about America and Republican values?

"They train boys to drop fire on people, but they won't allow them to write the word 'fuck' on an airplane because... it's obscene." -- Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

Sorry for the less than fun-filled tone of this entry. Back soon to the regularly scheduled frivolity. :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Big Picture

Someone posted a link to a free service that can make giant billboard-style images from any picture. It has the unfortunate name of Rasterbator but you just upload your image, set the dimensions, then download a PDF of letter size pages that you print and assemble to make a large image. I've just tried it with this image of the lovely Maria, so I'll print it out and put it together (hopefully tonight) and see how it turns out. (I chose this fairly light image in the interest of saving toner.) The website is worth visiting just to see some of the inventive ideas people have come up with for these ginormous prints. (Note: the process works on Safari for Mac, but oddly the gallery doesn't seem to.)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Well, got a nice surprise after doing the initial post... another one of my images received a "Showcase" on One Model Place. It's the one of Mechka shown here. Between images posted on my portfolio and images I've done that models have posted, this makes 10 showcases. I'm excited, but at the same time, trying to keep perspective. In case you're not familiar with them (and why would you be?), OMP Showcases are images chosen from the shots uploaded on a given day for special recognition. It's not all that exclusive... with hundreds of photographers adding thousands of images a day, they usually seem to showcase 20 or so a day. There's no prize that goes with it, but just a nice little "kudos" for a shot well done.

I've had something of a love/hate relationship with the whole "Showcase" thing since I joined OMP. For the first couple months, I was really fixated on doing a shot good enough to be showcased. My first one was of the lovely Amanda, and while I had told myself that the goal would be to get ONE showcase image, it was more like the "fatal glass of beer" and once I had one, I wanted more. I was fascinated by several photographers who seemed to be showcase machines, as if everything they posted won one. I've since learned that some of these photographers get them because they're just really really outstanding, and others are pretty good but also do everything they can to "game" the system. There are also reports of people receiving showcases on older images suspiciously close to the time their memberships are up for renewal. All in all though, I see it as a legitimate recognition, but I think now that I've hit 10, I can stop worrying so much about the showcases, and work more on expanding my "vocabulary" as a photographer.

Another Photo Blog Unleashed

I'm Gary, a photographer in Dayton, OH (I know, I know...) and I resumed my interest in photography about a year ago now. I'd taken photos since I was a kid with various levels of intensity, but the chance to do some casual portraits for two ex-girlfriends last July rekindled my interest in photography, and in the new (for me) direction of portraits, glamour, artistic, and even the odd venture into the erotic.

FWIW, I'm on OMP, MM, MySpace (where I could be blogging this, but here I can post nudes), etc. Check the little links up in the corner.

So, for now, I'll add an inaugural image of the lovely Amanda, who has helped me get several showcases on OMP -- hope you enjoy.