Hunting Wabbits

Heheheheheheh.

I like to stalk big game, and there is no bigger game than other photographers at car shows. Particularly the professional ones.

It can be dangerous sport. You get a person who has been up for 27 of the last 24 hours carrying a tripod, two cameras, three flashes, and a half-eaten sesame seed health bar and you’ve got a wounded creature. No knowing which way they’ll break and when they charge it is all over in a flash. Either they savage you or they fall over and go to sleep.

This car show I found two of them in the wild; John and Brad. Brad was focussing his Canon so hard on the general crowd he didn’t even notice when I took $ 20 out of his pocket. He’d been going at it pretty solid for days in an effort to get all the cars covered for publication. I hope he wasn’t counting on that $ 20 for food.

John, on the other hand, was easier to find as he had girls around him. I think he had them in tow for artistic purposes. The first stand I saw him swoop on was the Japanese Mooneyes exhibitors. They were bemused but took it in stride. Next time they’ll be faster to scramble out of the way.

As there were more girls – a lot more girls – in the pin-up and promotion business at the show I’ll bet he was busy for the rest of the day.

The smaller game – the amateur shooters who were trying to get the cars on their DSLR, mirror-less, and compact cameras – I left alone. They were doing their best to cope with the crowds* and the light but very few of them were making the most of their opportunities ( apart from the scrum around John with the girls ). Most failed to use flash even if they had it as pop-up on their cameras and I am willing to bet 99% of them had the cameras set on Auto or P. I hope their chosen manufacturer had a provision in the cameras to run a high enough ISO to succeed.

The mobile phone shooters added unsteadiness to all the other handicaps that small camera users face. But that is alright because most of them will lose the images they take when they drop or lose their phones. It is just passing pixels.

Note: I am actually very grateful to John – a friend – who gets me in to the hot rod show as one of his photo team. I never stalk him when he is seriously busy or seriously stressed. I do not take money from his pocket because there is none in there.

*   I cope with crowds by finding the position I need for the car shot, then setting all the controls, framing the shot, and smiling sweetly. If you stand there long enough smiling even the hardiest crowd gets nervous and goes away.

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Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.

Pinup For Pinups

Pinup photography has certainly taken off in the last decade here in Perth – I suppose to some extent it has paralleled the growth of the burlesque scene. Perhaps it draws from this as much as it compliments it.

There are a number of fixed studios that cater to the pinup lens as well as a bevy of talented out workers. When they get together with the burlesque artists to run workshops and photo shoots there is a chance for ladies to try a form of visual fantasy that can be utterly charming.

I noted one such a collaboration between a photographer that I worked with in the Camera Electronic shop – Jennifer Villalobos – and one of the award-winning burlesque artists – Miss Lady Lace. Jen handed me one of their flyers for upcoming workshops in 2018 that will set the students in kitchens, tropical settings, at high tea, and in a giant martini glass.. Not all on the same day, I hasten to add…

I wish them all the success in the world – I’ve seen the results from Jen and Miss Lace and they are everything that modern pinup should be. Apparently the prices for the workshops are also pretty darn reasonable.

This sort of thing is very encouraging for the art – far more so than the ” contests ” that circulated a few years ago from the eastern states. They seemed to be ventures designed to harvest money from hopefuls, and I talked to a number of ladies who became quite disillusioned with them. The simple local pinup workshop is a far happier and more straightforward thing. If it whets the appetite of the artist, they can go on to bigger and better things.

My pinups in the Little Studio are also fun – no big martini glasses, but I can do a pretty good line in hot rods…

Plain Jane…

When I was doing private study for photography…well, to make that a little clearer, when I was teaching myself photography by buying magazines and books and going to art galleries to look at photographs…I encountered some iconic images. We all did – Capa’s work, Steichen’s work, Brady’s work, etc, etc. They were all great and good, and wonderful to look at. Occasionally I found great work that was unpleasant to look at – Penn’ s immaculately rendered cigarette butts and rubbish comes to mind. A lot of the photography of the 70’s as well …and a lot of the horrible images were mine. Fortunately no-one ever saw them and if I can trust my rotten processing of the era, they may disappear.

All this is a preamble to say that there are good subjects and bad subjects, as well as the treatment of them. I have had the great good fortune to be introduced to a very good subject during these last ten years – Jane Hebiton Tassell. Here are some of the images that have been generated.

I say generated, because they are all studio shots. Some in the film era, some in the digital, they all bear three stamps; Elinchrom lighting, my imagination, and the skill of a lovely model. Actually, I must be candid – a lot of them are the imagination of the model. I started out thinking that I had all the ideas but I soon discovered that Jane had ones that were better.

That’s the advantage for photographers of getting the help of a professional model. They have control of their body and features and the theatrical skill to portray what they are asked. And a great deal of humour and patience.

I am grateful.

Say Mwah! C’est Moi…

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Have you ever met an Amazon? Or a chameleon? I have. Right in my studio.

I proposed to make this year’s mini exhibition for our local Middle Eastern Dance conference on the subject of Amazons. I’ve been doing this for years and we’ve had such diverse themes as Art Deco, Notorious Women, and Hot Rod Honeys. Why not Amazons? The call went out and the more adventurous of the sorority responded.

None more so than Sally. The original advertisement gave people the bare bones of the idea and invited the participants to contrive their own version of an Amazon. Some were armed, some were fierce, but no-one was quite as imaginative as Sally. Because she saw herself as Miss Piggy.

Anyone who remembers the Muppet Show knows Miss Piggy – Kermit the Frog’s lady love. She was said to have been patterned after Sally Kellerman or Loretta Swit. Or they may have been patterned after her…I don’t know. I suspect she will be in the public’s eye and affection long after the two actresses anyway – if only for her dress sense and characteristic temper.

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I am happy to say that when Miss Piggy visited the Little Studio she was in a good mood. She was dressed in her favourite hot coral number with complementary shoes and gloves. I admired her pearls – apparently she knows an oyster who can get them for her wholesale. The heels looked little precarious but Miss Piggy is a skilled karaticist and never faltered – plus I think that anyone she hit with them would be much the worse for wear.

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Well, photographing an international superstar is a glorious experience. And it is a lot easier than you would think. You see, stars like Miss Piggy know how to move – how to pose. They know their best sides and their best features and if you just give them light and space…and a cocktail or eight…they can bring out the whole entertainment experience right before you. All you have to do is press the button and there it is.

Well, you can see how successful it all proved to be. Miss Piggy was able to bring a small amphibian with her as well – I was going to ask how she got him but then I got nervous because she might have told me. And I am not sure I am ready for that sort of revelation. In any event he was a very good little frog and posed very well. I hope she gave him a jar of candied flies and mosquitos later…

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Note the last photo. The gentleman is named Tim and I think he is related to Miss Piggy and to the small frog. He has a patient look in his eyes…It will come in handy for the next photo shoot. He doesn’t know it yet, but the Little Studio has plans for him…

Retro-Trending Fashionista Guru Icon Mentor International Superstar Ambassador

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I have all the qualifications. A closet and a wardrobe full of old clothes.

The closet contains Secrets that would horrify Victoria. Like underwear that started off white but has become very colourful over time. And garments that have lost their elasticity faster than I lost mine. Pairs of socks that would get you arrested in rural Mississippi. Tee shirts that are holier than thou…

DSCF0027The wardrobe has row upon row of fashion statements – statements such as ” No.”, “NO!!”, and “Get that thing away from me.”. There are garments still in use that were purchased so long ago that the factories where they were made have been pulled down. In some cases the cities where they were made have been left in ruins and in one case the entire country disappeared. Looking at the clothing makes me think it had something to do with the disaster.

We’ve all looked at fashion purchases that we’ve made and thought; ” What was I thinking?” in my case I just add a little punctuation and it comes out better; ” What? Was I Thinking?”. Every sight of these garments is a painful one – I see myself in the store and I see me inspecting myself in the shop mirror. Then I see me handing over money to the shop assistant and them doubling up over the counter laughing. Shop assistants in clothing stores have a peculiarly penetrating laugh.

And then I see myself cleaning, ironing, and storing this stuff for the last 40 years. And here is still is. Unworn, unwrinkled, and unwearable, and I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice all that horrible investment by throwing it out.

I know I have tried. God knows I have tried. I have put it in green garbage bags and lugged it to the Salvation Army and Goodwill bins after dark and shoved it in. And you kVictoria’s Secret, underwear, socksnow what happens?

A Salvation Army lassie turns up at my door and shoves it all back in. I am lucky if she doesn’t hit upside the head with her tambourine as she leaves.

The Proof Is In The Pooting

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Pardon the pun. I am under stress in a German small goods shop and it brings out the wurst in me…

Actually I ‘m not sure if I am having a bad time or a good time – the Little Studio computers have keeled over and are being rebuilt at a repair shop. I’m typing on a borrowed machine.

Many of the connectors on the side of it are foreign to my system and the cables that might be used to attach hard drives, scanners, and printers all seem to have plug ends that do not match. But I am getting to see what 8 years of design advancement has done for the Apple computers right under my fingers and have been able to achieve enough connections to get images onto the screen. Nothing like actual trials outside of a shop to see if something is really what the advertisements say it is.

I’m willing to believe Apple on the subject of their new Retina screen. Some of the images that have been up on the previous screens are up on this one and I suspect that they are sharper and brighter by a considerable margin. The reduction of number of connection ports and the sidelining of some of the ones that were standard before means that there would have to be some fancy adapter footwork to mate a new modern computer to the older ancillary devices. No-one I know is crazy/rich enough to be able to entirely bin the older system and start afresh – they would always have to be some carry-over.

The borrowed Macbook Pro also lets me see what the newest Photoshop and Lightroom programs are like to work with. Complex, I must say. Useful in that they decode the raw files from all my cameras, but several of the tools that are combined conveniently in Photoshop Elements are split up and horribly complicated. One seems to be missing, but I expect it has just been dismembered and the constituent processes given different names. If I do obtain a new computer system I think I will opt for the latest PSE and hope that the ACR is updated for the cameras.

One eye opener is the heat – this laptop is doing as much typing and editing as the older 17″ Macbook Pro but with no rise in temperature. If this level of performance is echoed throughout the new range it is a powerful incentive to go now and get new gear. The old one became red hot. Even the 21″ iMac needed an external fan playing on it at the height of summer.

The other real demonstration is the actual size of the screen – 13″ is convenient to carry about with you but it makes for a pretty sore back if you are leaning close to it to draw or type. Older eyes need bigger pictures. The least that would do is a 21″ screen and we’ll take a really close look at the 27″ option. Good to find this out under my normal room illumination rather than the careful chaos of the selling floor in an Apple shop.

More news as the situation develops – the blog will advance but not quite as well-decorated as I had planned. No images were lost in the crash of the hard drives so you’ll get to see the cars and the pinups as per usual. Can’t print but that’s the least of my concerns.