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The Sole Prop's Sister?

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December 10, 2009

I Could Go
Thursday. Overcast, grey, more than a bit cold, thirty to forty percent chance of rain, highs in the high forties to low fifties. Still, looking at what they're going through in the mid-west and on the east coast, these conditions are bearable.

That's enough.

True, true. The attitude is good, the head is good and the movement is forward. We'll let the weather business take care of itself. We'll let the politics boil on the back burner. We'll take pictures today, even if only indoors and we'll think about things to do that will result in a better future. Doing the laundry comes to mind. A little dusting here and there. Loading another set of photographs into the digital picture frame. (Yes, I still retain some interest in the damned thing and haven't yet thrown it against a wall.) No more weather, let the people in Copenhagen debate, keep the lid on it here in Oakland.

You can deep six the “here in Oakland” as well.

Well we are, you know: Here in Oakland.

I bought some black long sleeved cotton turtleneck pullovers from Land's End that arrived yesterday. I have some more in brown on the way. The idea is to wear them with both the black and dark brown Halston jackets (bought in the '70's, used as a measure of how fat or thin I might be in any given year, written about to death here over these last several months) if only to wear in a photograph. The image of a turtleneck and velvet jacket is a bit effete for my more plebeian outlook - we're not adding any lacquered cigarette holders or ascots or such to the bundle - but it works as a marker, as a definition point for an imagined me.

Are we afraid someone will think we're in old gay blade regalia here?

I am a nice liberal (with certain exceptions) Oakland resident who champions all kinds of forgive and just forget about it attitudes and legal mechanisms, but there's still a certain uncomfortable quality in taking a camera, say, to someplace like the Folsom Street Fair. We're talking boys kissing boys here. Girls (Yes, I know, the correct term is women no matter their age.) kissing girls seems quite nice and allows for the occasional three-some if the mood is right and the lights are low.) Not something polite society is yet willing to comfortably discuss at the table but is getting there. Even some of us old folks.

More Warren Beatty than say Truman Capote, in other words.

Exactly. (Phew!) But anyway, back to the black turtleneck and jacket. An interesting combination to photograph, don't you think? I'm quite good at screwing up easier to shoot combinations, why not screw up less easy to shoot self portraits later today? I told you my mood is good. Unpacking a couple of strobes for the project is not unlike doing the laundry, it takes effort. And time. And much talking about it here. But it happens.

Later. The last two loads of laundry are due out of the drier in forty minutes and I've managed to set up two lights and a tripod and shoot some pictures. I tell myself it's good to shoot self portraits every now and then to get an accurate look at yourself, notice those ever so few blemishes and defects (so as not to get too swelled a head in public) and indeed, this session has served its purpose. That purpose. We have photographs in this cotton turtleneck thing, in the Halston jacket and in the Halston jacket and Borsalino hat. Now you know why I hesitate to go out on the street in my Borsalino. It's good to have one, a Borsalino, but, particularly after the famous photograph of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist, appeared in the papers, it's maybe not the way you want to be perceived unless your mood is a little quirky and you say the hell with it.

It might be better if you smiled in some of them.

Yeah. Maybe get a better background than the end of my living room with a framed print of Man Ray's Observatory Time lips sprouting out of my head. But these things can be refined. Better quality backgrounds are available. A nice big canvas hanging from the ceiling on a roller bracket would be nice. Not something you want to mention to your landlord, though. Attaching a twelve foot wide fixture to the ceiling isn't something they're looking for in a tenant. Would be my guess.

Still, another five pounds, another bottle of Old Wrinkle Gone, another this, another that and life will undoubtedly be swell. Swell next week, swell next month, swell next year. Might as well cut to the chase and bring that fish in this afternoon, have it for dinner. How was dinner? It was swell.

Later still. Alright, we are rolling. A walk down the way to the Madrid Café for a cup of coffee and three of the small chocolate muffins, a bus ride back, the walk in for the day, a sprightly walk I might add. One photograph on the way, a truck parked in a lot, the attendant wondering why I'd take a picture. Well, if you have to explain.... So. Another look at the self portraits taken this morning, bring another two into PhotoShop, see what they're like up close.

I've thought of actually teaching myself lighting rather than just talking about it. One of the modeling groups on the web have been running a series of pictures their photographer members have been posting and they're, well what? Really well lit. And the models are wearing really elaborate makeup done my people who know what they're doing and they're attractive and posing in interesting ways and all of the other things you can list and those are all good, but the lighting is what caught my attention.

I'm not sure I'd ever use lighting like that more than once or twice, but it's rather like technique for an artist. Your bent may well be painting post modern cubist pieces in the neo-French tradition, not a recognizable feature on the canvas, but it's best to have all the tools in your arsenal, have the chops to paint that Rembrandt-like, photo-like image if the urge should occur. A photographer enamored with out of focus black and white pictures of cats, for example, should know where the auto-focus button is located and when to turn the focus ring should an unannounced urge for sharpness come by.

You'll never do any of that.

Probably true. Well, I know where the auto-focus button is located. Maybe back up the December folder onto DVD later, though, keep this energy and feeling of well being up and running. It's only two, yet I already have miles behind me and, with this head of steam, there are miles yet I could go.

The photograph was taken of a performer at the farmer's market on Grand beside Highway 580 with a Nikon D3 mounted with a 135mm f 2.0 Nikkor DC lens at f 5.0 at 1/400th second, ISO 200.