I was standing in the sea with the camera in a plastic bag as it was so sandblasty on the beach. The dogs were playing and just left the view when the girl looked up at me and smiled. The people in the background are packing up and that's a lifeguards stand you can see. There's something a little bit 'Botticelli' about the girl don't you think?
After being asked how I got this earthy effect a few times and seeing as I've not updated in a while I thought it might be good to purge! These days I'm into starting off with a fine stone effect texture. I make sure its BIG because this is the size you'll end up with, so if you're serious about saving your images to sell, its worth baring this in mind. I then drop the image or landscape in this case onto the texture. You'll need to duplicate your applied image a few times. Each one is clicked off whilst you play with one at a time, varying the opacity and filter effect. To finish, I add a faint silk texture, again playing with the filters. This helps pull out the contrast. Finally I always tweak the colours in CS, I like to up the yellow slightly, but not too much or you burn out the highlights.
To finish I had to cut out the girls face etc and drop it on top of her now very grungy, shaded body, then up the brightness and contrast and voila!
To get this effect you can download my famously popular 'sun on stone' or this texture from my 'grand textures' set. However its only just over 1500 pixels large at the moment; http://www.flickr.com/photos/63263430@N00/2220974786/in/set-72157603864272396/
"Its not the years, its the miles!" A 'me' moment at the end of our French revolution party. I made my own shirt, waistcoat and pants. Most other people hired costumes, I was too poor but, ahem, 'creative'. We are sitting on the stairs, as it was a basement flat. Its several years after college, whilst working in London. This is in 1989 for the French revolution 200th anniversary. Little did I know I'd end up over here! I was in with a crowd of law students. I even met my new girlfriend that night! Thats Rupert behind, wearing his court wig. He was a law student. He's now a London high court judge..(I expect he'd not like this going on the world wide web!) Or perhaps he would?
Just having a conversation about 'What is Marmite?' "Wow, you've never had Marmite?
Quite simply, its just a Victorian/Edwardian devised torture used to feed nursery kids. Mary Poppins would have served it to her charges as a savory toasted snack at 4.00 pm - tea time. Its made from a vegetable based yeast extract, originally invented by a beer brewery as a way of using the left over yeast by-product from their fermentation process Its really good for vegetarians because its provides all the B vitamins they don't acquire from their diet. Wikipedia says it is sold in the US. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmite You just put a tiny bit onto hot buttered toast, its very salty, so beware not to go mad if you try it. Its the best thing in the world to eat when you've been out clubbing, because it helps to lessen a hangover, next day. The lawyer girlfriend I met that night would 'try' to kiss me when she was eating it overloaded on toast, the vision of her large marmite coated teeth still haunts me to this day....o_O
Just before I moved to France, I gave away a professional light box, I've kicked myself ever since. So, I'd been pondering how to get another, cheaply, when I came across this new nest of three lamps on sale at Ikea.
They are just a few Euros or USD each, and the biggest one is around 14" high, perfect when turned on its side, with a cool energy saving light bulb inside, or it would be dangerous and could crack..
The illustration shows large glass antique negatives I'm viewing for the next Man Ray Contest. Its a real godsend when its dark and raining outside as holding negatives up to our gray winter light doesn't help.
I'm reading 'The Time Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger. Its not like most time travel stories, as this novel is character driven and doesn't rely on the usual science fiction angle. Its written from both the time traveler and his wife's perspective. I see its been made into a feature film and should be opening this winter, so I had to read it first. Another great little Time Traveling film, 'The Butterfly Effect', has already had a sequel made, but I've yet to see it. It also deals with the physical danger's inherent in jumping from one situation and climate to another, without clothes. Suggesting a kind of 'body carapace' is needed, as things like clothes just don't transmit. This is where my image comes into play. Ive made many versions, and frankly, even I was beginning to run out of time... I chose an ancient linear sundial rather than a clock face, the flocking autumnal birds support seasonal change and the telegraph poles to show kind of low tech communication.. I'd like to think that Hitchcock would approve!
This weekend I finally cracked, and have thrown in the towel with French TV. It was talking to Jill that did it, she's in New Zealand but seems to get everything that I was missing about England whilst living here in the south of France. I've been without the Sky box for several months, as I left the dish etc. at the old pile. We both love those foodie programs, those garden to kitchen bacchanalian visual feasts, Jamie Oliver pottering. O_O Not him, the Garden! Its stupid, but its those little things I miss, especially now that I no longer have the back yard..
So, getting on with the subject, I was on my roof, erecting the satellite dish, trying to get it high enough above the crumbling chimney to pick up the astra satellite signal from above the surrounding roof skyline. I had it up, loose, way above my head and was maneuvering it around, when horror of horrors, the whole thing shot down the metal pole, guillotine like, hitting me squarely on the brow and upper nose. Chop! Boy, did I see stars!
Visions of Rod Hull came to mind, the following night I even dreamed of him plummeting to the ground, wrestling with Emu, twisting, trying to land on the Emu's padded part, but Emu finally getting the last laugh! When I heard about the original accident, several years ago, I was doing faux finishing in a US lawyers apartment, next door to the British Museum in London's Bloomsbury. He saw the daytime news and said; "There's no fool like an old fool". I was freaked at the time because he was always a big treat to watch, attacking celebs, from way back and here I am several years on, doing the same, Yikes!
I guess 'Doing a Rod Hull' will unfortunately become quite popular over the coming winter. I've already heard that somebody I know has lost a million US dollars in investments. Thank goodness I laughed when they suggested putting your money in property wasn't 'an investment', its a typical stock market conceit to look down on all other forms of investment.
Now, when I walk the dog, I see people looking at my cut and bruised brow and nose, edging slightly away, and see them thinking; 'He's one of those bad boys, drinking and fighting on Saturday night and rolling in the Beziers gutters'. I've attained a kind of grudging respect with the local petty drug dealing youths, 'Yeah, one of da 'beauf'!
Thankfully, I lived to tell the tale, unlike poor Rod Hull who died on impact.
Oh, and yes, I now have all the UK channels I could ever wish to see.
When I start out with one of these animal's images I took a few months back from this provincial French museum, I think; "How can I help bring this poor stuffed antique creature back to life"? Most of them are well over 100 years old and looking quite sad and moth eaten. Some are so old that the original taxidermists had no real idea of how they looked in life. Those are around 200 years old, probably Napoleonic. The lions have the wrong shaped eyes, their stance and aspect are all wrong. Still, I'd rather have these antique figures as wrong as they are than a new kid on the block, that would be all wrong too, both morally and aesthetically. This little guy was with the Monkeys, I don't have a name but he is a mammal and not a rat, as I've affectionately called him. Martine called him simply; 'mon pauvre petit ' - 'Poor little thing'.
The story doesn't end, because just this morning, on flickr, in the pictures thread, I had this message from a fellow flickrite, Ian;
"Ah -it's an aye-aye. I think. Those fingers- they are really creepy. Wonderful and misunderstood nocturnal primates from Madagascar: "The Aye-aye is often viewed as a harbinger of evil and killed on sight. Others believe that should one point its long middle finger at you, you were condemned to death. Some say the appearance of an Aye-aye in a village predicts the death of a villager, and the only way to prevent this is to kill the Aye-aye. The Sakalava people go so far as to claim Aye-ayes sneak into houses through the thatched roofs and murder the sleeping occupants by using their middle finger to puncture the victim's aorta."
It's said, there are only five degrees of separation between everybody on the planet. Well, my humble connection with Darwin is quite straightforward. I once spent a couple of weeks in southern Italy at a friends house party with his great great grand daughter. She's a tall, slim amazon of a lady and handsome to boot! (I know that's an unfortunate choice of words) I vaguely knew her as a fellow artist through friends in North London. I have a strange picture of the party, all sitting gannet like, on the black volcanic rocks, below the villa, Miss Darwin at the top and the rest, ranged in their various social positions below her, all facing the same way, reading... Naturally I didn't even make the base of the rock, but was happy to record the moment from a lesser mound, across the way.. O happy days!
Strangely, in those days, Darwinism was never contradicted. Just as nobody would contradict his great great grand daughter. Everybody just accepted the fact that man came about through natural selection, survival of the fittest and all that..
Then we heard, just yesterday, on Sky News that natural selection had stopped, man is now to stand still or even, horror of horrors, go backwards.. Really, quite stupid. Didn't we hear a similar thing a few years back saying history had also stopped? (The following 9/11 outrage put the lid well and truly on that theory) If history had stopped, the banking system wouldn't now be in free fall. Iceland would still be a cool place to invest in and sea levels would be stable..
Which brings us back to Darwin and his beloved Galapagos islands, which are also under threat from mass tourism, as everybody wants to visit and 'crap' on the little volcanic rock landmass. If only everybody followed the backpackers maxim... "Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time". Darwin would be a very happy, great great grandfather!
Sometimes glass reflections are enough. I do get a bit peeved when people assume that everything one shoots is somehow a 'Photoshop creation'. Of late I've had several pictures up on flickr which were totally camera sourced. Not that I mind anything photoshoped. The 'Racing Dogs' magazine cover was shot whilst still at art College, Over twenty years ago! - Long before Computers had any real processing power.
This is just something I noticed today whilst passing a 'sort of' friends cafe; 'La Part des Anges', I say 'sort of' because he threatened to stab me once, just in jest, with a fork, when he ran the popular nearby restaurant, "Le petit Montmartre" I'd asked for a vegetarian Salad, " La Chevre Chaud" Which means; 'Hot goats cheese salad'. Naturally Chef's don't much like Vegetarians, we're nothing but trouble for them. He's a real Basil Faulty type and likes to surround himself with glamorous Parisian opera singers and famous actors who frequently perform within the red and gold rococo interior. But that's another story.. Well worth visiting!
This image is a straight photograph of the new tea rooms outdoor seating, as reflected in a derelict building's window opposite. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, when normally these outdoor chairs would be full, but today with the cold winds of economic change 'a blowing' Beziers city center seemed almost deserted.
Autumn arrived, with it came stormy skies and huge waves, though the sea is warmer now than during mid-summer! This mostly happens when we get the grec wind, or the 'mad wind' as the locals call it, because its so very warm and horribly humid. The sea current also changes from the west and we get the warmer sea current from the east. The bathers shown above were risking their lives because of a dangerous undercurrent. The danger multiplied because a thunderstorm was approaching with no available life guards! They close for the season on the 1st of September..
The image is an example of Holga camera photography following on from my last post. I believe anybody who's jaded by today's smooth, high quality digital photography might learn to love the photographic medium again by returning to basics, with a toy Holga or Diana camera and trying the wet process again. I continue to develop my own because, here in France, I was quoted 10 USD to develop the 120 film negatives only, with a waiting time of two weeks!
After a two week wait, I received my Holga camera's. Purchased from an Ebay store, the same place I'd already bought 120 B/W film stock. This shot was taken just because I loved the green packaging, on my winding stone staircase. Interestingly, before I saw these pictures, hadn't noticed those antique numeral markings on the steps rise behind the parcel..
The first Holga is the Classic 120 GN model, without a flash. The second is the wide angle pin hole camera. It takes about two sections of 120 film per shot. So, you only get about 6 shots per roll. Normally you'd get 12 square format shots.
You need to use the wide angle on a firm tripod, as the exposures are several seconds long. It also comes with a free remote cable release, to help stop those camera shakes. Although these cameras are called 'toys' I can vouch that the loading and unloading and even worse, the film developing are not for nervous types. As winding the floppy 120 film onto a developing spool in pitch darkness is tricky thing to master. Even more so after a glass or two of red wine...
Taking pictures with the 120 GN is very easy to master. My friend Jill warned me to remember to remove the lens cap first. Sound advice, though in practice, not so easy to remember. Next time, I'll remove the lens cap and leave it in the car. Then I cant put it back on by mistake. Always wind on after every shot, again easy to say, but in practice, hard to implement on location..
Choose subjects with a strong graphic quality, such as billboards, buildings and people. Fairgrounds are all the rage. Fair ground big wheel holga's have become a kind of background wallpaper on Flicker, so I'd shy away from them.
Finally, I recommend you take your normal dig camera with you, and try to duplicate any great shots, just in case you get a dud exposure. You can then try recreating a Holga effect in Photoshop!
After a long days photographic shoot in the Aude hills I saw this huge plume of smoke along the distant coastline. Naturally, I had to investigate and take pictures. People were pulling up all along the narrow country lanes, Staring up in awe. It was like something from a Ray Bradbury story, 'Rocket Summer'. Where the heat from Rocket plumes change an icy winter's day into a warm summer, albeit a short lived one.
Driving closer the plume, we could see it widening by the second, fanned by fast changing winds, it was the maritime pine forest burning along the Massif Fontfroide.
Eventually I came to a village called St Andre de Roquelongue, where a huge garrison of fire fighters were preparing to engage the fire. Red fire trucks were filling their water tanks outside the huge wine co-operative and leaving in groups of a dozen or so. A helicopter relayed information. It was a massive undertaking. Strangely, the country lane up to the fire wasn't blocked, so, I drove up, only to be turned back by a group of serious looking French police at at another junction. Before leaving I took a few more pictures, which I'll upload later.
Today, reading the local paper, I see that 130 hectares of Corbières maritime pine forest were consumed by the flames, along with two fire engines.
One hundred and thirty firefighters, six Canadair firefighting planes were employed plus two water planes and four trackers. It still burns, virulently. The cause, unknown.
I just had to stop the car on the edge of Beziers and capture this strange golden netting.
The sunflowers are normally planted after an old, spent vineyard has been grubbed up, as they have to plant other crops for 4 years or leave the fields fallow.
The netting is there because we get huge flocks of migratory Starlings that can and do strip a field in just a few hours.
The wine harvest has already started, mechanized grape picking machines will be working night and day for a few weeks, thus most grapes are already gone by the time the Starlings arrive. They do however, get the very sweet, over ripened grapes that are left on the vines, and boy do they love them!
This one was a hard one. Firstly its a redo of a simple image I made two years ago. I started this version last year and got bogged down with too many people facing the void! So, on re-discovering it just yesterday on my external hard drive, I could see with my fresh eyes that it needed a pruning, so, out came the other three people and in went the sky. Taken the other night from Beziers Bull ring.. after the fight, thankfully, but they had left their iron doors open, and it was a lovely moonlit sky.. Fitting really, after the modern day pagan horrors!
Whilst having lunch this weekend, Martine and I talked to the owner of this little outdoor restaurant in Capestang.
She was telling us about a particular visit to a mutual friends chateau swimming pool. She'd fallen asleep under the shade of trees at the edge of the pool, but was surprised on awakening, to see a clump of leaves she'd not noticed floating on the surface that seemed to have come from no-where, so, being the good visitor she got out the pool skimmer and started skimming the leaves.
Suddenly, a huge wasp stung her on the cheek, it must have been drinking from a floating leaf and was pissed off at being disturbed. Her attacker continued her assault (she called her a she) buzzing around her face and so she put a towel over her head and ran up the steps to the chateau doors. The maid answered and let her in, thus locking the still angry she-devil outside.
The maid shrieked when she saw our victims face, which was by now hugely swollen. Our friend then decided that it was probably a good time to depart, through the back doors. She mounted her bicycle and headed for home, unfortunately she could no longer see clearly as her eyes were streaming and so she failed to see a rock along the drive which she hit, causing her to unbalance her bike into the deep drainage ditch full of very spiky brambles.
She eventually managed to get out, but her arm was now bleeding badly as she'd cut a blood vessel which was spurting blood down her arm, so she kept flicking her hand to be rid of the blood, unfortunately thus occupied, not seeing a low branch, struck her just above the eye, swiping her off the bike, yet again!
Then, whilst freewheeling down into the village, she managed to swallow a fly..
Upon finally entering her village she saw a circus sign saying they were opening that same night, so, she ran to her house and locked the high iron garden gates behind her, her neighbors, also in their front garden noticed her state and all the blood and asked what was wrong? She said, "If the Circus lions escape today, it will be me they will be eating"!
We used to live under the low flightpath of the Concord aircraft in the south and afterwards in north London. I suppose we were just lucky..
This image is inspired by several things, firstly the German art house film by Wim Wenders; "Wings of Desire" In the opening scenes the recording angel, played by Bruno Ganz, stands sentinel like on a broken spire of Berlin church ruin looking down upon human life.
Children passing, notice him but not the adults. A baby in a pram looks up at a passing aircraft. We are then inside the aircraft with the angel listening to various passengers thoughts. He smiles at a child. Moments later we drift through gray European clouds, back to the black stained walls of the ruined city, the story continues..
The other element arrived when I heard about the airline company who were proved to be responsible for their metal aircraft parts being left on the Paris airstrip, are being sued by the German families of the victims who perished in the Concord disaster.
Bullfighting season arrives.. Its here again, high summer and the onset of the bullfighting in our local area. I'm famous for my outspoken anti-bullfighting beliefs, so, I'll not bang on about it here.
This huge, permanent Ferier ad is on the Narbonne hill overlooking that stormy valley. I just snapped this whilst driving past other day, through the windscreen. I'm not too sure about the cross and the heart, but I like to think its a Christian anti-bullfighting symbol?
I've been so Baad! I went and bought another camera in the local outdoor flea market, its A Rolleiflex! The guy wanted 350 euros but I played it cool, though I was bursting to buy it in reality, I'm sure my eyes were as big as plates! O_O
After he told me the price I put it down and started looking at his little lens parts for sale, just to show my interest had moved on.. He then asked me; "Well, what do you think about the Rolleiflex?" I just said, dismissively, "Too Much" He came right back and asked; "Well, what were you thinking? I said "200euros", He thought about it and said; "280"? I came back with 250e, the original price I was willing to pay and he said; "Yes, its a deal", Voila, both happy!
So now after seeing the quality of the image on the frosted glass, I have to say it was worth every penny. I later found out on the net that this is a pre-war model made between 1934-1938 It has a great Carl Zeiss lens and in its original leather case.
I've yet to use it as I need to find a users manual. "Hints?"
Whilst visiting Montpellier, here in the south of France yesterday, I came across a huge Weegee exhibition at the Pavilion. Inside they have a mock-up of Weegee's famous car boot developing studio!
For more info, here's a short history from the net:
Fellig's nickname was a phonetic rendering of Ouija, due to his frequent arrival at scenes only minutes after crimes, fires or other emergencies were reported to authorities. He is said to have named himself Weegee
He is best known as a candid news photographer whose stark black-and-white shots documented street life in New York City. Weegee's photos of crime scenes, car-wreck victims in pools of their own blood, overcrowded urban beaches and various grotesques are still shocking .
He maintained a complete darkroom in the trunk of his car, to expedite getting his free-lance product to the newspapers. Weegee worked mostly at night; he listened closely to broadcasts and often beat authorities to the scene.
He had no formal photographic training but was a self-taught photographer and relentless self-promoter. He is sometimes said not to have had any knowledge of the New York art photography scene; but in 1943 the Museum of Modern Art included several of his photos in an exhibition. He was later included in another MoMA show organized by Edward Steichen, and he lectured at the New School for Social Research. He also undertook advertising and editorial assignments for Life and Vogue magazines, among others.
His acclaimed first book collection of photographs, Naked City (1945), became the inspiration for a major 1948 movie The Naked City, and later the title of a naturalistic television police drama series and a band led by the New York experimental musician John Zorn.
Weegee also made short 16mm films beginning in 1941 and worked with and in Hollywood from 1946 to the early 1960s, both as an actor and a consultant. He was an uncredited special effects consultant credited still photographer for Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove His accent was one of the influences for the accent of the title character in the film, played by Peter Sellers.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Weegee experimented with panoramic photographs, photo distortions and photography through prisms. He made a famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe in which her face is grotesquely distorted yet still recognizable. For the 1950 movie The Yellow Cab Man, Weegee contributed a sequence in which automobile traffic is wildly distorted; he is credited for this as "Weegee" in the film's opening credits.
I think we all had a teacher whilst at school, who like "miss Jean Brodie" from "The prime of" inspired us. Mine was in the last year of junior school, I was aged ten. He was called Mr Kelly, thin, gray haired, old fashioned and tweed wearing with those leather patches on his sleeves and cuffs. He was a an accomplished artist and drew little pencil sketches of some of us.He'd also copy old 1920's French cartoons onto the blackboard and we'd all have to draw our version, every week.
The class was divided into two teams, Romans and Greeks, Red and green. I was a geek, er..I mean Greek! He had a silver cup on the high Victorian windowsill. We'd get points for the week and the winning side had their own colored ribbon around the cup for a week, it was awarded every Friday afternoon. Course, this dividing the class would be frowned upon these days..
One day, he asked the class "What is the white ribbon that you see across the night sky? Quick as a flash, I raised my hand and said, "The milky way Sir?" "Good lad, I suppose you would know that doing a lot of star gazing, Grand?" Give yourself a ten points, he said, whilst handing me the chalk. I walked to the front of class. He then said, "And give yourself another ten points, Paul, for having the straightest back I've ever seen, Wonderful posture!"
Looking back on the conversation, I see his sarcastic remark was regretted and he'd just tried to temper it with a complement, it didn't matter to me. My day was complete, I was a triumph for once and Mr Kelly for me,ascended to the stars!
My new Duoflex 2 and a couple of reels of retro film from 1974! I bought it at a local flea market a few weeks back, I'd been looking for these things for about two years without any luck, then during the same morning, I came across two of these types of cameras! I bought the reels of film on ebay, quite cheaply for a just a few euros within France. They arrived just this morning. I cant describe how much reverence I opened the first package with. It had no smell and no degradation as far as I could see, but I did notice a bit of rust on the spools. Sorry for the anal description, but I had to share! O_O So, now for the hard bit, using such a cumbersome contraption!
This one was inspired by Martine's ice skating prowess. I've never seen her ice skate, but she assures me she's good at it, or used to be. I'll just have to take her word for it, as there are no ice rinks around my area.. So, the idea of trying to ice skate, in between a rock and a hard place took root! Those rocks were on my desk and the figure is an antique one. The shadow was stretched in CS2 and warped around the rock. Thus, pulling the objects together. The sky was a sunny coastal afternoon. The idea behind the dedication was a tribute to Martine's hard work, doing a daytime job and managing to also do her photographic work, like spinning plates, but here she's ice skating whilst balancing three huge rocks. Who needs the addition of ice!
I know, I have strange dreams...o_O This was another winner of a Man Ray contest. With big dollops of help from my NZ friend, Jill and her ice skators fragment. The cracks are way ott here, I guess they ran away with themselves, joining up and forming a kind of loop. I think I made this one in a hurry, there was a deadline, see!
Jeepers creepers, this one was fun to do! I'd been cycling with friends in the spring and we spotted this just outside the old village. It's not had much done to it, its warmed a little, enriched with antique layers and my famous crackle glaze. The Crows were kindly donated by Katherine and the skull from our Textures for Layers, objects group, in Flickr. I suppose it looks like a movie poster. Must be the illustrator in me trying to get out!
This is the view from my bedroom window in the old house I just moved from. It faced south but if I looked South/West in winter, this is the kind of view I sometimes had at sunset. It took 3000 hits and I think its one of my most popular images. I'd not done much to it, just a little colour tweak and the addition of a TTV layer donated by every bodies friend, Nesster! I don't miss the old house at all, as I'd been there several years and just had to move on. I now know that I much prefer city life to country village living. Just an urban kind of guy!
I created several versions of this image or visage as the French would say.. I wasn't entirely happy with the outcome, limited quality of the original images imposed restrictions, but I think I did okay in the end. Its made up from several layers, chiefly being a graveyard statue, and a stone layer. Not forgetting the eyes, of course! O_O
Yikes, its been a year since I updated the old blog! So, here's playing catch-up. This picture was a long time in the making. The final element being the big corkscrew. In real life this thing is around two feet long and is used in the wine trade to take large corks out of huge barrows of wine.. Kind-of fitting, really!