And then a few minutes later the storm hit…..
When people ask about my career I generally respond that I am a photographer. That at least is my latest reinvention and since it’s stuck for the past 3-4 years, I’m going with it. I don’t make my living this way; I make myself and a few others happy in this pursuit, so perhaps it’s more accurate to characterize as an avocation. Whatever. I spend a lot of time behind a lens and increasingly enjoy exploring the myriad nuances associated with using it.
“So, you’re photographer” she says. “What do you photograph?”
Fair question, to which I usually respond “things that don’t move or that have four legs,” meaning for the most mountains and trees and rocks and rivers – ok, water moves – and architecture and, of course, dogs and horses. I suppose what I’m trying to convey is I rarely deliberately and seriously shoot humans. Portraiture ain’t my game.
I recently had the opportunity to shoot an old friend of mine whose photogeneity I’ve admired for years. Her name is Renée and to most people’s eyes she is quite comely.
Well, OK. She’s gorgeous.
She’s also uninhibited in front of a camera and, I came to discover, fun to work with. I figured that given those circumstances I’d have to work hard to screw things up. So, we met at Lake Anne in Reston one late afternoon several weeks ago and gave it a try.
I failed to get it entirely right in the camera for the most for lack of the correct lighting, which is more important than dealing with the model, which in this case was a breeze. Fortunately I’m better at post-processing than at portraiture (at moment) and managed to correct the lighting issues. I also discovered that I liked the processing more in black and white than in color although this might have been because of the lighting dealt us. I was more than a little anxious about how the images would be accepted but since they met my standard of publishable, I was happy with the work. And my anxieties aside, Renée was very pleased as were both our respective audiences.
The positive feedback heartened me and that encouraged me to spend some time studying lighting techniques. I concluded lighting was an art unto itself but for my purposes could probably be sufficiently mastered to engage in exploring this channel of photography further. I doubt it will ever supplant landscapes in my portfolio but if most of it is as uplifting as the first venture it will boost the happiness meters of everyone involved. I’ll be back in LA by the end of November and there is no shortage of lighting experts in that town. Should be easy to track down a mentor.
Maybe next time it’ll be a model with a mountain backdrop.
Blue sky. Sunshine. Comfortably cool temps. A small park in West Hollywood along the edge of what used to be Rt 66. Anne Hathaway: a thirty-something looking not a day over 15. Jane Fonda: a seventy-something looking about Hathaway’s age. Marisa Tomei: looking, well, just like Marisa Tomei. And dozens of women, as well as a few men here and there, decked out in various shades of red and pink engaged in dance routines that would fit well into almost any zumba room. For V-Day? Not exactly.
This was One Billion Rising, a planned flashmob (oxymoronic?) occurring today worldwide to raise the level of awareness of the violence imposed daily on women and girls and to support a sustained movement to bring it to an end.
I was there because Mitzi and her client and friend, Bonnie, had signed up and had practiced their participation for a week and invited me to come along and bring the camera. I didn’t research the event and honestly wasn’t sure what would happen other than a bunch of women would be carrying signs and dancing in the street. And I suppose if you’re of a certain jadedness that would be one way to look at it.
But these women, young, old and everywhere in between, were on a mission.
And they loved it.
And it showed.
And it was impossible not to get caught up in the energy-charged net of enthusiasm they spread all over their assigned section of Santa Monica Boulevard. And that’s what I tried to capture. I’ll let you be the judge. In addition to the photos included here – my favorites – I’ve posted a few more in this gallery. For those of you who took my card and asked where they would be published – this is the place. Feel free to use the images but also please make sure you attribute them to Richard Harrison (moi).
And!!!!!! Be sure to catch the video produced by Voyage Vixens. There are several on the net but none even comes close to the Vixens’ production quality.
And incidentally, that lead pic was a deliberate tease to get you to click the link and learn about something a little more important than cleavage.
One last note: I’m coming to believe that no event is complete without a dog. Pina De Rosa feels the same and brought Wellington along to prove it. Put a couple of extra pluses on a day inundated with them. But Wellington came out on top. You can learn all about him here.
On 12 Jan Mitzi and I went to the first major west coast exhibition of the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art (thekellycollection.org) at the Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University. By invitation of the collection owner I might add. The opening reception ran from 5-7 to be followed by dinner at a restaurant a few miles up the coast. We over-estimated traffic and arrived early so I drove up the PCH to make sure I knew the restaurant’s exact location. As it turned out it was on the entrance road to the Park. So we drove out to the beach to see what we could see. Now you can see what we saw.
One of the things I had been looking forward to on my recent camping trip to Death Valley – also my first visit – was seeing the night sky from one of the darkest places on earth. Being an eastern urbanite that sky is something that I am otherwise routinely deprived of. I wasn’t fully aware of the depths of my deprivation until one summer night sitting outside my dwelling in Arroyo Seco, near Taos, I glanced up and really saw the Milky Way for the first time. It was almost as if I were looking at the underside of a very sparkly lid – it was that tangibly imposing to me. I had been in a few planetariums in my life and in a few dark areas; but nothing I ever saw displayed in any of them came close to looking at the real thing hanging there over my head that night. So, I figured this would be one of the many treats to expect in the Valley. A super dark sky and a big ol Milky Way.
Typically, I paid no attention to the state of the sky before arriving. I just go. I thought I would see exactly what I intended to see: A gazillion stars spread out endlessly across the night sky. The moon had different plans and for most of my stay was up early shining like a flood light and not setting until late the next morning. But even had I done the research ahead of time my visit schedule wasn’t going to change. Fortunately I’m going to be under wide open western skies for some time and the Valley is only a short 5 hour drive from my base camp in Los Angeles. There will be other chances, assuming the Mayans weren’t hiding the real date somewhere.
I went with what I had and since I had to be up early for sunrise lighting I was also able to get moonsets. I suppose I could have done the moonrise but when it’s full like this it’s very difficult to acquire any contrast on its face and a moon without contrast just looks like – well, a big flood light. Nothing especially interesting about that.
I already posted one of my Zabriskie shots on Google+ in the Death Valley Photographers Community – a part of which I now count myself, but nothing’s come through the blog yet so here you have a sunrise scene that I took from the top side of the Texas Springs campground area – nice when the shots come to you – and then a shot of the moon setting on the western side of the Valley over the Panamint Range. These were shot on different days because the sunrise shots I got from the Zabriskie overlook just didn’t work. (I feel as if I’m lucky when any of them turn out.)
I also have to admit that this sunrise caught me by surprise. I was a little late getting out of the tent on this morning and hadn’t expected to see anything other than a bright morning sky. The gear was locked in the car. The camera had no lens mounted. So I had to scramble. Hand held. The shutter was a little on the slow side to get the image and it suffered as a result from a lack of sharpness. But still. I can’t remember the last time I saw so much sunfire in the morning sky. It is what it is. And that ‘is’ works for me.
I was more prepared for the moonset and I like the result. The geology and the astronomy that manifest their ways in Death Valley make it a wondrous place. This Valley certainly earned its name. It holds the bones of many men and animals who arrived in its depths at the wrong time and became permanent footnotes in its long and violent history. Even today taking anything in this place for granted can cost you your next sunrise – all your next sunrises. No matter. It is a visual delight and one of the grandest exhibitions Nature puts on anywhere on earth.
Since I’ve been recalcitrant in getting any of the première shots online let me add one more; this of the Mesquite Sand Dunes near Stovepipe Wells. I’m sure as people make return trips to DV that favorites places established in earlier visits become replaced by new ones that hadn’t quite resolved for them earlier. This place is simply too grandiose (is that redundant?) for anyone to make a selection for all time. But they can one at a time – and I did. The Dunes. They are mesmerizing. They are also easy to get lost in if you fail to hold the high ground. I posted a couple of videos on Facebook of my walking round these piles of sand and acquired a pretty spiffy self-portrait that is posted in the Selfy-Sunday Group on Google +. This shot is my favorite – so far. It’s a soft exposure and I just like the way so many of the colors that define this place blend together in it.
This was taken late morning and so the light here is also from the sunrise. The area in the foreground I think is referred to as The Devil’s Corn Field but I’m not entirely sure. If it weren’t so late and if I weren’t so lazy, I’d look it up. As it is, if you’re really curious – or perhaps know – you can chime in.