Thursday, December 3, 2009

A few more images

I have a few more images from the same model as the previous post. Her OMP page is linked here, her professional moniker is Natalie Rose. My OMP portofolio can be found linked here. My MM porfolio can be found linked here.

The first image is my attempt at a prone headshot. As this was shot late in the afternoon, the shadows are quite strong in the image. I'm thankful to Natalie for this image because I now know how to shoot the next one better.

The second image I am more frustrated with myself about. There were companion images where Natalie had even better poses and expressions, but I failed to capture them properly as I was holding the camera with the wrong hand, while my arms were crossed and my other hand was holding a light reflector to shine the sunlight coming from behind the model back up under her face. I'm still pondering the better alternatives I had to get that shot. Next time I think I'll use a remote trigger release.

At the moment, I'm also pondering what to do about the website. I've just renewed the domain name and the host for another year, but I don't have time in the next month to actually take the old site down, update it, and reupload it. I'm dissatisfied with the current web design, but my few hours of free time I'm trying to invest in actual photoshoots, so I am at a quandary as to what to do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Profile Headshot

What constitutes the difference between photoshop art, a photoshopped image, and a true image?

I often wonder just how much editing can be done to an image before it is no longer an accurate representation of the photographer's vision, but becomes an art project.

In terms of the above image, I new when I took the photograph I would want to alter the background. But it wasn't until several weeks later when I discovered what I wanted the background to be. At that point, it really relied on whether or not I was talented enough to make the photograph conform to the vision I had in my head. It is frustrating--as an artist--when your vision exceeds your ability.

OMP Account Up

I've started an OMP account. Actually I started it almost 3 months ago. I'm hoping through the account I can drum up some more photoshoot opportunities.

I'm hoping my ModelMayhem account will be approved shortly.

No news to report on the novel front. There should be more info about that after the Christmas holiday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A reworked Cloned Image

Flight of the Dancer

The preceeding cloned compilation image of a friend (MM#1292289) was my first foray into this style of image shooting. There are many creative possibilites, but it appears to require more preplanning than a standard series of shots. I am really eager to try this style again.

Don't have many announcements with this post. I finished my novel outline. Now the only hurdle left is to find enough time to be able to write it. I'm hoping to squeeze in a couple of shoots in the next few weeks, so hopefully I'll have more images then.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Musings on Proposition 8

After a break from blogging, I’m back. I had concluded, that rather than constantly putting up posts that have no content, I’ll post when I have something to show or say.

The Issue of Gay Marriage

So the initial part of this post I wrote, back after the Prop 8 law was upheld in the 9th Circuit Court ruling. But rather than immediately post my initial thoughts, I held off and continued to thing about it. Consequently, I’ll post the original, while including my newer musings in a different font and color.

What is it about gay marriage that irks religious conservatives?

I remember once hearing a very eloquent response on a related topic that I think applies to this question. It broke down into essentially this: Our [religious conservatives] problem is that they [liberals] believe they know better than us how to raise our children and what kind of society is better to live in. If they were actually content to keep to themselves and leave us and our families alone, these things wouldn’t be an issue.

It is a subtle, but important statement, that I’ve heard the reverse come from gay and lesbian advocates. In those comments they query: How does my happiness/marriage affect your life? How does what I do in my house/bed affect your life? Unfortunately, the questions—by their very nature—are, on both sides, rigged. Upon review, I realize that my comment may seem arbitrary and harsh. Both sides may have genuine emotion and experience instilling their points-of-view that lead them to ask the questions The real contention is actually one of social acceptance: something that can never be legislatively enforced. In general, one segment of the population, likely less than 25%, is not socially accepted by some or all of the other 75%. Even if, and or when, the equal rights arguments get legally settled, that will not end the social acceptance issue. The emancipation of slaves did not end segregation. The civil rights movement did not end gender and race discrimination. The larger picture shows that for many individuals is different social/racial groups, they self-segregated. The reasons for this are mixed: ranging from pooling economic support, class prejudice, and generational momentum (i.e. staying in the same groups and cultures your parents and you grew up with).

Quite simply, I cannot force someone else to accept me: treat me in a civil manner, possibly, but accept me, no. Either that person does or does not accept me. Initiating educational courses on valuing diversity and tolerance as either an overt or covert attempt to convince an opposing party of their wrongness doesn’t work unless the potential student is young enough to be indoctrinated. What better changes hearts and minds, is experience, particularly unanticipated positive experiences.

What I have yet to hear any gay marriage advocate adequately explain is how much they would tolerate a social acceptance challenge for something that advocate does not agree/believe in. While that circumstance is at this point hypothetical, it is conceivable. It is illegal in many places to marry one’s own first cousin (i.e. the son or daughter of your uncle or aunt). If there was a push by a group of individuals for legalization of this, would the gay marriage advocates be so accommodating? The arguments against procreation fall by the wayside with the potential for adoption or third-party genetic donors; but the idea is still anathema to the majority of the American populace. And even if those same advocates conceded the legal challenge, would they advocate education and training on the social acceptance of such behavior? I don’t have the answer, but it seems likely not. I realize that I have neglected to mention the very real issue of feeling discriminated against and or the experience of being persecuted. After considering how I would feel if—all other personality and character traits been the same—I was gay, I realized that I would be extremely angry. What may appear as minor legalistic arguments to the general populace, could very well have personal and deep ramifications for me. So even while there may be legal arguments and rationales for the existing or new case laws regarding the prevention of gay marriage, that would not deter me from viewing this as a personal, social, and civil rights affront.

What I suspect is really driving this conflict—from the gay marriage advocacy side—is the very human trait of impatience. If the community truly believes it possesses the right and just cause, they should follow the similar path that has led to the observable progress in the gender and race discrimination/social acceptance problem. Get the government to neutralize itself on the issue by changing the law to only cover social contracts, not marriage (i.e. get the government out of the marriage business entirely). The reality is, that while this may make the currently legal discrimination of gay couple desiring marriage moot, the ‘solution’ would please and satisfy no one. After that successful campaign, then mount a social and religious drive inside each local community, not for acceptance of gayness but for the impoverished, downtrodden, and exploited members of that community (some if which, by simple statistics, will be gay). If I see a friend pour out his heart, strength, and time into helping other people, I am more likely to want to assist that friend and make his life easier any way I can. Even seemingly major differences in philosophy become less important than accomplishing the shared goal of improving the community. While true, it is also possible that a friendship would not be possible in the first place if one person believes the other is prejudiced against them. Without the ability to first set aside differences, a mutual goal cannot be accomplished.

The problem is that this model of social change takes time: generational lengths of time. It is not done by indoctrination, or enforced social sanction, but by person-to-person interaction. This is one of the reasons why religions have been so effective in attractive followers and eliciting social change over the course of history, and likely why they continue to persist despite what many call more rational and scientific views of humanity being developed.

I’ve recently picked up the CS4 version of Adobe, so now I can do a bit more with some of the photos I have that have been sitting on the digital shelf. Today’s images are some of the High Dynamic Range photographs I’ve experimented with. The first is from when I was in NYC; the latter was taken more recently in Berkeley, CA.

Forest Floor in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY.

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Fire Memorial Garden, Berkeley, CA

Hopefully, in a few days or so, I'll have some more images to upload.
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

“Green” Energy the way out of Recession? Pt. 2

In my previous post I mentioned how issues Trasportation & Infrastructure Energies need to be dealt with for green energy to be practical. In this post the issue of Waste & Recycling is addressed.

Waste & Recycling

This is the clearest area where the divide between intelligent, practical environmentalists, and intelligent, idealist environmentalists is greatest. To eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) uses of fossil fuels and the accompanying CO2 emissions, there is only one practical solution that still allows for the use of combustion engines: hydrogen power. The difficulty arises in that (in addition to infrastructure issues previously discussed) mass producing hydrogen gas from H2O is energy-ineffecient. In other words, electrolysis requires energy to undertake. All of the proposals by idealist environmentalists, off-shore wind farms; tide-based water-power generators; solar panels; natural gas, don’t provide enough energy to support our current demands, much less enough energy to waste splitting water. The best possible source that could accomplish both supplying current demands and enough extra energy to split water is nuclear power. Not just a few plants will do, rather we would have to build a multitude in the next 5 years. To avoid the N.I.M.B.Y. issue, the plants could be located on old off-shore oil rigs that are reinforced against attack. Civilian guard units, created and run by the state, could be tasked to provide constant security.

Assuming the plants utilize non-breeder reactors, the amount of nuclear waste is far less than the waste produced by coal or oil power plants. With enough extra cheap energy, we could mix the waste with iron-rich glass and bury it in the deepest parts of abandoned mines, or bundle the waste up and launch it into space (preferably on a collision course with the sun). Since we are already using the power to separate water, the hydrogen and oxygen for the rockets would be readily available.

Although I’m hopeful, it is not likely a massive drive to build nuclear reactors will be initiated in the next 5 years. The idealist environmentalists hold too much sway over the environmental lobby; they are expecting some miracle discovery that will solve the global warming and pollution problem while ignoring the interim alternatives that could pull America out of its oil addiction and cement us as a premier energy provider for the world.

Performing Arts on the Web cont.

Today’s Selections come from the later parts of a documentary on
Sylvie Guillem.

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 4

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 5

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 6

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem – Part 7

Over the past few years, I have pondered what the best ways of chronicling performing arts are. Some documentarians focus on particular pieces or instillations of art. Other documentarians focus on the artists: choosing to isolate their focus on particular traits/characteristics of the artist or how the artist approaches his or her medium. The last major focus of still other documentarians is the performance art/artist in historical context: what does both the artist and the art indicate about the place and period the artist existed in; does the artist challenge, ignore, or support convention; what is the relationship between the particular artist and his/her art, and does that relationship help or hinder the presentation/acceptance of that art?

As I continue to post findings from my internet meanderances, I will (on occasion) comment on which of the above strategies the filmmaker chose, and my thoughts and that choice.

The Sylvie Guillem documentary seems to have focused on the second option: isolate focus on the artist and view how the artist approaches her medium. Without subtitled translation, I cannot parse exactly what the people said. Perhaps someone who understands French will translate for me someday. Regardless, both the nature of how the documentary was shot and the style of editing allow the former conclusion to be made.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Is 'Green Energy' the way out of the Recession

The topic of Green Energy keeps popping up in the news. Our President even mentioned it in his speech to the joint houses of Congress. But my skepticism is increasing regarding how practical these ideas of solar panels in the desert, off-shore wind farms, and tide-based water-power generators. There seem to be great sweeping statements by environmentalists and energy producers/providers that either ignore or fail to recognize the multiple aspects of energy needs. While I’m clearly not a chemical engineer nor a physicist, it appears that there are at least XX facets to this: Transportation Energy; Public Use Energy; Waste & Recyling; and Energy Infrastructure. For this post I’ll address Trans. Energy & Energy Infrastructure,in a later post I’ll address the other two facets.

Transportation Energy
Both our previous and current Presidents have spoken about Americans addiction to oil. With the exception of some buses and trains, the majority of both private and commercial transportation has its lifeblood on oil(gasoline and diesel). This remains so because there is no commonly available technology that is more efficient (with such a high power-to-weight ratio) for land vehicles than the internal combustion engine. What this means is that any ‘solution’ for our oil dependence must replace the fuel with an alternative, not eliminate it. Biodiesel may serve this function, but that would require conversion of many gasoline powered vehicles. If the government is going to push for vehicle conversion, it may be better to push for converting vehicles to hydrogen power instead. This removes the majority of the pollution emissions generated by vehicles on the road.

Energy Infrastructure
Unfortunately, without the improvements, developments, or refinements necessary to both the power grid and fuel grid, any type of mass vehicle conversion program will falter. American’s N.I.M.B.Y. issues have delayed or halted the production of many power plants (oil, coal, or nuclear). Without having an overabundance of cheap energy, the inefficient tasks—such as splitting water to get hydrogen or pumping water uphill into dams and reservoirs—cannot be undertaking if the power demands on the current grids are to be met. The lack of cheap energy may also effect the willingness of energy providers to expand the capabilities of gas stations to include hydrogen fuel. In other words, if there isn’t an efficient way to distribute the hydrogen fuel to your stations, and there isn’t a high demand for the hydrogen fuel, why invest in retrofitting your stations to carry it?

Performing Arts on the Web cont.

Today’s Selections come from what appears to be a documentary on Sylvie Guillem.

…from wikepedia: “Sylvie Guillem CBE (born 23 February 1965 in Paris, France[1]) is a French ballet dancer. She was the top-ranking female dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet from 1984 to 1989, before becoming a principal guest artist with the Royal Ballet in London. She is currently performing contemporary dance as an Associate Artist of London's Sadler's Wells Theatre. Her most notable performances have included those in Giselle and in Rudolf Nureyev's stagings of Swan Lake and Don Quixote.” (Wikipedia)

Video Clip: ">Sylvie Guillem - Part 1

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem - Part 2

Video Clip: Sylvie Guillem - Part 3

The film clips are entirely in what sounds like French, which I don’t speak. Consequently, I do not know what they are actually saying throughout the film. It appears that the documentary is more about Sylvie Guillem, the dancer, ( than about a particular performance. I don’t know if it was the choice of the director or more the reality of the dancer, but the film shows how isolated a life Sylvie leads, even whilst she operates amongst the other people involved in the same productions. I wonder if that is characteristic of all high-level dancers.

There are 7 clips total to the documentary; the second half of which will be in a later post.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Performing Arts on the Web

In the past year, there was a distinct dearth of performing arts events that I attended. The numerous reasons for this, though the primary reasons are a paucity of disposable funds and location/distance of the events from my location. Consequently, I have been searching the Internet for various alternatives to tide my interest in the meantime. Over the many of the following posts, I’ll be inserting some of the content I find. Please note: None of the embedded content is owned or licensed by me.

Video Clip:
Alessandra Ferri & Sting

Choreography by Heinz Spoerli. Music by Johan Sebastian Bach – ‘Prelude’ from “Cello Suite No. 1 in G major”

One of the first thoughts to run through my head while viewing the video was how surprisingly flexible Sting was. Overall I thought the clip was very interesting. I don’t have a background in dance, but I think the ballet choreography was more towards modern than classical. The short clip itself was well-lit and filmed, and may serve as an introduction to types of ballet that people unfamiliar with dance as a performing art may appreciate.

Beginnings Novel News

As much as I intended to have the novel finished by this date, my progress has been significant but limited. I just finished writing a ‘marathon’-length scene between two of my characters. That scene may be the longest single scene I have ever written that takes place inside one fixed location. I have yet to actually type it into the computer, but I’m guessing it will be around 20-30 pages. Considering that the entire scene utilizes just two characters, I’m curious what my opinion of the scene will be when I reread the novel as an entire whole. The remaining parts of the novel won’t be any easier to write, but should be comparatively quicker to produce.


I’m using today’s post to do something that probably is not done often in blogs. I admit it: I was wrong. I made the following post in October of 2007:

For the first time, a woman and a black man lead the polls in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, those polls results do not reflect what I believe to be actual reality. I am more than willing and ready to be proved wrong, but I simply do not think the general American populace will elect either a woman or black man as President of the United States. Would the public settle for a woman or minority if they had no choice, yes. But given an alternative, I do not believe people will choose a female or minority leader.That means I am pessimistic about either Clinton or Obama securing the Democratic nomination for President, much less either actually winning the general election. As I told someone this week, either of them would actually serve to bolster the chances of one of the white male candidates. So here would be my prediction. Assuming Clinton actually fails to secure the nomination, it will probably be Biden or Edwards leading the ticket with either Clinton, Obama, or Richardson balancing out the bottom-half of the ticket.

Clearly, my thoughts from back then did not reflect the reality of the electorate, as measured on election day. As we conclude the first 30 days of America’s first African American president, I ponder what aspects of the Obama package led to his election. Was it his race, his message, the economy, the anti-Bush/Republican movement of the populace, or some other nebulous factor? Apparently, President Obama’s approval rating has decreased to the mid 60’s percentile. The news commentary I heard on ABCnews mentioned that this drop was typical of new presidents within their first month.

Because I’m near the saturation limit on all the discussions/news about the economy, I will not address that in this post, except to say that it is interesting that the government is rushing to fix this problem. One might think they would have learned from the Patriot Act or the bill that authorized former President Bush to go to war with Iraq: rushing bills through Congress, particularly a bill that almost nobody has read the entire way through, tends to lead to greater and more exacerbated problems in the future.