Saturday, December 16, 2023

Blow Up Photography

This is how I spend most nights.  It's cozy.  I got a call from my mountain friend yesterday.  He was driving, of course, down to Fresno to pick up Crazy Larry.  Crazy Larry is going to stay "up there" with him for the next three weeks.  He gets a room at a crummy hotel in town, but he spends the weekends with Mountain Guy's family.  It's a long drive from his home to Fresno, so we talked for a long time--until he got to the airport. 

"Well, I just got here, so. . . ."

This is typical.  Q calls me on drives back from the grocers.  

"O.K.  I just pulled up to the house, so. . . ."

Mountain Guy is getting a kick out of the C.S. Advent Calendar.  He says he sends them to his niece and she is dying over them.  Well, there's that.  Mountain Guy wanted to know how it went with Red and Co.  He wanted to know about women in general.  

"Have you been traveling?"

"No.  I'm a homeboy."

"Well, do you go out to bars at night or anything?"

"Man, nobody wants to see a lone old guy at a bar.  That just brings everybody down."

He laughed.  

I have never been one for running around to bars, at least alone.  I used to go with my dead ex-friend Brando.  We'd go out to dinner, then we would go to a bar for "just one."  The bars were small, not the big places that people pack into.  Hotel bars, bars at restaurants, little cafes, but nothing like a meat packing plant.  They were quiet places.  

O.K.  You're picturing whatever that cornpone t.v. show was where "Everyone knows your name."  No, it was not like that.  

But I have no desire to sit on a barstool over a drink.  

"I go out once in awhile with some new friends.  We go early, have a few drinks and yucks.  It is just a social thing.  It's o.k."

"Do you remember Janet?  You met her a couple times.  She remembers you.  Everybody up here does because you married us.  I show her some of your photography once in awhile.  She goes crazy for it.  She really likes it."

"Tell her I'm coming up.  Tell her to be ready."

"I think she is.  She thinks your photos are great."

So this was a twofer.  His niece likes the Advent Calendar and I have a mountain girl who likes my photography.  Mountain Guy has always looked out for me.  

But the leather couch, the whiskey glass. . . these things, too, have an undeniable charm.  Red's friend sunk into my couch and said she didn't want to leave.  

"This is the most comfortable couch I've ever been on," she said.  

"Yup.  It's hard to get up.  It's crippling."

Sky says she wants this room when I die.  WTF?  When I die?  

Outside, the world looks more and more like this. 

See the difference?  Small cafes and leather couches call to me.  O.K.  So does the world "out there," but only for adventure.  I like recording it.  What this photo needs, however, is one of those Brit models from the early 1960s. . . like Jean Shrimpton.  I need to ask someone to dress up and go with me on these adventures.  I'd like that a lot.  

Last night, I watched an old BBC doc on YouTube called "The Real Blow Up: Fame, Fashion, and Photography."  Boy, was that fun.  I don't know how much you would enjoy it, but I will put the link here in case you are bored or stoned (link).  This is Part I of three parts, but I could never find the third.  If you do, send me a link.  

I saw the movie "Blow Up" when it came out.  I was a teenager, and I decided I wanted to be a photographer.  I should have gotten a camera then, but that didn't happen until I went to college.  Fashion photographers, according to the documentary, were mostly gay men.  It was David Bailey and crew who brought a "heterosexual energy" to the scene.  I guess they brought "the male gaze," as it came to be called.  Last night watching the doc, I realized how influenced I had been by the fashion photographers of the 40's, 50's, and 60's.  Those clothes were crazy good, but it was the unreal mannequin looks of the models that really stuck.  I posed every photo you see in the "Lonesomeville" series to look awkward and unnatural.  Good God. . . it was something.  

One thing that made the photography of the '60s so much different than what came before it was the Nikon camera.  If you watch the documentary, you'll notice (maybe only because I just told you) that all the 35mm cameras they use are Nikons.  I got nostalgic for my old Nikon FA that was stolen years ago and never replaced.  It is a strange coincidence that I looked up reviews and prices of the FA that very afternoon.  And last night, in my dreams, I had one again.  I think I am going to buy another.  They are one of the best Nikon film cameras ever made.  It was dubbed the "Technocamera" because it offered features no other camera had ever offered before.  It was the smallest camera Nikon ever made, too.  I still have a bunch of old Nikon lenses.  I don't need it, but. . . I'm probably going to buy another one.  

I guess I'm easily influenced.  

Oh. . . the two photos I posted are both shot with the Leica M7.  Film.  There is an undeniable look to film.  It has a greater dynamic range than digital images, but it is "softer" in resolution.  I've come to like many of the old digital cameras with their lower megapixel count for that reason.  My first digital Nikon had only 12 megapixel resolution.  I've shot with it some in the past year, and yea. . . those images are much "creamier" than the higher resolution cameras are.  

"The look," you know.  None are absolutely "better" than the others.  They just all fit particular needs.  I love the images I get from my $20 Holga camera.  Sometimes.  For certain things.  

The images coming out of my new iPhone 15 Pro camera are spectacular, too.  They are mostly AI in that you can control the image after you take it, but it does a nice job of it.  I'll show you some images from it in the next few days.  

"OMG--I can't WAIT!!!!  I'm on tenterhooks!"

Yea, yea, yea. . . . 

Sky, of course, works in fashion and knows many fashion photographers.  I ask her questions sometimes, but not a lot.  She works on sets with entire teams.  I try not to ask too much so that I don't sound like a total rube.  

But I am.  

So I sit on my couch and watch documentaries and take pictures of my feet.  Ha!  Sometimes I go to junkyards, too.  

I was just tempted to put one of my studio photographs here, but it would ruin the "vibe" of this piece, so I'll just leave you with another window of the Advent Calendar.  Ho!

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