The Good, The Bad, and The Not So Ugly (Enna I)

It’s shortly after lunchtime in a Sicilian hill town when the predators begin to gather in the otherwise empty streets.

A stiff breeze blows eddies of dust and detritus into neat circular deposits.  A soundtrack by Morricone is required.

The common lizard that hurries in and out of the cracks in the pock-marked wall of the cathedral need have no fear however, even though many of the hunters will be focusing their intention here.  For now though the man with no name rests before the action begins.  Van Cleef strolls nonchalantly.

A smaller group breaks off, largely unnoticed by the majority and makes for richer pickings.  I am one of them, and find myself with serious company.  Some hunt in packs, whilst others operate alone but with more fearsome weaponry than I might muster.  Hired guns among them.

Some adopt a sniper’s eyrie, effective but inflexible for moving prey; others shoot from the hip.

They have come from far and wide in search of rare quarry, but what would bring so many together here?  On a Friday in March?  Though it was my birthday, this wasn’t a photographer’s party.

It was a very different celebration, but one whose nature I won’t reveal.

At least not just yet.

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Cassie Jade

Talking to my friend Jane after Sunday’s photoshoot, I remarked to her that shooting nudes was a great way to improve your ability to maintain eye-contact!  Though this was said in jest, there is an underlying truth to it, but one that has come back to me while I’ve been processing the images.

The one remaining model whose images I’ve not shared until now is Cassie Jade, and she was the original subject that Eric and the Banana team booked to model nude in the settings of our crumbling mansion.  As a highly experienced fitness and nude model she was top of the bill, and of course having worked with her I can see why, not only for her professionalism in front of the camera, but also in her willingness to share feedback and advice when relaxing between shots.  With some of the window light we had to work with sculpting her torso, she stretched and twisted to give added definition to the lines and curves revealed by the light.

With her ability to interpret and improve upon my limited direction I got some nice shots, yet I had a bit of a challenge when it came to processing them.  Perhaps it’s a hangover from last year’s portrait-per-day project, but I kept wanting to crop in closer to make more of her face.  Looking at her portfolio on Model Mayhem, it’s clear that other photographers feel the same way, as there is a good proportion of beauty shots there.  So I found myself with a quandary, do I process head and shoulders or include more.  I was back to maintaining eye contact!

In the end I resisted the tight cropping.  That wasn’t what we were there for on the day, and when she had the courage to stand naked before a room of photographers, the least I could do is try to capture the shapes she created.  Beauty can wait for another day.

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Beachcombing

Europe Photobloggers Meetup 2008
Europe Photobloggers Meetup 2008 (Photo credit: Carlos Lorenzo)

I’ve recently been inspired by the work of David Nightingale, a photographer based in Blackpool, who is renowned for creating dramatic imagery using Photoshop to enhance colours, tones and contrasts.  Have a look at some of his work here on his website

In one of his images a simple broken bucket, left abandoned on the shore, becomes a work of artistry, and with this in mind I set off to walk the high water line today looking for opportunity.  I’m not claiming a similar skill level, but wanted to see what I might learn from using some of his techniques.   I shot this one almost as soon as I arrived, so felt confident of some success anyway.

Between the piers at Roker I was astonished at the volume of driftwood washed onto the shore.  I don’t walk this stretch very often, so it could be the result of a long-term build up, but the difference here compared to the beach beyond the sea wall was remarkable.  Most of the driftwood carried down the Wear seems to struggle to get out to sea, so is regurgitated onto the high water mark.  Stepping through it feels like disturbing the nests of a group of pteranodons.

Surprisingly there was little here but wood (and the occasional spent shotgun shell) so I moved on, but not before I spotted the opportunity for this shot.

Away from the timber, and moving north I spotted two possibilities amongst the littoral litter.  A child’s blue spade provided the first opportunity, but didn’t turn into anything of interest, but a pink ball, not much more substantial than a balloon ran playfully about the sand propelled by the onshore breeze.

Though decorated with a large cartoon strawberry, the ball had a will of its own and refused to displays this side of its personality to the camera.  Never mind, it still gave me something interesting to work with, though I don’t think Mr Nightingale will lose any sleep!

I wasn’t the only beachcomber today, for at South Bents Judith and her two children were looking for interesting pieces of driftwood and collecting them into a small carrier bag.  Judith explained that they were wanting to do something creative with them.  Snap!  Her hair and scarf make great details for a portrait too.