30 December 2009

How I Spent My Holiday

"Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people."  
~Garrison Keillor

I can't always spend Christmas with the family when I live so far away. Its the hardest time of the year being without the kids and I miss the smell of my Mama's kitchen. So this Christmas, I figured I'd do something different and head out into the wilderness for a while. I went camping on a dry lake bed Christmas afternoon. I still have a tradition with the kids where we watch two movies back to back on Christmas Day, so my first movie was at 9:30. Sherlock Holmes wasn't as good as I thought it might have been, but I guess I can say I got my money's worth. My next movie was Avatar. Granted it came out a week or so before Christmas, but I held off seeing it. My kids were doing the same thing only in Tennessee. I've already seen Avatar once more and will likely see it a few more times. I do that with movies I like. I saw 2012 three times, but my record is the final Lord of the Rings, which I saw 8 times. Avatar is high on the list of my all time favorites. There was simply more imagination in that movie that I think I could have ever conceived. In LOTR, Peter Jackson had Tolkien's books to work from and Tolkien was so descriptive, you honestly didn't ever need a movie. You could visualize everything. James Cameron was operating from scratch, as far as I know, and he surpasses my wildest imagination. Yeah, I'll be seeing that a few more times.

Then it was a race to get back across town to finish packing up and head out to my camp site. It was sort of a spiritual thing for me being out there alone, but at the same time, I didn't count on the distraction for the need for company brought on by a campfire. That's the only time I felt alone or like I really wanted somebody else there. As soon as my campfire was roaring (and trust me, I like a roaring fire), I felt an immediate sense of aloneness. I was cool chilling out in my tent, afterwards, but while sitting out in the open air staring at the flames as they licked and bit into the wood, you miss having another person there.

It got cold. Daaamn, it got cold. I was bundled up nice and snug, but I can tell you that you don't want to move around much. Outside of camera gear, I think I need better winter camping gear. My little hooch kept the wind off, but I know I've got to get another sleeping bag. I trust the Gortex sleep system that I had in the military, so that's my aim. I've been in 40 below in one of those things in the open air and was as snug as a bug in a rug. And I was a little more concerned for my laptop and camera too. I hadn't had the foresight to check the operational temps on the laptop. My camera's limit is right at freezing, but I wasn't sure about the laptop. Since it was just below freezing, I kept the camera at my feet in my bag and the laptop between two pillows that I slept on. I also kept it on in sleep mode, (no pun intended, there.)

The sun came out and it warmed up quickly, but I built a fire anyway. I love a good fire. Too much since I ran out earlier than I had anticipated. My need for a big fire and the fact that the winds would kick up every now and again, consumed my firewood supply quicker than I wanted. Oh well. I'll know better next time. All in all, it was a cool experience, and I plan to do it again. Maybe I can find a good Gortex sleeping bag on eBay or something. I will be looking. I hope everyone has a joyous and wonderful holiday. Tune in next time when I start  the year off with another self-interview!

10 December 2009


 "Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don't mind going through a little bush to get there!"- Minnie Pearl

Me, with as much hair as I have ever had on my face

I'm glad there is no Decembeard...at least that I know of. Having that much hair on my face was just a complete oddity for me. I kept thinking my nose was running until I went to the mirror and noticed I had one mustache hair curling up and back into my nose. I had never heard of the thing, but apparently its [Novembeard/No-Shave November] growing in popularity. My daughter put me up to it. She said all the boys back in TN were doing it, which consisted of her hubby, his brothers, my son and a few of his friends. I figured, what the hay, so I told her I'd commit to it. I don't think I look that good in a beard, if you can call it that. Its the most hair I've had on my face, but I don't grow facial hair that fast. For me, all that was actually about 6 weeks worth of growth. At the time she told me, on Nov 1st, I was just getting ready to shave off two weeks of face hair. It still took me about another week after Nov 30th to shave it all off. The place I normally shop at was all out of my depilatory cream I use to remove hair on my face and head. I can't use a razor. The "Brothas" tend to bump up too much with a razor. I often had to have a shaving profile in the military which was a doctor's excuse not to shave.

Mary and I kicking back some cold ones in Crested Butte, CO

So what's ol' Big T, been up to lately. Well, Photo Anthems.com has been revamped, big-time. In an effort to cater towards more weddings and other events, I've redesigned the site to reflect that a little more. Almost nothing on the site is as it was last week. Many a nights was spent taking down HUGE loads of my art nudes and other images that just didn't cut the mustard. I've got to go back to work on my landscape images, in both re-edits and new pics as well.

Mary, off the edge of a cliff  in Black Canyon, CO.
That's a couple thousand feet free-fall below her.

My good ol'e bud, Dave Rudin was in town over last weekend. He was the only one to get pics. We met for breakfast along with Wolf189. It was really good to meet Wolf. I think we share some commonalities in styles and approaches. He's been around for a while and really knows his stuff. As usual, when you put a gaggle of photogs in a small space together, time flew by as we discussed everything from camera gear, to classic films. Not film like, TMAX, well...we did discuss that. Wolf only shoots film. However I was referring to classic movie films, particularly foreign films. He and Dave were much more familiar with many of the more notable ones and the actors/actresses of the day. As Dave and I always do, we had breakfast at the Original Pancake House and about three hours had passed before we knew it. Wolf had to head out for a photo gig, otherwise we could have helped close the place. As of this moment, I didn't see any of the shots he took, but I am sure DaveR will have pics of us posted on his blog, Figures of Grace, shortly. In the meantime, pay a visit to my new friend Wolf189 at his web site, www.Wolf189.com and his blog, www.Wolf189.blogspot.com. Oh, and here is his profile on Model Mayhem. Trust me, you are in for a treat.

I've gotten a good laugh out of a few things lately, but none really so much as getting to see my friend, Jodi (with no "e"), do a tandem sky-dive. The girl's got guts. But that's not the only reason I love her so much. Outside of being a good friend, she's a strong believer in doing things the natural way, as nature intended. I love her hippie-style and the way she has a genuine care for people. She's a great mom, very spontaneous, and will take on a challenge with vigor and courage. This is the first time she's ever exited a plane while airborne. At no time does she ever flinch, hesitate, or even carry a distressed look on her face. Yeah, the girl's got guts. Enjoy the vid below or click HERE. And I thought I'd reacquaint you again with pics of my friend and once model, Mary since she said I looked like Kimbo Slice!

04 December 2009

Rest in Peace, Charis

Charis Wilson, May 5, 1914 - November 20, 2009

“Edward and I both agreed with the view of a Greek friend of ours, Jean Varda, who was fond of saying there were three perfect shapes in the world ... the hull of a boat, a violin and a woman's body.” 
- Charis Wilson

I've spoken highly and often about my most influential photographer and the model who quite possibly had the biggest impact on photography as an art form. Charis Wilson has by far been the most inspirational art model for myself and the art world. She died just a few weeks ago. She was 95. For myself, she was the consummate model, perfect in every way. I know, I'm sure she had flaws, but I can't help but to enjoy the woman's spirit, drive, ambition, talent, and her devotion. Most of us know her as a model, but she was a prolific writer, as well. In fact, the reason I say she quite possibly had the biggest impact on photography as an art form is due to her role in helping Weston get a Guggenheim Fellowship.

    "The Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those 'who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts'." 

As I am sure most of you already know, it was Charis who wrote the four-page narrative that won the Fellowship for Weston, despite the fact that Weston assumed credit for it. And it was also Charis who did all the writing and documentation for the 180 day, sixteen thousand mile trip they made throughout the western U.S. Weston's talent had nothing to do with writing. Charis therefore took up much of his work in editing articles and even wrote in his name. I guess it was about a year or so ago, when I finally got my own copy of the DVD, Eloquent Nude: The Love and Legacy of Edward Weston and Charis Wilson. You can do a search on my blog for my initial reviews of this DVD. To listen to Charis give the details of her experience in her own voice was amazing to me. I loved her recounts of her first meeting Weston. She provided vivid detail as to her feelings and emotions and could recall many of the circumstances surrounding all of those special events. She was honest and raw. She did not try to be "pretty and lady-like". She told it to you straight. You gotta respect a woman for that. And at 95, I felt grateful that she was so forthcoming in sharing. Amazing woman.