23 June 2019

Back in Nicaragua for a Minute

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
"Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. Lose it and you may be losing a great deal."
~ Robert Genn

And when I say a minute, I really mean 2 months. Yay! My 4th visit to Nica!

As much as I "thought" I was up for a Argentinian winter, naaah... not so much. A lot of it came down to money and the expense of gearing up for the harsh cold, and then flying all the way back down there. Lima is the last line of latitude for the cheap flights heading to South America. You can hit all the major cities down south and you're not spending thousands to get there... til after Lima, Peru.

The budget airlines stop at that point. Maybe La Paz in Bolivia has some decent flights available, but Spirit does not fly to La Paz. I'll likely end up there soon at any rate. It may not be in the thousands (flying one way. I usually fly one way tickets.), but you're looking at double the price that you could go to Lima which might be about $350. Again... One way.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
After Peru in March, I came home for my Mother's Birthday, stayed stateside for a bit visiting the kids, as well... which was great, I might add. Taught my grandbaby how to ride a bike. I might have gone military style on her a bit, but she can ride a bike now, whereas the day before she couldn't. God, the bruises, tho...

When it came down to leaving again, I'd have been flying out into a wall of Argentinian winter. Soooo.... No. I jumped down to Nicaragua for a bit. And you know what I forgot?? It's hot as f... (okay, Mama might be read this.) So I'll say hot as f...oreigners in a hot ass place that they are unfamiliar with. (Dang it! Sorry Mama!)

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
The last time I was in Nica during a June month, it was 2015 and it was so hot and humid, my ex-girlfriend passed out cold and almost went down a flight of stairs. Yep. Saved my ex's life. I'm sure she's grateful. Honestly, that was in May. We didn't leave Nica til June 3rd. I had moved her up into the mountains where it was cooler, but heat rises and so did that temp even at higher elevations. We cancelled the last month of the trip and headed home, after 3 months on the road. I still got some badass shots of her and with her. You can see my 4 blog posts with her here =>  Post 1 / Post 2 / Post 3 / Post 4

More recently though, I was in Nicaragua just last year. BUT IN JANUARY! I was with Art Model, Kayci Lee for that whole month (See that BLOG POST HERE) . I'd say it was temperate, but not so humid and muggy like now. This is what I was thinking about when I made my reservation and decided to come back here... sort of taking a break from my travels by still traveling, I guess. But you get my meaning. I'm not on the same path that I was on traveling through South America. Nicaragua is a cheaper place to wait out the cold. AND I am getting in some much needed writing, reading, and hopefully some shooting. But damn, this heat! I may forego Isla de Ometepe as I had planned and head north again. Maybe up into Somoto Canyon, past Esteli, near the Honduran border, and explore that.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
I'll know soon enough for all that. I'm going to leave from Granada on July 1st and go somewhere either north or further south. No biggie. I'm going to let my shot selection decide that, I think. In the meantime, I'll continue my writing and my reading in my exceedingly comfortable bed and breakfast. I doubled my stay here at Casa Silas B&B. I get a great breakfast every morning. The place is owned by Rob, a Canadian who married a local girl here and decided to relocate a little more than a decade ago.

Granada is relatively quiet. I don't see many tourists here at all. I've met a couple of girls twice and a guy from the US once. The travel advisory has this place at a Level 3. I think they should rethink that. Yes, there was some civil unrest last year and it carries on even now, but at no where near the same magnitude. On top of that, one American was killed last year here during the uprising. Before that, 7 US citizens were killed here out of 2 million to visit from 2009 to 2017. Can you say that in the city that you live in? The DR can't say that and they are a level 2. They've had 7... I say again, SEVEN recent tourist deaths that have all be mysterious. Nica is getting a bad break right now and it's only hurting a good economy.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
These shots are all new edits from my last time in Nicaragua. As I mentioned, Art Model, @Kayci.Lee came with me for the first month of my trip, January 2018. I went back through to see some of her images for this blog post and wanted to revisit some new edits with a B&W mindset. I can see this is going to be a challenge. Going forward, I'm shooting with B&W edits already in mind. On the other hand, the edit process is quicker. This is going to be fun, though. Enjoy.

19 June 2019

Five Reasons I Will Focus the Rest of the Year on B&W Photography

"If you are not passionately devoted to an idea, you can make very pleasant pictures but they won't make you cry."
 ~ Ruth Bernhard

For the remainder of this year, I'm going to make a commitment to Black and White Photography. Everything I shoot will be edited in B&W... or at least nearly everything. During this backpacking journey, one of my goals is to be better with photography. Yes, I am always talking about becoming better or trying to show YOU how to become better. This will never stop. I'm going to continue to be a spokesman for my craft. I love photography in its various forms and genres. There's enough learning to last a lifetime. Here is why I am choosing B&W Photography to help me achieve this.

Art Model, Leslie ©2015 Terrell Neasley

1. The Challenge

I want to up my game. Putting limitations on myself forces me to exercise photo muscles that can become complacent when you have the ease of use of color. I am already challenging myself with the use of only two lenses. I presently travel with a 55mm 1.8 and a 20mm 1.4. I have nothing in the tele-range. I even left the 90mm macro at home.

I desire to also see light better. I'm pretty decent at judging an exposure without a light meter when necessary. I feel I need to be able to, not just measure light, but I want to see the potential and the opportunities in it. Black and White forces me to stick to the principles of highlights, the mids, and shadows. Without the distraction of color, I am able to focus more on just the light.

Art Model, Safia Sarai ©2016 Terrell Neasley

My first great challenge, back in 2005 as I began in photography, was exposing for snow without making it appear gray or blown out relative to the rest of the composition. So I learned to be better at measuring light. My second great challenge has stuck with me the most. It was being able to THINK in B&W despite what I saw in color. Before I moved to Vegas, I had the opportunity to visit for a few months (summer of 2006) the year before actually moving there in 2007. I shot a nude black woman using film on the red rocks of Valley of Fire. When I tried to process those shots, there was barely any contrast between the model and the rocks! Try dodging and burning that! I did not consider the tone over her skin nor the rocks when shot on black and white film. It was a painstaking process unless I wanted to just be lazy with bland low contrast work. That's not me. I should automatically know what yellow, purple, or brown converts to in monochrome.

B&W work will help me with composition development through a greater emphasis on lines, shape, texture, patterns, repetition, and creating art purely via the juxtaposition of light vs. shadow. I want to be able to "see" more clearly and when I can do that, I find the opportunities for impressive compositions. Seeing the potential will help me with the patience to let a scene develop until I have the right compositional elements at my disposal.

Art Model, Safia Sarai, ©2015 Terrell Neasley

2. Learn More About the Sum of Light

This will be a study. I'm going to learn about light, the characteristics of it, how to best use it, as well as when to use it. I say the Sum of Light because I will focus more on the visible aspect of light... it's sum totality, rather than the spectrum of light, or the color pieces created when light is refracted. In the case of camera sensors, that would relate to RGB pixels which absorbs light selectively via filters. The goal is to be able to make decisions about light subconsciously through repetition and practice. I want to be a more proficient shooter and a more capable teacher of photography by first being a better student.

3. Editing: Back to the Beginning

Sometimes when you want to start over or renew your mind, getting back to the basics of pure fundamentals is the universal start point. It's like going back home. I started out in photography using Arista 400, Agfa100 and Kodak TMAX100/400/3200. That's all professional grade film. I developed my film and prints in a darkroom. I made test sheets of each shot and outlined the regions where I need more light and less light... burning and dodging. You found the overall correct exposure for your prints and then mapped out the individual elements that needed the shadows adjusted or those that needed the highlights tweaked. This will help me with my edits.

Bodyscape, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

As much as I like a challenge, I also want to create advantages for myself. Without the color aspect, editing also becomes easier. Gone are the optical color-based errors that are produced from lenses, such as chromatic aberration. Photo editing tools have a much easier time finding tonal range in compositions when color is no longer a factor in brightening or darkening a subject. You get more quality work even at higher ISOs. So Monochrome surmounts RGB in edit quality and ease of use. Grain is also more tolerable in B&W.

4. Minimalism

I'm looking for a cleaner image. I started on the minimalist trail quite a while back. I've slowly been shedding everything. Now, I carry my belongings on my back. Backpacking is the ultimate in minimalism... just short of being a hobo. Wait... forget I said that. I see the irony, but I see myself as rather nomadic. Sounds better.

As to my work, I want less in my shot. I want my compositions to be efficient... doing more with less. A minimalist must be a master of balance in a composition and B&W will help immensely with this. You are forced to have better foreground vs. background elements. At the very least, you begin to see effective anchor points within a shot that helps create that necessary balance.

Art Model, Leslie, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

5. The Artistry

I honestly think this will help me become a better artist. I want to sell more prints more consistently. I want more exhibitions of my work. Quite frankly, I'm old fashioned when it comes to this. If the current trend says color will guarantee me more of sales and more exhibition, then... well, I'd be stupid not to consider that. However, I have lived my life being true to myself, despite trends. I can adapt, but where I think it's important, I still favor the greats; and that, my friend, is in Black and White photography.

I love the extremes. I tend to weigh more heavily with higher contrast in my edits and those are the same type of images that catch my attention from other artists. I lean towards the left side of the histogram more than I do the right. However, I'll dance around in the shadows or the highlights more than the mid-tones. So the ends are where I play, but I understand grays have their proper place. While I dance on the poles, I still go to work in the middle.

Art Model, Safia Sarai, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
After the love of contrast, drama comes in a close second. I'm not talking social drama, of course. Can't stand that ish. No, I refer to the drama created in the mood of a shot via the use of shadow and in the creative use or the absence of it.

Shapes and lines are more creatively accentuated which result in better and more meaningful abstract symbolism. I can become an alchemist, so to speak because I am able to transform one photo element into something completely different. Having a 42MP sensor lets me crop in on a subject. That too, adds to the ability to create better abstract. So stay tuned. More to come on this.

Art Model, Joanie, ©2010 Terrell Neasley

02 June 2019

Photo Book - Jenny in Peru

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I estimated about 2 months and that's right about how long it took. Two months after Jenny Anne Rose left me in Peru to go back home, I have completed all the edits and now the book "Jenny in Peru" is now available! TWO HUNDRED THIRTY PAGES in a large 14 x 11-inch hardback book, using high quality long-lasting archival paper. This is definitely an art book suited for the coffee table or living room center-piece.

The book illustrates three weeks of adventure in which I detailed much of this in the recent blog post, "Travel Nudes, Jenny in Peru". Do yourselves a favor and go back to visit that post one more time. I think I've got about 10 images from our trip to accompany that post, which is the most I think I've done on any blog post. You can read about the details of our travels from Lima to Northern Peru, back to Lima, then to two locations in Southern Peru, and finally back to Lima again.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

What was unique to me on this particular entire photo project was the greater focus I put on the book while I was shooting. Normally, I shoot simply for the shots, themselves. At most, I shoot with the edit in mind. That's how I've always worked. The edit has always been my primary objective for each individual shot. Almost every single one is made to stand on it's own, sometimes possibly in a series...maybe a triptych.

This time, I followed my normal methodologies, but I also incorporated shots that were specifically for the book orientation, such as shooting in landscape orientation and also some with the intent to make it cover double pages (I want to do the next one in Portrait Orientation) When making a book, the story is the priority. So I want a clear flow for the narrative that gives the viewer a reason to pause and study each page, but also an incentive to leave that page and see what comes after. I want to entice my viewers to travel all the way to the last page. And after having evoked an emotional response one way or the other, they wonder what else I will deliver soon.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
No matter how well-structured and creative a story is, Presentation is second on the priority list. Second, but a very CLOSE second. From the beginning, I wanted the story to be, in a way, narrated by the model with not only her moves but also her words. Given that she is an astute writer, I was able to use her talents and incorporate her style in a way that gave a more complete story about our journey from her perspective as well as insight into her thoughts. In this way, the viewers are able to appreciate the artistic use of her body in unfamiliar environments as well as peer into her mind and witness within as well as without. My hope was a better sense of character development and a deeper appreciation for this model's performance.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Part of presentation is organization and structure. I organized this book mostly chronologically, but also categorically. I used the model's perspectives to introduce each different segment of our journey. Font, font size, alignment, book title, and book customization all go into essentials in book making. This is an art book, so I chose Premium heavy-weight paper. I wanted to incorporate my same since of quality in my prints into this book which also comes at premium expense. I have used the publishing services of Blurb.com for several years and they have provided me with great results.

Order your copy now to enjoy this most excellent exhibition of adventure, travel, and art. Thank you for your patronage!

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley