Best of 2004

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Page created January 2, 2005

I tend to be a little retrospective this time of the year.  I like to look back at the previous year and think about my accomplishments, and I also like to look forward to the coming year & think about what I'd like to get done.

Financially, 2004 was a tough year for me -- I was laid off late in 2003, and I decided not to replace that six-figure income.  This web site has grown in popularity significantly -- at the end of 2003, we rarely ran out of the 10 Gbs of bandwidth allotted, but by the end of 2004, I had increased the bandwidth limit to 60 Gbs, and we often ran out of that.  At the suggestion of a web site visitor, I started requesting voluntary donations to help out with the web site expenses, and that has worked very well.  Not only has these donations helped to cover the web site expenses, the support of my "patrons" has inspired me to do more photography.  Thanks to all of you, patrons & visitors alike!

Photographically speaking, 2004 was a terrific year for me.  I updated the web site nearly 20 times (compared to 10 times in 2003).  And I think I've made significant strides both in my aesthetic and my technical skills.  A special thanks goes out to the wonderful people who have consented to pose for me.  Thank you all very much -- you were & are totally inspiring!

If you wish, you can click here to see my "Best Of 2003" page.  Presented here is a chronological summary of the most significant images of 2004.  (Note -- "significant" does not necessarily mean "best"). 





From Jessica's First Visit

Jessica, a favorite model of mine, is the "bookend" model for 2004 -- she was the last sitting of 2003 and also the last of 2004.  I like this image for it's sensual contact.  This image became a "showcase" picture on One Model Place.  During this sitting, I started to refine this rich style of lighting.


From Leona's Sixth Visit

Between you & me, I never thought that I would work with one model as much as I have with Leona.  She is such a joy to be around, she is obviously breathtaking, and I am inspired whenever I see her.  What more can you ask from a model?  She was just getting started in modeling when we first started working together, and she was a tiny bit hesitant about posing for nude photos -- now, she's a pro.  That natural talent plus her experience makes her a dream to photograph.  She has worked with lots of photographers, both locally & during trips.  Good for her!

This particular image was significant for me, with the soft lighting in my back stairs, this image took on a painting-like feel for me.  I started to think about using the digital camera for more than test images.





From Lydia -- From Fetish To Fine Art

Lydia is a terrific model who is not local, but whenever she comes through town, I look forward to working with her.  She was the first model to pose for me here in Oregon, back in 2002.  On this particular day, we had planned to do a little fetish photography; I was looking to use my fine art sensuous lighting for some light bondage photos.  While we did produce some interesting images, we weren't feeling the bondage thing, and as the sitting progressed, Lydia removed more clothes & lost all of her bonds, and we did some lovely fine art nude images.  We made some terrific images of her back.

For this sitting, I used sepia-toning enhancements to the B&W images.  I had done this off & on in the past, but I started embracing the enhancement consistently.

Dirty Dog!!!   ../misc/tundra/dirtytundra.jpg

From Tundra:  Pet Tribute

About this time in 2004 (late April), my old friend, Tundra, passed away, and as part of my grieving, I put together a tribute page of snapshots I made of her during the 14 years we had together.  I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who extended kind wishes & condolences to me.  Your thoughts were really appreciated.




From Brooke's First Sitting

Brooke is a non-local model who traveled through town -- on this day, she was the first model in my "Model Marathon" -- 2 full sittings with 2 different models on the same day.  Brooke is young, beautiful, and poised.

This image is significant because it was the first digital image that I really, really liked.  Sure, it took a bit of digital manipulation to get it to this point, but I just love the feel of it.  





From Brooke & Victoria

From the "Model Marathon", where 2 models came by for 2 sittings in the same day.  Brooke arrived first, and there was a little overlap after Victoria arrived, during which we made images like this one.  I just love the lighting (it's difficult to light figures & faces well all at once), and I like the sepia toning.  I may never go back to untoned B&W.  

The concept & the challenge here was to make some full-contact images of two models that was not sexual in nature, and these two did a terrific job.

Boy, that marathon was exhausting.  Afterwards, I was tired but certainly happy.


From Victoria's First Visit

Victoria was the second model of my "Model Marathon".  She is very experienced, beautiful, expressive, fun, and easy to work with.  I've got to admit that by the time she & I got to work alone (after Brooke left), I was dragging a bit, but her energy was more than enough to pick me up.  Victoria is very popular & has posed for some of the best photographers in the world -- she was very generous to arrange for a sitting with me.

From a technical perspective, I love the tonality I was able to achieve with this image.  

Would I do another Model Marathon in the future?  Not if I could avoid it -- that day was exhausting!  Would I do it if it meant an opportunity to work with Victoria again?  In a second!





From Leilani & Madison

After working with Brooke & Victoria, I was inspired to try a mildly-erotic two model sitting.  After working with Lydia, I was interested in applying some fine art lighting techniques to this kind of theme.  I had worked with these two models before, and they were good friends, so we got together for a good sitting.  While many of the resulting images are on pages in the "secret" galleries, there were many, like this one, that are available to the general public.

Working with two models is an order of magnitude more difficult than working with only one, but I love the play of light & shadow across not only both model's torsos but also their faces.


From Jennifer's First Visit

Ideally, all sittings should be fun, but Jennifer's visit was incredibly enjoyable.  Jennifer is a budding photographer, a nudist, and a dancer.  It was her dance abilities that contributed to a strong, athletic figure and a special grace when posing.  My only regret is that soon after this sitting, Jennifer traveled halfway around the world to teach English.  I do hear from her occasionally, but that's not the same thing as being able to work with her again.  By all accounts, she is thriving in foreign lands, but we can hope that she'll return home someday.

I just love the power & grace of this image.  I almost hate to say it, but this image makes me want to touch her.  That's all right, I guess, because art should inspire.

(Someday, I'm going to rework this image -- this one presented here is cropped a bit; if I included more along the left side of the image, you'd be able to glance at part of Jennifer's face in shadow, and you'd be able to see her hand under her right knee.)





From Brooke's Second Visit

Brooke comes through town for a second visit, and we didn't get started well -- she arrived on a day different from the day I expected her!  After a little initial confusion, we were both flexible and decided to have a sitting anyway.  We had a wonderful sitting.  We picked a few things from our first sitting to build upon, and we did well.

I had worked in my shower before, but this time was different.  I focused on using the digital camera there exclusively -- the film camera is just too big to fit.  I also experimented in using the digital camera's pivoting / swinging LCD screen to achieve new & unusual angles.  This may also have been the first time I dared to get the model wet.  What is sexier than a beautiful & wet model?


From Victoria's Second Visit

By coincidence, Victoria follows Brooke again for her second visit, but this time there were a couple of weeks between sittings.

Hey, there are no rules here, and I couldn't decide which of these two images deserved special mention here on my "Best Of 2004" page.  I like the top one for it's simple sensuality, displaying Victoria's perfect figure & face.

But the second one, from the "shirt dance" series is probably more significant.  It is important because I simply set up a concept & relinquished control.  Neither of us had any idea what these images would look like, but if you don't try, you don't do.  Also of significance -- look at the smile on Victoria's face.  I ask models to strike specific poses too often, and it is much more fun for both of us if we just allow the model to move.  Dance, Victoria, dance!!!









From Ashton's First Visit

Okay, if Victoria can get two "Best Of..." pictures, so can Ashton.  Ashton is another professional model who has posed for some of the most important photographers in the world.  When she came through town on a six week trip to California, she stopped by for a sitting.

The first image is a refinement of the concept that Victoria & I explored.  For Ashton's version, I used more shadowy light, and Ashton's longer hair made for very striking images.  You know, one patron pointed out that these movement images represented me coming full circle.  With my dance photographs, I did almost the exact opposite -- instead of the very short exposure afforded by the flash unit, I used very long exposures for the dance photographs, but for each, I had to relinquish a good deal of control.  Interesting insight!  Thanks (you know who you are)!

The second image is the start of a new area of experimentation for me.  Using the ability of my digital camera's pivoting / swinging LCD screen, I can obtain unusual angles that I otherwise couldn't achieve with the big bulky film camera.  Also, the wide angle setting of the digital camera is wider than my film camera's wide angle lens.  Craft some good lighting, and we can get some interesting images.  (In fact, I am considering doing some more erotic images using this concept -- hopefully, in 2005).


From Kira's First Visit

Kira is a very lovely local model, and it was a great pleasure to meet & work with her.  But she was having a bad day, and I failed to rise to the occasion.  Sometimes, you can learn more from your failures than from your successes, and from this sitting, I learned to spend more energy into sitting management.

Still, Kira & I produced lots of interesting images, despite our struggles, and I particularly like the sensuality of this image, which is a variation of the low angle digital style.  I also like that Kira's "naughty bits" are covered, which is more exciting than images that are more explicit.  This may be the sexiest image I made this year.





From Lindsay's First Visit

I thought a bit about which of Lindsay's images to include here.  There were many that I liked, including the "freakishly large hands" pictures, but in the end, I picked this one.  This sitting had a first -- I asked the model to put clothes back on!  But I just loved the low-cut style of Lindsay's "comfy jammies", especially next to her terrific tan, and I love the tonality I was able to achieve with this image.  It's important that one's technical ability be sufficient to carry one's aesthetic vision, and I think I'm getting better technically (and aesthetically).

It was also significant for me that I made a special effort to make this sitting fun for Lindsay (based on my experience with Kira a week earlier), and we were very successful.  Look at those images -- we were laughing & smiling all sitting long!


From Jessica's Second Visit

We are back to Jessica -- the last sitting of 2004.  Jessica is a most impressive person.  She is a terrific model and a raw talent behind the camera.  We had great fun together during her visit.  Technically, this isn't my best work, but it may be my best from an aesthetic perspective.  I love the play of light & shadow.  We know that Jessica's feet aren't touching the ground.




For those who are really into it, I did revert to an old habit & started taking that digital camera around with me as I walked through town.  Check out these non-nude images here.  I should do this more.

Lessons learned in 2004:

  • One's technical abilities must be sufficient to carry one's aesthetic vision.  I've stabilized the technical difficulties I've had in the past.  I've also learned to use the digital camera better.  There's room for improvement, but I'm making good progress.
  • I've learned to use the histogram when making adjustments to digital & scanned film images.
  • I've settled on using a sepia toning for my B&W images.
  • Fetish & erotic photography rarely utilizes the same lighting & techniques used in fine art photography -- this is a future opportunity for me.
  • There is a tendency to ask models to strike specific poses, but the more interesting pictures are those in which the photographer relinquishes control & allows the model to move.
  • I am self-taught, taking only beginner photography classes in college.  But I am reminded of the curriculum -- beginners used SLR camera to learn basics (exposure, development, printing, etc.); intermediate students used view camera to learn fine controls (Zone System, tilts, swings, fine printing, etc.); advanced students were given a $5 plastic Diana camera to remind them that photography isn't all technical.  A very intelligent curriculum!
  • It is very worthwhile for the photographer to expend energy to be entertaining to the model.
  • There is definitely plenty of room in "serious" fine art photography for whimsical imagery.
  • There are plateaus of artistic achievement:
    • Level 0:  Beginners are happy just to photograph someone without clothes.
    • Level 1:  Photographing an interesting person without clothes.  ("Interesting" does not necessarily mean "beautiful").
    • Level 2:  Photographing an interesting nude person using interesting lighting.
    • Level 3a:  Photographing an interesting nude person in interesting light doing interesting things.  (I'm here sometimes.)
    • Level 3b:  Photographing an interesting nude person in interesting light in an interesting setting.
    • Level 4:  Photographing an interesting nude person, in interesting light, in an interesting setting, doing interesting things.
    • Level 5:  All of the above, telling a story. 
  • There is more to learn from failures, and you've got to be willing to take chances.  Conversely, don't do the same thing over & over again.
  • My visitors & patrons are a great resource.  I've gotten lots of terrific help from them.  Thanks! 

Here's hoping that 2005 is as much fun! 


All images (c) 2005, Looknsee Photography

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