Archive for December, 2008

Getting Paid…!!?

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on December 20, 2008 by cliffmichaels

My first paid photography gig. I was hired to do a photoshoot of the Loudon County (TN) Bar Association Christmas Breakfast. Sexy work, huh!? You betcha! Up at six thirty, get to the venue, a church fellowship hall, just before eight. Shoot from eight thirty till eleven something. Three gigs of NEF’s. Second shooter (my model) shot another two gigs with her Canon Rebel. Nearly seven hundred shots of lawyers… Hmmm, that sounds like the start of a really bad lawyer joke…

I’ll be making the bar a 10×8 book. Please God, let at lest a dozen or so of the lawyers there this morning buy a copy of my opus from me or from Blurb. 

Now, I’d tell you how much I collected for this thrilling assignment, but I don’t want to make you any more envious of me than you already are. Anyway, here’s a couple of shots from this morning’s work. You can see more images from the shoot on Flickr


Ban This Photo!! Ban This Photo!!

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , on December 14, 2008 by cliffmichaels

First, I want you to know I do not believe in censorship. Not at all. Everyone should be free to express themselves anyway they want. Absolutely. That goes for photos, too. God bless the First Amendment!

But some things are not covered by the Constitution. Courts have ruled, for instance, that obscenity is not protected. I don’t have a problem with that, either. Surely you would agree.

So it is on Flickr. I have no problem with the majority of images posted there. None. I’m very broad minded. I want you to know that. A little nakedness doesn’t bother me. Tastefully done photos of fellatio are fine. While images of dead and dying children may not be my cup of tea, I can certainly live with them on Flickr.

But there are some images on Flickr I feel should be banned. These images are nothing but obscene, like crack cocaine or single malt scotch. Ithink my position is entirely sensible and reasonable. Certain images just ruin the Flickr experience. Here’s a list of just a few of the kind of images I would ban from Flickr if I could:

Photos of puppies, kittens, or any other too cute baby animals.  Any photo taken in Yosemite, Iceland or any island in the South Seas. Sunset photos. Sunrise photos. Pictures of yawning lions, tigers, or bears. Macro butterflies or flowers. And, finally, absolutely any photo with a long poem beneath it…

I’m sure you agree with me. Howe could you not? These kind of treacly sweet images just don’t belong on Flickr. So I want your help removing them. Send Flickr your outrage in an email today. I’m also planning protests, marches and sing alongs…

May She Rest in Peace

Posted in PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , on December 13, 2008 by cliffmichaels

Bettie Page


Dear siren of my youth

Apple pie and fishnet stockings

Black bangs, pink breasts

Black leather with a whip

Sweet sexy angel

May you rest in peace….

Bettie Page was many things. Discovered by an amateur photographer in the early fifties, she was one of the first hints of Spring in the frigid era of sexual repression. To me, when I first came of age, she was a daring vixen, a hint of what might lay in store for me. Later, her S&M photos sent shivers up my spine. When I was a teen, when I first discovered those erotic, pinup images, I never thought of her as a person. Now of course I know the full story. The mental illness, the born again religiosity, the puzzlement she felt at some of the poses imposed on her. Truthfully, none of that matters to me now. Forty plus years years after I discovered Bettie Page she remains my primal icon of sweet, forbidden female sexuality.


Big Knuckles Bruceton

Posted in FLICKR with tags , , on December 13, 2008 by cliffmichaels

Buster “Big Knuckles” Bruceton at age 5. This photo was taken in 1932 when Bruceton was first committed to a correctional facility in southern Indiana. He was transferred to the state prison three years later after he killed a guard and kidnapped two of the teachers. He became the youngest person ever executed in Indiana in 1936 when he ws only nine years old.

I like to play with faces. Big Knuckles combines the face of a five year old boy with the eyes (and mustache) of a old man. The intended effect is to confuse the viewer for a second or two as her eye attempts to reconcile the disparate elements into a unified perception.

I’ve done many such images. I enjoy the photoshop work to make the blended face look real, if only for a handful of seconds. I’ve also done images in reverse, giving an adult face a child’s eyes or mouth or both. 

I also enjoy creating a short bio for each of my jumble personae. If you enjoy Big Knuckles and his history, here is a set of similar images you might enjoy.

UPDATE: Here’s another way I play with faces…

Just One Big Circle Jerk?

Posted in FLICKR with tags on December 13, 2008 by cliffmichaels

Is Flickr just one big circle jerk? Am I just another Flickr gerbil racing on the giant Flickr wheel? 

There now appear to be as many or more groups on Flickr as there are members. I manage thirteen of them myself. Some Flickr groups, such as Flickr Central, are all inclusive; others are narrow, catering to a very limited interest (sepia photos of left handed New York city firemen (alright, I made that up but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there is such a group). 

We all madly solicit for our groups. We all want our groups to grow and grow and grow. I freely admit I troll for additions to my favorite groups (Faces of Maturity and East Tennessee Natural Landscapes). Every image I post which proves popular receives six, seven or more invitations to join someone else’s group. 

Then there are the “award” groups. In return for the priviledge of posting to “Outstanding Photographs Taken in Cincinnati at Dawn”, I must comment on five other photos in the group or be banned. If you are desperate for comments you can post to the mandatory comment groups. Some groups insist I judge ten or more images (I’m thinking of starting a group requiring a poster to write an Italian sonnet about each of the five photos to the right). So we all post photos. We all post to groups. We all comment on photos in those groups as the rules require. Why do we all do this? So those whose photos we commented on will comment on ours, or join our groups? I scratch your back so you’ll scratch mine? I wonder if I would be such an enthusiastic Flickrite if there was no way to get (positive) feedback on my images. So what if lots of people might look at my work but I never knew how many people, or knew what any of them thought about my images. My guess is my posting would be far less frequent.

So I guess the deal is implicit but compelling. Comment Or Languish. I often run across very good photos with only a handful of hits. Invariably these neglected gems are in just one or two groups, or even none at all. God! What a terrible fate!

So I’ll honor the deal. Speed up the wheel; I’ll grab the guy’s to the right. I crave those hearts and flowers, stars, medals, panda’s and all those other cute little graphics assuring me my images aren’t all that bad. And I’m willing to dish out the same to you.

A Perfectly Elegant Guy

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , on December 13, 2008 by cliffmichaels

I think I understand a fair amount about composition. I can prattle on for a goodly amount of time. Give me a chance and I’ll bend your ear on composition until you need cosmetic surgery.

I just wish I could practice what I preach. Or even a tenth of what I preach. In the comfort of my den I can see what works. In the field, in that flush of excitement which comes just before you prematurely click the shutter, I am a compositional idiot. Thank God for the Photoshop crop tool.

Anyway, here’s another professional photographer who’s sense of compositional is simply divine:

Arnold Pouteau

This is an example of what Pouteau does. There are scads of photos of this unique rock on the Oregon coast. Pouteau’s composition is perfect. Every element belongs and adds to the strength of the image. There are no extraneous elements, nothing that doesn’t belong. The inclusion and location of the surfer keeps the image from being just another photo of an interesting offshore rock. It’s a perfectly elegant composition.

Here’s another of his photos, and another and one more. A set of his most popular images is here.

Just looking at Pouteau’s images has taught me much about composition. I just wish I could remember what he’s taught me when my nikon’s to my eye!

Uptown Guy

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on December 7, 2008 by cliffmichaels

It’s not really true to call Flickr a “community”. That word signifies a group of people who share not only the same terrain but also the same interests and activites. Flickr is more like a city, like New York. Eight million souls sharing the same island (and contiguous lands) who live in thousands of communities, many of which barely recognize many of the others.

On Flickr I figure I inhabit a lower middle class enclave of older semi-serious photographers: a throng of wannabes with just enough knowledge and gear to be dangerous. We know how to talk the talk; but when it comes to walking the walk we are  still at toddler level. Sure, every now and again we get one or two good shots – mostly be accident. Our little part of Flickr is comfortable if a little shabby; we are mostly happy. Unless of course we go uptown…

Uptown is where the professionals live. They don’t spend a lot of time on Flickr. They have summer and winter homes in far more glamorous locations. These jet setters just drop a few stunning images here and there and then flit off to their next book signing or exotic assignment in Africa or the Hamptons. 

Here’s  one of my favorites. He was one of my early discoveries. His photographs blow me away. He’s so good I can’t even work up any resentment!

Michael Poliza

And here’s one of his stunning shots. And another and another. Here’s his profile. Im pleased as punch I’ve self-published a book of fairly decent images. He got a rave review from the New York Times for his most recent book.