Archive for composition

Big Sur Done Right

Posted in art, FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2013 by cliffmichaels

One of Flickr God Patrick Smith’s  masterful sets






His Photostream, web page, Portfolio, and this photo with over 570,000 hits on Flickr!!

FLICKR GROUP: Big Sur, California

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…Is a Rose is a Rose is a Rose

Posted in art, FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2013 by cliffmichaels


Truth be told, my photos on Flickr are at best only moderately popular. The higher hit photos tend to be of young woman – even a sexy head shot garners a significant number of hits. Oh, I’ve got images with tens of thousands of hits and pics with a hundred or more faves, but they are few and far between in my Flickr oeuvre.

A few days ago my secretary bought a dozen roses for me take home to my wife, I get no credit for the flowers with her; she knows its not me buying the roses. There is an upside for me, however, because I normally photograph the blooms. Here’s a collection of sets of rose photographs. Naturally I post what I deem my better efforts to Flickr, usually also creating a set of those images.

So earlier this week I repeated my standard operating procedure: photographed the roses, processed the images, posted to Flickr. I was moderately pleased with the shots. Nothing truly outstanding, I thought, but some nice ones.

Florals on Flickr are a dime a thousand. Search for flower and you get twenty one million plus photos to choose from (rose returns a mere five plus million). I would guess that virtually ever amateur photographer with any pretensions goes through a floral stage. Florals, even if in a pedestrian composition, are normally pretty and pleasing to the eye. With decent light, a steady hand and intact bloom you’ll take a photo your friends and family find pleasing.

If someone had asked me which of my rose images would prove the most popular I might have said this one. Or perhaps this one. Or maybe even  this one. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The first managed twelve  hits and a solitary fave; the second an embarrassing four hits and no  faves. The third did manage 32  hits and three faves.

Submitting to photoshop madness, I took one medium close photo of an orangish rose, turned it blue and then blurred the outside portion of the bloom. It took me maybe all of fifteen minutes to complete my composition. I had done similar work in the past. Cheap and easy, really.

Lightning struck. Thunder rumbled. Within hours the blue rose had garnered hundreds of hits and scores of faves. As of today, less than four days since its posting date and time, its hit count is 2693 , and has been designated a favorite 134 times.  This, for me, is astonishing. The blue rose is now my second most faved photo (out of 15,512!) – here’s the leader. The blue rose is number  21 in hits. The leader – with over 38,000 – is unsurprisingly a photo of coeds in bikinis (number two is of young water polo guys in speedos).

So in a mere four days an image I thought pretty but nothing to write home about has vaulted into my photostream’s stratosphere. Much of the reason is its inclusion on March 25 in Flickr’s Explore. In my entire time of Flickr, coming up on eight years, however, I have had a mere sixty or seventy photos in Explore. Rose made it to #92.

Alright, I’ve kept you in suspense long enough. Feast your eyes on the incredible Blue Rose…



Roses Pink RosesMe, You and Roses – Only Roses

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Love’s Illusions

Posted in art, erotic, fashion, fetish, FLICKR, lingerie, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY, sexual, Sexy, women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2012 by cliffmichaels


I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all…


Her name is Liz and, as you can see, she’s beautiful, classically beautiful, a bit like movie stars Ingrid Bergman or Grace Kelly. When I met her I thought she was quite pretty. Then my camera loved her: her skin, her large, intelligent brown eyes, her long sweep of raven black hair, her sweetly full lips, her delicate, tanned shoulders, and her lean and lovely legs. When I first saw the virgin images on the monitor after our shoot I was overwhelmed. The pretty teenaged girl I had photographed had become a classic beauty on my computer screen.

As you can tell from the set, I spent a lot of  time lovingly processing the images. As is my wont, I used photoshop quite a bit. She didn’t like her freckles so in most of the shots I removed them, smoothed her skin, slightly enlarged her eyes  (in a few images), gave her eyeliner in a few shots. In the above photo I made her dress blue, gave her blue lipstick and made her brown eyes blue.

Working with her photographs, enlarging her face to fill the screen, zooming into those eyes, those elegant shoulders (and, um, her nicely tanned legs), I fell just a little bit in love with her, smitten with her enthralling beauty, particularly as I enhanced and modified it. Dazzled by the combination of her natural loveliness and my artful augmentation of it, Liz became an object of my desire.

They say beauty is merely skin deep. I suppose so; but most of us don’t have the ability to find someone’s spleen or large intestines alluring. “Hey, guys, catch the bodacious rack of kidneys in that babe!” 

Of course, the shallow and mindless view of beauty, and of sexiness, is most pronounced in the male of our species. I am no exception. When I first spy a startlingly attractive woman I react instantly with a mindless jolt of visceral desire.  For the brief time I am in her presence I’m entranced by her physical beauty, her sexiness, or both. Once she’s out of my sight she’s quickly forgotten. I suffer from no prolonged unrequited longing. (but see this post)

But when I spend hour upon hour upon hour gazing intently at a digital representation of my model’s face and body, and after more hours spent playing photoshop Higgins to my finely pixelated Eliza, her shimmering surface beauty seeps deep beneath my skin and I soon find myself embarrassed by a surging adolescent crush on my fair lady.

My first model, and still my favorite, was the Fabulous Redheaded Angela. Even before pointing my Nikon D50 at her I thought she was sexy. Once I spent hours and hours playing with her photos I found myself wanting her. A lot. Like a seething herd of poisonous snakes, dangerous fantasies slithered through my Hypothalamus. My saving antivenom was derived from chaste passage of time and my growing recognition of  her devotion to her too many children and her religious faith, her frantic frustrations with the family’s chronic lack of money and her often precarious health. The more human she became, the more I understood her messy, ordinary life, the less I lusted for her. Her digital avatar was enough.

When now my crush on the current feminine apple of my camera’s unblinking eye reaches an uncomfortably warm level – when I’m tempted to do more than look – I force myself to get a hold of myself, sober up, get real,  and remember my delightful images display nothing real. Alluring they may be, yes, beautiful, too, perhaps. But Real? No way! Emphatically not! I firmly tell myself once again the women charming me in my photoshopped images are no more real than a blessing of unicorns. Given the deliberate photoshopping I do to enhance my models’ beauty or sexiness, I must confess my images are not only unreal but they are often outright visual lies. White lies, perhaps; but I must not trust these depictions of flawless seductresses. They’re just pretty pictures and nothing more: light and shadows signifying nothing. I get downright stern with myself – “no more of this silly nonsense!” Sometimes I even stomp my foot.

But these strident lectures I deliver to myself in my best stentorian mental voice are frequently less convincing than I would like. It’s so very hard to disbelieve your eyes and so easy not to. I know The first photo of Liz above is false, a sweet flimflam; but in it she looks so beautiful to me, so innocent, so classy, so aristocratic, so sweetly serene. When I look at the image I forget what I know and I just want to drown myself in her big, blue lagoon eyes or softly embrace her delicate, tanned  shoulders. I yearn to hold her. I can almost smell her perfume, see her eyes looking into mine, almost feel the cool softness of her black tresses against my cheek. I can nearly hear her soft, girlish whispers, imagine the softness of  her caress, the passion in her kiss, the yearning of her flesh. My dream of having her, possessing this gloriously beautiful woman in my picture on my computer screen, grows alarmingly vivid.

But of course she isn’t real; the girl in my photos is merely a product of artfully placed light and shadow, proper angles and poses, and my photoshop skills. Those blissfully big, blue eyes? They aren’t real. I enlarged them. They were actually dark brown and were half surrounded by an unattractive swarm of yellowish red freckles smeared high across her left cheek and the left side of her otherwise patrician noise; the photoshop healing brush quickly wiped it away. Her eyebrows were jarringly thick and dark, almost mannish; I lightened and thinned them. I brightened shadows on her face and dimmed harsh light across her forehead. I warmed the color of her skin. I abolished a few zits and embryonic wrinkles. On the other hand, her shoulders are as lovely as they appear. In motion Liz seemed stick thin and more than a little coltish. Caught in the right pose and frozen in time and good light by my camera, however, she became both graceful and pleasingly ample.

Of course I know she isn’t just beautiful skin and elegant bones. She has major, and frightening,  health problems. She’s grappling with serious issues in her young life. Of course I know that. She probably has lots of worries – lots of things she needs or urgently wants to do. She’s only eighteen, after all. Life can be so threatening at that age. I remember how awful I felt so much of the time at that age. I bet she still gets acne. Of course I know it isn’t her shimmering surface, however beguiling I find  it – or make it – that matters to her; for her it’s the crazy whirlwind of what lies beneath.

 And of course I know she doesn’t dream of me, an old man who took some pretty pictures of her one Wednesday afternoon in July. Of course I know that. Whatever her unimaginable dreams may be, they have nothing to do with me. I am barely a bit player in her life. After all, she has no falsely alluring photographs of me. 

I know you cannot have a meaningful relationship with a digital photograph. I know you cannot have sex with photoshopped image. Of course I know that. Of course, too, I know the other side, the real side, of these women I photograph. Of course I know the truth: they are all, in fact, complicated, three dimensional, real people with complicated, three dimensional real and jumbled lives. I also know the women of my dreams rarely if ever inhabit the same wobbly world I call home. I am an adult and I know the score. It’s the lyrics I can’t abide.

But sometimes it isn’t easy to remember what I know (as I grow older it gets harder and harder to remember even those things I desire to recall). An unpalatable truth is easy to forget.  Some of the time – maybe even most of the time – I forget some really important stuff.

When I do forget the peril of believing in photographic fantasy, when I am worn out by all that complicated truth, then once again all my unblemished beauties, who exist in my artful photographic fables and nowhere else, become simply all too lovable and alive.


Portrait  Beauty Women of Natural BeautyAestheteBeautiful WomenGlamour MagazineGreat Modeling PosesErotic Photo Manipulations Fantasy Females

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Sex Without Love…

Posted in erotic, FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY, Sexy, women with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2012 by cliffmichaels


Photo by Juan Cantu, remixed by me, subject to this creative commons license

SHENAY, a set by Cantu


How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away…

Sex Without Love Sharon Olds

Most of the sex I’ve had has been without love. Of the two dozen or so women who’ve shared my bed I have loved two or three; and of those the sex came well before the loving.

Call me what you will, but I certainly found sex  without love much better than no sex at all. Before my first marriage I’d take any sex I could get – even if it came at a price. After my divorce sex came much easier; with most of the women I dated sex was presumed, a casual act without guilt (though part of me missed the spice of the forbidden…)

Those women were, of course, sadder and wiser. But then, so was I. When I was young I ascribed some meaning to coupling. It was important. As I moved through the early eighties my naive sense of awe dissolved. Sex was sex: sweaty, sometimes awkward, sometimes not, sometimes joyful and sometimes not so much.

Then I met L. She was a bit on the plump side, with large breasts and shocking short dark hair. Her large, dark eyes somehow conveyed both innocent and a knowing sensuality. I wasn’t at all sure I even liked her at first. She had a mocking way about her; she appeared to find everything  meaningless. When she asked me out I was surprised. I didn’t think she had any interest in me at all. I had no clue what would happen but I worried it might be a disaster.

She was supposed to come to my sad little, one bedroom house at seven. She didn’t show up till almost nine. By that time, of course, I was livid (this was long before cell phones became ubiquitous). She was obviously just toying with me; to her I was merely another, unimportant plaything.

I’d show her…

We where standing in my tiny screened porch. She was facing away from me, gazing at the darkness beyond the wire mesh. I wanted to run her off. I decided I’d pull her around and kiss her. She’d resist and her refusal would justify that cruel words I intended to slap her with until she left. I am not great at many things, but my tongue can be razor sharp.

She didn’t resist. She kissed me back.  With passion. My anger, my righteous sense of grievance, were immediately replaced by raw desire. My god, I wanted this woman and I wanted her now!

The sex that night, and thereafter, was sublime. In her arms – deep in her – all the sex I’d had before suddenly seemed as drab as faded black and white photos. This sex – this mindless passion -with her – was in gloriously hot, sharp color.

Those lips! Those eyes!  Sex with her was like dancing. We moved together in a delicious, synchronized rhythm. Her smell! Thirty years later it lingers in memory, a key to so much erotic recollection. I adored her crooked smile, more of a smirk, really, when ever I amused her.  And those breasts, those magnificent, round, pink, caressable,  kissable, suckable,  smothering breasts!

We broke up in the summer of 1982. It was awkward; we worked together. I’d finally realized she would not commit to me, marry me, have my children. I’d moved on. At least I thought so. Another L. An older woman whose love making was like a newborn colt taking her first tentative steps:  awkward yet endearing. In her bed, unencumbered by mindless passion, I was masterful. It was fine, it was nice – but it was very much black and white.

Then, in September,  the original L. and I visited the Knoxville World’s Fair after an afternoon spent in depositions. The fair was in its final week and the crowds were sparse. We sat in a too hot tent and had too many expensive beers. My passion for her, a dangerous if beautiful beast until now held at bay, overwhelmed my patchwork defenses. We returned quickly to our office and fucked like animals on the old plaid library couch, with an ardor that amazed me, that I had never known before. It was and remains the best sex I’ve ever had.

My resurgent love refueled our odd, stunted relationship for another six months or so. She still couldn’t – wouldn’t – commit. I met my present wife, a willful yankee redhead and amazingly fell quickly and madly in love with her on a weeklong trip to the Outer Banks in late summer of 1984.

In one of those ridiculous moments life can bring, L. now said she’d marry me. It was too late. I was ensorcled by this new ginger girl. We married less than a year later.

We’ve been together now for almost twenty-seven years; I remain bewitched, bothered and bewildered.

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Too Damn Good

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2012 by cliffmichaels


There are entirely too many really, really good photographers on Flickr. I try to avoid them. If I look at their work I get an urge to sell my cameras and take up wild fern collecting. It’s not fair. There should be a rule that no one better than me can post on Flickr – or maybe there should be a separate and restricted section for these killjoys so us pedestrian Flickr photographers can safely avoid them.

I mean, really, take Bogna Patrycja Altman for example. His keen sense of composition is depressing. Here’s a set of his, but I warn you it might make you throw up, the shots are that good.

Then there’s Vilhjálmur Ingi Vilhjálmsson. I’ve written Flickr demanding his photos be banned. Not only is his oeuvre impressive, but he’s in Iceland, possibly the most photogenic country in the world. Looking at this set put me back in therapy.

Don’t get me started about Philipp Klinger. I’ve been on Flickr six years, posted over 11,600 photos. Not one of those shots has been faved 500 times. No, the best I’ve got is a paltry one fifty something. But Klinger’s got sixty-three photographs with 500+ faves. Shoot the man…

When I’m stuck in a masochistic mood and just want to feel really, really bad  I sneak a peep at Michael Poliza’s photostream. He’s a nature and wildlife photographer. When I first saw the photos in this set my wife had to call me an ambulance…

Then there’s Patrick Smith. Don’t visit his site unless you have passed a rigorous physical and mental exam within the past thirty days. Viewing his best shots has killed more than a dozen mediocre Flickr photographers. He has to carry a million dollar liability insurance policy now. I’ve written about him elsewhere on this blog. My goal in life is to take just one photo as good as his worst shot. Vegas has me a 15,000 to one underdog…


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Travel’s Travels

Posted in photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by cliffmichaels


One of my favorite photographers on Flickr is Laura Travels. Not only are her photographs wonderfully gorgeous, they were take all over the world: From Thailand to Ecuador, from Alabama to Italy. Her favorites are exquisite…

While it may not be politically correct, Laura is not only an accomplished photographer, judging from photos of her, she’s also one beautiful woman.


Alabama – Ecuador ItalyThailand


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Eyes of the Owl

Posted in photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by cliffmichaels


Flickr Group OWLS 

Photo credits (top to bottom): Mybulldog,Tanti Ruwani, Ian Parkes, Nigel Wedge, Johan J.InglesLe – Nobel. All subject to this creative commons license

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