Category Archives: Art

Bob Shell: Learning Photography

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 1977

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

Learning Photography

.

Many aspiring photographers want to learn more about the art and craft of photography. There are lots of ways to do this, ranging from reading books, watching videos, taking classes, attending lectures, and attending photography workshops.

If you’re the type who learns by reading, there are many excellent books available that will teach you all the basics. When I was getting started I bought every photography how-to book I could afford and devoured them. I think I learned something from every one of them. For those just getting started in digital photography I’ll recommend the book I wrote with Steven Greenberg; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Digital Photography Like a Pro (4th edition). It’s a little bit dated by now, but is still one of the best books for beginners. My favorite photography book of all time is Nude Photography The French Way by Laurent Biancani. It’s probably out of print, but I’m sure Amazon can find copies. It’s great, not so much for photographing nudes, but because it contains the best primar I’ve ever seen on photographic lighting. I learned a hell of a lot about lighting from that book. There was also a very good book on lighting by my friend David B. Brooks. Beyond those basics, there are many good books. The photographic lighting series of books from Rotovision are all good. They use a simple formula, a photo on one page and a lighting diagram and brief text on the facing page. The National Geographic photo guides are excellent, well written and illustrated with great photos.

It used to be that you could learn a lot about photography by reading the many photography magazines, but these days they’re pretty much extinct. The only two I read anymore are Rangefinder (rangefinderonline.com) and Photo District News (pdnonline.com). Rangefinder is directed primarily at portrait and wedding photographers (I used to write for them) and PDN is directed at high-end commercial shooters and photojournalists. My other favorite photo magazines are Vogue, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone, for the exclence of their photography.

I used to have instructional videos sent to me for review all the time when I was at Shutterbug. They ranged from exceptionally good to garbage. There was one set from a really well known portrait photographer on lighting that was completely wrong! Light is basic to photography (the word photography means writing with light), and behaves very predictably. Some of the best produced videos are those from my friend Ken Marcus. I really enjoyed watching them. Ken is a master of using multiple lights for glamour and nudes. I haven’t seen them, but I’m told there are some good instructional videos on Youtube.

If you’re the type who learns best in a classroom setting, then check out adult education photography classes. Local community colleges often conduct photography classes that don’t cost very much to take. Here in my area I used to teach an adult ed photography class through Virginia Tech and the local YMCA. We met once a week in the evenings for a couple of hours for classroom lectures, at my studio for demos, and also did some “field trips.”. Everyone who took those classes seemed to enjoy and learn from them. They didn’t cost much, and the money went to support programs at the Y.

Another possible source of learning is photography schools. The Washington School of Photography in DC offered some excellent programs. I conducted lecture/demonstrations for tbem. These were done in hotel ballrooms, and consisted of a lecture portion illustrated with medium format slides projected on a big screen, followed by a live lighting and posing demo with nude models. These were fun to conduct and I think the audience learned. My sponsor for those was Mamiya America Corp. who provided the special projectors for my 6 X 6 and 6 X 7 slides. Medium format slides are eye-popping on a big cinema screen.

Once a year in October the Photo Plus Expo is held in NYC. It can be a great learning experience, with lectures, photo shoots, portfolio reviews, and a big trade show where you can see and touch all the latest new gear. Info at photoplusexpo.com . They’re affiliated with WPPI, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, but you don’t have to be a member to attend. I’ve given lectures there.

Of course, the best way to learn is by doing. That’s where the hands-on workshops come in. What exactly are these workshops? It depends; depends on who is conducting them. Some have a lot of classroom instruction as well as actual photography on location. The best of these that I’m aware of were those conducted by the Disney Institute at Walt Disney World in Orlando. I don’t know if they still have their photography workshops. You’ll have to check on their website. When I was there the program was a mix of traditional classroom and photo shoots at Epcot, Animal Kingdom and a Disney wildlife preserve. The photo sessions at the theme parks were conducted in the mornings before the parks opened. Walking around Epcot taking pictures with no one around except a few maintenance workers was a once in a lifetime experience. I got some great photos and I’m sure the students did as well. That year Pete Turner was one of the lecturers. If you do a Google search on photography workshops, you’re sure to find a bunch in various places on a variety of topics.

I used to conduct two-day glamour and nude workshops several times a year. Some were held in my large studio in Radford. Others in my nearby forest land. And still others at St. Petersburg Beach in Florida, the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, in London, and other locations here and abroad. I’ve had as many as 60 students attend these from as far away as Hong Kong and Japan, with a ratio of one model for every five photographers, so everyone got plenty of opportunity to work with each model.

I also conducted one and two day one-on-one workshops in my studio. These were one student, one or more models depending on the student’s desires and budget, and me. These were intense photo shoots, real learning experiences in lighting and posing plus the technical aspects of studio shoots. I charged for my time plus the model’s fee and two hour film processing. After digital came along, most of my students were shooting digital, so no film processing fees. They just had to remember to bring enough storage cards, since we tended to work fast and shoot a lot of photos. I had several repeat customers who came over and over for these.

I conducted my first photo workshops in the 80s, initially with Tampa Bay photographer Wayne Collins to get my feet wet and learn the ropes, and before I had my big studio I rented a ballroom in town so I could have multiple sets active at the same time. Those were a lot of work because I had to haul all of my equipment and props there from storage and back again afterwards. I was really happy when I found the big studio space, since I could leave everything there and ready to go. I usually had a couple assistants for the group workshops, one of them, Herb, a very big man, former football player, who acted as my “enforcer” when very occasionally one of the workshop participants got out of line with a model, either verbally or with straying hands. Believe me, no one did it twice! Herb wouldn’t have hurt a fly, but his 400 pound size was intimidation enough. Thankfully he wasn’t needed often, and he was a photographer as well, so he got to take pictures for himself.

Before each workshop I sent each person who had signed up a sheet with the workshop rules. These were pretty simple: don’t touch the models, no alcohol during the workshop, no off color jokes, know how to operate your camera beforehand. I wanted to keep the tone professional and respectful. While most workshop students were men, I did get some female participants. I never had any serious problems at a workshop, although one model did get sick one time and spent a good part of a day in the dressing room throwing up in a bucket! For my outdoor workshops I had a portable dressing room I designed that Lastolite made for me. We were going to sell them, but the price turned out to be too high when you could just buy a cheap tent and accomplish the same thing. I kept the two prototypes for use at my workshops. Even when a woman is modeling nude, she needs privacy to get ready. I always provided a catered lunch at my workshops, and the lunch break was time to ask questions and discuss photography. I wanted everyone to have a good time, learn things, and come away with some great photos. I never had a dissatisfied attendee.

One special treat that set my workshops apart from others was a prize giveaway at the end. My photo industry sponsors contributed items to be given away, ranging from camera bags, tripods, flash units, lenses, to gift certificates. Each workshop attendee wrote their name on an envelope and put a tip for the models in it. The envelopes were put into a box and as each prize was shown one of the models pulled out an envelope and that attendee got the prize. The money was divided evenly among the models. Everyone loved this, and everyone got a nice prize worth much more than the money they’d tipped. Sponsors were glad to do it for the good will it generated. I had many different sponsors over the years, including Canon, Mamiya, Vivitar, Adorama, Beseler (camera bags), Fuji, Tiffen, Kodak, Photoflex, Plume, Chimera, Paul C. Buff, Sekonic, 3M, and others. Canon used to bring loaner cameras and most of their lenses for attendees to try out. Tiffen sent a bunch of filters in 72mm size with stepping rings to fit them to most lenses. Kodak, 3M and Fuji sent free film. Adorama sent a variety of photo gadgets.

I wanted my workshops to be fun, as well as learning experiences.

.

About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, History, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn Photography

Bob Shell:

Deep Hate: Illustration by Thomcat23

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

.

Illustration by Thomcat23, Copyright 2019

.

INSANITY REIGNS IN AMERICA TODAY

.

Many years ago Mark Twain said that America has no native criminal class except for Congress. Will Rogers said the difference between death and taxes was that death didn’t get worse every time Congress was in session.

What put these comments into my mind is that our government has devolved to the point that partisan bickering keeps it from accomplishing much, but what it does accomplish is usually bad. The ancient Greeks had a word for what we have today, kakistocracy. That means “government by the worst.”. And I think most of my readers will agree that we couldn’t get much worse than the current bunch of Bozos. No, wait, that’s an insult to Bozo the Clown, and these clowns aren’t the least bit funny.

But bad government is only part of the problem. We seem to be degenerating into a fractionalized society in which some fractions are always seeking to be offended by what other factions do. Nowhere in our constitution is there a right not to be offended. In fact, in earlier times Americans lived by the maxim, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Freedom of speech/expression is the most important right guaranteed by our Constitution. But many people obviously don’t believe in it. I’m sitting in this prison cell right now because twelve small town jurors were offended by my erotic photography. If they’d paid attention and done the job they pledged to do, they would have noticed that the prosecution never proved the key elements of its case against me, and none of my photography was illegal. But they ruled based on prejudice,, not fact, and were offended by the small sampling of my photos that the prosecution projected up to giant size on the courtroom wall, and those were personal photos never intended for publication.

This was brought back to my mind last week by a news story that I read in my favorite magazine, THE WEEK. To celebrate America, the Nike company planned to introduce a new shoe with the original United States flag, as designed by Betsy Ross, with a ring of thirteen stars, on the shoe back. Nike was forced to withdraw the shoe when people protested that the original United States flag was a symbol of slavery. Sounds ridiculous, iduotic, like someone’s idea of a silly fake news story. Something you’d see in THE ONION. But this really happened.

Now I could understand if Nike had used the “Stars and Bars” of the Confederacy, but the original U. S. flag? And so what? If Nike had any guts they’d have ignored protests from the ignorant and produced the shoe for those proud of our country to wear proudly. I’d have bought a pair if I was on the outside.

Certainly, there were things wrong with this country as first conceived, and slavery was one of them, but there were more good things than bad. Our history is a history of fixing what’s wrong incrementally, striving toward the impossible goal of perfection.

Women were repressed in this country far longer than any ethnic group, and in many ways still are, but we’re making progress on those issues. I didn’t hear women protesting Betsy Ross’s flag.

Communist regimes invariably try to rewrite history when they come to power, but history has a way of surviving to re-emerge when those regimes topple, as they invariably do. In the old U.S.S.R. they renamed everything, thus you ended up with cities named Leningrad, Stalingrad, etc., but when the U.S.S.R. collapsed the old names were restored because people had not forgotten them. The attempts nowadays to rewrite American history and wipe out all memory of the Confederacy are similarly due to fail. Knocking over statues revered by many is nothing more than vandalism, and is just another example of thin-skinned people looking for something to be offended by. Removing names of prominent Confederate generals from schools, highways, towns, etc. is more lunacy.

In Germany, they tried to wipe out the history of the Third Reich. They knocked down statues and monuments and renamed things named after Nazis. They went so far as to purge swastikas from the decal sets of plastic model kits of WWII airplanes, tanks, ships, etc., and banned the display of Nazi symbols. What did this accomplish? A generation ignorant of the history of European fascism, and the many skinhead neo-nazis and holocaust deniers.

Will we have deniers of slavery in our future? I’m sure we will.

In Italy, busts of Mussolini are illegal, but I could have bought an many as I wanted ranging in size from a few inches tall to larger than life size in San Marino. Who buys them? Italian tourists, of course, who take them home to display inside their houses. I could have bought Hitler busts, too, if I’d wanted such a thing. Was I offended that these things were for sale? No, I was not, because I know the history of the German Nazis and Italian Fascists, and that history must not be forgotten. The history of the American “Civil War,” similarly, must not be swept under the rug, but must be taught, and taught accurately.

Those who forget history are destined to repeat it. We must never forget the truth of that statement. If we want a future free from the evils of the past, we must remember them, and our children must be taught them honestly, even if the truth offends them. Not all history lessons are pleasant.

.

About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-objectifying-and-exploiting-women/

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on Amazon.com . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Amazon.com.

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, History, News, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel

A.H. Scott: The One

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Poetry by A. H. Scott, Copyright 2019

.

THE ONE

.

What are you waiting for?

For that moment when everything will be just right?

For the moment you’ll be blessed with a kiss goodnight?

Or, when you walk into a room to have someone look at you with a gaze of perfect delight?

Pondering your worth in another person’s life?

What are you looking for?

What do you seek?

Is it something or someone that will tip your dreams to its’ peak?

Maybe all of it

Maybe none of it

When will that day come?

Thinking you can be the one

The one in the mirror that makes you smile

The one who finally sees you and wants you to stick around

The one who realizes strengths  within that will endure

The one that knows there’s more to this life for sure

The one obscured behind that internal jawboning of defeat

The one who compares to another in a race which we didn’t compete

The one who has settled in ways both large and small

Wanting to expand horizons, but afraid to shine

Affixed to that humble grind

Sitting back and watching seconds turn to years

And, stunted by fears

Staying in your own lane, you never complain

Hands of time can never unwind

Obsolete in stoking a fire within another

Inside of you there’s a yearning flicker of embracing something beautiful and new

Settling is safe, as is the shore

There’s so much more to life to adore

Maybe, it’s not another which you seek

It’s someone closer than you think

The one is you

Just look in the mirror

You will see it through

You will see it true

The one

You

.

About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by A. H. Scott, go here:http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/a-h-scott-madisons-key/

.

Editor’s Note: To see more pictures of Alice as well as other pictures and films from Tony Ward’s erotica collection, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/category/membership-account/

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, Diary, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, Models, Poetry, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Mikala Mikrut: Romance With Horror

.

.

Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

.

Photography by Sabrina Galaviz and Alexandria Romain, Copyright 2019

.

ROMANCE WITH HORROR

.

  I, among many others, absolutely love horror movies. In fact, that is my genre of choice. I once screamed in a theater and had a 7 year old girl in front of me, no parents insight, turn around and give the most judgemental look. No shame. Many people I know claim to like it because they “like being scared,” but then when I jump out from behind a partially closed door on their way to the bathroom, I’m met with profanity rather than laughter of delight. So what is it really that draws us to watch gore and jump scares while also never venturing further from modern suburbia?

    Perhaps the answer is more obvious than we think. Søren Birkvad, film scholar of Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, says it’s simply an activity to avoid boredom. There is a trait called “sensation seeking” in which people with personalities that get bored easily score high on. Those are the types of people that typically like horror films. So if you find yourself easily bored and happen to enjoy scary movies, there you go. You can now add sensation seeker to your resume, with caution of course. The term could take an interesting turn.

    Another possible explanation can be found in the elements that make up the films themselves. Dr. Glenn Walters has defined the ingredients as: tension, relevance, and unrealism. I think this is the case for most exciting life situations. Horror films need tension to build, relevance to captivate an audience, and unrealism so said audience can fall asleep without salt lines or cuddling up next to their bedside handgun. In parallel, romance needs tension for heat, relevance for conversation, and unrealism to keep you wanting more. The same could be said for many more experiences, but I think for intensity purposes those three things make up only the best of situations.

    The most common answer found as to why we crave scary movies is to satisfy the “beast within.” It’s easy to say that we all have some measure of sicko. Maybe you like watching peoples’ heads getting bashed in, or the jump scare is what reminds you what it feels like to truly be alive, or maybe you don’t button and iron the back pockets on your khaki shorts. No matter how disgusting you are, horror films will always be there to comfort and remind you that there are freaks worse off than you. That’s all we long to know, right? That we aren’t the ones at rock bottom.

    I like scary movies. To others they may seem cliché or niche, but to me they are a reminder of how truly pleasant my life is. I have the privilege to not go about my day wondering if I’ll stay alive despite of a masked man or being held captive in a foreign country without the comfort of my family. The truth is that our world already has the scariest realities. Those happy endings in flicks aren’t conclusions. They are reminders that if we take action against our monsters from personal health to daunting tasks of speaking up and acting for those who are living their nightmares, then there is still hope. 

.

Mikala Mikrut 2019

.

About The Author: Mikala Mikrut is a junior enrolled at Southern Utah University. To access additional articles by Mikala Mikrut, click here: http://tonyward.com/mikala-mikrut-minimalism-a-modern-luxury/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Exhibitions, Friends of TWS, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Portrait of the Day: Carmen

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

 

Editor’s Note: To see more pictures of Carmen as well as other pictures and films from Tony Ward’s erotica collection, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/category/membership-account/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Glamour, History, Jewelry, lifestyle, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Women