Category Archives: Film

Bob Shell: Learning Photography

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 1977

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Learning Photography

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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.

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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, Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn Photography

Bob Shell: Female Nudes

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Female Nudes

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Why did I choose to specialize in photographing female nudes? That’s a question I was often asked at my lectures and workshops. My answer is that I know of nothing in nature more beautiful than the human body, particularly lithe young bodies unashamed to be naked for my camera. That’s why Marion appealed to me so much as a model; she was a natural nudist. Whenever we were in private places, off would come her clothes!

Some of my best models were referred to me by my late friend Ed Harper. Ed and his wife were both regulars at a nudest retreat near Richmond, and Ed was an avid photographer who often photographed women he met there. He’d refer the best of them to me, sometimes coming to my studio to photograph them with me. These young women were all completely comfortable posing nude, and since they were nudists, they didn’t have tan lines. Tan lines are the bane of photographers. Yes, they can be Photoshopped out, but that’s a lot of work. I once had a policewoman who wanted to model for me, The only problem was that she spent a lot of time outdoors directing traffic, so her arms where they weren’t covered by her short sleeves were much darker than the rest of her, which was relatively pale. I had to give up on her, because my Photoshop skills just weren’t up to fixing that!

Tattoos can also cause problems. One of my favorite models, who modeled under the name Elkie Cooper, had a bunch of tattoos, and I don’t know how many hours I spent in Photoshop when I wanted them out of a particular picture. In most cases I would not have gone to all that trouble, but Elkie had a magnificent body, and a wonderful personality, and brought my photo’s of her to life. Of course, when they fit the mood of the photo I’d leave the tattoos alone.

Skin blemishes are also a problem for photography as are scars. And I once had a model show up for a shoot with a real shiner of a black eye. She gave me the old “walked into a door” line, but I didn’t believe a word of it. We did what we could with makeup, and I posed her with her good eye toward the camera, and I don’t think any of the magazine’s readers saw anything amiss. When you’re on deadline you make things work.

My biggest peeve was when a model would make some drastic change in her look and not tell me when I contacted her to set up a shoot. I’ve had models cut off all their hair, change it to a weird color, put it in dreadlocks, get breast enlargement, gain a lot of weight, and so on, so that the person who showed up at my door looked nothing like the person I thought I was booking.

Why I chose to photograph women is simply that I don’t do well photographing men. Oh, I’ve tried, but I find the angularity of the male body much harder to pose. Of course, when I was running a portrait and wedding studio I photographed anyone who came in and wanted their picture taken (very few wanted nude photos!) I realized pretty quickly that I really didn’t like that type of photography, so I cut way down on the amount of this work by raising my prices until I was the most expensive photographer in the area. I worked a lot less but ended up taking in about the same amount of money. By the end of the 80s I was making more money from magazine work and the books I was writing than from photography, so I sold the business and moved on, only photographing things I wanted to photograph. I never looked back.

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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://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-meditations-on-cameras-and-the-state-of-the-photo-industry-today/

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Documentary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Models, Nudes, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

A.H. Scott: Madison’s Key

tony ward erotica memberships available online collection archives key

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Poetry by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2019

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Madison’s Key

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Mauve painted nails gingerly pressed against Maurice’s chest
Madison whispered, “Babe, you should get some rest”
Maurice’s left hand had a different plan
He placed his hands over hers and warmly remarked, “Whenever I relax with you, my dear. It’s always best”
“You lay back on this bed”, Madison knew their calypso of caressing would soon begin
As he did so, their hands parted ways
He folded hands behind his head and waited for her delightful play
Madison’s auburn locks flowed against the tip of his cock
“Oh”, Maurice reacted from this feathery touch
“And, to think you were just yawning few moments ago”, She purred, “When you’re turned on it, gives me a rush”
Shaft palmed and funneled slowly by both of her hands
Maurice knew he needn’t make any demands
Madison’s mouth proceeded upon him in a silent dialogue of skill and tenderness
Maurice was never a man to be selfish in the sphere of satisfaction
He enjoyed Madison’s delectable attractions
“Feels nice, feels good”, He motioned hands from behind his head and against her swerving shoulders
Madison gazed up at him with eyes of electric ecstasy
Maurice smiled, “To have you is my wish”
Her hands moved from his root and up to his mouth slowly, “Wish fulfilled”
Maurice’s lips lightly tapped against those painted nails, as he would return the favor and taste her flavor
Madison switched places with him upon the bed
She laid back and revealed her precious gem
Maurice polished her to a state of shimmering ascent
Madison’s moans filled the bedroom, as she kept eyes on him
His mouth took her there
There to that place where her core existed
As Madison squealed, Maurice knew he had her
Not just in an exquisite feast of fantasy’s flourishing
But, an excavation and expectation of spiritual symmetry
Madison’s fingers ran through his wavy, brown hair
Maurice’s head moved with precision in the realm of precious pleasure
Connection of root and rose came in moments next, as Maurice and Madison melted in movement
Like a balmy wave in summer, they glided together on that bed with tempered ease
Crashing minutely, yet cresting in a simultaneous tide
This was their comfort as the dew of dedication seamlessly swirled in a scintillating culmination between them
As they locked eyes in that familiar way, each were draped in devotion’s view
She was unlocked and absorbed in his rousing reverie
Maurice was Madison’s key
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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://tonywarderotica.com/4827-2/
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Editor’s Note: To see more pictures of Maurice and Madison as well as other pictures and films from Tony Ward’s erotica collection, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/category/membership-account/

Also posted in Art, Blog, Diary, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Men, Photography, Poetry, Popular Culture, Women

Portrait of the Day: Alexandra

Tony_Ward_Studio_glamour_portrait_ParisAlexandra

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

 

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

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Diary, Documentary, Environment, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Women

Bob Shell: The Digital Era

Chevrolet_truck_1940's_rust_grill_headlamps_junk_restore

Photo: Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Anthony Colagreco, Copyright 2019

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The Digital Era

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Many of you reading this came of age in the digital photography era. Most likely you’ve never used, maybe never even seen, a film camera. My girlfriend Marion was like that. The first time I handed her a film camera she took a shot and then looked at the back of the camera to see the picture – which, of course, was not there! People who grew up with digital photography can’t imagine having to wait to see the pictures. When I first got started, unless you had a darkroom and developed and printed your own, you had to wait days to see your photos. When I had my first camera shop in the early 1970s we had our photofinishing done by a big commercial company called Colorcraft. Their courier picked up film from us every day and delivered the finished photos. As I recall, it took three or four days to get your pictures back. A bit later in the 70s came the innovation of next day delivery. People were amazed to get their pictures that fast. Next came the minilabs that pharmacies, grocery stores, and discount stores installed. Suddenly you could get your pictures back the same day! Some places even offered one hour service. The race was on to be the fastest, but quality was often lost in the rush. People got back poorly exposed or otherwise flawed pictures, and assumed it was their fault, never knowing they could have gotten good pictures from a better lab.

Today those big photofinishing companies are long gone, as are most of the smaller labs. The last lab in my area, run by an old friend of mine, closed at the end of 2018. People who still shoot film pretty much have to develop and print their own unless they live near one of the few labs still in business.

Kodak Alaris has just reintroduced Ektachrome 100 Professional in 35mm rolls and Super-8 cartridges. They must think there’s a market for it, but that leaves open the question of where to get it processed. (kodakalaris.com)

The Lomography people have recently introduced black and white Potsdam 100 and Berlin 400 films. These come in 35mm and 120 roll film sizes, and are “cut from old stocks of a cinematic emulsion, produced by a legendary German company.”. Available online from Lomography (www.lomography.com)

I don’t know much about the current Lomography company. I know they got their start selling a compact camera made by LOMO, Leningrad Optical and Mechanical Works, in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad in Soviet days) and turned that little camera into a cult object. They’ve expanded to selling a wide variety of photographic products. I’d guess that the “legendary German company” they refer to is Agfa. Apparently Agfa had large stocks of film on hand when they went out of the film business. Rollei was selling rebranded Agfa black and white film under their name for some time. In cold storage black and white film will still be good for many years. In a bit of sales hype, they say, “Steeped in a rich past and prestige, this mighty monochrome is not just a tribute to history — rather a part of it.”

I used to collect Soviet era cameras and lenses from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. While the little LOMO point and shoot, the LC-1 was nothing special, LOMO also made the only Russian-built professional camera, the Almas (Diamond in Russian). During the Cold War days, Soviet photographers were cut off from the Japanese professional cameras the rest of the world used. LOMO was tasked with the job of producing a camera for Soviet professional photographers. Superficially, the Almas looks like a Nikon F2, but on closer inspection is revealed as a unique camera. The removeable prism housing is styled like Nikon’s, as are the interchangeable focusing screens. The camera body looks like a Minolta and has a shutter that looks like a Copal, but is a unique LOMO design. To carry on the hybridization, the lens mount is Pentax K mount. The camera is very robustly built and most samples I’ve seen show considerable use. There is a connection on the bottom for a motor drive, but as far as I have been able to determine, that motor drive was never produced. The 50mm lens on my sample is excellent. It’s too bad that this noble experiment vanished when the Soviet Union collapsed and photographers in former Soviet republics gained access to cameras from the outside world. My Almas has no light meter, but there was a meter prism available in small quantities that is rare today. My Almas is the star of my collection of Soviet cameras.

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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-musical-instruments/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Engineering, History, Light Table, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Science