Category Archives: Photography

Studio News: Bob Shell’s New Book!

 

NEW BOOK RELEASE!

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Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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COSMIC DANCE

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Those of you who have enjoyed my rambling discourses here will probably like my new book, my first in twelve years. It’s titled COSMIC DANCE by Bob Sbell and is available from Amazon now. (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 quality paperback; $ 5.95 EBook; 203 pages). You can get a feel for the book by reading the sample pages on Amazon.

This book is a collection of essays developed from notes written in a series of notebooks during the last twelve years while I’ve been a prisoner in Virginia. But this book is not about that story. While my body has been imprisoned, my mind has been free to wander and explore, and conduct the type of thought experiments, that Einstein favored so much.

The book is divided into four sections about things that deeply interest me:

I. Physics and Cosmology;

II. Biology and Evolution;

III. The UFO Phenomenon;

IV. Religion “Christianity”;

followed by some appendices.

The book is intended for the general reader interested in these subjects. I’ve avoided technical language and math as much as possible.

Each section steps off from established facts to explore my personal take on things. For example, did you know that you can never photograph the event happening now? To find out why, read page 73.

I’ve been an “armchair physicist” since the early 1970s when my old friend Robert Anton Wilson (see his bio on Wikipedia if you don’t know who he was) introduced me to that strange creature Schrodinger’s Cat, who is even more mysterious than the Cheshire Cat, being simultaneously both dead and alive until observed. The title COSMIC DANCE is a tip of the hat to Bob, whose most influential book is titled COSMIC TRIGGER.

Whether we like it or not, quantum physics is how the universe works. This little tablet I write on wouldn’t work in a strictly Newtonian universe. Neither would your TV, cellphone, computer, digital watch, and all the other electronic devices of modern life. Quantum physics does not follow human logic. Or maybe I should say that human logic does not follow quantum reality. Either way, there’s a mismatch between the two. For example, we humans tend to believe that the past is fixed and invariable, but it’s not. In our quantum universe neither past nor future is fixed, and much of the past has yet to be developed. Cause does not have to precede effect. The equations of quantum physics are time neutral; time may not even really exist.

In cosmology, the accepted theoretical model of the evolution of the universe tells us that galaxies should be evenly distributed throughout space, but in reality they aren’t, they’re in clumps, clusters, “walls,” so the theory must be wrong. That’s important, but cosmologists mostly ignore that fact.

In biology, even though I was originally a biologist myself, I’ve never been satisfied with Darwinian/neo-Darwinian evolution as an explanation of the biological diversity we see in the world. The theory simply doesn’t fit the facts. We need a new theory that does.

Back in the 1960s, when I was on staff at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, it was pointed out to me that there was something wrong with dinosaur footprints. They’re simply not deep enough for the projected weight of the animals, and some animals that we’ve reconstructed as walking on four legs left only prints of their hind feet, their forelegs never touching the ground. On page 137 I dig into this mystery and propose a new theory to explain this odd fact.

On page 159 I delve into the UFO phenomenon. The fact, as the New York Times recently uncovered, is that the Pentagon knows that AAVs, Anomalous Aerial Vehicles, their term for UFOs, are real and has spent millions of taxpayer dollars studying them. UFOs are real, remember that. Some official documentations of what they call “incursions” have recently been declassified. Why the secrecy in the first place? Because the Pentagon doesn’t know what they are, where they come from, or why they’re here, buzzing our ships and planes. Simply put, if they were hostile, and some may well be, our military would be helpless to defend us from them. Government is all about control, and something they can’t control scares the bejaysus out of them.

In my section on religion, I tackle religion, specifically so-called “Christianity,” on the simple premise that it’s a political system, not a religion, and is terribly dangerous because of that. It seeks to control the bodies and minds of all, believer and nonbeliever alike, as the current brouhaha about abortion shows anyone with open eyes. Our nation’s founders wanted separation of church and state for damned good reasons, and laws based on religion violate that principle, and should not be on the books. The “Christian” Church held back scientific progress and intellectual freedom for centuries, brought us the Dark Ages, and continues to try to do so today. Today’s “Christianity” has little or nothing to do with the simple, peaceful, and beautiful teachings of Yeshua, the man the Romans called Jesus.

I didn’t write this book to have readers agree with me and accept my ideas. I wrote it to make readers think, often outside their everyday comfort zones.

Like Robert Anton Wilson, I seek to make people agnostic, not just agnostic about religion, but agnostic about everything.

I hope you’ll buy and read my book, agree or disagree.

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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-female-nudes/

 

Also posted in Announcements, Art, Blog, Book Reviews, Cameras, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Men, News, Popular Culture, Travel

Mikala Mikrut: Minimilism – A Modern Luxury

Apartment by Tony Ward Studio. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Mikala Mikrut, Copyright 2019

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Minimalism – A Modern Luxury

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Growing up a fan of Vogue and stalking Pinterest for spectacular oddities I could never afford, I’ve come to realize that big fancy mansions aren’t filled with memories and trinkets. They’re filled with artistic, bold pieces to take the spotlight one room at a time. All the big houses, even mansions, I’ve entered felt empty to me. There were clearly furniture and decorations, so why did it feel like something was missing? With this on my mind, I analyzed the homes I was more familiar with. Something in these middle class, well lived, well loved homes was always filled. Whether it be the garage, the attic, a closet, or even a drawer, something was always designated as junk space.

I began to wonder why that is. Grand pictures of impersonal, simplistic decor was somehow more beautiful than the collections people have introduced to me over the years. They could have shared all of the glorious memories attached to them. Still, all I would see was a bunch of vintage spoons I wasn’t allowed to use or dolls that would never break eye contact, teasing me with perfect, dusty curls I wasn’t allowed to brush. These memories that others attach don’t enlighten a sense of appreciation for the inanimate objects. In fact, they have a better chance of making me feel guilty.

In a completely hyperbolized example, I would much rather take John List’s signed Tiffany original skylight than my grandmother’s prized angel figurines. Isn’t that awful? To prefer a mass murderer’s window, for all intents and purposes, over what a loved family member has spent a lifetime to collect? But I would love to walk under dazzling colors from the morning sun, warm mug in my hand, fuzzy blanket as a shawl, making my own memories with the glass. I never met John, so making what was his my own would be cake. I will always have the memory of how much my grandma loved her angels, but taking them on as my own would leave me with the constant reminder of her connections with them. Filling my space with memories that aren’t even mine.

My point is, I believe the majority of us are hanging onto clutter. Whether it’s because we are entirely too sentimental or haven’t carved out the time to purge. For the love of yourself, make your home a safe place for your mind and soul. If something isn’t serving a purpose or bringing you joy, get rid of it! If there’s a big empty wall in your home and a piece from a local artist you can’t get out of your head, buy it! Life is too short to not serve yourself. Why are you hanging on to that ugly knick knack from your mother in law, because it’ll hurt her feelings that she got you something you don’t like? Why won’t you let yourself spend a little extra on the all natural cleaning product that you like the smell of, because you feel you only deserve to spend as little as possible?

Whether it’s because they have the space or lack of unresolved mental trauma, rich people wear minimalism beautifully and I personally drool at the aesthetic of having only what I need and really desperately love. We have this sense to hoard and give things. I propose we shift our mindset to seeking and giving experiences. One of my favorite gifts I’ve ever received were trapeze lessons, my favorite summers were spent on lakes. Memories are my souvenirs, and that’s the best part. If that’s not enough, take pictures! Those store neatly in the cloud, or make your photos the decor of your home. Let’s all avoid becoming the next episode on Hoarders.

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

Also posted in Affiliates, Architecture, Art, Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, News, Popular Culture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

tony ward cameras meditations industry photography

Tony Ward. Self Portrait. Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

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The first professional level camera that I ever used was my father’s Exakta VX1000. It was an odd beast, obviously designed for a left-handed user, with the film advance lever and shutter release button on the left of its angular body. It had shutter speeds, as i recall, down to 16 seconds, and an internal film knife that let you cut off part of a roll of film if you wanted to develop just a few frames without sacrificing the rest of the roll. That camera was my father’s pride and joy, and he’d saved money for some time to afford it. In those immediate postwar years Japanese cameras were considered junk, and the German photo industry was top dog. The Exakta cameras were made by Ihagee in Dresden, Germany, I have that Exakta now at my house in Radford, just waiting for my release. It came to me on my dad’s death in 2000, along with the rest of his photo equipment. It has the 50mm Steinheil lens, a lens that will focus very close; almost a macro lens, and is super sharp. The Exakta VX cameras were mechanical masterpieces. The VX1000 had a top shutter speed of 1/1000 second, while the less expensive VX500 only went to 1/500. My father got some great photos with that camera. It had no built-in light meter, so you used a separate hand meter or guessed exposure. I got to be pretty good at guessing, plus the black and white films we used were very forgiving. You could miss by quite a bit and still be able to pull off a good print in the darkroom. Of course, we developed our own film and printed the photos in our basement darkroom. For a while my father was the photographer for the Easter Seal Society in Roanoke, and the job came with the privilege of using their very nice darkroom so we would do our developing and printing there.

I must have been 12 or 13 when I “souped” my first film, and printed the pictures. Wow, that was a miracle, watching the images appear in the developing tray under the red safelight! I was hooked but good. And the pleasant addiction never went away. That sense of wonder has been lost in today’s digital world. Not that I’m down on digital, I’m not. I was an early adopter of digital, but never thought of how disruptive it would be to the business I love. Suddenly, almost overnight, major photography companies found themselves in the buggy business while automobiles took over the roads. Some companies made the transition and survived, but some didn’t.

A prime example of corporate head-in-sand blindness is Kodak. Essentially they invented the digital camera, and their electronic sensor division made, and may still make, some of the best digital sensors. But did they build cameras to house those sensors? No, they just sold those sensors to camera companies and gave away that market sector. Yes, there were Kodak professional digital cameras, but Kodak just bought Nikon and Sigma film cameras and modified them with their digital sensors and electronics. They shut down this operation some time ago. You can buy a Kodak branded point-and-shoot digital camera today, but it’s not made by Kodak. It comes from a manufacturer in Asia. So far as I know, the last cameras actually made by Kodak were some APS film cameras made at a Kodak factory in Mexico, where they wrestled with serious quality control issues. The last Kodak black and white photographic paper was made at a Kodak facility in Brazil. Rochester, NY, once “Kodak City” has seen the Kodak workforce drop radically, and people there can no longer look to Kodak for lifetime employment. It’s really sad to see this great American company go down, victim of bad management decisions. The same thing happened to Polaroid, another victim of the digital revolution. Both Kodak and Polaroid were instrumental in getting average Americans to make photographs. None of us in the photographic press anticipated the rapidity of the digital revolution, I’m sorry to say.

And now, there is another digital revolution going on, this one moving faster than anyone could have predicted. It is being driven by the cameras built into cellphones. These tiny cameras keep getting better and better. Last year saw the front covers of Rolling Stone and Conde Nast Traveler shot with iPhones! With cell phone cameras so good, many are asking, “What’s the point of carrying around a camera?”. This is a good question for the vast majority of people. And it’s sending ripples throughout the photo industry. You probably didn’t know that those compact point-and-shoot cameras were the bread and butter of the camera companies, and sales of those cameras provided the R&D money for advanced SLR development. Some companies saw those simple cameras making up 85% of their revenue. Where will that money come from now? I foresee a few camera companies going bust, unable to stay in business from SLR, high end mirrorless cameras, and lens sales alone. I’d say that Sony and Canon have the best chances of survival, as both companies are very diversified, with many other product lines to provide income. Fuji has a good probability of survival, too. I wouldn’t bet serious money on the survival of the others. At the very high end, where digital cameras sell for $ 30,000 and up, companies don’t need to sell many to survive, so it’s likely that Hasselblad, Leica, and Phase One will hang on. At least right now you can’t shoot a Times Square billboard with a cellphone, and there are other applications which require more pixels than even the digital SLRs can produce. Serious photographers will want more image control than phone cameras allow, and for things like wildlife photography only a long lens will work, so cellphone limitations will keep up a demand for more capability. To see beyond about ten years my crystal ball becomes hopelessly clouded.

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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-music-photography/

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Art, Blog, Cameras, Engineering, Friends of TWS, Men, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Science

Portrait of the Day: Laura

Tony_Ward_Studio_portrait_of_the_day_Laura_dutch_model_Amsterdam

Portrait of the Day: Laura. Amsterdam 2014.

 

 

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

 

Also posted in Accessories, Art, Blog, Cameras, Diary, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, Models, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Bob Shell: Music & Photography

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Music & Photography

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What do music and photography have in common? In western music we use the octave scale; C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, with the eighth note a higher harmonic of the first. In photography we use light, which we devide into a sort of octave also: R, O, Y, G, B, I, V, — . Aha, there’s one missing! Instead of an octave we have a septave, or do we? If we add ultraviolet, which the birds and the bees can see we have our octave. Most films can “see” at least some ultraviolet. Kodachrome, which we old fossils remember, was notoriously sensitive to UV. Unless you used a strong UV filter when shooting it you risked getting false colors from flowers and certain fabric dyes. Imagine shooting a fashion set of a man in a black tuxedo and having the tux show up as red-purple! It happened.

I believe that I misspoke a while back when talking about the light spectrum. I put the most energetic light waves at the wrong end of the spectrum. I should know better, having done research into UV for its germ killing ability. UV is, of course, the most energetic of our spectrum, having the shortest wavelength. Red is the least energetic, its wavelength stretched out. Below red is infrared, same as heat, and film companies used to make films with increased sensitivity to infrared light. You could actually use your electric iron as a “light source” for some infrared films. Kodak made black and white infrared film, as did Konica, but so far as I remember, only Kodak made color infrared film. I used to love to play with the Kodak Ektachrome Infrared film in spite of its difficulty of use. Lee Higgs used a lot of this film for his classic book Generation Fetish. When I was in Chicago once we had a very interesting discussion of the difficulties of working with the Kodak Ektachrome Infrared film, which had to be shipped in dry ice and kept frozen prior to use. But the spectacular false color images were worth the effort. There’s a cool example of Ektachrome Infrared on the cover of Frank Zappa’s album Hot Rats and another on the centerfold of the English version of the first Black Sabbath album.

But back to the music analogy. The great experimental musician Isaio Tomita went from observatory to observatory collecting the radio wave signals from stars. He converted them all to sound waves and stored them in his computer so he could play them on a standard musical keyboard. This must have taken ages! Once he had them all he recorded an album of classical music. He called his collection of star sounds The Cosmic Symphony Orchestra. I’m listening to it as I write this. It’s beautiful.

Many photographers are also musicians. Ansel Adams comes to mind immediately. He was a classical pianist as well as master photographer. Most photographers I’ve known always had music playing in their studios while they worked. I would listen to classical or jazz while working by myself. When working with models I generally let them pick the music, so long as it wasn’t rap or hip-hop, which both set my nerves on edge. Of course I also had a big selection of 60s and 70s rock. I asked one young model if she liked classical music. “Oh yeah,” she replied, “I love the classics like The Beatles and stuff.”. Generational miscommunication!

Marion, much to my surprise, was familiar with some classical music. Said she’d taken ballet classes and heard it there. She got to really like my favorite composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and would pick his first symphony (A Night in the Tropics) to listen to in the studio or when we were out driving around. Gottschalk is a much underappreciated American composer, a French-speaking resident of New Orleans around the time of the “Civil War.” Although rarely performed in his native land, his works are often performed by European orchestras. I’ve heard the first movement of the first symphony called “more Wagnerian than Wagner,” and don’t disagree. The second movement is probably the first orchestrated samba, full of uncommon percussion instruments. Gottschalk was the “rock star” of his day, staging giant outdoor concerts with as many as eight pianos playing simultaneously, multiple instruments being the only way to produce lots of volume before electrical amplification. My late friend Don Sutherland, who wrote for me at Shutterbug, turned me on to Gottschalk in the 80s, and I’m forever grateful.

But back to colors: We humans have tricolor vision, with cells in the retina of our eyes sensitive to red, green, and blue. Each cell is sensitive to one color only, and our brain processes the signals from these cells to show our world to us in full color. Most of us anyway. Some people have a defective gene that produces cells that respond identically to red and green and see the world differently from the rest of us trichromatic folks. I’ve read that a small number of people have four types of color sensitive cells and also see the world very differently, but I can’t imagine how they see things. We’re unusual among mammals in having full color vision. Most mammals don’t see colors like we do, and many are profoundly color blind. Try to teach your dog or cat to tell red from green and you will be very frustrated, although I’ve read that a minority of dogs can see full color. I don’t know about cats. Its not that cats can’t be trained, but they aren’t interested in the idea! They find the whole idea intensely boring.

Insect eyes, built on a totally different blueprint from ours, generally can see ultraviolet. Flowers use this to attract pollinators by being strongly reflective of ultraviolet. A flower looks very different to a bee, like a billboard saying “Eat at Joe’s.” Some birds, notably raptors, can see well into the UV range, which cuts through atmospheric haze to reveal their prey far below. Their eyes have far more light receptor cells than ours, giving them the sharpest eyesight of all living creatures. “Eyes like a hawk,” is a genuine compliment.

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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/4830-2/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Cameras, Current Events, Friends of TWS, Music, Popular Culture, Portraiture