Category Archives: Book Reviews

Bob Shell: What’s in a Name

Portrait of Marion Franklin by Bob Shell. Copyright 2020

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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What’s in a Name?

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I’m reading a very interesting book: Ancient History of Aratta-Ukraine by Yuri Shilov. I’ve read a lot of books on ancient history, but had never heard of Aratta, so when my friend Ed told me about this book, I just had to read it. Most traditional historians believe that writing originated with the Sumerian culture, but this book sets forth convincing evidence that writing originated much earlier in Aratta, in what today is Ukraine, perhaps as early as 20,000 BCE. The problem I’m having in reading the book is that the Ukrainians have recently changed all the names of places. Kiev is now Kyiv! Ruegen Island is now Ruyan. The Dnieper River is now Dnipro. The Dniester River has become the Dnistro. And so on, and because the book is translated from the Russian original, some of the maps are labeled in Cyrillic. The book is lavishly illustrated in black and white, and will fascinate anyone interested in ancient history who makes the effort to read it.

There’s an old song that goes something like:

Take me back to Constantinople,

No you can’t go back to Constantinople,

Now it’s Istanbul not Constantinople,

Why did Constantinople get the works?

That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

I guess we should say the name changes are nobody’s business but the Ukrainians. But it sure can be confusing to an outsider trying to figure out where places mentioned in the text actually are. I have the same problem with India, where Bombay became Mumbai, and how did Burma become Myanmar and Rangoon turn into Yangon? I have a nice little Atlas I bought several years ago, but it hasn’t caught up with the dissolution of Yugoslavia or any of the more recent name changes. I think any book for outsiders should have the old name in parentheses after the new name, at least the first time it appears — Yangon (Rangoon).

Anyway, it seems that the Ukrainian legislature passed a law in 1995 requiring the use of the new names. But the Arsenal Factory certainly didn’t change the names of their cameras from Kiev to Kyiv! I have a collection of their cameras, many made after 1995, and the export versions all bear the KIEV nameplates. Those for domestic sale within the old USSR are marked KNEB with the N backwards, the equivalent of an “I” in the Cyrillic alphabet used by most of the countries of the former USSR, which looks like CCCP, but is actually SSSR. I had to learn the Cyrillic alphabet when I started collecting Soviet cameras in the 80s, so I’d know things like what looks like Zopkuu is actually Zorkii.

The folks at the Kiev factory struggled to make good products under the old Soviet system. My late friend Saul Kaminsky was the official US distributor of Ukrainian, Russian, Belarussian, etc., cameras, lenses, and other optical products. His company in Connecticut was called Kiev USA. He told me a story that once he went by the factory in Kiev to check on a shipment and found the factory shut down because there was no electricity. He located the manager who explained that the electric plant had no coal, so was shut down. He then went to the electric plant and they said they had no money to buy coal. So he went to the coal company and bought a trainload of coal that was delivered to the electric plant where they fired up the generators, and sent electricity to the camera factory, where the cameras Saul needed were then made. That’s how business was frequently done in the old USSR! One day Saul called me: “Bob, could I interest you in a hotel in Kiev?”. It seems that someone there owed him money and was trying to settle the debt with this hotel! Of course he knew I’d have no interest in a Ukrainian hotel, no matter how cheap! Selling cameras from the USSR was a sideline he’d stumbled into during travel for his real job, lighting technician for CNN. Saul used to say to me that I made him famous from my Shutterbug articles about his products. I used a number of his Soviet cameras over the years with good results, and have a bunch of them in storage right now. One of my first cameras was a Zenit B bought from the old Cambridge Camera Exchange in 1969 for $ 49.95 with 50mm f/2 Helios lens and leather case. The negatives I shot with that old beast are super sharp and contrasty. The folks in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc. knew how to make good lenses.

This goes back to the end of WW II. The USSR troops, mostly Russian, took over the eastern part of Germany. They took the Zeiss-Ikon factory in Dresden, dismantled it, loaded it onto a train, and shipped it, lock, stock, and barrel, to Kiev. They also took the best Zeiss technicians. When I first learned of this in the 80s, many of those men were still living in and near Kiev, where they’d settled down, married, and raised families, and didn’t want to leave. Many of the first generation of Kiev cameras were built from German parts taken from Dresden.

The other best known Soviet cameras are the Fed series. The name Fed comes from the initials of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky, founder of the KGB, who wanted a quality camera to give his men. He had a factory set up to build the Fed camera, a part by part copy of a Leica. I don’t have my reference books here, but I believe they copied a Leica IIIa. I have around a dozen Fed cameras of different vintages. All are capable of taking excellent pictures. I also have a number of Russian fake Leica cameras, which enterprising Russians made from Fed cameras to sell to unsuspecting tourists. One of them is so good only an expert would know it wasn’t a real Leica. Saul picked most of them up for me on his trips to Russia and Ukraine. He also knew of my interest in mechanical watches and brought me a couple Shtermanskyi (Navigator) chronometers, the same watch Yuri Gagarin wore into space. They keep very accurate time but must be wound once a day. One has a rotating bezel for travel, and I used it for years in my trips to keep track of local time and time back home.

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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.  He is serving the 11th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-on-the-legal-front/ 

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, commentary, Environment, Erotica, Friends of TWS, Glamour, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Travel

Studio News: A Return to Teaching

A Photography Critique at Haverford College. Photo: Dan Burns

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

After a two year hiatus from teaching, I have accepted an invitation as visiting instructor of Fine Arts at Haverford College. On December 17th, 2019 my first meeting with photography students took place at the Jane Lutnick Fine Arts Center. My colleague Professor William Williams asked me to join him for a final critique of student work performed during the fall semester. In preparation for lecturing at Haverford I am currently reading, Criticizing Photographs by Terry Barrett. I look forward to the opportunity of teaching a color course with these bright exceptional students at Haverford beginning this month.

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About Tony Ward:

Tony Ward began his professional career in 1980 as a corporate photographer for the pharmaceutical giant, Smithkline Corporation.  After several years of working in the department of corporate communications for Smithkline, he opened the Tony Ward Studio in Philadelphia, to service a variety of Fortune 500 companies and smaller business entities.

His personal work and research during the past 25 years has been rooted in exploring the visual cross sections of fashion and erotic photography by capturing the impact the sexual revolution of the 1960’s had on advertising and in particular magazine publishing.  His first book of photography, Obsessions with forward by A.D. Coleman was his first attempt at challenging the lines drawn between Art and Obscenity by questioning social mores, existing laws, and the evolution of photographic imagery that is viewed as inappropriate in some cultures and acceptable in others. He is particularly interested in further examining the first amendment right to freedom of expression and the impact censorship has had on the evolution of photography’s history.

To access Tony Ward’s curriculum vitae, click here:https://tonyward.com/about/

 

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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: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-female-nudes/

 

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Perfect Holiday Gifts: Fashion Fetish 25 Years. Available in Store!

Tony_Ward_new_book_Fashion_Fetish_25_Years_in_Store_A_H_Scott_writer_NYC

Fashion Fetish 25 Years

 

 

FASHION FETISH 25 YEARS now available in Storehttp://tonywarderotica.com/store/

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With introduction by A.H. Scott. Copyright 2018

 

Also posted in Advertising, Announcements, Art, Cameras, Current Events, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Film, Friends of TWS, Gifts, Glamour, History, Light Table, Models, News, Nudes, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Fashion Fetish 25 Years: Now Available!

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FASHION FETISH 25 YEARS: ORDER NOW!

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Now taking orders for this special limited edition print run of 500 copies on superior quality, Proline Pearl Photo 140# paper stock.  Standard portrait size, image wrap cover 8 x 10 in, 21 x 26 cm. 240 pages. Each copy sold is printed to order, signed and numbered until the edition is sold out. U.S. customers please allow 14 days for printing and delivery. International customers please allow 30 days for printing and delivery. Click here to enter check out: http://tonyward.com/shopping-cart/books-bonus-gift/#gallery/537ab8257ae5dd811ebdcab8cff3523a/102/cart

I would like to thank all of the incredible models, editors, stylists, magazines and companies that made this book possible! 

In order of appearance:

Mikala Mikrut, Alice Chaillou, A.H. Scott, Titziana, Michelle Seidman, Anthony Goaslin, Pascale Descance, Bill Weiting, Ayesha, Dana Rochelle, Sandy Ward, Sharon Franklin, Monica Miraglilo, Marita, Paul Mojica, Deborah Shaw, Richard Elms, Ingrid Cesares, Lee Henshaw, Sandra Bauer, Angelique, Wendy Taw, Nami, Vibe Magazine, Scott & Richard, Bob & Becky Marker, Deann, Paulette Fallon, Bobbi Eden, Kianna Dior, Shay Sights, Rachel Louise, Kelly, Holly Singelyn, David, Savanna, Hallie, David & Devon, Diana Desiderio, Tyson Beckford, Thandie Newton, Quincy Jones, Keith Murray, Heidi & Michelle, Andrea Suwa, Blend Magazine, BLVD Magazine, Lilian DeJong, Steffi, Justine Bakker, Ivita Rence, Jana, Anna Borleffs, Allison Dunlap, Dagmar Rose, Ettore Salon, Elizabeth Southward, Jennifer Cole, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vault Productions, Domina Barbie, Jilian Nonemacher, Leg Show Magazine, Isabella Reneaux, Esther Young, Sascha Lilic, Spoon Magazine, Neiman Marcus, Penthouse Magazine, Natascha, Emina Cunmulaj, Sonya Bright, Tony Ward (the model), GQ Magazine, Thomas Kramer, Park Avenue Magazine, Guinevere Van Seenus, Atomic Bombshell, Catherine Trifilleti Design, Alex Wagner, Louva, Alejandra Guerrero, Floore Jansen, Kimberly Kane, Jennie Shapiro, Maggie Stein, Delicious Corsets, Taboo Magazine, Rachel V, Ashlynn Brooke, Bonnie Rotten, Jessica Saint, Jennifer Lester, K Vaughn, Aradia Ardor, Kevin Stewart, Becky Marker, Katie Kerl.

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