Category Archives: Nudes

Bob Shell: Learning to See and Equipment Meditations

Portrait of Kimberly Kane. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 
Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020
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Learning to See and Equipment Meditations 
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Many people, when they get into photography, become “equipment freaks,”. buying lens after lens in a quest for better photographs. I know, I was one myself. Those people keep the camera companies in business. I didn’t understand that better photography comes from training the eye and mind, not from accumulating more equipment. Yes, you do need some good equipment to make the best photographs, but adding lens after lens won’t make you see better. After going lens crazy early in my career I reached a point of saturation. Then I began to pare down my equipment to just what I needed. For most of my travel I carried a simple outfit of a 24mm lens, a 28-80 zoom, and a 100-300 zoom. Depending on where I was going I might add a 20mm, 100mm macro or a 400mm and 2X tele converter. I found I could handle almost any contingency with that simple outfit. I rarely used the 24mm or the long end of the 100-300 zoom range. My kit fit handily in a medium sized camera bag with room left for a flash unit and a bunch of film. After digital my kit didn’t change much, just a bunch of storage cards instead of film.

One time when I was going to Las Vegas for a week I challenged myself and took only a little Leica point and shoot with a 28mm lens. I came back with a bunch of great shots, and only wished for my regular kit a couple of times. When you only have a lens with one focal length you learn to zoom with your feet. I wrote an article in Shutterbug about that experiment and illustrated it with some of the photos from the trip. The only time the 28mm was a problem was in closeup photos of people, but just stepping back took care of the distortion.

In my studio I found that I could do just about anything with a 28-80 zoom, and rarely attached anything else to my camera. For my outdoor nudes the 28-80 f/2.8-4.0 and 70-200 f/2.8 could handle all my needs. The 24 was in my bag, but rarely came out. I had a 20, but used it so seldom that I sold it. I kept a 16mm Russian fisheye around for those rare times that it made sense.

Try an experiment. Spend a week photographing with only one lens. Instead of changing lenses, change your point of view. Zoom with your feet. Force yourself to think in terms of that one focal length

Many of the world’s great photographers worked with the Rolleiflex twin lens reflex cameras, with their fixed 80mm lenses on 6 X 6 format. Those photographers learned to see in terms of that one lens, and produced some spectacular images.

In the 70s I tried that for a while. I bought a used Rolleicord, the cheaper model of Rollei TLR and worked with it all one summer. I had a lot of fun with that camera, and got some photos I like very much. That camera taught me the benefit of carrying a tripod for the sharpest possible images of non moving subjects, a lesson I’ve never forgotten. When a tripod was just too cumbersome to tote, I’d carry my lightweight Gitzo carbon fiber monopod, which doubled as a walking stick. A monopod is also great for getting shots from high angles by holding it up overhead and using a remote release or self timer to fire the camera.

My favorite tripod/monopod head is the Acratech ball head. Compact, light, and very sturdy. I’ve tried many other ball heads over the years when reviewing them for articles, but always found myself going back to the Acratech for my personal work. I used the version with the Arca-style quick release, which lets me put a camera and lens on and off very quickly and easily. The only time I used a different head is when shooting with a view camera, either my 4 X 5 Toyo monorail or my old Eastman 2D 8 X 10 field camera. For those heavier cameras I have a big ball head made by Schoon in Holland. Obviously, I really prefer ball heads. When using the big, heavy 8 X 10 I use a heavy duty wood tripod. Mine is the Brom Master, made in Germany. It will support damn near anything. But the times I’ve used my view cameras after I started working with digital can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I wouldn’t want to be a view camera salesman today. I even thought of selling my Toyo outfit until I saw the low prices they were going for, and decided just to keep it. Maybe one day the prices for digital backs for them will drop down to my level. There are many things you can only do with a view camera with full swings, tilts, and shifts. Tilt-shift lenses can come close, and are sufficient for many applications. Zorkendorfer in Germany makes adapters to allow tilt and shift on most digital SLR cameras using medium format or enlarger lenses (www.zoerk.com).

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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 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/civil-war/

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.

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A.H. Scott: Flags of Our (Mythical)Fathers

Flag. Artwork by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2020

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Flags of Our (Mythical) Fathers

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Observing the daily dumpster of disaster which is the Trump presidency, a constant refrain which swirls in my brain is this: WHAT THE FUCK, AMERICA?!!

‘God is gonna shake His mighty head

He’ll either say I’m pleased where man has been

Or tear it down, and start again

In the year 9595

I’m kinda wonderin’ if man is gonna be alive

He’s taken everything this old earth can give

And he ain’t put back nothing

Now it’s been ten thousand years

Man has cried a billion tears

For what, he never knew, now man’s reign is through’-   

“In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)” – Zager and Evans, 1968[a]

Musical duo of Denny Zager and Rick Evans’ hauntingly, eloquent melody from 1968 taps into the sparks of an oncoming apocalyptic desolation which mankind has brought upon himself.

When I was a young girl in the 1970’s and heard this song on the radio I just kind of bopped my head to the beat of the tune. As I have gotten older through the years and think about this song from all those decades ago, it’s the vision of the lost soul of humanity that I’ve come to absorb.

What could a symbol mean? It could be a piece of fabric, brick of stone, or just a long ago memory. Or, is it only a fallacy crafted by cynicism which holds no true allegiance.

Thus, “Flags of Our (Mythical) Fathers” was born.

Ensemble of sky blue cashmere dress made for a statement of elegance as she stood holding an object in her hand, as he began to raise his right hand to take the oath of the highest office in the land of America:

“I, Donald J. Trump, do solemly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” – President Donald J. Trump, January 20, 2017 [b]

Unseen in the shadows is the ghost of Marie Antionette, as she claps politely at the lady in blue and a lady in black, each holding a common item in hand – a Bible.

But, I’ll get into the lady in black a little further later. For now, it’s the coy beauty of European mystique[c] in sky blue, standing by the side of a certain man of the moment.

2017 seems like four centuries ago, but its’ only been four years since Donald J. Trump assumed the presidency of the United States of America.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”– President Abraham Lincoln

A person can focus, propagate, and drift in attraction towards certain things. For some it could be an admiration of the written word, like yours truly. For others, it might be a plethora or leisure sports.

You see, a child isn’t as easily adaptive to choosing something positive or negative. But, as for an adult, that’s a whole other ball game. And, yes, all pun intended.

Adults make choices for good or bad reasons. Done once, it can be casted off as a mistake of misunderstanding of the elements of a subject at hand. Maybe it is a fluke of association or an unfortunate use of a phrase. Repetitively done, it’s a revelation of a person’s basest essence.

It is exactly whom they are, right down to the marrow of their bones.

So, when a person chooses to engage in a shameless flirtation with an ugly underbelly of the American patchwork; then the hushed tones of civility dissipate and the bullhorn of righteous response is raised for what a person faces from other American citizens.

We all make choices. We make them from the moment we awaken to the moment we retire off to sleep.

But, when a President of the United States makes a conscience choice to stand on the wrong side of history in ardent affection for the Confederacy, he has abdicated the mantle of being a leader.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”– President John Quincy Adams

American carnage? American choice.

President Donald J. Trump is absent without leave to the American people. He is vacant of humanity. He is vacant of compassion. He is vacant of leadership.

Constantly in a front-facing battle of attempting to drape himself beneath a boastful banner of ‘his Generals’, President Donald J. Trump hasn’t the deft skill of using a simplistic rah-rah in some sort of bravado’s folly in being such a pretender. Wannabe warrior of military might is he, as a screaming eagle of victorious conquest is only a tweeting chirp of puny poultry.

The truth of his stewardship of the ship of state has not been that of a sail which stands tall in reality, but a flaccid wave of a white flag from his own self-indulgent delusions of granite.

As if being in the presence of those men and women who have dedicated their lives to the American military could change who he is in an act of osmosis of transferring their glory onto him Donald Trump falls short of not even greatness, but the most underwhelming of that which is mediocre. Honor can’t be bought or rented for a temporary image boost.

Besmirching men who have served with honor for the benefit on the behalf of a grateful nation, President Trump hammers anyone who dare have opinions other than his.

Childishly he tweets about Presidential harassment when other branches of government hold him in legislative or judicial check, as if anything that does not go his way is a slight to his oh so fragile ego. This is how he chooses to act, time and time again.

For him, a flag is just a prop in his phony play of being the tough guy who beats his chest and howls of uber-patriotism.

Funny thing about the length of one’s life is that over a certain ten-plus year period in the younger years of Donald John Trump he had his chance to prove his level of making a sacrifice on behalf of this country. But, it just wasn’t one chance, but five of them.

Maybe bone-spurs are just like Coronavirus in the magical thinking of Donald Trump and ‘will just disappear’, especially when he’s on one of his golf courses almost every weekend.

Then again, sacrificing himself for his country ain’t his thing either. Trump’s way is to attack those who have done what he wouldn’t or couldn’t have the backbone to do.

Anyone who dare speak the truth about the absence of leadership of President Donald J. Trump is snarled at by him as being ‘overrated’. Such is the esteemed former Marine General James N. Mattis, who was Secretary of Defense in the Trump Administration.

Always in a calculated cloaking of himself as a conqueror, President Trump’s zeal in clinging to using a certain nickname for former General James Mattis is based upon a moniker continuously promulgated by the press during their coverage of this military man.

Never has Donald Trump once called the General another nickname[d] those marines who respect and have served with and under him refers to him as. But, I guess the nickname of the “Warrior Monk” isn’t as snappy for the twitter feed as “Mad Dog”.

The image of a military man who studies history and lessons in the art of war is a snore to Donald Trump; as he always craves that myth of the lowest common denominator of bloodlust.

President Trump gleefully propels presentation to accelerate that which he lacks himself – courage, wisdom, or forethought of consequence.

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us,” – General James Mattis, former Defense Secretary [e]

Even the American heroes of the D-Day invasion of decades long ago that are buried on hallowed ground in Normandy, France aren’t safe from the debasement of his constant hunger for getting an apt image for his campaign scrapbook of crassness.

Once seated with an interviewer from his favorite news channel, with the white marble crosses dotting the greenery in the background behind him, President Donald J. Trump derided Robert S. Mueller[f] as being a ‘fool’ and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as ‘Nervous Nancy’. Even on foreign soil, he demeans the office of the president with juvenile snarkiness.

Another one of such men which became a constant target of vileness was former prisoner of war, Senator John. S. McCain, who was belittled by then candidate Trump as not being his type of ‘hero’ because he was shot down and captured during the Vietnam War.

Victim of another in President’s odious odyssey of bullying is the courageous Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, driven to the point of retirement, months after his steadfast testimony about the Ukraine shakedown for Trump’s petty political gains.

Impeachment of a President would seem to sober a man drunk on hubris and enlighten him to humility in being chastened by the ramifications of his own actions that led to a judgment which only two other men holding that office has faced.

But, oh no, never his thumbs are taken off that accelerator of arrogance. In fact, getting impeached was like getting a shot of adrenalin into his veins.

Donald J. Trump is unfit for the office of President of the United States, as his dereliction is laid bare before the stopwatch of this moment in time.

He is the man who has tossed in the towel on confronting the challenges we face in this country, as it teeters into an unknown future.

Our national health, our national security, our national narrative; these three issues are held in the palm of his hand.

In the dichotomy of grasping at the cords of security, are the frayed strands of insecurity. The crash of the American prospect has been a long time coming and the catastrophe of a pandemic has hastened the culmination of insecurity in this moment.

Economic insecurity in this era of recession is aligned with the housing insecurity of whether rents and mortgages can be paid in the coming months from citizens who have lost their jobs due to business closures, furloughs from businesses waiting to re-open, and that final nail of impatience from landlords, both small and large.

Intertwined in the economic realm is the healthcare crisis we all face. If a person doesn’t have a job or hasn’t a roof over their heads and a tragic illness comes to pass; they cling to a lifesaver which only the Federal Government can afford them to survive.

Then, there is food insecurity, which none of us are immune from if the first brick of our own budgetary walls of security crumbles. Food pantries around the nation have been stretched to their limits, as families that have been whiplashed by the past six months are trying to keep their bodies nourished and souls revived by experiencing the open hand of their fellow Americans.

Does he live up to the oath he took on January 20th, 2017?

A trio of words listed in the Presidential oath rings out like a bugle blaring at reveille:  preserve, protect, and defend.

Preserve the health and wealth of fellow Americans by using all levels of power in your wheelhouse of Presidential directives and executive orders; such as the Defense Production Act to enlarge the national stockpile with Personal Protective Equipment and a simple mandating for the wearing of masks.

Protect the rights of all citizens in this country with an enforcement of equality and justice for all, using the enormous power of the Justice Department to investigate, prosecute and hold authorities accountable for violations of civil rights.

Defend this nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. President Trump’s inaction is an action of sorts, as he constantly seems like a puppy in need of a belly rub when he is given any blink of attention from the Russian President.

On that foreign front, Vladimir Putin has free reign to take out murder-for-hire contracts on our men and women on the frontlines in Afghanistan and not a peep of objection drifts from Trump’s lips. But, more threatening is the internal tide of terroristic orthodoxy based on nationalism that has been courted and arisen by the winks of affirmation which is given by the President of the United States of America and his Oval Office minions.

The health of the American people cannot be pushed to the side in a misguided attempt to reopen the economy of this nation. And, make it seem like life in this country is back to normal, just by willing it away with some magical Trumpian thinking.

In a mega-ego showdown of the Wall Street economic axis of Trump-Kudlow-Navarro-Kushner versus an invisible Coronavirus – the virus wins like a penny tossed into the sputtering machinery of American industry.

Pandemic of virus, financial upheaval and racial reckoning is on the platter of tasks. And, it is this meal Donald J. Trump has been served up and is obligated by oath of his office to chew on, one damning bite by one.

America needs a leader. We have Donald J. Trump.

“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver five minutes longer.” – President Ronald Reagan [g]

In the wake of his abdication, we as the American people mustn’t abdicate our role in this society. The hero is the person we see in our own mirror.

If we wait for President Donald J. Trump to save us; we will be dust. 

Oh, and of course I am not in any way saying Coronavirus is his fault. But, the aftermath of its’ spread and how he has decided to deal with it, is his duty.

Two elements he could do right now, could be to put on a mask, wear it continuously in public, and tell everyone to follow his lead. But, then again, it would mean he would have to lead others beyond just thinking about himself.   

Down to the small things which each and every one of us can do on a daily basis – Wear a face mask or covering. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands.

Of course this is a small thing each and every one of us can do. But, until a vaccine for Coronavirus is found, we can show courtesy in keeping each other off this deadly disease’s grid.

Whenever around others, show that little bit of courtesy in caring about them, as much as you care about yourself.

It is evident that he can’t even craft a thin veneer of faking comprehension of the enormity of what’s going on, as he revels in ignorance like a pig in mud; which is an insult to swine.

Parroting words of confusion over his years in the public eye show the contradiction, hypocrisy, cruelty, and just downright nuttiness of message conveyance.

Allergic to the principles of science that is driven by analytical theory, he comes up with his own bizarre remedies. In Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Medicine bag of misery are screwball pandemic panaceas of taking a swig of disinfectant cocktails and illuminating yourself with shoving of light-bulbs up your nether-regions.

“And then I said, supposing it brought the light inside the body, which you can either do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re gonna test that too, sounds interesting. And I then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way you can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So you’re going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it goes in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.” – President Donald J. Trump, April 23, 2020 [h]

The reckless way he speaks, as casual about a lethal disease as if it were a game of Wheel of Fortune; with lives of Americans in that black hole of existence’s bankruptcy for another year.

Caution is the melody that should be heard by us all. But, that ain’t his thing.

Dancing with hate has never been a danger to the political existence of President Donald J. Trump, until the pulse of the American people has started shifting to the rhythm of a different tune.

The choir of chaos played a vicious screed of nationalism in Charlottesville, Virginia during that first August of the Trump presidency in 2017, leaving a young woman named Heather Heyer dead from injuries after being run over by a white supremacist.

Among the participants of the “United the Right Rally” was David Duke, a former head of Ku Klux Klan. He was not ashamed to speak to the cameras that were there that day. In fact, Mr. Duke beamed with joy in knowing a man represented his point of view on racial issues was in the highest office in the land.

“We are determined to take our country back, we’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.” – David Duke, August 12th, 2017, Charlottesville, Virginia[i]

Mr. Duke’s statement of support for the current occupant of the White House was not denounced or rejected by the President.

But, Donald Trump probably just needed a few days to say how he really felt in being put in the same category as a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Of course, he would say what happened was the fault of those nationalists at this tragic event. And, not doling out comparisons of guilt to the counter-protestors who were standing up for what we all proclaim American values are.

There are the right words to say. There are the wrong words to say. Well, then there are those uninspiring words of Donald J. Trump.

Then, in case of President Trump, there is that dance between the raindrops of his racist supporters and the rest of America. He chose to dance in the dark once again.

“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame object both on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that the neo-Nazis started this thing. They showed up in Charlottesville. Excuse me. They didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis. You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides.” – President Donald J. Trump, lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, August 15th, 2017 [j]

Boy from the New York City borough of Queens, whose grandfather hadn’t touched a toe upon the shores of the United States of America until 1885, which was decades AFTER the Civil War had ended, firmly plunges himself deeply into the adoration of the trappings of the treasonous secessionists of the South.

Mr. President, you are not Donnie from Dixie. You are Donald from Queens.

So, when he speaks so passionately about the Confederate flag and the monuments of granite and steel; it is not from the position of a son of the Southern states of America. He is only a son of a Trump from Queens.

For me, I might not agree with a native of the South speaking about his or her forefathers or foremothers’ participation in the Civil War; but, it would be something I could comprehend in giving them enough respect in their family history. At least they would have the link of their bloodlines to the events in those days gone by.

But, one thing that does stump me is someone who hasn’t any droplet of lineage to the South. I guess it is a mystery; just like the never-ending audit of Donald Trump’s taxes.

It’s just ironic that he is so enamored with symbols of those on the losing side of the Civil War. But, yet I can only voice my opinions on what I see a public official gravitate their time, effort and vigor towards.

For this occupant of the White House, he might have been more comfortable in Jefferson Davis’ homestead rather than Washington.

Public funding of iconography of the Confederacy is something which many taxpayers, both white and black know little about.

Taking a moment to touch upon the President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, his Presidential Library located in Mississippi is a bucolic place of Southern yesteryear and funded by taxpayer dollars of its’ white and black citizens.

Beauvoir was where Jefferson Davis wrote his memoir, which featured his thoughts on the beneficial aspects of slavery to the enslaved Africans he owned; which included the following –

“Their servile instincts rendered them contented with their lot. Never was there a happier dependence of labor and capital upon each other.” – Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America[k]

Now, this is one of the sages of the losing side of the Civil War, which President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump has decided to embrace in his cockeyed craving of appeasing those with similar beliefs in this present day. 

This is just one of the patches of poison which President Trump has insidiously attempted to meld into the fabric of being normalized and even heralded as a note of a tradition all Americans should be proud of.

Unexpectedly, it is a level of isolation which Americans are dealing with during this pandemic. The hustle and bustle of the daily grind of our busy lives have been slowed down so much over these past months, that a moment May 25th, 2020 on a street in Minneapolis would be the latest marker of sorrow in the story of America. More precisely it was 8 minutes and 46 seconds.[l]

Contrasting the beating of Rodney King in the darkness of a California night, George Floyd’s life was taken from him under the light of the blue sky above. Man of nonchalant malevolence held knee on neck and causally placed hand in pocket of his uniform pants, as he stole George Floyd’s humanity in those final breaths as he pleaded to maintain his life. In daylight, he gazed directly at the camera which was filming him with that chip on his shoulder as a cape of carefree in thinking this was just a black man and no one would care. Even to the extent of that look on his face as if to act like someone who figured this person is nobody; someone that no one will bat an eyelash of thought over. 

Era of pandemic’s side effect of stillness in having nothing else holding our undivided attention has proven to be a transformative moment in this country. If only a bully could use his pulpit for progress, than retreat.

Disunity is the defining markers in the signposts of the presidency of Donald J. Trump; from David Duke to George Floyd.

“Hopefully George is looking down, right now, and saying, “This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.” This is a great day for him.” – President Donald J. Trump, June 5th, 2020 [m]

He doesn’t strive to bring us together, as he relishes tearing us apart in words and actions.

Being a man who is void of any modicum of mutuality for others is just a walk in the park for him.

Park? Park? Hmm, that reminds me of something.

Oh, hello Lady in Black! Don’t think I could forget about you and a certain walk you took along with President Donald J. Trump on the first day of June 2020.

Maybe he was going down memory lane of standing at his Inauguration with a hand on Bible which was held by the demure lady in sky blue.

“The Bible tells us, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity”. – President Donald J. Trump, January 20th, 2017[b]

Pulling it out of her stylish satchel, a dutiful daughter hands her father the perfect prop[n] for a tear-gassing of peacefully protesting citizens in Lafayette Square in one of the most scatterbrained, cynical and downright sinister events in the history of the United States of America.

Standing there with a Bible in his right hand so amateurishly, President Donald J. Trump held it upside down and with the attitude as if he’d ordered a cheeseburger and the waitress had given him a tossed salad instead.

Nobody should be fooled whenever this madness of an administration comes to an end, that the scion of the royal house of Trump and their spouses should be held to the same scrutiny of vocalized ostracism from their previous lives of social privilege. If the princess of this putrid parade handed her daddy a prop as those peaceful Americans were tear-gassed, then she shall not be forgotten by history either.

“I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” – President Donald J. Trump, June 1st, 2020, The White House Rose Garden

Complicity is not chic!

Fancy threads can’t cloak the funky fragrance of fascism.

This daughter of the President isn’t a moderating influence, but just another collaborator in this circus of cruelty. 

“It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.” – President Donald J. Trump, January 20, 2017 [b]

Well, I guess one flag of a unity can be obscured by another of stars and bars.

Historians of lofty principle have debated the pros and cons of monuments to leaders of the Civil War for many years. Relics should be placed in museums with their history in context and not venerated in public squares. Part of me feels that would be a suitable solution. Yet, from the coolness of giving these articles of the past a soft adieu into the marble halls of an institution, my thoughts have slowly shifted towards that feverish nod of impatience towards these objects of  becoming vanished without regret. And, I wouldn’t go on a scavenger hunt to find them.

“Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny.” – President Donald J. Trump, July 3rd, 2020 [o]

Appointing himself as the pseudo-intellectualist of a cause lost in the bowels of racism, President Donald J. Trump adorns the garb of victimhood and martyrdom. As if he is a member of a persecuted group, his speeches at Mount Rushmore and from the south lawn of the White House on July 4th, 2020 should have had the cameras get a super-duper close-up of an invisible tear rolling down his cheeks.

A man clinging to the myths of yesteryear was on full display as he dribbled drabbled about maintaining some sort of vanished pride.

“Those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are, are not interested in justice or in healing.” – President Donald J. Trump, July 4th, 2020 [p]

At some point, the question of debating and debating and constantly debating what should be done can come to a time of finality.

In some ways, that dismissive shrug of apathy among some white Americans have fed into the rising tide of protest and even going into hands-on actions of taking statues down without consent.

Like it or not, this is America’s reckoning of sins, both past and present.

Black Lives Matter!

Now is the time! Deal with it, America!

I will leave it up to those far wiser and eloquent to muse upon theories and thesis, and dissertations on the long line of history of this land called America.

So, I’m going to short-circuit it and say the following to anyone who might have their interest peaked with my observation.

The United States of America from 1619 to this date in 2020 has had over 400 years to do something of permanent transformation about the problem of race in this country.

I believe there is a need for an Agenda of Atonement in this country. Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking; here’s another white glove commission that gets announced with fanfare at a press event that will lead nowhere and only benefit the paper and book-binding company that gets the contract for publishing the final product. Ugh! No, I think this time, it definitely cannot be that. But, in this moment of the uncertainty of this country being on path of partnership between black and white; you’ve gotta start somewhere.

And, if I may say a short note of advice on anyone who might be putting together an agenda on this issue; please, please, please follow a one-word rule – FOCUS.

Specifying what needs to be done is crucial; as if it is amorphous, it will become something so diluted that its’ potency of impact is moot.

Make the plan as plain as it can be. If it is a plan that is interpreted as scattershot, then anyone in the corridors of power that oppose it will be able to weasel their way out of doing anything at all in furthering the country.

We barely speak about race, until a person of color is killed by the hands of authority. If a viral video has a racial slur or stereotype of a white woman falsely accusing a black bird-watcher of attacking her, then we all go bat-crazy in outrage. Now, of course the outrage at the woman is more than well deserved. But, after the temporary roar of a couple of days or weeks, we all return to our corners of comfort and continue on with our lives until something else grabs our attention.

And, God forbid if we ever want to get into some kind of in depth conversation about the history of slavery in this country. Oh, damn, some people would rather go clean out a cesspool with their toothbrush than ever have to listen to a person talk to them about that part of our American history and the residual realities which people of color are still stained with right now.

If not atonement of some sorts in the form of an acknowledgement or admittance of the problem, then there is another avenue which could be taken.

Reckoning with the past is here in the present. No matter who the person is in the White House, he (until there is a woman holding that office) is the man of the moment. It is not history’s obligation to verify or amplify a man’s ability to rise to the occasion that is now.

The reckoning is here and the chime of fate rings for the man in the office – President Donald J. Trump.

For sins of others in days long gone past, he who sits behind the resolute desk has to deal with those smoldering ashes of today.

Of wearied bone and denigrated soul, the true victims of American carnage in the United States of America from 1619 to 2020 have come a knocking and will not exit from the portico of that house of white; until they are allotted a miniscule grain of respect and recognition in their timeline of existence within this country. 

And, no, the mealy-mouth words of tossing ‘all lives matter’ into the mix of this misery which only a certain segment of this country has faced ain’t gonna cut it in this moment of life in America.

Now, that is the reckoning that all Americans have to come to terms with and the President of the United States of America has to deal with. Like it or not, this is the moment.

Can history change a man? Or, can man change history?

“So, I think I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln, cause he did good, although it’s always questionable,” – President Donald J. Trump, June 6th, 2020 [q]

Well, from all which Donald J. Trump has revealed to the world during his years on the public stage, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

And, neither should anyone else.

Either we stand in solidarity beneath the American flag or we shroud ourselves under the white flag of surrendering to the bitter devils of division.

For me, Old Glory blowing in the breeze of freedom’s notion and a promise for a continuation of this experiment known as America is what I shall salute and honor.

Now, that is NO MYTH!

A.H. SCOTT

JULY 2020

***FOOTNOTES – “FLAGS OF OUR (MYTHICAL) FATHERS”***

a. – In the Year 2525 – Songfacts – https://www.songfacts.com/facts/zager-evans/in-the-year-2525

b. – Presidential Inaugural Address – https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address

c. – Why Melania Trump Wore Blue Ralph Lauren – Harpers Bazaar – https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a20098/why-melania-trump-wore-blue-ralph-lauren-inauguration/

d. – Meet James N. Mattis –  Military Times -https://www.army.mil/article/181147/meet_james_n_mattis_10_facts_about_the_new_dod_secretary

e. – James Mattis Denounces Trump – The Atlantic – https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/james-mattis-denounces-trump-protests-militarization/612640/

f. – Democrats Have Been Going After Me – Real Clear Politics – https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/06/06/full_trump_interview_with_laura_ingraham_democrats_have_been_going_after_me_and_they_have_nothing.html

g. – Ronald Reagan Speech – Reagan Library Archives –

https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/research/speeches/122282a

h. – White House Coronavirus Task Force Press Conference -https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-coronavirus-press-conference-transcript-april-23

i. – David Duke on Charlottesville Protests – The Hill – https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/346326-david-duke-charlottesville-protests-about-fulfilling-promises

j. – Trump Press Conference – Vox – https://www.vox.com/2017/8/15/16154028/trump-press-conference-transcript-charlottesville

k. – The Costs Of The Confederacy – Smithsonian Magazine – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/costs-confederacy-special-report-180970731/

l. – Man Pinned Down By Minneapolis Police Officer Dies – The Cut –

https://www.thecut.com/2020/07/man-pinned-down-by-minneapolis-police-officer-dies.html

m. – Trump on Jobs Report, New York Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/politics/trump-jobs-report-george-floyd.html

b. – Presidential Inaugural Address – https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address

n. – Trump’s Photo with His Loyalists Was A Vulgar Mess – Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/trumps-photo-with-his-loyalists-was-a-vulgar-mess-and-ivanka-brought-a-handbag/2020/06/02/af44d0ee-a4e8-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html

b. – Presidential Inaugural Address – https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address

o. – Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration – https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-south-dakotas-2020-mount-rushmore-fireworks-celebration-keystone-south-dakota/

p. – Salute to America – https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-2020-salute-america/

q. – Trump Criticizes Lincoln – CNBC – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/12/trump-criticizes-lincoln-brags-he-has-done-a-lot-to-help-black-americans.html

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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 Ms. Scott, go here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bridesmaid-question/

 

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A.H. Scott: Teddy Bare

Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

 

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Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2020
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Teddy Bare
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Mary used her key that Teddy gave her to pop into his house when he wasn’t there to enjoy his pool in the back.
White dress with black buttons was quickly undone, as Mary peeled off blush colored bra and panty.
She knew he would be home soon and took a quick swim to cool off.  
Coming to the shallow end of the pool, she pulled herself partially onto the deck.
Resting her head atop of her arms on the edge of the pool, Mary closed her eyes with her legs lightly brushing against the Italian marble so cool.
Teddy had arrived to his home about ten minutes earlier and changed out of his boring attire into something frisky for this sunny afternoon in August.
Teddy bare was a pleasant sight out of the corner of Mary’s eye, as he dove into the opposite end of the pool.
Little was a splash made as his sights were set upon her.
Mary closed her eyes again and called out to the swimmer approaching her, “Teddy, how was your day?”
Coming closer to where she was, Teddy was eager to reply, “Better now to have your luscious body beaming beneath the sun’s rays”.
Mary was no fool, as she perched herself slightly outside of the waterline of that pool. Her ass was like a peach on the horizon of a ripple of water.
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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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Teddy had hands quite sizable, which Mary enjoyed in any kind of variable on her body.
That first touch of fingers making contact with her hips made Mary murmur a bit.
Scooping upward around both breasts, Teddy’s hands massaged each nipple slowly and pressed his body inside of her from behind.
Inside of Mary’s flower, she welcomed every insertion of this man’s desire.
Yet, this woman had her own sense of power in being with him.
Natural slip and slide of mutual inches of expanding pride were setting off sparks in the shallow end of that pool.
Teddy’s hands caressed her moist ass with adoring care, as Mary’s palms playfully drummed out a beat against the edge of that pool.
So good it was, as she made her move on him with measured pace of motioning herself around in that water to face this lusty man of this house.
Their eyes met as did their flesh again and again. Water moved between them with every point of contact, as intensity and serenity filled their gazes.
Tongues teased one another; with his tip racing along right side of her neck and soft kisses she was giving to his left cheek and parallel pectoral.
Feeling him inside of her, Mary’s soul pulsated with that headiness of horniness that she rarely revealed to anyone.
As for Teddy, he was a man consumed with pleasure in being with a woman who knew what she needed and expressed herself as wanting in fulfillment.
Locomotion of push and pull was theirs in that water, as Mary’s arms and legs wrapped around Teddy’s body.
Trickle of culmination, confidence and care came in satisfaction’s exhalation and roaring enthrallment in that pool area.
On a sun-drenched afternoon in August that was delightfully beyond compare, Mary expressed her deepest gratitude to Teddy bare.
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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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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 Ms. Scott, go here:https://tonywarderotica.com/onehundredthousand/
 
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Bob Shell: Adventures in Nude Photography

Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2020

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Adventures in Nude Photography

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In my world travels I’ve always sought to photograph local women. In most countries that hasn’t been a problem. In early years I used word of mouth to find models, and later I used the Internet. One Model Place (onemodelplace.com) was a good source for the USA and Europe, and by now may have expanded to more countries. I’ve used them to find models in Germany and France. In England, when I was going there often in the 90s, there were small rental studios everywhere, each with a book of available models, so finding models was easy.

Once when I was in Hove/Brighton with some extra time on my hands I looked up a local studio and went by and checked out their model book. I really liked the look of one model named Tarnya Blackwell, so I booked the studio and her for a couple of hours the next day. I turned up at the appointed time and so did she. She was a very attractive, graceful young woman with a very Cockney accent, like the accent Adele has when she isn’t singing. I had my Fuji GW 670 II and a Canon EOS-1 and the studio had several nice Courtenay monolite flash units with umbrellas, “brollies” to the British. As we began to get ready for the shoot, she asked me if we were going to be doing “Continental pictures.”. I had no idea what she was talking about, so she explained a bit bashfully that that meant explicit photos. She was obviously relieved when I told her no, I had nothing like that in mind. We proceeded to have a very nice couple of hours and I found her very fluid in her movements and totally relaxed in front of my camera. But there was one slight hitch, she kept her front toward me for all the shots, only turning a bit sideways for some. When I asked her to turn around she picked up a long piece of fabric and held it behind her blocking her butt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I asked her. “Me bum is pale,” she replied. I told her I didn’t care so she sighed and dropped the cloth. Her “bum” wasn’t noticeably pale, but it was crisscrossed with livid red whip marks! So, Tarnya was more than a bit kinky. I really didn’t care, and that brief bit of tension blew away and we got into the groove again. I got some great photos from that shoot.

Another time, also in England, in 1993, I did a shoot with a lovely young woman, Karen Boyle, who was Miss Jamaica that year in the Miss World pageant in London. She had come out to Chris Knight’s home at Cooling Castle and I spent a couple hours photographing her at the crumbling old castle and grounds. I was using a Canon EOS-1 and the superb Canon 28-80 f/2.8-4 L lens. That lens is so sharp that I generally put a Zeiss Softar #1 on it when photographing glamour and nudes, as I did for all the photos that day. I’ve had one of my best photos of Karen on the main page of bobshell.com for years. She’s one of the prettiest women I ever was privileged to photograph. Half English and half Jamaican, with flawless cafe au lait skin. The English weather actually cooperated for the day. There had been light drizzle on the drive, but by the time I reached Cooling it had stopped, leaving the sky bright and overcast; the world’s biggest softlight! Perfect weather for photography, only if you look carefully you’ll see that the toes of Karen’s boots are wet from walking through the damp grass. I toned it down a bit with Photoshop, but I think you can still see.

Once when I was going to Germany for a week I checked out One Model Place’s listings for Germany and got in touch with a nice young woman who agreed to drive to Cologne for a day’s photography. To my surprise, when she arrived at my hotel she turned out to be an American, the wife of an American serviceman stationed over there. We worked half the day in a big public park alongside the Rhine and then I did some available light pictures in my hotel toom , which had a very big window with a white curtain, a perfect diffuser. This was in 2002 and I was shooting with a Nikon D100 that I was evaluating. Very nice camera.

On another German trip serendipity put me in contact with a young woman named Malika from Morocco. She had a great face, very long dark brown hair, stunning figure, and medium brown skin. The first time I met her she was wearing a white T-shirt and very tight jeans. She sat down in a chair in my hotel room, smiled playfully and pulled up her T-shirt. “Like my tits?”. she asked. When I said I did, she grinned and said, ” They’re fake, of course!” Like so many breast enhancements done in Europe, they looked far more natural than ones done over here, which are usually too big. Also, when done in Europe the scar is usually in the armpit and hardly noticeable. Anyway, Malika was a lot of fun, but wanted my assurance that her father back in Morocco wouldn’t see the pictures. I felt I could safely assure her of that. So far as I know none of my photos have ever been published in Morocco!

The only place I had trouble finding local models was in Southeast Asia, where the women all seemed naturally camera shy. I had no trouble in Japan, of course. And when I did shoots in the Caribbean I had to bring my models with me for the most part. I did have a very pleasant surprise when conducting a workshop in 1998 on St. Thomas at an estate when a really nice looking young woman who was working at the estate came down to where we were photographing the three models I’d brought down, threw off her clothes, and joined in. We all got some great photos of her and at the end of the day I paid her just like the other models. That’s the first and only time something like that happened!

I had my photo studio in Radford, VA, starting in 1981. My first location was three blocks from Radford University, formerly a woman’s college but still with about a three to one ratio of women to men. You’d think I’d have no trouble getting models from there. I tried running ads in the school newspaper, but got very little response. I put a “Models Wanted” sign in my front window, also to very little response. I ended up letting the local models I worked with spread the word for me. It took a while, but eventually I had aspiring models showing up frequently. I stayed at that first studio location for ten years, and then .moved to a location on Main Street (two blocks from the police station) in 1992. I was there until my trial in 2007. (Two allegations made at my trial bear mention: First that I was concealing my presence. On Main Street just up from the police station? Give me a break! That was totally ridiculous! Second, that there was something shady about me always coming and going through the back door. Duh, the parking lot was in back of the building and I had a reserved parking space right by the back door. I should come out the front door and walk all the way around the building to avoid looking suspicious? The lead detective on my case said he didn’t know I was there. After all, I’d only been there eleven years!)

One of my more unusual aspiring models was a policewoman in a nearby town. Very pretty, with a great personality. But there was a problem. She spent months outdoors directing traffic in a short sleeved uniform. blouse. Her arms from below where the sleeve ended were very brown, while all the rest of her was pale. What could I do? I did the simplest thing and showed her the photos from our test shoot. “My arms look awful!” she exclaimed. Yep. My Photoshop skills weren’t up to fixing that, and there weren’t many poses I could use that would hide her arms. We did get a couple good back shots with her clasping her hands in front, but we mutually decided that we’d have to wait until she got a desk job and her arms matched the rest of her. I don’t know if the desk job never came through or just what happened, but I never heard from her again. That was a shame because I really liked her.

I’ll save more of my adventures for another time. Next time I’ll talk about other hated tan lines!

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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://tonywardstudio.com/blog/covid-19-2/

 

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Robert Asman: In Memoriam 1951 – 2020

Penetration. Photo by Robert Asman. Copyright: November 2001. Tony Ward Photography Collection.

 

Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2020

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In Memoriam: Robert Asman 1951 – 2020

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When I heard the news the other day that Bob Asman passed away I was sad but not surprised.  Bob had been seriously ill for several years as he experienced a slow but steady decline due to multiple health problems.   In recent months he was receiving hospice care at home, so for the friends that were in touch with him, we knew it was just a matter of time. Our last conversation took place by phone on February 11th of this year.  He sounded upbeat and hopeful but yet resigned to the grim reality he faced each day the nurse came to his home to take care of his most essential needs. 

We talked about photography of course and our shared experiences reminiscing about friends that we had in common in the Philadelphia photo community over the years. I didn’t think at the time that it would be our last conversation. We had made tentative plans for an in person visit when the weather finally got better later this spring. The final correspondence from Bob came in an email chain where he expressed it was kind of comforting knowing that he would soon pass during a pandemic. I suppose in his mind he was comforted in some way and felt less isolated by that reality.

The final parting words from Bob, “What an honor it is to die during a pandemic episode. I think it was deliberately planned so I wouldn’t have to die alone….instead with thousands of others.”

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Ebola Moment. Photo: Bob Asman, Copyright 2020

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And so he finally did pass, leaving an incredible body of work behind for the living to enjoy until the end of our lives. Bob was one of the finest photographers I’ve ever come to know, a great person, a loving father, and the best alchemist the world has ever known. Farewell my friend. Bon Voyage.

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To access additional work by Robert Asman, click herehttps://tonywardstudio.com/gallery/robert-asman-the-alchemist/

 

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