Saturday, 30 October 2010

Public Sex Rampant In Small Town

I found this video by the Young Turks today, and found it hilarious... it started with them mispronouncing 'Puttenham' and went down hill from there.

Being English I can speak with some authority on pronunciation of place names, so for the benefit of Americans and the occasional Canadian, any place name ending with 'ham', the 'h' is silent, and the proceeding vowel is often swallowed. So Tottenham would be pronounced 'Totnam". And 'Shire' is pronounced 'sha' when part of a place name. So Gloucestershire is pronounced 'Glostesha'. See, it's easy.
For the record, I'm sure we fully understand when Americans get this wrong, but fuck, does it make us cringe hearing you struggling with it.

Dogging and the like, I am not such an authority on, but I'll share what local knowledge I have.

I really first became aware of dogging from an employee of mine, he is very young and he and his mates like to drive to dogging spots and wind up the doggers. That's his story and he's sticking to it for the time being. Although I must say, considering they only turn up and flash their headlights and stuff, he seems to have done an amazing amount of research and has an extensive knowledge of the subject!

From what I understand, lots of men turn up at these places hoping to watch people have sex, and possibly join in. Of course, the whole business rather depends on there being a woman on the scene. Essentially this is a voyeur/exhibitionist thing with some swinging thrown in for good measure.

By my understanding, the term 'dogging' dates back to the 1930s and has it's origins in our seaside towns. Voyeurs would take a dog leash and pretend to be walking a dog while actually spying on courting couples making out in the sand dunes.

One can only assume that eventually a voyeur is going to find an exhibitionist... or is it more likely that exhibitionists are going to find voyeurs? After all, I'm pretty sure most men have a fairly wide voyeuristic streak, but either way, I'm pretty sure the dogging thing has been a subculture for a very long time. What has changed is that since the 1930s, more of us have access to motor transport meaning we can more easily get to the local lover's lane, and the internet means people of a like mind can meet each other.

From what I gather though, this is a mainly heterosexual pursuit, the homosexuals engage in 'cruising' which is something different. Although we have been 'fairly' tolerant of homosexuality  for quite a while, it was none-the-less illegal.  And while the police may have turned a blind eye, there were very few gay bars for men to meet each other. So they instead turned to 'cottaging' in public lavatories. As long term relationships were difficult, especially as many homosexual men did what was expected of them and got married and had children, men would just visit for casual sex... and of course, sex with strangers has it's own allure.

I must say at this point that I'm not very PC, I admit it, but I'm not judgemental either. I am just calling it the way I see it,  or repeating what I have heard. So if anybody wants to accuse me of reinforcing false stereotypes of gay men being promiscuous, then go right ahead and make that argument. I'd love to hear it.

So, I can only guess that since public lavatories are generally closed at night, or not provided at all, the poor homosexual community has to do without them sometimes (although at my local park, they used to use these bus-shelter type things that were around the edge of the tennis courts.) Anyway, I'm alluding to the practice of 'cruising', where gay men go to parks and lay-bys for the purpose of meeting people for casual sex.

So, Cenk's comments about the origins of dogging being a result of homosexual persecution are not exactly accurate. It certainly has nothing to do with what is going on now days...

I have two more points to cover, firstly is the part about homosexuals doing it during the day, and heterosexuals doing at night. From what I heard, doggers hate the gay cruisers and it's not unknown for them to chase them off. The reason seems to be that there are two conflicting sets of interests. The doggers are mainly voyeurs with a few exhibitionists, so they have their jollies right there. They just want to be left alone to get on with it, they don't want, and certainly don't need any additional excitement from the risk of being seen, discovered or of the police turning up. They are generally discreet (although it may be a relative term in this context).
Meanwhile, there are homosexual cruisers who like the risk factor, and I suppose, the more you do it, the bigger risks you take. There also seems to be a tradition among some of marking the spot, leaving used condoms and other paraphernalia.

The grievance from the doggers is that the cruisers litter up the place with porn, used condoms and even used needles. And that they are far too blatant, allowing themselves to be seen by passers by and even children. This all leads to the locals making complaints and police making extra patrols.

Yes I know, it's not black and white. I'm sure that not all doggers are otherwise respectable, environmentally aware, middle class Guardian readers. I'm sure there are those that also take drugs, leave litter, flash at passers by and are generally scum bags. Likewise, I'm certain that there are homosexuals that enjoy cruising and yet are completely responsible. Just as there are homosexuals that find the idea of cruising repulsive... I'm not just trying to pigeon-hole anybody, I'm just reporting what I have heard.

The second point I'd like to cover is the idea that the older generation are more tolerant than those that are younger. I can't say I'm in the least surprised! As one old lady once told me, "Your generation think you invented sex, but we were at it like rabbits when we were teenagers".
I like talking to old people, and every once in a while one of them will like to shock you wit a saucy story. Which takes us back to those courting couples in the sand dunes. When I was a teenager, we had house parties, or I could get a room for £20. With my fathers generation, it was the back seat of a MkI Ford Cortina. But back in the 1950s and before that, they'd take a rug and a picnic and have a fumble in the bushes. Heavy petting I believe they used to call it.

So yes, it has been going on a long time. And it is everywhere. When I first heard about it I looked up a dogging site and discovered there were three dogging sites that I drove past on my way home. There was another 400 yrds from where I live, and the car park of the woods where I take my family for a walk every Sunday morning is well known for it in the early hours of the morning. But I have to say, as interesting as all this is, I'm not in the least tempted.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?

Yes, the cheesy title of this post is a reference to a song, which in a generally cheesy period of time, turned the cheese dial up to eleven. If the title makes you cringe, it did it's job because I'm going to be writing about a subject that makes me cringe.

I tell ya, I swear I'm allergic to country music anyway, it gives me a head ache and severe back pain (no kidding), but the song in question was a truly dreadful example, and it ensured that forever after, no man could ever tell a woman that she had a beautiful body without sounding like a complete twat.

Although you may try and avoid dRama on deviantArt, it cannot have escaped anybody's attention that for every camwhore, there is an army of... sad gits* who follow them, and whose idea of a comment is just as cheesy as 'You have a beautiful body', or 'you have great tits'.

So it kind of makes it very difficult to give compliments to a nude model with out feeling that you are sounding like a prick, and worrying that they will mistake you for a weirdo!

"Does my bum look big in this?"
But what woman doesn't like compliments? Many of the models (including the cam whores) are, I am sure, are itching to get some assurance that they aren't complete munters... or just that their arse isn't huge.

Society is telling women that they should be a size 8 (that's UK size) and that anything else is fat. worse still in my view, is that we are now telling them that their tits should be huge and look fake**. Who is actually deciding this is what a woman looks like?***

Chubby Chaser or boringly normal?
Personally, what I find attractive is a fuller, more rounded figure. I like boobs that are natural preferably large, and I like arses to be in proportion. But Who am I to say what women SHOULD look like? Women come in all shapes and sizes, and men like them in all shapes and sizes -- there shouldn't be a problem. But there is and I don't need to go any further into it, because the women that I'm talking about are saying, "I don't conform to the stereotype, this what I am, here I am naked, I can be beautiful too -- I AM BEAUTIFUL!".

This is a sodding important issue as far as I'm concerned. It is a social problem which is leading to eating disorders and self harming etc. But it's also an Art issue. Art should challenge social conventions, and good art should transform the viewer, or even the subject. When I'm taking photos, what I am trying to achieve is showing that beauty. I also want to mention that I damn well consider the model to be the senior partner in a collaboration too, especially when they have done all the hair, make-up (dieting, exercise), I can hardly take all the credit just because I pressed the button on a camera.

So why this long winded rant? Well, I saw a nice model, an new model. I commented that I hoped we'd see more of her. The photographer hinted that it was a possibility if the photos got some positive reviews.

I'm never wrong
Well, I may be wrong, but this could be one of those times that a model would like some positive compliments to know what she is attractive, beautiful, sexy even? (preferably from someone who doesn't appear to be a pervert)
If not, then I could point to half a dozen models off-the-top-of-my-head that who have straight-out said that by stripping off they are challenging the society's conventions -- basically saying a big woman can be beautiful too.

So here's where I stand.
I'm on dA for the nudes, for the erotic art. I love looking at beautiful women, and I like to see them naked -- when they are naked you see some of the most beautiful bits! If you think that makes me a pervert... then you need to see somebody about your hang-ups. I have nothing against porn, I like porn, I look at porn... I'm not on dA for soft porn, if I want soft porn, I need look no further than my bookmarks.
I AM NOT particularly interested in Fine Art Nudes, as I said I like erotic works, and Fine Art Nudes are usually anything but. (Aside from that, it's a genre that has been around since the invention of the camera and I feel it's a little stale).
And as I prefer erotica to fine art, I'm in no great hurry to convince anyone to strip down to their birthday suit, It's far easier to be sexy, saucy, a tease when you have some clothes on.

Now that I have covered that, I think I can finally say...
"You have a beautiful body, nice tits, a great arse and I enjoyed seeing you naked!"
And now... you can put your clothes back on if you feel you made your point and would rather do something else, thats fine by me. If you want to do more nude stuff, I certainly won't complain, let me know so I can add you to my watch list****.
But on balance, I'd like to hear that the experience gave you a more positive image. I hope it does.

That's all folks -- apart from the footnotes.

* I'm going to have to think of an abusive nickname for them. Suggestions welcomed.

** I was told by the owner of a large fashion chain that they stock size 8 and 10 because that's what the fashion world says should be the norm, even though they don't fit anybody. He said they then make their money selling accessories because a bag is a bag and will fit any ol' slapper. But he also told me that even the size 8s and 10s can't get into the clothes now because they are having boob jobs.

*** He gladly talked about menswear which was his thing, but when I asked him about women's wear he told me that he 'fucking hates women' even though, he assures me, he isn't queer. It did occur to me that this isn't the ideal kind of person to to have an influence.

**** This reminded me of a joke:-
An attractive woman goes to the doctor because her very large breasts are aching. The doctor asks her to strip to the waist but she is very embarrassed because her breasts are so large. The doctor says, "I am a doctor, a trained professional". She tells him again that she is really self concious. He says that she hasn't got anything she hasn't seen before, so she makes him promise not laugh or be surprised or to stare and he agrees. So she undresses and her huge full breasts flop out and the doctor yells, "Whey-Hey!".(Boys will be boys!)

Friday, 1 October 2010

I have gone viral, but not in a way I would have liked. I seem to have some kind of nasty throat virus, I have a fever and I'm more sodding grumpy than normal, but I make no appologies, firstly because if I wasn't a grumpys sod I probably wouldn't have much interesting to say, and secondly because I'm going to have a go at cat lovers, who deserve everything they get.

So anyways, I signed up to I'm loving it, it adds a whole new dimention to deviantArt. Yeah, it works, I'm getting lots of page views, comments, favourites, and a few watchers at a time when I'm not submitting new work and expect to be very quiet. But I'm not a pageview whore, and I wouldn't be doing it just for that... although I admit I am enjoying testing strategies and tick-tacks which I will keep to myself for the time being.

What I'm really enjoying is being exposed to a BETTER selection of works. You only see stuff by other people signed up for it, and obviously if they are taking the time to put their best 10 works forward, you are filtering out a lot of the blah. So as a general rule the quality is much higher than you'd get. And there is so much stuff on dA that normally I just browse the catagories I'm particuarly interested in, and there ain't enough hours in the day for that. But with GetWatchers, you get a nice selection of stuff although you can filter out a few topics so you can avoid all of the awful fan-art, Manga and vampire shite.

So yeah, I have seen some great stuff. The skyscapes are amazing, what's not to like -- I bet they are popular. And I love flowers and blossoms as you can tell by my blog (I am hetrosexual by the way). And some of the macro shots are simply mind blowing.

But what is with the fucking cats?
Okay, so we shouldn't be totally surprised, I remember as far back as about 1994 saying that half the pictures on the interwebs were of porn, and the other half were of sad weirdos and their cats. And you can expect 'sensitive' people to be both into cats and have delusions of being arty, so a disproportianate number of cats isn't a mind blowing revelation. But some of these pictures are by talented people!

As an example, a couple of times I have found myself looking at people's galleries and they have some really great work, often a wonderful variety of portaits, landscapes, skyscapes, night shots, macros, character studies... all of which I'd give and eight or nine (on a day I'm feeling less grumpy), and then there are a load of cat pictures! Don't get me wrong, they are well taken pictures, in focus and all that, but nothing special... it's as if having a cat in them is enough! It's like they love their cat, we should fall in love on sight also, and that is the point of the picture. Well, I frigging hate cats, as did my father and his father before him, evil bloody things that creep up on you and leave mice in your bed.

Frankly, you see one cat and you've seen them all. It's not even like you are showing us any funny LOL cats.

And then it struck me, isn't this what the APEs say about nudes? "Seen one, seen them all", "It's a pair of boobs, get over it" and "I don't want to see your body, how is it artistic?". I may be onto something, but I'd rather be highly sexed and into nude women than be a fridged cat lover, so I'm not going to waste any energy analysing it.

Anyway, is highly recommended, don't be put off by the cats.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Poetry - Last refuge of the bearded, cricket hating sodomite

So, the whole do-dah about porn on dA is back again with a news article and a load of journal entries by various dA celebrities.

I like to keep my head down on such matters, not least because those that usually do the complaining are often... well, pretentious, judgemental and their work is usually contrived, contrite, sterile and lacking any imagination. But as it tends to be technically brilliant and fits the mould, it tends to be very popular with the kind of people who 'know' the difference between art and porn.

Anyway, I noticed, and even exchanged comments with a few people who are technically brilliant, popular, AND feel the same way I do. I'm relived, I'm not alone!

Really, the whole issue of porn on dA hasn't really bothered me. Until this week where I started following several of the camwhores, reading their journals, comments and following the links they provide. It's pretty obvious that there is no real pretence at 'art' in many cases, they just come to dA to swap pictures of genitalia and to meet up for cyber-sex. There are other places for that.

And it explains some of the weird notes CP has gotten.

Speaking of weird notes, I had an interesting exchange today. To cut a long story short I got a note from somebody saying they were a poet, which said that like him, I obviously appreciated bare feet. That he liked my work and was going to come back.

Well... anyone who has read my journal will see that I state quite clearly that I don't get the whole foot thing, but that I found it (along with all kinks and fetishes) very interesting and it was a theme we were going to explore, which we did. Around half of my foot photos are specific requests.

So when I get a private note from somebody assuming that I share their appreciation for feet (lets face it, it's a fetish) when I do not, I felt it only fair to let them know the true situation.

This chap took offence because I told him he was mistaken. In his reply he reminded me again he was a poet and that I shouldn't tell new fans that they are 'mistaken'.

Well, I'm not a poet. In fact, English isn't my first language (I'm far better at html and javascript) . When I decide to say something, I try not to mince my words, and I value honesty above all else.

And don't get me wrong, my only problem with fetishes is that I don't have one. I only wish I did, it would make life more interesting. I have no problem with anybody who likes a nice foot, and I encourage them to run with it (forgive the pun), enjoy it, be open about it, look at and take photos of them... and if they really must, write poetry about them.

But fuck, I hate poetry at the best of times! Poetry about feet holds no interest for me, and I'm not going to pretend I share an affinity or common interest.

I am what I am, if you take offence at that. Your loss.

I have to say, this exchange confirmed my prejudice about poets... they may be the only people more wussy and pretentious than fine art photographers.

*The title is a line from a comedy sketch by Armstrong & Miller, Mitchell & Webb.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A Little Photoshop Magic

+ =

A lot of people ask about photo manipulation or photo correction, so I thought I'd give a little example as this one was rather interesting, and a little further than I normally go.

As mentioned before, we both came down with stinking colds, she didn't put on any make-up, and I wasn't trying very hard, especially with the lighting. But there were a couple of photos we really liked, the first was a good composition and we liked the hands.
But the second photo had a nice look on her face... but the hands weren't nearly as nice.

The solution is rather simple, combine the two images. It can easily be done in Photoshop, Gimp or similar programs, although I used Photoshop on this occassion.

So I started off with the JPG images as they were straight off the camera (No I didn't use RAW). I put the second image over the first and then turned down the opacity to 50% so I can see when I move it using free transform. A little rotation, a tiny bit of scaling and I was able to match the arm from the elbow to just below the wrist.

Oh really by ~DannyBillArgent 

Then all you do is use the erasor tool with a soft edge and erase the part of the top image which you don't want. Once happy with this I flattened the image and saved a copy as a JPG (Which I know isn't best practice.)

Next I opened up this flattened copy in CameraRaw to ajust the colours. This photo has a bit of a problem in that the light in front of her is white, the light to our left is blue, and the light above/right is yellow. As you can see her hands have a pretty good skin tone, but her face and chest have a yellow cast. This makes editing rather tricky, but basically we colour corrected the photo for the forground and saved a copy. The colour corrected for skin tone, saved a copy, and then colour corrected for her hair colour and saved a copy... because when we took the yellow/orange out of the skin, it also took it out of the hair.

All you have to do then is follow the same proceedure again in photoshop, loading each copy onto a layer and erasing everything but what you need.

I then added some more layers, first job was to paint in an overlay to remove her very red nose... as I mentioned she had a cold! There were layers for blusher, mascara, eye-liner and lipstick -- there are dozens of online tutorials for doing this if you are interested. I also added an overlay to give the background a bit more blue.

Finaly, I added a layer mask to tone down the saturation because I purposely turned up the colours in CameraRaw by using Vibrance and Saturation. I like to turn up and then tone down later... it's just the way I work.

Once happy I saved a copy, flattened the image and then saved another copy.

And we are almost done, we just now have to apply the standard filters that I usually have to use because my camera is so old! Firstly I use the heal tool to get rid of all the white dots which are caused by my sensor having seen better days. Next I used despeckle filter as my images tend to have loads of noise.

Next I apply a sharpening filter which is done by duplicating the layer, applying a high pass filter, then an unsharp mask. Then setting the layer property to overlay and ajusting the opacity until it looks right.

Next I applied a contrast mask which is done buy duplicating the layer, desaturating, inverting, bluring, and then setting the layer property to overlay and ajusting the opacity until it looks right.

I often apply a colour map, but on this photo I had already taken care of the colours in CameraRaw. so maybe I'll explain that another day.

Lastly, I used the heal tool to remove some wrinkles and soften shadows on the hands. Total time taken was about 4 hours... although I spend a lot of time fiddling about and trying different stuff, which in my opinion is the best way to learn Photoshop.

Lovely legs

Giant by ~DannyBillArgent 

So I'm editing video by day, and editing these photos by night. My cold has gotten worse, and CP has developed a coldsore - so we'll be taking no photos for a week or so, which is a pity as we had plans.

We weren't completely happy with the last set of photos and wanted to reshoot some of them, which we were going to do over the next few day. But still, I have some photos that I can put up, the one I was working on last night is quite interesting as I grafted the head from one pic onto the body of another... as so many people have been asking how you do photo editing, I think I may do a brief Photoshop tutorial on it and post it here.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sodding Typical

Well, Friday came and went, and we were both struck down by colds. Not so bad for me, but CP couldn't stop sneezing.
We took some photos anyway, but she couldn't wear make-up and had a very red nose... so it didn't go as well as hoped.
Her favorite pic, it requires a little editing.

Plus, with her not being particuarly into it, and me feeling stressed, I can't say I made the best of the camera and lighting. So, out of the 100 shots I took, I'll maybe get 5.

However, it's not all bad. The shots we did take, although not great, did show lots of potential. We can learn from them and hopefully do a few more sessions over the coming weeks. CP certainly seems to have been plesantly suprised by the results as she thought she would look as bad as she feels. She didn't -- she looked great in some of them. Shame I had problems with depth of field, focus, blur, poor background, and the ever present problem of noise due to shooting in poor light with a very old digital camera.

Here's to the future... I may not need to twist her arm!