Saturday, 21 November 2009

Margie Gillis at Glorious Vintage

I found this absolutely fantastic photo on Flickr:

Photo Scanned from Margie Gillis Booklet (1995 Place des Arts, Montréal Performance) by Glorious Vintage, November 2009.

I absolutely would love to do a shooting like this myself! Any willing North Yorkshire dancers reading this ;-)?

The photograph shows professional dancer Margie Gillis. You can find her biography and more information about her work in the Canadian Encyclopedia. I wonder how often she had to do this jump in order to capture the perfect moment. She has this amazing grace in her movement, which looks just great and gives the picture its dynamic. Margie Gillis was invested as a Member of the ORDER OF CANADA in 1988 and received the Walter Carsen Prize for career achievement in the performing arts in 2008. How cool is that?

I'm not quite sure who the photographer is, since it says on Flickr that the picture was scanned from one of Margie Gillis' own booklets. There is another guy mentioned alongside the photograph, Jack Udashkin. However, he is a bespoke producer of dance and was at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa for 12 years (1988-2000), so he is most likely not the one who took the picture. At the moment, he is developing a project to mount Festival Chaosmos, a biannual international dance festival in Montreal, which began in 2007.

I love her style so much, I just have to post another picture of her, which is on top of that taken by one of my favourite photographers Annie Leibovitz!

Photo by Annie Leibovitz, showing Margie Gillis in "Torn Roots, Broken Branches," choreographed by Margie Gillis

I want a studio!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

A Douglas Adams Moment

Sometimes when we encounter something strange, there seems to be a driving force that tries very hard to make it appear to be the most ordinary thing in the world which makes perfect sense (at the time). However, if you remember and think about it later, you might think: "What the hell was that?" or "Did I miss something?".

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me give you an example: last summer holliday, my wife and I were wandering around in a small mediterranean village in Croatia when we found an abandoned house that was inhabited by a cow. My wife discovered the cow when looking through a window and took this photograph:

Photo by Gordana Malicevic, September 2009. View large on Flickr.

We were all excited about the cow standing in what was once a living room and apparently it was eating the sofa (or the straw with which it was stuffed, that was not entirely clear). Since we both find cows are rather cool animals, we watched it for a while and then waited in front of the house with the intention to take another picture when the cow would come out. After a while we got tired of waiting in vain and left.

It was much later back home when I was looking at this picture and I had this Douglas Adams moment; I was (and still am) worried that the poor cow is still there, trapped in that house together with the sofa. Fact is we saw the cow in the house and the picture proves it. The room is quite small and-now that I think about it-the doors of the house are very narrow and small too. In fact, it is astonishing that the cow managed to get in in the first place. However, it is unlikely that the cow is a quantum physicist and in the posession of an Improbability Drive, so it must have gotten in there one or the other usual way through the door.

The question is will the cow get out again? Is there enough room for it to turn around? The problem is that cows cannot walk backwards, at least not the common ones! Will the straw from the sofa keep it healthy and alive until I can check on it next year?

If you now think: "What is this guy talking about? Of course it will get out of there, why should it not?", then go and get the book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams and read what happened to the sofa and the staircase!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

80ies, Me Thinks!

Photo by Fabe-DSI, September 2009.

Which is - for me - an enjoyable thought that brings back memories (I really should look for 80ies themed photographs and blog them, in order to colour up the world a bit more).

You might ask yourself, why this picture? Beacause, oddly enough, I found it after I had joined the Flickr pool Andy Warhol's Factory, which does contain some interesting pop art pictures! For the record and those of you who have not heard of Andy Warhol: his original name is Andrew Warhola (August 6, 1928 – February 22, 1987), he was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker and he was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art. As usual, Encyclopedia Galactica knows a lot more, in case you are interested!

After immediately thinking "80ies, me thinks!" after seeing this photograph, I was curious what might have lead the photographer to submit it to an Andy Warhol pop-art pool? It is certainly not pop art from the 1960ies. Maybe it could fit in with Hollywood Glamour from the 1980ies, but that feels a bit far fetched... So I clicked on the thumbnail and read the comments and here are some examples of what I found. Allow me to translate some of the comments, as not all of your might be familiar wiesith the technical terms:

"nice bokeh": picked up a fancy word, old chap ;-)?

"beautiful picture!" : captain subtext means: "Handsome girl wearing a bikini!"

"This photo is a Spirit Of Photography" : or rather a Spirit of the Hawk? (I apologise to all of you who will not get the song out of their minds for the rest of the day, the thought did the same to me if that helps.)

"wonderful taste for nice fashion" : if you refer to all clothing as fashion, the term "nice" is spot on!

As you can see, I was not enlightened about the reason of submission to the Warholic pool, but I was so well entertained for 10 minutes (and another 15 minutes writing this post!) that this question does not matter anymore anyways!

It remains to say that if you hear me saying that I don't enjoy looking at ladies in swimwear, you are officially allowed to call me a liar! In that respect, part of my brain thinks this is an awesome shot. Luckily the picture and comments make another (still sufficiently large ;-)) part chuckle ...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Bobbins and Bombshells

... is the name of Karen's blog. It almost goes without saying that I found her blog through a photograph on Flickr ;-):

Photo by Karen, Jazz Lawn Party on Governors Island, June 2009.

I'm not quite sure how I came across this picture, as I certainly did not search for terms like Jazz, Party or even Governors Island on Flickr. However, since I quite like certain flavours of Jazz and am generally interested in dance, the picture must have caught my eye. Karen has go a series of shots on Flickr of the Jazz Lawn Party event. The one above is one of my favourites. The frame is nicely filled with dancing people and a lot of them are actually facing the camera despite the randomness of the captured moment (so I cheekily claim please correct me if you read this and I'm wrong Karen). There is another great picture of a woman with a parasol; check out Karens Flickr site, it's somewhere on there!

Photo by Karen (I think?). Enough of the bantering about jazz garden parties that we unfortunately missed though. Another thing I found interesting on Karen's Flickr Page and her blog were her photographs of vintage dresses. While the photographs are not that great and technically perfect, the shown vintage dresses and accessories are indeed!

One of the dresses I love most is the one in the picture on the left since it reminds me of Raumpatrouille Orion, which is by the way my favourite SciFi TV series. It is in black & white and it is in German, sorry to about 6.7 billion non-German readers ;-). Anyways, the dress is cool and if I got her right, she is designing and sewing them herself, how cool is that?! If you are interested, you can buy the dresses from her online store.

She also writes an entertaining blog about vintage. She's got some old Vogue covers and patterns on there! I just love the 50ies and 60ies style. There is more on Vintage Vogue on an older post of mine, check it out and have fun!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Strange Mating Ritual of the Tangonian Giraffe

I have not had the chance to see real giraffes yet, but I am sure they behave like Matt West has witnessed while taking this photograph:

Photo by Matt West, August 2008.

Matt describes the hilarious mating ritual of the Tangonian Giraffe as follows: "Peculiar to this one region of Boogieland, the complicated courtship starts with drinks at the local watering hole followed by a light meal at a refek tree. Next, the pair dance the evening away and, if all goes well, they head off into the bush together for the night."

I am not quite sure what the refek tree is and how to cook it properly, but I want to have some!!!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Imperial Trellis by Kelly Wearstler

Recently my wife showed me a wallpaper with this awesome pattern in an interior design magazine:

Photo taken from itsallinthedesign-designstyle on blogspot.

I liked the pattern so much that I used it straight away for my photography website. Ok, said and done, colours adjusted, a bit of html, a bit of ftp, looks good!

Since I liked the design so much, I did a bit of research on it in the interior design magazine and on the web. It turned out that the pattern is called Imperial Trellis and it has been designed by Kelly Wearstler.

A visit on her website rewarded me with a great variety of fantastic pieces of interior design work. (I strongly recommend having a look, she's really good!). Life is unfair, that's why the good looking woman on some of the photos on her website is not some model, but actually herself and she is also happily married and has two lovely kids! It made me chuckle though, when I read that the profession of her husband is basically to manage her and sell her stuff (lucky chap ;-)).

Here's one of my favourite photos from her site:

Photo from, design by Kelly Wearstler

After being that impressed by all this, I found that it was appropriate to try to be a gentleman and ask for permission to use the pattern as background on my website, rather than just nick it. I wrote the sweetest email ever to lovely Kelly (which almost got me into trouble with my lovely wife ;-)) and asked whether I could use the pattern.

Unfortunately, I realised that all the sweet talking was in vain when I received a reply from one of her marketing ladies that said something along these lines: "Dear Martin, we are thrilled that you like Kelly and her designs but even YOU would have to pay for them! We are close to tears but we cannot give you permission to use Imperial Trellis!"

*Sigh* that was almost expected, was it not? I'm still looking for a nice pattern for the website ... that reminds me: I still have the pattern on there and better remove it soon with a heavy heart!

P.S.: She has done some really great work for Bergdorf Goodman, Lee Jofa and the Rug Company. And she has also published books on interior design with AMMO!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

One-of-a-kind Fantasy Mermaids Reloaded

Just a quick addendum to the previous Who Said Mermaids Don't Exist?;

When looking for more Mermaids swimming around in the world wide wocean, I came across the Flickr profile of Nenúfar Blanco, where she features many interesting photos of ethereal and fantastic Merpeople.

It took me quite a few pictures before I realised that the featured Mermaids and Mermen are one-of-a-kind fantasy dolls, which are made by Nenúfar herself.

Photo by Nenúfar Blanco, Lucretia, 2008

I was quite impressed by the high level of detail and the unique look she creates. Despite I am not a particular fan of small figures or puppets, I really like them.

In case you would like to buy one, you can go to her website, where you can get your unique model for (at the time I write this) $350.-, which is not too bad considering those dolls are unique and handmade.

Most people might think: "What a strange hobby!" As far as I'm concerned this just adds to my amazement. In case you want to read more, you can also visit her blog.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Who Said Mermaids Don't Exist?

I was recently searching for underwater photographs on the web. Admittedly, I was flicking relatively quickly through a set of images on Flickr, when I was flabbergasted by this one:

Photo by mambolou, November 2008

My mind kind of registered the following things within the same fraction of a second when the picture came up:

1. The technical quality of the photo is not as great as, for instance, and airbrush work would be.
2. The technical quality of the photo is not so bad to be one of these rainbow press alien photos.
3. From this angle there is a kind of human like shaped creature peeking out of the water.
4. What is always on stand-by on a man's mind?

Is this a bloody mermaid *slam the back button of the poor laptop as quick as possible* ?!?

Next fraction of the second, the anti-climax of the story: unfortunately, it's not a mermaid.

Third fraction of the second: but it sure looks interesting, what is it?

The answer is given right below the photo by mambolou himself: "It is a Beluga whale. She was peeking above the water's surface as I snapped the shot. Ahhh, the song of the sirens!" This is another great example of how amazing our world is and how things appear totally different from different angles and in different circumstances. When specifically looking for pictures of Beluga whales on the web, I found hundreds but not a single one looked anything close to a human or had the appearance of this great picture.

All those of you who might think, is this guy blind? Please look straight into my eyes and tell me this picture of Stephen does not look similar!

By the way, this is the picture that I recently took of a lovely mermaid ;-):

Photo of Daryl Hannah from the movie Splash.

For those who don't know, Splash is a great movie that was produced when Tom Hanks was still cool.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Too Much for Jabba!

I hope the second thought after thinking Jabba is Leia! For the record: the amazing Carrie Fisher played Princess Leia in the real Star Wars movies back in 1977. At some point, a bad guy called Jabba the Hutt enslaves the lovely Leia and makes her wear the famous Slave Leia Costume. Much to the delight of one half (am I optimistic here?) of the Star Wars fans.

Those of you who remember the days when Star Wars featured real actors, rather than animated armies and space ships were made of steel, nuts and bolts, rather than (again) some undefined animated textures (and are slightly geeky males) will be delighted to hear that Princess Leia is alive! As the picture proves she is not only very much alive, but also brings along her numerous sisters to parties!

Photo by Kelldar on Flickr.

Who doesn't want to be Han Solo now? I was quite amazed when I learned that there is even a Slave Leia Appreciation Society on Flickr. It would be really interesting to know how many of those girls are 'professional' Slave Leias, who are supposed to fuel the dreams of comic, fantasy, roleplay etc. conventions.

On the other hand, there seem to be a lot of girls taking their alter egos quite seriously and look great in their outfits. The most impressive example for me is actually Kelldar. She fabricates her own costumes, which look really cool and does a lot of fictional characters. The thing that I like about her is that she also puts decent quality photos of her costumes on her site, rather than using a quick snap with a nuke flash that produces 400x300 pixel images.

It really amazes me how Star Wars achieved its cult status. I can only recommend watching episodes IV-VI, namely A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

For those of you who want to look at more pretty Leias, you can start here and here.

In case you were a lucky bastard when picking your wife or partner, or you are just a kinky geek, you might want to check out Costumecrazy of Exoticwearexpress. Incredible that there is almost nothing that you cannot get somewhere ;-).

I only wish the latermoviesearlierepisodes of Star Wars had the same real and charming appearance as the earliermovieslaterepisodestherealthing *sigh* ...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Stonehenge is in Germany

Being a German from the very south, where archeologists have found many Celtic relics, I always knew that those guys must have spent some time in Germany too. Despite that, I was quite surprised when I found the real Stonehenge hidden in Karlsruhe, Germany.

I figured that it has been disguised as a mere public fountain by an ancient order of the Celts these days, who themselves are undercover and pretend to be a bunch of urban planners. But there is no way to deceive my senses or to obscure my mind, upon which the unconcious knowledge of my forefathers, the very creators of this monument, is imprinted!

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, May 2009, Karlsruhe, Germany.

My next mission will be to investigate and reveal the purpose of this ancient site. I suspect that it might be an early version of the continuum transfunctioner, a very mysterious and powerful device and it's mystery is exceeded only by it's power[1]!

It all makes sense, since there is also an ancient energy source present in this region. It is marked by the position of five mountains with flat, tree-less summits that are arranged in a large circle: Ballon d'Alsace, Schwarzwald-Belchen, Jura-Belchen, Petit Ballon and Grand Ballon. Looking from the Ballon d'Alsace, the summits of the Schwarzwald-Belchen and the Jura-Belchen mark the place where the sun rises on midsummer and midwinter respectively. The sun rises exactly from behind the Grand Ballon on the 1st of May, a celtic festive day.

Photo by André Seemelink, April 2007, Belchen Black Forest, Germany.

Furthermore, Belenus is the name of the celtic sun god. Who dares to question the astronomic purpose of this pentagon of mountains and ancient source of energy anymore? This cannot be coincidence!

Those of you who want to dig deeper into the myths and secrets of the Celts, here are a few sources:

Belchen Datasheet ;-)

Magic Mountain Belchen

... and of course on Encyclopedia Galactica

All those articles are written in a secret language, I am afraid, and I am not allowed to translate. Not everybody shall be able to read the ancient scriptures! Unfortunately, many of these modern esoterics managed to acquire skills in reading what is not meant for their eyes *sigh*!

Filey or See You in Another Life, Brother!

Beware me tampering with faith, but it has to be said that the start of the summer in North Yorkshire (UK) has been gorgeous so far! It is quite dry and we are having a good amount of sunshine. The nice weather always makes us longing for the coast, hence my wive's and my recent visit to Filey.

Filey is a picturesque small town about 8 miles south of Scarborough. Unlike Scarborough, this little jewel in the crown is a bit more quiet in terms of beach arcades (not visitors). According to Encyclopedia Galactica, it is noteable that Leo Blair (father of ex prime minister Tony Blair) was born in Filey. Whilst maybe noteable this is not what necessarily makes Filey exciting. Let's also hope the Blair Witch is not involved somehow ...

What does make Filey exciting, however, is the fact that time seems to stand still there. There are lovely narrow paths between the old houses and gardens, a nice beach, great scones and friendly locals. Admittedly, there is not much 'action' going on and apart from the lot on the beach, mostly elderly people are hangin' out on the numerous benches.

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer 2009.

We were thus not surprised when we walked into a music festival that took place in a pavilion, surrounded by a large crowd of eaglerly listening elderly. The music was rather boring and the crowd slightly apathetic when the strangest event took place: the band started to play Is This the Way to Amarillo of South Yorkshire singer Tony Christie. All of a sudden, the old ladies and chaps started to sing along and clap their hands. Some couples even started to dance around the pavilion during that song!

Sometimes it's so simple to get into a good mood. My wife and I now like the song and we are frequently listening to it ever since. We want to make sure to know the text by heart in forty year's time!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Natural Blondes, an Endangered Species

Last month (May 2009), I happened to be in Trondheim, Norway, during their National Day on the 17th of May. It was brilliant sunshine, nice and warm and 20 hours of daylight on top of that. The 17th was an amazing Sunday. It seemed like every citizen of Trondheim spent the day in the streets, most of them wearing traditional clothes that looked awesome (and I was told they cost a fortune)! It felt a bit like a time travel to the eight(ish) century, apart from the fancy sunglasses.

Of course, I took some pictures, which you can look at on my Flickr site. When I was sorting my photographs after I came back, this one caught my eye:

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, Trondheim, Norway, 2009.

I thought the female half of this family with their equally blonde hair glowing in the sun, the traditional dresses and the fancy sunglasses looked great. When looking at the picture I remembered a story I once heard about natural blonde hair: due to the fact that the gene that is responsible for fair hair has recessive alleles, a recent scientific study from 2002 concluded that the last natural blonde baby will be born in 2202 in Finland. Stories about the disappearing blond gene have apparently periodically surfaced in media and press since 1865.

So it seemed to be a reasonable conclusion to mark natural blondes as endangered species. I came across three articles that are worthwhile reading:

Corrected-Cavegirls were first blondes to have fun

Encyclopedia Galactica: "Blond"

Encyclopedia Galactica: "Disappearing Blonde Gene"

The approaching extinction of the blonde gene lead to (fear in the male population ;-)?) wild (scientific?) discussions and conclusions: do blondes have more fun? Are blondes more successful? Are blondes more or less intelligent? etc.

I thought the most amusing theory came from Peter Frost, a Canadian anthropologist, who (according to Times) beliefs that the reason for the first blonde women to appear was when human society split up into hunters (men with a high death rate) and housekeepers (an army of women, who had to develop outstanding features in order to attract the few men left). Maybe he wrote the paper when he was 16?

Well, I was quite relieved on behalf of humanity and myself that the alleged World Health Organisation (WHO) study on the disappearing blonde gene turned out to be a hoax. The WHO issued a formal denial of such a study in 2002. Whether the blondes are relieved now I don't know. Some might have loved to be a bit special. I say look on the bright side! Despite globalism, our good old genes will keep us diverse and interesting. Now enjoy your weekends with minds at ease!

What the hell is the correct spelling 'blond' or 'blonde' ?!?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

My Vintage Vogue

I like fashion and fashion photography. However, a lot of today's magazines look quite similar and boring to me. Whether this is because they actually are boring and look all the same, or whether it is just the fact that everything contemporary and from the same culture is bound to be perceived so, I don't know! It could also be that the good stuff from the past is more likely to be remembered. No hard evidence for the latter though, since sometimes ugly stuff strikes us back too. Ultimately, beauty (and interestingness) does lie in the eye of the beholder.

Hence, when I came across the collection of fashion photographs from 1920 through 1965, which have kindly been collected and brought to our eyes by myvintagevogue (or on Flickr), I was delighted!

Why are Vogue no longer doing covers like this one?

Photo by Vogue, Magazine Cover from March 1958.

Just to give you an impression how the magazines used to look from the inside, here's a great Pinup style shot of a young lady which might look familiar to you(*):

Photo taken from myvintagevogue's Flickr account. (I'll try to track the source down.).

Why are they not doing these colours anymore? I mean, I know they probably would have liked to achieve more 'natural' colours back in the 50-60ies, but for me they are a crucial bit that makes the picture work. It almost seems that every decade since the advent of colour had it's own tint. My personal impression of the 70ies, for instance, is kind of yellow-ish. This might be due to the age of the film material though. I'll have to look a bit into this now ;-), so see you soon and enjoy the vintage photographs!

(*) I't good 'old' Marilyn ;-).

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Hannah van Helsing

The quest for the holy chamber had exhausted our bodies and minds. Only a few of us were left of the fellowship that had set off a long time ago from a distant land in order to find it. Most of our brave men had payed the ultimate price to get us to where we were then; the long sought destination ahead.

This was the moment when suddenly the air got cold and darkness fell upon us, when evil powers reared up in their final and forceful attempt to prevent us from entering the chamber and bind them in their forgotten prisons for another thousand years.

The battle was almost lost when the reversal of fortune arrived to our salvation in person of Hannah van Helsing(*):

Photo by Tomer Jacobson (thetomer), March 2009.

Everything happened so fast, if it wouldn't have been for the Tomer and his lighting techniques beyond those of the forces of darkness, we wouldn't even have ever known who saved us!

So it only remains to say great model, holy lighting, unusual location = great shot! I like it very much (although I would have cropped it slightly tighter, but hey, it's van Helsing ;-) )!

If you like this shot too and would like to see a more of thetomer, check out his
website and his Flickr account. He has also got a blog, which is unfortunately (at least for me) in Hebrew only.

(*) Hannah is Gabriel's less famous - but actually more awesome - little sister.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Meet the Eggs!

Happy belated Easter everyone!

After lots of eating and lots of chilling out over the Easter weekend, I finally managed to post the family portrait of the Eggs. These guys are our relatives from a distant place, who came for a visit to York over Easter. Funny coincidence, now that I read their family name ...

Anyways, if you want to meet them, please visit the gallery on Flickr. Wally, the youngest of the lot, was keen to get his picture taken for my blog. Hence, here he is whishing a nice Easter and inviting you to meet his lot:

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, April 2009.

And in case you want to do something a bit different (caution: addictive!) for Easter breakfast, check these Eggs Benedict out!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Bollywood meets National Railway Museum

When wandering around in York on one of the sunny weekends we tend to have lately, I watched a promo performance of Indian dancers on the market square.

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, March 2009.

They were pretty good and when I talked to them I learned that they are a dancing ensemble from Birmingham and that there will be an Indian culture festival at the National Railway Museum in York, UK (4-17th April 2009). Being interested in music and dance, particularly in taking pictures of such performances, I was glad to hear about the festival.

So I will definitely pay the NRM a visit and try to get some colourful shots of Bollywood coming to the National Railway Museum!

Check out my older post about a belly dance performance at a festival in York.

The War of the Roses, a novel by Warren Adler

I could hardly believe it! The first comment I got on my post Wars of the Roses, was from Mr Warren Adler, the author of the novel 'The War of the Roses', on which the movie is based. Thanks for the comment Mr Adler!

First I thought this can't be really him, but the contents and style of his blog The Writer's Life and his website was pretty convincing ;-) ...

Well, my wife took this as a sign and immediately went to the public library in York, in order to borrow his novel. It was quite amusing for us when we learned that they do not have it, as we are talking about York as in Yorkshire, UK, home of the White Rose. I guess we'll have to check out Borders or Amazon ...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Wars of the Roses - or - Don't Mess with Roses!

Most people who hear or read 'War of the Roses' (while being born before 1979), probably think of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas as Oliver & Barbara Rose who beat each other up in the bitter divorce battle in the dark comedy 'The War of the Roses'. Despite I have seen the movie a while ago, I honestly cannot recall whether I liked it or not ...

Well the historical background of the expression 'Wars of the Roses' goes back to the 15th century, when the House of York and the House of Lancaster fought a series of dynastic civil wars for the throne of England. The period between 1453 and 1487 where Henry IV and Richard of York clashed repeatedly has been particularly hot, although York and Lancaster have always fought repeatedly in conflicts before and afterwards.

The two symbols the 'White Rose of York' and the 'Red Rose of Lancaster' are still the symbols of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Nowadays people tend to be less likely to kill each other (at least in middle Europe) and the old conflict has turned into something more symbolic and rather peaceful, namely a sports competition between York and Lancaster, which encompasses 45 different sports disciplines and takes place between the 2-4th May 2009 (the first May weekend).

Way back in 1964, a guy called Sir Charles Carter, the then Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University, challenged his York counterpart, Lord James of Rusholme to a boat race. Over the years other disciplines were added to the boat race and lead to the quite popular sporting institution of the Roses.

So, what is your business with all this you might ask. Well I had the chance to take the pictures of three Athletes for the Roses promotion campaign of the Athletic Union of York University, and I think the posters and the brochure turned out quite well:

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, March 2009.

Larger versions can be found on my Flickr account.

More information on the competition can be found at the Athletic Union of York.

In case you want to know more about the historical background I refer you once more to Encyclopedia Galactica, and Encyclopedia Movieaddictica.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

If that wouldn't happen, that would suck!

Good news everyone! Last week we had brilliant sunshine in York (UK!). A good excuse to wander around and wonder what would happen if the trees would remain leafless despite sunshine and green grass ... forever. Well that's quite a downer thought, the result of a desperate soul tormented by dampness, darkness and fog ...

Luckily my friend the tree put an end to those sinister thoughts and prevented me from signing up to the dark side of the Force by showing me this:

Photo by Martin Trefzer, 2009.

Awesome colours, isn't it? So my weekend was saved and my mind was freed to think other important thoughts: how can I get a coffee, fast, and without having to go somewhere inside?!?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Ace of Spades and Lighting

A fellow photographer Matt Grum recently featured this shot on his blog.

Photo by Matt Grum, March 2009

I think the look he achieved here is absolutely fantastic. This mixture of David-Lynch-not-Black-but-Red-Lodge and the vaudeville magician scenery works really well and makes for an amazing shot.

The look of the picture has been achieved using only two studio lights. The model is lit with a large softbox from camera left and care has been taken not to ruin the look of the background when light from this source spills on it. A second (snooted flash) spot light is adjusted in a way to obtain the light cone on the curtain behind the model.

Apart from the lighting, what makes this picture impressive is the whirlwind of cards surrounding the model. If you are not an employee of Pixar studios, the only way is to invide many, many friends who throw (and pick up) shitloads of cards at the model ... OR ... you just repeat the whole process with only one friend and one deck of cards a few times when using a camera on a tripod to shoot the scenery multiple times. Applying your friend Eraser Tool later when combining the shots in Photoshop, will allow you to achieve this look! Since the background does not change, this is relatively easy and no advanced masking techniques are necessary.

However, in case you like this shot as much as I do and you are interested in the details of the lighting setup, please visit Matt's blog and read how he's done it.

By the way, my own shot of Hitchkock like attacking Seagulls has been achieved with the same overlay technique.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Darwin the Philosopher

Right before Christmas last Year I was asked by the York Philosophy Society whether they can use one of my photos from Flickr for an article in the Spring issue of their philosophical online magazine Dialectic Online. I gave permission and here it is: the article Darwin the Philosopher in issue no 4 (Spring 2009).

Photo by Martin A. Trefzer, Autumn 2008

Originally, I only knew that the topic of this issue would be Life & Death. It is thus a quite funny coincident that the topic of the article, for which my photo has been used, is about Darwin and natural evolution, since in the research area I am working in these principles are applied to the design of novel, unconventional (basically weird) technical systems.

I know it sounds a bit like Terminator to the above 25s and a bit like Transformers to those below. So far, nobody achieved anything even close to scary though, so don't worry ... yet! In this respect it is interesting to read an article about the principles of Natural Evolution, when approached from a philosophical rather than engineering perspective.

For everyone who has ever wondered how the hell (and for what price) a cell turned into a cat at some point, the article in Dialectic is worth a read. If you want to know more evolution background I suggest to start reading about Charles Darwin and Evolution in the Encyclopedia Galactica.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Indian Meets Vintage Meets Photoshop

Recently when I was flicking through Flickr, I came across this entertaining portrait by Miss Lulu & The Teaspoon Shortage. This sounds Dada itself, just like the Native American feather headdress on a white girl's head in front of the read kind of Heritage-ish wallpaper - cool!

Photo by Lucia Holm, 2009.

She's got a few more portraits of this kind on her Flickr page, which is definitely worth a visit. She's also registered as a photographer on Modelmayhem.

When I first saw the photo I hoestly thought she was a Brit, despite the Native American headdress. There was the way she looked ... the wallpaper ... the way the pony of her own hair is cut ... So I was quite surprised to read on her profile that she's from Middletown, NJ (must be some roots somewhere ...).

Anyways, let's cut the drivel and reveal the clou of this picture: the wallpaper in the background is not real! . Yeah it's true, the background is photoshopped. The good news is that you can get the brushes and wallpaper for free from and and some of them are even available for various image editing programs (Photoshop 7+, Photoshop Elements 2+, Gimp 2.2.6+). The bad news is you have to patiently replace the background of your original picture ...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Pinhole Photography - What Landscapes?

As promised there is another great pinhole camera shot, which is not a wide-angle landscape! Just like most of the pictures I come across, I found it on Flickr.

Photo by DelioTO, February 2009.
The picture was taken with a 24 minutes exposure (12+12), while the guy was reading his morning newspaper. He says on his Flickr page that the aperture was f/250, which corresponds to a pinhole diameter of about 0.2mm (assuming the focal length was 50mm). This means that the pinhole is almost 45 times smaller than your aperture when shooting with a 50mm lens at f/5.6, which is quite amazing and makes the long exposure times possible! In the case of the pinhole camera the amount of light is further decreased due to the lack of a lens, which collects light and focusses it.

Admittedly, pictures of this kind are bound to be blurred or distorted in some ways. So one has to like this style. However, imagine what you can do with long exposure times like this! For instance, a whole motion sequence could be 'recorded' in one image. People who are watching you taking the picture would be entertained too by your slow motion pantomime play in front of a cardbord box.

Photo by DelioTO, February 2009.
How a pinhole camera looks like!

In case you always asked yourself why the hell a bigger f-number corresponds to a larger aperture, here's how you calculate it: f/5.6 really reads current focal length divided by 5.6 (or whatever the number is). Thus, if you are shooting with a 50mm lens at f/4, your aperture diameter will be 12.5mm. If you are shooting with 100mm at f/4, it will be 25mm. Hence, the amount of light increases if you use a longer focal length, or you decrease your f-number.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Pinhole Photography

It's quite amazing how basic a photo camera can be: a light-proof box with a small hole in one side (aperture) and - opposite to that - a medium that can capture an image (photographic paper, sensor). Thats right, no lens! Rather than me rambling about the technical details, you might want to read how it works on Wikipedia.

Despite the basic making of a pinhole camera, it is possible to get quite interesting and nice pictures out of it. This pinhole shot on Flickr (which was taken with a slightly more fancy pinhole camera) reminded me that I always wanted to make my own one. I'll let you know when this actually happens ...

Photo by Tom J. Hole, London, Battersea Power Station, 2009.

One can argue whether one likes the pinhole style or not, but one thing is for sure: considering the elaborate cameras that are widely available these days, such a back-to-the-roots approach is quite appealing. It reminds of how simple the principle of imaging actually is. Besides, I quite like the vintage look that comes for free anyways.

I'll try and dig out something else than a landscape for the next post, because it's also possible to shoot the slightly different portrait with a pinhole camera.

Friday, 13 February 2009

York PhotoSoc - Competition Next

Following up from the post yesterday, here's my second favourite from the York PhotoSoc competition 2009.

Photo by Kerry Grainger 2009.

It is not very surprising (at least to me, as I am interested in doing more dance shootings like this one myself) that I like this photo: it's a great silhouette in natural lighting conditions, dynamic, about dance, and a cool outfit is involved!

Particularly the fact that the dancer's face and hand are lit, whilst everything else remains a nice silhouette adds this extra bit to this shot for me. Only thing is that there could be slighly more sky on the right hand side, but I suppose it takes quite a few shots anyways to capture the whole model in mid-air!

Check Kerry's Flickr page out, as there are more interesting shots like this one!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

York PhotoSoc - Competition

This spring the Photographic Society of York University held a competition amongst its members. The competition was open topic and any kind of post-processing was allowed. A few days ago, the winners were announced on the society's website. Yeah! I made it to the top ten with a photo of Castle Howard on a foggy day!

However, I have got two other favourites among those top ten. The first one is this amazing shot of Jason Piper.

Photo by Jason Piper

I think it's well spotted and well done! The fact that the 'stuck' bus has got the number 13 gives it an extra bit of (unintentional?) mystique, and everybody who read the books that must not be named probably thinks Harry Potter.

P.S.: I'll post my second favourite tomorrow.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Helena Belly Dancer from Leeds, UK

I took some photos of a belly dance event at the York Carnival 2008. Helena is a great performer and teacher of various belly dance styles, based in Leeds, North Yorkshire, UK.

When I recently visited her website, I was pleased to see that she used some of my photos on her website (the two that are in focus ;-)). Thanks Helena!

Photo by Martin Trefzer 2008

This is one of my favourites of this event last year. Some more photos can be found on my Flickr page. Hey Helena (or other dancers / dance groups based around York)! In case you come across my blog and would like to do a shooting or get some pictures of an event, don't hesitate to contact me. I am very interested in doing dance/motion photography.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Retro Graphics by Aloa from Abduzeedo

I have found this great tutorial for creating retro graphic artwork via the Flickr site of a fellow event photographer Helen.

There are a lot more tutorials for graphics design like this on this website called
Abduzeedo. The particular one that shows how to do the picture above can be found here: Retro Geometric Vectors in Space with Illustrator and Photoshop.

Artwork by Aloa from Abduzeedo

The tutorial and design is created by Aloa, one of the Abduzeedo writers. Personally, I find these tutorials quite inspiring. Studio 54 and the seventies live! Unfortunately, the guy uses relatively expensive commercial tools to create the designs, but you should be able to achieve similar results using free (open source) software like Inkscape and GIMP. Both are available for Linux, MacOS and Windows.

Hope that we'll see more event advertisements of this kind again in the near future!

A Flock of Seagulls

There was a lot of snow in North Yorkshire recently. On a particularly cold and foggy day, one of my colleagues went to feed some geese and ducks during our lunch break.

We wouldn't have thought that a third force would come into play and attack, in order to get hold of the food resources ...

Photo hosted on my Flickr account.

I happened to have my camera with the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle attached to it with me. So we ended up throwing bread into the direction - but still out - of the frame, which resulted in this seagull action shot (f/9.0, 20mm, ISO 400).

Slight vignetting and gradation curves postprocessing, to make it more dramatic*.

*Ok, I'll admit it: The huge amount of birds was originally distributed over 5 shots ;-).

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Great Portrait of Christy Turlington

What makes a great portrait and how can I shoot one? Well, the most common approach these days is to buy a digital camera, go to a party, pop the little built-in flash up and be surprised that all of our friends appear to be Zombies (unless you happen to be invited to a party where Christy sips a drink too), but that's not what I want to moan about (again).

I wonder what makes us pausing for a moment when surfing the web reading articles and looking at photographs? Why, for instance, do I find this portrait so great?

Photo by Patrick Demarchelier for Harper's Bazaar (July 1999)

Well, for starters, the photographer used a very basic - yet effective - lighting setup. There are just two light sources: a large, softbox (or umbrella) high camera left (45°), and a beauty dish (a small light source that reflects in the model's eyes) above the photographer. The backdrop is just a plain (I guess) whiteish wall/paper.

The one thing that makes this picture different and interesting is the little mouse on the model's shoulder. Maybe that's because when I think of mice, I imagine small, furry, quickly moving animals that are barely seen sitting somewhere. However, it's sitting there and seems to ask for attention. It also draws attention, because it is the brightest object in the picture, and the tones range from white mouse smoothly to black hair. Awesome idea, well done Patrick!

I'm absolutely convinced the quality of the portrait has absolutely nothing to do with supersymmetricüberbeautyperfectbodybigeyes Christy Turlington! It's all the mouse! Trust me!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Seven Sins - Lust

On a recent Flickr journey I somehow came across the group theSeVen. Despite it is still a small pool with at the moment a few more than 100 photos, there are quite a number of really great ones! I was quite surprised that - compared with other subjects - there were not that many pictures on Flickr dealing with the Seven Deadly Sins.

And most of the ones that are there resolve the inherent problem of depicting feelings like lust, sloth or pride with undressing one of our female fellows. Don't get me wrong, I think undressing as many women as possible and taking potographs is great, but when one thinks of movies (watchit!) like Se7en, it just seems to be a slightly onesided approach.

Although I have to admit that, when thinking about realising a Seven Sins project of my own, I found it quite hard to come up with something really catchy (which will not make me not trying at some point).

Hence, I was amazed when I saw the photos of Urline, actually a guy who managed to create a sinister atmosphere with strong colours in his pictures. Admittedly, this guy has a good deal of postprocessing skills, which helped to create these images. Whatsoever, they are great and my favourites on Flickr so far!

For everyone who cannot recall all of the seven sins (I hope you don't!), here's the link to the omniscient Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Not Switzerland

Hard to believe, but true: we are not in Switzerland, although we had a lot of snow today! Besides, it's pretty hard to hide the fact that there is not the slightest elevation in sight, and my Photoshop skills are not good enough to flatten the Alps anyways.

So at the moment the British weather has changed it's bistable mode pale sun - drizzle to sunny snowfields - snow storm, and amazed us inhabitants once more. It was fun to watch people building snowmen and getting involved into snowball fights.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris

When surfing the web on this lazy Sunday evening, I came across the PX3 photography website. The website is well made and the most interesting thing to me is the announced photo competition 2009. They have extended their deadline to February 28, 2009.

One of the nice things about this competition is that they actually distinguish between Photographers and Professional Photographers (those who actually earn their money with taking photos) when judging the photos. There is also an entry fee for each photo submitted, which might result in people considering more carefully what they are going to submit.

The winner's gallery of the past years looks quite promising. The pictures shown are conceptually interesting and technically good, although a certain level is required technical perfection is oviously not necessarily the main criterion.

According to their own words, "The 'Prix de la Photographie, Paris' (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Winning photographs from this competition are exhibited in a high-profile gallery in Paris and published in the high-quality, full-color Px3 Annual Book.", which sounds great!

email entry

This is my first entry by mail.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sweet Sweet Photons

Here it is, the first post! The oh so important first words, which should express all ideas and purposes of the newly created blog at once and make all of you coming back to this page as often as possible!

Well, I guess the real purpose when starting writing anything is to overcome the virginity of the plain white paper (or these days screen) ...

Anyway, this blog will be mainly about Photography. As any kind of photo is created with the help of light and actually nobody would be able to see any kind of image, if there would be no light, I chose a light related title for this blog. I am both a photographer and a physicist and so the slightly geeky title seems to be appropriate.

A citation of a wise person inspired the title as it is: "Sweet photons. I don't know if you're waves or particles, but you go down smooth." (Bender)