Siberia, Russia In Summer
Brrr! Blizzards remind us of Siberia, leaving our predisposed notion of what freezer-frigid places are like and the two words, blizzard and Siberia, cuddled up well together.
It is hard to conceptualize Siberia with almost the opposite but in Asian Russia summer is more likely a chemistry of humidity from downpours, the thermometer entertaining over thirty Celsius, and the occasional temporary flooding everywhere. What would be the agenda in Ulan Ude, Siberia, the first major pit-stop northwest into Russia from Mongolia, on such a day? Never mind the mandatory umbrella and puddle jumping. Permeating the air is the smell of ageing architecture saturated with moisture overload and fireplaces burning to take away the dampness, setting the stage for an architectural tour. So don the best cover you have (not from the cold but from the wet) and enter the world of century old crumbling facades, reflections and water-intensified colours. You will remain primarily unnoticed, meandering the back streets capturing moments in time, all of the locals are just trying to keep dry.
Old Hollywood Glamour Portraiture
If it is really a style, there is a certain mystique about old Hollywood glamour photography. And for that alone, it may be timeless.
Perhaps the mystery began with the origins of the word “glamour”; it turns out it was not immersed in the polish we pine and reminisce about. The original meaning of glamour was a spell cast by a witch to make someone see a different way. Despite that murky beginning, to a certain extent, spell casting is what a monochromatic portrait of a lovely woman has always done although most viewers would reluctantly admit they were under a spell.
Long since witches have been brewing up trouble for beautiful women, Hollywood picked up on the word and mixed up it’s own stew, the word went virile as only Hollywood can do to trends, even back in the 40′s and 50′s. So goes the photography that followed the beautiful old Hollywood and film noir women, clicking away, crafting to enhance the skin and figure, offering little or no eye contact, unbalanced compositions, shallow depth of field, high contrast, dramatic shadow patterning, and, of course, heavy use of extensive airbrush technique (Hollywood’s version of Photoshop software). Old Hollywood glamour often focused on a single outstanding feature keeping others simplistic and subdued. With the help of media, it has become a popular style to replicate and update as the years go by; a costume party any time of the year.
Now, you decide if glamour is better than reality or not as good as it seems. Has a spell cast been cast?
November Monochrome Musings
There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was, …
-Walter de la Mare
Now that several consecutive weekend storms have passed, is November anyone’s favourite month?
Hardly! What is there to rave about a month that progressively fades into diminishing light and heat? In most people’s mind, the bridge between fall and winter has us mentally hunkered down in the dark, huddling the furnace with wool socks pulled up to our knees. Folks on the Canadian prairies are content with mere wind and rain but when the white stuff hits the doorstep a touque tops off winter styling in these parts. However, the “in between season” that early winter offers is an important time to pause, reflect and reconnect with nature, ideally, meditatively in a serene and untroubled setting. Often folks abandon these special places over the short days and long nights stretch, thinking that they serve best at the height of summer, ruminating over picnics in daylight that lingers late in the evening, sprinkled with children’s laughter after a park stroll, lolling in heat that does not fade into gradual darkness after 2 PM.
The leaves that haven’t been blown to other prairie provinces have gone monochrome and crunchy, the only sound other than the blustering breeze. No; it is not summer any more but a late fall or winter walk refreshes, invigorates and renews, allows ponder and contemplation. Autumn is but a sweet memory; the malingering, sweet one this fall almost vanquished southern Alberta’s late spring turmoil. We cling to the fading light as the stingy sun holds back more and the days fold into winter, and thank Mother Nature for providing places of respite and reflection before the harrowing days of the pending festival descend upon us.
For more on the goodness of in-between seasons, see: