vrijdag 23 september 2016
Another example of Nicci's excellent posing, marking the end of a pleasant photo shoot with marvelous results. Nicci is the 77th Lady behind Crystal Veil.
There seems to be a conflict going on between the formatting by my email provider and the formatting by Blogger :). Apparently there is no way to copy paste an email text into a weblog. So I will behave like a medieval monk and write everything out again. Praise Modern Technology, Amen. See you in a couple of hours.....
Doing a photo shoot in prescription glasses is easy compared to the complicated process of communicating - and choosing from the applications - after a casting call. It often happens that models ignore the fact that sending information about their prescription and PD is quintessential. It's like "Hello, here I am" and then.... silence. As a result, it often happens that their jobs eventually go to models who apply later but with the information required. I accept this as a fact of life, but the weeks before the actual journey are often filled with adrenaline. No doubt, most models can tell long stories about photographers who don't send clear information during the selection process. It's heaven when the communication between model and photographer is clear right from the start. Nicci is a great example of a model who is aware of this. I felt at ease in our email exchange right from the start and this made my eventual decision an easy one.
Motivation is another key element which can make the difference between a good photo shoot and a great photo shoot. I often notice that once the camera starts working, it portrays not just the model's individual looks and her level of experience but also - in a subtle way - the preceding communication between model and photographer. Call it the difference between a chance meeting and a seasoned team at work. This is exactly what happened when Nicci arrived in the Pavilion Gardens and when we started the actual photo shoot.
Another parallel between the email exchange and the actual photo shoot is the degree of "fun element" . A "technical" email communication often predicts a "technical" photo shoot. If there are lively and even witty elements in the email exchange, there is a good chance that the photo shoot will produce at least a number of photos that show liveliness and fun. The term "comfort zone"gets an extra dimension if the fun element has been there from the first email exchange. In other terms, it takes no time investment to break the ice. When Nicci arrived, we were in a lively conversation straightaway, with lots of laughter and fun. And it remained that way throughout the photo shoot. Of course there was lots of serious work to be done and most portraits shown in this documentary are the fruits of hard work, but you somehow feel that the wit and fun was never far away. Whenever I think about the afternoon with Nicci in the Pavilion Gardens, it brings back a happy smile on my face.
Dear Nicci, working with you was a real treat from the very start to the very end. You kept dripping good looks and there was no end in your variety in posing and expressions. It was like a dance in which both of us were able to take the lead and then hand it over, in an endless repetition. You and I are both music composers so another apt metaphor goes like this. Your photo shoot was like a song we wrote together, each of us adding riffs, bits of harmony, fragments of lyrics right until the composition was ready and the lyrics made sense. Real team work. And what I liked best was that it all went without any visual effort, regardless the strength of the specs. Thank you for your generosity and flexibility as well. One moment I will never forget was a moment when we sat down for a parting glass after the photo shoot. You paid Mike a compliment and then turned your head towards me with a smile, saying "And you are a fool, but a nice fool". I took - and take - that as a compliment. Thank you also for your patience and understanding during the long waiting months after the photo shoot. Editing five extended photo shoots is a lot of work and the editing process was delayed by a bad shoulder injury which almost reduced me to the status of a "one arm bandit". Fortunately it's slowly on the mend now. I wish you health, happiness and of course, a great continuation of your modelling career and your music career. And I hope that our paths will cross gain in the future.
Another sincere word of thanks goes to Mike. Now where on earth shall I start? It all goes back several years when you surfaced in my email and introduced yourself. Our correspondence soon covered many aspects of photography and I was impressed by your knowledge about each and every aspect of it. The way many great photos you sent along with the letters testify to that better than words can ever do. Your background as a former freelance artist was visible in your photography. Choice of location, composition and all the rest of it. Gradually our correspondence stretched out to various aspects of editing. Light and colour balance, shade, tint and so on. Much of it was really out of my depth at first, until it dawned to me that your eyes are far better than mine. Take the issue "distance between model and photographer". This can be explained on a theoretical and technical level to a person like me who has no 3D vision at all, but it's impossible to implant 3D into my vision. The same goes for a slight colour blindness from my side. Thank you for all the hours and patience you invested on my behalf to give me a better understanding of all these elements in model photography, especially during the past few months, after my visit to the Brighton area. Having been an autodidact since early childhood, I simply never "learned to learn". However, everything you handed to me is highly appreciated and and I hope that at least some of it will be recognizable in my next photo shoots. You did a great job in your mutually agreed role as critical friend. I'm also grateful for all your help during my visit to Brighton in the middle of an ongoing railway strike. And last but not least, our mutual academic background in geography added to a new appreciation of the attractiveness of the area. Talk soon!
Photographers interested to do a photo shoot with Nicci can check either "niccola da-silva" or "Nicci Infinity". Nicci has given me permission to post this information. Serious photographers only!
donderdag 22 september 2016
The Wall of Glass is well on its way to become a testing piece for models and this wonderful portrait of lovely Nicci shows us why this is the case. Somehow the strikingly beautiful red frame with its elegant decoration distracts the viewer's attention from the major "cut in" effect. Again, the posing by Nicci is superb and there is no way of telling that these are not her own glasses.
Another great photo taken by Mike, showing Nicci and myself concentrated at work. In spite of the blur created by the mighty strong lenses, Nicci was well able to pose in a standing position, without any support for one hand or both hands. Most models soon discover that it can be done without any risk to their limbs.
"Hi Mr. Photographer, I didn't know you were there. Good to see you!" might be an apt description of Nicci's lively expression here. There was no end to her variety in posing, even in glasses twice her own prescription. This is a very credible portrait indeed. Hat off for Nicci!
Being extremely shortsighted has its practical disadvantages but here Nicci is showing one handy advantage of ultra tick lenses. A lady sometimes needs a bit of privacy and this is provided here in glorious plenty. Note the image of the model's left eye in the plano front of the lens.
The Wall of Glass is one of the most striking frames produced by Zenni in recent years. It came in three colors: tortoise shell, white and this red version. The silver metal arm decoration is elegant. I ordered this pair with my life partner Nel in mind, so it made sense to have the frame fitted with her quite strong prescription for long distance. The frame is really wide so I expected the standard 1.57 lenses would be "thick as a brick". Zenni sometimes bevels the edges of the lenses if the glasses can't be folded up neatly for their journey to Europe. But this time there was no need for that as the shape of the frame provided enough space. Lens thickness at the sides is 15 millimeters, hence the nickname "Wall of Glass".
As far as I can remember, these yellow myodisc glasses were only used in one preceding photo shoot, with Sohaila (127) from Dublin, three years ago. The main problem with these glasses is the lack of good anti-reflective coating on the lenses. However, a carefully chosen vantage point and improved editing techniques can do miracles.
Ideally suited for large PD's, these nicely shaped leopard glasses with a touch of the drop temple style have been shown in at least ten previous photo shoots. The prescription in the lenses is twice Nicci's own but she managed to produce fine portraits like this. hat off for Nicci!
This striking white and transparent pair was one of the very first glasses I ordered from Zenni, back in 2009. The frame came also in burgundy red but this white version is much nicer. Over the years, these glasses have remained a favourite among models, even after small frames made way for large frames.
One of Nicci's many qualities is her ability to produce every expression under the sun within split seconds. Some of this variation was spontaneous but in many cases she was "simply" following my directions and suggestions. These two portraits are real gems. There's a fine touch of irony in the lower portrait and a lively expression with superbly direct eye contact in the top portrait. It could be translated in the following words: "Alright, I may be blind as a bat, but I like my glasses, whatever you say". Nicci only needed a few words from my side to produce exactly the mood required. Great!
Aside from the attractive design, the frame color is fantastic. Orange was a popular frame color during the mid and late 1960's and opticians almost dictated it to blondes. Shortly after 1970's, the orange frames disappeared from the streets, never to return. Until there was Zenni, in 2009.... The frame has long disappeared from their catalog but the glasses remain a favorite among models till this very day. I have lost count but Nicci may well be the 15th model posing in them. A thumb rule, found out by trial and error, goes like this: "The more a model likes a pair of glasses, the better the results". This is why I always invest many hours (often a full day or more) to select an individual collection of glasses for each model. For the same reason, there is always the opportunity to fulfill requests by models who fancy a specific style. It's similar to what opticians do when they give advice to their clients but the advantage of this project is that my collection offers far more variety in styles than what opticians have available in their shops.
The dull retro era started in 1989 and it seemed to go on forever. Then, all of a sudden there was a new wave in frame design. It was a great relief to me when the black hipster frames took over in 2009. The style is believed to derive from old photos of the legendary pop singer Buddy Holly (b. 1936 - d. 1959) that created a sudden hype on the social media. A whole new generation went searching for frames in the Buddy Holly style. Several brands saw the potential and started producing black, solid unisex hipster frames. Very soon the streets were full of girls (brunettes but especially blondes) sporting the new style. Many girls did not need glasses at all but they simply enjoyed wearing black hipster frames with plano lenses. There was very little variation within the new style if you compare it with the rich diversity in design during the 1970's and 1980's but anything was better than the retro style so I was not complaining :).
Given this shock wave in 2009, it's highly remarkable that Zenni came up with the massive frame shown here by Nicci. It's a hybrid style, combining the solid arms of the new wave with the floating lens which was one of the few attractive novelties introduced during the final part of the retro era. Lens thickness at the sides is a full centimeter, effectively barring the view of the model's eyes "en profil". Thick lenses were the standard throughout the 1970's and 1980's. Everybody was in the same boat and the alternative of contact lenses was widely available for high myopic girls who disliked their glasses, so nobody was complaining. Nowadays, the talk is all about coke bottle glasses and opticians make a fortune selling ever higher index lenses for astronomic prices. These high index lenses are only bought for aesthetic reasons. In reality, the old fashioned standard lenses give the wearer better eyesight as there is less peripheral distortion. Trends created by the contemporary dictate that all young people have to be perfect in every respect. In my view, there is nothing wrong with "perfect imperfection" which makes one stand out between the peer group. This is one of the reasons why I order all modern frames fitted with standard 1.57 lenses.
Glasses: Zenni 110125
After seeing lovely Nicci posing in a great variety of glasses from the Golden Era (the 1970's and 1980's), you may be inclined to think that this is another great pair of vintage glasses. Five years ago, my life partner Nel was delighted when she first saw these glasses ("Great....I had glasses just like these in the mid seventies") and she was flabbergasted when I told her that they were in fact brand new. It was a huge surprise to me as well when this giant frame appeared in the Zenni catalog and I ordered it straightaway, fitted with their standard -8.00 lenses (1.57). High index lenses were not available until the late 1980's. The lenses are not quite as thick as they were in the 1970's and 1980's but the overall effect is rather similar. Nel was the first model who posed in this pair and her example was soon followed by many other models (e.g. Marieke 347, Jolien 283, Sohaila 091, Doreen 165, Juliette 217, Farishta 761, Iris 126, Nadya 110, Emma 152). The frame soon went out of stock but it remains popular among the models. Here Nicci is showing us why this is the case.
A fine "en profil" portrait of Nicci posing in a nameless but remarkable pair of glasses acquired at the Amsterdam flea market during the late 1980's. Designers experimented with the shape of the arms and this led to a style called "drop temple glasses". This style was attractive as the arms were not in the way when the owner of the glasses was seen "en profil". The style shown here by Nicci is the opposite of drop temple glasses but it achieves the same effect. It's a great pity that styles like this vanished from the streets in the late 1980's when the rather dull retro fashion took over. So far, no serious attempt has been made to revive the highly attractive drop temple style. Perhaps next year?
woensdag 21 september 2016
This is one of the earliest Silhouette glasses in my collection. They were made between 1969 and 1971 when frames got larger and larger but there was still enough variety in size to accommodate all tastes. Photochromic lenses were a novelty in those years and they soon became quite popular, whether people needed them or not.
This is how the portraits of Nicci's excellent posing in Silhouette glasses were made. Believe me, any photographer should be ready to go through - or even down - his knees when given the chance to portray this outstanding yet cheerful and witty model. I almost went through my knees sitting comfortably in front of my PC when the first photos from Nicci's port appeared on the screen. High time for another confession - being a music composer herself, Nicci will understand - there was music in my head when the photos came rolling past. Always a good sign. The music? A line from the chorus in a massive international hit by pop group Shocking Blue from The Hague, Holland (1970) called "Venus". It went number one in the U.S. and its composer subsequently went on retirement, living from the royalties of that song. Those were the days.... The words? "She's got it.... Yeah baby, she's got it". Big compliment to Mike for taling this great picture just at the right moment!
Dating the age of these Silhouette glasses is a matter of educated guess work but they are definitely 1970's. Silhouette started stamping a serial number on each frame sometime around 1970 and this helps to put a fairly precise year of manufacturing on most of their glasses (about one hundred) in my collection. The Silhouette company generously met my request to date some twenty glasses in my collection and the rest was a matter of extrapolation. Quite a gesture from a company always in the middle of a fierce competition with many other brands. The problem with the glasses shown here by Nicci is that the first owner ordered her optician to have her name stamped on one of the arms, on top of the place where the serial number was stamped. The lenses are -1.50 above Nicci's prescription but she managed to bridge the gap without any visual effort. This is superb posing indeed.
These slightly warped but otherwise splendid Silhouette glasses were sent to me by Martin from Köln, Germany and subsequently used in half a dozen photo shoots between 2010 and 2012. Some names from the past, for comparison: Margriet 125, Leonne 062, Christien 123, Bianca 145, Lucy 017 and 262. The glasses were also featured during the catwalk at the opening of my photo exhibition in Germany where Farishta (the "Mona Lisa in glasses") showed them on the red carpet. The glasses surfaced again during the preparations for a series of five photo shoots in Paris in January. Sonia (called the "Princess of glasses" by her many admirers) was the model posing in them on a cold winter day in Jardin des Tuileries, near the Louvre Museum. Here lovely Nicci is joining their ranks in her own distinguished way. The fine colour blend with Nicci's coat was an unforeseen but welcome bonus.
Excellent, concentrated posing by Nicci in OWP glasses from Germany. I like this portrait very much so it's shown here in two different editing versions, a "standard"version (below) and a glossy version using the glossy Orton effect (above). See for yourself which version you like best.
OWP stands for Optische Werke Passau, a Bavarian brand active since 1947 and still going strong. My collection hosts several of their glasses, all different in style. A real chameleon brand! This pair was featured in half a dozen photo shoots done between 2009 - 2012 and then kind of forgotten about. The glasses surfaced when I was browsing for Nicci. The lens for her left eye is a bit too strong and the right lens is too weak but Nicci was completely in the flow, rendering a series of fine, natural portraits. Mike and I took these photos almost simultaneously, from different vantage points and distances. No attempt was made to unify the editing styles. There was no need.
Doing a photo shoot in prescription glasses may sound rather static but in reality it can be quite lively. Mike took this excellent photo of the model and photographer at work. Here it's Nicci who went down on her knees upon my request but the roles were often reversed, depending on the vantage points required. As soon as the flow sets in, it all really goes quite fast and this photo shoot eventually yielded nearly 500 photos. Mike made another 200 in his own separate role.
In my view, a good photo shoot should 1) be fun and an event that brings a smile on the model's face afterwards, 2) yield fine pictures and 3) bring some air and exercise which is good for the health and well-being of the participants. Some photographers may frown when they read this but it's my impression that some of them are taking themselves perhaps a bit too serious. Feel entirely free to disagree....
There is a nice story attached to the Cardin glasses shown here to great effect by lovely Nicci. In the late 1980's I experimented with prescription glasses as a decoration in the house. An entire wall in my bedroom was filled with large mirrors and some eight inches in front of these, there were large pieces of plexi glass hanging from the ceiling. Many small holes were drilled in the floating plexi glass so that lots of prescription could be squeezed in. It was fascinating to see the play of the light through all those prescription lenses, especially at night. In 1989, a nice young lady from Denmark stayed at my place for a week. We first met a few months earlier on a campground in Switzerland and talked until the cows came home. Shortly afterwards, she sent m a letter. Her relation had just broken up and what she wanted was a long pub crawl with me. Sure, be my guest, there is a spare bedroom for you and we can talk about whatever you like. She knew that I was divorced recently and in no condition for a new relation. But over the days, there was a mutual element of flirt in the air so the spare bedroom concept was eventually abandoned. When she entered the bedroom, all she could gaze at was the huge construction on the wall with the floating glasses. "That's the weirdest thing I've ever seen". I then told her the story about my life long history with glasses. How my Gran first showed me how glasses work when I was six. How it became my dream in my teens to become an optician, a dream that was forbidden by my father after graduating from school. And how I decided to start collecting glasses at the flea markets, as a compensation for that lost dream. She was still hesitating to enter the room so I asked her if she knew her own glasses prescription. Yes, -6.00 in the right eye and -4.75 in the left eye. Well, in that case I have a perfect pair of spare glasses for you. I walked towards the large construction, took the Cardin glasses and handed them to her. She took off her wonky silver hippie glasses and put the Cardin pair on. "Wow... These are perfect!". She then stepped towards the mirrors to check her looks in the Cardin glasses. "Nice, not bad at all, just a bit old fashioned". That broke the ice and the rest was heaven. After she left for Denmark at the end of the week, I sat down and wrote a song about that week. The title was "Viqueen at the wheel" and it later became the trailer of my solo CD "Crystal Veil". No real relation evolved because of the long distance but we always remained friends. And she keeps assuring me that she is proud of her song till this very day.
Christian Dior was the first couture house to enter into the market for glasses. Their example was soon followed by several other couture houses but they were less prolific and as a result, their impact on the market was not as substantial. My collection only hosts a few glasses made by Pierre Cardin and this is the earliest pair. The style is quite characteristic for the 1970's. I bought them at the Amsterdam flea market for two guilders in the 1980's and back home it was a huge surprise to find out that they were made by Cardin. In my opinion, these glasses blend perfectly with Nicci's face in each and every respect.
Martin from Cologne in Germany - now on retirement - was another steady supplier of great, affordable vintage glasses from the Golden Age of frame design. As explained before, Silhouette was the only brand really in the same league as Christian Dior. All in all, I selected five Silhouette glasses for Nicci. All pairs are fitted with lenses close to the model's prescription.
These Christian Dior glasses were made some fifteen years after they first conquered the world in 1976. Over the years, their frame design went through many changes but if you compare this frame with the two Dior glasses shown earlier on by Nicci, you will recognize some similarities like the CD logo on the arms. As Nicci is wearing Dior glasses herself - excellent taste, Nicci! - it made sense to look for vintage Dior glasses that might suit her. The vast majority of Dior glasses in my collection have lenses for long sight and as a result, there are quite a few that have not been shown yet. I still hope to come across longsighted models in the future. Fortunately, three Christian Dior pairs in my collection have lenses close to Nicci's prescription and the frames were a match as well. Great!
These splendid Christian Dior glasses were sent to me by the great photographer Stephan from Bavaria, four years ago. The work of Stephan and his then partner Sandra ("Planet Myopia" etc.) was highly inspirational to me when I embarked on my own project in 2009. Other sources of inspiration at the time were Alain from Paris ("High myopic girls") and Konstantin from Moscow and his wife Anna.
Pro Design is a brand from Denmark that designed many fine frames during the 1980's and early 1990's. The green pair shown here to great effect by lovely Nicci has a honey brown twin sister in my collection. Green is not regarded an easy colour for frames but this pair is a notable exception.
Lots of careful editing went into these portraits in order to achieve the best contrast with the grass and the Royal Pavilion in the background.
Over the years, Mike and I had lots of correspondence about editing and photography in general. To say that Mike taught me a thing or two about editing would be the understatement of the year. I have two handicaps related to eyesight. One is an almost total lack of 3D vision. The other handicap is a slight degree of colour blindness. This combination often leads to different choices in the editing than someone with perfect vision would have made.It´s not easy to give advice about editing for one who was not present during the photo shoot in question.The photo shoot with Nicci gave both myself and Mike the opportunity to compare our individual choices during the editing phase.Shortly after my return from Brighton, a bad shoulder injury restricted my activities for several months. No music, no photography. Fortunately, the five photo shoots from Athens and Brighton had not been edited yet and it turned out that editing could be done, albeit at a very slow pace.It enabled me to try out a different way of editing, with Mike´s sound advice as a compass.E.g. he showed me how graduated tint can be used in model photography.Our usual procedure would be that I sent him my editing version andhe´d have a go at it, describing step by step how it could be improved.It goes without saying that many choices in editing have to do with personal taste and preferences.Mike respected this.He merely sent his versions and descriptions of the consecutive editing steps as suggestions.I then tried my hand at my original version, following his description of editing steps but discarding some if their effect did not suit my general feel about the portrait in question.This photo of lovely Nicci in green glasses by Pro Design is an excellent example of the wonderful cooperation described above.The glasses gave Nicci perfect eyesight and her expression, especially the direct eye contact, is second to none. Hat off for Nicci....and also for Mike!