Friday, April 30, 2010

inspiration: the tilt-shift

handsome writer friend is particularly gifted at creating intimacy through his writing. i could be having "a day," be in "a mood", or stuck somewhere (like port atrocity) with chaos swirling all around me, and within a minute or two of reading his work, i am quieted and the rest of the world just falls away...i tried to describe it to him once-- "it's like in west side story, when maria and tony meet at the dance...."

i know--it's a cornball comparison. i kinda can't believe i said it--and that he's still talking to me. but i think he understood what i meant, or at least, that i meant it most earnestly as a compliment.

but i've been thinking about it a lot lately--and
it's been cracking me up--because a few friends of mine have become enamored of "tilt shift photography," a technique that alters the depth of field and perspective to interesting effect, including the rendering of "minis" like this...

mini eiffel, via smashing magazine and flickr

neat? but best if used judiciously...

but i really like its application to sports photography, which vincent laforet has mastered (and this is where it sort of reminds me of tony and maria at the dance). it creates a specific focus for the viewer--as he explains it, in a typical sports photograph, there can be a lot going on...on-field action, crowd reaction, all of which can make for a compelling photo. but this tilt-shift allows him to direct the attention toward what he wants to emphasize. again, maybe not something you want to see all the time, but still fun and dramatic.

i like the blur and the clouds of light...

i love that he found the guy in blue in the foreground

what do you think?

more minis via smashing magazine here.
and more vincent laforet...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

inspiration: pin-ups

do you have an inspiration board?

i've been living in my apartment for almost 3 years. it's mostly furnished, but the walls are mostly unadorned. i just haven't had the resources to invest or commit to enough "real" art, not yet. but i've started to build a (temporary) collage on one of them--the one that i consider the "studio" wall-- with images that, apart from being pretty, are a reminder of the ways to use light and shadow to greater effect. a reminder of the "possibilities." i like having some pages up to look at, though if it stays up for very long in this DIY fashion, my mom is surely going to have something to say about it.

what i'm liking right now, torn from the pages of various international fashion magazines (thank you, sister):
--a photo from japanese vogue, of daria werbowy -- i think--shot by mikael jansson, gently backlit, with a shimmer across a bit of the headwrap and her hair;
--a nature/fantasy shot of natalia vodianova, by nick knight, though this involves a lot more graphic art and photoshop than i'm capable of;
--guinevere van seenus, photographed by javier vanhollrat, which i love for its use of various, whimsical, artificial light sources (i've got to play with those);
--a ysl "shoe" showcase, side lit, casting a terrific bold shadow of someone's very nice legs;
--phoebe philo, photographed by patrick demarchelier. i love it because a) she is cool, and b) i am a sucker for turtlenecks, and people who "hide" in them. but the more i've been looking at it the more i appreciate what a perfectly balanced "grey" shot it is. very demarchelier...
--a black and white portrait of marion cotillard from l'officiel. if i took that one myself, i would probably junk it, thinking that i ruined it because her eyes are shadowed by the brim of her hat. but koto bolofo got a great look from her. the gentle light on her chin works...

what goes up next? perhaps shots involving the terre battue...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

b is for brrrrrooklyn, boardwalk; c is for coney, clouds.

so it turns out 50 degrees isn't denim jacket weather, especially when there's cloud cover and wind blustering off the water. thanks to my shivers, 90 percent of the photos i took today are blurred. the highlight of the morning was when a red-faced, well-rounded, crazy-looking lady approached me, unzipping and holding open her knee-length coat. she shouted past its fur-lined hood and through the wind at me in russian, i think. she was offering to keep me warm in her coat? i nodded a decline and thanked her anyway. and then she told me (this time in english) my jacket was "stupid." i had to agree.

but i learned a valuable lesson: keep gloves, a hat, and a pashmina in the photo bag.

mike, casey, and rebekkah shooting "handsome town"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

work: not so fast...

finally done with a "fast food" project that i've been working on (intermittently) for the last week. it was harder than i expected (soft serve gets very soft, very fast) but still fun.

(i won't miss the gruesome "food court" smell here at the apt...)

the super fancy set-up...

and a cheesy outtake...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

mad (square) color

april 22, 2010. all photos © anita aguilar

read a good poem: bel canto

happy earth day.
from plaza cataluna, BA
. march 2010.

i've been guided toward new poets and poems lately, a few i like, but no single work leaped to mind to share for this occasion: earth day. i decided to consult the poetry foundation site, knowing i could be overwhelmed by the possibilities (have you seen it? you can search by poet, school, first line, category, keyword. i knew i'd need to be pretty specific or i'd be here all day. but what to look for: something about a tree? "earth"? something frost-y?).

i decided to search a broader theme and found this one almost immediately. it felt right...

it's a long one. and i'll be reading it slowly.

not sure what it may mean for you, but i hope you like it...


Bel Canto

The sun is high, the seaside air is sharp,
And salty light reveals the Mayan School.
The Irish hope their names are on the harp,
We see the sheep's advertisement for wool,
Boulders are here, to throw against a tarp,
From which comes bursting forth a puzzled mule.
Perceval seizes it and mounts it, then
The blood-dimmed tide recedes and then comes in again.

Fateful connections that we make to things
Whose functioning's oblivious to our lives!
How sidewise news of light from darkness springs,
How blue bees buzz from big blooms back to hives
And make the honey while the queen bee sings
Leadbelly in arrangements by Burl Ives—
How long ago I saw the misted pine trees
And hoped, no matter how, to get them into poetry!

Stendhal, at fifty, gazing as it happened
On Rome from the Janiculum, decided
That one way he could give his life a stipend
Was to suspend his being Amour's fighter
And get to know himself. Here he had ripened
Accomplished, loved, and lived, was a great writer
But never had explored in true detail
His childhood and his growing up. So he set sail

Composing La Vie de Henry Brulard
But in five hundred pages scarcely got
Beyond his seventeenth year, for it is hard
To take into account what happens here
And fit it all onto an index card.
Even one moment of it is too hot,
Complex and cannibalistically connected
To every other, which is what might be expected.

Sterne's hero has a greater problem, never
Getting much past his birth. I've had a third one.
My autobiography, if I should ever
Start out to write it, quickly seems a burden
An I-will-do-that-the-next-time endeavor.
Whatever life I do write's an absurd one
As if some crazy person with a knife
Cut up and made a jigsaw puzzle of a life.

In any case a life that's hardly possible
In the conditions that we really live in,
Where easy flying leaps to inaccessible
Mountainy places where love is a given
And misery, if there, infinitesimal,
Are quite the norm. Here none by pain is driven
That is not curable by the romanza
That's kept in readiness to finish any stanza.

Whatever, then, I see at this late stage of
My life I may or may not have stayed ignorant
Of that great book I've strained to write one page of
Yet always hoping my page was significant.
Be it or not, for me and for the ages
I leave it as it is. Yet as a figurant
Who has not stopped, I'm writing in addition
More lines to clarify my present disposition.

One person in a million finds out something
Perhaps each fifty years and that is knowledge.
Newton, Copernicus, Einstein are cunning.
The rest of us just rise and go to college
With no more hope to come home with the bunting
Than a stray dachshund going through the village.
However, what a treat our small successes
Of present and of past, at various addresses!

To be in all those places where I tarried
Too little or too late or bright and early
To love again the first woman I married
To marvel at such things as melancholy,
Sophistication, drums, a baby carriage,
A John Cage concert heard at Alice Tully—
How my desire when young to be a poet
Made me attentive and oblivious every moment!

Do you remember Oceanview the Fair?
The heights above the river? The canoes?
The place we beached them and the grass was bare?
Those days the sandbars gave our knees a truce?
The crooked line of pantry shelves, with pear
And cherry jam? And Pancho, with his noose?
Do you remember Full and Half and Empty?
Do you remember sorrow standing in the entry?

Do you remember thought, and talking plainly?
Michel and I went walking after Chartres
Cathedral had engaged our spirits mainly
By giving us an insight into Barthes.
Michel said he was capable of feigning
Renewed intentions of the soul's deep part,
Like this cathedral's artificial forces
That press a kind of artless thought into our faces.

And yet— The moor is dark beneath the moon.
The porcupine turns over on its belly
And new conceptions rap at the cocoon.
Civilization, dealing with us fairly,
For once, releases its Erectheion
Of understanding, which consoles us, nearly.
Later we study certain characteristics
That may give us a better chance with the statistics.

How much I'd like to live the whole thing over,
But making some corrections as I go!
To be a better husband and a father,
Be with my babies on a sled in snow.
By twenty I'd have understood my mother
And by compassion found a way to know
What separates the what-I-started-out-as
From what-I-sometimes-wished-I-was-when-in-the-mountains.

To be once more the one who what was worthy
Of courtship courted—it was quite as stressful
As trying to, er, as they say, give birth to
A poem and as often unsuccessful,
But it was nice to be sublime and flirty
With radiant girls, and, in some strange way, restful.
I could be everything I wasn't usually—
And then to get somebody else to feel it mutually!

In poems the same problem or a similar.
Desire of course not only to do old things
But things unheard of yet by nuns or visitors
And of the melancholy finch be co-finch
In singing songs with such a broad parameter
That seamstresses would stare, forget to sew things,
Astronauts quit the sky, athletes the stadium
To hear them, and the rest of what they hear be tedium.

Such wild desires, I think it's recognizable
Are part and parcel of the Human Image
And in a way, I'd say, no less predictable
Than Popeye's feelings for a can of spinach.
Yet if we're set on course by the Invisible,
All pre-determined, what about the language
That teases me each morning with its leanings
Toward the Unprogrammed Altitudes beyond its meanings?

Are you, O particles, O atoms, nominatives
Like Percevals and Stendhals, set in motion
By some Ordaining Will that is definitive?
Is this invading chill and high emotion,
This tendency to know one is regenerative,
Is this, all, tidal take-home like the ocean?
Be what you may, my thanks for your society
Through the long life I've had, your jokes and your variety,

The warmth you've shown in giving me a temperature
That I can live with, and the strength you've shared with me
In arms and legs—and for your part in literature,
What can I say? It is as if life stared at me
And kissed my lips and left it as a signature.
Thank you for that, and thank you for preparing me
For love itself, and friendship, its co-agent.
Thank you for being this, and for its inspiration.

-Kenneth Koch, via the poetry foundation

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

vintage new york: hecht sewing machine & motor company

just as i had the thought that i'd seen everything of possible interest on 38th street, i walked by this window display (between 8th and 9th avenues):

the hecht sewing machine & motor company is a new york garment district institution--and a family one. first opened in 1920 by morris hecht, an immigrant from gowarzów, poland, it remains a thriving business under the direction of his grandson, steven (his parents, thomas and anita, still work at the store, too).

the store offers sewing machine sales, service and rentals, but it is perhaps their collection of vintage items (sewing machines, cutting instruments, and one-of-a-kind knickknacks) that has ensured this small business' survival for the last nine decades--it is the definitive resource for theater companies, including lincoln center, and film and tv set designers in search of period pieces. and many items have been sold at auction.

i especially like these items and the old wooden boxes...

all photos © anita aguilar

Friday, April 16, 2010

in honor of record store day...

which is tomorrow (and if i had a record player, i really would celebrate) here are a few examples of "sleeveface photography," compiled by zoe a. at web designer depot. here's a link to the others...

i think i might have a new obsession...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

AMO the ARG: "foto!" and friends...

last summer, i returned from our big, happy family trip to the mother island with a better sense of the place, but wishing i'd had the chance to do one thing--walk. on foot, you can absorb sights and smells and the noise, and feel the surround of space. you discover the pace, the energy, and maybe even your place within it all. but for many reasons (like the hot, heavy air and security concerns), manila doesn't seem to be suited for long strolling. and anyway, no one in my family was going to allow it. it was drive-by discovery.

buenos aires is the perfect opposite. you (and i) can walk for hours. i think you'll notice the folks there are not shy with eye contact. also, porteños aren't transfixed by phones and pdas --instead of talking to the air, they're talking to each other. headphones and ipods? a rare sight, at least for now. (is that what made the energy of the city special--that they seem alive to each other? what makes them so open and friendly? is it that they're all hopped up on caffeine and sugar, god love'em?)

what i do know--and won't forget--is they made me feel a welcomed visitor.

i hope if you make it down there, you'll have the same experience.


in recoleta. our first day, and our first "foto!" encounter...

followed shortly by this palermo.

this gentleman called out to me while waiting for the bus in san telmo...

can you see the bus driver here?
he beep-beep-beeped for a bit before i realized he was trying to catch my attention.
i missed the shot of his wave.

our friend from the spanish embassy, in palermo...

young friends at the havanna. they serve the very best "cafe havanna" (a signature coffee, made with condensed milk ), coñitos, and alfajores...
on avenida pueyrredon, recoleta, ba.

i was trying to catch a photo of one of the buses, but got this thumbs up instead...on the way to alto palermo mall.

at cafe tortoni, a landmark, in monserrat.

with dario, at cabana las lilas, in puerto madero.

z, with guillermo--our wonderful handyman--at the apt in recoleta.

and last but not least, our friends at the locutorio on avenida pueyrredon, near santa fe...

we saw them every day, sometimes a few times a day. how do i not know their names?
we simply greeted each other as "amigos"..."chau! chau!"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

give a little my friends at sparkplug productions

my friend, rebekkah, and her theatre company have entered a competition to win free studio space at "space on white" in tribeca.
if you have a few minutes, please watch the video...i think it's a completely charming silent-screen piece (i love her face!) and it will really help their cause.

thank you!

AMO the ARG: the "i enjoy being a girl" edition...

though i didn't come close to z in terms of pace and volume, i too got my "girl" on--squeezed in little bit of real shopping--during the week. i bought scarves and bags, candies and a great art book--some items for me, others to give. carla danelli, the very last store i visited, is one of my favorites in part because of the store itself. the entrance on carlos calvo 372, off calle defensa, is easy to miss, especially if you're not familiar with the brand name. (i found my way there by following a plain brown sign that said "leather goods.") it exemplifies a restored "chorizo" house, so named because of the structure's elongated space; rooms are located one behind the other with galleries and patios connecting indoor and outdoor spaces.

behind the store's front door and up a few steps, is the open-air patio with hanging plants, a green wall of ivy, even a "santo." the brick and wrought iron are painted a pale pink and white; marble and colorful tilework add old argentine flair.
the sun glowed softly through the doors and windows, i could hear quiet city sounds. it was a combination retreat/retail experience.

and there's the stuff: carla danelli, an exclusive brand created by merecer, s.a., one of the most renowned leather goods manufacturers in argentina, has some beautiful pieces in its collection (some of which you can see
here. i came home with 3 chic and reasonably priced bags from the summer line).

but my favorite part was chatting with joanna. like most everyone i met during the trip, she was open, forgiving of my limited language skills (which incidentally petered off toward the end of the week. i think i was getting tired?), curious about my impressions of buenos aires, and generous with suggestions for where to go next time. and we talked a little about new york--she's never been but wants to visit someday. to her it is "like...a wonderland..."

very nice words to carry home.

the lovely senorita joanna.

Monday, April 12, 2010

AMO the ARG: sunday night lights

z had to make some phone calls; i waited outside the locutorio and decided to experiment with/under various sources of artificial light.

this is sunday night--'round midnight--in recoleta:

pretty city: again, with the bag...

42nd street, nyc. april 12, 2010.

pretty city: it's oh so quiet

in the park in the morning, but ladies...we still need to watch our bags...

nice boots, though.
bryant park, nyc. april 12, 2010.