Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I joined Google+.         

I am not real happy with Facebook.  Of course the reason I don't like FB might have something to do with my low number of friends, 35.
Only allowing 35 friends into my FB life is my choice.  I really don't want the whole world to know what I am doing.  With Google+ I will be able to disseminate information to only those groups I think need to know, instead of that info going to the whole world.  My life can be a little private.  My children won't friend me on FB.  They want to keep certain things from me.  That's understandable.

The most annoying part of FB are the mundane entries friends post.  For example - "I scooped all the dog poop in the yard and started dinner".  Knowing that minutia, I might have to kill you.  Now if your dog poop turned to gold, that would be noteworthy.  

Or if Mario Batali picked up the dog poop in your yard before cooking dinner at your house, that would be noteworthy.  I wouldn't  need to kill you knowing that.  I would envy you.  

Only five friends in my Google+ world at the moment.  One of them is my son.  I need to invite more friends into my Google+ world.  I wonder if Mario would join my circle of friends?  We could travel around Spain together and eat tapas.  Nah!  I would need to be a beautiful young female of Eastern European decent for that.  Wait a minute!  I do meet one of those criteria.  I will work on the other three.  I will do some research to see if Mario is in the Google+ world.  I'll get back to you about me fulfilling the other three criteria and/or when I hear something on the Spain thing.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Passage Through Time

I have always been reluctant to pose for photographs.  That might sound weird from a photographer but, I don't think so.  I have several images of myself when I was young; baby photos, toddler photos, a photo of me on the back of a pony in cowboy gear.   However, I don't have many photos of myself since I received my first very own camera and became a photographer
 BTW-That is me in black
There are two types of photos of me since I became a photographer.  The first type are captured at formal occasions, such as weddings.  The second type are of posed ID images, such as you can find on credit cards, driver licenses and passports.  I have a fair collection of ID photos at this point in time.  Over the years, I have been throwing these expired IDs into boxes and bedroom drawers.

I planned a trip to visit my daughter in Europe this fall.  I needed a new ID photo for my new passport.  Besides a new photo, I had a choice of several documents that could be used to prove US citizenship for the passport application.  One of them was an expired US passport.  I have a US passport from the early '70s that was used in travel to England, Ireland and Portugal.  I found my long ago expired passport with its ID photo in a bedroom drawer and used it to apply for my new passport.

I must say, the contrast between the two images on my passports is dramatic.  The passage of time is chronicled in those two images.  The most immediately noticeable changes are to my hair and weight.

I was about 21 years old in the old photograph.  Now I am 60.  My weight, as illustrated in the old photograph, lasted for but a split second as I passed it climbing to my current historic overweightedness.  As for the hair, my maternal grandfather died at the age of 86 with a full head of hair.  That was what I hoped for myself.  On the other hand, my paternal grandfather had that horseshoe shaped track of hair that exists above one ear and travels around the back of the head to the other ear.  No hair on top from the bushy eyebrows back to the that bump at the top of the spine.  Unfortunately for me, that is what I inherited.  I must say, that at least I don't have the horseshoe hair with a long grey ponytail cascading down my back as do many old motorcyclists or my maternal grandmother.

The style of photograph has also changed.  The photograph exposed in the '70s was creative.  It was not a straight on mug shot as is the one captured this year.  I was allowed to smile, lean forward and tilt my head.  This year I was told not to smile.  Is that because of terrorism?  Don't terrorists smile?  I can hear someone in the Homeland Security office decreeing,  "Terrorists don't smile, nobody smiles."  If I were allowed to smile and project my head out a bit you might not notice my squinty eyes and double chin quite so much.  Ya think?
Photo credit:FreeMoviesOnline.com
As for the squinty eyes, I have always had those.  I was constantly compared to Roy Rogers and his eyes.  I did work outdoors for 34 years and I didn't wear sunglasses much, either.  Do you think that has anything to do with the squint?  Or maybe, when Genghis Khan marauded through Eastern Europe some of his seed happened to spill into one of my ancestors.  Either way I have squinty eyes.
Photo creditGengisKhanWikispaces.com
I think I will pull together all those ID images I have been saving over the years.  Those ID images may be the only chronicle of my existence.  Besides, once I have them together in one place anyone can find them.  Then my close relatives will be able to use them at my funeral to show my passage through time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mana de Creveaur Greeting Cards

I created several greeting cards from images created at my recent photo session with Mana de Creeaur.  As of 22Sept2011 they are awaiting approval.  Soon, you will be able to see them at my storefront, www.greetingcarduniverse.com/dativer

If you have any suggestions for greeting cards and inside verses using my images on this page, please leave a comment.  I will treat you to any card in my store if I use your suggestion. 

As an aside, you may always change the inside verse of any card on the Greeting Card Universe site.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Circe Invidiosa - The Irony

You may know the story behind the JW Waterhouse painting Circe Invidiosa, if not let me cut to the chase.

I was using the JW Waterhouse painting as inspiration for my own photographs.  I mixed up a batch of lemon-lime Kool-Aid, representing the potion whipped up by Circe, which was poured into the pond that was teaming with life.  Life ranging from large frogs and goldfish to invisible microbes feeding on animal and plant wastes.  In the course of the photography session, I fell into the stream of pond water and cut my elbow.  Not much blood exited the wound but a threshold was created.  Mana, the model, and I finished the session wet and having the odor of the pond emanating from our bodies.

As I worked the next day, I felt hot.  I was constantly drinking water, as if to put out the fire.  I didn't have access to a thermometer but I was sure I had a fever.  My elbow as quite swollen and the area from my elbow to my wrist was warm, really warm.  I knew I had a bacterial infection.  Experience!  I took some anti-inflammatory pills before bed.  I needed to seek professional medical attention the next day.  I just finished the ten day supply of antibiotics.

So there I was photographing the scene in which a sorceress is poisoning a pond so that monsters will replace the lower half of an unsuspecting female foe when she baths in the water.  Contrastingly, I had a model pour unsweetened Kool-Aid, some people may call poison, into the water of a pond.  I then cut myself when I fell into the pond water, monsters then entered my body and began to poison my blood.

Ironic, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Circe Invidiosa VII

In case you don't remember the last post, let me set the scene for you.  I was in the middle of a photography session with a young beautiful female model at an outdoor location.  I had slipped on wet rocks at the bottom of a waterfall that was supplied water from a murky, life filled pond.  I was wet and spotted with pond muck.  My right elbow was in pain.  I feared that my elbow was bleeding from lacerations I suffered in the fall but wasn't able to see my elbow.  My camera had visible dry spots of pond water on its body and skylight filter.  Mana, the model who voluntarily sat in the stream, was wet with the same pond water but was not injured.  There was a pond smell that emanated from me and probably Mana.

We finished photographing at the second scene and were on our way to the rose garden.  The rose garden had a fountain.  In the center of the fountain was a sculpture of a child holding an umbrella overhead.  Around the pond was a red brick border level with the grass.  One section of bricks was covered with moss.  Earlier in the day, before Mana arrived, I watched two large frogs jump into the fountain and disappear under the lilly pads.  

The sun found its way out from behind the clouds.  Gone was the soft, low contrast light.  Even with my reflector the sun cast dark shadows in Mana's eye sockets.  Most of the images in the bright sunlight were not good exposures.  It wasn't until I placed Mana with the sun at her back in the shade of tall bushes and using a silver reflector down and to her left that I was able to get acceptable exposures.

By this time my elbow was dripping blood.  A drop or two landed on Mana's back.  I was apprehensive about her reaction.  Some people freak out about blood.  I gingerly wiped off the drops of blood with my bandana as I explained to her what I was doing.  She wasn't at all apprehensive about my blood.

I am never alarmed at the sight of blood.  Even my own.  I am able to remain calm in health emergencies.  Maybe I should have gone to medical school.  Or worked in a slaughter house.
Knowing the teaming life that exists in the pond, I was beginning to worry my elbow would get infected.  I am the only bread winner in the family.  I can't afford to be in the hospital.  Four years ago, I spent two days in the hospital with blood poisoning.  I had waited four days after a puncture wound to get medical attention.  Once the pain and swelling reached alarming amounts I went to a hospital emergency room for treatment.  There were bags hanging and IVs in my arm within an hour.  (Did I say I was reckless with my safety?)  

As we worked near the fountain, Mana entered the water.  I think she likes being in water.  She was leaning against the brick border when she felt something between her leg and the wall of the fountain.  It was one of the large frogs trying to squeeze through.  She wasn't alarmed, just initially startled at its touch.  

I wish I had made an exposure of that incident.  At the time, I wasn't thinking about entries in a blog.  I need to change my thinking now that I am blogging.  At one point during our time at the fountain, I slipped on the mossy bricks and my left foot went to the bottom of the fountain.  I swear it seemed as though my shoe was full of tadpoles.  It wasn't, just full of water.  That was another photo op missed.

My first images of the photo session were captured at 12:37 and we called it quits at 14:05, almost four hours later.  Tempus fugit.  I packed all the equipment and props into my car.  I had Mana sign a model release and paid her cash in return for the release.  Paying a model for the release frees me to do as I wish with the images.  We discussed working together in early autumn on a project of hers.  The theme will be The Legion of Sleepy Hollow.  I obtained her email address in order to send her a link where she could download copies of the qualified images after post-processing.  We each went our own way.  For me, I needed a drink.  Water, iced tea or root beer would hit the spot.  


I headed to Wawa, a local chain of convenience stores, before heading home.  I was wet, soiled, swollen and scabbing over.  My right knee and elbow were throbbing.  I must have looked a sight and I know there was the pond odor.  At my age I don't care what people think of me.  I needed something to drink and I was going amongst people to get one.  Ten days later my car stills smells of pond water.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Circe Invidiosa VI

I prefer to have an assistant at my photography sessions.  An assistant saves time and effort.  Something I appreciate.  I arranged for an assistant at this photo session but my assistant didn't show.  I should have prepared for the possibility of a no-show.  That was reckless.  You think I would have learned to be prepared by age 60.  Maybe not.

Let's take a look at this session with an assistant in mind.  If my assistant was present, I would not need to leave my camera position and walk atop the stone wall surrounding the small pool that supplies the waterfall, duck under a low hanging tree branch, drop down off the wall several feet onto gnarled tree roots, duck under another low hanging tree branch, across very soft wet grass to the model to rearrange her wardrobe or top off the poison in the bowl.   Only to return via the same route.  Knowing I didn't have an the assistant, I kept my trips to a minimum.  But wish I had made more adjustments to the wardrobe, props and reflector.  But, I had to compromise.  

Once I felt I had enough exposures at scene one, Mana and I decided to move on to scene two, the falls.  Here again an assistant would help with moving equipment and props.  An assistant would also help keep the scene safe.

I am always thinking of safety.  I served on the safety committee for 25 of the 34 year construction job.  I especially didn't want Mana to be injured.  To help Mana to the top of the falls, I put my camera down in the grass and walked around the stone wall at the top of the falls to her location, the brightly lit grassy spot in the above image.  I led Mana over the wet grass, under the low hanging branch, over the gnarled tree roots, under another low tree branch, up onto the stone wall and around to that stone on the right of the falls, as seen above.  She took position there and knowing she was safe, I returned to my camera.  Then I proceeded to the grassy area seen in foreground above.

I made close to 100 exposures with Mana on top of the same rock when she expressed a desire to move down to a lower rock.  I agreed but was apprehensive of the possible danger with such a move.  Again, I didn't want her to get hurt.  Pain is not a pleasant experience.  Not in my experience.  Of the thirty-four years I worked in construction, I lost a full two years to work place injuries that resulted in broken bones, lacerations, torn cartilage and ligaments.  I didn't want my beautiful young model to experience that because of something I could prevent.  So, I put my camera down on the grass and carefully looked down as I stepped out across the wet rocks in the stream to help Mana move down 3'- 4' to a lower wet rock.  She made it down as sure footed as a mountain goat.  I turned again looking down, I carefully stepped back across the tops of the wet rocks in the stream, took up my camera and continued making digital exposures.

Once I saw Mana in the new position, new ideas for poses emerged in my head.  I now needed to change my position to get lower, higher, wider or closer points of view.  

For one of my images I needed to cross the wet rocks again to change my point of view.  I didn't put the camera down on the grass this time because I needed it to make more exposures.  I looked down at the stream bed and made the correct choices as I carefully stepped across the wet rocks to change my position.  I exposed another twenty or thirty images from that point of view.  At that point I had the images I imagined and decided to return to the grass for a more distant point of view.  Without looking down (this is the place to mutter under your breath, your choice of derogatory terms) I turned slipped and lost my balance.

I wish I had a video camera set up to record my photography adventure.  I surely would have won the $10,000.00 in the weekly Americas' Funniest Home Videos contest.  I must have looked ridiculous.

As I fell, several thoughts raced through my mind like two motorcyclists in a steel globe at the circus.  The preeminent thought was to protect my camera.  A new camera cost about $2,000.00.  Money I don't have.  My youngest is in college and I still have co-signed loans I am paying off for my eldest.  Another thought was that at this moment I have a model in front of me and I wish to continue with this photo session.  Thoughts I placed in the rear of my steel globe were thoughts of pain, swelling, broken bones and blood with the need for ice to follow.  I knew they would make themselves known without any thinking on my part and I hate ice.

The injuries started when my right inner thigh smashed into a rock just above my knee.  The very same spot that has bunched muscles from a job site fall with an extension ladder that also bunched the muscle in my upper-outer thigh of the same leg.  I then bumped the outside of my left calf near the shin bone on a totally different rock.  That resulted in an abrasion.  But by far, my right elbow took the hardest impact with several lacerations that continued down my forearm.

Let's step back a moment and I will try and paint this picture.  There I was, on my back above the steam on several large wet rocks trying to keep my water splashed camera out of the muck.  Think of a 60 year old khaki turtle, on its back with two water soluble thousand dollar bills which he needs for groceries, in its right front claw.  His shell is glistening with pond water and spotted with slime, moss and aquatic animal excretions.  That was me.

Immediately, Mana let out a gasp followed instantaneously with an inquiry as to my health.  Me being stoic, my sore knee jerk response was, "I'm alright.  I'm OK.  I'm wet and conscious and no blood.  I'm OK."

Actually, I wasn't alright.  My elbow hurt and I thought it might be bleeding and or broken, at least chipped.  I got to my feet from the embarrassing position and onto the grass, with the grace of an upside-down turtle righting itself.  I used the bandana that I always carry to wipe my elbow.  There were no visible blood stains.  I wiped the pond water, teaming with life, from my arms, hands, face and head.  The bandana is no towel and left my skin damp and pants, shirt and shoes soaking wet.  I went back to the task at hand, for I still had 2 GB of memory and three hours of sun remaining.

Maybe, this would not have happened if an assistant were present.  Maybe not.  Looking back over my life I tend to be reckless with my own safety.  You would think that by age 60, I would have learned to be less reckless.  Maybe not.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Circe Invidiosa V

The weather forecast for the day of the photography session was of overcast sky with a chance of rain.  I didn't mind the overcast part of the forecast.  Rain is something we didn't and still don't need here in the Delaware Valley.  This August was the wettest in history with hurricane Irene dumping 5.75" of rain on Aug 27 and 28.  Besides, rain would ruin my day.
Flooding in Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia
Actually, an overcast sky is desirable for this location.  The scene I chose for the Circe Invidiosa images was in direct sunlight.  With no overhanging tree branches or a nearby building to hide under or behind, the bright sunlight would be harsh.  An overcast sky will create a soft light because of the large area of clouds lit by the sun.  Light from a large close light source wraps around an object and fills in deep shadows.  Thereby, producing lower contrast ration between the highlights and shadows(the origin of the term soft light).  A clear sky would produce very hard lighting.  This kind of light source produces high contrast ratio between the highlights and shadows(the origin of the term hard light) and specular highlights.  So an overcast sky would be good but, no rain.

In correspondence with Mana, we agreed to meet at Appleford at 11:00.  I paced my day to meet our schedule.  I stopped at Panera Bread for a ham and swiss souffle, a chocolate pastry and large cup of coffee, which I ate and drank as I drove.  (As I sit here and think back, I took a dangerous risk!  I could have spilled my coffee.)  Upon my arrival at Appleford near 11:00, I immediately brushed the pastry crumbs from my shirt front and began to unload my car and set up the first scene.  The sky was overcast with the humidity rising towards an uncomfortable level.  A level when beads of perspiration spontaneously arise from my pores, congregate in large drops then drip down my forehead, nose, forearms and spine.  Not good when wearing eyeglasses.  Good thing I had my contact lenses in.  I walked the props, light stand and reflector over to the scene.  A few 100 yard round trips and my forearms and forehead glistened with non-specular highlights.  I placed the Lemon-Lime unsweetened Kool-Aid and water mixtures in sealed reused 2L Coke and Sprite bottles on the ground near the IKEA bowl and carafe, shear polyester silky chiton that was fused together with black Stitch Witchery and a Harry Potter magic wand pen(to be used to enchant the lemon-lime liquid).

Stitch Witchery

I have carried a large handkerchief, sometimes called a bandana, for most of my life.  I guess it is my working class origins or my 34 year job in construction.  Whatever the reason, it comes in handy for many purposes including, the then needed, mopping of the brow.  (Though I was wearing contacts, sweat still stings the eyes.)  It can also be used for wiping dirt and blood from your arms.  Even if you are not working at a construction job.

In any event, I now waited for Mana.  I took the time to wander the grounds looking for other scenes to use that day.  I noticed large quantities of frogs, tadpoles, gold fish and minnows in the water.  I heard finches, chickadees, cardinals, titmice, robins, blue jays, cat birds and I even spooked a blue heron from the lower pond.   As I walked about glistening and listening, I noticed not one other person enjoying the beautiful jewel that is Appleford.  Such a shame.  I found several scenes and moved some garden furniture to suit my needs.  The day looked promising.  All seemed to be going well and I hoped nothing would ruin my day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Circe Invidiosa IV

Sunday before Labor Day came and went but not before yielding some digital images of a beautiful young women and another photography adventure.  I worked with the lovely Mana de Creveaur, as she calls herself in the modeling world, who arrived to the location on the Main Line from a small town in Delaware, not far from the Pennsylvania border.  Her fashionable lateness afforded me time to explore the Montgomery County estate whose grounds are open to the general public from sunup to sundown.

Large pond - First scene for Circe Invidiosa

Appleford is a beautiful 24 acres estate donated to the township as an arboretum and bird sanctuary.  There is a stream that is dammed in many spots creating ponds and pools full of frogs, tadpoles, coarse fish, minnows and a few hardy gold fish.  I bring this up because the water looks slimy, green, fouled with vegetation and having an odor of thriving organisms that eat food and excrete waste.  Not really an unpleasant ordor, unless you wear wet clothing all the way home.

On my first visit to Appleford I attended a large party, which is the major method of raising funds to maintain the estate.  I was there at night and didn't really get a good look, but I stuck a splinter in my brain that reminded me to return for my photography projects.

It was about two years ago that I stopped by to get a good look at the place.  As I exited my car in the visitor parking lot, my eyes landed on the above pond.  I was enchanted.  As I walked about, I saw a painter brushing oil colors on her easeled canvas and thoughts raced in my head that this pond would be a scene in my photography.  I also found several gardens between the house and my pond.  Beautiful rose, boxwood, perennial and brick gardens within 100 feet of the house and my pond. 

Waterfall scene

For me, Appleford's foremost appeal is the water.  The water starts near the road traveling under the cover of tall old trees that filter the light falling on the moving water.  The dappled liquid then spills over the first dam into a long pool which is broken by the driveway that spans the pool.  The water is now thick with frogs that chirp as they jump into the pool once startled by my approach.  This pool narrows on the other side of the bridge and enters the larger pond.  The water languishes in the large pond before entering a stone walled pool that creates a 6'-8' tall waterfall.  Mana liked the falls and we worked at the large pond, the tall falls and in the rose garden and its pond.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Greeting Card Universe Labor Day Sale

Great Scott Designs©
Just received a post from Greeting Card Universe, where I have a storefront.  They are offering a special Labor Day Sale.  If you purchase 10 cards the price is reduced by near 30%.  There are over 400,000 card designs.  There should be something there for most everyone.  
Check out the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years cards.  These holidays are fast approaching.

Chanukkah Harry Is Coming to Town!  He's bringing the gelt, the dreidel and a reindeer antler menorah.  Remember to leave out a plate of hamentashen (he loves prune) and a glass of soy milk, real milk gives him gas.  Have a Happy Chrismakkah!

You could also become a card seller and earn some passive income.

Greeting Card Universe
Become a Greeting Card Universe card seller