Daily Portrait (Day 7) and Thanks for your support

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Markus has photographed Pert.

 

***

With the publication of the seventh and final portrait in the Daily Portrait series, one based on a real life project undertaken in similar circumstances, my time as a photographer with SL Naturist comes to a close.

This has nothing to do with current turmoil on the blog or with Ella quitting. I had announced my decision to quit to Ella a while back, but felt there were one or two things I wanted to finish off and tidy up before I did leave.

I can’t thank Ella enough for giving me a window into the wonderful world of Second Life and the opportunity to display my work on the blog. I’m a photographer in real life, but I found that Second Life presented a different set of photographic challenges to be overcome, so it did take some time to start to feel comfortable with what is essentially an entirely new photographic medium.

The reason why I’ve decided to quit is because of SL Naturist’s editorial policy, and the expectations of their naturist photography. I found this a bit limiting, as I’d like to broaden my SL photographic work into glamour, erotic and even more risqué photographs, none of which would meet the demands of SLN editorial policy. I find SL to be a thoroughly entertaining waste of time, and I do like the challenge of producing nude photography from the perspective of a model with limited movement, thus placing extra demands on the photographer.

As a result I’ve decided to step out on my own in SL, and to photograph people and situations without limitations.

My own Flickr page is now online, and this will feature more artistic, more edgy, more political, more sexual works from the virtual world of Second Life.

No, there was no option to continue within the SLN ‘family’, because of what Ella felt would be ‘guilt by association’ if I were to continue photographing for both SLN and my own outlets and a ‘blurring’ of her avowed editorial policy of promoting only ‘pure’ naturism, not linked to the erotic or political or sexual. We’d agreed to go our separate ways prior to Ella’s announcement to step down. As the blog looks like it might be closing I’d have needed my own outlet anyway to do what I wanted to do.

How I do see myself proceeding in Second Life is the establishment of a website and possibly the establishment of my own gallery within Second Life, not just for my work, but similarly glamour/erotic/sexual photographers. It’s early days in my Second Life to say right now that this is how I’ll move forward, but those are the plans in my head.

Thanks for the support and the kind words afforded to some of my photographs during my time as a photographer for SLN. I hope to catch you on the grid sometime and, male or female, maybe get you to sit for me.

 

Hugh.

 

 

Daily Portrait : Introduction

Something I’m following on the internet is ‘Daily Portrait‘, a project wherein one Berliner is handed a camera and takes a photograph of another Berliner unknown to them, then passes the camera on.

The project’s curator, Martin Pavel, says on the project’s website that…The photo shoot takes place at the model’s homes. The whole body is captured on the photo. Those who want can be naked, otherwise in underwear. Photographing is for free. In order to take part you have to be over 18.

I like the idea people being in their natural state, in their natural surroundings, comfortable in their own skin, in their own space.

Well, if you’re in Berlin, haven’t heard of this and fancy trying it…you’ll find an email address on the site 🙂

Martin aims for 365 portraits in 365 days.

The project is on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Flickr.

While we couldn’t possibly commit to 365 portraits and days, I thought we might do our own mini-Daily Portraits projects of avatars in their own surroundings. Seven portraits in seven days! (Eight, actually, as Hugh, who will curate this short series, is kicking it off by posing for illustration purposes on this post).

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As with the original Daily Portrait series, Hugh will now get a (female) avatar unknown to him to pose for tomorrow’s photo. Our series thus maintains the same ideals as the original, plus we don’t have a situation wherein the usual models, the usual suspects, are photographed. As with previous posts about niche blogging…isn’t there room for the replication of this type of art project in SL?

Ella

 

 

Pillow fight!

Depoz is a long-established store which does high quality furniture, with many of the lounge, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom furniture having a lot of static animations built in and they look fabulous.

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Does my bum look big in this? Karen tries out a bedroom mirror pose at Depoz

Hugh’s original intention with this shoot was to capture some of the animations and follow Karen’s morning routine, from bed, to shower, to dressing. That photo-shoot is on our Flickr page. However, along the way, Hugh and Karen discovered a L$0 free ‘pillow fighter’ box that they bought, tried out, thought was lovely (as I do too). Summoning another model, Jayne, they tried it out. It works without the need for Depoz furniture, you can essentially have a pillow fight anywhere, and the pillow you get has a feather emitter 🙂

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Feathers everywhere as Karen and Jayne have a pillow fight.

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Karen appears to be winning this pillow fight.

Hugh says that ‘as there’s such a flurry of movement as the pillows are used that it’s hard to capture the sense of movement the attachment provides. I’ve not done it justice and in the end had to resort to a couple of semi-static poses that captured the feathers cascading’. At L$0 it’s going to be something you can take a chance on anyway, isn’t it?

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I’ve been over there, picked up a copy and I can say that it is a fun attachment, even though I was pillow fighting my shadow! 🙂 I’ve created the link above that should TP you directly to the free attachment and you can pick up your own copy. Take your significant other, get them to buy a copy and you can fight out who gets the larger share of the duvet! 🙂

Ella

Apple Island

Hugh has just sent me something he’s been working on for part of his day – a portfolio of images from Apple Island, home to Imeka, a store that does numerous poses and some clothing.

Here’s how Hugh describes the portfolio in his own words.

‘I’ve done two shoots there today, a small set featuring Sandra, and set around a small gondola on a lake, and then a number of photos with a stunning redhead called Alison, all around the island. I used the sim’s natural light settings, and all of the poses featured are either from a couple of free group gift sets available in their store, or else are part of the poses that can be found around the island. I found the place to be incredibly photogenic and easy to take photographs in’.

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An example of Hugh’s shoot can be seen above, with the remainder viewable on our Flickr page. There are two free group gifts of poses available at the store, one of general stands, and another of ballet poses.

It does look beautiful, doesn’t it?

Ella

Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die – Herbert Hoover

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I hope my friend Kat Feldragonne doesn’t mind me utilising a photo from her blog, one she used in her ‘Look of the Day’ about a week ago, a photo also featured on her Flickr page. You need to check out both the blog & flickr page. I dearly love the quotes, epithets and sense of the poetic in the words Kat adds to her posts, such as the one above. Why? Because it’s the sort of thought-provoking words, as much as the sense of SL style, that help to inform the work on this blog.

Twelve words…but oh so true of the real world as well as in some parts of SL. Nigeria’s boy soldiers…the actions of Boko Haram…the de-sensitising of attitudes to death in things like Call of Duty, often played by adolescent boys. The ‘normalisation’ of kidnap and rape as a ‘legitimate’ part of war being waged by this inhumane groups like Islamic State...

Yes…War is always good at making little boys fall in love with it, and the current generation, as never before, are being exposed to a hygienic, de-sensitised, romanticised version in which there’s always another computer life if there’s a fatal shot fired. Call of Duty, and its ilk, will never contain the screams, the pain, the graphic open wounds, a slow darkness and silence descending as the victim falls into unconsciousness or death. Perhaps if they sold it on the basis that ‘if you’re shot, the game cartridge will never work again’ people might think their approach to it. Likely?

Happily, SL’s gameplay is never likely to be as immersive, in respect of war, as games dedicated to it, so it’s not going to be as popular in SL as….dancing! Or, come to that, naturism!

But Kat hits the nail, firmly on the head, in the quote from her post. The world’s governments and armaments manufacturers will always manage to engineer situations where their profits take precedence to humanity. The ‘war on terrorism’ often little more than a ‘war on a peaceful world, if the overwhelming majority of its citizens had their way’. Do any of us have markedly different hopes and aspirations to anywhere else in the world? Does a mother in the 20th floor apartment of a Manhattan apartment block have radically different views as to her children’s future than one in Nigeria? In Gaza? In Jerusalem? In Syria? I don’t think so.

In the meantime, dark forces conspire to ensure that War continues to get the little boys to fall in love with it. Without that love, war can’t thrive.

An absolutely wonderful and thought provoking quotation, Kat. Thank you.

Ella

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Stunning photography

I’ll not make this one of the ‘Postcards from Spain’ type postings as (a) Sylvia and I haven’t done anything today (so far, it’s 830am) to report and (b) it doesn’t particularly fit into the Spanish theme. I could stretch it into a Spanish-themed post, I suppose, but I’d rather not, and just focus on the talent I’m about to show to you.

Sylvia went to bed about midnight last night and I hopped onto SL to go dancing at Commune Utopia’s usual clothing optional Friday night dance.

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It was my absolute pleasure to run into, and talk to, SL avatar Fabio Lazuli, who is an extremely talented photographer and he snapped me at the Commune (above). This is just….wow!

I’m always in awe of those who can photograph in SL properly, as opposed to those of us at SLN who are merely enthusiastic amateur snappers (with the caveat that the blog doesn’t always need stunning photography, just a sense of a naturist place)

Fabio has his own Flickr presence, which I’d encourage you to visit because his photography is majestic, moody, SL-related and involves ‘the nude’. His page is well worth visiting, and I hope he’ll be adding more photos to it soon.

 

Ella

 

Riding on the WNBR: A report by Pookes

Such a jumble of emotions and feelings! Such a day! The only thing that spoiled it was that the weather wasn’t fantastically sunny or hot. Although, when I think about it, maybe it would have made the ride a little uncomfortable to have to cycle in temperatures in the mid-20s. Certainly, when out of the shade, it was lovely. In shade, it could feel chilly at times.

I’ll backtrack a bit.

We’ve written regularly about the WNBR on SLN. Ella and I even talked about trying to organise a SL equivalent. We’ve spoken about how we’d like to do it…some day. So earlier this year my husband and I decided that we would do it, this year. I’m not writing this as a participant in Brighton’s WNBR, and smiling to myself as I type, trying to capture the memories of the day and give you an insight into the event.

We’re not residents of Brighton, or indeed Sussex, so we don’t know the town well. We set off very early on Sunday morning, bikes strapped to the back of our car, entering the unknown. I’ve tried to find out information on the ride from the internet, just to get a sense of how others found it. To be honest, I found that while there were thousands of photos of how it looked, there wasn’t much insight into how it felt.

I’m an experienced naturist. I’ll take my clothes off at the drop of a hat under the right circumstances. But this wasn’t quite a naturist experience. It felt rather odd. In a way, I initially felt a little ‘exposed’.

In naturist circles, men will drop their shorts quite readily, while women, even experienced naturist women, will sometimes resort to a pareo to throw around themselves even on a trip to and from the beach. A pareo isn’t practical on a bike, and so I’d dressed in a tank top, cardigan and gym shorts & trainers. I decided I didn’t need undies. My reasoning for choice of clothing was that they were light, and all easily fitted into the bag I was using for the day. They also had the potential to allow me to go ‘as bare as I dared’ on the ride, because I did experience a sense of trepidation as we got closer to Brighton, and closer to race start time. Mr Pookes was, by contrast, entirely relaxed about it. A pair of sports shorts was all he wore while we drove down to Brighton. He was confident of doing the ride fully nude.

I found my uncertainty a little strange. After 25 years of being naturist, and stripping off at any time without any thought whatsoever, I felt almost as if I was back to the first time I went nude in public, the pounding heart, the sweaty palms, the feeling of uncertainty about what I was about to so. Why did I feel like this? Because, as I say, it wasn’t strictly a naturist event.

Although I didn’t mention it to Mr. Pookes, there was a point where I felt I might back out of it and just park myself, clothed, while he did the ride alone.

We found the start point, unhitched the bikes from the carrier and walked, dressed, to the park where the Brighton ride begins, ‘The Level’.

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It still felt strange to me. What was disconcerting was the number of men milling around who were dressed, had no thought of getting undressed, didn’t have bikes, but had cameras. Off putting, frankly.

I’m certain there are times when I’ve unwittingly been the subject of someone’s camera while in naturist surroundings, usually not even intended to be there but maybe captured in the background as someone takes a photo of a partner. I’ve no problem with this. I’m not being ‘perved’ at. Maybe I am, subsequently, but simply unaware of it. At least there’s a sense of being accidentally caught in someone else’s holiday snap, and not the main focus of attention. In this case, however, I did have some sense of being ‘perved’, of being undressed by dozens of pairs of eyes. Creeps with cameras, getting their jollies -thus far- by simply imagining the female participants nude. No, I’m not there for your amusement. I finally broached the subject to Mr. Pookes. ‘F*** them’, he responded, ‘just a bunch of sad old lonely w*****s with small d***s’. That escalated quickly! 🙂

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Found on Flickr. A girl in the London 2015 ride suffers the unwanted attentions of a man with a camera, and appears to be trying to conceal herself as she rides by. Having witnessed a sense of being ‘perved up’ by ‘dirty old men’, I have some sense of how she feels.

 

But yes, he was right! There was a rather sordid sense of being objectified by the grimy, down-at-heel and slightly tragic male photographers snapping away, grinning like Cheshire cats. Perhaps this is why males on these rides outnumber the females. No, there’s no ‘perhaps’ about it: it’s the presence of a hundred cameras that puts women off.

Clearly, it’s public space and you can’t legislate to say ‘no cameras allowed’. But maybe the men should consider that they wouldn’t just walk up to a woman in a bikini on a beach and begin snapping away at her without her permission. I have to say that, while researching the ride, I spent quite a bit of time on Flickr, which is awash with WNBR photographs, and was amused by the idea that some photographers had copyrighted their photographs. Oh really? You’ve got the subject’s permission, have you? A model release form? Thought not.

So far, things aren’t great. Fortunately, things are about to take a turn for the better.

As newbies to the experience, we didn’t realise there was a fenced off area for riders, and once inside that, a different atmosphere prevailed. A markedly different atmosphere. People were getting naked quite readily. Mr. Pookes was now naked, and I felt quite relaxed about going topless inside the fenced off part.

Many of the riders, I suspect, are from the Brighton area, and maybe a number who’ve travelled down from London. They’re all, relatively speaking, local, and have been able to plan their journey times with greater accuracy than we did, being some of the first to begin assembling. Numbers are beginning to grow. Mr. Pookes is deep in conversation with his new friends, two gay men who are busy applying body paint to one another and offering it to us. ‘I’ll paint you’, one says, ‘You’ve got lovely boobs. A perfect canvas’.

I find myself laughing uproariously at this. After all of the unwanted attention from sad looking perves, I find this rather charming, disarming and not remotely sexually charged. My new gay friend, Simon, (already added on Facebook, and later in the day given the url to SLN which he appears fascinated by) is busy loading a brush that he wants to apply to my topless self next. Just as soon as he’s finished off touching up his boyfriend. Ooh, get your minds out of the gutter. Touching up the paint he has applied to his boyfriend.

Do I let him? Do I politely turn down his offer? Who knows! 😉

There’s power in numbers. As more riders arrive, and more disrobe, the presence of pervy photographers, relatively speaking, seems smaller although you know they’re out there, waiting, poised.

My friend texts. She had ridden the London event on Saturday, and texted me a very excited text on Saturday night, describing how awesome it was. ‘There were even passer by cyclists who didn’t know the event was on stopping, stripping off and joining in! Males and females!!!!’ This sense of community was maybe one of the few things that sustained me on the drive down. This next text simply wishes me ‘Good Luck! Be awesome! You’ll love it!’.

There’s a growing sense of camaraderie amongst the riders now, and I’ve fallen into conversation with two young women in their early 20s. Neither have ever gone topless in public before, never mind nude. They’re nervous. ‘It’s bare as you dare’, I tell them, ‘you can ride in your undies’.

‘Don’t have any on! We dressed light!’

I nod at them, understanding their thinking, exactly the same as my thought processes have been. Their eyes dart nervously around at all and sundry.

I can tell from their body language that each is hoping the other says ‘I can’t do this…let’s go home’, but neither wants to be the first to say it out loud.

They had my sympathy. I recalled my own first venture into naturism, and it wasn’t quite as daunting -the focus of a hundred cameras and phones- as these girls’ possible imminent debut.

Simon has finished painting an elephant’s ears around his boyfriend’s genitals, the penis serving as the elephant’s trunk. My newly acquired female friends are fascinated by the paint job, which Simon’s boyfriend Jeff is no showing off proudly. ‘You next darling!’, Simon says, pointing at me. Mr Pookes laughs and I grin back at him. My tank top comes off and I’m topless in the riders’ enclosure. ‘Ooh, I knew they’d be lovely’, Simon says, casting an artistic eye over my boobs and deciding what to paint on them. Disappointingly, he gets called away and so it’s a rather less artistic Mr. Pookes who is left with the paints. I glance down. I think I could have been more imaginative with paint wearing a blindfold. ‘Shorts off’, he barks, and I’m now confident enough to remove my shorts and let him do his work, however poor his skills with a paintbrush may be.

With me going topless, and then nude, my two young female friends finally decide to cast off their own T-shirts and they, too, stand topless and awkward within the riders’ area, giggling awkwardly, trying to cover their breasts and then finally deciding to take some selfies of the moment.

‘How do you feel?’, I ask neither of them in particular.

‘Exposed’, laughs one. ‘Free and….empowered!’, grins the other. They hug each other in an act of solidarity and delight at their collective bravery before daubing one another with paint and giggling constantly. I’m sorry to say that I lost them in the crowd sometime after and so didn’t get to know at the time whether they went fully nude. However, having seen video footage of the start, I’m happy to say that both appear to have fully stripped off at some point.

‘Finished’, grins Mr. Pookes, in a manner that suggested he’d just applied the final touches to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. ‘That’, I say ‘is awful. Let me reciprocate with an equally awful paint job.’

Amateurish body paint applied, it’s now time to start. My hear is pounding and I find myself talking incessantly to Mr. Pookes as we exit the riders area and run the gauntlet of photographers. It’s almost as if I’m thinking ‘if I don’t shut up, no one will see me’. More realistically, if I keep talking and focusing on Mr. Pookes, I won’t be focused on the pervy photographers.

I relaxed when we got out of the park and onto the roads. Less crowds, people going about their business not even paying attention to us, and a sense of those who now were taking photographs were taking them less as a sense of voyeurism and more one of ‘capturing an event’. My feeling was that, had it been a clothed bicycle ride to raise awareness of something, they’d still have taken photographs simply because it was now just another event.

The ride stopped for a bit of an impromptu disco at a lawned area near the seafront, sorry but I don’t know its name, and I’m almost certain that numbers had swollen enormously. It now seemed, to me, that many casual cyclists had come along for the disco and were now getting into various states of undress. There now seemed to be many more females, many of whom weren’t fully nude, but certainly topless.

I was now fully relaxed into the event, but was feeling the chill from a bit of a breeze. Despite this, I was determined to see the ride through fully nude, and not resort to putting on my cardigan, no matter how sensible an option that might have been 🙂

Yes, we made it to the naturist beach where the Brighton WNBR officially ends. Lots of naked people, of course, but it just didn’t feel warm enough to clamber over the pebbles and actually go into the sea. We watched people playing around, a mass of happy humanity that nudity had brought together, if only for a little while. With the ride now officially over, so was the police’s acceptance of nudity, so it was with some regret that we put our clothes on and cycled back to the car. I felt fabulous, carried along by a wave of euphoria at having undertaken my first WNBR. Once through our front door it was straight onto SLN to capture my feelings and the memories the day has provided.

Next year? You can bet on it!

Pookes