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  • Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. I never would have thought of taking a workshop on photographing nudes on my own (what would my wife, daughters, and friends say?!), but a friend who's been taking a series of workshops on portrait and nude photography at a Boulder (CO) studio suggested that a weekend workshop could be fun, and give me a chance to try out a new camera.

    Ever since mobile phones started having decent cameras, and especially since I started using iPhones (I'm currently on my third, a 4S), my dormant interest in photography has been rekindled. Not since I shot photos for my high school yearbook and my college paper, and took photos to accompany some of my articles for a magazine I worked for in my 20s (I'm now mid-50s), have I taken photos with "art" in mind instead of recording family gatherings and vacation snapshots. I'm ready to change that.

    So, fancy and feature-laden new Sony NEX7 in hand (and iPhone in my pocket, just in case the opportunity arose to use its camera), I accompanied my friend to a weekend of photographing people not wearing clothes. I'm no prude, have no issues with nudity, women breast-feeding in public, sex scenes in R movies, etc. Male flashers and disheveled guys urinating in public places ... well, I'm not so cool with that. Still, I was less than totally at ease walking into the studio on day one for my first taste of shooting nudes.

    If you've never photographed nudes before, like me you might wonder if the experience is erotic; I wondered about that, but hoped it wouldn't be, as that would feel embarrassing. Nothing to fear; while the three models that worked during our two-day workshop were all lovely, possessed enviably minimal levels of body fat, and no doubt were sexy in other situations, in the studio they were objects with which to play with light and shadow, and learn about composition and lighting technique. As a bonus, our practice art objects had friendly personalities and talked. Wildlife and landscapes aren't as much fun in that respect.

    Still, my educational experience with human curves and lines no doubt will improve the quality of my future landscape and nature photography.

    I think I'm on the road to recovery. Fewer snapshots. More art. Thank you, ladies. And to our great instructor, Rick Cummings.

    (The unusual image here is one of the few I can post without violating Cowbird's rules. It was taken with a 1-second exposure and moving model and camera. Others will go on my Flickr account.)
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