Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Oiled Up

Here's another set of outtakes from my Why Nudism? project, from the latest entry, which has me oiled up and laid out on a makeshift massage table. Much as it pains me to mix nudism and eroticism (you might find this hard to believe, due to my unflinching candor on the subject, but I don't enjoy blurring the line, considering the extent to which this approach may threaten one of my most beloved pastimes; I just enjoy betraying my dedication to truth and reality even less), if we are to take the nudists' declaration that "nudism is no different from a textile lifestyle, just with less clothes" (or, more simply, "naked is normal") at face value, then an unavoidable conclusion is that, just as in the textile world, some activities may have erotic undertones (or overtones), or lead to sexual activities. Becoming a nudist doesn't make you asexual.

And, whether in a nudist context or not, massage is a very sensual activity. That it has great potential for synergy with sexual activity, does not mean - as with nudism - that it is intrinsically related to sex, or is inherently a sexually explicit activity (of course). But a desire to be ultra-sanitized and politically correct is no reason to ignore or deny this very appealing (in the right contexts - that is, when all involved know what to expect and are okay with that) possibility. Which I display for you here:





There's supposed to be a video to go along with this theme, but for the first time I've run up against Blogger's video file size limit (100MB, if you were wondering). So here's a shortened version of the video, with more excitement to be found, for the determined viewer, on my XTube profile. But this sets a worrying precedent, if I'll have no place to post future videos of a more involved production scheme (which I'm hoping to graduate to, in time), that are not really explicit enough to suit XTube's audience, but too explicit (in terms of nudity) to post on your average family tube site...


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Why Nudism? (Part 21)



I confess that I have never had a professional massage. (Yes, I know - I'm sure I am missing out). But opportunities for massage therapy turn up not infrequently in nudist situations. Although it takes another step outside of your comfort zone from being naked in front of others to letting another person touch your body (and some people like to draw conclusions from this), I think massage provides an excellent example of the sensual element of nudism - not necessarily in the sense of being sexual, but being a heightened sensory experience. Part of the joy of being naked is allowing the myriad nerve endings in our skin to experience all the sensations we deny them when they are stuffed up inside our clothes.

Moreover, massage can be very relaxing. But nudism itself presents a number of therapeutic benefits, which affect both the body and mind. From the sensory release from our clothes, to the relaxed lifestyle, the freedom and comfort that comes from accepting the skin we're in, and the improved attitudes towards our own and others' bodies...nudism is not only enjoyable, but has the potential to be a very healthy lifestyle. Some tout it as the cure to many of modern society's ills - a return to paradise, or a walk through Thoreau's Walden. This is largely a self-fulfilling prophecy - you get out of nudism what you put into it. In truth, few will disparage your choice to engage in common "vices" like drinking and smoking (to wit, there are plenty of nudists who themselves do these things). But even just the relief from society's uptight, textile-based taboos, and the opportunity to accept oneself "as nature made us", can be a crucial step towards a happier, more peaceful and fulfilled life.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Double-Take



I like images that can inspire a double-take. It's that joy of hiding in plain sight. You could perhaps interpret it in a critical fashion, as the exhibitionist impulse to "sneak" something indecent into everyday situations, setting unsuspecting strangers up for a shock. But that's assuming a rather negative interpretation of the impression such a thing will have on people. Why should a piece of eye candy disturb or offend anyone, rather than delight them? Alternatively, I like to interpret it as a challenge to the notion that such a thing is so universally appalling. If that's true, then how is it possible that you could take one glance at this image, and almost not even notice it? Is it really all that bad, after the fact? Or are you, perhaps, overreacting?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sticks



My first naked foray into the woods of the year! Unseasonable temperatures during the winter are a great opportunity to get some unique shots outdoors while the trees are all still bare. And what better excuse to go bare yourself? I lament that I don't have nearly enough opportunities (and nearly the courage some of these guys must have that I read about online) to do much "freehiking". But it really does feel amazing, being open to the air and unencumbered by the trappings of civilization, while surrounded by the majesty of nature. I think it's one of the best activities to epitomize both the appeal and ideals of naturism.









Saturday, February 24, 2018

Unseasonable



Eighty degrees in February - no foolin'! Not that I'm complaining. Although, at this rate, I'm bound to run out of ideas for outdoor shots before the summer even gets here!


Friday, February 23, 2018

Prurient Smut



I don't have an objection to prurient smut, on principle. I think too many people have too liberal an idea of what constitutes prurient smut, but I don't think prurient smut should be censored (restricted, maybe - I understand that not everybody wants to see it - but not censored, and certainly not illegal), just because it's crass and base-minded. While some of our instinctual appetites can be hazardous to our own and others' health (see: violence), I think that it's healthy (and it's obviously pleasurable) to indulge the sexual impulse, so long as you are doing so in ways that are not overly excessive or unethical.

And on those terms, sharing pics of your anatomy on the internet (in the right contexts - not messaging them to strangers without provocation), is a pretty simple and harmless way to get your kicks, especially compared to navigating the extremely complicated field of interpersonal relations. Plus, as an exhibitionist, I don't think anyone would disagree that it's a more favorable hobby than flashing strangers on the subway (not that I've ever personally known anyone to be interested in that sort of thing, as opposed to trading dick pics, which is extremely popular - much to the enduring chagrin of polite-minded society).


Anyway, images like these - they're not really "artistic" in the sense that I'd like to believe a lot of my other images are, although I have a pretty liberal definition of what constitutes art - but when you get all up close and anatomical like this (which is not usually my preferred approach), I can't help feeling like they begin to take on an almost scientific value (more often than not, I find these sorts of images more "educational" than erotic). Shocking or not (and certainly I would privilege carefully culled photos, and not just any old snapshot of anybody's anatomy in any condition whatsoever), I actually think being exposed to images like these can be healthy.

Not just as a form of sex education - which, considering some of the comments I've come across, there are a lot of people who don't appear to have a firm grasp of how a penis functions - but also in the same sense that seeing all kinds of normal bodies in a nudist environment helps to ground your expectations and combat poor body image. When this part of our bodies is so meticulously censored in everyday life, and the only time we are exposed to it is either in our own relatively limited experiences ("you mean not everybody is as big as my last boyfriend?"), or pornographic media where actors are typically chosen for their exceptional anatomy, it can be reassuring to learn what an average person really looks like (why is it a big secret what people look like under their clothes anyway?).

I don't necessarily enjoy looking at closeups of the male anatomy in most cases (and even the female anatomy I prefer to view from a distance, where you can see the whole person behind it), but I've seen quite a few penises in my days of browsing galleries on deviantART, and I have to say, I think I'm better off for it, because it doesn't faze me like it would have in the past. And it shouldn't. It's just human anatomy. It's not that big of a deal.


Except when it is that big of a deal. -_^

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Prom Preview



I feel like it's still a bit early in the season yet (although the dress catalogs have been on the newsstands for months already), but I'm so excited about the dress I've picked out for my (imaginary) prom, I couldn't wait to show it off (again).

Doesn't it look like the night sky?

I was out shopping for shoes for my Valentine's Day dress, and it got me thinking about the shoes I need to go with my prom dress. I tried the red ones with it, and I like them a lot. They're available in black, so I think I'm going to pick some up. I just need to find a cheap (but flashy) clutch purse. Anyway, I was trying the red shoes on with the dress, and I liked what I was seeing in the mirror so much, I had to record a video of it.

See how the dress glitters?

Oh, and I suppose I'll be needing a date. Can you believe nobody's ever asked me? Actually, now that I think about it, I'd probably have more fun just going with a group of girls. I know, you're thinking, "it's a shame he's not gay," but it'd be just like meeting a beautiful woman, and then finding out she's a lesbian. I can't help liking what I like. And the reason I enjoy being a girl is because I like girls so much. They really do excite me. That a man who puts on a dress must be trying to attract the attention of other men is actually heteronormative thinking. I don't mind the attention - taboo fantasies are hot - but you should know where I stand.


Or, you know, where I get down on the floor on my hands and knees. :-p

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

A Peaceful Rain



In this video, I was trying to capture the peaceful feeling of standing out on the porch, listening to the rain. I didn't realize I was standing nearly out of the frame! It's thematically appropriate that I had wet hair, but it's actually because I had just gotten out of the shower, otherwise I might have been tempted to go frolic in the rain (as I've done before). I really like the heavy sound of the rainfall at the beginning of the video (it tapers off, but you can hear the difference if you come to the end, and then start it back at the beginning again) - that's something that you can't control, and you just have to leave up to happenstance. I've found in my experience that severe weather is always very fleeting. It could rain for days, but it'll only unleash that full power for minutes at a time before softening up. Yet those are my favorite times.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

365 Anniversary

Ten years ago today, I started my 365 Daily Nudes project - which launched my nude and erotic photography hobby in earnest - with this picture. It's not a spectacular picture by any means, but it's noteworthy on account of the milestone it represents. Let me give you some background. It was less than a year after I'd discovered that nudism was a thing (after a passing comment half meant in jest inspired me to do some internet research), elevating my lifelong periodic secret naked bedroom and backyard trysts into a full-blown lifestyle. My New Years Resolution for 2008 was to spend more time in the nude. I didn't have a lot of varied opportunities, but even just lounging around at home without clothes on in a semi-regular fashion was enough of a novelty at the time.

Enter popular photo-sharing site Flickr. I was reminiscing over some teenage webcam photos I'd shot for my girlfriend years earlier, when I came to the conclusion that it'd be a shame to keep them to myself and not share them with the world. The Flickr community was very receptive, and kindled my inspiration as a photographer. A little thing called The 365 Project (also under various aliases) - in which you would commit to taking and sharing one photo a day for a whole year - was pretty popular among photographers there, looking to showcase their talents, as well as earn experience and grow as artists. I wanted in. But, naturally, I wanted to put my own spin on the project - making it a whole year of daily nude self-portraits!

Sadly, I was not able to complete the project, due to a freak accident in which I lost my camera (and all the photos I'd taken throughout the week) near the end of a road trip to the Burning Man festival. Losing my camera - and more importantly, all those once-in-a-lifetime pictures I'd taken - crushed my enthusiasm for the project. But I did eventually recover my passion for photography, and consoled myself by purchasing my first ever dSLR camera. It made me feel that much closer to being a professional photographer, and I consider it one of the best decisions of my life (even as new phone camera technology is beginning to surpass my now decade-old dSLR). Ten years later, and here I am!


In the lead-up to 2018, I'd begun debating in my head the merits of embarking on another 365 Project, to honor the first. I told myself I had no need of taking pictures every day anymore - what can become, if you properly commit to it, something akin to a full-time job. On the other hand, my skills have improved enormously, both as a photographer and as a model, and I have more tools at my disposal (not just my trusty dSLR, but also now a highly convenient mobile phone, complete with video recording capabilities). Wouldn't a project done now yield riper fruit? On top of it all, I've just this past year moved back into a house after living in an uninspiring apartment building for many years.

So I've come to a bit of a compromise. Photography now, to me, is more than just "spray 'n' pray" - taking a handful of shots and working with what I get. The workflow involves a lot more creative preparation, post-processing, and academic analysis (i.e., I like to use photos to illustrate the "essays" I write). So, instead of taking one photo every day - since inspiration flows more readily some days than others, and I don't want to stifle that (plus, it gives me a break every once in awhile, when the juices aren't flowing) - I've chosen instead to prepare one post for this blog to be published per day until the end of the year, each one accompanied by some sort of photo (ideally of me), or video (recalling that other daily nude project I embarked on a couple years after the first), that is in some way relevant to the themes of this blog (mainly nudity, eroticism, and gender experimentation) - a bit of a cornucopia of daily delights.

I didn't want to announce this project on January 1 because I wanted to try it out for a bit before committing to it, but here we are almost two months into the year, and I'm ready to make it official. I've had no shortage of creativity so far - in fact, for most of this time I've had posts prepared days in advance to give me a nice buffer (so I can put the necessary time in to make each one the best it can be, and to keep me covered in case of vacation or other distractions). It's still early in the year, but I have yet to find myself roaming around wondering, "what kind of photo should I take today?" just to get the daily allotment in. I've got so many ideas swimming around in my head, I can't even keep up with them all! So let's hope this trend continues.


This isn't the first time I've revisited the image that started it all. But comparing this image to the original is enlightening. Back then, I was a greenhorn. A fish out of water. Now, I have a better camera, more experience (both as a photographer and as a model), and the determination and confidence to set up a good shot and not settle for whatever I can get in a few snaps. Knowing what I'm capable of - of the great shots I've taken in the past - allows me to feel justified in raising my standards, without fear of wasting my time on a fruitless effort. I couldn't do this without having that kind of experience. Of course, being able to get those great shots is no doubt itself a function of the experience I've acquired, in conjunction with the technical aid of my superior equipment. Although I'm a firm believer that a photographer's most important tool is the one that sits between his ears, I must concede that you can achieve greater results when you're spending less time and energy generating frustration with a stubborn tool that you have to wrestle with in order to get anything even halfway decent...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Fooling Around With Focus

I'm not one to withhold sight of my own nakedness, but it does fascinate me to experiment with contrasts and the power of suggestion in order to amplify the impact of nudity (whether on the page/screen, or just in your head). So I was playing around with narrow depths of field the other day, and I stumbled upon the idea of taking the same shot in and extremely out of focus, then merging the two images in different ways, to play around with suggestion of a form vs. revealing the form. I ended up with three different variations.

Fogged Glass

The first one I call "Fogged Glass", because that's precisely what it resembles - like wiping your hand across a foggy mirror after getting out of a hot shower (which I've tried to take a picture of several times, but it's really hard to work out the angles in time before the mirror clears up). You only get to see certain parts - and it's not the explicit parts - but I think it creates a powerful illusion, like there's something exciting lying just beyond one's sight.

Censor Blur

The second one uses the fog in what is a fairly traditional form of censorship, to blur out the the subject's genital area. It reminds me of the "cloud bikini" cosplay I did once upon a time. Although that was actual material covering me, and this is a visual effect, the cosplay was a simulation of a panel from a comic where the cloud was used in just such a way - as convenient censorship. An interesting question that this image raises, for me, is whether this would actually constitute "nudity". There is nothing between the camera and my naked body to block my genitalia from sight, yet the focus renders it so blurry as to be utterly benign. It's like hiding in plain sight.

Cloud of Anonymity

The third one I call "Cloud of Anonymity", because it uses the fog as in the last one, but this time to obscure the subject's identity, while leaving the genitalia exposed. A lot of people use this technique to share explicit photos online, while reducing the chances of it coming back to bite them in the ass by harming their reputation in some way. I always thought this approach was tacky, and somewhat cowardly, opting instead to own my forays into nude and erotic modeling, but there are certainly circumstances where it provides some measure of welcome security to vulnerable parties. After all, I'd rather someone feel comfortable sharing anonymously than not at all!

Together, these images remind me of a clone shot I did a long time ago, that I've actually been meaning to recreate some day. Soon, I hope - stay tuned for that!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Die, Coke-Scum!



In a world where Coke is the only cola in existence, it's perfectly acceptable to refer to a Coke as simply a "cola". But add Pepsi to the mix, and it becomes reasonable to distinguish what type of cola you're referring to. Is it a Coke, or is it a Pepsi? Most people may continue to assume that "cola" refers to a Coke, but especially in restaurants that serve Pepsi, if you want to actually talk about Coke, it makes sense to refer to it as "Coke" (or "Coca-cola"), and not just "cola", which would be confusing, because Pepsi is another type of cola. Coke lovers don't have to stop referring to their preferred beverage as simply "cola" - the usage of the term "Coke" as a differentiator primarily benefits those who handle Pepsi. Yet, many Coke lovers feel as though they're being "hassled" by this change in terminology, and, feeling victimized, fear that Pepsi lovers are trying to shift the discourse and get Pepsi recognized as the "default" cola.* But this is a strawman fallacy; Pepsi lovers are not campaigning to get Pepsi referred to solely as "cola". That would be counterproductive - their goal is to use clearer language to distinguish one cola from another. This reactionary attitude is nothing more than Coke-privilege in action. All Pepsi-lovers are asking Coke-lovers to do is acknowledge that theirs is not the only cola in the universe. Refusing this minor, yet critical concession cannot be considered anything other than insensitive arrogance, born out of a lazy sense of entitlement, and deserves to be called out as such. Die, Coke-scum!

*Instead of using Coke's biggest competitor, if we replace Pepsi in this analogy with a minority cola - say, RC Cola - it becomes even more obvious that the competitor is not trying to usurp the crowned soda's position, but merely expand the selections available in the vending machine, and that the reigning champ is - far from being legitimately threatened by some no-name soda - merely throwing its muscle around to intimidate the competition, maintain a monopoly, and disguise its feelings of inadequacy.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Going to the Ballet



I'm going to the ballet tonight, so I thought this would be a perfect excuse to put on my tutu and take some pictures.

Checking the curtains, in my underwear.

The nail polish has to match!

I respect and admire ballerinas very much. Most of my favorite photographers have photographed dancers of one sort or another. And I love wearing this tutu - it feels amazing. But I feel like an impostor. I don't have the moves. I don't have the experience. I don't have the training. I don't even have the flexibility. I wish I had a dance routine to perform. But this wouldn't be the first time (nor will it be the last) I've felt like my photography was a pale imitation of what inspires me. It figures that I felt a lot more comfortable taking mildly erotic/fetish-type photos than trying to be something I'm not.



Although, in my defense, dance is at least as sensual an activity as nudism, if we're being honest.


On the other hand, the only reason I started to get undressed - I swear! - is because I was getting hot. Pervert or no, you can't say I'm not a genuine nudist. :-p


Still, I know erotic potential when I see it. -_^


Friday, February 16, 2018

Pants or Skirt?



This is a bit of a combination of two shots I've done in the past, directly resulting from a comment left on yet a third image, of me wearing a dress. A fan on deviantART said to me:

"i think you look lovely in a dress. or in jeans. or in nothing at all."

And I was immediately inspired by the contrast of these two very different styles - dress vs. pants and a shirt. The latter is more traditionally masculine (although it can certainly be done up feminine, too), while the former tends to be more feminine, and can be very fancy and stylish. Certainly, men don't generally have the freedom to open their closets and ask themselves whether they'd like to wear pants or a skirt today. In our culture, that choice is reserved for females.

And so I thought it would be visually interesting to illustrate the contrast between these two very different styles, with - as inspired by the above comment - some nudity in the middle to bridge the gap. It reminds me of an image I did a long time ago, where I posed the hypothetical question: of my two "alternative" interests (being nudism and gender experimentation), would the average person be less shocked or offended by seeing me naked, or wearing a dress?

But, ultimately, the final product resembles more closely another image, which I used to illustrate the Madonna-whore complex, in the form of a girl in her underwear (portrayed, of course, by me) standing at her closet deliberating on whether to dress more modestly, or more flirtatiously, according to two contradicting messages she's received from our culture. (Actually, that could describe yet another image in my repertoire - it's not surprising this is a recurring theme). This newest image jettisons all that baggage, though, hopefully to its benefit.


I had some trouble picking out a dress I wanted to wear for the one panel. They can easily get super fancy - which looks incredible - but I wanted something a little more casual, because casual and dress-up are two very different occasions, and I wanted to emphasize the choices available in a given situation (and I own more casual dresses - although apparently not enough, as I tend toward the semi/formal, despite not having any opportunity to wear them - than I do gussied up jeans and t-shirts).


I really need to get more fancy shoes, though. These heels are great - I love 'em. And they're pretty neutral, so they go with a lot of different styles and colors. But you can't wear them all the time. Besides, they're old and quite worn out. It's just that, shopping for shoes is so difficult. I can never find anything I like in my size. It's like, sizes 10-12 are made for different kinds of people than the 6-9s - the shoes are always either so tacky looking, or apparently designed for larger body types (as opposed to someone like me, who is relatively skinny, but tall, and with big feet - I know "big" and "tall" are often lumped together as common alternatives to the traditional shape, but the two really do require very different approaches).

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Challenges of Self-Portraiture

Here's a rare, fast-motion look at all the images (raw and unprocessed) I shot for my Cupid's Eros shoot - all 192 of them!


I complain about this from time to time, but self-portrait photography really brings its share of challenges and frustrations. And I know that all photography has challenges and frustrations, but self-portrait photography has some unique ones. All those tropes about doing portrait photography - the cameraman snapping away while the model tries out various poses, with constant feedback between the two - it doesn't work that way when the photographer is also the model. It's a lot more difficult. To see what the model is doing, you have to walk behind the camera and look at the shots you've taken. And then, to make adjustments to the pose, you have to be able to duplicate the pose perfectly first, in the exact same position you were at before. There's no "move your elbow a little bit to the left." It's tough.

Inevitably, there's a lot of trial-and-error. You can't just hold the camera up to your eye, and see whether the shot is working before you even click the shutter. What might take an experienced photographer a small handful of shots to get (or less!), I could easily end up with over a hundred shots of, just trying to perfect all the little details of the pose, hoping that, the more images I take, the better chance I'll have that in one of them all the important elements will align. For example, I won't happen to blink at just the wrong second, and it will be in focus - that's another thing that's uniquely difficult to micromanage when your subject can't be in frame at the same moment you're looking through the viewfinder. Even if I were to stand in front of the camera and get the focus just right, there's no guarantee that I'll be standing in exactly that spot the next time I get in front of the camera.

And this shot was doubly difficult, because it's not easy to maintain an erection without constant stimulation, while you're focusing on other things; and I wanted to get the angle of the arrow and the erection aligned, without being able to tell while I was posing how they looked from the point of view of the camera. I've tried setting mirrors up behind the camera (when it's convenient to do so), and that helps, but the picture on the camera screen never looks exactly like what I see in the mirror, because the angles are always just a little different, no matter how hard I try to line them up. I would pay good money for a camera add-on that provides a fairly large screen that can be pointed towards the model and displays exactly what the camera is seeing (something of a Live View extension screen). Do they make anything like that?

Another concern I have that is a result of the challenges of self-portrait photography is the way it tends to emphasize the modeling aspect over the photography aspect. Not that I don't appreciate all the experience I've gained as a model, but I actually set out on this voyage hoping to become a photographer. But often times I get so caught up in making the pose work, that I don't spend as much time adjusting or experimenting with the angle or the lighting. Once I find something that works, I tend to lock it in, because I don't want to change it and then have to take another hundred images or so getting the pose to work. I suppose it's not impossible for one to prioritize the photography aspect instead, creating great technical photos with only so-so modeling. I don't honestly know which of the two would be better. But another limitation of self-portrait photography is that, unless you're always shooting reflections in the mirror (which is an even bigger limitation), you can't take handheld shots. You always have to set the camera on a tripod. So there's less variety in angles, and you can't switch up the perspective on the fly so easily.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cupid's Eros

Happy Valentine's Day!


Cupid has been neutered in modern days, represented in the traditional form of the putto, or cherub: a chubby, winged baby. A very noncontroversial depiction of love in the Christian sense - an act the goal of which is to produce a child. In essence, people fall in love so that babies can be born.


However, Cupid has also been depicted in antiquity as a mischievous youth, the child of Venus, Goddess of Love and Beauty - cementing the inextricable link between adolescence and sexuality, however taboo it is to acknowledge that natural fact in today's culture.


Furthermore, the name of Cupid's counterpart in Greek mythology is Eros - root of the word erotic, indicating sexual desire - which suggestively implies that it's not just inoffensive kissing and hand-holding that goes on whenever Cupid shoots one of his arrows. -_^

"Ain't no need to hide, ain't no need to run,
cause I've got you in the sights of my...love gun."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ruby Slippers



These are my kind of ruby slippers! The kind that would make Dorothy jealous, and scandalize Glinda the Good Witch. Watch them sparkle in the sunlight:


I spent most of my formative Valentine's Days without a date (perhaps that's why I envision the holiday as a celebration of self-love rather than devotion to another), but that didn't stop me from dreaming. In high school, the thing I enjoyed most about the holiday was the way the girls would dress up, in a variety of red outfits (including pretty dresses). Valentine's Day isn't just a lovers' holiday, it's the holiday of desire. The kind of day that fundamentalist Christians must loathe - all those women dolled up in short skirts and painted lips, the color of the devil. But I loved it. And I still do. And now, I can be one of those girls, too!