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Australia

I met Master Joe and slave kim at Southplains Leather Fest last February. They had sat through my class on “Understanding how some M/s Relationships get into trouble” and later approached me in the foyer. He introduced himself and asked whether I might be interested in coming down to Melbourne, Australia, to do a series of presentations this coming September.

Well, I didn’t know this person, so I said that it might be possible and took down his contact information. After the conference, I wrote to slave Caroline and asked her about him. As it happens, she entered BDSM in Melbourne through Master Joe’s BDSM club, Chains. She knew him very well and said that if he had invited me over, he’d take good care of me.

As the discussions continued, it turned out that although they rented a home, there was a second small house in back of their main house. I would be staying there. Also, Herbert was able to arrange printing in Australia through all our books on Barnes and Noble. Although Amazon doesn’t have a print facility there, B&N does. I ordered literally hundreds of books, selecting titles beyond my own that I thought would sell. We set the date and I found myself in their delightful presence for 21 days.

c 05 joe kim   

Unlike in the US, Ausies are used to paying about $35 per seat per class. We averaged 20 people per class and I did about 8 classes. This was the weekend of Oz Kinkfest, so we had people in the right frame of mind to come to classes. Also, this was a crowd that bought books, so—overall—the trip was a great success.

c 06 fire play   c 07 cupping

We took a side jaunt up to Sydney in order to do another presentation and I met Peter Masters there. He’s a professor at University of Sydney and runs the best BDSM Wiki on the Internet.

Joe (sometimes with Kim, other times alone) took me to many interesting places. In Melbourne, itself, we went down to the heart of the city to see Gog and Magog who occupy a special place in Melbourne’s Royal Arcade—a very upscale mall in the heart of town.

c 08 gog and mcgog

These words are written beside the figures: “These two 7-foot giants have been striking the time on Gaunt’s clock since 1892. They were carved from clear pine and modeled on the figures erected in Guildhall, London, in 17089 to symbolize the conflict between the ancient Britons and the Trojan invaders. According to the mythology, the giants Gog and Magog were captured bin battle by the Trojans and made to serve as porters in the gateway of an ancient palace on the site later occupied by the Guildhall.”

Joe had brought me here not only to show me Gog and Magog, but also to have coffee and some pieces of chocolate at the most famous coffee house in Australia. It is called Chokolait, and their mission is to make finest genuine Belgian chocolates, hand crafted cakes, and desserts in Melbourne. Here is a shot of the cappuccinos we ordered. Here’s their website: http://www.chokolait.com.au/

c 09 coffee   c 10 joe

As you can imagine, the Royal Arcade is a primo tourist attraction in Melbourne. Because it’s such a draw, there are a number of street-vendors and buskers around. The musicians included a number who were playing hopped-up diggerydoo’s with pick-up microphones at the business end. For some reason, I didn’t take any pictures of them. The man playing this diggerydoo was down at the docks in Sydney.

c 11 diggerydoo

I realize this post is getting really long, but the trip was extremely interesting and I took a lot of pictures.

One of our trips was to a city named Ballarat and to Sovereign Hill – a major cultural tourist destination. Ballarat was transformed into a major settlement when gold was discovered. At a small store in Sovereign Hill I met a man standing behind a metal-spinning lathe making different size bells.

c 12 metal spinning

Master Joe tested the sound of the bells and determined that this one specific bell had the “right” sound. When Master Joe had his attention elsewhere I purchased two of the bells he “approved” and on my last night with him gifted him one of the bells and invited him to be in my Leather Family. Here’s a shot of the matching bell.

c 12.5 bell soverign hill

All-in-all a memorable trip and I’m indebted to Master Joe and slave kim for their warm and loving hospitality.

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Nature Photography in Panama

b 14 nature photography

Our time in Panama was a photographic treat. The country was lush, we were living in the middle of a growth of coffee trees, there was an animal rescue center in town that was about the size of a small zoo. They had everything there from large cats to parrots to monkeys. We went there a number of times and one of my finest photographs was taken there. The picture is a beautifully curved orange lily leaf and it probably took me 45 minutes to figure out how in the world to photograph it correctly.

b 15 curved lily

Photography is my art-form: when I decide to photograph an object it generally takes me from 20 to 40 minutes to work out the correct distance, angle, light, and lens. I also have to check depth of field every time I change lenses. As I mentioned above, photography lets me see things differently. But, it takes a while.

slave mindi and I could not take very many side trips, because of the nature of her job. She is what is called a “utilization review” nurse and needs a notebook computer that drives two different video screens because she is concurrently working in two databases. This means that if we want to take a trip that involves more than a weekend, we need to take the entire set-up with us — and then she has to work during normal working hours. It's hard to take side trips under those conditions. We only made a few excursions, but those we took were extraordinary.

With Moty Hen as our guide, we made two weekend trips: a tour of a one-man sugarcane processing facility, and the tour of a very small cigar manufacturing company.

b 16 boiling sugarcane

While the cigar manufacturing company had only six people rolling cigars from the tobacco leaves, you could see in one building the entire process from the arrival of newly dried tobacco leaves, through the drying and storage of those leaves, to cutting them up and distributing them to the people who are rolling the cigars, to the presses that compacted the leaves that resulted in the final product. You also saw the process of putting each cigar into cellophane and depositing them in cigar boxes. From there the boxes ended up in a substantial room that was carefully controlled for humidity.

b 17 cigar press

Before leaving this section, I’d like to put a plug in for Moty Hen. He is a really amazing/interesting man. He’s Israeli, but he came to Panama in 1984. Over his years traveling around Panama, he’s become something of a private guide. It’s not his primary line of work, but he’s amazing at it. If you can explain the kinds of experiences you’d like, he’ll arrange it. Deep-sea fishing? Visiting an indigenous tribe? Bird watching? He and his wife (Rita) were working on creating a bed-and-breakfast at the end of our time, there. Here’s a link to it. Should you ever find yourself in Panama, you’ll do well to contact him and let him be your guide. Oh—he caters to Israeli’s. He’s undoubtedly the only Hebrew-speaking Panamanian tour guide in the world. 

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Our Spectacular Frog Holiday

b 18 red frog stem

We took one spectacular four-day holiday. I had told our main guide, Moty (who is actually an Israeli who had lived in Panama for 25 years and spoke very good English), that I really wanted to photograph poison dart frogs. He arranged a trip for us to go by bus from one side of Panama to the other side across the Continental divide. It was about a three-hour bus ride. Of course you had to then add the hour that it took to get from Boquete (up in the mountains) to David (down by the sea).

Once we arrived at Bocas del Toro, Moty left us alone to settle into our rooms. When we next saw him he said he'd found a guide for us. He said that he found a guide who specialized in taking photographers around the islands to photograph poison dart frogs. I was delighted. Moty had the clever idea of incentivizing the guide by offering him five dollars bonus per species for the two days he had with us.

As a result of this, I was able to photograph something like 23 differently colored poison dart frogs. It was perfectly amazing. Sometimes when would we get to the island our new guide would run off and find a local person to help guide us just to speed things up. The locals knew which color frog was where. You might start down one path and find blue frogs and go down a little further and find yellow and black frogs. Truly an experience of a lifetime.

 

b 19 dime   b 20 blue frog   b 21 on hand

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Retrospective: About my Photography

b 10 photography

Here I am with my 100-400mm zoom lens connected to a 2x tele-extender with the sun-shield in place. You can see that the lens is attached to the tripod with a "long-lens" Kirk "sidekick" mount. This enables you to pivot the lens in all positions without any effort.

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I have always had a passion for photography. The photographic process slows me down and enables me to see in ways that I don't see in the same using a camera. 

Even before college I had a Kodak retina reflex with three lenses. A 35mm wide angle and 135mm telephoto and 50mm standard lens. I have literally thousands of slides stored in the garage in carousels of 70 slides each. Some of the carousels hold 140 slides.

I actually only changed cameras on my trip around the world when I was 21. When I got to Hong Kong I bought Nikon F. At that time Nikon was the Cadillac camera. For me, the problem with a Nikon, is it it's huge. I had trouble managing it. I sold the Nikon and bought an Olympus 0M2 with those same lenses: 35mm, 50mm,135mm. The Olympus is a much smaller camera and it was much easier for me to manage it. I bought a second OM2 as a backup camera, and as I got better and learned more about shooting on a tripod, I bought an OM1.

I’ve added a nice array of lenses for my Olympus system. I bought an amazing lens through eBay. It was a 100-400mm macro zoom lens. Someone in Britain was selling it. I later found out that it was never commercially available. Essentially, I had a one-of-a-kind Olympus lens.

I used these cameras from my early 20s until 2002, when Alpha introduced me to erotic and fetish art photography. Through Alpha, I was given the opportunity to be the still camera photographer for a soft porn producer here in Austin. He had brought in some models (a couple were professional fetish models) and was photographing them playing in things like cake mix, a big mud pit, Jell-O, putting, and whipped cream. (Here are a couple of those shots.)

b 11 mud pit   b 12 pudding

I had a great time and shot five roles of 35 mm slide film. I took the film into one of our two local professional photo printing companies and dropped it off with Nate. I told him to develop the slides and scan them. I was regular at this place, because I was custom-printing some of my nature photographs.

A few days later I went back to pick up the slides and the DVD of the scanned images.

I gave my order receipt to the guy at the counter but he said he had to go and find Nate. I thought that was somewhat unusual, but figured he was new. Nate came out and pulled me aside and said in a hushed voice: “We can't print these, they are showing nudity and our owners are very strict that we cannot print these kinds of images. They are against the law in Texas.”

I was at a loss. I explained to him that this was a commercial shoot. He went back and spoke to the manager and came back out with the manager. The manager said that he could personally come in and do this run over the weekend when they were closed but there would be a 50% surcharge and that I was not to bring images like this in for processing in the future. Right.

I had to pay the surcharge, because I been paid $450 for the shoot.

Once all was said and done, I bought a Nikon Coolpix so that I could work on the images and print them myself.

After I became comfortable with that little point-and-shoot camera, I spent a lot of time researching Nikon versus Canon digital cameras. These cameras had only been out about three years. Ultimately I chose the Canon line because they had a bigger mount for the lenses. I reasoned that the larger mount on the camera meant that the lenses would be more stable. Nikon had stayed with the same sized lens Mount as their manual cameras in order not to anger their loyal customers who would have collected a lot of lenses over the years. Canon looked at this differently. They felt that they could build lenses that would be more sturdy. Also the larger lenses enables Canon to put Zoom motors in those lenses that made them far faster and quieter than the comparable Nikon lenses.

My final decision concerned the way I use my camera. I do a lot of close-up photography, particularly of butterflies and insects on flowers. After much research I decided to buy 85mm tilt shift lens. At that time Nikon did not make that lends. Also all these larger lenses in the Canon line were image stabilized. At that time Nikon did not have image stabilization either.

So I started collecting lenses and over the next 12 years kept upgrading and changing Canon bodies to the point where I currently have a Canon 5D as my backup camera in the Canon 7D as my primary.

b 13 self portrait

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