The weirdest pic I ever did

Yes, it might be weird, disturbing even, but I can’t stop looking at it. Just can’t stop staring at it. I would not frame this and put it on my wall, but it is so amazing in terms of texture and graphic impact.

You might recognize the image from some of the “fashion shoot” images posted earlier. I took the straight off-the-camera image and applied one of the “abstract” filters in an app called “Glaze”. I had never found a use for this line-drawing filters before, because they’re so strange, but if you’re TRYING to get a different look, this definitely is it. It has a carved look, or almost like extruded plastic.

Stereo circa 1980

  The picture, obviously, is of a Shuffle, with powerBeats. Not so obvious is the filter: edited in LoMob, with the 1980s filter.

So I picked up a friend of mine — sort of a casual acquaintance actually — in my car and took a moment to plug in my iPod to charge. “Oooooohh, you just have to have your TOYS, don’t you”, she said, voice dripping with disdain and sarcasm, as though an iPod is a silly bit of frippery. I let it go. I could have told her that in 1980, I had at least 800 record albums, and my stereo took up a whole shelf, as well as two corners of the room for the speakers. Aside from sheer bulk, the problems with that setup are numerous: your vinyl records wore down and got scratched every time you played them; you had to put them away in their sleeves; you had to get up and lift the needle to skip a song, and maybe make another scratch; those huge speakers were so powerful you would get evicted if you ever dared to crank up the volume, so always heard a small range of the actual music. Putting on headphones was a slight improvement for fidelity, but then you were tethered to the stereo, perhaps lying on the floor. Now, you can fit the entire kit and caboodle in your pocket. When I go out for a walk, I have not only my stereo system, but my entire music collection. And the sound is AWESOME. And the albums never wear out, no matter how many times I play them.

Is a stereo a toy? Is a record collection a toy? Is it perhaps virtuous to have the whole thing take up an entire room, and thus rarely listened to? Or is the player-and-earbuds equipage so completely normal that the old-fashioned vinyl-and-speakers thing is the toy?

Roadhouse blues

A continuation of my homage to Robert Johnson. A short excerpt from my short story about meeting the Devil at the crossroads:

He slowly tastes the whiskey, not the best, but it burns nicely going down and loosens up his limbs and his arms and takes the kinks out of his neck from the all-day drive. Thinks about the guitar in the trunk of his car. Time for that after the whiskey, and he can talk to the woman again, offer to play a few dances tonight when the sun goes down and more people start flowing in.

Drums his fingers on the table, feeling the callous and liking the clicking noise it makes on the wood. Taps out a blues lick. Feels the music creeping up on him, from the heat that coils around him, the smell of the booze and smoke and the creaking of the floor every time someone walks. The sounds and the swaying of the magnolia in the yard, all part of the flow of the blues, always right below the surface, always ready to be drawn out.

Closes his eyes … the woman comes back to his table and plunks another whiskey down on the table. He looks up puzzled; I didn’t order that, he says. She gives him a look he can’t quite interpret. Gestures her head slightly toward the bar. That man on the end, he buy you a drink, she says and moves away quickly.

He looks. A tall thin black man, lighter skinned than is usual around here, lighter than himself, he notes automatically. Even features, black framed glasses, suit and tie. Clean, good shoes. Suddenly aware of his own dusty shoes, his wrinkled clothing and the wetness and funk under his arms.

from “The Crossroads” (c) Shirley Braley 2015

The Crossroads

I’m a huge Robert Johnson fan. And while I don’t believe the tale about him selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads in return for a huge talent, I am entranced by both his music and history. So much so that I wrote a short story based on the crossroads legend, and his death by poisoning at the head of a jealous husband. Below are some treatments of a famous photo booth shot he did of himself.

A pair

Fruit is one of those photo subjects that never gets tiring. Working in black and white, you can capture the lovely shapes and textures and contours of pieces of fruit; no two are the same. I’m in good company on this one: two of my favorite B+W photographers influenced me heavily. Below are pears photographed by Andre Kertesz (é_Kertész), and Minor White (

The Kertesz:

The White:

Out of my head



The was just too fun not to work. Way up on a shelf, A whole row of disembodied heads sporting different hairstyles. Really, who could resist.

The first treatment is Photo Toaster’s Noir filter; the second is Jazz, with spot focus, diffusion and color balance.

Fashion shoot 1

It spoils the affect to even say this, but the shot is of my stylist’s hair mannequin. He was trying out some new highlights, or an undo or whatever, and had just washed its hair. Just like a real person with real hair, it was a fright, full of tangles. But at this salon, they play Fashion Week runway shoes on video repeat, so I was all pumped to do something artistic and truly, I saw a lot of hair that was more out there than this.

I used Jazz to change the color balance, crop, and blur the edges. Then for the second one, I opened the pic in Photo Toaster and used a black and white filter.