My Love of the Seven Styles Photoshop Actions – but especially Watercolour!

I have lately discovered the Watercolour Photoshop Action (not for PSE) from Seven Styles (market.envato.com and/or graphicriver.net). It is magical, on my Venetian Cosplayer photographs, and lately on my Cape Cod and Nantucket town-scapes. It has also beautifully enhanced the Moorish Palace (Aljaferia) in Zaragoza, northern Spain.

This important citadel was almost at the northern extent of the Moors in Europe as its imposing towers show; containing a magical garden of such peace and tranquility – the spiritual and the military combined in one spectacular place.

Just a small sample of my recent work… be back later to add some description!

I do like this guy though – from Venice Carnival 2016.

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Knave of Hearts – Venice Carnival 2016

Venice Carnival Art 2017

Sprezzatura from fb

I must say that I really enjoy Venice, Italy. Even at its most squashed (crowds!) it still remains an oasis of calm and serenity – it is why it still retains the most sublime of monnikers – “La Serenissima”.

In the weeks leading up to Lent – and since its re-inception in 1978 – the Carnival of Venice is the fun place to be! Bon vivants, dilettants, exhibitionists and extroverts, would-be fops – every fantasy-in-costume catered for – Vampire; Steampunk; Sci-fi; Barnum & Bailey; Plague Doctors; Harlequins and Harlots – you name it, someone’s dressing the part!

Most are happy to be stopped in their tracks by a complete (but totally charming) stranger, and will pose gracefully whilst you make the best shots you can. At night, along the gaily-lit arcades of San Marco, the cassette-like rooms thru the windows of Café Florian present a remarkable opportunity to capture – en-tableau – parties of outrageously bedecked ‘cosplayers’ drinking hot chocolate, so typical of Carnival time in Venice.

Crowding the exit door at Florian, myriad photographers assemble. Many who leave Florian are excited by the prospect of being photographed; some might have imbibed alcoholic libation, and I was wary that they might not be best pleased that I was ‘waving a lens in their face!!!’ The cassette photographs were wonderfully redolent of Alice in Wonderland…

 

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Veneziana d’Oro II blu © Jack Torcello

This captivating scene was just north west of Florian, pass along the arcade as if heading for Accademia, and the first calle to the left ends in this attractive small dock, where I found this red-headed beauty posing for another photographer. As he changed his settings on his camera, I ‘borrowed’ a few shots! She is stunning, I think you will agree?

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Mr Harlequin © Jack Torcello

Almost the second I stopped and looked to my camera, Harlequin immersed himself in his role. It is the readiness of so many ‘cosplayers’ without complication or complaint, which makes photographing the Carnival as fun as it is to be photographed!

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Maelle III © Jack Torcello

At the Ponte di Sorrisi (Bridge of Sighs) this outstanding ‘copslayer’ very generously posed and modelled to please almost every whim. We photographers perhaps forget just how tiring all this freely-given energy and time exhausts the model beneath the mask (whom we never really get to know!), but I am grateful that so many gave of themselves so freely. Merci! Bedankt! Danke! Grazie!

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Veneziana d’Oro I © Jack Torcello

One of the Carnival of 2017’s best-dressed models, I call her Golden Venice – a stunning shock of red hair afloat a sea of green skirts and bustles. A true goddess in the best sense of Carnival!

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The Blue Magus © Jack Torcello

To be fair, most cosplayers arrive as couples. But where single cosplayers are to be found, it is almost always a woman – the ratio of single cosplayers being about 5 women to every 1 man. I guess ever since the 17th Century – when men dressing-up was de rigeur – that women have had that field to play all for themselves!

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Madonna della Florian © Jack Torcello

This serene beauty was a success story at the exit door of Florian. On seeing me raise my camera, she presented her best Carnival face – an example of grace and beauty to please any heart!

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A Dream in Red © Jack Torcello

She captured my heart! Along the beautifully lit Arcades at San Marco, this demure beauty posed for me in all her finery.

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Bella Rossa © Jack Torcello

Red and black was a strong theme at this year’s Carnival, 2017. This lady reminds me of the traditional costumes to be found in Wales, and a very attractive figure she makes.

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Maelle II © Jack Torcello

One more from The Bridge of Sighs. A very high standard of costume – not every costume is made with such care – as the copious amounts of rayon and polyester efforts are testimony to!

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Regina di Giale© Jack Torcello

Most of the costumes at the Carnival were extraordinarily flamboyant, balanced in their flamboyance by a demure colour-scheme. This lady however is shouting it from the rooftops in her daffodil yellow regalia – why I named her the Yellow Queen! Brave.

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Che bellezza!© Jack Torcello

Another person so ready to slip into character as soon as you raise your camera. And how stunningly beautiful she looks! In fact, so impressed was I that I did several different versions of her beauty – the Black and White Sketch effect, and the Gray and Black Effect… see below

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Che bellezza! BW Sketch© Jack Torcello

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Che Bellezza! Gray Effect© Jack Torcello

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Zanni © Jack Torcello

…after so much beauty, a little bit of the beast!

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Maelle I © Jack Torcello

This one is so good, it hangs on the wall in my home. Maelle, Che bellezza! and Veneziana d’Oro are probably my three main muses for 2017. Let me add another version of d’Oro before I go…

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Veneziana d’Oro I © Jack Torcello

 

 

And some from my earlier vist in 2016…

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Signor e Signora Cervo © Jack Torcello

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The Peach Madonna © Jack Torcello

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Black & Gold © Jack Torcello

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Burgundy in Venice © Jack Torcello

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

We remember the millions killed – including the Jews – by the terrible atrocities the Nazis committed, and indeed by regime after regime committing bloody genocide year after year. For the Holocaust at least, we can see that Germany had been crushed, both by losing the First World War, and by the war-reparations mostly imposed by France. A once proud nation lay crushed, the reparations almost paving the way for a man like Hitler who would, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, resurrect Germany and its proud traditions. But it would be on his own terms; and God would get the rawest of raw deals: under the Nazi plans, He would exit history! Contemporary with Nazi ideology was an idea of Man as Superman, the idea that God was superfluous, and that a Man could do just as well as the absolute arbiter of all knowledge, all value and all worth. And this idea was invested in the glorious Millenarianism of the 1000 Year Reich and its Fuhrer. Attempts at ‘symmetry or congruity’ with history were made – in the figure of an Absolute Being, and a new, Chosen Race. The Nazi mind understood that the new, millenial counterpart of God was to be the Fuhrer, and his Chosen Race the ‘Aryans’. Nazi Revisionism dictated that time and history could be unravelled, and re-ravelled to the new liking of those that deemed themselves the ‘controllers of history’. The Jews would become, in the idiom of evolution and its corollary natural selection, a failed evolutionary strand: Endlosung would accelerate this demise. And with the end of the Jews, this exiting of history (the Jews ‘invented’ God – brought Him inside human time and tradition, human history and experience) so would come the end of God; God too would exit history. The space so opened up, to the Nazi mind, would be newly occupied by the Fuhrer (as god), and Aryanism  – the new Chosen-ness, over and above the Jews. The Nazi evil had a certain congruency with history and the past, a certain pattern that mimicked the status quo. We can only be eternally thankful that Hitler failed, and be eternally vigilant too.  And on this Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember with sadness, those that were lost.

S h a l o m