Monday, June 12, 2017

Gardening in the shade. Caroline's corner garden

I wanted to make a garden where there is almost no soil and only two hours of sun a day. I remembered Lanning Roper, the American writer and renowned gardener, living in London in the 60s and 70s who made a garden just from plants in pots. I have tried to do the same, keeping the plants to those that thrive in the shade. This is the third year. I have named it Caroline's Garden and as she likes flowers I am trying to find more of them that will thrive in this corner. On the left, below the hosta, is a Japanese anemone that is growing well.

The drawback is that in order to save the pots from cracking in the winter, you have to wrap each pot in two layers of bubble wrap which is a tedious job and then you have to look at the plastic shrouded pots all winter which is an eyesore.  Otherwise you can bring them into a greenhouse and keep them above freezing, but no higher than 40 °F because they must rest. If the financial gods are with us in the autumn that is what we will do.

Bella Pollen, writer


Three things you do not expect at a book party: superb food and drink, speeches lasting less than five minutes, (and only two of them), and plenty of places to sit and talk to people. All this happened at Bella Pollen's book party to celebrate her sixth book, a very entertaining memoir with illustrations called Meet Me in the In-Between. 

Though, perhaps the least likely fact about the evening might be that I had only met the author once before. And that was in 1983, the year I took this photograph of her in London.    

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sir Freddie Laker honored



The photograph on the fin of this aircraft is of Sir Freddie Laker, pioneer of cheap transatlantic airfares in the mid 1970s. Norwegian Air are now trying to do the same thing. I took the picture of Sir Freddie in 1980. Actually, this one below is the one I like best, but Sir Freddie's son Freddie Jr. preferred the smiling one. (My choice would not have fitted the fin either.)

The story goes further. I was a second officer pilot for Sir Freddie's company Air Charter from 1956 to 1960s, before I became a full time photographer in 1961. We flew Avro Tudors, a British piston-engined aircraft, descendant of the famous Lancaster WW 11 bomber, to Woomera, Australia, loaded with parts for the Jindivik target aircraft. The Jindivik is the aboriginal word for 'The Hunted One'. At that time the British were testing their rockets in the desert around Woomera.

Often we had delays on these trips mainly due to engine trouble. For me this was welcome because I found the trips exhausting and the delays also gave me time to take photographs in Instanbul, Aden and Karachi, Cocos Keeling Islands and Singapore. Cruising at an airspeed of 200 knots, we flew un-pressurized at 10,000 feet, (the pressurizing equipment and cabin insulation had been removed to increase payload capacity).

Some of the captains I flew with were ex-RAF WW11 bomber pilots who thought nothing of flying through bad weather, or working hours that were within the law but did not take into account cumulative fatigue as the journey wore on. Neither were they at all concerned about taking off on too short a runway, fully laden, as was the case in Colombo, Ceylon, as it was then called. They enjoyed pulling out the severed tops of palm trees from the wheel bays after we had landed at our next destination. Sir Freddie had a very loyal following from the Captains who did all they could to save him time and money.           




   

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Tribute to a beautifully mannered man



For some reason, in the late 1980s, and for somebody, GQ I believe, I was sent to Atlantic City to photograph Don Rickles in Atlantic City. Oh, Lord! I thought.

I got there and waited in a large empty room. I asked for a small table, a chair and a cushion. After some time in walked a very smartly dressed, smallish man, who politely said good evening to me and my assistant and asked where he should put himself.

I placed the cushion on the floor by the chair and asked him to kneel on the cushion and place his  hands on the chair. With a smile he did exactly as I asked him and I took the photograph. He got up and said that he had not been asked to do that before, shook hands with us both, and disappeared. He left a very favourable impression on me.  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Things seen in photographs during a second look.


She was with a group of friends who were chatting and fooling about on the corner of First and Dubois in Newburgh, NY, and I wanted to photograph her. It would be no good asking her because they would all want to be done. Instead, I first photographed everybody in the group so that I could then ask Eden if I could photograph her alone. She agreed.

Looking at the picture later, I thought, no, at the time I took the photograph, I did not see how neatly her bag fitted under her arm, or, that the position of her sagging belt buckle is ambiguous, or how the sagging buckle exposes the small ribbon bow tied at her waist — a masterly piece of styling. All I noticed was her face as she stood quietly with her friends.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine

Here is a Polaroid of Caroline that I took in 1987 in our studio on Lafayette Street, NYC. It might be the first photograph I took of her and it was probably a test shot to judge the lighting and exposure for a magazine shoot. I had written on the back of it the exposure meter readings on the subject and on the background.

Frequently I found that the test shot was better than the real thing (certainly in this case),  although we cannot remember the shoot that this was made for, but it hardly matters.

Using transparency film, as everybody did then, correct exposures were very important, as there was no Photoshop to save you. Anything more than 1/2 stop over exposed was unusable, but 1/2 stop under could be adjusted nicely in the developing.

This is very much how I remember Caroline looking when I first saw her in the framing department of New York Central on 3rd Avenue.  



Thursday, February 2, 2017

A man who remembers urban renewal




Out in all weathers, our friend, a man we have encountered several times during the filming of Newburgh: Portrait of a City, was eager to talk of Newburgh's troubles, but equally as eager to point out what a beautiful place it is.

"It is also home," he said.

I saw him recently and asked him if he could spare a moment. As always he smiled and said, yes, of course.

First he told us that in spite of the wheelchair he was in good health. He said that this was because when he goes to the store, he always parks his wheel chair outside and walks round the store.

Then he told us that what started Newburgh on the downhill path was that the city was never rebuilt after urban renewal.

"Much of the east end, leading down to the river, was torn down. This was where the factories were and where the blacks lived," he said. "But the rebuilding never took place. The funds were paid to the city but the city manager disappeared soon after — and the funds disappeared at the same time. I know this because I was at school with the city manager's daughter. It was close to graduation but she didn't turn up for the ceremony and we never saw here again."

The injury that put him in a wheel chair was received at work, and not, he said, from an attack which he then described to us:

"The worst thing that ever happened to me was when I moved from downtown Newburgh, in the east end, to uptown, in the west end. My house got broke into and I got beat with a baseball bat. The gentleman told me I need to go back downtown with the rest of the blacks. And he didn't use the word blacks either." 

Friday, December 16, 2016


Her name is Khabijah. She is best friends with my assistant Veronica. She is a nurse working two shifts a day, looking after the elderly in Beacon, NY, a neighboring city across the Hudson River from Newburgh. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Temptress One and Two


This is Temptress on Broadway in March 2016. I had not seen her since 2009 when I photographed  her in Downey Park in Newburgh. (Image below.) We were with Point, one of my assistants and subjects, who knew her, but she was in a rush to get to work, (not specified). From this image it looks like she has fared well.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

A summer day off Dubois Street in Newburgh, NY

I like to post photographs solely because the subject is beautiful, where there is no anniversary to celebrate or achievement to acclaim. In fact, no reason, if asked, why I took the photograph—I am either struck by what I saw or I pass by.

Monday, September 5, 2016





Langan's Brasserie was, when it first opened and for several years after, one of the only places to go in London. It was owned in partnership by Micheal Caine and Peter Langan. Peter Langan started in the restaurant business at the lovely Odin's. He married the owner's daughter and then bought the place. Odin's was in Marylebone, slightly off the beaten track for those days, but it immediately became popular with artists and writers. Hockney and Prockter designed the menu. Langan, following the example of the Paul Roux, owner of La Colombe d'Or in Saint-Paul de Vence in France, (Picasso and Matisse were regulars) very astutely accepted works of art in exchange for dinners. Proctor introduced me to Odin's and I have happy memories of it. He once said to me, "I go to restaurants not for the food, but the people who are there."

Not long after Langan's opened in 1976 I went there one morning to photograph Michael Caine. I brought with me my nine year-old daughter Cathy. I introduced her, and he replied, "'ello darlin'." She has never forgotten it. As an actor, Michael Caine can speak English well with any accent, but, in conversation, he sticks to his very own Cockney.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Family Life


I am editing full time now, even so, once a week I go to Newburgh just to say hello to anybody who is around. I take my camera with me in case something strikes me.

I have met this young person in the picture above on two occasions, both times with a child in her arms, the child either belonging to the mothers next door who have seven children between them, or one of her own siblings.

Starting next week one of my crew members from Newburgh, Tavares Cotton, will come to our house every day for two weeks to assist with the editing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Couple cornered on Lander Street

This couple, with their shared preference for discrete earrings, go their separate ways over necklaces.  Made by his sister, his is a display of his religion. Perhaps hers is a fashion statement.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Notorious

This girl was sitting among her friends on a stoop on Du Bois Street in Newburgh. After several vain attempts filming the group I singled out this young lady who held her gaze well as soon as she was away from her friends.

A women's face against her friend's chest

Across the street from where I was photographing Notorious, Caroline found two young women. After I had photographed them together, not very successfully, they were joined by their friend, a healer and fortune teller. Each tucked themselves under his arms. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Singing beauty with talent for makeup.


Bryana, who is 19 years-old, was born in Queens but now lives in Newburgh, NY. She is a singer and lives with her friend Dillon.

Where does she perform, I asked her. "It's hard to find venues in Newburgh—New Paltz is much better." She practices everyday for hours and can't imagine ever being anything but a singer which she began in church as a child. So far she has had no complaints from the neighbors about her singing practice.

She is looking for work and is considering modeling. "Meanwhile I would not mind working in a restaurant at all." 

Two of a very large household

Rhonda has several children. Here she is with her grandchild in her house on North Miller Street in Newburgh that she shares with her friend Catherine who has seven children. We visited them one day when they were giving their combined families dinner. Before dinner everybody was out in the street dancing and playing. A male member of the household cooks and helps with the children, changing diapers and playing with them.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Two stylish young people in Newburgh.


Two stylish young people in Newburgh. I asked the young man if I could take his photograph because he was so stylish. "Whatever else you say about Newburgh you cannot deny the style and individual way its citizens present themselves," I added.  I went through the entire process of taking the picture without his saying a word. He nodded or shook his head.

The girl, on the other hand, who we have known for several years, has always answered questions, observing and commenting on everything around her.   



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stanley Kubrick



An exhibition of some of my photographs that I took during the filming of A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick, opens on March 19, 2016 at Ono Arte Contemporanea in Bologna, Italy.


Time spent with Stanley Kubrick
I first heard about Stanley Kubrick in 1963 from a film publicist who had worked on two of his films. She recommended I see Paths of Glory which had just come out in London. After seeing it I asked the editor of the magazine Queen if she would be interested in an article about him. She agreed and I went down to Shepperton Studios where he was making Dr. Strangelove. When I arrived he was standing at a makeshift table on the war room set playing chess with a large man in an American Air Force uniform seated opposite him General Turgidson, played by the late George C. Scott.


When I said goodbye to Stanley at the end of the day, he asked me if I would like to work for him,
“You stand in the right place.” he added. I said yes to his invitation, though knowing perfectly well that the last person you want to be on a film set is a stills photographer. You are always in the way, and in my experience, actors don't really like their pictures taken. That was the start of my association with Stanley as a guest photographer on three of his films. I guess I just liked Stanley and he operated the camera himself, which I thought was unusual and sensible. An image that has stuck in my mind is the way he hand-held his stripped down Arriflex — so gently, and as though it weighed no more than a packet of Camel cigarettes.


His children used to come and sit beside him on the set. His eldest, Vivian, became an accomplished musician and film maker herself. I recommend a short film called Stanley Kubrick's Boxes directed by Jon Ronson, because in it are two clips by Vivian of her father, showing his sharpness and humor, and his calmness. It also shows the tracking shots through burning buildings towards the end of Full Metal Jacket, which Vivian scored. When I knew Vivian, sitting beside her father on the set, she was more worried about her pet mice than the techniques of film making. Stanley was worried about them too. Stanley particularly liked cats (and all animals for that matter) and I made a print for him of a photograph he took of one of his cats sitting on a shelf in his office. He wrote me such a charming letter thanking me.


When I spoke to Adrienne Corri after her rape in “A Clockwork Orange” she was full of praise for Stanley's handling of the filming. He was fair, patient, considerate and endlessly painstaking. She said that she too had received a charming letter from him, thanking her for being such a “sport.” I remember one of his directorial commands to her: “Turn around, Adrienne, we're paying you for full frontal.”


After chess, ping-pong was his favorite game. I'm not sure he ever beat Malcolm McDowell whereas he almost always won his chess games whoever the opponent. His ping-pong table, when I knew him, was under a tent on the front lawn of his house.


There was with Stanley never a question of accepting a shot or a take, until he knew it was right. It looked like he answered to no-one, but, at the same time he listened to everybody he thought knew something that he did not the people from NASA, advice from the director of photography about lighting, his co-writers and his executive producer, the actors and designers. I don't know if he listened to the studio executives, but one day I turned up on the set and we hung around for a couple hours waiting for Stanley to appear. I asked what was happening. Somebody said, “We are expecting a visit from the studio executives so Stanley won't be coming in today.”


Copyright: Dmitri Kasterine 2016














































Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Eleanor's Best

This is a selection of jams made by our friend Jennifer Mercurio in Cold Spring, New York. She actually makes 14 different flavors. One of my favorite jams is gooseberry. Gooseberries have a short season and are hard to find so she has not made it yet. I will rush to it when she does, because, if the other flavors are anything to judge by, there will be no finer gooseberry jam. Jennifer and her husband Joseph have recently bought some land in Garrison where they will farm chickens, and I hope, grow fruit, including gooseberries.