Archives for posts with tag: gay
Sir Christopher Felding-Vendenner and Mister Mendacity Crick, displaying a mutual Affection.

Sir Christopher Felding-Vendenner and Mister Mendacity Crick, display a mutual Affection in an unguarded moment.

The Steampunk universe, which is kaleidoscopically creative in its applied manifestations, is nonetheless consistently embedded in the 19th century. That 19th century (predominantly occurring in the former British Empire or the American West) was not, as they say, gay-friendly. And while Steampunk enthusiasts are a generally accepting sort, and while convenient exceptions are carved to a variety of firmly-held Victorian views on gender, orientation, race, and economic class, those firmly-held Victorian views are nonetheless an inescapable part of the period that inspires the neo-Victorian (or alt-Victorian) subculture.

Here’s the thing: steadfast Steampunks are sticklers for temporal congruity in fabrics and fabrications, and even fantastical constructs (elaborately multi-lensed clockwork goggles; firearms that resemble handheld cannons; aether-driven mechanical versions of modern electronics) are held to a fairly strict expectation of period-appropriateness. (Woe be unto the sad individual who glues some random gears on a hat or tosses on a corset and calls it steampunk! It’s so much more than a mere conflation of its memes.)

So if we’re going to play that way, then we need to at least be conscious that we are ignoring some exceedingly unpleasant aspects of our chosen alternative reality’s reality. And that reality goes back a bit.**

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DISCUSSION NOW TURNS TO TOPICS AND IMAGES THAT SOME MAY FIND DISTRESSING. IF YOU ARE DISTRESSED BY TOPICS RELATED TO, SAY, THE PECULIAR INTERESTS OF OSCAR WILDE, OR IMAGES OF MALE AFFECTIONAL BEHAVIOR, OR BLOCK-QUOTES OF 16TH CENTURY LAW, YOU ARE URGED TO CLICK HERE, FOR SOME CUTE CAT PICTURES.

Henry VIII, noted paragon of sexual virtue, signed the Statute of 1533 which made sodomy punishable by death.

An Acte for the punishment of the vice of Buggerie (25 Hen. 8 c. 6). Forasmuch as there is not yet sufficient and condign punishment appointed and limited by the due course of the Laws of this Realm for the detestable and abominable Vice of Buggery committed with mankind or beast: It may therefore please the King’s Highness with the assent of the Lords Spiritual and the Commons of this present parliament assembled, that it may be enacted by the authority of the same, that the same offence be from henceforth ajudged Felony and that … the offenders being herof convict by verdict confession or outlawry shall suffer such pains of death and losses and penalties of their good chattels debts lands tenements and hereditaments as felons do according to the Common Laws of this Realme. And that no person offending in any such offence shall be admitted to his Clergy…

The Statute was repealed by his daughter, Queen Mary (there were, apparently, limits to her bloodiness), but re-enacted by his daughter, Elizabeth I, when she came to the throne. In 1540, the first man killed, Walter Hungerford (1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury), ironically shared the day’s festivities with Thomas Cromwell, Henry’s chief minister and the primary advocate of the Statute of 1533 (Cromwell was executed for treason, not “Buggerie,” although both executions may well have been more politically- than criminally-motivated). The last men hanged under the Statute, James Pratt and John Smith in 1835, were immortalized by Charles Dickens in “A Visit to Newgate” (Sketches by Boz, 1836).

It is interesting that over the course of 300 years, fewer than ten men were convicted and executed under the Statute. The relatively low number of victims was primarily a function of economics, as was passionately pointed out by Pratt and Smith’s defender, the magistrate Hesney Wedgewood:

There is a shocking inequality in this law in its operation upon the rich and the poor. It is the only crime where there is no injury done to any individual and in consequence it requires a very small expense to commit it in so private a manner and to take such precautions as shall render conviction impossible. It is also the only capital crime that is committed by rich men but owing to the circumstances I have mentioned they are never convicted.

Section 61 of the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1861 graciously eliminated the death penalty for sodomy, but Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment of 1885 included both public and private activity between men (lesbians, apparently, were invisible to the Victorians).

11. Outrages on Decency. Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is a party to the commission of or procures (a) or attempts (b) to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency (c) with another male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable at the discretion of the court to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labour.

It was under this section that Oscar Wilde was convicted to two years’ hard labor for his affair with Bosie. (Wilde was only one of the estimated 49,000 men convicted under Section 11, a number that included the father of computer science, Alan Turing, whose resulting suicide likely delayed modern technology by thirty years. (If we’d had personal computers in the 1960s, imagine what we’d be doing now! Then thank Victorian and subsequent homophobia for our inability to teleport.)

Which—having completed our  brief frolic and detour through the merrie history of British moral jurisprudence—returns us to Steampunk, and Those Aspects of Victoriana We Would Prefer to Ignore. I guess my point is that if we’re going to go all alt-hist, we should also consider the social and political aspects that should morph and change when steamtech is added to the mix of Verne and Babbage and dirigibles and goggles and squids.

Some time ago, I introduced the Gentlemen of Steampunk, my humble effort to provide equal-opportunity prurience in a photographic genre focused almost uniformly on scantily-clad women in goggles. The response has been largely positive, as I discussed here, although sales of the associated products (a book and a calendar) have been disappointing. But I soldier on, intrepid little ‘punker that I am, and a second volume of GoS is forthcoming.

But I’ve also been exploring the Wilde side of Steampunk a bit, and pushing the Gentlemen into previously-unexplored areas of same-sex fluffy-soft-erotica: things like the photos below. These images, which basically portray little more than a very Victorian, steampunky, PG-rated vision of what two ‘punky Nineteenth Century men in love might have been doing in private sometime after 1861 in the alternative steam-driven, aether-powered world in my head. It’s an enlightened, mature world that celebrates diversity and egalitarianism, invention and innovation and technology and practical magic; a world in which the gaslit streets glisten with rainbow puddles of alchemical by-products, and the darkly pungent air is thick with soot, and smoke, and probably some things better left unnamed.

LAST CHANCE TO AVOID DISTRESS! CLICK HERE, FOR PICTURES OF A CUTE CAT DOING ADORABLE CAT THINGS.

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* “The love that dare not speak its name” is a line from the poem, “Two Loves,” by Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas . Bosie was many things. Most famously, he was–for a time–Oscar Wilde’s young lover (he was 21 when he met the 37-year old Wilde). Douglas’ father, theMarquess of Queensbury, forced Wilde to bring a libel suit, which opened the door to the author’s conviction and imprisonment for sodomy. Bosie had a stormy relationship with Wilde, after whose death he converted to Catholicism, married a woman, and became a famous antisemite and homophobe. He was also a fairly dismal poet, as one might expect. However, he did contribute the “dare not speak its name” phrase to the gay lexicon, so there’s that. Ironically, the “Two Loves” poem was used against Wilde in his sodomy trial, as evidence of the sort of Uranian mindset of those with whom he trafficked. Anyway, for whatever charms he held for Wilde, Bosie was a bit of an ass, and so that’s all we’ll say about him here.

**I mentioned previously that the Victorian period includes such unpleasantnesses as slavery, the subjugation of women, racism generally, the commercial exploitation of children, strict economic and social divisions, unequal political power vested in a hereditary ruling class, brutal colonialism—a whole murky stew of institutionalized oppression and narrowmindedness from which the modern sensibility recoils, and which the Steampunk oeuvre sidesteps as deftly as ever did Miss Bendaline Marsicamp turn out a delicate L’été en Quadrille at a country ball, her décolleté exposing shoulders gleaming with joyous exertion, cooled by the graceful flutterie of her ivory eventail au chinois. But I digress. As a gay white male of a certain age,  I have my own special favorite persecution, and it is upon that which we focus here.

Nikon D7000

I got a fancy-ass new camera for my birthday. (We shall be discussing Which One with regard to the camera shortly; we shall not, however, be asking Which One with regard to the birthday, because I shall not be Telling, because that particular discussion just fills me with an unutterable despair at the fleeting futility of existence, and while that might be amusing to readers as blog ravings go, it would not be pleasant for me. “Pleasant for me” being one of my top priorities in life, I do my best to avoid things that would not contribute to that goal. So No, we won’t be discussing the aforementioned natal anniversary anymuchfurther, thank you for your time.) (Which is not to say that I’m so hung up on the inevitable process of slowly staggering toward the grave I lie about my age, which I don’t. If I did, I would lie the other way, since I am now at a point in my life, being of a Certain Age and all, that lying that I’m younger than I am is simply embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone, a bit like Hillary Clinton’s insistence on remaining a glimmering blond with a pony tail—something it pains me, as a longtime admirer of the current Secretary of State, to even mention. At this tender point, telling people I’m thirty-something is either laughingly transparent or, possibly worse, suggests that I’ve had a very hard life indeed, or maybe suffer from some horrific and rare early aging disease for which I’m to be pitied and patted gently on my prematurely wrinkly hand. No, IF I were to lie about my age (which I do not, preferring to simply ignore the whole unpleasant thing) it would be to assure everyone that oh yes I’m 85 and just in really phenomenally awesome shape, the secret to my perpetual vigor and astonishingly smooth and lustrous skin being a combination the plentiful consumption of alcohol, bingeing on exorbitantly high-fat high-sodium food (the oils lubricate the arteries, you see, allowing for a prolonged youthful flow of blood, and salt is mined out of the earth and so really how can eating a rock be particularly harmful). I might also hint vaguely at mysterious ancient Chinese secrets.)

But I digress.

So yes, the fancy-ass new camera. Specifically, my partner, with whom I have spent the past decade doing our level best to destroy the institution of marriage, corrupt the young, and generally annoy a surprisingly large number of people simply by existing and taking up space, gave me a Nikon D7000.

Nikon D7000

This camera will now replace my formerly-beloved D90 (how quickly they fall from most-favored when the newer, younger, shinier, faster one with way more functions show up–wait, we’re still talking about cameras, right?). This is not to say in any way that the D90 was sub-par or disappointing. The photos featured in this blog, as well as on my photo gallery website (EButterfield Photography, he shameslessly plugged, virtually begging for click-throughs) were all done with the D90.

Oh but my pretty new love. The D7000 has the same pebbly texture as the D90; its body has a more solid, hefty feel (I understand this is the result of a magnesium alloy body and a slightly thicker rubber coating), and is just discernably wider. It also has (and I understand exactly how superficial and unprofessional this makes me sound) a deeper, more mechanically resonant “click” when the shutter does its thing. I know, I know, that’s not really a meaningful observation, but it’s nonetheless true and nonetheless significant for me. You know when you stand outside a car and close its door, there’s an audible distinction between a low-end compact and a high-end luxury car—there’s a distinct difference in the sound made by lightweight aluminum hitting more lightweight aluminum, and the sound made by layers of metal and rubber and money gliding together. It’s a deep-bass sound that the ear  recognizes as Good.

Hence, the better click.

Here’s a photo of Gimli, our cat, taken with the D90:

Close-up of a cat's face, taken with a D90

And here’s a photo of the same Gimli, using the D7000:

Close-up of a cat's face, using a D7000

The D7000 has two memory card slots, which is a truly wonderful thing for someone who, it would appear, is under the impression that if one shot of a subject is good, 30 or 40 are better. One never knows, you know.  Insurance.  Just to be sure. OK, so I’m not proud of my profligacy, but it’s mine.

It has up to 39 focus points, so there’s really no excuse for anyone being blurry.

The D7000 also has more autofocus presets than you can shake a stick at, for everything from “autumn leaves” to “city at night” or “children” for heavensake. I’m not one for using a lot of those, but it’s nice that they’re there.

The battery has a much longer life (and that initial battery-bursting-into-flames thing that spurred a D7000 recall last summer has apparently been dealt with, since I’ve experienced no spontaneous combustions), and the D7000’s maximum shutter spend (1/8000) is twice that of the D90.

The bottom line is that this is one fancy-ass camera. I intend to do commit some fancy-ass photography with it.

Here, thanks to snapsort.com http://snapsort.com/compare/Nikon_D7000-vs-Nikon_D90/specs is a comparison the specs for the two cameras, for those of you who are spec-ish by nature. You know who you are.

General Nikon D7000 Nikon D90
Brand Nikon Nikon
Lowest price 996.95 782.99
Announced September, 2010 August, 2008
Sensor
Type CMOS CMOS
Size APS-C 23.6×15.6mm APS-C 23.6×15.8mm
Crop factor 1.5x 1.5x
Megapixels 16.1 MP 12.2 MP
Light sensitivity 6,400 ISO 3,200 ISO
Light sensitivity (boost) 25,600 ISO 6,400 ISO
Sensor cleaning Yes Yes
Sensor (Advanced)    
True resolution 16.1 MP 12.2 MP
Native resolution 4928 x 3262 4288 x 2848
Pixel size 22.9 µm² 30.5 µm²
Screen    
Type LCD LCD
Size 3.0″ 3.0″
Resolution 920k dots 930k dots
Touch screen No No
Flips out No No
Live view Yes Yes
Lenses    
Lens availability 169 lenses 169 lenses
Lens focus motor Yes Yes
Lens mount Nikon F Nikon F
Form factor    
Size 132x105x77 mm 132x103x77 mm
Depth 3″ 3″
Weight 780 g 703 g
Interchangeable lenses Yes Yes
Waterproof No No
Weather sealed Yes No
Viewfinder    
Type Pentaprism Pentaprism
Viewfinder size 0.62x 0.63x
Coverage 1 0.96
Movies    
Format 1080p @ 24fps 720p @ 24fps
Supports 24p Yes Yes
High-speed framerate None None
External mic jack Yes No
Autofocus Contrast detection None
Continuous focus Yes n/a
All formats 640 x 424 @ 30fps 640 x 424 @ 24fps
720p @ 24fps 720p @ 24fps
1080p @ 24fps 320 x 216 @ 24fps
720p @ 30fps
Features
Panorama No No
HDR No No
3D No No
Image stabilization None None
Supports RAW Yes Yes
GPS No No
Performance    
Startup delay 400 ms 300 ms
Shutter lag 238 ms 208 ms
Battery life 1050 shots 850 shots
Continuous shooting 6 fps 4.5 fps
Focus system
Autofocus Phase detection Phase detection
Focus points 39 11
Cross type focus points 9 1
Shutter    
Max 1/8000s 1/4000s
Min 30s 30s
Flash    
Built-in flash Yes Yes
Popup Yes Yes
External connection Yes Yes
Storage    
Storage slots 2 1
Supported formats SD SD
SDXC SDHC
SDHC
SDXC
SDHC
SD
DXO Mark Scores    
Image quality 80 73
Color depth 23.5 bits 22.7 bits
Dynamic range 13.9 EV 12.5 EV
Low light performance 1,167 ISO 977 ISO

I should warn the unwary reader that this blog post most emphatically does not include pornographic photographs or anything particularly rude or lascivious—at least not as defined by the US Supreme court in Miller v California (1973), which established a three-pronged (heh, he said “pronged”) test: 1. “Average-person-applying-contemporary-community standards; 2. Activity defined by state law; or 3. Lack of serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. (I knew those years in law school would pay off someday, if only in the ability to write a very thorough Disclaimer.) One photo does, however, include a Very Naughty Word printed on the subject’s t-shirt, but I’ll give you fair warning and you can feel free to close your eyes at that point.)

I suppose from an SEO standpoint I could hardly have chosen a better title for this entry. Other than getting fairly specific with metadata references to specific body parts, orientations, and fetishes, the title alone should generate a fair amount of traffic to my little backwater of occasional bloviations. No matter that breathless web-surfers who find their way here expecting one thing will be almost immediately sent storming away by the mere fact that there are words here rather than freeFreeFREE video clips; I will have captured their eyeballs for my web analytics and boosted my usage metrics, which would be significant if I were running a particularly commercial site, which for the most part I do not appear to be doing. Never mind that the bounce rate will be Rather High; I just want to be seen. More than just lookyloos, though; I want people to link through to look at my photos. And a pony; a pony would be nice too. Glitter. Also world peace.

But that’s not the point here. (By the way, I’m starting to notice a pattern in my writing of these things, which is I tend to start off almost instantly with a digression, then wend my way back to the topic, take several darting trips elsewhere, and end up more or less where I’m supposed to be. (I knew those years of structural and semiotic literary analysis as a graduate student in English would pay off someday!) For this, I apologize, although I do not promise any particular relief anytime soon. I am, as they say, what I am.)

I have 2 photographic presences on the Internet: On the “public” site, Flickr, I tend to post lots of photos of vacations, events, pets, or other stuff. It’s sort of a social media thing. At EButterfield Photography on Photoshelter I focus more on the best-of those, and more commercial, editorial, and (though I hesitate to say it) artistic photos. It’s a bit schizophrenic, but it seems to make sense to me. Flickr tracks views and other activity very visibly, so it’s easy for me to see which photos people seem to find interesting (more on that in a moment). Photoshelter is a bit more complex to track, but the tracking is much more granular and statistically useful. The point here is that on those occasions when I post photos to my Flickr site that include any amount of exposed flesh, those photos skyrocket in viewership. No matter that they may be photographically inferior to other, less fleshy photos, or that the shirtlessness involved may not even be central to the photograph’s actual subject, the views pour in.

Everyone, it seems, likes a nice set of pecs and abs.

What’s interesting to me is that on an Internet with so many flavors of full-throated pornography for those so inclined to enjoy, there would be any particular prurient interest in relatively demur photos of semi-naked gentlemen not engaged in particularly erotic behaviors, and generally wearing more clothing than they would on a typical day at the beach.

(I’m referring here, obviously, to varieties of street photography, not to posed nudes. Those latter, for the most part, I keep secured behind a password on EButterfield Photography, with only the most innocent included in my public portfolio.)

So here’s the thing: Regardless of the quality of the photo involved, a photo of a half-naked guy will always, forever, without exception generate more views on Flickr than a photo with any other subject matter, regardless of the comparable artistic or topical nature of the two images. A photo of President Obama walking down a street in Long Beach eating an ice cream cone would simply not generate as many “views” as some anonymous and not necessarily buff young man dancing on a flatbed with his shirt off.

Let me be clear: I’m not in any way condemning photos of athletic and handsome young men dressed only in jeans and hiking boots. It is totally true that I have taken those photos, and equally true that I have chosen to display them, legitimately, as images from public events (and not for sale). I posted them, and assigned tags and accepted invitations to link them to various groups. So I’m not saying I’m a poor abused innocent whose gentle artistry is being hijacked by Morlocks. I’m merely observing.

Some of these photos are posed, some are “street photography” in the sense that the subjects were out and about in public, engaged in public activities. I’m not lurking in the bushes taking random photos of unsuspecting sunbathers (at least not any more). To my mind, surfers are engaged in a public activity and are fair game. A parade is “street photography” at its most obvious: People are walking down the middle of the street, and their expectation of privacy is low. Ditto for street performers tumbling around on a pier. And the photos aren’t, in my view, entirely prurient either: These young men have worked hard to look like they do, they’ve gone to some trouble to display themselves. That I enjoy looking at them through the viewfinder is, to my mind, sexually irrelevant; I like looking at kittens and birds and snails, too, and I have no wicked intentions about them at all. Sadly, perhaps due to my relentlessly advancing age, the gentlemen are merely objects for collecting light and shadow more than anything physically alluring. I know pornography when I see it, and this ain’t it.

Anyway, case in point, this photo from the 2012 Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride Parade:

three muscular young men posing

The young men in this photo were in the parade on behalf of a local moving company, which obviously has a marketing person who knows about how to appeal to specific audiences. Within seven days, the photo on Flickr had generated over 600 views, which is a fair number in a short time. Three months later, that has grown to 2,076, with additional views in the double digits still being added every day.

This photo, on the other hand, which I think is more interesting, was posted last year and still has only 265 views.

Drag nun from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Ida Know

This one is from a similar parade in Chicago in 2007, and has been viewed nearly 11,000 times:

Go-go boy on a float, Chicago Pride Parade 2007

Not all the photos from Pride events have skin, and some of those even generate activity on Flickr. This one, for instance, (which I call “Diversity” for obvious reasons) is from the 2010 parade, and has racked up 1,212 views (a nice number, but hardly in the shirtless realm):

Leather daddy and femme drag queen in Pride parade

And this photo, which I just love as both a photo generally and a character study in particular, from the 2009 parade, has been looked at only 802 times:

[NSW BAD WORD WARNING]

(Seriously, a photo with a Very Bad Word in it is coming right up)

(Also, there’s a Rather Rude Gesture, too, so Be Warned)

4

3

2

1

Yelling biker lesbian with "fuck love" t-shirt making a rude gesture

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*

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[ALL SAFE NOW]

It’s interesting that on my Flickr site, of the top-twenty most-viewed photos, 17 are of random attractive men, 16 of whom are shirtless (accounting for over 135,000 individual views).  The two that don’t fall into that category are outliers in more ways than one, and I’m at a bit of a loss to explain their apparent wild popularity.

One is a not-spectacular photo of the late Jonathan Frid (he who played Barnabas Collins on the original US soap opera in the late 1960s) at a Dark Shadows Convention in Burbank (yes I was there and you just be quiet).

:Dark Shadows" television series actor Johnathan Frid

There are many elderly Frid fans out in the world, I suppose; plus he recently enjoyed somewhat heightened visibility thanks to the fairly dreadful Tim Burton “Dark Shadows” movie starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas. (Immediately prior to the film’s release, Frid had the good sense to shuffle off his mortal coil and retire permanently to a locale in which his legacy was, presumably, less egregiously disresepected.)

The other one is a real head-scratcher. It’s a photo of a 1939 painting, “The Awakening of the Forest” by Paul Delvaux, displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Photo of surrealist painting by Paul Delvaux

While it does arguably include vastly more nudity than my Pride Parade photos, we’re talking lithe little fairyfolk here in a surrealist setting that’s generated over 7,500 views since late 2007. Either some people will go way out of their way to seek out nudity online, or there’s an art history class somewhere that’s using a link to this one.

I maintain the Flickr site because I’m obsessed with eyeballs, and my “serious professional” site, EButterfield Photography, has generated just under 2,000 views (and a few commercial sales and portrait jobs) since it was launched with moderate fanfare almost a year ago. On that site, interestingly, shirtless men do not drive viewership. My most-viewed image is this one:

cat peering over the edge of a table

And this generated as much activity as the movers from Pride on the same site:

Macro photo of snail on glass, showing "teeth"

The ultimate point for me, I guess, is that dammit I have some really nice arty, editorial, and worthy images on the Web; why do folks flock to snapshots of boys who’ve taken off their shirts to show that they’ve been to the gym in recent memory? (I suppose I could also ask why, if I’m so annoyed by the behavior of that particular audience, do I persist in posting the things? That, it seems to me, is an impertinent and impolite question, so we’ll just pretend that no one asked it and just move on.) For now, I’ll just opine that generating views on Flickr has become one of my hobbies, related to photography, and that overall my Flickr site (yeah and I’m shilling it here by constantly including links, so aren’t I just the big old hypocrite) has generated over 2 MILLION views since I first started populating it five years ago, and that just puffs up my ego all over the place. I’m a sad and shallow man, reliant on external approval to confirm my self-worth.

Oh well.

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