Although I spent time at the ocean, most of my swimming growing up occurred at a lake, one lake in particular. Those who have spent a lot of time around and beneath the surface of a lake, understand it's an entirely different experience than diving into the ocean. There was no sand, just rocks lining the shore. The bottom was rocky at first, then incredibly slimy. The goal was to life your feed before the slime, but sometimes you took one step too far.
There were minnows and eels, eel grass and in my lake, snapping turtles. The lake was freezing in the spring but that didn't stop us for going in, sometimes as early as mid to late May. The reason for the rush was simple, but late July or early August, the lake was usually closed, usually due to pollution. Some brave souls still ventured in, but the rest of us had parents warning us of what sickness lay ahead if we dared enter in.
The lake became a part of many milestones, one of the most memorable, the first time I tried alcohol. It was the early 90's, I was about 15 or 16. A group of friends and I paid someone's older brother to buy us something at the liquor store. We didn't want beer, but hard liquor! Unfortunate for us, the guy didn't know his alcohol any better we did. We ended up with a small plastic bottle of Lemon Gin. If any of you have tried it, you know that first experience didn't end well. Many of us added to our poor lake's pollution that fateful summer Friday night.
When searching for lake themes images, I remember a couple of shots from photographer Dan Nelson's portfolio. I featured Dan's imagery in two pieces earlier this year, A Piece Of Art and Getting It Rightback in May. The lake in Dan's images was Travis Lake outside of Austin Texas. The incredible body in the water, glistening in the sun is Jody Clark, a personal trainer from Canada. I am not sure anyone could turn down a naked dip with Jody. Dan shares that Jody was great to work with, incredibly professional with a natural ability to play for the camera. They shot a second time in a studio when Jody was in San Diego.
For most kids, mysterious and enchanting perfectly describe their feelings about forests. Most of us were first educated about forests through books and nursery rhymes. Worlds filled with giants and witches, hobbits, dragons and magic. We got to know so many animals, Tigger and Pooh, Rupert the bear and those three other bears with Goldilocks. I think one of my favorite trips into the forest as a kid was the introduction of Mr. Tumnus in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Most of us have our own memories of summers in the forest. For me, it was venturing into spaces unknown while on camping trips with my family. Usually I had a towel wrapped around my neck, a hero's cape which protected me as I dashed through the forest jumping over logs and onto rocks following the lead that only my imagination could direct. It is through this enchanted lens that model and artist Stephan Tobias takes us into his own, personal and artistic enchanted forest.
I first introduced FH readers to Stephan's work last December with Opening A Tiny Window. Stephan has a passion for digital manipulation, a subject and technique he is aware can be a bit controversial, and not loved by all. For this series of shots, Stephen was the model and editor, the original images themselves were taken by photographer Pedro Arnay.
Pedro Arnay is a professional photographer from Madrid. With a Latin American background, he has specialised in taking pictures of ballet. Pedro contacted Stephan through Model Mayhem prior to planning a trip to Berlin. Pedro's idea was to shoot Stephan surrounded by the forest so when he and Stephan met up in Berlin, they went for a long walk through Grunewald Forest, not far from Stephan's apartment in the green South western part of Berlin. Pedro had agreed before hand to allow Stephan to use the images his own kind of artistic alterations.
'Although the images were fantastic on their own, I stil somehow felt it necessary to alter some by more or less subtly stretching the background. I have been working with this effect a lot recently, and still like it as it gives the pictures a bit of a subtle surrealistic effect. As there was enough material I decided to create a bigger series under the title "Enchanted Forest' that are featured here.'
'I have in mind to create another series based on these pictures with much further reching alterations. And if I can do it why not invite others to do the same. In the worst case I just will not have any cooperation, in the best case some interesting new pictures, hopefully with alterations I could not imagine myself. The digital world is about autism, but dialogue too. If and to what extent such digital manipulation is legitimate is a hot topic. I am in no way dogmatic about it. Some of my pictures are not digitally altered at all, some of them are distorted already at the moment of exposure, some of them are slightly improved, some are totally changed.'
'Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.'
Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man
'Playfully we find ourselves. Playfully we interact with others. Sex is play, and so is photography. So when Berni and Tom from Vienna came to couch surf with me last year, we played.'
With Enchanted Forest, Stephan Tobias acts as both model and editor. While putting together that feature last month, I thought it would be interesting to find a companion piece featuring his work as a photographer. With my summer theme starting to come together, this series of images fit the bill perfectly. I was not surprised when Stephen shared this series is one of the most popular on his flickr site.
I am not sure I could think of a more perfect summer day than on a boat, out on a lake, with a naked companion. I love how 'relaxed' Stephan's images are. The models, Berni and Tom seem completely comfortable and at ease. They seem to be enjoying their experience of being out on the lake and not posing as models for a shoot.
I love how Stephan in some cases shoots them from a distance, through tree's and from the shore. In those images, it is as if the photographer came upon Berni and Tom while strolling along the shore. In other images, the focus is more intimate, closer. In these images it feels as if the artist behind the lens is part of what's going on, a third passenger on board the day on the lake. For Stephan, the impetus for the shoot was play. Play is something I explore in many pieces on the blog. Play is slowly, but steadily disappearing in many parts of America. Play however, is something many in the rest of the world know is far too important to lose.
'Much philosophical thought has been applied to the phenomenon of play. And rightly so. Culture arises in the form of play. Play is at the origin of our creativity and a powerful source of happiness and improvement of mankind. And for me that concept of a Homo Ludens, man the player, much better than Homo Faber, the working man, represents what life should be all about.'
'Schlachtensee is one of those beautiful lakes in Grunewald, 25 minutes by bike from my apartment, and during the beautiful Berlin summers you can rent row boats there. It was fun to ride there through the forest by bicycle. Playfully we undressed on the boat. They dropped me on the shore a bit further down the lake and were happy to pose and follow my directions. Fortunately nudity is seen as something quite natural in liberal Berlin, so we didn't have to think much about the strollers on the shores all around. Maybe they even added to the attraction for this cute couple. It was a playful moment and an enchanted one.'