(All pics. snapped on 6/27/11)
I know this is gonna sound wimpy, but...after those last several shoots? I was definitely leaning towards doing something that might not put quite as many gray hairs on my head...
Whilst on the lookout for a less intimidating venue - I drove past a house (not far from where I live) with a yard that's been practically overtaken by the most fantastic expanse of bamboo. "Ah-ha!" I thought, "that's where I'll stage my next shoot!" My only dilemma was whether to do the right thing and ask the homeowners for permission...or park my car a short distance away, tuck myself deep inside of that massive tract of bamboo, snap some pics., and cross my fingers that I didn't get caught.
I did a couple of drive-by's, while trying to make up my mind - at which time I saw an old friend standing in front of the local, gourmet grocery. I parked my car and walked over to ask him if he happened to know the people who lived in the house with all of that glorious bamboo, and he did. Next I asked if they were nice folks (he said that they were), and if he thought the owners would be cool with me taking some pictures at their place, and he did. Righteous.
I went to the house and knocked on the door. A little girl answered, but she called for her grandfather to come out and talk to me. He was the sweetest man imaginable, no lie - and after explaining what it is that I do, and then asking if it would be all right for me to take some pictures in his bamboo forest - without hesitation he said, "Yes. That would be fine." SCORE! It was shaping up to be an even simpler shoot than I'd ever imagined it would be. That was, until I tried squeezing my body and all of my crap through the virtually impenetrable network of bamboo. I had to ditch my little table after only a few minutes - it simply would...not...fit between the rigid stalks of bamboo which grew so closely together.
I was also having trouble finding the perfect patch in which to photograph myself. Seemed there was always some sort of out building or fence or something in the background - detracting from the remote jungly feel that I was going for.
After snaking my way through the tangled mass - I found a 4' x 4' (if that) clearing (if you can call it that) and glory be - there was no sign of anything man-made, anywhere in the vicinity...well, except for the gravel road that was mere feet from where I'd decided to set up shop - but at least I didn't have to worry about it appearing in my pics., since my camera would be facing the opposite direction. I did however, have to worry about whether someone might see me naked and in the midst of my shoot - but whatever, I was too excited to give it much thought.
Before disrobing, I attached my camera to the handy gorillapod (that I've been relying on more and more, these days) and took a few test shots so that I'd know where to position myself. It was actually much better than the little table for this shoot, because I could fasten the camera at any height that I wanted, directly onto the bamboo. Next, I used the garden shears that I'd brought along with me, to snip off a few leafy fronds, and using a length of twine - I fashioned them into a skirt (ain't that cute?), drew black lines on my face and colored my lips, twisted fabric around my head like a turban, and then I got naked, tied the skirt around my waist - and finally started snappin' some pics..
Everything was going just as smoothly as I'd hoped, until the first car came down the gravel lane. I frantically threw on and zipped up my fleece, pulled my shorts on over top of the little skirt, being careful not to snap the delicate branches....and then ducked down and waited for the car to (hopefully) pass...I did this at least a half a dozen more times - which got kinda old, pretty fast. But what really got me in a bit of a tizz, was when I heard the nice man and his granddaughter approaching. The last thing in the world that I wanted, was for that sweet, innocent child to see me naked. CRIPES! Once again I got dressed in a super-hero hurry, and was presentable just as the two of them appeared...
We small-talked for awhile, both of them looking at me funny - as if they were thinking, "She's taking photos of herself looking like that? Weird." Picture the headdress and make-up, plus a black Land's End fleece, and a nasty pair of green velour shorts, with the fronds spilling over the waistband, and dangling out of the leg holes...made no sense.
As we stood there and talked, all of a sudden I could feel my skin in certain places begin to burn like the dickens! I could not figure out what on earth was going on. As soon as the man and his granddaughter were out of sight, I tore off my clothes to see what was the matter. Best I could tell, either the bamboo had some sort of toxic oil that burned my skin? Or I had friction burns from rubbing up against it so much.
This was what it looked like after showering and toweling off, later that night. Can you see how weepy that one spot is? I'm talkin' major burnage, yo...that mess really hoyt!
I decided that I'd had enough of putting my clothes on and taking them off over and over again, so I fought my way back to my little table - and moved all my stuff to a different place in the forest.
The new spot was perhaps even more ideal than the first one (if you can believe that), partly because it was isolated, but also because it was much easier to navigate - but besides that, it was beyond incredibly gorgeous! I did have to be mindful of keeping a board fence in the distance, out of the shots - by always shooting from down low, and angling my camera way up - while at the same time, trying to cram my whole self into each frame.
I swear I was like a child at a playground, after discovering that when I climbed up the stalks in this part of the "jungle", they would bend and sway with my weight. It was a bit tricky to get the camera placement right, since I always ended up in a completely different place than I started out...and even though I only got a few pictures that actually worked - the fun that I had more than made up for the moderately negligible returns...
In a lotta ways, this turned out to be the quintessential shoot. The setting was amazing, but I didn't have to poach (yea)...I was just anxious enough where things didn't feel too easy or blah...my body was fairly well wrecked when I was done (might sound cuckoo, but to me that can be a good thing)...and the ultimate reward? I wasn't unhappy with at least a few of the snaps.
So...THANK You - to the nice man for giving me the thumbs-up to shoot in his fabulous bamboo forest! I myself, give the entire bamboo experience - two big, enthusiastic thumbs up!