Happy V-Day!


From Paris with love.


this from artist Gail Schneider:

sculpture by Gail Schneider


these chocolate air stamps (LINK via artist  Darlene Altschul)


R e v e n g e … (at last!)

photo by Ellen von Unwerth

Ellen von Unwerth’s classic Revenge (Twin Palms) has been out of print for years. I first reported on it in July 2010 when the publisher informed me that Ellen was in the process of rescanning her negatives for this third edition.

Well  it was  a long wait but happily the, uh, spanking new, black casebound volume arrived the other day—appropriately devoid of dust jacket.

A former fashion model, Ms. von Unwerth turned the tables and has for years been situated comfortably behind the camera. Her tongue-in-cheek tale of revenge—(complete with text by Harland Miller in the style of Victorian sadomasochistic erotica)—might well have been concocted as payback. After all, fashion models must often perform arduous chores and endure abusive treatment.

The Baroness

The sadistic Baroness in this parable

“…assembled the girls into the radiator room so that they may witness one another’s punishments.”


Of course the photographer gets to have it both ways as she directs her lovely, nude damsels in distress. Fashion, albeit disheveled,  is certainly on display in a cinematic romp around a chateau in France.

Helmut Newton, an obvious influence,  inspired countless  s/m fashion spreads, but von Unwerth has a style all her own. Unlike Newton, these seductive black and white  photos rely on visual spontaneity, movement defined by provocative blurs, and a flirtatious wit.

Playful and naughty, Ellen von Unwerth’s Revenge is sweet. 




You can order the book on Amazon here.

Hidden Valley at Dusk

photo by Derek Pell


AKVIS MakeUp 2.0


You might not walk a mile for a Camel, but I think you’ll consider running to Russia for MakeUp. That is, the portrait retouching software from AKVISMakeUp 2.

Actually it’s closer than you think… only a mouse-click away.

Today there’s a lot of competition in the area of portrait retouching, but MakeUp has several things going for it: it’s fast, easy to use, and produces pleasing results. For anyone who doesn’t want to mess with multiple layers and complex image masks, this stand-alone little app is the ideal solution.

Here are a few screen-shots (click on images for a larger view):

Zoom Street Photo

Tweak settings via convenient slider bars.

Zoom Street Photo

There are many built-in presets that will help you achieve the look you’re after.

Zoom Street Photo

Once you’ve nailed down the lighting and skin tones, you can finish up the image with a few post-production tools.

Zoom Street Photo

Above is the History Brush tool for restoring areas to their original state.


There’s also a handy Spot Remover for erasing dust, scratches, and stains.

After tinkering with parameters you can save a custom look as a preset so it’s available whenever you want. MakeUp can also perform batch processing operations for applying effects to multiple photos.

You can download a FREE trial of MakeUp here. From Russia with love, of course.


The photo below was retouched in MakeUp and then treated to a black and white (“Noir #3”) conversion in Nik Silver Effects. Although AKVIS has a basic black and white preset, I prefer to use Nik’s dedicated plug-in when making monochrome conversions.

photo by Derek Pell



If Looks Could Kill…


Nina Burleigh’s seductive new book, The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox (Broadway Books), details the murder of Meredith Kercher, a twenty-one-year-old British student in Perugia, Italy on November 1, 2007.

The author paints a noirish portrait of Perugia, an ancient town”…filled with relics of medieval sorcery, with many dark nooks, dead-end-lanes, shadows, and streets named after the witch, the moon, the cross, the thorn.” Its dark pagan roots and deep Catholicism make it an ideal backdrop for an Umberto Eco-esque danse macabre.

Burleigh captures the cast of characters with deft brush strokes, while weaving  history and myth through her narrative of the crime and it’s slipshod investigation. The police procedures bring to mind the O.J. Simpson investigation. But unlike that case, the evidence and motives here are far more illusive. While the behavior of Amanda Knox was bizarre in the aftermath of her roommate’s murder, there is no physical evidence linking her to the crime scene. There are, instead, vibrations and superstitions, rumors, resentments, and innuendoes suggesting  this Madonna-like beauty masks the face of a maniacal witch…a “she-devil.”  This proved enough to convict her, along with her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito,. [A third man, Rudy Hermann Guede, was also convicted in separate proceedings.]

Fitting, I suppose, that the prosecutor in the case is a man obsessed with conspiracy theories.

The Fatal Gift of Beauty is destined to be a “true crime” classic.


Click here to order it on Amazon.






Boudnoir Photography


I’m working on a new genre that combines boudoir photography and film noir lighting. I call it boudnoir.

photo by Derek Pell photo by Derek Pell
photo by Derek Pell photo by Derek Pell

More soon.


Gobble, Quack, & Cackle

photo by Derek Pell

No quacks yesterday, but a gaggle of gobblers appeared. Indeed, one wild turkey headed my way as if he wanted his picture taken.

photo by Derek Pell

My wife assures me wild turkeys are a rare sight, even in this neck of the woods.

What’s not so rare, however, are deer… they’re a dime a dozen up here.

photo by Derek Pell

photo by Derek Pell

Come dusk, you’ll find them grazing on the golf course.


Ahh, the doe days of August.


*Thanks to Dylan Thomas for the title