Sunday, December 31, 2006
My daughter Marjorie graduated from high school, and is attending Northern Michigan University as an Arts and Design major. I'm immensely proud of her and the photography that she has been doing. I'd like to think that I have had something to do with it. We have gone on many trips around the state in her pursuit of old theaters, and she has only a handful left to photograph. Hopefully, she'll do something wonderful, like write a book with those images.
My wife Adrienne has been very supportive in my photographic endeavors, and I know she has probably felt like a camera widow at times. But, I couldn't do any of this with her doing all the things that she does. She's my biggest fan and an honest critic.
Throughout the year, I have made many new contacts and I would especially like to thank Mike, Matt, Ross, Erich, John, Sam, Andrea, Kate, Doug, Cynthia, Sid, and Abby for their friendship and good humor. It's amazing how a circle of friends can grow when certain interests are shared, and photography and the arts in this corner of Michigan is alive and well.
Lastly, I'd like to list the top 5 local photographic events:
(1) Edward Weston exhbit in Muskegon (fabululous)
(2) UMMA Photographic retropsective (amazing)
(3) Michigan's Family Album exhibit in Lansing (overwhelming)
(4) Ansel Adams Polaroid exhibit in Grand Rapids (surprising)
(5) Annie Liebowitz at the DIA (even tho I missed it-- I heard it was great)
One month from tomorrow, I'll be having an exhibit of my own... stay tuned.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Today started out with some decent fog, so I got my gear together and rushed over to West Park, where some infamous, gnarly old willow trees reside. The fog was not thick everywhere, and by the time I got to the park, it certainly wasn't ideal, but it was there. I hauled out my Pentax 6x7 and my Coolpix 995, and shot a roll of b&w film, and a few digital shots, as I figured I may as well since I drove over. The digicam shots didn't look too bad, and I'll see how the roll of film came out later on.
It's been a fun week away from work. While I have not been doing anything really exciting (not counting the trip to Detroit to see Spamalot!), I have been able to spend some quality darkroom time and get organized.
Happy New Year to you all!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
If you have been following my photostream on Flickr, you probably have seen a few recent images taken with my Aiptek MegaCam - a 1.2 MP digicam that is a bit over an inch square and a hair over 3" tall. It's called a pencam, due to its shape. Now normally, I like to get as many megapixels out of a camera as possible. My first digicam was a Logitech Photoman - a b&w digicam with an image size of about 490 x 360 pixels. At the time (mid 1990s), I thought it was amazing (and of course, had I been serious about photography, I would have dismissed it). My next digicam was an Apple Quicktake 200, which produced 640x480 color images that were actually of decent quality. Still, though, it was pretty low-res, but not bad for web stuff.
Since then, I have used increasingly complex digital cameras, and my current digital SLR is a Nikon D70s. It's an amazing camera, and pretty much does whatever I want, except shoot b&w film, but that's another story. Anyway, I have been doing a lot of "toy camera" film photography in the past few years, and recently became curious about those bottom-feeding digital cameras, the 10-dollar keychain cameras. I then saw a reference to the Aiptek PenCam, which is selling for 9 dollars (!!) as a refurb unit online. DIGITAL VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY "On the Cheap" has a nice review of cheap pen-cam style cameras, and trying to use them with the Mac OS. Of course, ideally i'd like to be able to use this camera with my Mac, but since i have a Dell laptop, I can email the images to myself, etc., if I need to.
I bought the Aiptek MegaCam a few weeks ago, and for a cheap little 1.2 MP camera that's not much bigger than a cigarette lighter, I am very impressed. It's got some quirks, but if used within its limitations, it takes pretty good snapshots for web use, and the colors are saturated. It's my digital Toy Camera, since I have no idea what my results are until I upload the images to my computer.
Definitely a fun toy, and at the price they are selling for online, I can see someone buying them as party gifts!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday night was the monthly Flickr Meetup for Ann Arbor Flickr people (if you have no idea what I am writing about, Flickr isn't just a photo-sharing site, it has become a social phenomenon). This month, we met at Leopold Brothers' brewpub on North main Street. Since it was the end of the school year, close to Christmas and other holidays, the pub was not as terribly busy as it was the last time we met there. Most of the ardent flickr people were present, and some new faces (though long present on Flickr) were in attendance. Almost everyone was shooting digital, but Ross, Jon, and I were shooting film. Nothing captures a pub atmosphere as well as good old monochrome film.
Technical details - Nikon N6006, 50mm 1.8 Nikkor AFD lens, Eastman 5222 developed in Diafine, shot at an ISO of 400.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Last Thursday evening, my wife Adrienne and I joined a bunch of her co-workers at Aubrey's Saloon in Ypsilanti's Depot Town. I brought my bag with a couple of toy cameras to do some shooting later on, since I had yet to do my night photography assigment for the Ann Arbor Krappy Kamera Club. We had some beer and food, and said our goodbyes, and I went back to the car for my tripod. There is a really neat alley/park that looked good in the night light, so I set up my Holga and took one time exposure. Right afterwards, David, Will, and Connie came around the corner, heading for the parking lot. Will was dressed as Saint Nick from the party earlier in the day, and as I saw him there in the alley, I told everyone to get out of the way and for St. Nick (I mean Will) to freeze. I opened the shutter for about 10-12 seconds, and that was it. I had no idea what to expect on the film. That night, I developed the film, and it wasn't until I scanned in the negative the next morning that I realized that I had indeed, captured Father Christmas in a sort of timeless, ambiguous image. It's not really a posed image, because I never expected Will at that spot, but I was prepared, which was a good thing. I'm sure I can improve on this image, but I think the spontaneity and charm might be lost were I to do it with a plan in mind.
I shot the rest of the roll and none of my remaining images were as interesting as the one above.
Monday, December 11, 2006
In this instance, I realized on Saturday that two old Cape-Cod style houses on Packard looked to be slated for demolition any day. I stopped by Sunday and took a few cameras, and took a few photos...
It's a shame that these two interesting houses were let go for so long. I'm sure they were built in the 1930s -40s. People lived there and watched the neighborhood expand around them. Now, after having been vacant and unloved for several years, crews came in and took out all the trees and shrubs, and I am betting that the houses will be gone this week and replaced by who knows what.
From a photographers's view, these houses are rich in texture, and the Techpan film really captured them. Stark.
Nikon FM with 28mm lens, Techpan rated at ISO 25 and developed in Technidol LC.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I went there last night with Adrienne and some of my local photography buddies, and it was an enjoyable hour looking over Kenna's images. The industrial landscapes, often abstract, sometimes grand, and sometimes peotic depictions of industry, are truly wonderful. Deep luminous blacks, great tonal scale, and intimate print sizes (I think no larger than 6 x8") invite the viewer to get close and examine the details, or to just step back and see the abstract shapes of the complex. Smokestacks with vaporous apparitions, repeating shapes, nocturnal ghostliness, and beautiful reflections on water provide an amazing array of superb photography. Most of the prints appear square, so of course, we photographers were wondering about the negative format, and we still are curious as to why they were all labelled as "Sepia toned" when at least to our eyes, they had the look of split-toned images or Selenium. I may just have to ask the curator.
I like the look of this off-site gallery. For one, it's a nice space for photographic exhibits, as showcased by this extensive showing of Kenna's Rouge series of images. It's intimate enough to feel like a small gallery, but large enough to really have a decent-sized show. It's also flexible in regards to partitions, so viewers don't feel like they are in a cavernous space like the main gallery in the UMMA.
If you have a chance to see the Kenna exhibit, you should go (it's also free). Not only is it of regional interest, but it's just wonderful photography that is well-presented. See the UMMA web site for times, but the exhibit runs from Dec. 2 to January 14.
Monday, December 04, 2006
This is the "Champagne" version -- a little sexier than the more common black and silver model. Original price was about $15, this one was $5 + shlepping. Not as pristine as I had hoped, but I'll see what kind of shooter it is. It does have Bulb setting as well as a tripod socket... so fun will ensue. It came with a finished roll of Kodacolor II. Not sure if it'll be worth developing, though. I have been wanting one of these for a while, and if memory serves me right, one of my vintage camera buddies had great success with his. Now I need to get the black and silver one, too.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I was walking near the Kerrytown part of Ann Arbor on a sunny day (rare this fall) a few months ago. I walked past some metal sunshade umbrellas and saw this abstraction. I had my Holga with me, and took one shot. Never thought much about it. Last night I finally printed the negative and was blown away by the image. Had I really taken that? In this case, the b&w image was far better than I had seen with the camera, and I'm quite pleased with how it came out on paper. It reminds me of some of Laszlo Maholy-Nagy's and Man Ray's high-contrast abtracts.
I have been struggling in the darkroom for the past few times this week, trying to get back into printing, which I hadn't done for a few months. Getting the "feel" back, and getting good prints made, took me a few nights, and last night I went to bed happy with my efforts. I need to make a bunch more prints for my show, and I hope I'm as satisfied with them as I am this one.
Technical details: camera - Holga. Arista.edu 400 film, printed on Ilford Multigrade FB paper, Ilford Warmtone developer.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I shot my first photos with a medium-format camera, a quite crappy Spartus Full-View with a roll of quite good Ilford Delta 100 film. This is the house at Cobblestone Farm in Ann Arbor, one of my favorite places to test out a new camera. I have been leafing through my binders filled with med format negs, to determine which ones I'm printing for my upcoming show. Of course, I'm just using toy camera images, not the "good"cameras. I'm still amazed at how many rolls of film I have shot in 6 years.
This image probably will not end up in the show, but I think I am printing it tonight, if just to see what a real print from it will look like. Note the lens aberrations... definitely a Crappy Camera!
As I look back on my experience, it's hard to believe I only started shooting with toy cameras, etc. 6 years ago, and this roll is the first one that I shot. Sometimes one gets lucky.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It's been a good year for photographic books, and my favorite book this year is Plastic Cameras by Michelle Bates. This 228-page book published by Focal Press (ISBN 0-240-80840-1) is an excellent guide to the history of toy camera photography, with many prime examples of photographic excellence by other photographers (some of whom are on Flickr). Plastic Cameras also has chapters on how to use the Holga, how to modify it, and tips for shooting. It also has an index! I like the way this book inspires me to try some things out, and I believe that Plastic Cameras is a must-have for anyone using toy cameras, or if you want to inspire someone else to try them. Obviously, available at discount from Amazon.com.
Of course, to go with the book, you might need a Holga camera. In Ann Arbor, Big George's Home Appliance Mart on Stadium Blvd. has them - Mike Myers tells me it's the best-selling FILM camera in the store. Otherwise, get online to Freestyle and buy a Holga there. Don't forget 120 400-speed film. Arista.edu 400 from Freestyle is a wonderful bargain at less than $2 roll. Of course, if you can't develop your own B&W, I suggest Ilford XP-2 in 120 format which is a C-41 process film. For color, any 400 iso film will do.
There -- all your shopping done for less than $60. Don't forget a card. You can buy mine online at Cafe Press. I'll thank you for that -- and, don't forget a mug or other item for the non-photographer!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
This is the basic TLR from Yashica, and it was produced from 1958-1969. So, at minimum, this camera is 36 years old. It works as well as the day it was sold... something that you won't see in cameras being produced today - especially after 36 years.
I put a roll of Arista Ultra 100 (becoming a favorite film - available from Freestyle) and did some shooting around campus last Wednesday. I wasn't disappointed with the results, and will shoot with it again this week -- if the weather is decent.
Here is a good source of YashicaMat information
One shot from last week - scanned and duotoned in PS:
Friday, November 10, 2006
My only problem is that the hole for the part that housed the lens is a small circular opening, and I had to file away some of the opening, but not so much that I could not use the sliding lens cover as a shutter for the pinhole. As a result, my images are circular, but overall, it was a pretty easy conversion. I used Delta 400 film and exposed the shots at somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds.
I took the camera out to Matthaei Botanical gardens and shot a roll in the conservatory. I like the way this giant agave looks like a more diminutive spider plant!
Monday, November 06, 2006
It will be especially interesting to play with the 828 and 127 film. There were some funky brands in there that have not been seen in a while, and I'll just keep those as examples. Anscopan, Ideal and Perutz film. The Ideal was made by Agfa, and has the Kryptar name on the roll. Sounds like it came from Superman's home planet...
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
We had a great time with her, and drove over to Republic, Iron Mountain and Crystal Falls on Friday-- shot lots of photos along the way. Saturday dawned stormy, with hail and amazing winds. The Superior lakeshore was whipped into a frenzy of crashing waves and huge swells. We stood on the "Black Rocks" of Presque Isle and shot photos of the awesome power of Lake Supeior. I shot film, Marjorie went digital. It was all we could do to stand there and take photos.
Sunday, we climbed Sugarloaf Mountain on a very crisp but sunny morning (something that has been quite rare down around Ann Arbor this fall), and the view was excellent. We could see the waves -- albeit smaller trhan the previous day, but they were still impressive.
It was a good weekend visiting our daughter, and it was nice meeting her friends. I'm envious that she has such awesome scenery just a few miles from her campus.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Saturday was cool and cloudy, and all of the presentations were at the George Eastman House (GEH), the premier center for photographic history. The first talk of the day was on the history of digital photography -- it was by far, one of the best presentations that day, and also very informative. The rest of the presentations were certainly informative, and like all symposiums, the quality of the presentations varied. There are clearly some amazingly knowledgeable people out there, and I came away with a head full of new facts and ideas.
some nice colorful Brownie Starflash cameras at GEH.
I didn't get too much time to fully explore the GEH, except for the newest exhibits and the gift shop -- which was damned good for a lover of things photographic. Of course, what I really would have liked to have seen is a Kodak Factory Outlet store! I did pick up some nice books, and a GEH hat. They had a lot of goofy plastic cameras there, including the Holga and the Lomo Fisheye. Oh yes, I did try out the real photo booth -- and didn't realize that everything started as soon as I put the money in... it was laugh, though.
Gift Shop Cameras
The camera trade show was Sunday, I was there for a couple of hours -- it was great to see new "junk" that I had not seen before. That's the trouble with going to local camer shows year after year, so a new place was refreshing. I didn't buy too much because I just didn't have the money, but it was fun looking. (I'd also like to know where in hell some of these people get their prices...)
Trade Show sample
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Since I'll probably be attending a lot of the presentations, I won't have too much time for wandering around -- though a George Eastman House visit is much anticipated. Consequently, I'm going light with the camera gear this time -- A Holga, Nikon Coolpix 995, and my Nikon N80. B&W film, a couple of filters, and a flash for the Holga. Memory cards and spare Li-on battery packs for the coolpix. Yes, I could have packed the D70 and that could have been it, but it seems only fitting that I shoot film in the place where the US film industry started. I'll use the coolpix for displays and at the trade show.
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
I put a cassette of Ektachrome 200 ED in my Nikon 8008 - back in August, and finally got it processed last week. The color palette of slide film is so different from digital. The ED200 isn't as fine-grained as the 100, or even Kodachrome 64. But -- it has a depth and pleasing appearance that digital just does not have - yet.
I have a roll of really old Kodachrome 25 in my Nikkormat. I shot some not so long ago, and the color looked great for 25 year old film!
With scanners being so cheap today -- transparency film is a blast - especially with medium format cameras. It really is much easier than the old days when one had to get an internegative made from a slide if you wanted prints. Now - just scan and you are good to go.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I am always amazed every time I get a roll of nice images from these cameras, but maybe by now I shouldn't be. They have attained a semblance of cult status among certain types of photographers, and given that they sell so cheaply and produce such decent results, I am amazed that the prices haven't gone up. However, Kodak made a bazillion of them, so there is a huge supply of them out there (unlike the Diana cameras, which now go for as much as $75).
If you want to try something a little different, get yourself a BHF. Make sure that you have a 620 takeup spool for your 120 film, and if you are not developing your own film, remember to ask the lab to return your spool.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I followed with a demo on mounting and matting using both archival methods, and the dry-mount press. We had planned on watching the movie "Pecker", but it was getting late. It certainly was a fun evening, meeting some new people, as well as meeting some people for the first time that I have "known" on Flickr for quite a while.
Erin (e50e on Flickr) was having a great time shooting some of my old cameras with her Holgaroid -- which was also a very interesting camera on its own! Presented below is one of her very cool images from Flickr of my Crest 120 camera:
It will be interesting to see how this group goes- having been involved with it from the start -- I'm optimistc that we will have a going concern of people that enjoy using and producing some real fine photographs with these crappy cameras.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
By the way, I was there for a little over an hour, and shot about 200 digital color images, and 45 black and white film images with my Mamyia 645E. I love those larger negatives, as the photo here illustrates very well.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Of all of the places I have been in Michigan, the time I spent as a researcher at Ives Lake remain some of my best memories. The quiet lake with it silence punctuated by the loon calls, is a place that I have been priviledged to stay at. I may never have a chance to go back, and there are some shots that I know would be an improvement over the ones I took back in the 1980s and early 90s. The Stone House is an amazing structure, built by Longyear around 1910 or so.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
The beauty of going somewhere without a plan -- other than to be flexible-- is that you see things. See a cool barn? Stop along the road and take some photos. See a neat little store? Stop and go inside. It's likely that you will find something that appeals to your interests on such a trip. I hate to use a cliche title from a book, but "The Journey Is the Reward" is appropriate in this case.
I used to be rather introverted, not talking to people, and believe it or not -- shy. Becoming a photographer changed a lot of that. Of course, I hate the typical... "are ya taking piktures?" but the camera has often become an introduction into what I do, and sometimes, talking to someone for 5 minutes will give me more information on a place than I could have ever found out on my own. For instance, earlier this summer, we stopped at a small place called Montague. There was a sign for an old drugstore still hanging at the entrance to what looked like an old-fashioned place that had a real old-time soda fountain. I told my daughter we should go in and get something. As the woman that served us made our chocolate malts, she told me that her father had owned that drugstore for many years, and had to sell off most of it to have money to pay for the care of his ailing wife. The duaghter owns a part of the building, and she's operating the section that was the original soda fountain -- everything there was vintage 1940s-50s green and chrome. She buys parts on eBay. I never would have known all of that if we hadn't talked. Of course, the malteds were good, and only after we got in the car did I realize that I had spilled some all over the front of my shirt...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The cards are real photos (not ink-jet crap), and come with matching 5x7 envelopes and are packaged in a mylar envelope. Obviously, they can be framed as is, or used as blank greeting cards.
I guess my next move is to see if I can find some local outlets for them. I feel they are as good, if not better, than some of the other photo cards I have seen out there. If you are interested in purchasing some, just because you are a reader of my blog... 3 cards for $10, which includes postage. You can pay me via paypal.
The catalog is here
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
We did almost 900 miles on our trip, and in 3 weeks, Marjorie starts college. So, this trip was extra special for me.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I'm not one to go shooting with a crowd, but in this instance, it forced me to come up with some subjects in a short time. Afterwards, we met at the Corner Brewery in Ypsi, which is quickly becoming a favorite place to meet and have a beer.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Friday, July 21, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I have read Adams' book on using Polaroid materials, but did not realize that many of his highly-regarded works of later years were produced with the Positive/Negative B&W Polaroid films. That was a new revelation for me. In addition, there are many works by Adams that Edwin land purchased from him -- BIG prints that probably graced his offices at one time. It's a really fine exhibit that includes color SX-70 images, as well the b&w works. It certainly should not be missed by Polaroid devotees, nor by lovers of AA's work. The exhibit runs from June 23 - August 27 of this year.
Another exhibit running concurrently is that of Architectural Photography by Hedrich Blessing Studio -- "Building Images: Seventy years of photography at Hedrich Blessing." There are some amazing examples of fine architectural photography from this Chicago firm. Definitely another must-see!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Third time is a charm... there was nobody there -- the air was still, a mist hovered over the falls, and the sun was not shining on my subject. Perfect. I was able to spend over an hout there shooting away until, satiated, I packed up my gear and headed back down the trail. Only then did I meet a couple on their way in. 1.5 hrs alone at a waterfall - ideal conditions -- perfect. nirvana. I had fun. I shot dozens and dozens of digital images and finished off 2 rolls 35mm film.
Did I say that I had fun?
Saturday, July 01, 2006
In 2003, we went to New Mexico -- I took my Pentax 6x7, Kiev 60, several manual Nikons, Contax G1, a Holga, Argus C-3, and a little Rollei 35. My most memorable photos were taken at Ranchos de Taos with the Holga and the Argus.
So, I am traveling relatively light this time -- Nikon D70s with the 18-70mm lens, my 70-180 micro Nikkor, 50mm 1.8 AFD. In the other bag, I'll have my Nikon N8008, 28-70 Tamron lens, 70-200 Nikon tele, lensbaby, and 19mm Vivitar. In another bag-- A Diana, a Holga, some 35mm plastic cameras, and an Olympus XA.
This may seem like overkill, but I really like b&w shot on real film. I hate desaturating a color image to make it b&w. So, the N8008 will shoot b&w film. The Diana might get some Provia slide film if I see some colorful stuff.
Oh I forgot the Polaroid.... that's coming along too. There's nothing like it.
I'm sure someone out there is thinking I have way too much stuff. Maybe I do. But you know what? If I left the 70-180 micro-nikkor at home, I'd be kicking myself when I wanted to shoot some butterflies or dragonflies. Like anything -- the right tools make the job easier.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Richard D. Alexander is an amazing man. I have known him for 25 years, and am pleased to have him as a friend, mentor, and a former boss at the museum. He's not pretentious - he's a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has won their highest award, been recognized as a top faculty member at UM, and other accolades. He's one of the great minds that have tackled thorny issues in evolution and human behavior. Yet, at heart, he's still an Illinois farm boy with an amazing breadth of talent in so many things - music, art, literature, science, horsemanship, farming, telling stories, and a good human being. He retired in 2001, and since then has written at least 4 books. Some of his material can be seen at www.woodlanefarm.com.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Anyhow, we arrived at Dexter and got to the old train depot about 2 minutes ahead of a Conrail train, which was a pleasant surprise. Took a few train pics, and then we shot film of the depot, some renovated buildings nearby, and the Dexter Mill. I used my Nikon, Holga, and Polaroid, and Marjories used her Hasselblad and digicam and Holga. We then drove through Dexter to Issland Lake Road, then Dexter Twon Hall Road, Tiplady Road, ending up on Gregory. We then took Gregroy road and some other roads, ending up in Mason. We spent a few hours there shooting photos of the town, and visited a real nice assemblage of antique stores. I ended up buying a Tower 50 camera for $10. It's a 1953 era 35mm camera. I put a roll of b&w film in it today and will test it out.
We drove back on M36 to M52 to Jackson Road and home. Not bad for an afternoon, and a good Father's Day.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I haven't been by there since then, and I do hope they are successful in getting things going. We need more people like those in the Frog Island Brewery to operate locally-owned small businesses in places like Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. They are willing to take the risk -- our cities should be helping them as much as possible.
I still haven't developed the film from the Mamiya. This shot was taken with a Vivitar plastic 35mm camera that I bought in a junk store for a buck. The film is Lucky 400. I hope those guys are lucky, too.