Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I recently acquired one of them from the estate of my departed friend, George O'Neal. This camera, the Kodak Medalist II, is a metal-bodied medium format rangefinder camera that makes 6x9cm negatives on 620 film.
The Medalist II was produced by Kodak from 1946 to 1953, and was intended as a "pro" camera. There are a additional backs that can be used with the camera, allowing one to do close-ups using the backs and sheet film. The shutter ranges from B to 1/400 sec., plenty fast enough for most uses. The Medalist II also has a flash-synch using the Kodak post and not a PC connector (which is unfortunate). The lens turns out with a large helical that when fully retracted, locks the shutter release. The film automatically stops and the shutter cocked when the film is advanced via the winder (but you need to use the read window to start at 1). The rangefinder window is somewhat puny, but it does work, and there is also a dial readout on the top deck of the camera to show the distance and depth of field. The 100mm f 3.5 Ektar lens is highly-regarded and the out-of focus areas are smooth.
I took the camera out yesterday to give it a try in the conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. As it was my first time with this camera, I didn't expect every image to stand out, and for the most part, I am very happy with the camera. I look forward to giving it more of a workout soon.
A later image made on Kodak Gold 200 (620) from the UK:
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I love this -- the perfect anti-techno gift with unlimited creative potential. Better than tinkertoys, erector sets, and the chemistry set. And, unlike the Red Ryder BB gun, I won't shoot my eye out. But, I'll be shooting film, and that's what I am going to do this afternoon. Have a nice holiday, in whatever way you celebrate it.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
In 1954, Geiss-America Corp. designed a lens mount to retrofit the C-4 to accept a series of lenses imported from Enna-Werke in Germany. As far as bargains go, the $10 charged by dealers to have the mount added to the C-4 by Geiss was amazing. It only was available for 2 years, from 1954-56, after which the C-44 appeared with its interchangeable (and inferior) lens system.
As much as I would have liked to have acquired a Geiss-C-4 a few years ago, I know I wouldn't use it much, even though it is a pretty nice system, so I didn't even consider acquiring it for myself from George's estate. It will be interesting to see how high this outfit goes for on ebay.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I pulled out my little Canon A570 and shot this photo of Bob Chase while not looking through anything, and fixed it up in Picassa a bit. Anyhow, this isn't the first time I have been followed around by an Ann Arbor News photographer, and it will be interesting see what the article says and what image the editor decides to use.
I find it interesting that some people feel that the Internet creates recluses -- but so far, in my experience, it has opened up new avenues, and provided me with new friends that I have often met in person. The web is an amazing vehicle for social networking, and I have made many good friends via Flickr.
Edit: 12/24/2007 --- You can find the AA News article here: http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2007/12/making_connections_the_lure_of.html
Monday, November 26, 2007
This is THAT time of year. Unlike the stores, I do not get into Christmas mode back in September. In fact, if it were up to me, I'd pass a law that said no x-mas songs, etc. until AFTER Thanksgiving (like it was in my youth). So, in the holiday spirit, I am encouraging you to go forth and spend money that you probably don't have.
You know, I'm as cheap as they come when it comes to buying things. However, there's cheap and there's frugal, so I am more likely to be frugal when possible. I always want to get a good deal AND not go to Wal-Mart, so therefore internet shopping is my mall. Unless you live in a cave somewhere, you also know that most photographic items are expensive -- Especially if they involve anything with a computer chip inside. Well, shoppers, I have put together a motley selection of gifts for the photographer. Not for me, mind you. I already have these things, and I'm trying to be helpful here. They are either Mark-tested or friend-tested, and therefore, not by a shill for some photographic magazine. These gifts are also not something you can buy at your local stores, so I will provide you with the appropriate web links.
First on my list for the good girls and boys is a film-based camera, the Diana +, from the crazy-ass folks at Lomography. I have not personally used this camera, but I have several friends on Flickr that have, and I say that even at $50, this camera could be one of the best things to have become available for toy camera shooters. An improved version of the old plastic Diana, it also has a PINHOLE mode. Wow! See one of Becky Pendel's shots made in that mode. You can buy the camera from The Lomographic Society, but you know, I prefer to shop at a place that isn't so crazy, so you can buy it at B&H Photo for the same price without the crazy navigation.
Second -- You like Nikons? You like T-shirts? Then try this one on, because you can't find another like it except at my Cafe Press store! Less than 12 bucks if you buy the cheapie one, which I find is just fine. There is also a ladies' version.
Third -- A year's subscription to Lenswork magazine. Quite possibly the most interesting photography magazine out there. No equipment reviews or any such thing. Wonderful portfolios by people like you and me. I believe Stieglitz would be a subscriber to this one. You can even buy the entire 56 issues on CD if you are really feeling generous.
Fourth -- The Gorillapod by Joby. This funky bendable tripod can also be used to attach remote flashes to objects, so the small sizes would be perfect for that. Nothing smaller than the largest size for an SLR. For under 50 bucks, this is a great item for any photographer. Works well with the Diana+ above. You can find this item at most online photostores, and maybe your local store, too.
Fifth -- Okay, this one is really a bit over 50 dollars, but if you use a Windows-based OS on your computer, you should buy Paint Shop Prop Photo X2 from Corel. At about $60 for an upgrade, it has features that made me an instant fan, plus they have a promotion that ends up with you getting a $50 VISA gift card if you buy the full box version for $99. I like it so much, I just bought a PC in addition to my Mac so I can use this program for photo editing. I have been using Macs since they came out, so you know if there were a Mac version, I would be oh so happy...
Last -- If you want to make a film-using photographer happy, go thee to the Freestyle site and buy some things! This is my favorite place to go, and believe me, they cater to the photographic community.
Have fun, and remember don't drink and do online shopping.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The other half of the equation is the really nice Canon software. It is easy to use, puts new images in folders by date, and allows me to edit and do some simple things with the Canon software, or go into Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 as my editor. By the way, if one program can make me purchase a PC over a Mac, PSP X2 is it. I love its feature set, and it makes a lot of things a one-click option to accomplish... such as putting a border around an image. It's on my Dell Laptop, and I wish there was a Mac version to run on my Mac mini... which I just replaced the hard disk within. That was not as hard as I thought it would be, but I still ended up reinstalling the system and some applications. My old disk was fried, for sure -- but I did have all my apps and files backed up.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Torontonians at the tracks
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.
It was quite a while back that I encountered Barb Dingwall (highwaygirl67) on Flickr. Her photos are of course, interesting and sometimes a bit mind-bending, but always done with purpose and I believe with some of that renowned Canadian sense of humor. Last month I mentioned to her on Flickr that she should paw through the camera remainders in my garage if she ever got out of Toronto and came through Ann Arbor. Well, it so turns out that she was ready for a break from Canada, and she and her friend Petra arrived in Ann Arbor Friday evening.
They stayed close-by, and walked over to my house Saturday morning, whereupon I drove us to Ypsilanti for some shooting. I chose Ypsi first, as it's a delightful place to walk around in the Depot Town area, and there are lots of interesting photographic opportunities in a small area.
After shooting in Ypsi, we went back into Ann Arbor, and had lunch at Grizzly Peak (Petra's excellent suggestion), and then did some photo-exploring downtown and over the other side of Main St. into the Ashley/Miller area. We dropped in on Ross Orr (voxphoto), and he joined up with us a little later and led us through some interesting parts of Island Park.
Later in the evening, Ross joined us for dinner at my place. I had a devious plan to ply Barb with wine so she would take back a bunch of cameras to Canada, and not realize just how many she was taking! It worked well, as I think I filled a shopping bag for her.
Sunday was time to return to Standard Time, which was good, as I needed that extra hour of sleep. Barb and Petra drove over and we went to Matthaei Botanical Gardens. It was Adrienne's weekend to work, so it was nice to see my wife's handiwork with the beautiful mum display and tell her while she was there how great it is. Afterwards, the three of us headed over for coffee and food at the Moonwink Cafe in Dixboro Rd. right next to the Dixboro School, another fun place to shoot. Then, it was off to Parker Mill, and after that, Dexter, where we visited some of my favorite spots to photograph. Barb and Petra left for Toronto right after we returned to Ann Arbor, and I hope they enjoyed some of the places that we visited. The two of them were great companions and we certainly had some good laughs.
What I really enjoyed was meeting the person behind the Flickr avatar, and Barb was every bit as interesting as I thought she would be. She is a thoughtful, funny, and knowledgeable photographer, and I hope to get over to Toronto sometime so she can return the favor of being a guide and shooting buddy.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The day before that, Dennis accompanied me to Historic Fort Wayne, just S of Detroit, where we met up with Ralph and wandered around taking shots (mostly with toy cameras) of some interesting dilapidation at the fort. Things are improving there, but nonetheless, the crumbling buildings are interesting material.
Finally, this past weekend, Adrienne and I drove to Marquette to see our daughter, Marjorie, and partake in a Parents' Weekend at NMU. I'll blog that separately.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Walking home from work yesterday, I saw that a lot of the leaves had big drops of water from the rain earlier in the day. It was gray, windy, and cold, but such little pieces of beauty warmed me up inside. Find some beauty on your gray day.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
As I have had the bulk of the stuff in my garage, I have been able to sort through it and price the nicer items that we will be selling. Ross Orr came over last Sunday and helped out with that, so the SLRs and 35mm rangefinder cameras are set. Speaking of rangefinders, it was fun to look at them again, and see how nice some of them really are. Here are a few examples:
The Ciro 35 Model S. An American-made 35mm camera, from Ciro Cameras, Inc. , Delaware, OH, 1949-1954. Not a particularly exemplary camera, but it does have a rangefinder. Value - $20 - $50.
Konica II - 1951 all-manual rangefinder 35mm camera; 1 - 1/500 sec shutter, 50mm f/2.8 lens. Compact, all metal camera with a nice Hexanon lens. Value-- $80-$120. It's a beauty of a camera.
Yashica YK --1959 Japanese rangefinder, Yashinon f/2.8 45mm lens, 1/25-1/300 shutter. No meter.
Petri 1.9 Color Super -- An all-manual rangefinder camera from 1960. This one, unlike many Petri cameras, seems to work just fine. And, it is a pretty one!
And the nicest one of the bunch, as far as I see:
Futura S -- An incredibly cool rangefinder camera from Futura Kamerawerk, Freiberg, Germany. 1952-55. Synchro-Compur shutter, B-1/500, coupled RF, f/2.0, 50mm lens. This one is a beauty and I knew I better photograph it, as I am sure I'll never see another!
It's plain to see, just from these few examples, how much better the Japanese and German-produced rangefinders were compared to American-made counterparts from the same era. Why buy an Argus C-3 when you can have a camera with more features, better appearance, ergonomics and lenses? And for not much difference in price? Even my lovely Argus C-4 pales in comparison to the Konica II. That Futura-S is just beautiful.
Friday, October 05, 2007
an optical viewfinder
decent array of controls
moderate zoom range
runs on AA batteries
good-sized LCD display
less than $200
Nikon eliminated the optical VF from their coolpix line, so they were out. After looking at other cameras and reading many reviews, I came to the conclusion that the Canon Powershot A-series cameras were my best bet. Although I am a die-hard Nikon person when it comes to film and digital SLR cameras, I wanted something that fit my needs, not a label, and the Canon Powershot A570-IS really attracted me. It may have been Herb Keppler's article in a recent issue of Popular Photography where he featured the Powershot A460 that made me take notice. The A460 is a cute thing, and very inespensive, but lacks the manual control that I wanted. The A560 didn't quite have all the features, but the A570 did. For $50 more, I got a cameras that really has a lot of creative potential, and fits in my shirt pocket.
As you can see, the Coolpix 3100 was getting worn and scratched, and the 3.1 MP count was limiting. With 7.1 MP, movie mode, Image Stabilization, et., etc., the Canon is a huge upgrade.
I don't have any photos from it to post yet, but give me a day or so!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Wikipedia says this:
Vernacular photography refers to the creation of photographs by amateur or unknown photographers who take everyday life and common things as subjects. Examples of vernacular photographs include travel and vacation photos, family snapshots, photos of friends, class portraits, identification photographs, and photobooth images. Vernacular photographs can also be considered types of "accidental" art, in that they often are unintentionally artistic in some way.
Closely related to vernacular photography is "found photography," which in one sense refers to the recovery of a "lost," unclaimed, or discarded vernacular photograph or snapshot. Found photos can be "found" at flea markets, thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales, in dumpsters and trash cans, between the pages of books, or on sidewalks.
Taking this into account, many people I know, including myself, are vernacular photographers, or at least will be, when we die and people find our boxes of prints and negatives, or our images on Flickr. But is it really art? As we all know, art is in the eye of the beholder, and yes, there are some beautiful vernacular photos out there. But since photography is all about capturing the MOMENT, are some of these better just because they have captured long lost moments that will never exist again, or are they art because they capture our imagination and engage us in some way. I think unless someone is completely clueless with a camera, there always exists the possibility of making a great image. On one hand, I have seen a person with the latest DSLR take shots that are so lacking in aesthetics that I wondered why they even bother; and I have seen amazing works of art taken with Holgas and box cameras. So putting ability aside, if a photograph stimulates us in some way is it art? (Not that kind of stimulation!) - I suppose it is, but I think we have the "lens of nostalgia" affecting how we interpret many of the images from the past. Four examples are presented below.
Is this a work of art?
God I hope not. It's me from 1975 camping with friends.
Is this a work of art?
New Jersey, 1890s.
Some Vernacular sites you might be interested in that appeal to ME.
The Found Photo
Let me know what you think. I'd like to think that many of my photos are works of art. Others are just documentation. But someday, they'll be vernacular photography...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Center for the Visual Arts
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.
On Saturday, Adrienne and I spent a good part of the day at the Toledo Museum of Art. No big photography show there, but I wanted just to view some of the galleries and it has been about 5 years since I was last there. First of all, admission is FREE. Second, they opened a new Glass Pavilion in 2006 across the street and it is amazing. Third, I saw this amazing structure with the light hitting it just so, and had to photograph it. It houses the school of Visual Arts for the University of Toledo, and was designed by Frank Gehry. I shot some holga pics of it too, and will be hoping that they came out well. I love the dramatic shadows and the form of the building, and the clouds were perfect. It could be a really interesting place to shoot at dusk, too.
Friday, September 14, 2007
So, I have been buying materials, getting prints made, and assembling and matting and packaging my images. It's not hard work, and I really enjoy cutting mats, but it does take up time in the evenings. Hopefully, I'll have a good sale and make back some of the money I spent for materials. I'm trying to price my work at various levels -- 5x7 small matted images for $6, 6x6 matted polaroids for $25, 8x10 matted images for $20 (some are more), and larger pieces matted to 11x14 from $50 to $75, depending on the image. Plus, my cards will be $3 each, or 6 for $15. Nothing really expensive, and maybe I'll be able to sell some of the works that have been piling up in my work area.
I'll also be entering 4 Polaroid images into a show in Hamtramck, MI. One of them is my favorite Polaroid shot.
I hope nobody thinks it is worth $125.00, but if it sells for that, I am okay with it.
The other things going on -- I'm presenting a macro photography workshop at Big George's on Monday, October 1 at 6:30 pm. I have to get some on-screen presentation ready for that, as well. I also have things do in preparation for the Michigan Photographic Historical Society's annual photographica show on October 14, which is about 2 weeks early this year. It will be held in the Novi Community Center, where it's been held for quite a number of years.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Sunset and Little Presque Isle from Presque Isle Park.
While I was there, I reflected in why I like the Upper Peninsula so much, especially Marquette. For one, the natural beauty of the place is amazing. The Lake Superior shore is ever-changing, and the weather never fails to be interesting. Marquette is a moderate-sized city blessed with a mixture of old and new, and the downtown is active. They have several bookstores, coffeeshops, art places, and no pretentiousness. The NMU campus has a nice art museum, lots of nice facilities, and a commitment to providing a good undergraduate education and learning environment, not the mega-sport, mega-money, and megalopolis that UM has become. Outside Marquette, of course, there are all sorts of interesting places, and much of the area reminds me a lot of growing up in the Adirondacks, with the addition of the Great Lakes being nearby. Some of the area is gritty, a reminder that not everyone has an office job or works for a University. Oh, and there are a lot fewer people around.
Mountain Stream Falls in the Huron Mountain Club
So, whenever I spend a few days in Marquette and anywhere in the UP, coming back to Ann Arbor is always a bit of a downer for a day or two. As much as I like it here, and I do, I think Marquette would be the place that makes me whole.
It was nice making a day of it at the Huron Mountain Club. I had not been there since 2003, when I went up to receive an award for research done there. This time, we went to see how things were going and to photograph some places that I wanted more, and better photos of. The Jeep got us up to Mountain Stream Falls really quickly, and the rough road there was a good baptism for the Jeep. I wish I had used one when I was doing research there before -- it would have enabled me to get to many more sites in day.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
George was 79, and I know he missed his departed wife Gene very much. She passed away from cancer about 4 years earlier, and I think I somewhat helped him climb out of the depression that gripped him afterwards. We would meet for coffee, or maybe just a brief chat, and he gradually became more involved in photography once more, and started showing up at our Crappy Camera Club meetings. George probably felt a bit old with some of the younger crowd there, but I teased him that at least when he was there, it didn't make me the "old man." He had me over to his place a few times, and he had a nice exhibit of cameras and photographica, and he was always a gracious host. I wish I had known George and Gene back when they were the stalwarts of the Michigan Photographic Historical Society. The two of them started the nucleus of the exhibits at the Argus Museum in Ann Arbor. I know George really cared about that collection, and he was really pleased that it has been so well-curated in recent years
George was interested in lots of things besides cameras and photography, such as minerology, genealogy, and traveling. He grew up in Ann Arbor, was in the US Army from 1945-1947. He and his wife had five children, four who are still living, and nine grandchildren.
I will miss George, and I wish I knew what it was he wanted to talk to me about.
Friday, August 10, 2007
We had a great turnout for my talk on Argus cameras at the Argus Museum Tuesday afternoon. Cheryl Chidester, the museum curator, was very gracious in hosting us, and also provided refreshments. She has been doing a wonderful job with the displays and the change in the museum from what it was like 7 years ago is just amazing. With donations from Argus collectors and the social network that the Argus Collectors Group has created, the collection has expanded both in the hardware, but also in the archives of printed material containing company history, employee information, and product R&D.
After I talked, people hung around and viewed the collection, asked questions, and then we all went out walking for photo opportunities, and were to meet at the Old Town for dinner. It was a pretty good group of Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club members that went out shooting. A fun evening, for sure. Earlier in the day, Marjorie and I had walked around campus taking photos of the area around the Law Quadrangle. I think one of my best photos came from there.
More photos are here
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Today is August 7, I mean, Argust 7. If you have an American-made Argus camera, shoot some photos with it today and remember that these classic cameras were made right here in Ann Arbor, MI. In fact, the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club is meeting for its monthly gathering at the ARGUS Building on 1st and William. I'll be giving a short talk on Argus cameras at 5:30 pm in the Argus Museum.
For more information on previous Argust days:
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Throughout central NY, one can find old mills and factories that have long been shuttered. Some are along the old Erie Canal, some along railroads, and others at the edge of cities and serve as reminders of past eras of self-reliance and Yankee inventiveness. Others are probably grim reminders of the toll of the industrial age - both in human and environmental aspects.
This Seneca Knitting Mill sits in Seneca Falls, home of the women's suffrage movement in the finger lakes region of New York. I wonder what was knitted there.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Another link to the cemetery.
Taken with the Mamiya 645.