Friday, December 31, 2004

Lensbabies are cool

fading jug
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I have finally developed some rolls of film taken with my Nikon FM and my new lensbaby. What a cool, creative tool! I can see how it could easily be overused... but until then I plant on trying it out in a variety of situations. This is the window in my bathroom in the basement. The jubs and bottles there are always great subjects to play with.

As this year draws to a close, I see that I shot hundreds of b&w images, developed well over 100 rolls of b&w film, and have in general, had a lot of photographic fun.

My goals for 2005:

Make more prints - and make them in standardized sizes.

Get material together for a showing

Sell a few prints

Do more portrait work

I hope 2005 will be a more peaceful year all around, but given the current political situation...who knows.

May all of you have a good year!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A morning in the Greenhouse

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I spent 3 hours in the conservatory at Matthaei Botanical Gardens this morning. Cameras - my Mamyia 645E, Nikon FM, and my FujiPinepix S7000. I used my lensbaby that I got for Christmas on my Nikon. A fun piece of equipment. Go to for more info. A simple piece of Holga-like lens in a flexible housing that really will add some creative angles to your photography!
This shot of an agave was taken by the digicam, and somewhat resembles the shot I took (I hope) with the Mamiya.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

glasswarp - reflections on reaching 48

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
As I sat after dinner tonight, I saw this pattern in the stem of my wine glass on the dining room table. I ran downstarirs and retrieved my Fuju S7000, screwed on the adapter tube and a 52 mm +1diopter and took several images of what you see here.
Today was also my 48th birthday...still on the good side of 50, and I guess I can't complain...much. I am having fun with photography, have a great wife and teenage daughter, am relatively healthy, and my job is pretty good.
What would I like to do in the coming year? I guess I need to finish up some dragonfly-related projects, sherpherd my friend's book through the printers, get really proficient at printing and matting, and hold a gallery show somewhere. Oh yes, and get a model or two for some art projects...

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Having Fuji FinePix Fun

content kitty
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
One thing I really enjoy about this camera (finepix S7000) is the ability to use off-camera flash. In this case, a $20 slave/master AC strobe unit with a home-made softbox. Attached to the camera with a pc cord and an adapter on the hotshoe. Set to 1/5000 at f 6.5.
Of course, this is one of our cats -- Stanley-- and he likes to pose when he's in the mood. In this case a wee bit of catnip settled him down...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

A new camera

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I finally got off the fence. I had been going back and forth, trying to decide if I was going to buy a better digital camera. I didn't want a Nikon D70, since it doesn't do all that I ask of an SLR, and it lacks features that I require, but I can;'t afford tghe higher end digi SLRs. So, it came down to features for the buck, megapixels, and ergonomics. I finally decided on a Fuji FinePix S7000. A nice camera, and it has a generic hot-shoe and mechanical theaded remote shutter release. Very essential.
I am still feeling my way around with this camera, but I like the manual mode, and the ability to shoot b&w as well as color. The zoom is great, and the manual focus is a tad tricky, but works.
I took this shot on Saturday, the day after I bought the camera. A peeling cment block wall with a splash of color from a shrub in downtown Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Just a still-life scene from a place on campus where we keep many things...I was testing out a cheap k-mount Chinon SLR for student use...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Grasses and Fence

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
The entrance to Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor. Taken with my Contax G1 with T*45mm lens. I have growing dissatisfaction with this camera. It's not a bad camera, and the optics are superb. But -- the AF leaves something to be desired, and I would actually rather have MF. A rangefinder camera tends to be easily focused manually, and in many instances all one needs to do is set at f16 and prefocus to 10 feet, and you are all set for quick shooting. Sadly, the G1 does not do this easily. In low light levels, the camera really takes too long to focus. You can focus manually, but it really is focus by wire, as there is no turning the lens barrel to focus, but you fiddle with the wheel on top of the camera and look at the readout in the viewfinder. Nowhere as easy as aligning split images in the viewfinder. As a posh P&S, it's a great camera. I would trade it in a second for a Voigtlander Bessa R!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Please End the NHL Lockout!

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I am missing NHL hockey so badly, that I am now going to watch kids play locally. On Monday my daughter treated me to a game at the Four Nations Cup, being played at the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, home of the US Youth hockey program. We watched Sweden and Finland play to a 2-2 score. Last night, she and friends watched a US squad beat the Swedes 7-1. They also saw, and said hi to Detroit Red Wings' defenseman, Nick Lidstrom...I am sure he's having an even harder time without a season.

If there is a bright spot in all this, it is the coverage that amateur and minor-league hockey is getting. However, watching a bunch of 18 yr-olds play is not the same as watching the Detroit red Wings! Stop the insanity and let's have NHL hockey back...

One last thing...if you are going to take photos of a hockey game (or any fast moving sport) a low-end digi won't cut it. Shutter lag will screw your shots up every time. Better use film or a high-end digital camera without the lag.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Blue Light Special

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I was sitting in my bathroom in our basement ... I look up and the light coming through the glass block window illuminating the bottles sitting there says..."photograph me." Using my FujiFinepix 2800 I made a bunch of shots..this one I liked the best.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Fall Jewels

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I love early morning dew and misty weather. When we have such weather in the fall and leaves are no longer green, it affords a much different palette and the contrast is much greater. This is a leaf on a smokebush on my front yard. Taken with a Nikon F2, 200mm macro lens, and of course, I used a tripod.

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
My daughter carved the 2 jack-o-lanterns, and she has really gotten interested in the politics this year.
She could have carved a Dick Cheney or John Ascroft design, but that would have just scared the kids away tonight...

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Michigan Photographic Historical Society

Last Sunday, Oct. 24, my daughter and I spent the day in Novi, MI at the MiPHS photographica swap. We put in most of our time at a table selling off donated books and magazines that the Society was selling off, and sold them all--generating $300. Everyone got some bargains, for sure. The old 1930s and 40s- era magazines were really fun to leaf through. I picked up a wonderful hard-bound copy of Wright Morris' "Photographs and Words" published by The Friends of Photography.

For more information on Wright Morris:

As collectors and photographers, we delight in going up and own the ailes checking out the various cameras, odd pieces of equipment, and chatting with the sellers and other photographers. Marjorie once again outdid me, though this time I was not really actively buying anything. She picked up another Argus C, An Argus C3, and Argus AF, and a C2. My only Argus purchases were a pretty decent C2 in a case for $5, and an Argus slide viewer and a handful of Argus 126 cameras for $5. What I spent most of my money on was the latest edition of McKeown's Camera Guide, a whopping 1200+ pages and 48,000 cameras...
Definitely worth having, whether you want to gauge the prices for buying/selling, evualuating for insurance purposes, or merely to have your eyes glaze over at the sheer numbers cameras (10,000 illustrations)!

Some shoppers among the treasures.

The variety of cameras at these shows is amazing, since as a photographica show, it caters mostly to small sellers and collectors, not big-time vendors selling new equipment. Digital cameras were not for sale there, and I felt somewhat guilty snapping pics with a digicam...but these are web-destined anyway, not on my wall. The MiPHS swap differs from other camera shows in another way, too -- there are many image vendors there, so if you are looking for tintypes, ambrotypes, Deguerreotypes or old photos, it is a great swap to attend. I never know what I'll see at this swap, and even if I don't buy the odd camera, many sellers understand that it's all about showing off, too. The rare 16mm micro-camera from Universal Camera with gigantic flash reflector (by comparison) was a neat camera that i had read about but never seen. It was pretty cheap, too, but I left it for a Universal collector. Kodak made so many cameras that I can't imagine specializing in those...

A bevy of cheap Kodaks from Alan Bulgrin

One thing missing at these shows are young people. My daughter Marjorie stands out in the crowd becuase she is 16, a female, and is actively interested in silver-based photography as well as collecting certain types of cameras. By large, the crowd at camera shows is over 40 and male. I did note that many of the image collectors there were women. Whereas the hardware collectors are largely male.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Old Barns

We are losing a significant part of our heritage every day and few people seem to realize it. Barns. For you urbanites and suburbanites, this may not mean much. However, to those of us that grew up in the rural areas, a barn is much more than some old building sitting on a farm. Or, as more likely today, an old decrepit building at the edge of a housing development... it pains me to see them falling over. Too expensive to maintain, the owners just let them rot away.

Barns, in all their incarnations, were places where many of us played as kids. Going up into the hayloft where we could search for cats, play hide and seek and get thoroughly messy with hay. There was an old long-unused barn where I grew up (in the Adirondacks) and a rope was still attached to the hay pulley. My friends and I would swing from that thing like we were Tarzan. It's a wonder nobody got hurt. It was also a neat place just to search for old stuff, and the old manure pile behind it was a rich source of compost for our gardens. The barn is still standing, so far as I know, but even then it had probably been abandoned for 20 years.

Now I live in southern Michigan, and a 10 minute drive from my house gets me close to barns. Some are still being used -- either as integral parts of a farming operation, or as nothing more than hay/vehicle storage; others are standing and unused, and each year, many more are leaning and falling over in disuse and disrespect. Still, there is are amazing variety of barns here -- a flagstone barn near Chelsea, one made of glazed tiles near Saline, and of course a lot of wood barns that look like the same group of builders built them 100 years ago or thereeabouts. Most of them are painted red with white accents.

There is a really nice book on Michigan barns, by Mary Keithan - Michigan Heritage Barns. All her shots were done with an 8x10 view camera, and her images have caused me to go out and find some of the barns she has photographed. If you are interested in barn preservation, a number of states have preservation programs.

I saw this barn outside of Hastings, MI a couple of years ago and did not photograph it. This past July, I drove back home from Kalamazoo and took the back roads, and retraced my route to take me past this barn so I could get some shots of it. I think it is a 10-sided barn.

Whether they are regularly maintained or left to the ravages of the elements, barns are great photographic subjects. Interesting shapes, interplay of man/nature and the sometimes beautifully weathered wood can inspire you. Spend some time at one and see what magic it works on you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Brownie Special 616

Months ago, I bought this Kodak 616 Brownie Special at a resale shop for $5. Interesting camera... even has a little stud to push out so that it can stand on its side for vertical photos. I experimented and ran a roll of 120 inside it by putting little extenders on the 120 spool so that it fit inside the camera. I should have somwewhat panoramic negatives. I used the 616 takeup spool, which meant that the film did not wind precisely lined up. So, I stuck it in an opaque container until I develop it -- maybe later this week.

Meanwhile, I purchased a bunch of old film a few weeks ago, and in it were about a half dozen rolls of 616 Verichrome Pan. The expiration date is late 1960s. What the hell, I might as well load a roll in this camera and see what happens.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
One day my daughter and I were walking around Ann Arbor at lunchtime, as we often have, and of course, we are always photographing things. A wrought-iron fence along the edge of a business property had this Rudbeckia growing through it. It caught my eye and I photographed it with my Ricoh Six floding camera. This camera has a removeable mask to allow either 6x6 cm or 6.4.5 cm negs on 120 roll film. I paid $40 for it earlier this summer at a camera swap.
I like wrought-iron fences. Decorative, yet tough. Sturdy yet you can see through them. Short, and they are just a reminder where the edge of the property is. Tall, and they seem to fence you out or in, depending where you are.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
It's so hard to photograph peppers without thinking of Edward Weston. Not only that, every pepper in the market today is "perfect". No outlandish forms like Weston purchased. Maybe someone needs to market a variety that is prone to unusual shapes and call them Westons. Plus, in his day, they didn't sell them with little PLU stickers on the side...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Digital Has No Soul

Every day one is inundated with the latest news about new digital cameras. In fact, take a look at any of the larger camera mags such as Shutterbug and Popular Photography. They make their living showcasing the latest stuff. Now it's about 75% digital. Now there is nothing wrong with digital photography, but there is a lot wrong with the industry. Ilford and Agfa, both primarily film-based companies, seems to be having problems. Kodak is dropping some films, such as Technical Pan - a very unique film emulsion. Kodak's bread and butter has been film and the processing thereof. What happens as consumers go more digital -- what kind of consumables can Kodak provide to a digital user besides ink-jet paper? Are they going to have stock in Epson, too? Sell Kodak-branded media cards? How many latest models of digicams can a person buy?

Back to my original topic - digital has no soul. I pick up one of my many classic cameras, and some not so classic -- they have a feel and ease of operation that digital cannot approach. No batteries except for a light meter (and even then, that only accounts for my SLRS and a Pentax 6X7). See the subject in the the shutter. Instant capture of the moment forever. Not to be erased by mistake, not left on a CD never to be seen again, not processed a thousand ways in photoshop. A unique image preserved in silver salts on a strip of acetate. You can look at it without any technological aid now, 100 years from now. That's why I say digital has no soul.

What do I use? Film. My digicam is a 2.1 MP for web and ebay. I shoot over a hundred rolls of b&w in a year - some medium format, most 35mm. Maybe I'll start using the 4x5 camera I have, too. I guess its time to buy a bunch of bulk rolls of b&w to keep Kodak going, huh?

If you like b&w, try JandC Photo on the web....some neat emulsions , mostly all from Europe.


Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Here is the image.. I finally figured out the whole Flickr thing...pretty cool actually.

It's mid-October and...

next Saturday, October 23 is World Toy Camera Day. Take a toy camera anywhere and shoot some photos. Toy cameras?
go to
for more info on WTCD.

My favoriye toy camera? My Holga, of course. It frees me from thinking about controls and more about spur of the moment, "what if" kind experience.
Such as this.

A cemetery on Mackinac island, MI. I was there in mid-August, on a beautiful day. This old cemetery has interesting cobblestone arches and iron gates.