Saturday, December 31, 2005
I took this shot this afternoon -- it was still gray, but we had wet snow that was melting on the branches, so there were some water drops that were rather cool.
Yes... if you look closely, I have a speck on my sensor that I have to remove. It took all of a month of using the D70 before I found a speck of dust. Considering how many times I have changed lenses, that is pretty good. If I had just left the kit lens on, it would have taken a lot longer, but where is the fun in that?
Happy New Year and best wishes to all of my friends.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
This shot is of a closed-up bar in Calumet, MI. It has seen better days, but I enjoyed shooting this decrepit entrance with the broken glass blocks. It has a Detroit feel to it, but it was in the UP. Shot on Astia with a Nikon FM2N, and copied from the slide with the coolpix. Not too shabby...
Monday, December 26, 2005
So, lucky for me, Adrienne had to work at the Botanical Gardens today, and Marjorie and I went out in the afternoon and photographed plants in the conservatory for a while.
It was nice.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Well, I pulled it off the shelf, and was pleased to find that a 120 spool of film fits just fine. So, I am shooting with it this week -- only 8 shots on a roll of film, because the negs are those great 6x9 cm size. I am going to play around with doing some contact printing over the winter break, so I will try printing onto some ancient Kodak Velox paper. Perfect for this vintage camera.
You can read more about the Brownie Flash 620 here: Junk Store Cameras and here: The Norwood Teague Brownie Collection
Thursday, December 22, 2005
No, I'm talking about signs we see every day and never think much about. Take this one, for instance... One of the reasons for signs like these is that there too many people with little common sense. Of course, the steps are not being maintained.. there is 2 feet of snow on them, so why in hell would I want to walk there?
Anyhow, I like shooting signs (with my camera). Sometimes they are pathetically true, other times, very funny, perverse (for us smut minds), or plain examples of timing and good fortune. Whatever the reason, they are a part of our lives, and something that we often take for granted.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
WINTER -- monochromatic -- black and white --
Snow and anything it covers; ice and all it surrounds. A great time for black and white photography, whether you are using film, or... ahem, digital.
It's a good time to look at form and shape and subtleties of how the snow makes things look diffferent. Sometimes more beautiful than they were before. Sometimes uglier, too, especially when the slush piles around things.
The photo here was taken several years ago with one of my Argus C-3 cameras with a roll of Kodak C-41 b&w.
Using a manual camera in the winter is a good idea. Batteries can get cold and leave your caamera a useless piece of machinery. But, here are some tips to help with winter shooting:
1. Keep your batteries warm or carry an extra set if you are going to outside for more than a few hours, especially if the temperature is below 20 degress F.
2. Carry a plastic bag to put your camera into when you come inside so that moisture does not condense all over your camera and optics.
3. If you are metering a scene that is snow covered -- compensate your exposure by at least +1. That is, if your meter says f16 at 1/125, shoot at f11 at 1/125 or f16 at 1/60. Your meter will underexpose a pure white scene by at least 1 or 2 stops, so you can also dial that in as +1 or +2 on many cameras, film or digital, unless you are shooting in manual mode.
4. If you are using a tripod -- put a length of foam pipe insulation over the base section of the legs so you won't freeze your hands. It will be a couple of bucks well spent.
5. Black and White Films -- Try some Ilford Pan F 50 for fine-grained results. Some people advise shooting it at an ISO of 32. See what works for you.
Another good film to try is Fuji Neopan 1600 for those low-light evening shots, interiors, etc. Fun stuff to play with.
Have fun, and remember Dec. 21 is the Winter SOLSTICE. Happy Solstice to all. After that, the days get longer...
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
It was also a good night to meet other people that we have "met" online via Flickr - Matt, Andrea, and Erich. I also saw my buddy George O'Neal as well as David Bay and Sue Campbell, long-time acquaintances at UM.
Kathy Daly, the contact person at the YDL, did a fine job with the facilities, and it looks like we can look forward to perhaps taking part in some additional photographic shows in 2006.
It was a lot of fun chatting with other photographers, and definitely looks like we made some new friends last night.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
Matt's images on Flickr are memorable, as he has been doing a lot of prints using the VanDyke Brown process, as well as conventional B&W work with pinhole and toy cameras.
If you get a chance, check out the exhibit.
Friday, November 25, 2005
My want list:
1. Peace on Earth
2. Democracy and integrity in our government
3. Nikon D70s
The first two items I can forget, since it's wishful thinking, and anyway, they would never be delivered on time for Christmas. Santa just can only do so much.
Item three, though... hmmm. I think that Santa (and I know my Santa is a female) could probably fit this item into her sleigh. It's lightweight (the camera, not the sleigh), powerful, and with the 18-55mm lens, I will be pretty well set with a complement of lenses, as I am covered with all my other AF lenses at home. Why the more expensive D70s instead of the less-pricey D50? Well, Santa, you see, the D50 uses SD memory cards, instead of the CF cards that the D70s and all our other digital cameras in the house use. Buying enough SD cards would eat up another couple of hundred dollars, and introduce another memory card format to complicate matters. The D70s has other functions, such as depth-of-field preview that a photographer like me needs for macro work. The special white balance functions are essential, too. The D70 is a fast, versatile DSLR that has a bunch of great features that will allow me to use all my older flashes, too. So, yes, the D70s is the camera for me.
A couple of sites have some excellent reviews. I love Ken Rockwell's site -- he's an avid Nikon user, and his review is based on a real user's perspective, not a generalist review or something from a photo magazine. DPreview is another good site with in-depth reviews of lots of other cameras, too.
So, if you are finally looking to buy a DSLR, I think the time has come. Price/features are really something. Yes, a new film SLR is still cheaper (though not for guys like me -- a Nikon F6 is more expensive than the D70s). I am NOT abandoning film -- b&w and classic cameras are still a heck of a lot of fun, as is Medium Format. However, for color work, I think digital has largely won over many. I have greatly enjoyed my Fuji FinePix S7000 over the past year -- I have probably shot close to 10,000 images, if not more. But, I miss the ability to use a lot of my fine lenses and macro gear that I can use with my Nikon cameras. In addition, the ability to shoot at f/1.8 if I want or at f/22, is a big advantage of a DSLR over a fixed-lens camera like the FinePix.
So, Santa, I hope you feel generous this year. I'll even put a some extras out for you...
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Shooting in winter presents a whole new range of photographic opportunities, as well as challenges. Keeping ourselves warm and dry...and keeping our camera gear dry. Most of the vibrant colors of the other seasons are missing from our landscape, and when we find those colors, they contrast so well with snow. In addition, the daylength is oh so short. For those of us that like to shoot after work, forget it... it's dark when I leave for home. So, weekends and days off become more important for outdoor shooting. That raking light of the somewhat diminished sun makes great shadows on the landscape. Dark clouds behind front-lit trees. Black and white compositions with snow and trees. Lots of things to shoot if you just look.
If you are not the cold-weather type -- try doing still-lifes inside. There are lots of subjects to try out, and it's a good time to try using different lighting techniques and backgrounds, as well as different lenses and accessories.
Have a great Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Developing was fairly straightforward, though it took several tries to get it on the reel. I developed in Diafine for 3 minutes. This is a sample frame, scanned directly from the negative. All I did was adjust the curves a bit. Frankly, I am pleasantly surprised at the fact that the film was still useable, let alone getting a decent image from it.
Here is a pic of the camera!
That's the wonder of analog photography. Try doing this with a 45 year old digicam...
Monday, November 07, 2005
Michael C. Myers - Animal Dreams
Riverside Arts Center
76 North Huron Street
Gallery - 734-761-3661
See more of Mike's work here.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Right now, I am shooting a roll of Ektachrome 100, and from everything I have heard, the images ought to be very good, unless I goofed somewhere...
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Some other sellers had some great prices on things because they obviously feel the same way. I ended up buying only a couple of cameras -- a Zeiss Ikon Contina (35mm) in really nice shape for $40. A bit on the high end, but I know the seller, and felt it was worth it for me to buy it from him. I also bought a $5 Imperial Reflex (plastic crappy camera, but cool), and a few other non-camera items. Marjorie bought an olive Argus A...
Monday, October 17, 2005
So far, it's been very informative, enjoyable, and well-illustrated.
You can get a copy from Aeone Communications, 73 Old Dublin Pike #181, Suite10, Doylestown, PA 18901 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. ISBN#0-9770507-0-X; price is $39.95.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I spent at least 30 minutes, if not longer, shooting here, using digital, medium format, and 35mm. The Spotmatic is so nice to use -- nothing complex, almost an extension of myself. No meter. Used sunny 16 rules and common sense with the filter. It was one of those times that the subject was so right, and I just happened on it -- sun was perfect, and all I had to do was point my camera.
I used an orange filter to accentuate the sky just a bit, and the film was Ilford FP4+. Developed in HC110B.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I spent a few hours over two days shooting her in several locations. She wanted b&w only. I shot mostly with digital -- in b&w, too. She could look at the screen afterwards while I was shooting and decide if she liked what I was getting. For the most part, I was amazed when I saw the images on my computer and then printed out. She was no longer the "kid" -- I was taking portraits of a young woman at the beginning of a new phase in her life. So, maybe they are not the most important photographs of her life, but as I look at them, I know they are the photos that demarcate the girl from the woman.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
I realized I had not posted this earlier, when it was more timely, but I forgot that I had taken this shot of Dave in front of the store. Nonetheless, Dave left a void that has yet to be filled... both in camera gear and in having an accessible gallery.
Whatever Dave is doing now... I hope he is happy not to be minding a store, but he is missed by many of us!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Thus ends over a century of Kodak's production of black and white paper. Kodak’s original papers were made for “paper negatives” but for printing positives, they marketed a printing out paper (POP) that was used to make contact prints from larger negatives. Most missed by today’s fine-art printers will be some specialty papers, such as their Azo and Polycontrast Fine Art papers. The bulk of Kodak’s paper production is for the commercial photofinisher market, which uses little of no true b&w paper. However, as a practicing black and white photographer, I confess that I rarely use Kodak paper, instead buying papers made by Ilford and others.
Kodak's decision will undoubtedly convince some that the death-knell of film is upon us, and the death rattle of 35mm film cassettes can be heard in the shadows. I disagree. Kodak's problem is that they are trying to become the Digital Imaging Company the way they were the Film and Paper Company. Unfortunately, there are many competitors in this arena, and Kodak will be slugging it out with Fuji, Canon, HP, Kyocera, Nikon, Konica-Minolta, etc. Dumping their b&w paper production is probably not the big loss that some think it is -- Ilford, Forte, Kentmere and others will be afforded what market remains, and they will fill it in a manner more beneficial to photography enthusiasts. Here is what Kodak should think about doing -- spin off the silver-halide part of the company and call it Yellow-Box Classic or something, and have it become more of a niche company, catering to the Fine art and amateur world. Sure, very few commercial photographers are using b&w paper and film any more, but that does not mean there is no market.
The big unanswered question here is -- what will Kodak do next? There will always be a market for silver-based photography. Whether the product has Kodak's name on the box or Lucky Film from China remains to be seen.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Now however, PolaBlue is an anachronism. I don't know if it is still being sold. The film had an expiration date of 1992, so I figured that I would try a roll out as a slow pictorial film and go for the weird effects. Before I tried it out on something that took planning, I tried a roll out in my yard. To be honest, I am amazed that it was still working. So what you see here is a shot of a dragonfly lawn ornament. The really cool effect was after I scanned the slide and inverted it in Photoshop. That gave me this image.
So, I will save the next roll for when I will be shooting something with lots of hi-contrast forms. That should be interesting, and I'll know what I got within 5 minutes...
Thursday, September 01, 2005
For some background on Walker Evans, I suggest these sites:
Walker Evans Revolutionizes Documentary Photography
I look forward to seeing the show!
Addendum -- I first viewed the exhibit on 10/28 -- it's an excellent show with 78 prints and ancillary letters and documents. Well worth seeing Evan's original prints, many of which did not appear in the book.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Originally uploaded by aikitherese.
As a bona fide art form, the nude has a long history. Most artists were men, thus nude females as a subject were always from the male viewpont. As photographers started doing nudes, they were at first photographing similar subjects and settings as some of the paintings done by their painting forebears.
Enter Edward Weston and Imogene Cunningham, who in my opinion, photographed some of the best nudes. Weston's were sometimes abstract, but always sensual, and I think were always very positive images. Cunningham's images were of a variety of women, sometimes soft, other times abstract, but again, always strong images.
Since then, how many photographers have shot nudes? Tens of Thousands? How many ways can one show the female (or male) form? Millions? Almost always, there has been the photographer and the model -- two minds. Is the product that we see because of the photographer or is it good because of the model? I suspect that if we based an image on glamour or sex appeal alone, rather than the body as a landscape,we might have differeing viewpoints on that. But, what if the subject and the photographer are one and the same? Then, the image becomes a personal statement combining the emotions and physical attributes of the model with the technology and photographic abililty of the model.
Until digital, the best instant feedback one could get for such self-images was a Polaroid. Not really well-suited for most serious photographers. You still had to wait a while to see the results. With digital, one can view the image via the LCD remotely (for those with flip-up screens) or at least see it immediately afterwards. The mood of the shot, positioning, and so one, do not get disrupted. The photographer then adjusts her position to get exactly what she desired in the shot. Easy? I wish it were so, because if it were that easy, anyone could do it. It still takes - vision, persistence, talent, and a thick skin. You are not just the photographer, you are the model.
There are many talented female photographers that do self-portraits on flickr (www.flickr.com). I am pointing out one that goes by the screen name of aikitherese. Her self-nudes are sensitive, dynamic, expressive, and just damn good photography. Sometimes they remind me of Weston, Stieglitz, or Modotti. Overall, many of them could hang in a gallery somewhere. Take a look --aikitherese
I don't believe I could shoot anywhere near as good a nude as those Therese does of herself. I certainly could never capture myself the way she does -- and I would not even attempt it.
So, is it the photographer or the model that makes a great nude? Sometimes they are one and the same and you can't separate them..
Friday, August 19, 2005
I met Mr. Nagler about 5 years ago at an event in Ann Arbor. He's easy to talk to, and at that time, I was just getting back into photography and taking it seriously. It's good to see that someone can make a mid-life career change like he did, and be successful at it. Unlike a lot of photographers schooled by Ansel Adams, Monte has focused on areas other than the Western US. His landscape work is wide-ranging, and very popular. His Michigan is presented in such a way that you know he loves his home state, and we are lucky to have a person of his caliber recognized by the Governor as a "state treasure."
The images at the UMMA are downstairs in what is called the "Paper Gallery" I call it the purgatory gallery because it's dimly lit, and is really just a hallway past the bathrooms and leads into office spaces. They usually have photo exhibits down there, unless it's a major showing on the second floor, like they did with Manuel Alvarez Bravo a few years ago. Hopefully, when the UMMA gets their addition, photography will be displayed more prominently there.
Monday, August 15, 2005
Thursday, August 04, 2005
You can see last year's Argust 4th images here: www.merrillphoto.com/argust4.htm
Sunday, July 24, 2005
My camera is pictured with its series VI filter holder and a yellow filter.
Should you find one of these for sale, pick it up. If you have been shooting with digital for a while, you might have forgotten the instant response of a film camera.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Why do I collect them? My interest in photography is wide-ranging. I love the history of the medium, the personalities of many of the greats, and of course, for every famous photographer now dead, there are bound to be a number of biographies about him or her. Ansel Adams, known as Saint Ansel by many, led a fairly straight life. Not too many skeletons in his closet... but Edward Weston! A complex man that was inspired by many things, photographed many things, and many women. His existing daybooks, compiled by Nancy Newhall, make for interesting reading. One of his loves, Tina Modotti, herslef a famous photographer in her brief career, is also the subject of a fine biography. She too, was a very complex persona. Banned from Mexico because of her Communist activities (really it was a trumped up murder charge, but it was really because of her stirring up the masses), she spent an exciting life abroad as a Communist agent of sorts, and eventually returned to Mexico. A movie could be made of her life.
Okay, I really got off on a tangent there, but the point is, a photograph is not merely a photograph. It's also a manifestation of the photographer's mind and heart. I'm not talking about birthday snapshots, but serious photography. Many of the books I have featuring images by a single photographer are sort of like glimpses into their selves and beliefs.
So, of all my photography books, which are my favorites? That's in my next entry!
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Thursday, May 19, 2005
This sepia effect was done in iPhoto. However, had I shot this on film, I would have toned the prints in Kodak's Sepia toner.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
I'm glad I did -- Mertensia is really a tough one to photograph well. It's fairly low to the ground - bright light washes it out, and if windy, you can't get great depth of field.
So, I set it up on a table with a black velvet backdrop, used a cheap vivitar strobe behind a white umbrella, and small mirror to reflect light from below to capture the details. Fuji Finepix S7000 with +4 diopter, 1/25 (or so) @ f8.
I like this setup so much, I think I'll do more flower portraits this way.
Monday, April 18, 2005
In this example, I used the camera in Black & White mode, which is what I always do when I take b&w photos with it. Since it is an EVF camera, the viewfinder is in b&w too, and that is helpful when evaluating tones in the photo. The red filter darkens the blue sky and makes the clouds stand out.
As for the title, What Would Steiglitz Say? -- it's a bit tongue in cheek. I never really thought much of Steiglitz's series of photos, The Equivalents, which are a bunch of 4x5 cloud photos. Not there there is anything technically wrong with them, I just think they received more adulation than they deserved. I saw the set of those photos last year at an exhibit at the UM Museum of Art. Perhaps at the time Steiglitz took them, nobody else thought of photographing clouds. Perhaps its just because they were done by Steiglitz. To me, they underscore that when Steiglitz took them, his most creative (photographically) years were behind him. But that is what happens when one is a legend. Everything you do becomes valuable, whether it was good or not in the first place. I still think Steiglitz was a true pioneer in his field, and he did much to advance the acceptance of photography as an art form, and of course, his introduction of modern art to the US is undeniably a huge accomplishment. But let's just say I am ambivalent about his Equivalents...
Saturday, April 02, 2005
I used my Fuji Finepix S7000 with a +4 diopter, AC Strobe, and black velvet backround. Shot at f8 at 1/8000 sec.
I also shot a roll of Astia with my Nikon FA, using my 60mm micro nikkor and 3 PK extension tubes. Shooting at f22, I am sure I had greater depth of field than with the digi. I look forward to seeing the slides.
Marjorie suggested that we go and travel to the western part of Michigan where we really have not explored much. So, on March 31--a gloomy day that was blustery and raining at times, we set off in search of old movie houses and Americana. We stopped in Marshall, Battle Creek, ate lunch in Otsego, saw a beautiful downtown Allegan, a wonderful barn full of antiques north of South Haven, saw a decrepit cinema in Niles, right next to a wonderful city hall; then stopped in Edwardsburg Michigan; White Pigeon; Sturgis, Bronson, and then home. On the road for 12 hours, and we saw a lot that we did not photograph.
Because of the weather, I decided that it was going to be too gloomy for good black & white work, so I shot color via my Fuji Finepix S7000. Marjorie used her Nikon FM with slide and color negative film.
It will be interesting comparing our photos. She has a good eye, and we always end up with different interpretations of the same subject.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I did get out in the afternnon, and shot a roll of film in a recently-acquired Ciroflex TLR at Cobblestome Farm.. This is the nicest Ciroflex I have seen to date. The ground glass was much brighter than the others I have. I also shot a roll of Ilford Delta Pan 400 (exp. 1996) in my Fed-5 with an Industar-22 that I recently got off eBay. The Industar-22 is about the same as the collapsible Leica Elmar 50mm lens, and it cost me less than $18.00 with shipping from the Ukraine. The negs that I developed last night from both of these cameras came out great.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
Monday, February 21, 2005
The barn is now pretty well cleaned up inside, and I shot this photo with my Nikon F4, mounted on a tripod, and in aperture priority mode. I think the shadows came out pretty well, especially with the amount of light streaming in through the window. What the photo really needs is a human element though. A model with the ladder would be a good start.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Sunday, February 13, 2005
A bit of a clock, photographed with my Minolta S-1 APS and 50mm macro (yes, that's correct, an APS camera!)
My wife's keys for her workplace
You'll be amazed at how different things look when you really do look at them.