Thursday, November 30, 2006

Abstract Umbrella


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. 400 film, printed on Ilford Multigrade FB paper, Ilford Warmtone developer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Six years ago this November

Six years ago...

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

Gift Ideas

It's that time of year when in just a few days, the official christmas shopping insanity starts. I confess that there is really nothing I need this year. But perhaps you, dear reader, are wondering what to get for a favorite photographer, and maybe you need to leave a hint for your favorite Santa.

Plastic Camera

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

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. 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

Yashica Gets a New Home

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
I purchased this nice Yashica-A for $30 last weekend at the MiPHS Photographica Show (see earlier post). It's in really fine condition, and I have always wanted one of the Yashica twin-lens reflex cameras. Not that I don't already have enough TLRs, but I enjoy using them, and every one has a special place in my heart. This one is no exception. It's not up to par with my Rolleiflex, but it's not a bad TLR, either, and would make a great entry-level model (which it was was) for anyone wanting to do some medium-format photography.

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

pinholed again

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Every once in a while, I decide to play with producing images from a pinhole camera. It's a method that some people absolutely love or are else indifferent about. Locals like Matt Callow have really done some nice work and received some well-deserved attention. For me, it's a fun diversion now and then, and I appreciate the work of others, but it's not my favorite mode of making photos. However, for our latest Krappy Kamera assigment, we are supposed to modify a camera or make a camera, so using Ross Orr's instructions, I modified a cheap little Vivitar 35mm camera with a 28mm lens, into a pinhole camera.

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

A big haul of old roll film

A big haul for 25 bucks
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Sunday was the big event of the year for the Michigan Photographic Historical Society (MiPHS) -- our annual photographica show in Novi. It was really well-attended this year -- with over 240 people coming through the door. I spent most of the day behind the table for the society, hawking our items for sale (all of which were donated), and having a good time talking to people. One of the things we had was in our silent auction -- a big box of about 75 rolls of old film -- 127, 620, 120, 116, 616, and 828. I won that item for 25 bucks, which is a pretty good deal, even for old b&w film. A lot of it dates from the 1970s, which is pretty recent compared some 620 I had that expired in 1961. It was still useable, so I'm guessing that the Verichrome Pan in this lot isn't too bad. There are a bunch of rolls of old Kodacolor X (C-22 process) in 620 that I will probably sell or give away just for the metal spools.
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

Good News!

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Last night, I found out that I have been scheduled for a photography exhibit at the Pierpont Commons on UM's North Campus. Opening date, Feb. 1, 2007. Working title for the show will be "Through a Lens Softly - the Lure and Magic of Toy Cameras." I'm excited and scared as hell. I'll keep my friends updated on the event.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Trip to Visit Marjorie

Lake Superior shoreline
Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Last Thursday, Adrienne and I drove to Marquette (MI) to visit Marjorie for Parents' Weekend at had been 9 weeks since we last saw her, and it was a beautiful drive up to the UP and over to Marquette. The larches in the UP were mostly orange-yellow, contrasting with the spruces and pines nearby.

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.