Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Shot In The Dark

stay in the light
Ektachrome 400

To be honest, it was many shots fired in the dark. Last Wednesday night, Marc Akemann and I went on a little night-photography adventure in Ann Arbor. We shot mostly in the State Street area, concentrating on the exterior of the Univ. of Michigan Museum of Art, and around State and Liberty near the State Theater. Marc was shooting with his Bronica, and I of course, as usual, had several cameras that I was shooting with -- my Nikon N80, Ricoh R-1, aand my 35mm Holga. Tripods in hand, we walked around until it got dark enough for some artificial-light shots.
Photographers move slowly Mark with his Bronica. Ektachrome 64T.

One of our aims was to shoot with slide film and get it cross-processed in C-41 (color print film) chemistry. It's bad enough to shoot the variety of light sources at night with any slide film and get realistic colors due to the various color temperatures of neon, tungsten, halogen, and sodium vapor lights. Daylight-balanced slide film such as the Ekatchrome 400 I was using will give odd renditions in such conditions, but it was funny how the cross-processing actually looked pretty darn good. Same for the Ektachrome 64T (for tungsten lighting), though some of the images had a more pronounced greenish cast to them.

UMMA at Night UMMA and people playing with the "swing" Ektaachrome 64T

Finally, I shot some Superia 100 color print film in the Ricoh R1 - a wide-angle P&S camera that is normally about 30mm, but goes to 24mm in Panorama mode. I shot some Kodak Gold 200 in the Holga 35BC, but haven't developed that film as yet.

UMMA At Night Ricoh R1

The Ricoh was a pleasant surprise with accurate exposures and good color. Obviously having it on a sturdy tripod also helped. I'll be interested in seeing how the Holga 135BC shots came out.

You are probably wondering why in the hell I'd be shooting film and not digital for night scenes. Serendipity and fun. You see, digital is way to easy for this. I like the delay in gratification, and because each film has a different characteristic, the results were uncertain. Add in the cross-processing, and one gets a totally different color rendition, depending on the exposure and the film. In addition, I bought the film at 50 cents a roll, and developing was only a few bucks. Thank you, Huron Camera (in Dexter, MI), for doing C-41 cross-processing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

It's done... Stick a Fork In it

It's done...
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

Last night, I read my last copy of the Ann Arbor News. It was filled with self-congratulatory stories, articles on the history of the paper, and some images of the hard-working people that no longer have a job. No matter what anyone at the News said, or management at the new Ann is saying, I still believe that we, as a community have lost something far greater than just a paper. It was a sense of community (even though in recent months it was obvious that local in-depth news coverage left something to be desired), and connectedness. I still believe that non-local ownership had more to do with closing (just as with Pfizer, and loss of the Arborland AATA bus transfer station) than advertising revenues. The Ann Arbor News is no more, and that is sad.

Next to it, I also had a copy of the new Ann Arbor Journal, a weekly paper. This is only the second issue, so I am interested in seeing how it evolves. The first thing that caught my eye were the less than stellar photos. As someone that appreciates the finer points of photography, there is a big difference in professional photojournalists/news photographers from anyone else shooting without that background and training. It's not as easy as it looks, and techniques aside, it's the eye that good photographers have for a scene that can turn the most mediocre of events into something interesting. I will great miss Leisa Thompson and Lon Horwidel of the AA News. Their photos were distinctive and always well-done. I wish them well at whatever new directions their careers take them.

I will miss my daily paper, and I'll read my comics online. But it's not the same as sitting down at the dining table and sharing the paper with my wife Adrienne, and making comments about what we are both reading. I will not go to It's a matter of principle.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Good Things Happen... An all-black Argus C-4

From Random Camera Blog

Last night, at the Ann Arbor Crappy Camera Club meeting, Mike Myers brought in a box of cameras donated by a local resident to give away to people at the A3C3. The donor's father had apparently worked at the Argus Corporation, and brought items home with him from work. She was going to throw the stuff out, but found the A3C3 address, and called Mike, and he accepted her donation. So, Mike talks to us about the donation, and opens the box next to me at the table. I looked in, expecting to see a bunch of dilapidated old cameras, and saw this all-black camera that looked strangely familiar! I picked it out of the box, and stared dumbfounded for 10 seconds. It was an all-black Argus C-4 -- one of those Holy Grail type of cameras that we all covet, but thought we would never see, much less afford!

I could not believe my good fortune, and I think Mike may have opened the box next to me so that I would find the camera first. The all-black C-4 is rare. Less than 10 are known to exist, and here was one staring back at me! I accepted my prize, and found the leatherette in the box that had fallen off the back. The camera is in good cosmetic condition, though the shutter had seized up. Not a problem. I don't plan on shooting with this beauty. It is obvious the previous owner did shoot with it, as the hot shoe is brassed up, and the focus ring on the lens has some grime that comes from being used.

It's the first variant of the C-4, with a round viewfinder window, and round raised area on the back, and a M-F switch for flash. The shutter speeds go to 1/300 second, and there is no serial number ANYWHERE on the body. A prototype? The camera is in very good cosmetic condition. I think I owe Mike a dinner somewhere.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Good-bye, Bill

Last week, I visited my friend William L. Brudon for the last time. He was in hospice care, and sound asleep when Adrienne and I visited. It was hard for me to see Bill in a state that was obviously closer to death than living. However, he was pain-free, and I'm hoping that his mind was in the dream state that he had talked to me about a few months ago. Today, Bill passed away in the morning, quietly, and gently. He was 87 years old. I don't know if he ever was able to read the last letter that I wrote him last month, or if his wife Margaret read it to him and he comprehended the contents. I'd like to think that he did, and was pleased about what I had told him of upcoming photography projects.

There are a lot of things in my head regarding Bill. Amazing to me that in 10 years, so much has happened. I knew Bill on the downward slope of his life, unlike many other people that had known him far longer. Up until the past year, his mental acuity was good, but other health problems basically made it impossible for him to draw or paint, or even to hold a camera. That had to be very frustrating to man that had been doing those things his entire life.

Bill meant a lot to me -- I always thought of him as a father figure -- someone that could tell a good joke, laugh at a pun, and tell me what I didn't know. He was full of stories, having been in that generation that WWII defined, and though he never graduated from college -- he was the epitome of someone that made great use of their talent. If you do a Google search, you'll see his name on several textbooks of human anatomy and cranio-facial books. He was a renowned medical illustrator at the University of Michigan, and before that, a natural science illustrator. But that's not all -- he could paint lovely landscapes (and in fact, used to exhibit in the early days of the Ann Arbor Art Fair), nature scenes, and knew photography inside and out. He was an ardent bibliophile -- and I have been the beneficiary of some of his library. I have also been the beneficiary of a lot of his photographic equipment, not to mention that my wife and I bought his house in Ann Abor in 2002, which included a nice darkroom. Bill was special to me. He shared his knowledge freely, and was generous with his time to someone that also had a passion for something he cared about.

"Dad" Bill, 2004.

I knew of Bill long before I met him. His artistic and photographic skills at the Museum of Zoology (where I work) were legendary. He left there in 1960 to pursue a more rewarding career in the Medical School. I met him in the late 1980s, and became reacquainted with him when he volunteered for the Ann Arbor Flower and Garden Show in the early 1990s. My wife saw him more than I did at that time, and when I re-entered photograaphy, determined to learn about macro-photography and to take it seriously, she mentioned to him that we should get together. From that point on, in late 1999, Bill and I became goood friends. He became a mentor, and taught me about art and photography, and was an honest critic of my work.

I wish I had known Bill much earlier in his life -- he had throat surgery before I knew him, and his voice was raspy (and easy for me to imitate -- I'll always think of his "Hey there, young fella.") and as he aged it was harder for him to speak loudly enough and long enough for a conversation at times. After we bought the house, and were going through things he'd left behind, I found a casette tape from the early 1970s, and played it. I was astounded to hear his real voice -- a mellifluous, kind voice that I had never experienced in person.

Even though we shared a passion for photography, we went out shooting together only once - in November 2000, we went over to visit Dick Alexander at his farm near Manchester. I took a bunch of photos then of those two telling stories and laughing away. Bill took photos of me and of Dick as well, and I have those. Bill kidded around with me and often called me "son number 3" and he enjoyed being called Dad, though in my letters I addressed him as Daddy-o. Bill made a difference in my life, and I, in his.

Bill's generosity of cameras and equipment made it possible for me to get a sound start in macrophotography. As I progressed, and it became clear that I was really serious about photography, Bill would pass along another camera or lens or book to me. Just last week, I was using the Pentax 6x7 that he gave me in 2001. So, it's impossible for me to not think of him when I'm out photographing.

I don't believe in an afterlife, and I'm not religious. I do believe that we are remembered by our deeds and by our life's work. Bill's prodigous, if unglamorous, scientific artistry has been seen by thousands of people in the medical professions. His art lives on, and serves to educate others. He was more than an artist, a photographer, a bibliophile, an astute student of the civil war, a philatelist, a tinkerer, a calligrapher, a story-teller, a teacher, a father, and a husband. He was, and always will be remembered as a good friend that has held a most special place in my life.

master at work
Bill, in his studio at Silver Maples, 2004.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Photostock 2009 -- Part 1

Last Wednesday, I drove up to the Harbor Springs area for the 4th Photostock gathering, which is organized by Bill Schwab. I went last year, and had a wonderful time, and this year was better, in many respects. For one, I had met many of this year's participants last year, so I did not feel like an absolute newcomer. Secondly, I brought a bunch of my work to show, so others would get a better feel for the many kinds of photography I do. Third, Bill had a great photographer, Shelby Lee Adams, as a speaker and guest, which was a highlight of my stay there. Fourth, I found some new places to photograph and came away with some very good images!

The first night, I stayed at a house on Burt Lake, owned by my friend Joan Doman. That is a place that Adrienne and I have been going to for many years, and I was glad that it was available that first evening. The rest of the time I would be staying in Harbor Springs at a cottage owned by a friend of Marc Akemann's.

There was a big hatch of Mayflies going on at Burt lake, and there must have been millions flying around, which is kind of strange when they are landing on things, including me. I set up the FinePix on a tripod and took some long exposures. This is one that I liked.

On the dock in the dark
On the dock in the dark (9:55 pm).

My hands are getting kind of cranky with typing tonight, so I will finish Part 1 another night.