Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Contest from Ilford

Ilford, that stalwart b&w imaging company, has launched a new contest, called "Image on a Box Photographic Competition North America 2009." You need to use Ilford Delta 400 film and print on any Ilford b&w paper. Hmmm. I wonder if they'd allow 10 year old Delta 400 film? I still have some left in my bulk loader that I use from time to time. I guess it would be a good idea to buy a bunch of fresh Delta 400 and use that, though, especially if I want to shoot with 120.

Just for kicks, I checked my Flickr photos for images tagged with Delta 400 and found quite a few. Some I had forgotten about:

basement relics Taken in March 2006.

intersected space Taken with an Olympus RC, March, 2008.

love, like weeds August, 2008, Pentax ME

Playin' Cowboy Nikon F2, July 2001.

Saturday, August 15, 2009



I was shopping at the local Recycle/Reuse center and picked up this 1939 Kodak publication about Kodachrome...then a fairly new development in the world of photography. When I got home, there was a package from Dwayne's Photo with my 5 sets of slides from the last of my Kodachrome that I sent in for development. Sort of a funny coincidence, and there is a span of 70 years in that photograph above. Below, a quick scan of one of my shots of Bond Falls on Kodachrome, taken with my Nikon F3HP and a ND4 + a polarizing filter.

I'll need to mess a bit with the colors from the scanner, but those slides sure do look nice.

A shot from Sunset Point (aptly named) on Presque Isle Park in Marquette. Nikon F3HP, 24mm lens, KR-64.
sunset from Presque Isle

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fruits of Labor

"Why do we photograph?" Is a good question. It calls into play a lot of reasons, some of which involve the documentary nature of photography. To convey an event through our eyes. To share what we see, how we felt, what we did, so that we won't forget, so that others won't forget, and so on. It's not necessary to defend why we do it. We just do, and sometimes events unfold that justify whatever reasons we had for hoisting that camera.
For a number of years, from 1984-2002, I spent a week or so at the Huron Mountain Club, NW of Marquette, MI, doing entomological research. A number of papers were published on the insects that I worked on, and I'm quite happy with what I did there. I also carried a camera with me out in the field just about every day. In the 1980s it was a Pentax MG, and in the 1990s and 2000s, I used Nikons and several medium-format cameras. Some of the images I took later on were related to my research, but many were not, as I knew that my time there was coming to an end, and I wanted to document some of the beauty of a place that very few people outside of Huron Mountain Club members and researchers (working under the auspices of the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation) get to see.
Some of my images were placed online on my Flickr account to share. Last year, I was contacted by History Works, Inc. to use some of my images for a book documenting the history of the Huron Mountain Wildlife Foundation and the research that has taken place there. I was happy to donate a number of images, and finally, today, I received a copy of the book in the mail. Having one of my photos grace the cover was proof to me that all the shots I took of Ives Lake were worth the effort. I was never content to just get one shot, to document that I was there. As anyone knows that photographs seriously, you go back to some spots to shoot repeatedly because there is always the chance to get a better image than you did before, to capture something a bit different. So it was with this image. One thing I did notice when providing images for the author -- my photography greatly improved after 2000, when I began taking it seriously and thinking about what and how I was shooting. Those later images comprise most of my photos in the book.

I have over 15 photographs in the book and it's really great to see them in printed form-- a better venue than sitting closed up in the file cabinet inside sheet after sheet of slide pages.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bond Falls

Not your average fishing hole
Aug. 5, 2009. Nikon F3HP, 28-80mm AIS Nikkor lens, 4x ND filter, Ilford Pan-F.

Bond Falls, located in the west-central Upper Peninsula is one of those places that many photographers have visited, and a few photographers have made iconic. The step-like nature of the falls and the easy access (due to a series of steps and pathways all around one side and at the base of the falls), really make it a pleasure to photograph. I can set my tripod and camera up for great angles, and whether it is a close-up of a small cascade or the full view from the base, as seen above, it's hard to get tired shooting there.

This was my second visit there, and I have much better technique and tools available to me since my first visit. The weather was largely the same -- bright sun. I can't control the weather nor could I choose a later time of day. However, with a 4x Neutral-density filter and a red filter, I was able to get shutter speeds as slow as 8 seconds, using Ilford Pan-F rated at ISO 32. The only problem I had was people. There is easy access to the water, and all kinds of kids were frolicking in the water near the base of the falls. I was patient, and got the shots I wanted when they moved on. I had to laugh though. This couple in the photo at the top was fly-fishing in the same area where the kids had been splashing around. Dressed like they stepped out of an Orvis catalog. Fishing there? I think they made for a great shot though, and I hope they had better success elsewhere.

However, fishing -- like photography, is similar in some respects. Success is often determined by the time of day, your patience, and your technique. Sometimes the tools don't matter, but using the tools at hand to their fullest will often make success more probable. Luck plays a part sometimes, but I'd like to think that it's the prepared that are lucky. In this instance I think I had more luck than the couple fishing.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Porcupine Mountains Trip 2009

Overlooked falls
Overlooked Falls, Finepix S2

I have lived in Michigan for a few months more than 28 years. I have made numerous lengthy trips to the Upper Peninsula, and have been all over it -- except for one area, the Porcupine Mountains. Finally, this past week I made a brief visit to the Porkies with my wife Adrienne, my daughter Marjorie, and her GF, Stephanie. We stayed at the Superior Shores Resort, in a nice cottage right on the shoreline of Lake Superior. It was a nice base to have, to able to make our meals there, have the waves crashing not 70 feet from our bedroom window, and be just a short drive from the Porcupine Mountains State Park. It was nice having Steph and Jorie prepare the meals, too.

Two peas
Jorie and Stephanie, shot on Ektar 100.

We went on several forays to view various waterfalls, hike some trails, and enjoy nature. The weather was excellent, never really hot, and although we didn't hit every spot, I think we came away wanting to see more next time, which is a good thing. Photographically, I kept my equipment fairly simple for this trip -- a recently acquired Fuji Finepix S2 Pro (which I found on ebay for $220), 18-50mm, 50mm 1.8, 70-200 Nikkor, lensbaby, and various ND and polarizing filters; Nikon F3HP, 50mm 1.4, 24mm 2.8, 90mm Tamron macro, and 80-200 f4. Also brought my "new" Great Wall medium format SLR that I bought on ebay from a seller in China. Oh, and a Bogen tripod w/ball head -- it is my lighter of two Bogen/Manfrotto tripods, and in retrospect, wish that I had brought the heavier one.

I really enjoyed shooting with the Fuji Finepix S2 -- ergonomically better than my D70, with sensible controls and the ability to also shoot b&w. I still need to do more work on some dirt removal from the sensor. Makes me think that my next "new" DSLR might be a FinePix if they come out with a full-frame version. However, that's a way down the road.

I shot three rolls of Kodachrome 64 -- the last of it that I will ever shoot, so doing it on a vacation is a very fitting end of such a unique film. I'll send those off to Dwayne's photo for processing next week. Look for images sometime in September.

The waterfalls are varied, ranging from small intimate falls on Union Creek and the Carp River that are very photogenic, to quite large falls on the Presque Isle River. Outside the park, we found Bonanza falls on the Big Iron River, which were a favorite. Farther west, we briefly visited Conglomerate and Potawatomi falls on the Black River. However, you can't really get close to those falls, as the viewing platforms are high above the river. Probably a good thing at high water. So, our favorites were smaller waterfalls that we could explore from every angle.
Bonanza Falls 2
one aspect of Bonanza Falls

If you want to capture the water over a long exposure, use at least one ND4 filter and your lowest ISO setting. I suggest using a polarizer and an ND4 filter for best results unless you are shooting very late in the day.

Greenstone Falls
Greenstone Falls

Overall, it was an excellent, if short trip. I think if I lived in the UP, I would be out shooting almost every day.