Thursday, December 30, 2010

Odds and Ends, and a special goodbye to Kodachrome

I was going to work on some grand and profound final blog post for the year, but I have so many little things to finish up, that I will spare you my profoundness. If there has been ONE recurring theme in the photographic world this year, it has been the final demise of Kodachrome. I swear, between on-line forums and the news media, you would think that the end of photography as we know it was near, based on the angst and nostalgia about Kodachrome. To be fair, what's really poignant is that Kodachrome is defined in the age of the baby-boomer and post-war America (well, post-WW II, at least. We have been in some conflict almost continuously since Korea). Although it appeared before 1940, 35mm Kodachrome became a hobbyist's film in the late 1940s and early 50s when people had more money to spend on photography, and documented their vacations and events on slide film, which then became slide shows to be shown with projection. [I should note that after pro photographers went to Fuji Velvia and Provia, and then digital, Kodachrome once again, became a hobbyist film.] For those of you that grew up with Powerpoint, let me tell you that a Powerpoint slide shown in an LCD projector is NOT AT ALL like a good Kodachrome slide on a screen. They are almost 3-D - without special glasses. Anyone growing up in the 50s and 60s and 70s probably attended at least one home slide-show or home movie night (also shot on Kodachrome 8mm movie film). Most are not memorable, because just like when home videos became the rage, people are not good at editing out the bad stuff. And, if you have sat through slide tray number 3, your mind numb, and eyes glazed over, you will know what I mean about editing. Just to show that I have indeed, shot Kodachrome (the first being sometime in the early 1970s), here is a scanned image from a slide...
Little Presque Isle from Wetmore Landing
2009 - Lake Superior shoreline near Marquette.

Of course, none of that matters now, as nostalgia tends to gloss over the glazed eyes. Kodachrome was a great film that did not simply fall by the wayside. It has, unlike any other film I know, become a cult phenomenon, and with the last rolls being processed today, has attained an almost mythic status. Today's article in the New York Times visits Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, KS. For those that bemoan the loss of processing because they just found a roll in the fridge or in their uncle's closet... don't complain when you are late to a party and the booze is gone.

A Pentax ME for Me.

Yesterday I was out shooting a bunch of ice and water photos along the Huron River, and afterwards stopped at Huron Camera in Dexter to pick up some processed film. I wandered over to the bargain bins and picked up a beautiful little Pentax ME SE. I already have a slightly beaten ME that is a great street camera, since it's light, sturdy, and is an aperture-priority camera. The SE version has brown leatherette (I'm not sure how else it differs), and is quite attractive. The 10 dollar sticker beckoned to me, and I ended up getting it for $5, since it was quite possible that it didn't work at all. After I got it home, I cleaned it up a bit, put in new batteries, and it sprang to life! I found that I had a spare cover for the motor drive opening in the bottom, and I'll shoot a roll of Ilford Delta 400 in it to test it out. Adrienne sewed together a new nylon strap to my specifications, and it will be a great street-shooter with it. Isn't that a pretty camera?

I was out at night shooting with Marjorie and Stephanie last week, and used my Canon 1000D and the other Pentax ME. I shot a roll of Kodak Gold 400 and Ektachrome 100S, which was cross-processed at Huron Camera. This one image, shot with a center-spot diffusion filter, is my favorite of the evening...
Nickels arcade evening.

Best wishes for 2011 - Who knows what the new year will bring?

Edit: I found this interesting link on YouTube -- an early test of Kodachrome as a movie film, dated 1922!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Putting the "cool" into the Coolpix

Coolpix 800

I was doing some organizing and cleanup at work last week, and rediscovered the ancient (1999) Nikon Coolpix 800 that has been sitting in a cabinet. It was dropped by a student out in the field around 2001, which effectively broke the camera, as the front lens assembly detached, causing it to rattle around in the camera. You can imagine that I was not happy about it at the time. Even though it's only a 2.5 MP camera, it was a pretty decent one at that time. So, it sat hidden away for almost a decade, until I took it out, put in a CF card and 4 batteries, and watched it come to life. The fact that the lens assembly is loose, made for some interesting effects. It's basically a shake & shoot camera, as you have to jostle the camera to get the lens in some position to shoot. That makes for some serendipitous effects, and if you follow my blog, you know how I like that stuff... The photo of the camera above shows the lens askew behind the clear glass front, and it often has a tilt-shift effect.

Some results:

Me, at work.

at night

tree lights

things remembered

and the coolest shot...
A gift from a friend.
The cover of Mark Twain's autobiography. I love the way the letters have that zoom effect!

None of these images have been photoshopped. This is the way they came out of the camera. In a way, this is like finding lemons and making lemonade, I suppose.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Latest From the A3C3

A bunch of us from the A3C3 (that's the Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club)collaborated on a project using simple disposable cameras loaded with Ilford XP-2 film. I edited the book, and published it on I like the fact that Lulu allows you to upload your own design via PDF, rather than have you pick out a design template for the content. Our book, "Monochrome In My Pocket" contains 48 pages filled with photographs from the photographers that participated in the project. One month is all we had to shoot the images, and overall, I am pleased with the results. If there was only one thing I wish could be different, it would be glossy paper for the book. However, at $7.50 a copy, it's pretty good and shows what one can do with with a simple camera. As I reiterate in the book, "It's the photographer, NOT the camera."
You can buy a copy on Lulu if you want to see some good photography...
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Checkered Past

checkered past

Last week I finally developed an old roll of Kodak Tri-X that I removed from some old camera a while ago. It was a 20-exposure roll in the old green and yellow cassette that dates from the late 1950's to mid-60s. The film had quite a bit of base fog, but the negatives were easily scanned. After I viewed the dried negatives, I started laughing, as every person in the photos, except for an infant, wore a checkered, short-sleeved shirt. It was a back yard scene, set in June (based on a photo of a peony flower amidst the picnic photos)-- representative of blue-collar middle-class families of that period in time. The cars, late-1950's models, look fresh, so my guess is between 1958 and 1962. The place could be somewhere in the Detroit suburbs.

The fun thing in these photos are the people wearing the checkered shirts. Obviously done to possibly honor the grandpa, or else it's a strange cult. I'm betting on them having a laugh at someone's sartorial choice.

Family resemblance.

ace photographer

it was a vanilla world

I need more beer!

Developing found film and getting results like this makes it really worthwhile. I would say that it's a rarity, because all too often, a camera back gets opened in the intervening 50 years, ruining those latent images from the past.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Soft Gray Days

Today is Thanksgiving Day, an annual ritual of stuffing one's self (not to mention the turkey). Adrienne and I made it an easy day -- and did not go overboard on the food. With just the two of us having dinner this year, there's no point in cooking up too much. However, the pumpkin AND the pecan pies were very, very tasty. Before I got the turkey breast in the oven I made a little trip over to Parker Mill and the pathway from Gallup Park. There was a fog that was up away from the ground, but it gave a soft, sublime feel to everything. Sometimes, that's just what I want.
A little ways farther on the trail, I stopped over at Fleming Creek and really liked the reflections on the water as it flowed over some rocks and branches.
liquid reflections

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

‘Tis the Season... For Exhibits

Kenna Exhibit
Although I do a fair amount of photography in the winter, it’s not my favorite time of the year to be holding a camera. However, if winter’s short days and cold temperatures force you indoors, you may as well take advantage of it. It seems that these things happen in bunches, and here are some upcoming and current photography exhibits that bear visiting. In the case of the Met... I DEMAND that you visit, um, I mean, make a pilgrimage (what better time of the year to use the word pilgrim!). So, let me start with that.

STIEGLITZ, STEICHEN AND STRAND at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. 11/10/10 - 04/10/11. Talk about three pillars of photography! Stieglitz, a photographer of note, but in reality, the man that brought modern art to America. Steichen, his protege’, who finally rejected pictorialism and became a master at portraiture and commercial photography (much to the dismay of Stieglitz), and as curator of the MOMA created the famous Family of Man exhibit; and Paul Strand, whose stark imagery redefined the post-pictorialism period. The two are connected to Stieglitz in oh so many ways. This monumental exhibit should probably be on the list of anyone that loves good photography.

THE MEXICAN SUITCASE at the International Center of Photography, NYC. 09/24/10 - 01/09/11. If you recall the intense excitement of the finding of the suitcase in Mexico with 4500 negatives from Robert Capa, David Seymour, and Gerda Taro that were long considered to be lost, you will want to see this exhibit. From the ICP press release: “These three photographers, who lived in Paris, worked in Spain, and published internationally, laid the foundation for modern war photography. Their work has long been considered some of the most innovative and passionate coverage of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Many of the contact sheets made from the negatives will be on view as part of the exhibition, which will look closely at some of the major stories by Capa, Taro, and Chim as interpreted through the individual frames. These images will be seen alongside the magazines of the period in which they were published and with the photographers' own contact notebooks.”

TAKING AIM: UNFORGETTABLE ROCK ’N’ ROLL PHOTOGRAPHS SELECTED BY GRAHAM NASH. Eastman House, Rochester, NY. 10/30/10 - 1/30/11. “Chosen by legendary musician Graham Nash of Crosby, Stills & Nash, this dynamic exhibition showcases some of the most memorable photography in the history of popular music — nearly 100 images by the world’s greatest music photographers, including Anton Corbijn, Lynn Goldsmith, Annie Leibovitz, Jim Marshall, Neal Preston, Mick Rock, Francesco Scavullo, and Nash himself.”

Much, much closer to home (for me, at least):

AN INTUITIVE EYE: Andre Kertesz Photographs 1914-1969. Detroit Institute of Arts, 11/24/10-04/10/11. Nearly 100 photographs by Kertesz from his early days in Hungary and Paris, as well as later on in New York. Kertesz remains one of my favorite photographers -- his observant style of photography combines abstraction with elements of photojournalism. I’d say that this is a MUST SEE.

THE PHOTOGRAPHIC ART OF BILL RAUHAUSER. Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography. 11/13/10-12/18/10. Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, 7 North Saginaw Street, Pontiac, MI 48342
Detroiter Bill Rauhauser is a wonderful photographer that has captured the soul of the area with his camera for 60 years. You won’t want to miss this retrospective. However, gallery hours are Saturdays from 1-5 pm, so there isn’t much time left. Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, 7 North Saginaw Street, Pontiac, MI 48342

Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey. Grand Rapids Art Museum, 01/21/11-03/20/11. “Dawoud Bey’s photography is community focused and collaborative in nature. Between 1992 and 2007, Bey traveled to six high schools in the Midwest and on both coasts. As artist-in-residence, he photographed students from across the economic, social, and ethnic spectrum. Class Pictures presents forty large-as-life photographs from this project.”

Light Works: Photographs from the Collection. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. 09/18/10 - 12/12/10. “From Eadweard Muybridge's 19th-century photographic studies of animal locomotion to Richard Misrach's contemporary chromogenic prints, this exhibition spans the history of photography. Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Curtis, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and many other celebrated photographers will be included in this exhibition drawn from the KIA collection.”

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A Tendril Into the Past - Margaret Bourke-White at the Museum

I was looking through some ancient back issues of "The Ark" for some information about a particular expedition. The Ark was a newsletter published by the UM Museum of Zoology back in the 1920s. It's filled with a lot of interesting information about the museum before and shortly after it moved to its present location in 1928. However, I stopped at one page from the March 1923 issue and realized that I had just read an unremarkable statement about a most remarkable photographer.

The Margaret (White) shown here is none other than the woman who would later be known as Margaret Bourke-White, one of the great photographers of the 20th century. Of course, nobody at the Museum would have known that the young woman working in the darkroom would become an extraordinary photojournalist, with iconic images on the cover of Life magazine. At that time, photography was still considered to be pretty much a male domain, and it's a testament to Margaret's talent, vivacity, and audacity that she was able to overcome the barriers to women and reach the highest level of her profession.She was a star, and though it is true that her looks and charm may have gotten her into some assignments -- she came away with the goods and got photographs nobody else could get.

Margaret entered U-M in 1922 (after having spent year at Columbia Univ, where she studied photography under the pictorialist Clarence E. White) and originally wanted to study Herpetology. Alexander G. Ruthven, the Museum Director and herpetologist, offered her a temporary job in the museum darkroom, hence the little blurb in The Ark in 1923. Although studying in the sciences didn't work out for her, Margaret apparently had a life-long interest in reptiles and amphibians.

It was at Michigan where she began photographing and building a portfolio, though she apparently did not regard her early work there as worthy of mentioning in her autobiography, Portrait of Myself. However, Deborah Gilbert's 1987 article in Michigan Today (first page shown here) provides some details on Bourke-White's two years at Michigan. I now know that she lived at 915 East Ann and 1052 Baldwin. While at Michigan, she photographed many of the same structures that I, and many other photographers find of interest. In the 2005 book, Margaret Bourke White: The Early Work, 1922-1930, there are a number of U-M photographs featuring the Cook Law Quadrangle, the Michigan Union, and the campus along South State Street. The old Museum was barely visible in one photograph, and that very classic building was demolished in the 1950s. Gilbert (1987) proposed that the dark and murky photos that Margaret took at that period mirrored her emotional state. It's very likely the emotional scars from her time at U-M stayed with her until she wrote her autobiography, which is perhaps why she didn't mention much about her start at U-M.

Margaret Bourke-White's stay at Michigan might have been longer, but she married engineering student Everett Chapman in 1924 and the two of them went to Purdue in 1925. It was an ill-fated marriage, lasting barely a year. Margaret left for Cornell University and graduated in 1927. From there, she went to Cleveland, operating a small studio, and the rest as they say, is history, as she rose to prominence after working for Henry Luce at Time.


Bourke-White, M. 1963. Portrait of Myself. Simon and Schuster, New York. 383 pp.

Bourke-White, M. Ostman, R.E. & H. Littel. 2005. Margaret Bourke-White: The early work, 1922-1930. Godine, Boston, MA. 128 pp.

Gilbert, Deborah. 1987. Margaret Bourke-White: How a U-M yearbook photographer became The Portrayer of This Age. Michigan Today. 19(2):8-10.

Goldberg, V. 1986. Margaret Bourke-White: A Biography. Harper and Row, New York. 427 pp.

Web Sites to Visit
NPR Story on MB-W's Photography of Design

Post on Digital Journalist

Women In History site

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Short Days

I like autumn and the change of seasons. The sunlight quality in October/November is different -- while the weather may be warm at times, the sun is low in the sky, and there can be a lot of haze from dust/leaf debris in the air. The light is definitely more "golden." Sunsets can be spectacular, as well as sunrise, and with the sun rising so much later than mid-summer, it's not hard to get out there and catch it on camera. Of course, this also means short days until after most of the winter has passed, and a change in what I photograph, and when. Weekends will be more likely to be my only outdoor photography opportunities, and lunch hours during the week. Cold weather is hard on camera batteries and fingers, too. I'll carry a spare battery in my pocket for the camera if it might require one. As the landscape become more monochromatic, I'll probably shoot more b&w film, too. Of course, short days also means longer nights, so more darkroom time is a good possibility.

For those of you looking to try something different -- fall/winter is a great time to photograph the subtleties of nature in these more northern parts. The chaos of summer is muted to a few themes in winter. Colors are more like tones, except for those times when a single leaf or the red of sumac berries stands out amongst the grays and browns. The tiny details seen in a frosted leaf may be as dramatic as a fall landscape. The are many great things to see, but you have to look. Street photography changes, too. Look for those days of chilly wet weather when people are bundled up and more anonymous. Monochrome works well, and use an all-manual camera to avoid battery problems if you are planning to be out for a day. Try using a toy camera with C-41 b&w film such as Ilford XP-2 -- you'll be pleased with the results.

I took the photo below last year, and just posted it on Flickr last night. Sometimes the delay from shooting to developing can be a while, and now is the time to show it. I used my Hasselblad with Kodak Ektar100 film. The farm is in Emmet Co., MI, and is on my way to Wilderness State Park.
Just A Plain Farm

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The weather over the past 48 hours has been awesome. While Michigan seemed to be slated for tornadic winds, etc., it was not as dire as the predictors said. The clouds today were really something -- as was the wind, and I wish I could have taken the day off to go to the shore of Lake Michigan to see and photograph the tremendous waves that were supposed to be piling up. By the time I left work, the clouds seemed to have parted around Ann Arbor, with banks of clouds to the N and S. I drove over to Pittsfield Preserve, just outside of town, determined to make a photo with whatever was left of the clouds. I parked in the lot off of Marton Road, grabbed my gear and saw some trees in the distance that contrasted with the line of clouds to the south. The harvested soybean field was pretty featureless, and then I saw a small area of grass that had been left alone, out in the middle of the field. The grass, at times bowed under by the wind, made a moving foreground to show the wind, with the bank of clouds and trees in the background. I used a polarizer on the 50mm and 70-200 zoom, as the 18-55 lens on the Canon 1000D was 58mm across, and my filters in the bag are 52mm. Note to self-- keep a 58mm polarizer in the bag! Anyhow, I am pleased with what resulted, even if it was a whirlwind of a photo shoot.
moving quickly

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Recent Finds

I was in Lansing on October 12 and on the way back, I stopped at an Antique Mall in Mason, and picked up a forlorn-looking Pentax Spotmatic with a slightly moldy Pentacon Electric 50mm lens. It was only 12 bucks, and I figured that it needed a good home. Once I got it home, I realized that the mirror was staying up at speeds below 1/125th sec. Otherwise, the camera was in reasonable condition except for a missing PC flash connector on the front, and grime and tarnish. The Pentacon 50mm lens isn't an appropriate lens for the camera as it doesn't stop down automatically for metering. In addition, the meter doesn't seem to be working, which isn't a big deal. After cleaning up the camera, I found out what I need to do do fix the mirror return -- some lubrication of an arm beneath the bottom plate may fix the problem. I'll eventually get around to it and then shoot some film. I put on a Chinon 50mm 1.7 lens -- which is a pretty good one. It'll make a nice combination.
I have owned a series of M42 cameras -- and the Spotmatics are the smoothest of the genre. In 1980, I used one a trip to the Southwest, and took many Kodachrome and Ektachrome slides in those 10 days.
The Spotmatic, all cleaned up:

A Pellix, at last! On Sunday, I was working the MiPHS Photographica Show in Royal Oak. I did not plan on buying any cameras, but there was a table that had a bunch of inexpensively-priced cameras. I saw the Canon Pellix for $15, and offered the seller 10 bucks, which he accepted. This is the first Canon Pellix that I have handled, and it fits in well with my collection of Canon manual-focus SLRs. The camera I picked up came with a 50mm f/1.4 FL lens, which alone is worth more than the $10 I paid. The camera was missing a battery cover, and I took one from a non-working Canon TX, put in a fresh zinc-air battery, and the meter sprang to life! What makes the Pellix special is that the mirror does not flip up. Instead, it is a transparent, partially silvered mirror (A pellicle, hence the name Pellix) that reflects some of the light into the viewfinder, and the rest to expose the film.

This would have made a great deal of sense for Canon if the camera were to be used with a motor drive, but this camera does not accept one. I see it as a way for Canon to try a lot of new things in the marketplace, and one can debate the pros and cons of a a pellicle mirror, but the main problem is that as soon as it gets dirty, the image will be degraded. The second problem (that Canon tried to overcome by selling this model with a fast lens) is that the viewfinder is dimmer, because not all of the light is reflected to your eye. In any case, the camera is interesting, and once I replace the light seals, I'll give it a go. It IS quieter without a mirror slap, but not enough to make it the best reason for trying out the design. Canon also put a pellicle mirror on the EOS RT - which was supposed to be great for rapid-fire sports photographers.
A really good page on the Pellix is maintained by Marc Rochkind. My camera is the first version. Later on, Canon made a Pellix QL, which featured Canon's "Quick Load" system. Now, Sony has introduced 2 DSLRs with pellicle mirrors. The old Pellix is now a modern camera...

It's fun finding a new classic camera!

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Japanese Import...Sort Of

Back in May, my daughter and her partner were in Japan for a 3-week class, and I hoped that they would bring back some film from Japan for me. I didn't think that they would bring back a camera, though in this case, it was a Fuji one-time use (OTU) camera. The strange thing is that even though most of the packaging was in Japanese, the wrapper stated that the camera was assembled in the USA!

package front

package back

Opening up the wrapper revealed a petite camera with a little face.

camera front

camera back

It's a point and shoot, so the instructions don't really matter. I cannot imagine a 1940s box camera with instructions printed all over it for the user, so it's obvious people have become stupider in regards to handling mechanical things.

A few months ago I posted about the Agfa LeBox camera, a simple OTU camera without a flash. This Fuji camera is much sleeker and has a flash, plus a wider-angle lens. I carried the camera with me to the Toledo Botanic garden at the end of August, and finished off the roll in and around Ann Arbor. It's so light that it can sit in a shirt pocket without even realizing it's there. So, here are some sample photos. The film was developed at Walgreen's and I scanned the negatives on my Epson 4180 Photo scanner.

One from Dick Alexander's farm...

So, overall, the photos were pretty acceptable. The technology that can make these cheap plastic lenses perform so well within the limitations of the camera is impressive. The glass lenses on cheap box cameras from the 1950s and 60s were pretty awful, in most cases. These little cameras produce pretty decent images - a 4x6 print is usually the goal here - so long as they are used under the proper range of conditions (that's probably what the instructions were for).

So ends the trip for the camera that was assembled in the USA with film made in Japan, shipped back to Japan, packaged, sold, and then returned to the US! Thanks to Jorie and Stephanie for bring it back with them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Not Cross at Cross-Processed

My first experience with cross-processed film was a bad experience. Back in 1980, I had mailed a bunch of slide film off to be developed, and somehow, one of the rolls was developed in C-41 chemicals, and I got very green prints back. That might have tinged my view on cross-processing (xpro) just a bit. Over the years, xpro has been one of those odd bits of photographic practice that when done right, it can be quite awesome and entertaining. As digital replaced much of the film use, xpro became the "hipster" thing, since it seemed so, so..."Lomo-ish." Then of course, there are xpro filters for digital files, which I won't get into here. The problem with cross-processing isn't the process, it's the mistaken belief by some that any cross-processed image is inherently better than a normal one. My belief is that crap photographed is still crap, no matter what color you make it.

(Ektachrome 64T)

There are really only two ways of cross-processing -- E6 (slide) films developed in C-41 (print) chemistry, and C41 film in E-6 chemistry. I do not call developing any color films in b&w developers xpro, for the simple reason is that you are only getting a b&w silver image, not a transference of different colors and saturation.
In my opinion, the best results are from E6 films in C-41. With E-6 minilabs disappearing from the scene today, it is less likely that anyone is going to go the C-41 into E6 route. In fact, because C-41 is still the only available local process for many people, I would expect that xpro might become more commonplace for people with E6 film to shoot, if the lab will allow it. (I read somewhere that so long as the total rolls of E6 through a C41 minilab do not exceed 20% of the capacity, the chemistry will be fine.)
When should one use xpro for E6? If your slide film is expired, it's a great time to use it for xpro imagery. If you have Tungsten-balanced film such as Ektachrome 64T, try it with night shots and xpro. Old Fuji Provia 400 looks contrasty and grainy, and has a very "vintage" 1970s look. There are plenty of odd E6 films to try out, and if your lab will process them in C41, you can have a lot of fun seeing what films give the results that please you the most. Locally, I thank Huron Camera in Dexter, Michigan for doing the cross-processing.

Subject-wise I recommend sunny, high-contrast scenes which seem to offer the most colorful and contrasty images. Subdued scenes can look muddy and exhibit less of an obvious xpro effect. In any case, play around and have fun.

Boba Fetts on guard.
(Provia 400)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Success with the Diana Pinhole

forces of nature

Back in late May, which seems so far away now, I spent a week in Marquette, MI and spent most of my time there doing photography. I think it was a very productive time, and I ended up with a number of really good images. Some were digital and some were film. I sometimes take a while getting around to developing the films from such bursts of creativity, and the last of the 35mm was done a few weeks ago. Last weekend I finished up the 120 film. One roll was from my Diana+ (from Lomo), which has the pinhole setting. I rarely have used that, and I'm not sure why. Anyhow, I was at Presque Isle, late in the day. Though most of the day (and that week, for that matter) was hot, that evening, an offshore breeze was bringing in cool air from the still cold Lake Superior. A storm was threatening, and I was hoping to get some dramatic shots. Well, the storm didn't materialize during the daylight hours, but the cloud buildup was nice. The temperature must have dropped 30 degrees along the lakeshore, and I was getting cold. My last few images for the day were taken with the Diana. I set the tripod up along the shoreline and the rocky shore provided some contrast to the lake as it was merging with the sky. I made a series of exposures -- all just guesstimates on the B setting, of course. I think the one above captured the scene the best.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Buying Binge

No Kindles or Nooks here
No Kindles or Nooks Here!
On Friday and Saturday (9/10 and 9/11) I went over to the annual book sale of the Ann Arbor chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The AAUW sale has been held at Washtenaw Community College for a number of years, and is a great place to shop for books. Usually, I look for books on photography and history, and whatever else catches my eye. That's the fun aspect, as I never know what to expect. I always expect that I'll find something of interest, and I have been pretty good at not buying books I already have (unless I get an extra as a gift).
I really do not need any more books on "how" to photograph. I believe my library is darn good there. Now, I look for books to broaden my knowledge of other photographers, historical accounts, and show catalogs. This year, I think I did pretty well in finding some good titles and great photographers, some of which are local.

This year's haul.

I spent around $75 on photography books. I hadn't anticipated going again on Saturday, but I went with Adrienne and found some nice titles that I missed the day before.
Here's the list:
Elliot Porter, 1988. The West.
Joel Meyerowitz, 1981. Cape Light.
Verna Hanson, 2007. Snapshots. Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl.
Brian Kelley, 2000. Grand Rapids Night After Night.
Ansel Adams, 2000. The Grand Canyon and The Southwest.
Sally Eauclaire, 1981. The New Color Photography.
Sam Breck, 1989, It's A Small Town.
Harry Callahan, 1967. Harry Callahan, MOMA.
Jerry N. Uelsman, 1973. Aperture Monograph.
Alice Rose George & Lee Marks, eds. 1998. Hope Photographs.
Margaret Bourke-White, 1963. Portrait of Myself.
Ellen Von Unwerth, 1998. Couples.
Evald Karlsten, 1981. Hasselblad.
David Fenton, 1971. Shots. Photographs from the Underground Press.
Michael Langford, 1989. The Darkroom handbook, Revised and Updated.
Lois Palkin Rudnick, 1984. Mabel Dodge Luhan, New Woman, New Worlds.
Kodak, 1982. Photo Decor.
Alison Shaw, 1994. Vineyard Summer.
Tim Grey, 2005. Photoshop CS2 Workflow.
Robert Doty, 1982. Photography in America.
Bryan Peterson, 1988. Learning to See Creatively.

I have already enjoyed the Harry Callahan monograph. There ought to be many hours of fun ahead.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A Canon in A Minor - the AF35M

A few posts ago, I reviewed the Nikon One-Touch, a very capable 35mm 2.8 AF camera that is still a pretty decent model to carry along. This post is about the Canon equivalent, the AF35M. The AF35M was Canon's first autofocus compact camera, and was introduced in 1979. The AF35M (also called the Sure Shot later on) features:
38mm f/2.8 lens
CdS photocell on front of lens assembly
ISO 25-400 setting around lens
auto-film transport and rewind
integral pop-up flash
48mm filter ring
active AF system using IR-emitting diode

I picked the camera for a few dollars at the Ann Arbor Recycle/Reuse Center, and it also came with an add-on telephoto lens that I have not tried out. I popped in two new AA batteries, and the camera worked right off the bat. My first impression of this camera was that it was a bit larger than the Nikon One-Touch, and the film advance is noisier. I liked the fact that it has a separate lens cap and accepts 48mm filters - a common Canon thread. However, rather than trying to find a 48mm filter, simply buy a 48-49mm step-up ring and you can use the more commonly sized filters. Since the exposure photocell is inside the lens ring, it will automatically expose and compensate for whatever filter you put in front of it. I did not try any filters for the first roll of film I ran through it.
Okay, what about the photos?

I shot a roll of Ilford XP-2 in the AF35M, and carried it around with me for about a week. It's certainly not a bad street camera, though it is a tad noisy advancing the film. I took the camera downtown, around campus, and to Toledo. The images shown here are from the Walgreen scans.

Alley off Liberty street.

Reaching for the door.

Toledo Museum of Art

Shadows of Summer's End

The Yellow-wood tree

BJ's and Sons

The AF in the camera works quickly and accurately, and and most of the shots I took were properly exposed. My favorite shots on the roll were those of the columns of the Toledo Museum of Art. Although it's hard to tell from the small images, sharpness was excellent, and though the lens is a bit less wide than the Nikon One-Touch, it certainly is suitable for street photography. One drawback is that the maximum ISO is only 400. That's a limitation for anyone wanting to shoot in low-light without flash. The Nikon One-Touch will read the DX code up to 1600 ISO film.

Final analysis -- The Canon AF35M isn't a great camera, nor is it a bad one. Not as light nor as capable for low-light situations as the Nikon One-Touch, it does offer the ability to use screw-on filters and accessory lenses, which the Nikon does not. Just a tad noisy, and heavy, it was the first generation of AF 35mm compacts, which became more refined, with the culmination of the Olympus Epic Infinity in the early 1990s. (A future post). The push for the manufacturers to produce small cameras with zooms might have been appealing to many snapshooters, but I think a single focal-length AF camera is the best. They are fast, easily focused, and ready in a moment to shoot. Perfect for candids and street photos. While this Canon model might not quite match the equivalent Nikon in all aspects, it is a notch above the slow zoom cameras that later followed. If you can find a working model for a few bucks, go for it!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

12 x 24 ways to be creative

12 ways to be creative
I ordered a dozen of these One-Time-Use cameras for an upcoming Crappy Camera Club project. Each participant gets a camera that's loaded with C-41 b&w film. In a month they will have shot every frame, and are to bring the scanned results to show at the following A3C3 meeting. We'll pick out the best images, and then have the photographers write some text describing their experience in shooting with the cameras and their creative thought process in making the images. I'll take all that and produce a book on Blurb in time for the holidays. It should be a fun process.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little Konica For Ya

Konica B&W
I recall reading in 2002, of a b&w one-time-use (OTU) camera that was being sold by Konica. That article was probably in Popular Photography or Shutterbug magazine. The review was quite favorable (although in general, most reviews of items sold by companies advertising in photo magazines are favorable, but that's another story) and certainly the OTU market had not addressed b&w very well until then. There is a nice summary on Camerapedia that tells the story of the Konica OTU cameras.

Fast forward 2008, when I picked up a half-dozen of Konica B+W for a buck each at a sale. I think I gave some away, and kept one for myself. I shot some frames on it in the spring of 2008, and again then some time later, and I finally finished up the roll a few weeks ago. I don't always do this with cameras, but for some reason, if I have a OTU sitting around, it takes a lot longer to finish a roll of film. Maybe I feel embarrassed to be seen using one. However, they do fall into the "Crappy Camera" category, if only because of their lack of controls and plastic lenses.

My general impression is that black and white is the prefect medium for OTU cameras. The C-41 b&w film was the Konica brand in this camera, and Kodak has their C-41 b&w in a OTU camera. I have previously used the Konica b&w in a 35mm SLR, but that was about 7 or 8 years ago, and I don't recall my results. Anyhow, that film is no longer available, but there are similar cameras made in China now being sold with what is probably Ilford XP-2 inside.

I am pretty happy with what I got back from Walgreen's. These images are right from the CD, and are not my own scans. I do believe that scanning this film on your own will probably have better results.

Cobblestone Farm (probably March 2008):

fence lines

North Quad, UM Campus (July 2010):

North Quad

As you can see, there is some falloff in sharpness at the edges, which puts this into the Crappy Camera camp for sure. If you adjust the levels a bit, there is some delightful vignetting in some exposures:

UM Art Museum, July 2010

The one-time use cameras are actually capable of some decent photography, so long as you don't shoot outside the parameters that they can handle. Sharp plastic lenses, and small apertures virtually guarantee a decent enough image for 4x6 prints, and perhaps even up to 8x10 if the camera was held steady.