Monday, October 24, 2005

A River

Truths float by endlessly, existing everywhere, sometimes only awaiting juxtaposition, and an instrument to catch them, to freeze them forever.

~click for a larger view~

Monday, October 17, 2005

The World is a Strange and Wonderful Place. Point Your Camera and Push the Shutter

Never take pictures between the hours of 10AM & 2PM.
The world is ugly between the hours of 10AM - 2PM.
There's no beauty.
There's no truth.
Between the hours of 10AM & 2PM
the world is unphotographable.
Wait for the long shadows, the sunrise, the sunset, the fog, the bloom.
Wait for the safety of the magic hours.
The time between the hours of 10AM & 2PM is for working,
for driving, for sweat.
Nothing happens
no life happens
between the hours of 10AM & 2PM.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Goodbyes, Hellos, & One Hour of Street Shooting

I sold both my Kiev 4a camera and one of my Canon GIII QL17 cameras (the good one). I had posted both of these cameras in my RFF signature and on my pbase site. In the process of saying goodbye to those cameras, I said hello to two California-based RFF members, BrianS in Irvine, and Ryan, who lives not far from me here in the SF Bay Area. I actually got a chance to meet Ryan, face-to-face. Maybe Ryan will join us for our next Bay Area meeting of RFF'ers (whenever that happens).

Anyway, I took the opportunity after meeting Ryan to finish off a couple of rolls of film that occupied my M4-P and my newly acquired Canon VL. I somehow managed to have a roll in every camera I own. I'll take a fancy to any one of my particular cameras at any given time. I'll load them up and shoot several frames, and move onto the next one. A bad habit? Naaah!

I shot with both of these cameras, on this day, using 50mm lenses, strolling about in downtown San Mateo, sneaking into alleyways and parking garages. Just when I got going, I ran out of film, completely. Ironically, I was just sort of meandering taking pictures of building patterns, getting into the flow, looking. Just after my last shot, I turned to see an image that made my pulse hop.

I was a little irritated by this, and like a gambler, feeling a change in the air, and out of cash, I darted to a couple of stores looking for some b&w film. Nada! Eventually, no longer inspired, with the sting and the itch to shoot wearing off, and my parking meter winding down, I left downtown San Mateo. I added those two rolls to the small pile growing on my desk. I now have 7 rolls of film sitting here.

We're having the kitchen remodeled and the garage space is a mess. I probably won't be able to get to processing the rolls for a couple of weeks at least. In anticipation of this situation, I purchased some Kodak Professional Ultra Color 400 film. Aaaah, color! The cameras are empty. Time to get 'em going again!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Latent Image the Fading Memories

My folks are getting on in years. Sometimes I forget how old they are. Both are in their late 70's, but they have never truly aged to me. In recent years they've taken to going through their house, and pulling out boxes of stuff that I and my two brothers and three sisters left when we moved out years ago. A somber sign I guess that the are readying themselves, a thought I can't begin to fathom.

Late last year when I was visiting, I was explaining to them about how I had gotten back into photography. This prompted an excited reaction from my mom, who hurriedly left the room and came back with a box of photography stuff that had been tucked away in some storage cabinets in a bathroom off the garage (the very one I used to process my film many, many years ago).

The box was filled with packets of photo paper, developing reels, chemical bottles, thermometers, and exposed film. It figured. I had just gone out and purchased developing equipment off Craigslist and from a couple of dusty old photo stores with deeply discounted sales, so after smacking my forehead, I focused on the real gems of this rediscovery: the exposed unprocessed rolls of film.

I knew they were exposed, because I have always rewound film all the way back into the canister. I shot the rolls; I knew I did, even though my sister followed my photography interest and used my equipment to complete her photography projects. I could feel that they were mine. They were like little gems, cold in my hand. I knew I was the last to touch them 20 odd years ago, and the first to touch them again, 20 odd years later. There were 6 rolls of 20 exposure TriX and 5 rolls of color print film.

I didn't hold out much hope for the long suffereing latent image, imagining it wasting away, pining for the light of day, waiting for the scratch of solvent, the chemical magic, anticipating release. I couln't image what was on the rolls, however.

I processed a couple of the TriX rolls and knew immediately why I hadn't processed them earlier. The entire roll consisted of shots of television screens. Back when these rolls were exposed, in the pre-cable TV, pre-MTV days, it was kind of cool to take pictures of images projected on televisions. I shot these for a filmaking project/idea, which I later abandoned, and back around that time things like found footage, and audio clips from movies and t.v. shows were finding their way into movies and popular music (e.g. Talking Heads, and Big Audio Dynamite). Like I said it was cool.

I still have a few rolls left of the TriX, but I now turned my attention to the color film, the 4 C-41 process rolls. I knew these were considerably more vulnerable to the crawl of time. I held very little hope here, and dreaded dropping them off at my local Long's Drug store fearing not only that I'd garner the suspicious looks of the one hour lab personnel, but also that I'd end up paying for faded shots of some Sophia Loren movie on an old TV screen.

I finally mustered the courage and dropped one of them off for processing. I was surprised how well they the film fared. The color had shifted, the negatives had suffered. The negative strip was the color of cold coffee with not enough cream, or 1% milk.

The shots were of a family Christmas dinner party. There was my mom and dad, younger. My dad was still working at that time, and he was on crutches, the result of an accident incurred while working as an electrician on the waterfront in Oakland. My cousin was there, as were two of my three sisters, one looking very eighties-ish with her spiky hair and drastic makeup, and the other young and plump in a frumpy little dress. These shots were legible, but with crazy color shifts and a muted dim light.

The clearest shot was of my dad and my uncle. Within maybe two or three years of this photograph, my uncle would be dead from cancer. His eyes in the photograph were bright and his face was happy and full of Christmas cheer. My dad there with him, the big brother, smiled easily—easier than I have ever seen him. They both looked at me then, twenty-odd years ago, and now twenty-odd years later. Happy to no longer be the unknown latent image, precariously near extinction. Happy to see the light of day.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Canon VL Photos

Here are the photos. See the previous post for details.

~Click on a photo to see it bigger~

Stepping Back

I rushed into rangefinder (rf) photography, buying a Leica (which I lusted after for a long time), and then "slumming" around a bit. I tried an FSU (former Soviet Union) camera, and a few fixed lens rf's. I found I liked M mount camera's, with or without meters (preferably with). I even went back and shot a little with a TLR. I'm hopelessly hooked on Leicas and my Minolta CLE. I've spent quite a bit of money on my "hobby," and now I'm looking to sell off those 'flights of fancy,' so if you get a chance visit my Pbase gallery and check out the gallery of cameras I have for sale.

All that said, I shot with a Canon VL over last weekend, to try it out. It's an interesting camera, a screw mount with some interesting features. It had a 50/1.8 lens on it. I ran it through as much variety of exposures as I could. I've yet to process the film, but I was really shooting with it to see how it handled. I've seen enough of the 50/1.8 over on RFF to get an idea on how it's going to look, and I actually own a chrome Serenar 50/18. What I needed to do was use the camera, and see how it compared to shooting with a Leica.

So many comparisons are made between Leicas and other cameras, particularly the Canon P and the V series, that I just had to see for myself. Most of those comparisons, usually end up with the non-Leica user blowing off the Leica and stating that their P or V series is just as good (if not better). I've yet to handle a P, but I have now handled a VT and a VL—shooting only with the VL.

My initial impression was that the VL is OK. It's heavy and feels well made. It didn't give me that feeling, the one I get when I handle my Leica, my CLE, or even my Bessa R2. In fairness, one outing isn't enough—even though it was for the above mentioned cameras.

I'll post pictures here when I get them processed. I shot some digital images of the camera, so look for those in the next few posts. I'll try to get the VL again to shoot some more with it. I used it under the pretense of potentially buying it. I just may do that. This could truly be my last fling into non-Leica, non-M mount cameras. I will probably never get the lust for glass out of my system, though. But that's for another time.

Cheers All!