Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Passion

One thing I like as much as taking photographs, making images, fondling gear, and playing in the “darkroom” with film and developer combinations is looking at the work of other photographers, especially, but not exclusively, those from photography’s long and varied past. I love photography books, and I’m always perusing online booksellers, and getting ideas from places like photoeye.com, which sends out “New Arrival” and “Sales” emails, on a regular and frequent basis.

Books are a passion of mine, but looking at and studying photographs, seems to be a deeper subset of photography, a link not common to us all, existing beneath metal, glass, and film. I’m always offering books of photographs to my loved ones and friends, only to have them give it the obligatory flip-through, and hand it back, which is understandable from those who aren't as immersed in photography, but I’m always surprised by the lack of discussion (or even mention) on online forums of photography books and the work of published photographers (beyond the occasional worship paid to Cartier-Bresson, and Winogrand). I’ve my thoughts on why this is, but I’d rather not expound upon them now. Instead, I’d rather offer up to you the work of Stephen Shore, and the republished ‘Uncommon Place—The Complete Works.’

If you enjoy work in the street photography lineage, particularly, as the liner notes state, the work of Robert Frank and Walker Evans, and I would add, right up through Arbus, Winogrand, and Meyerowitz, then you’ll probably like Shore’s work. If you’ve wondered what large format color street photography might look like, then this is the book for you. ‘Nuff said.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Canon 50/1.8

Here's a shot with the Canon 50/1.8, and below a similar shot (posted here before), taken with the Canon 50/1.4, different film (400 UC above, 400 Superia below), same subject, location, approximate time, but different days. This is a completely unscientific comparison. Both images were shot wide open, the 1.8 with a Canon P, and 1.4 with a Leica M7

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blue Wall—The Color-Coordinated Location

Presented as an example of a "color-coordinated" location, a location, or scene wherein a predominate color scheme prevails, unintentionally, in a serendipitous fashion. I've seen them often, but often they are as hard to catch as a fleeting street shot. I usually see them when driving, rushing across town, unable to stop, promising myself I'll return.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Canon 50/1.4 Revisited

I posted some Canon 50/1.4 shots last year, around November (I think). Those were color. Here is a black and white test image that just flabbergasts me. Because I have a tendency to shoot in contrasty lighting situations, controlling the contrast, with my modern lense (e.g., Cosina Voigtlander 35/2.5) has been a chore. I usually resort to using some sort of compensating (split developer) to hold it all together. For the most part it works OK.

I had heard that the Canon lenses of old were less contrasty. I also heard that Garry Winogrand used a Canon 28mm lens, with his M4, loaded with TriX. My interest was piqued, and suddenly (quite unintentionally) through a few camera acquisitions, I was in posession of two different Canon 50/1.8 lenses, as well as a 50/1.4.

When I saw this image, shot with a 50/1.4, I was amazed at how well the scene held together, and the image quality, while sharp, contained a softness, evident in the color pictures from the same lens posted earlier. I had shot this scene several times and never had I seen the highlights and shadow detail holding so well, and needing virtually no PS work (a little bump in the blacks was all). I was impressed and wanted to share.

Details: TriX, D23, Canon 50/1.4

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Park Anonymous

A very recent picture, taken Sunday, January 15, 2006, at Yerba Buena Park, using a Leica M4-P, Summicron 50/2, Fuji NP400 film (processed in FX15). I submitted this to the RFF photo contest folder. I'm not big on photo contests, but this one intrigued me, because the rules stipulated the use of a "normal" lens for all submitted images (3/photographer), namely a 50mm. The rules also invoked the spirit of Henri Cartier Bresson (HCB), who reportedly shot exclusively with a 50mm. I'm not a big fan of HCB's work (blasphemy, I know), but many of his images made a big impression on me when I was a photography student.

On my first weekend out shooting "for the contest," I took my M4-P, the Summicron 50, 5 roles of film, and my CLE, with a CV 28/3.5 attached. I used the CLE once, to take an OBTW architectural shot. Shooting exclusively with the 50 was fun, and a challenge. Popular opinion states that the 50mm isn't really the normal lens for 35mm film, and that a 35 or a 40 is more what the human eye sees. I've heard the 50 referred to as a "short telephoto." I agree that the 35mm, or the 40mm, is closer to the field of view of the human eye, but I think the 50mm is closer to how the human eye sees and focuses. For some reason, the 50mm is the one lens that really forces me to compose. I find I move around a lot more while composing with the 50. I'm always trying to fit a composition.

If you've never intentionally limited your shooting, try it out. It's really been a lot of fun. I can't wait for the next outing.

Stink Eye

I'm not sure how universal it is to get the 'stink-eye,' which essentially is a dirty look, though far more subtle (funny how dirty looks actually have degrees of severity). I'm getting it here, from a dog. I was honored, and what a better way to honor such a gesture, than to immortalize it with a gesture of my own.

Anyway, this is a roll-ender, one that partially invaded the fully exposed ecstasy of the bulk-loaded tail-end of the film.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Lee St.

I was feeling a bit like Friedlander on this one, not intentionally, but in spirit. I felt very purposeful and driven. I mean I really shot the heck out of this location. I just couldn't find the "right" angle, and I wasn't sure why it was so important, but I kept on shooting. Sometimes you just have to get it out of your system.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Along the Path

Behind me was a whole world, a family calling for her to come out of there, my kids calling for our dogs, people strolling with their pets, children, husbands, wives, families, but for one five-hundredth of a second there was nothing but her, a long path down to the beach, and me.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A New Year

Happy New Year to all those who visit here, and the same to all those who do not. 2006 is the year of the dog, of course, so here is a recent picture.

Here in northern California the weather is wild, rainy and windy, with cracked trees, strewn about branches and leaves, power outtages, and floodings, gutters, creeks, and rivers swelling beyond capacity. Flood warnings interrupt radio and television broadcasts. We have candles and dimmed lights, as storm after storm sweeps in from the Pacific ocean. During breaks between the storms we make runs to the store or dash out to walk the dogs, or check the grounds. We're safe, but others in flood prone areas are evacuating to higher grounds. We've had some really heavy downpours.

The biggest crisis for us right now is our pet turtle has taken advantage of the weather to "escape" his flooded pen and his collection of feeder fish.

I'm saving and posting now. Another storm is blowing in, and the last one knocked out our power for a few hours.

Safe keeping to all in 2006.