Saturday, July 28, 2007

Is it street?

It's interesting to try and define it, but I think ultimately trying to define it is futile, because the one thing that makes the genre so interesting is its ambiguity. I think it's tough to define the genre with words. In doing so one usually distills down to defining the concepts of spontaneity and reality. It might be easier to define the genre photographically, as in "yes that is" and "no that isn't". Maybe then you can begin to deconstruct it and define it, but eventually you'll run up against the fuzzy ambiguous edges, the “could be” images, and really I think that's where things get interesting. I think the really interesting images push at those edges and cross and encroach on those "lines," which is what makes the genre so attractive.

If you want to study classic street photography [B]elements[/B] I recommend one of my favorites, Robert Doisneau. I think he captures what most of us would unequivocably define as street photography. Oddly enough a *lot* of his images are constructed or posed, designed to look "spontaneous." The elements of what a lot of folks would call street photography are all there, under his control, in his very clever compositions. At first viewing you would probably call his images "street," because they are so real and spontaneous. It can often take several close viewings to get past the artifice. Is it really street? Does it really matter? Ultimately it boils down to what Picasso said, "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.“

Friday, May 18, 2007

Send Good Thoughts

Send good thoughts to Robert (Honus). Robert is a great guy, with a family. Life has dealt him a challenge, as it will all of us. Keep him in your thoughts.

Be well, friend.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

How's the OOFA?

Leica Summicron 90/2 wide-open

OOFA, out-of-focus areas, how important is lens' OOFA, or bokeh? Over on RfF we're somewhat fond of "lens tests." Threads go deep and long if the subject line states "lens test" or "lens comparison." Big debates (arguments) spring up over the validity of lens tests, particularly when they seem to challenge common wisdom regarding which lens is "better," or, more to the point, if someone has spent beaucoup dollars on a particular lens, and it fares poorly when compared to less expensive lenses. In this case, something must be wrong; the test must be flawed. As any tester will tell you, "no good deed goes unpunished." If you post a lens test on RFF, you'll get the appreciation of those that know the time and effort involved, but you'll surely get your wet-rags that'll let you know where and how your test has failed. That's OK.

My favorite lens tests are not the clinical MTF curves and chart and graphs—although those are important (I guess). My favorite tests are lens comparison tests that show the two characteristics that I look for most in a lens: an understanding of the lens' contrast, and the OOFA. Poor OOFA can surprise you and make-or-break a photo. Quality OOFA, or bokeh, as it is more often referred to, reveals itself in a creamy subtle softness. Highlights, particularly points of highlights appears as perfectly smooth and round. Poorer OOFA highlights look like rings, and even poorer OOFA highlights look like football shaped rings.

Here are some recent links:

Roland (ferider) posted a 40mm lens test on RFF: HERE. Sure it's a comparison of 40mm lenses, but it is a test that shows the two factors mentioned above. If you don't know OOFA and bokeh, look at Roland's test.

Todd (Todd.Hanz) just started a W/NW thread on RFF asking for wide open shots. Check the thread out for good and bad examples OOFA and Bokeh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oddest Book Title Award: And the Winner Is...

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification. By Julian Montague

I haven’t seen the book, beyond the Book Tease on Amazon, but from perusing it there, I couldn’t help but nod in approval and smile. It certainly is an admirable effort, a great marketing idea for packaging a photo project—and from the looks of the Tease it really seems to be just that.

If anyone has this book, or has seen it, please let me know what you think.

More Book News

Amazon has Koudelka by Delpire (et al) for 37% off.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Recent Addition to the Brood—Gearhead Alert!

I’ve a guilty pleasure I’d like to confess here and now. I have a thing for...point & shoot cameras. Not just any p&s mind you. I like quality p&s cameras, the ones with really good lenses, or “special” features, like silent-mode, fast lenses, manual capabilities, etc. So of course I had to pick up a Ricoh GR1s, with its sweet little 28/2.8, backwards loading, and perfect ergonomics.

Here’s an image made with the Ricoh GR1s wide open.

Sweet, Huh?

And here’s a “family portrait” of the point & shoots:

Clockwise from the top: the Konica Hexar AF, the Ricoh, the Fuji Natura S, a Motorola Q cell phone for size comparisons (Q=iPod size-wise), and the Leica Minilux.

Promises, Promises

I’ve been trying to get together a comparison test of these cameras. This recent addition, makes that harder, but I’m going to try and get this together and post the results here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Worthy Cause - Flickr Group

I thought I'd pass this one along. It makes for a very interesting perusal. If you post online, particularly at Flickr, then it may be worth your time to join this group and support the cause. Beware though, if you've ever been paranoid about posting your images online, this is one of those groups that reinforces the old adage about how paranoid people actually know what's going on.

Flickr Internet Highway Robbery

Join the group and learn about the robbers that are stealing your images, how they do it, and the warning signs of when a thief has been wading through your stream. The Group has already got over 580 members in her group, so you won't feel alone, nor will you feel like some solitary paranoid conspiracy theorist.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Eye Dominance

Are you left eye or right eye dominant? Here’s a helpful link to an archery site that contains a very simple “do it right-now test” that will help you determine, or reinforce what you know about, your eye dominance.

Determining Eye Dominance

Have fun and good shooting.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Commute (1)

The Commute (1)
Originally uploaded by ferider.
Here's a shot I love. It's by Roland, or ferider on flickr. In typical perplexing online fashion, this stirred-up a little controversey on a certain "forum." Anyway, it's a cool shot, and part of a daily commute that I'm not unfamiliar with.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Link to a Diane Arbus Audio File

Here's a link to a lecture by Diane Arbus. It's a great listen, and gives you a chance to hear one of the great ones.

Diane Arbus Almanac Magazine

Supposedly recorded about a year before her death.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blogging my Friends—Honus

door stop
Originally uploaded by _Honus_.
This is the first in a series of Flickr-based posts, highlighting some of the folks in my Contact list. Go see!


Winograd at Work

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Downtown Noon

Downtown Noon
Originally uploaded by quinine03.
I met up with several RFFers last night. We drank a few beers, knoshed, and showed off some gear. It was great to meet Honus and see Kaiyen, Vrgard, and FeRider again. I got a chance to check out Fe's Canon 50/1.2, which along with Honus' Leica 50/1.4 Asph., was the highlight of the night for me. What an incredible light-sucker that thing is. Like a black hole.

We talked a bit about everything, including why we as a group seem to be moving away from RFF, and more toward photo-related sites like Flickr. We pretty much all agreed that Flickr is an excellent forum for looking at photos, much better than the RFF gallery. I made a mental note to try to participate more in the Flickr M-mount group. How could I not with 2/3 of the Adminstrators for the group sitting at the table?

Take note all. Honus and the gang have added LTM screw mount tags.

Anyway, starting off with an image from last summer, when I was working in downtown San Francisco and shooting five days a week. Sadly, those day are gone, because I got a new job well south of San Francisco, in Silicon Valley.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So I picked this up on Amazon the other day. Actually I bought this book and another Mitch Epstein book, but , as Amazon loves to do on occassion, I received ONE book a day sooner than the scheduled delivery date, while the other is winging its way to me and living it up in airplane cargo holds and mid-west transfer stations.

The real shame here is that I discovered the books from PhotoEye's monthly e-mail mailing list/junk mail, which is my all time favorite "do not delete" junk mail, but I bought the books on That's screwed-up, I know; but for the price of one of these two books, I got both. I even opted out of the chance to buy an autograph copy at PhotoEye. Autographed copies are the really cool part of PhotoEye. Amazon can't compete on that front, but then again, Ican't afford photoeye's pricing, especially when the deals are so irresitably a no-brainer.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Common Places, Common Things

George Carlin, the gnarly American comedian most famous for his bit on the seven words you can't say on radio and television, used to do a routine back in the late 70's during which he reflected on the idea that urinals are 50% universal. It is true, because there are only two types of people in this world, those who would/could use a urinal, and those who wouldn't. Hearing that routine back in those days was both funny and enlightening. Here was this thing that was so common to 50% of the population, and yet to the other 50% it was an unknown, a mystery. I used to have this impulse to photograph a urinal (which I did) and frame it and hang it on the wall (which I didn't)--solely for the purpose of enlightening the other 50% of the population.

Photographers know all about the common and the uncommon, making the common seem fresh and different, and bringing the uncommon home, so the viewer can identify with it. Whether it be the 30th pepper, a Sambos Restaurant parking lot, or the atrocities of war.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This is a Song About a Superhero Named Tony...’s called Tony’s song. Well, not really (my apologies to the Pixies). It’s called Xtoid, and I just added a link to it on the sidebar. Xtoid is Tony Remington’s blog. I’ve only known Tony from his photography on Flickr (see The Photo Essay post) and never knew he was an artist (of the sketch and watercolor variety). It’s a cool blog, very entertaining. Go see!

Single Coated: Published (*): Congrats to Oscar!

If you get a chance visit Single Coated, specifically the post linked below, and give Oscar a big CONGRATS on getting published. Oh and while you're there look around a bit. It's a really good blog.

Single Coated: Published (*)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Never Say Never Part II (or Why Retailers Shouldn't Own Forums)

Ouch! The new owner of, the retailer Stephen Gandy (a.k.a., CameraQuest) showed his colors yesterday when he deleted an entire forum dedicated to discussing ebay transactions. The common line of reasoning by supporting members suggests that he did this for fear of being sued by eBay. If he's using that as a reasoning for deleting an entire forum and hundreds of member posts, then he shouldn't own the forum or he should train his moderators to distinguish and ferret-out any bit of potentially litigious comments. Better yet, maybe he should hire lawyers to moderate his forum. Online forums like this are built upon opinion and "rumor-mongering,“ and besides what was the litigious content within that forum that justified deleting ALL of it?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Never Say Never

Arrgh! When will I learn? Yes, I wandered naively onto eBay and won an auction for a Hexar RF with a 50/2 lens and a flash in the original Konica display box. Even though the equipment was spotless, despite stinking of cigarette smoke, sadly it didn’t work, and I tried to make it work. I wasted four rolls of color film and a fresh set of batteries and three days of trying before I gave up. I was heartbroken. I wanted so badly for that camera to work.

The Hexar RF is probably the only analog/film camera that I was willing to lay down some cash for. I’ve been wanting to use that camera for quite a while now, and this experience has left an awful taste in my mouth.

I said “Never” once before when I purchased a Canon P and a chrome 50/1.8, and the camera arrived with a lens that looked like it had been cleaned internally with steel wool. I’m saying “Never” again to buying cameras on eBay. The Canon P ordeal took several weeks to rectify. This one is taking equally as long to resolve, and of course the buyer is always at the mercy of the seller. I’m hoping this seller is on the level.

Take care on eBay. If you haven’t had a bad experience buying cameras, you probably will.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Some News

It's been a busy 2007. I've been keeping busy, and I hope you have been as well. I've been busy with a new job, but outside of my concerns here's some news that will make January 2007 notable:
  • My beloved RFF has changed ownership
    Jorge Torralba has "transferred" ownership over to Stephen Gandy of CameraQuest. I've mixed emotions about this transaction. I prefer the idea of a public forum, so the thought of RFF in the hands of a retailer makes me feel that this is a marker, a stick in the sand, a plot point. What happens from here on out, will always reference back to January 2007. However, there's one thing that every_single_RFF_member knows: within the whole wide world of the internet there has been no greater proponent, no greater friend to the rangefinder camera and the rangefinder camera user than Stephen Gandy. In fact, the only greater entity is the mass that is the membership of RFF—facilitated by Jorge Torralba. There's great potential for huge success in this union, and unfortunately, great potential for all out disaster. Thanks Jorge and good luck Stephen!
  • M-mount (Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander) Flickr Group
    Finally. Finally, someone has nutted-up and put together a Flickr group that attemps to do for M-mount lenses what the Nikkor Flickr group has been doing for Nikon F-mount lenses. That is, provide a single point from which one can categorically peruse images created with any lens made for a specific mount. The group is called M-mount (Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander), and its realization is due to two dedicated RFF'ers: Alkis Plithas (RFF screen name: Telenous) and Robert Vincent (RFF: Honus).
    This is huge for fans of the M-mount, a project that everyone can take part in. If you own an M-mount lens, use it, and send the photos to the group. Be mindful of using the correct tag. If you don't have a M-mount lens, then this is the place for you. Visit M-mount (Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander) and peruse images made with your favorite focal length simply clicking the linked tag. Of course, right now the group is a little bare (it was launched yesterday), which is why anyone reading this who owns a M-mount lens is invited to join the group and contribute.

  • An RFF PAW on Flickr
    OK. This isn't groudbreaking, but it's fun, and it's new for me. Ray_G on RFF has started up a RFF PAW. I was hesitant to join, because I've always been skeptical of these things, but I figured I'd give it a try. The PAW group is pretty cool, because there's no restriction other than an RFF membership. That means one doesn't have to use RF cameras or film.

OK. I'll sign-off with an image: