Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Week of 08/26/2013

Camera: Nikon FM2n

Lens 35-70 Zoom

Film: Kodak Portra 400

Date taken: 07/31/13
Location: 15th and Walnut

Develop and Scan: PhotoLounge, 19th and Chestnut

Conversion to b&w and editing in Photoshop

At this juncture, I don’t think of myself a street photographer. I’m not all that good at shooting from the hip (though I’ve improved a lot in the last year) and things have to be a bit internally off-center, in order for me to start pointing my lens at random strangers. More to my style is shooting objects and vistas--what I call the “urban landscape;” photos devoid of people or I’ll set up a shot and wait to see if a serendipitous figure will appear.

On the flip side, some things just get in my face and cry out to be recorded on film. Like so many photos, I barely remember taking this one and I have no conscious memory of the young woman with the rather indignant look on her face. While I was editing it, I also noticed that her fist is clenched. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Week of 08 19 13: Serious Toys

Location: Near 3rd and Girard
Image Size: 6 x 9” @150 dpi
Camera: Superheadz Blue Ribbon
Lens:  Super Fat 22mm plastic doublet
Film: Kodak Ultramax 400
Exposure: Approx. f8 @ 1/125
Develop and Scan: PhotoLounge
Conversion to black and white and adjustments in Photoshop

As more and more neighborhoods become gentrified (including my own), I’m finding I have to travel farther afield to find things to feed my eyes. The decaying ruin, the accidental, the rebellious, and the out-of-kilter generally are banished with alacrity where everything is polished to look new, wealthy and manicured.  As in this case, one need only hit the ragged fringes of an area to find something interesting. In less than a decade, much of Northern Liberties has gone from being old and odd to built-up and rather dull. It’s no wonder that photographers often trek to poorer countries where the texture of the human soul lives closer to the hardscrabble surface of the physical environment.

Granting myself permission to shoot with a simple, fixed focus camera is a great way to break the routine and feel lighter. The Blue Ribbon, an all plastic tool which is a deep cerulean blue, is technically a toy camera much like those sold by the Lomography people except its design and build does not create funky chance effects, aspects the serious Lomographer seems to crave. There is some distortion from the ultra-wide angle and a tiny bit of edge fall-off, but the lens is surprisingly sharp and non-poetic, so the camera goes for a paltry $20 on sale. It is lightly built but should hold for many rolls if not abused. The Ultramax  400 film used here is a mere $2.09 for a twenty-four shot roll from B&H Photo. The film color is a bit hyper-saturated for my taste but converts to black and white with no problem, the grain is quite fine and the sharpness is excellent

The camera is available at the link below:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Week of 08/12/2013

Location: West End of South Street Bridge
Image Size: 10 x 13 @300 dpi
Camera: Panasonic Lumix G2
Lens: 14-42 Olympus ED

Although I may opt to simply see and experience, rather than photographing, there is nearly always a camera, often two, ready to go in my bag. This shot was caught on a morning walk up to Penn.  I’m pretty sure I just turned around and there it was; the camera was not out and I wasn’t thinking about taking pictures.

Often, the less I think about photography and the less self-conscious I am of being in the landscape with a capture device, the better things go.  I’ve never done well with the idea of “going out to take photographs” unless I give myself permission to come home empty handed. Also I’ve found, the lighter the gear, the better. The less the gear screams “Pro photographer!” the happier I am.  I’d much rather be taken for a tyro or a student and simply blend in. Toy cameras are great that way. I’m currently using a tiny 35mm camera that’s bright blue and it seems to do an end-run around what most people perceive as “camera.

More shots!
This weekend I did a late night shoot at Gemini and Scorpio's Lost Circus: 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week of 08/05/2013

Location: Spring Garden Bridge, looking north
Camera: Panasonic Lumix G2
Lens: 14-42 ED @14mm, f6.3
ISO 200
File Size: 10 x 13 @300 dpi (Full Frame)

I guess the old saw about persistence being the key to success has some truth to it. I had shot from the bridged into the train yard many times and also shot the SEPTA yard from the side near Drexel many times, always with mediocre results; they were just very matter-of-fact shots.

Capturing the urban landscape I’ve become very aware of barriers and adept at working around them when possible. I often shoot only to come back and find a building has gone up and blocked the once open view. The Spring Garden Bridge has some solid walls in spots, but they are only about six feet high and I had a suspicion that they hid an interesting view. By using the fly-out LCD screen I was able to hold the camera above my head and trip the shutter. It was very sunny and the best I could do was to see the coarse arrangements of shapes, taking care to be sure the horizon was level—truly an intuitive act.

I made two files, one for the sky and one for the land that I then combined. I hope to print this one soon.