Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11/25/13 Analog or Digital?

Location: Ridge Avenue near Lemon Street
Image Size: Approx 13 x 19 @240 dpi
Print: 8” x 12”
Camera: Nikon FM2n
Lens: Nikkor 28-105 Zoom
Film: Kodak Portra 400, developed by PhotoLounge
Scan: Epson V500
Conversion to black and white in PhotoShop
Print: Epson Artisan 1425/ Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

This image seemed to be calling to me to go and reshoot even though the day was bitterly cold. Miraculously, I caught a similar light and cloud shapes that also work.  The re-do was with the micro 4/3 Lumix on a monopod at a low ISO. I also did a capture with an amazing 6 x 6 cm 120 film folding camera made by Zeiss in the 50’s called a Mes Ikonta. I’ll be posting some of the Zeiss shots on the Concrete Muse Facebook page.

When the cold wind is whipping by, I want to keep things as simple and easy as possible so I can think about what I’m photographing.  A single camera with a zoom lens fills the bill, but I really wanted to see what a large negative shot of this would look like. The Mes has very small controls on the shutter for aperture and speed.  Additionally, the film advance is via a red window that has a tiny tab for opening and closing its cover. Top that off with a rangefinder that is a separate window and a manually set focus! It’s just too fiddly for serious winter use in the field; my hands started to feel like ice cubes.   

The negative had some long, thin scratches, possibly created when I slid the film out from the mylar sleeve that it came in. These I carefully repaired using the healing tool in PhotoShop.  I created three scans that I then combined: one for the foreground, one for the sky and one for the dark area of the broken wall on the right.  The print felt to me like it didn’t need to be a full 13 x 19 and would work better printed somewhat smaller.

The two prints at similar size, make an interesting study. The second digital version is below. The medium format version will be posted in the next few weeks. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week of 11/18/13

Location:  Broad and Tasker Streets
Camera:   Panasonic Lumix G2
Lens: Olympus 14-42 ED
File size and print size: 10” x 15” @240 dpi
Print: Epson Artison 1430/Cone Color Inks/Moab Lasal

It had started out as a bright and sunny day, but had quietly transformed into a gray afternoon. The section of Pennsport and South Philly I had trekked turned up little; even the junk shop I had photographed a scant few weeks ago, I could not locate again. All I seemed to encounter were row upon row of well-maintained homes. On Delaware Avenue one feels as if one is standing on the precipice looking down on the end of humanity. If I ever figure out how to squeeze that into a photograph, I’ll really have something!

I think of the photography more as a journey than a destination. I don’t worry if my travels yield no photographs. The images always seem to find me. Lo and behold at Broad and Tasker I spotted an empty store that beckoned me. This was another case of barely remembering taking the shot, except that I recall repositioning my left hand to get a better composition and then the second figure appeared in the background and I hit the shutter.  The man in profile is like a specter from the days of The Rat Pack. It was not until I got home and brought up the file that I noticed that the reflection was the same man I remember noticing shortly afterward. He had trucked past me as I made my way home.

The print required a lot of time to let me know what it needed, to find its pictorial structure. There were twenty-two iterations.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week of 11/11/2013 Divagations on a Deux Chevaux

Location: Near 16th and Spruce
Camera: Argoflex ca. late 40's)
Lens: Varex Anastigmat,75mm, f4.5
Print size: 11.5 x 11.5” @1880 dpi
File size: 30” x 30” @240 dpi
Film: Agfa APX 100 re-spooled to 620, 2010 Expiration
Develop: HC110 1:49, 9min @68F
Scan: Epson V500
Print: Epson Artisan 1430/ Media Street ECR Inks/ Moab Lasal

This full-frame shot was probably done around 2011. I’m getting better about developing film in a timely manner, but this was part of a rather large backlog that I’ve been slowly denting. I had recently shot some more of this very old (2005) APX film in the studio using my old Rolleiflex and fairly careful metering using a digital camera to measure the exposure. I mainly wanted to see if I could hit the right developing time for the odd, but convenient developer dilution I use. I think I’m in the ballpark but it was clear the negatives were not consistently exposed; some were extremely dense, others thin.  This negative was dense in the light areas, about right in the mid-tones and somewhat thin in the dark areas, definitely a challenge!  The image was just quirky enough, to convince me to go ahead and see what might unfold. 

The Cone pigment inks seemed to have been clogging the print head, so I flushed everything and temporarily went back to my old Media Street dye inks.

The Argoflex is an estimable camera especially considering that a non-overhauled one goes for about $25 on e-Bay. The lens is fairly sharp lens and has a nice bokeh. It’s smaller than most twin lens cameras and somewhat lighter as well; a great way to try one’s hand at medium format photography on the cheap.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week of November 4, 2013: West Philadelphia

Image Size: Approx: 13 x 19 @240 dpi
Location: 34th and Lancaster
Camera: Nikon FM2n
Lens: Nikkor 35-105 zoom
Film: Kodak Gold Max 400
Scan: Epson V500
Proof: Epson Artisan 1430/ Cone Color Inks/ Moab Lasal

As I recall, the day I shot this, it seemed nothing was really falling into place, I had walked around a lot but little seemed to feel like it would it make a photograph.  I don't worry about this too much.  Letting go of all the unnecessary stuff in my head is as important as making the images. Then I saw the clouds and the rooflines and the photo was just "there" in the viewfinder. Likewise, the print seemed to be self-guiding and didn't fight me. It politely asked for certain things and I obliged, getting a result that I liked in seven or eight trials, rather than twenty or more.

West Philly, that always seemed so rock-stable is also seeing changes in the landscape. This is very much a mixed use area. The concrete block and hedgerow you see in the foreground that looks so at home here are part of a typical 7-11. Right across the street, Drexel has just demolished a rather unassuming low building that I think was an engineering research lab and it looks like they are preparing to put up something very tall and large. The landscape is always in flux.