Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Metering and Darkroom

For Christmas I received some money towards a light meter; something I should have purchased a long time ago. The meter will help with flash exposures which have always proved troublesome to yours truly.

On Christmas I made some portraits of my folks using the Bronica SQ-A and an off camera flash, but I was having some distress and I started doubting the meter because of the test exposures made with my digital Nikon. Thoughts ran through my head about having to return the meter and replacing it - an undesired hassle. I ended up taking two of every picture I wanted to make and do not know the results yet, though over the last couple of days I believe I made some human errors and should have listened to the meter from the get go.

Some pictures will be displayed here once scanned - stay tuned. I really hope they turn out well.

Other concurrent events:

I am trying to register for a black and white photography class to learn how to develop my own film and make darkroom prints. I am really excited because ever since I have started my photography I have wanted to learn how to do this.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Scavenger Hunt

I love the idea of a photo scavenger hunt. For the past 5 years the flickr website has hosted a monthly scavenger hunt and I think this will be the first time I am going to participate.

Check out the list here.

I have been wanting a bit of a challenge to flex my creative muscles and practice some techniques. Prepare for visual puns.

Time to bust out the digital camera - that is unless I think some photo screams for medium format!

Why not try it?

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Portra 6x6

There has been a bit of a lull here, so I need to break the digital silence by sharing some new photographs I have made with Kodak Portra 400NC. Yay!!!

These were taken with the Bronica SQ-A, quite a lovely camera in its own respect, but the amount of lovely that pours out of this beast is the real story here. The lens is of the Zenzanon 80mm PS variety, and I have never worked with anything that comes close to its performance. Nikon? Pfff.

Here are a couple of photos I want to share:


Some reading with a cup of coffee at hand. f/2.8


A halo of light encapsulates the subject in a glow of elegance. f/2.8

The colors are the best I have ever pulled from a negative film; Kodak's Portra really lives up to its name as being an ace portrait film. Unfortunately, the two varieties of Portra 400 (VC and NC) are consolidating into one type: the new version is called Portra 400, which lacks flair. Despite some minor bellyaching, I still need to try it. I have high hopes as Kodak makes my favorite films.

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Thursday, October 14, 2010


Today is my grandmother's 95th birthday, but she does not remember that it is today. She believes that it is tomorrow because all of her life she and her family celebrated on the 15th. We guess that the lie originated with her parents who used the date landlords are required, by law, to turn on the heat for tenants as a memory device to earmark her pseudo birthday. After all, she was one of eight.

We found this out a few years ago because she needed a copy of her birth certificate for some reason or other and on the certificate, the date, in all of its glory, revealed the falsehood, shattering our world. Well, not quite, but it was pretty weird.

Happy 95th, Grandma.

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Friday, September 10, 2010


Due to the adamant enthusiasm from one of the hosts on the Film Photography Podcast, last week, for the first time ever, I used a Polaroid: the SX-70 from the late 70s.


I never expected to use the camera because it was an unintentional acquisition from ebay; it had been one of the cameras in a camera lot auction. Now that film is once again being produced for these cameras their prices have gone way up.

This beauty came complete with crumbling vinyl, fungusy lens, the ability to fold, split image focusing (it is an slr), exposure compensation, and surprisingly, a working meter.

I had no idea using a Polaroid was so infectious. The immediate satisfaction of taking a photograph and having a print within a couple of minutes is way more gratifying than an instant preview on a digital camera.

Granted the performance is not tack sharp (the fungusy lens lowers contrast and blurs the image a bit) and the quality of the film is bandit (especially considering the price), but these factors add to the surreality of the product and I love the images I can make with the camera!


Once scanned into the computer I had to boost the contrast, but that was the only manipulation I made.

I do have some gripes:
1) I can not control aperture or shutter speed - the camera automatically chooses it for me.
2) The damaged lens adds and detracts from the overall image.
3) The price of the available film is high.
4) I can not call the meter reliable.

The camera holds a dear place in my heart. I shall name it Tom Jones. I do not think that is unusual.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Photographic Opportunity

I have not finished a roll of film in a bit, but I found a great event going on at Governors Island on Sunday. I will probably make my way down there for what looks to be a lot of fun.

NYC Volkswagen Traffic Jam

The heavy rain has put a damper on my photographic spirits and I have decided not to go. The weather has cleared up a bit, but by the time I get there the event would nearly be over.

I am thinking that I should have gritted my teeth and bared the hassle anyway.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Erections Guaranteed

The other day I nabbed my film back from the developer, eager to see the result from the Holga 120N (a medium format camera) which I have not used in about a year. Let me tell you: I love the results. The images are generally sharp at the center, but gradually fade and vignette toward the peripheries. This is the dreamy effect that so many people love on the Holga, but it is the bane of so many photographers who are too into their gear and too into sharpness of their lenses. Yeah, the camera is super limiting with its fixed aperture and shutter speed, but you have to figure out how to work around the issues.

A way to get around the limitations are not surprisingly to work with the available features on the camera, some of which are criminally underused.

1) The aperture is fixed around f/13. The obvious thing is that not much light is let into the camera, but the upside is that the depth of field will be greater, giving a little more leeway on the inexact focusing. The way to fake shallower depth of field would be to set the shot up more towards an edge of the frame, but you need to have the cropping and composition of the final image in mind beforehand. This takes advantage of the nature of the lens becoming more blurry at the edges.

2) The finder is not that good. What you see is definitely not what you get, so it will take a little practice to "see" the image beyond its scope. The benefit is that you will sometimes get surprising and pleasing composition happy accidents which really add to the picture.

3) The shutter speed is fixed around 1/100, slowing down as the camera gets older or if is heavily used. The spring is pretty cheap and wears out. Good thing the camera is under $30. There are no inherent benefits to the speed except that relaxed action will be sufficiently stilled. There is also a bulb mode which is neat for experimentation, but you will have to hold it down with your finger as there is no cable release socket.

4) The focus works. Really, it does. Do not listen to the guys who say they just keep the focus set to infinity. They are the ones with blurry all over pictures. Practice estimating your distances and you are way ahead of the game; this even helps when using the fancier cameras!

5) The inclusion of a hot shoe is an amazing feature. Play with light. Learn it. It will help you overcome nearly all of the camera's shortcomings.

6) There is no real benefit to the cheap construction, but other people like the fact the camera can have light leaks. I do not. I tape up the seams. It can be fun to be a diy'er after little things start to break and you have to figure out how to fix it.

7) Choice of 6x6 or 6x4.5 - it comes with both masks. I always pick 6x6, but there is the option to choose the different format.

8) The lack of meter makes you learn the relationship between ISO, aperture, and shutter speed - another lesson you can apply to other cameras.

All cameras, lenses, and systems have their limitations and the people who know how to work with their gear are usually the ones who churn out great pictures. I am not saying that I do great work, but I guess I think highly of it enough to share my images and words :)


I took this shot at Figment where people are especially encouraged to express themselves. I liked this guy a lot and he reminded me of a cartoon character. I believe I set the shot up with cropping in mind, but even if I did not, I felt the 8x10 ratio really suited him.


Hands. I love hands. I should photograph them more often.

Erections Guaranteed

I will sell all the college boys 11x14 prints.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Meetup Group?

Just joined a meetup.com group. Previously, I belonged to a photo club for a year, but it was dominated by the aged and did not feel the discussions/presentations were all that pertinent to my shooting (ie photoshop tips, digital manipulation, etc.). I decided not to rejoin. This group seems to have a younger base, with many members having an interest in film photography. I am attending the group on Monday so that I will have a chance to find out what they are about.

Drawing The Light

I currently have some film that resided in my Holga out for development. Look for results soon - warning, there will probably be gushage over that camera in such post.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Color and its Conversion

I was pretty harsh on my photos last time because I was very unhappy with the results. I fiddled with a picture or two because I liked the composition and negated the color in a simple editing program. Check out the results:

The weird color cast is caused by a mixing of halogen with a daylight balanced flash - one of the things that must be taken into consideration when shooting with color in mind. If shooting digital the fix is easy - take a test shot with daylight balance, adjust your white balance and gel the flash to match the ambient light. On film you need to use a filter (which will affect the exposure by some stops), then gel the flash to match the ambient light. On this picture the overall cast is greenish, so I would use a magenta tinged filter on the lens (to balance the green) and gel the flash with green. The gel will also take some power away from the flash so that must be taken into consideration as well when calculating exposure.

However if you want to make a color conversion, you can easily use a program do something like this:

I personally like black and white more than color anyway.

So I guess my lesson is that if a picture does not work for you in one way look at it again and think of other possible options. But please, not too many obvious changes: such would be garish.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Crappy Photos

I am so disappointed by the results from my last set of photos. They are so bad I am not even going to post them; instead I will provide the link to an online gallery: bad pictures

I used unexpired Fuji Pro 400H and I can not say that I care for this film. The latitude is very slim and the color is dull and the grain does not seem as buttery as a Kodak film. I tried the film once before and thought it was dull then too, but decided to give it another go.

What also contributed to some of my worst work was that most were taken in mid-day sunshine which is the hardest time to get a good capture because of harsh and flat lighting.

Pretty disgusted with both the rendition of the film and the images.

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Monday, July 5, 2010


Last night my good friend John stopped by to watch some Twilight Zone episodes, relax, and drink the good drink.

Even though he is not into photography he does enjoy a good image and is always willing to see my work. He is quite the articulate fellow (soon to be an English professor) and gives me some of the best feedback I can ask for - describing what he likes/does not like and explaining emotional responses should there be any.

I showed him the two images from the last entry and he was stunned. He said that he really liked the photographs, but pondered a bit over the explanation as to why because he did not want to say the wrong thing due to having a hard time putting his thoughts and feelings into words. Finally, he said "Detailed, the image is so detailed." I responded something to the effect of "That is medium format." I went on further and explained why I liked it to which he agreed point by point.

So there you have it. Even a gentleman who has little knowledge about photography feels the difference between this and 35mm.

35mm: you are great for use in compact slrs and rangefinders when size and weight matters, but for quality we have to go with the larger formats.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Japanese Hasselblad?

I have read on teh interwebs that some Bronica cameras have been dubbed as the Japanese Hasselblad due to their looks and the results you can pull from their lenses. I have not had the chance to work with medium format Zeiss slr lenses, but can only imagine they are great. The camera make, however, has no bearing on the ability of the photographer. If you are a good photographer you can pull great results out of any camera, but after a certain point you might feel limited by your equipment.

Within the first year of my journey into the world of photography I dabbled in medium format under the Holga banner; I was hooked. Granted, the camera is incredibly low-fidelity, but I loved those big negatives (2.25"x2.25") and the dreamy look that camera can produce. Next was a much more sophisticated old, old, old rangefinder called the Certo Six that revealed the possible power of the 6x6 with its beautifully bipolar Zeiss Tessar lens. Stopped down it was sharp, but wider open the images were soft and acceptable focus was hard to achieve. Unfortunately that camera is somewhat out of commission now with a busted rangefinder (damn that Halloween party!). I then picked up a couple of other medium format folding cameras that also gave some great results like the Ansco Titan and the Voigtlander Perkeo I. I was even given a Rolleiflex Automat, but still have not seen what it can do (it also has a Tessar): due to my ineptitude I failed my first attempt with that camera while trying off-camera lighting.

As you can imagine those cameras do not have meters; a fact that can be slightly frustrating. Also not being able to focus as exactly as I would like inhibited some of my creative desires. As I mentioned in my last post, I was determined not to pick up another medium format camera unless it had metering and a couple of interchangeable lenses. It also needed to be an SLR so that I could easily achieve great focus. Then along came this Bronica SQ-A on the Rangefinder Forum classified section and I decided to take the plunge. It covered all of my prerequisites AND had a price that would not break the bank.

I recently finished a roll of the faux black and white film that I am so fond of called Kodak BW400CN. I was not quite sure what I could expect, but I did not expect to be blown away.

Window Lighting 1

I took advantage of the great soft lighting coming from the window.

Does the quality of this image make you interested in trying medium format over 35mm? If so, then that is awesome. Help keep the format alive!

I have to wonder when I will take the plunge into large format photography.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Images From Figment and Bronica SQ-A

I finished up the roll of film housed in the Voigtlander Perkeo I for many many months, finally. These are some shots at Figment (which I talked about in my last entry):

This is one of my favorite shots I have taken of John. He looks very relaxed and I think I caught a great expression.

The colors are a little bit off because the film (Kodak Portra 400VC) used expired a decade ago. They had a bluish cast (the fact that we were under cloudy light did not help either), so I had to warm them up a bit, but still, I was very pleased that I pulled usable images from the roll.

The performance of the camera, the smallest 6x6 I have ever seen, can not be accurately judged because of the film's age. If I was forced to make an assessment of what I saw so far, the lens might have low contrast as it seemed like I had to add a fair amount to every image. I also have to figure out what is going on with the flash sync, as it did not seem to work even though a flash fired off. The good news is that the images look to be exposed fairly correctly, so I probably will not have to break into the shutter and lube it up. There are also no light leaks! These old folding cameras can have a problem with their bellows after so many years, but I may still want to apply some product to keep the leather supple.

In other news, last night I received the Bronica SQ-A outfit I had purchased through the classified section of the Rangefinder Forum. I had been holding out on buying another real camera (ie Leica M2 or Canon P) so that I could afford a medium format slr with all of my requirements. I was not going to purchase one unless it had a built in meter (or came with a metered prism), a couple of lenses, and was 6x6. This one fulfilled all of my needs and the entire system cost less than a well used M2 body alone - beyond a great deal. I will take some shots of it soon with my digital so that you can see what mine looks like, should you be curious. I will absolutely post some images from the roll I have in there once developed.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010


This weekend (June 11, 12, and 13) there is a free event going on at Governors Island (NYC) called Figment that is a celebration of the arts where the visitors get to participate and can become part of many projects!

This event lends itself incredibly well to photographs and was a whole lot of fun the last time I went.

Here are a couple photos I took with my Holga 120N last year:

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Thought of the Night

flickr is an amazing website. Everyone has heard of it, but do they really know that the gamut of talent ranges from novice to master? If you click on enough links and search, you will eventually find some photographers whose images define art. Yes. Big claim, but truth, it is. Favorite those photographers and tell them you love their work, for we are insecure artists.

Check out flickr. I mean really check it out and get inspired.

My photos pale in comparison to a countless many, but take a look if you want.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Camera

I acquired a new camera yesterday, but I have not realized its potential yet. It is a digital camera; a camera-phone. For a long time I had been meaning to replace my old cell which was incapable of holding a charge while talking for more than 15-20 minutes. Really unacceptable. It would also turn off on its own volition without alerting me. The phone had served me pretty well over a number of years - I would estimate it's lifespan exceeded that of 2 phones.

I am not too technically savvy, so I will have to play around with it for a while, but so far I am pleased with the basic abilities; fancy features are unneeded.

This reminds me of a project I want to do: make a pinhole camera out of an old rotary phone. I will have to rip out its guts, bore an aperture, add a shutter curtain, make it light-tight, add a tripod socket, and have a chamber for film with a film advance. Would be a lot of work, but could definitely be a fun side project. Besides, how awesome would it be to say I made a camera, a phone-camera at that.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

Slide Film

Here are the results from some beautiful slide film called X-Pro from Lomography, though most likely re-badged Agfa CT Precisa film. The results from normal processing (E6 chemistry) versus Lomography's recommended cross processing (slide film developed in C41 chemistry) are astounding. Colors are rendered with a gentleness that I would not call muted because they pack a punch when needed and skin tones are spot on with a touch of warmth that give the impression of vitality and health. If you have not tried a slide film, I highly recommend it; on the downside, prices can be expensive, though you may forget all of that when receiving the film back from the developer.

I am having some serious trouble formatting tonight, so I will talk about the images a little down here:

1) An abstract of my living room lamp to test out the bokeh of my Nikon 70-210 f/4 af lens. The camera moved during the picture, but the outcome is quite pleasant.

2) I am not used to thinking in color because I use black and white film most of the time, but I could not help to notice this sight. Nikon 50 f/1.8 afd

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Monday, May 31, 2010

In Gear

I finished a roll of chrome film yesterday which was taking me forever to shoot. I think part of it was the 100 ASA. With such speed I am limited pretty much to outdoor use or studio use if I have continuous hot lights (which I do not possess). Flash photography would be a failure as previous attempts have (thus far) instructed me.

It has been a while since my last post; no excuses. I really should keep this more regular as it would be a good exercise to continue my writing. I feel that it has digressed to a simplistic communication on a surface level while using painfully boring sentence structures.

I should not let only my pictures express my thoughts and feelings, I need to spread well into other mediums. How will I be able to finish the novel my friend and I have been writing for about two years or so to my satisfaction? I need to get moving - in general. Too many things are undone. This blog is an easy step in the right direction.

Anyway, I will drop off the film tomorrow and possibly even pick it up and scan the same day. I am pretty excited about receiving the slides back - I will see instantly how well my craft is progressing in regards to vision and technicality. There is no wiggle room for mistakes with slide as you are allowed with negative. A big benefit to these slides is that they will scan a whole lot faster because slides are the recording of the colors in a similar way that we see the world. Negatives slow up the computer because of all the inverse calculational programs that need to run. I will also need to see if they will knock off a few bucks if I ask them to process only. I do not need the lab to mount each an every one of the strips of film.

I also need to finish up a roll that has been sitting in my tiny Perkeo I. What a great little camera that can give me a medium format image. I still need to see what kind of results I can obtain from it as no pictures have been developed yet. I hope excellent.

Look for pictures in the near future.


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cherry Trees Are Not At Their Peak

Unfortunately the OM-10 (Fred) does not seem to function as properly as it should. It does not meter correctly (about one stop off) and the shutter does not fire as it should when it is in the "on" position. Unusually the shutter seems to fire when the camera is off for the correct amount of time. I do not know if this is a quirk of the camera or if this is how it is supposed to function. Another look at the manual will help me out on this point.

Today I went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and had a hard time believing how many people were roaming around with digital SLRs (mostly Nikon). I did see one person rocking a Pentax K1000 and another with a Diana. With all the people about (hoping to catch glimpses at the blooming cherry trees) and the oversaturation of photographers, I was not really feeling the mood, though I do hope a few of my shots of Sara will come out nicely.

Dinner smells good, so I will have to wrap this entry up for now. I will probably have some pictures for next time.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Photography Project

I am taking part in a photography project. A few disposable cameras were mailed across the country and each participant is allowed to take 9 photographs each before mailing it on to the next person. This is exactly the sort of thing I have wanted to do for a long while and it will kick my creative juices up a notch due to my incessant nature to do my best.

I will upload what I think are the best shots once all is said, done, and developed.

My iTunes has been playing nothing but awesome songs this morning. Playing right now is a song called "Hands All Over" by Soundgarden off of their LOUDER THAN LOVE album. What a great album that is, by the way. If you want to see a very different Soundgarden from the band who did "Black Hole Sun", I highly recommend checking this one out. Recently the band has gotten back together, which I have mixed feelings about, but I will certainly check out their new output.

I have begun using Steve (the Canonet) a little, but that rangefinder patch is not exactly the easiest to use being somewhat uncontrasty. Perhaps I need to spend a little more time with the camera to get more used to it. All said, I am really excited to see the results and how well the lens writes with light.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Squash and Guitar and Semicolons

Today I was in the mood to do some cooking; I am going to try my hand at an acorn squash soup. I have not made anything in a long while; I hope my recipe works out well. While at it, I should try some food photography, something I have not tried very much. I have some film loaded in Steve (my Canon Canonet GIII QL17); I will just hook it up to a flash or two and get cracking.

In other news I added another bit to the song I am working on. There is a wonderful guitar that had been neglected until recently. I can not let such an instrument sit idle when it cries out to be played, even though the only player at hand is quite maladroit.

I was going to post a photo of the guitar, but I just realized there are hardly any mentionable in my archive! I think I will also take a picture of her.

Here is a table spread at a beer tasting:


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Frightful Weather

Oh, the weather outside it was frightful, and inside was too delightful...so I called out from work today. I had been wanting to take a day off from the job for a bit now and I do not think I will be mulcted too much, given the circumstances.

There are so many things to do and not to do; clean off the car, read more Bukowski, nap, write, rock out, slurp soup. I do not have soup :'(

I do not think you want to go out either.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How I Did It

If you take a look at my last post, you will notice three pictures.

The first is of symmetry made from elements [almost] at hand in my friend's diner. I use "[almost]" because none of the utensils matched. My friend indulged me by finding two sets and I got to work setting up the shot. Now that I look at it, the salt and pepper are in different kinds of shakers. Oh well. This was a timed exposure based off of a guess that turned out to be extremely accurate. After the scan I did not have to alter anything!...except a minor amount of cropping to coincide with my vision.

Shot two is of a chess game I played with my father (whom I thoroughly trounced). It looks a bit unusual - somewhat blurry, but still sharp. I accomplished this look by "dragging the shutter," which is a really handy technique and perhaps underutilized today. What you want to do is set your shutter speed really low, maybe 1/15th or 1/8th of a second along with the firing of a flash. Use those speeds if you to minimize this effect, but I really like it, so I shot on bulb mode and asked my mother to manually trigger the flash from camera right (which is where those shadows come from) upon my direction. This is how it turned out and I like it.

The last shot, I am not completely sure why I included. It was pretty late when I uploaded it and my brains may have been flocculent. I used the same technique (bulb mode, with a different voice activated flash), but the room had a bit more light in it, so the effect does not have the same gravitas. I like Scrabble. Though I am still learning, I won this game against said voice activated flash trigger. My co-worker regularly thrashes me, but I feel I am not quite as much of a pushover as I used to be. Do you hear that 3427?

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Outside My Norm

So, like I mentioned earlier, I was shying away from my comfort zone on my latest set of photographs by trying to incorporate more of everyday life.

Most of my shots included people, so I am not going to post them, but here are some of my other favorites which are still outside my norm:




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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Redressed Grievances

An end to an enjoyable and all too short weekend. Tomorrow the daily grind starts over and over again. Sounds like I need to take some time off from work.

I managed to finish up my roll, though I am not too sure about any of the shots in the last twenty-four hours. Do you ever get that magical feeling that you can not wait to see how a shot will turn out? I lack such feeling, but I am looking forward to seeing the other frames, many of which I hope turn out well.

Tomorrow I will start rocking out with my Canon Canonet GIII QL17, a ridiculously long name for a neat little rangefinder with fast glass clocking in at f/1.7 and rare and awesome focal length of 40mm.

I think it is funny that I have started this photo blog, but have yet to post a photo. Such grievances will be redressed on Tuesday when I will present a new photo or two for your pleasure, that is if anyone reads this. I can not tell :)

If you do want to check out any of my work, I have been posting the link at the end to my flickr page at the end of every entry and I more than welcome you to enjoy a view.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010


Tonight my friend is taking me to Brooklyn for some unknown happening as a belated Christmas present. The first Christmas present (an existential play) fell through for adumbral reasons.

I am told I should dress nicely; perhaps I should bust out my favorite sport coat.

The Nikon FE will also accompany me for the event. I will attempt to finish the roll of film and post some of the results within the next few days.

Enjoy your day!

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Slow Goings

I am currently working on finishing a roll of Kodak BW400CN (one of my favorite films) on the Nikon FE, which is a great little slr. It always takes me forever to get through 38 frames, but I like to take my time with each shot and I try to be very judicious.

Tonight I took two photographs, one of my friend John in a restaurant and one in the subway of a slapdash tarring job.

I have been trying to do something different on this roll of film. I usually take pictures of the sedentary, but I have been trying to incorporate more a real life energy into my images with a more journalistic approach.

Let us see what develops.

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