Monday, December 26, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 6)

Fire Eating

I am not quite sure if she was eating the fire or blowing flames on this image. Perhaps a combination of both.

It does not matter to me so much because I enjoy the simplicity and ambiguousness of the image.


This one reminds me of a long and curvaceous dragon, not unlike those in Chinese depictions, dancing with the summoner of flames.

Okay. That is the close of all the fire dancer images. I plan on writing an entry that will incorporate one or two of the images, so please forgive me for posting again, if only to demonstrate an idea.

Stay tuned for the next posting, I am really going to try to make that an interesting one.  [edit - I am not so sure how well the next entry turned out; I was tired of kicking the idea around in my head and needed to get it out there]

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 5)


Hula Hoopin'

I am lumping these two images together because of the commonality in theme.

Circles are a powerful form and always draw the eye when viewing an image.

When photographing I tend to see in shapes and have trained myself to consciously strip down elements that are nonessential to a point when it becomes an unconscious habit in order to make a stronger a picture.

In practically all of my photographs I have one point of interest.

In these Anachronism photographs I focus on Sasha and the flames that surround her are an extension of the image content and the reason why I am photographing this event.

I have to imagine the flames creating a pleasing form (based on my experience and intuition concerning how light writes on film) in order to complement Sasha.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 4)


For whatever reason this is the most popular image of the set on flickr. Personally, it does not do too much for me, but there might be a few things about this image that made it garner the most attention.

It is fun to follow the light streaks and have an interesting pattern.

On another level the figure mirrors the design of the tattoo on Sasha's back (angel/devil wings) and it is as if the fire is going to help her take flight. That may be a bit far fetched, but it occurred to me, why not someone else?

It could also be because the lil' bit o' butt illuminated by the fire and the flash, but then if that was the case, I would imagine the image discussed here would be more popular.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 3)

Fire Vortex

Fire Vortex

Dragging the shutter can be a tricky thing. You do not want to keep it open too long because the image might become blurry due to exposure; the flash exposed once, but the longer you keep the shutter open the light has more time to collect on the film.

It is a delicate balance.

I think I kept the shutter open for about 1-2 seconds here and this let me capture some amazing circular light trails coalescing into one point.

Sasha's unusual body posturing also injects an element of the exotic into the image, which I feel is a nice compliment to the shape light painting.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 2)

 Fire Noir
Fire Noir

I have a hard time expressing how fortunate I feel to have captured this image.

I love the S curve of her body.

I love the localized lighting that hints at more.

I love the flame trails.

I love the motion blur that gives the image an ethereal feel.

I love the amount of negative space.

I love that my imagination races.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Anachronism IV: Sasha: Fire Gypsy (part 1)


On Sunday, December 4th, I went to the fourth Anachronism event at Webster Hall in New York City.  Holga 120N in tow, I was determined to get some great pictures.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Of My Youth


Springtime of my youth was a glorious time where my body was keen and sharp and I was too naïve to take advantage of all the gifts bestowed upon me. My sense of self was unrealized and I cruised along the oversaturated highways of distraction that diverted me from true knowledge and passion. Yet, I still miss those times at times.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Parallel Docking

So you think parallel parking is difficult...


Olympus OM-1
Zuiko 35mm f/2.8
Fuji Superia 400

On St. Thomas
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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Important Agendas

Aesthetically, perhaps not the best images, but what I can tell you is that they have content like NO OTHER.

Important Agendas

This image was taken in St. Thomas while on my vacation. I think the guy in the background (on the left) is responsible for the signs. He was scraping the corners of the street with some tool to clean the accumulated dirt. A little later he was screaming at the top of his lungs about something.

Important Agendas 2

This one tops the other on the gibberish chart.

Wow. Just, wow.

Olympus OM-1
Zuiko 35mm f/2.8
Fuji Superia 400
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stolen Shot

Stolen Shot

I am not sure what type of photography this image would fall into. Street? Landscape? Travel? Street landscape?

I made my way out onto the rocks in order to obtain a good composition for another one of my photos and a couple of folks saw me out on the rocks, so the guy started making his way out too and gave the camera to his lady to take a picture of him with the ocean scenery as a backdrop. A precious vacation memory, I am sure.

I was still on the rocks and liked the idea of getting a picture of him posing for his own photo, but without having the other photographer in the picture. Was this an impromptu forced image?

Whatever it is, I think it is just fun.

Also, the horizon is not slanted; I just caught the curvature of the earth.

Olympus OM-1
Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 (single-coated )
Fuji Superia 400

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Friday, November 25, 2011

St. Maarten


St. Maarten was the first destination of the cruise and I got to walking around the streets beyond the shopping district.  I got pretty close in this picture and the featured dog did not stir one bit, so I am not completely convinced of the validity of the bold sign.

I did not like the feel of the island too much, but I believe they have the best deals based on the liquor prices alone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

St. Thomas

I went on a cruise mid-November to the Caribbean and had the most relaxing time of my life. The unfortunate thing is that we were only docked for 4-9 hours at a time, so I could not really explore the destinations, but I did the best I could with the time allotted.

Here are a couple of shots:


View from a bay in St. Thomas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Vacation Pictures (tease)

I brought my Olympus OM-1 and 35mm lens on vacation and accidentally overexposed some 400 speed film by two stops.  I am curious to see how well the film takes to such a gross inaccuracy of metering, but am excited to have some film back to scan, regardless of the outcome.  Of course, I will talk about this in some detail, but I needed to write something about it now.

Get ready for a bunch of photo entries!

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Monday, October 17, 2011

New York Comic Con and Personal Chiding

Okay, so I ended up only taking one picture at NY Comic Con on Sunday. Actually, it was not even at Comic Con. It was on the street where I saw a dude decked out in an Iron Man costume followed by a filming crew. I do not even think I framed it that well.

Lame. I know. Truth be told, I was not feeling it. The event was sooo packed that I did not feel like I could devote the time to the subject that I desired. This probably stems from being stifled to moving well below my natural pace and forced to shuffle around the entire day. Very irritating. Same thing I said about the Medieval Festival, right?  I want to be in the right mindframe or my work would just be crap; I suppose that is something that I need to work on as a photographer.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Medieval Festival (part 3)


The first time I saw this person at the festival she was far off and I did not have the chance to take her picture. I made a promise to myself to keep walking the grounds until I ran into her and could ask to take an image.

Point of the story: be resolute.

This girl had on an elaborate steam punk outfit. Maybe she was a little out of place at this festival, but the costume still worked. Very cool nose-ring.

I think this is the final picture I will post, so I hope you enjoyed the images over the last few entries.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Medieval Festival (part 2)


This gent made me laugh while I was taking his picture. I asked him if I could and he said yes, but then started talking in character like "What do you mean take my picture? Are you going to paint my image? Are you taking my essence?" and so on...

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Medieval Festival at Fort Tryon Park


I lugged my Bronica SQ-A to a Medieval Festival held at Fort Tryon Park and had an okay time.

The park is very nice, but so many people showed up that it was hard to get around.

A lot of the people that dressed up were really friendly, but it felt like there was something of an attitude of irritation in the air emanating from the mundane folk. Maybe it was the crowding.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rookie Mistakes

I believe I saw this title as a title on one of the forums I frequent and it perfectly explains how I feel today.

Today I went to the medieval festival held at Fort Tryon Park so that I could take a lot of pictures of people in costume, have a good time, and get some practice in with the Bronica SQ-A before I take it to New York City Comic Con. Well, I think about half of the shots are ruined because of my ineptitude.

This camera has an autoexposure feature when the special metering prism is attached, but half of the time I forgot to turn the meter on!

Damn it!

Oh well. I am not going to repeat the mistake again and I am going to be ready for Comic Con.

Is it a huge loss? Eh. I was not really feeling the event and a lot of the costumes looked a bit K-Mart-ish.

I also have not been feeling so well the last few days, so that could have dampened my enthusiasm as well.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

NY Post Office


On Sunday I had about an hour to walk around midtown before joining the comic book meetup group at the Skyline Diner, so I whipped out the SX-70 and started snapping.

The first image I captured (above) is the main branch of the NY Post Office in midtown Manhattan. It is a monstrous building so in order to get a sense of scale I included some people that were hanging out on the steps in the lower right hand corner of the image.

Next I took a picture of a pretty girl who was doing some studying on a more secluded side of the building. It did not come out all that great, so I will not sully her with a sub-par image, but it was great practice to ask a stranger if I could take their picture. I have done it before, but I should do it more often.

Yes, I joined a comic book meetup group. Maybe a little dorky, but, but it was so much fun! Comics and graphic novels have really grown on me the last few months and I am amassing a nice collection. I have even started a comics blog, should you want to check it out.

Well, that is it for tonight!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

PX-100, Orange Flash


Things I have learned:

The SX-70 is not a discreet camera and is difficult to employ it as such. I am not saying that camera is not a good street shooter; it certainly gets some interesting reactions that might add to the overall image.

I was strolling along one of the piers at the Hudson River park and really liked the composition of this shot. I was trying to be very clandestine in order to get the person on the right of the image not to be aware of what I was doing.

I took the shot and immediately the loud whrrrrrrr of the motor and rollers caught the person's attention and obviously he knew what I did. At least that happened after the shot.

I do not have the best SX-70. The meter is slightly off and the fungus'd lens does not help with any possible sharpness an image might have. In fact I am not even sure the exposure compensation wheel works either.

However I do get an image that I am able to slightly tweak in post, and honestly, I love the results.

I used the Impossible Project's experimental Orange Flash film, and as it promises, is not a final version of a product. Still, it was a good deal and I wanted to have that Polaroid experience again.

I want to thank the Film Photography Podcast for inspiring a love for Polaroid.

Polaroid, SX-70
Impossible Project
PX-100, Orange Flash

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Anachronism (part IV)

This my last part in this series of entries. Just recalling parts of this event, even after about two weeks have past, brings a smile to my face.


I think this person had this serious of a look throughout the night. The parasol is an eloquent touch and adds a nice backdrop to the image.


I avoided a bluish tinge on the photograph by using a 1/2 CTO gel over the flash head.

The White Elephant Burlesque Society, led by Viktor Devonne (above), closed the evening for me. Joy, exuberance, and abandon oozed from each dancer and put a big stupid grin on my face the entire time. The finest part of their show was when Viktor started controlling a dancer with a video game joystick, but then the dancer got a hold of the joystick, which forced him to start dancing and the look on his face...priceless; he acted like the whole performance was against his will. Absolutely hilarious.

I can not wait until the Slipper Room in NYC opens again as I must inject more burlesque into my weekends.

White Elephant Burlesque Society

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Anachronism (part III)

So apparently there is a steampunk calendar. Lots of these look awesome! Also, it looks like Brooklyn is steampunk central.


I loved her piercings and geisha-esque outfit. This one may be my favorite from the night.


This mime broke character and spoke a few times throughout the night. I think this is a very fun image.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Anachronism (part II)

anachronism [uh-nak-ruh-niz-uhm]– noun:
something or someone that is not in its correct historical or chronological time, especially a thing or person that belongs to an earlier time

All the people who attended this event must have felt somewhat anachronistic, which allowed people to bond easily, let down their guard, and have a great time. To put it simply: Anachronism III was drenched with super positive energy and I loved it.


Probably the most decked out person at the event was the host: A Count Named Slick-Brass, captain of The A.S.S. Titilus. He was pushing everyone to drink, drink, drink, but drink responsibly. Unfortunately, the success of the event was judged by the bar bill, so in order to have more shows like this one, everyone needed to dig deep into their pockets and buy a couple beers. I enjoyed his hubris and he had a great and anti-politically correct sense of humor. He also won best in show at the cosplay contest, despite the fact he publicly withdrew after showing off his costume to the crowd.


She was heading up the costume contest. Incredibly outfitted in some green devil attire.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Anachronism (part I)

Last Sunday I attended my first steampunk event, and let me assure you, it will not be the last! I can not begin to adequately elaborate on how much fun I had, but I am going to try.

The adventure began as I was trying to decide on what to wear; blending in is an important aspect in photography (on the street and at events) because it helps lower a person's guard that they might have otherwise had if I wore just a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

I also added a newsboy cap and a chained compass to wear on the vest which gave me an early 1900s look (I think).

Let me tell you: taking a self portrait at f/2.8 is an exercise in exasperation.

The event, held at Webster Hall in NYC, started off a bit slow but picked up speed a couple hours in.

Bands played. Beer flowed. People in costume mingled.

Picture time:


She was a model for the body painter at the event, but I liked her face so much, I shot that instead of the artwork on her back.


This guy was great. I loved his outfit and he sang sea shanties, Irish folk songs, and an interesting interpretation of Led Zeppelin's "Gallows Pole"

He also played this tune by the Pogues:

All of the images on the black and white roll were terribly overexposed, so I did what I could with the levels and think they turned out okay.

Each shot was taken on the old variation of the Holga 120N (the one with only one aperture) and Kodak Tri-X.

That is all for now, but I will be adding more images over the next few entries.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anton's Portra 160 Experience

Check out my review that is up on the Film Photography Project's website!

Leave comments, thoughts, and positive vibes!

Listen to the Podcast!

Shoot film and join the group!


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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer In Central Park

A couple of weeks ago I strolled into Central Park on a hot Saturday afternoon in Manhattan. My plan was simple: shoot some film with the Holga 120N that had seen little use over the last year; an issue I was bent on rectifying.

The camera felt a little unusual in my hands because I had not used it in a few months. Its weight is probably the most discombobulating feature as it is made almost entirely of plastic, and thus extremely light. My mitts are usually holding a metal camera with a solid weight, something that screams "machine," "tool," and "camera." I do not think of the Holga as a "toy" like so many others would be quick to say, but honestly, it requires an entirely different mentality to shoot properly. Whether I was shooting with the proper mindset is questionable, but, so it goes.

Furthermore, I accidentally managed to flick on the bulb setting switch that bought me one-way ticket to motion blur town; a real destination for anyone who has handled a Holga before.

Anyway, here are a couple images that I took with some mildly expired (but cold stored) Portra 400VC:


This dance squad put on a fun show that I was smiling the entire way through. Well done gents. My attempt of an action shot with a camera made for action.


This kid zoomed past me on his unicycle while displaying some impressive juggling skills. You can not tell all of that from the shot, but I like it for some reason.

I think I have taken some of my best shots with the Holga in the past, so I think I will be grabbing it more often from now on.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Day Leading Up to Midnight in Paris

Yesterday happened to be a long and wonderful day where I woke up bright and early and went to bed too late, but everything in between was magnifique.

I picked up some bagels for a bunch of my coworkers, 1 onion, 2 cinnamon raisin, 1 salt, 2 whole wheat everything, with regular and scallion cream cheese and butter. Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Co. in Chelsea certainly know how to do those chewy grainy sinful pleasures, and their coffee is really good too.

The walk from the store to my job is about a mile and a half, but you know, morning walks happen to be one of my favorite things because they are relaxing get you geared up for the rest of the day. Anyway, I finished my large tasty coffee before getting into the office, but it made me jittery for about two hours. I do not often have coffee in the morning (so my body is not accustomed to the caffeine level), but do find it very enjoyable every now and then.

The day went smoothly and after work I dropped off a roll of 120 Portra 400VC at Printspace, a really great place to get your C41 developed, and got on the subway to head home.

I got off at the usual stop and was exiting through the turnstyle when this guy in his 60s started yelling at me "DON'T PUSH, DON'T PUSH!" Now, I happen to do this every day, so I feel I have a pretty good grasp on how to exit a subway station, but apparently this fellow had a problem with my methods. Truth be told, I was bewildered and said:

"But that is how it works..."
"Didn't you see I was in there?"
"But I was not pushing you."
"Don't fucking push!"
"I wasn't."
"Don't fucking do that again."
"Have a good day" - it must not have been to good to be yelling at a total stranger and I totally meant it).
"What did you fucking say?!"
"Good day to you sir!" - with a salute (maybe that was to irritate him a little).
"Just try to say that again!"

I had plans to meet up with Metal John later in the eve for dinner and catching the new Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris", but I had some time to kill before then and decided to go into the second hand store where I almost purchased a suit that fit me perfectly for $25, but while it looked nice the material felt a bit rough, so I opted out.

On the car ride up to Hawthorne Metal John and I listened to the Screaming Trees album that I did pick up in the aforementioned store, and it was oh, so early 90s. Scott Stapp must have been listening to the album and taking notes, as Creed sounded like a lot slicker version of the band.

We dined at the Oriental Diner on some okay food, but we both surmised the Japanese restaurant near my home was far superior. I do not think we will head back to that establishment even if we are going to see a movie in Hawthorne again.

Truly, the movie was a joy. Real and surreal. Characters hilarious, yet poignant. Hemingway and Dali were real highlights of an already stellar feature.

A couple of favorite quotes:

Hemingway: It was a good book because it was an honest book, and that's what war does to men. And there's nothing fine and noble about dying in the mud unless you die gracefully. And then it's not only noble but brave.

Hemingway: No subject is terrible if the story is true and if the prose is clean and honest.

I would try to cite the ones from Dali, but I would not do the lines justice.

As I was watching the movie I was thinking to myself that this was definitely a movie I am going to need to own.

There are a ton of other reviews online, so I am only going to end my quasi-review by saying that the movie left a smile in my heart. Trite, but true.

Maybe I will go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the MoMA tomorrow to check out the works of some of the artists referenced in the film. It would also be a great excuse to enjoy the best brunch in Manhattan (at Lexington and 93rd).

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thoughts on the New Kodak Portra 400

Well, this review is hyper late as the film was released months and months ago, yet I still felt like writing about it. I just finished the roll of 120 that I had popped into my Voigtlander Perkeo I back in mid May, but better late than never.

So I will preface this by saying that I loved the old NC (neutral color) variant of Portra because of the warm and neutral tones it imparted on an image. When I had heard that Kodak was consolidating their NC with VC (vibrant color) films into one flavor I was a little concerned, but in the back of my head I had a feeling that Kodak would not let down the film community. In many ways, I think they far surpassed everyone's expectations.

I had seen numerous reviews of the stuff and all were very positive, but ultimately I needed to decide for myself.

Here are a few images from my first roll:


Yogi/acrobat/contortionist in Washington Square Park collecting money after a show.


That is impressive.


Some cherry blossoms at the Sakura Matsuri festival in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

All in all, great colors and skin tones with an incredibly fine grain. Colors seem to pop where you want them and are subdued elsewhere - somehow a mixture of the aforementioned VC and NC is achieved.

I am also interested in a claim by Mat Marrash from the Film Photography Podcast who says you can shoot the film at an ISO of 3200 after pushing the film only one stop (i.e. shooting at ISO 3200 and developing it as if shot at ISO 800). There is another photographer who shot and developed the new Portra at 3200 with great results. Extraordinary, really.

I want to test the film out some more, but I have a feeling this will be my color negative of choice.

So there it is. I did not put the film through the ringer with overexposure and underexposure tests, but all signs lead to a high performance and flexible film. A bit more punch than NC and not quite as vivid as VC. I like it a lot.

Not to detract from the film, but I want to say that the 50+ year old Voigtlander lens performed quite nicely as well.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I went to the annual Viking Fest held at Owl's Head Park in Brooklyn, NY, with the goal of using the Bronica SQ-A on the go. I suppose this is one of my photographic goals this year - I mean, this is the best (and most complete) camera system that I have, so I should definitely use it more.

With that in mind, I toted my camera with the normal lens (80mm) to Bay Ridge on a two hour trip to visit my uncle:


We headed out to check the festival, which was despairingly small. I still had a good time talking to some of the folks about the ancient gambling, strategy games, and other things viking. A conversation with this awesome lady:


was struck up about photography and she was delighted to see my Bronica. Unfortunately there is a little camera shake in the image.

There were also some knightly performances to combat and I chatted with this amiable fellow about armor and the combat:


I ate some thick beef stew that I can not remember the proper name of and had some waffles that tasted just like the ones my grandmother used to make. The flavor and texture transported me back some 20 years, sitting at the big dining table passing around the home-made food at a big Sunday afternoon dinner.

I should look into trying to make those waffles.

All in all I am not too happy with the images from the day - mostly because I am not fond of the film (Fuji Provia 400F) because of the colors and heavy grain (for medium format).

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Inspiration From Other Media

I just finished the fourth book in the hardcover SAGA OF SWAMP THING collection, and I have to say that it is the most exciting comic work (that I have read). If you are into comics, even just a little, you know about Alan Moore. You have most likely seen movies adapted from his works: V for Vendetta, The Watchmen, Constantine, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell.

Back to Swamp Thing. What has blown me away by this series is the incredible and experimental use of artwork format to convey impeccable storytelling. This series does not have the typical 9 panel pages that practically dominates the layout of comic books. Reading the stories and the panels is like following a chaotic roadmap, but it has an organic feel, which would be appropriate for any story involving the Swamp Thing. It is this experimentation that is going to force me to delve back into the collections again and look for tips on lighting, composition, and storytelling for bringing my photography to a new level.

I want to step outside of that "9 panel" comfort zone. I want to experiment. I want to continue to learn and learn and learn and transcend the normal conceptions of photography, or specifically, what I have been doing.

I believe the route I want to take has to do with photo methods, so to assist I picked up a book titled ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES. When I learn the possibilities of what is capable outside of the cookie cutter develop, scan and or print mentality, my pre-visualization abilities will increase to give a clearer, stronger, image of what I want from the final image.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Niagara Falls (part 3)

This is my final entry about Niagara Falls, I hope you have enjoyed the images from the previous two.


I thought what this guy was doing was pretty dangerous; standing on the perilous ledge of the falls , but hey, I have to thank him because I like the shot. He also sports a none-too-flattering wedgie.

Taken with the Olympus OM-1 and 35mm f/2.8 single coated Zuiko lens on Kodak Tri-X film, souped in TMax chemistry.


Prepare for the impact; a first hand look at the power of the falls from the Maid of the Mist.


Wham! This picture was taken before the last picture, but I think this sequence tells a better story :)

Both shots with a crappy point and shoot.

One of the five cameras I had specifically brought for the Maid of the Mist shots crapped out on me at the hotel, so I had to get a crummy disposable camera, which did an okay job.


Taken at a park in Queenston Heights while my friend and I were on our way to check out a town called Niagara on the Lake, which was supposed to be an 18th century town, but it felt more like Scarsdale (in Westchester County in NY) with all of its overpriced boutiques and restaurants and pay parking. The monument featured at this park (Brock's Monument - seen in the distance) is quite ridiculous. It is so high up that if the artist did a fantastic job, no one would appreciate it. If the artist did a poor job, no one would realize it. Funny in a perverse sense, really.

I was going for a silly picture here. Instead of posing my subject on the steps and looking at me for an environmental portrait, I had him bend over for no apparent purpose. I am sure it sounded pretty creepy when "bend over more - I like that..." came out of my mouth.

Taken with the Olympus OM-1 and 35mm f/2.8 single coated Zuiko lens on Kodak Tri-X film, souped in TMax chemistry.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Niagara Falls (Part 2)

I was most surprised by the insane commercialism of the area. On this one street there were about 4 wax museums, ice cream shops on every block, and almost every type of fast food place you can think of. Outside of the immediate area the place was somewhat depressed and dilapidated:


Taken with an Olympus OM-1 Zuiko 35mm f/2.8

The night before the last day in Canada, John and I ventured to the falls to take some night time pictures (around 11pm) while spotlights shone on the water:



On the last morning of the trip my friend and I woke up at 5am and walked down to again and took a number of pictures and here are the best ones (spare the image from the last entry):



All of these were taken with the Bronica SQ-A with a Zenzanon 80mm f/2.8 PS lens

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Niagara Falls (Part I)


I have tried to break into Canada twice before, but alas, the fates must have conspired against me. The first instance was about a year ago when my friend and I were all set to go, but the morning of the trip he informed me that his green card had expired and that he would probably not make it past the border control to get back into the states.

The second time I was going to visit with my girlfriend at the time, but my car died on the trip and we had to take the train back down to get home.

This time I actually made it, but it was a close call.

After a long car ride, a conversation with a gamut of topics, and listening to some great tunes we made our way to the border where this cutey of an officer was asking us some questions:

Q: What is the nature of your visit?
A: I wanted to answer "Pleasure" but said "Came to see the Falls for vacation"
Q: Have you ever been here before?
A: (No, but John had)
Q: Can I see your hotel reservation?
A: (Passes confirmation printout)
Q: Did you bring any cameras?
A: Yes
Q: How many?
A: Thinking and looking up for a moment I counted in my head and said "five".
Q: Five? Why do you need that many?
A: "Because I do film photography" - granted that is not the most lucid answer to someone who might not be into film photography, but it made sense to me at the time.

After a few more questions she handed us a yellow sheet of paper and said to pull over and give that to the people that would come out to meet us. On the yellow slip of paper "5 CAMERAS" was written and underlined.

John noted that he did not want to have a cavity search because I had brought five cameras across the border.

The people that came out to greet us said that we needed to go into "immigration" while they searched the vehicle.

Inside I had to explain that I was not shooting for commercial purposes and that our visit was recreational. After a short probing we were let through.

I received the nickname "5 Cameras" after the incident.

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Single-Coated vs. Multi-Coated Lenses


A thought occurred to me the other day. I believe that single-coated lenses are worth far more bang for the buck than their younger multi-coated brothers. For the most part they perform exactly alike, except that single-coated lenses generally make for a less contrasty image with slightly softer colors.

A less contrasty image is of great benefit to render greater detail in shadowed areas. If the initial image is too contrasty, information can not be brought out.

In the darkroom or on the computer you can always easily add contrast to an image like the picture above. If the concern is of colors, those could easily be pumped as well, but not too much, please.

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Sakura Matsuri Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

So I was not entirely sure what to expect at the 30th annual Sakura Mastsuri festival. The programs listed throughout the day sounded fun (traditional drumming, cosplay caberet, and the art of Japanese karate to name a few) and I had been to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden before so I thought I would be able to get some beautiful shots of the cherry blossoms in full bloom; however, I did not expect the mob scene that it turned out to be.

The garden was so packed that one could not even hope to dream of getting an isolated shot of a row of trees, or even a single tree for that matter, so I focused on the characters, which turned out to be fantastically interesting:

May be my best shot of the day.

I can not explain to you how adorable this girl was.

This girl sang a bad ass version of the Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood theme song during the caberet.

This is cosplay.

Japan is big into animation and dressing up like your favorite characters from one's favorite series. What reason you ask? Fun, obviously. There are places here in the States that you can experience cosplay, like anime and comic conventions, but this was the first time I had ever experienced it in person.

It seemed like everybody attending had some DSLR on them and throughout the day I heard the rapid cycling of thousands of shutters as the photogs crowded and surrounded the people in costume, but I noted a few Leicas, a Contax, a TLR, a Pentax, a Minolta, and a Zeiss Ikon. I was happy to see that there were still a bunch of film users about.

Proudly I displayed the Bronica SQ-A to represent precision Japanese medium format photography, and let me tell you, every time I use this camera I fall more and more in love with it - even my subjects like being photographed by the elegant hulk!

I got all of these shots because I asked for them. If you want an up close and personal shot with someone do not be afraid to go up and ask the person - the worst they can say is no. There is so much more to gain if you actually engage a person.

I knew there would be lots of color during the day, so Fuji Velvia RVP 50 was the obvious choice, but to tell the truth, I was a little bit worried about the rendering of skin tones because of the proclamations from a certain well known reviewer.

Anxiously, I picked up my film after work yesterday because I was not sure what would develop; whether I had wasted money and such, but soon as I opened that cardboard cube box my heart skipped a beat: the slides were gorgeous. I can wholeheartedly recommend this film for color portraits. Even the clerk who ran the place came by to take a look at them with me. He was also surprised with the brilliant colors and neutral skin tones and even brought the slides over to the light table for a closer look with a lupe.

Once I got home I hurried to scan them, but for some reason (surprisingly) the scanner does not portray the images justly. They all scanned underexposed and I started freaking out that the Bronica's meter was incredibly off and that I would need to get something repaired, but I looked at the slides again today and clearly only a couple were under (most likely by human error). I am not sure why the usually excellent CanoScan 8800F crapped the bed, but maybe it does not handle Velvia well? The scanner always seems to work better with Kodak films; maybe therein lies is the mystery?

I did the best I could to salvage the photos last night, but these turned out less detailed and duller than the real thing.

You can check out the whole Sakura Matsuri set here:

And now you know that I love anime.

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