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.

flickr photos

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).

flickr photos

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.

flickr photos