Sunday, April 19, 2009

Headed Back To Japan

Last night Diane and I headed down to San Diego to hear John Prine and Josh Ritter. It was a wonderful concert in a pretty exceptional venue. It was held at the historic Spreckels Theater in the heart of downtown San Diego. It opened in in 1912, was renovated in 2004 and really just a beautiful place. Well worth the drive.

I’m sitting at SFO, headed to Japan and preparing for a long journey and a long few weeks ahead. In the next several weeks I’m in Japan, Canada, England and possibly Germany and China. It’s going to be crazy busy and I’ll be in dire need of time off when all is said and done. So the concert was a little bit of foundation for the trips ahead. Music has a way of doing that for me. And it’s made me think a bit about my own photography.

Looking at my iPod I see some 120 songs by John Prine. Out of that number I have about 88 in a playlist and about 20 of those are considered 5 stars. Mr. Prine has been producing music for a long time now. His writing is creative, unique and gets to issues in a way that is thought provoking. Over that period of time I wonder how many of those songs he considers his best?

Over the last 30 plus years I’ve had an on and off again love affair with the camera and photography. It’s provided me with a ticket to the world. A way to share what I see with some of the people closest to me. Today, it’s my creative outlet in an otherwise crazy world, at least my little slice of the craziness. And looking back over that span of time I don’t have much that I would really call wonderful, or good, or anything else. Maybe I’m too hard on myself. I’ve been accused of that and to some extent it’s most likely very true. And it raises the question on why I do this, why accept the pressure to produce something meaningful. It really boils down to the fact that I just really enjoy it.

I may never produce anything that anyone would consider great. But I enjoy the images and I think that’s what matters the most. Photography is constantly on my mind. I want to read about it, see it and actively work to produce an image. I really enjoy the process and it’s why I have a camera with me on this trip even though meetings and work related stuff will, in all likelihood, prevent me from making anything worthwhile.

So here’s one from the hotel window during my last trip to Japan. It’s taken through the rain splattered window overlooking the Shin Yokohama train station. Those shapes really interested me and I made several images of the structure over the few days I was there. It’ll mean something someday. Well maybe.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great Park II

I’ve finally gotten all my processing completed from the last few weeks of traveling and other outings with the camera. This is one of the images I like pretty well and it’s nice to see something come out like I intended it too.

Unlike my previously documented fiasco’s, I was actually paying attention while I made this image. It was made on the Chamonix over at the Great Park in Irvine. This is an old hanger that will eventually be made into a flight museum. I had stopped over there one day to see what the big ballon looked like and just fell in love with the old space.

I knew the light would look good early so I made a trek one morning not too long ago. It would also give me a chance to use movements to get everything in line and sharp, or not, if so decided. It’s a repeat of an image I posted a few weeks ago that was made on Type 55. But that image used movements to throw the bottom out of focus and it just didn’t work that well for me. Plus this one was taken a little bit after the sun peaked over the horizon and so the contrast looks a bit better to me as well.

It was processed in Diafine because that’s what I’m using at the moment. It doesn’t give me the control over exposure that I could get with something like HC110, but it allows me to practice easily and I do like that. The next step will be to control the negs a bit more and see how much that really affects the images considering I scan everything.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Kentucky Trip

I spent the weekend in Kentucky with my family to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my parents. It was a very quick trip with just one full day in the state and almost two full days of travel.

I took the Hasselblad and the Leica and thought I’d get some good family images along with a group portrait of everyone who attended the party. Unfortunately the wild gremlins decided to show up at a most inopportune time.

I should know better than to develop key rolls at the same time just in case there is a mix up in the procedure. But in an effort to get the film developed and scanned before I leave for Japan this week, I went ahead and developed the two rolls that had the group images on them. Big mistake.

In order to get me in the photo - something that was seriously driven home to me by my wife, daughter and mother - someone else needed to trip the shutter. I’m not sure what happened there but the shutter was never tripped by the designate. Strike one.

To make matters worse, and like the last post where I sometimes don’t pay attention when I should, I drained the Diafine A and then mistakingly put in fix instead of Diafine B. There is an image on the neg but it’s thin. I might be able to get an acceptable scan from the negative but it’s a bit of a reality check. I need to really get my head into the game when I’m out with the camera.

This is an image of Lily. You might remember her from a couple of years ago. She’s as adorable as ever and certainly knows how to make her uncle feel good about himself. I was told by her dad that the evening we arrived she ran and got into her favorite dress when the call came that we were almost there. It does wonders for the ego. She looks a little disconcerted here but she’s trying to keep her kite in the air while posing for me. At the same time her brother is trying to ram his kite into hers. It makes for a rather frustrating experience for her. But I like the image and I hope that someday she will too.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More Japan - No Words, At Least Not Much

Here in the US we don't get to see many IranAir flights. Just thought this was worth capturing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Japan Redux

These are two more images from Japan.

After spending the day lost, I finally made it back to the hotel and needed some food and some rest. I made my way to a market that was close by, bought some water, ate some chocolate and just plopped my butt down for a bit in a little park. I just didn’t want to take the easy route and head back to the hotel.

So I headed out with another roll of film, a little more energy and decided to see what I could see. Turns out there is always something to see if you just put your mind to it.

I headed out over a bridge that was an overlook for a local train and decided to try and make some images of the train as it passed by. As I’m doing this I noticed the shutter speeds are much faster than I has imagined for the film I thought I had in the camera. I didn’t give it much thought and just figured I had gone through a roll quicker than I expected.

So I head off to find something to eat, preferably sushi, and find a nice place, step inside and am pleasantly surprised to find a sushi place with an english menu and a sushi chef that speaks english. It’s harder to find than you would imagine.

I get some great sushi, some good saki and feel rejuvenated. I’m watching the chef make platters to go and thinking this would make a good image. At this point I’m more than halfway through the roll (or so I thought) when I realize I have Delta 100 in the camera but am exposing it for Diafine like it’s Tri-X. Bummer! Turns out I’m on exposure 35. Big bummer! And I’m thinking I made some good images here and they are going to be SO over exposed. Turns out that Delta 100 in Diafine at 1250 is somewhat forgiving. The images of the chef are complete crap but some of the other images turned out OK. These are a couple of them.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


I spent a few days in Japan at the beginning of March as well as a day in China. International trips are always hectic for me and it’s rare that I get a chance for some personal time that doesn’t include work. With as much travel as I do for business - about 150,000 miles last year alone - the last thing I usually want to do is spend more time away from home.

This trip was a bit different in that I got a weekend in Tokyo; something I haven’t been able to do in 8 years or so. I spent some time with a friend of mine on Friday hitting a variety of camera shops that I wouldn’t have known about without his guiding ability. It absolutely poured the entire day and the camera never came out, although it should have. But I was enjoying the discussion with my friend, taking in parts of Tokyo I had never seen, and in general, just enjoying the down time.

And on Friday night I was able to have dinner with some old friends I haven’t seen since our company was acquired several years ago. I had the camera but never got it out. The food and conversation were just too good.

On Saturday I had time to myself and I braved the trains and went exploring. I got lost. I could have stuck to cabs (a very expensive proposition) and gotten to wherever I wanted to go. But I thought I’d hit Yokohama and then head to Kyoto on the train. I made it to Yokohama, ended up on a wrong train back to my hotel before heading out to Kyoto and so I spent a couple hours exploring before I decided to find my way back.

These are some of the images.

Having recently read about the issues in Kyoto maybe it’s a good thing I missed it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Inauguration Day

This is a little late and not as timely as I had intended.

I’m getting caught up on the backlog of film I’ve had since early January. Over the last two weeks I’ve developed about 12 rolls of 35mm, 6 rolls of 120 and 16 sheets of 4x5. Now I am getting them scanned, spotted and adjusted in PS.

I’ve been developing in Diafine since the beginning of the year. It’s really helped to standardize, get my process down and know what I’ll get. On 4x5 I’ve been using Ilford FP4 because 100 sheets of the stuff was included in the price of the Chamonix when I bought it. I’m exposing it at ISO 200 and processing in Diafine 3+3. It makes scanning the images pretty easy and I like it so far. The negs would be difficult to print in the wet darkroom but I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon so I’m not worried.

With the Leica I’m using Plus-X at 400 and Tri-X at 1250. I’m really pleased with that combination in Diafine. I used some Delta 100 in Japan at ISO 80 and I like those as well. So that’s my line up for the foreseeable future.

In 120 I’m using HP5 at 800 and FP4 at 400. I have 3 rolls of Delta 100 at 64 for the dr5 process which I want to try once again for some images. I’m not sure how far I will take that but I plan to see what I get and also try the Efke 25 for the Chamonix.

These are images I made as I traveled on January 20th. It was an historic day and I wish I had planned a bit better and stuck around LA for the festivities instead. I won’t put any of the others up. It’s my guess they will need to stand a bit of time to mean anything to anyone else, if they ever will at all.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Annenberg Space For Photography

Took the day off and headed to The Annenberg Space For Photography up in Los Angeles. If you are in the area it’s worth the trip and it’s free to enter as well. In addition, they will validate your parking for 3 hours which will allow you time to visit, eat or have a coffee. For $3.50 it’s a great deal.

The space is small but there was quite a lot packed in. During the afternoons there is a digital exhibition on a large screen that really makes the images look wonderful. It’s a slideshow on steroids. There is also a room with a large plasma screen with video of the photographers speaking about their photography. Throughout the space there are images on display from the various photographers being showcased.

The inaugural exhibit is a group of LA photographers including several from the LA Times. In addition Douglas Kirkland and Greg Gorman are included in the exhibit. Kirkland showed some new work as well as some of the Marilyn images he’s famous for. Gorman showed the same old tired work that he’s been showing for the last 10 years. As my wife said, “...seen it all before...”

My favorite images were from LA Times photographer Carolyn Cole. (Read an interesting article here. Her work was simply amazing and to hear her speak on the video was telling.)

There are also images there from Julius Shulman famous for his images of Southern California architecture. Really cool work to see. He said in his video he shot one B&W image and one transparency of the places he would make images of. And by the way, he’s not a shooter, he’s a photographer. He doesn’t carry a gun. Listen to an interview on NPR here.

Click on the title to go to the Annenberg Space site and check it out. And look for the photographers that are speaking for the Iris Nights lecture series.

This is an image from a side trip over to the Great Park in Irvine. It’s on Polaroid Type 55 and taken with the Chamonix. I’ve got some sheets yet to develop but should get them done soon.