Monday, April 28, 2014

Change is Good?

Artists go through evolutions.
I mean you start off, then you get better, then I think you reach a point where it all comes together and your efforts become well, effortless.
You can do it without thinking.
Which was my goal with ceramics, especially making vessels on the wheel.
After you can make a perfect shape, it then becomes more about putting your mark on it, making it look like it was handmade.
Things change.
I mean you can get perfect bowls at Pier 1.
If you know what I mean.
With photography, being so dynamic at least for me, I don't think there is a perfect stage.
No such animal as the perfect picture.
Pursuit is what it's all about.
I think.
So after reading them books, I became a little more aware of what I was seeing and how I am approaching things.
Which I think is sort of a bad thing.

While with some shots, I can take my time and frame and reframe and position and reposition, for the most part, I shoot on the fly.
I'm not just wandering around out there, for me it's sort of like riding my bicycle: get in and get out.
So I'm constantly on the move.

I look for things to take pictures of, as opposed to having a picture come to me.
Even when I stop it's never for more than a minute or two as I take the shot and move on.
As I said, it's dynamic.

Thinking about it slows me down.
To be honest, either I'm very lucky or there's something going on subconsciously because I walk into some nice shots.
What I mean is the original intent wasn't there, but after I look at it, certain elements just fell into place.
Over thinking the shot is just uncomfortable for me.
Now I'm not trying to toot my own horn here.
Actually the way I feel about it that I am incredibly lucky.
So I'm not going to pay any attention to what I just read.
Okay, not really.
I wanted to gain some insight to what I do, I just think it's better not to think about it.
If that makes any sense.
I was hoping to 'tweak' my approach, but I think sometimes change is just change.
Like the change in your pocket it doesn't add up to much unless you put a whole bunch of it together.
Anyways, Flickr has a promotion going with photo books.
For like ten bucks you can get a 20 page book with shipping.
That's a deal!
So I went ahead and made one up.
Then I made another one.
More on this later.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Early Edition

Learning new tricks I am.
Sort of.
I mean being new to this whole photography thing I need all help I can get.
If you know what I mean.
So in-between work and work I got a couple of new books:

This whole street photography thing ain't as easy as it looks.
Or is it?
Easy as it looks I mean.
You go out with a camera, walk around and take some pictures, right?
There are tons of pictures out there that folks took out on the street, but what makes it good?
What makes you want to look at it not once, but twice?
In other words, what am I doing wrong?
Or right?
I think it comes down to three things: luck, composition sense, and cojones.
That was Spanish, not French.
Luck because you gotta be there to capture the moment:

The car pulled away like thirty seconds after I took this shot.
It helped that it was raining too.
No rain, maybe no shot.
Composition sense, actually let's call it camera sense,  for there are times when the content is there, but if you frame it wrong and don't use the camera well, it just doesn't work:

Okay, that's just a shot I took off my lanai, but there's a picture there, I just didn't bother to frame anything.
Like this:

Sometimes you got the shot, you just didn't get the shot.
Lastly, this is from the books, you need to be bold.
No guts no glory and all that sort of thing.
Or be satisfied with this:

Taken from behind a wall on the beach.
Or this:

Hey Mr. Violin is it okay if I get some pictures?
Sometimes you gotta get in there, up close, to get what you need.
I've passed on plenty o'good shots because I was well, afraid to go and get it.
Or I just took the easy way out and took the shot from a different angle.
In a stalking sort of way.
So, what's this all about Alfie?
Well I've been thinking about what I do and why I do it.
The purpose and motivation.
I mean I teach photography so I better know what the hell I'm talking about and I better have the goods or I don't have any credibility.
The other reason for my introspective if you will, is that well I take a ton of pictures and I don't know why.
Pictures of course record history.
They are also a social record, a sign of the times so to speak.
Street photography even more so.
I mean I like taking pictures of nice sunsets and stuff, but really street photography intrigues me and I find it more challenging and rewarding.
I think I'm beginning to understand this photography thing a little better.
I took the shot, but what was my intent?
As with all art, it's not just about the making part, but why you made it.
Will this change the way I take shots?
More on this later.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Have an Excuse

No really.
I usually try to get out at least one post out on Sunday, but I was busy.
No, really.
It all started on Saturday.
I was busy that day too.
It started off with that camera swap meet thingy where I managed to unload a couple of cameras, not as many as I wanted to unload, but at least my bag was lighter when I left.
Anyways, then I went off to shoot some film.

There's some strangeness right there.
Not sure what that's all about.
I went down to Aloha Tower to check things out.

The Falls of Clyde still slowly deteriorating at the dock.
Boy, someone has do to something about that!
Aloha Tower is going through a change as a local university has taken over the lease.
Gone are all the party places I haunted, you know, back in another life:

There's some memories right there.
Kinda sad to see.
Requisite palm tree shot:

Then it was over across the street, sort of, for the Honolulu Night Market.
They close off a street and have a bunch of food trucks and art stuff:

Boy, it was crowded!
I also ate some awesome jambalaya!
I would show you a pic, but well, I ate it.
So anyways, I waddled back home so that I could develop all that film.
Then on Sunday, I did some more developing.
I had a couple of rolls sitting around and I was supposed to go someplace, it was Easter don't you know, but I did some laziness drills instead.
All day.
I could have posted up at night, the Late Edition, but I went across the street to scan the negatives.
Which you see above.
Then it rained.
So I had to stay and take some rain shots:

The Angry Ramp.
Okay, those aren't all rain shots but trust me, it was a raining and a blowing and I got water drops all over my oh so precious lens.
I was afraid it was gonna melt.
If you know what I mean.
Well I shot a whole roll out there in the rain sleet hail blizzard tornado storm.
The things I do for you, the reader!
Then I had to go back home and develop the roll I just shot.
By the time I was done well, I was done.
I went to sleep.
Now here I am!
Sort of.
I mean I'm here, but now I'm gone.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pentax Spotmatic II

Intruder alert!
Enemies across the wire!
Welcome to the FNG.
Or something.
I cannot believe it myself, but I think this Pentax has broken my iron clad grip on Nikon shutter buttons.
I got one more roll to develop, you know, to see what this camera can really do, but I think it's a keeper!
You remember:

That Pentax Spotmatic II.
Okay, it's not really the camera, I mean a camera is a camera is a camera.
Unless it's a Nikon.
Then it's a Camera.
In this case it's more about that lens, that Takumar lens.
This is like the third generation Takumar, I think I'm going to try one of the early ones, but it's got a nice look.
Here's some night shots I did:

The things I look for are how it renders lights and lighted signs.
It's also pretty sharp, if you like that kind of thing.
I need to run one more roll through it as I under developed this roll by two minutes, I was watching Netflix while tanking and I forgot what film I was doing.
Nice results despite my banana headedness.
The Takumar lens has something of a reputation on the internetz and I can sort of see why.
It doesn't have the magical glow of the Nikkor SC lens, but it still looks pretty nice.
My thing now is to look for lenses with some character, a lens that has a look of it's own.
It does background blur pretty well too:

I would have a hard time separating this lens from my Nikkor 50mm 1.2.
The Spotmatic camera also holds it's own.
Fast shutter for a camera built in the olden days:

Then again being from the olden days it has some quirks.
The shutter speed dial is backwards compared to my Nikons so it slows me down some.
I think this was one of the first cameras with through the lens metering where you could preview the aperture setting.
Meaning you could see what the camera was seeing, depth of field and all, plus meter though the lens.
It's got a funky switch on the side to turn the meter on:

There's also a Manual/Auto setting on the lens body:

I won't go into how the setup works, you can read more about it if you are interested, but I will say it's not difficult to use and I have no problems with it.
Since I shoot mainly at night, the lens is set wide open anyways so I don't do much fooling with the switches.
It can handle an ISO setting up to 3200 and everything else is pretty straight forward.
You can find one of these puppies with that nice lens for less than a hunkski which for me is a really good deal, so good that well, you guessed it.
I went and ordered another one!
Gotta have a back up don't you know.
I'm also unloading some of the cameras that didn't work out for me this weekend at this camera swap meeting thingy going on so I'm making some room.
For more cameras I mean.
Okay so anyways, if you are looking to get into film this camera/lens combo is really nice.
So nice that if I wasn't so heavily invested in Nikon, I might be tempted to put together a Pentax system:

Where did that come from?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


I'm almost there!
One last thing to take care of before the end of the year and I'm home free!
First, there was this lunar thingy last night.
Full moon, Earth's shadow, red stuff, etc.
All images taken with my Nikon D7100 and Nikkor 70-200 VRII at f2.8:

Forget about totality.
Clouds all over the place!
Finally I got into the car and drove to the park.
Couldn't even get the camera to focus and I had to guesstimate!
Finally some breaks in the puffiness:

There was also some high cloud cover so resolution was pretty much nonexistent.
I did get some nice shots coming out of totality.
The wind was a blowing too and I could hear the vibration reduction of the lens working all night.
This is while the camera was on  a tripod!

Thank goodness for technology or these images would be really crappy!
The moon was actually really dark, you could hardly see it at times but I was using a really slow shutter to bring it in.
After it started to get brighter, I started to speed the shutter up some.

Sort of a reverse diamond ring effect going on there.
It was pretty cool to see with the nekkid eyeball.
The last lunar eclipse I remember was way more cloudy and you couldn't really see anything.

I had planned to sort of stay for a while but it was wait and shoot with all the clouds and the old Earth was a taking it's time getting the hell out of the way.

So after about two hours, I packed it in and headed on back to the Flat Tire Command Center (FTCC).
All this celestial stuff has got me thinking about getting another telescope.
Then you gotta get the adapters and eye pieces and Barlows and filters and equatorial mounts and well, you know the drill.
On the other hand, astrophotography is sort of why I got all interested in photography anyways.
Lemme just enjoy taking pictures for a while, you know, before I go off the deep end.
Oh yeah.
I've already gone off the deep end.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Early Edition

This time I didn't buy it.
Well okay, I did.
Sort of.
A while back some folk had dropped off some photo stuff to another teacher and he called me to ask me if I wanted anything.
Sure, I said.
I mean free stuff is free stuff.
If you know what I mean.
Well there's this bunch of stuff and a camera but the camera is toast, the mirror locks up and I don't know what's wrong with it.
More on this later.
So I'm going through all this stuff and it's like really old but I do a search and it seems like this stuff is supposed to be good stuff!
Except the camera don't work!
Okay so I order a camera but when it gets here, it's broken too!
Cracked mirror!
If you, the reader, have been following along home, then you know what happened next.
That's right!
Another camera:

Pentax Spotmatic II!
I like this camera.
See the first camera I got for free, the broken one was a Pentax ME Super, which is also a nice camera.
It's about the same size as my Nikon FG, a bit smaller than a regular SLR but it's also on the newish side.
The good stuff lenses that came with it were older Takumar lenses with what's called the M42 screw mount which means they well, screw on.
The camera came with an adapter,  so I figured I might as well get a M42 mount camera:

Normally I probably wouldn't have done that, get another camera I mean.
Well okay, I probably would have.
The thing is I got three of these Takumars, the 50 you see there, a 28, and a 135 so I just had to!
Get another camera I mean.
More on the glass later.
The Spotmatic first came out in the 60's but mine is circa early 70's, second version.
Like all vintage stuff it's a bit quirky, it's got a meter but it's a bit different.
There's a switch/lever thingy on the side that you push to activate and you can meter stopped down or well stopped down.
There's an Auto/Man slider on the lens but ultimately they both do the same thing.
Needless to say the camera is built like the proverbial tank, boat anchor weight.
How does it shoot?

Well as in pretty good.
Taken with Ilford Pan F at ISO50.
By the way, there's a bird there in the first two shots, a Golden Plover, kolea,  ready to go back to parts North.
I took these at work, I was hot to get a roll through the camera so the lens is stopped down.
The true test is wide open at night, which I also did.
Except I was watching some Netflix while I was developing and forgot what kind of film I was tanking and developed the roll three minutes short.
The negative looks okay, but I'm not going to use it to judge the quality of the lens.
I'll try go get out today and run another roll through it but I got to go and work on the kiln later and there's those pesky laziness drills I have to do.
Anyways I need to watch my development skills as yesterday I got this:

Color processing at home!
More on this later.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Camera's Eye

Or Photography Lesson No. 4275.
Or What I Learned In Photography Class.
I'm the teacher.
That, fortunately, does not mean I can't learn anything.
Because if you, the reader, have been following along at home, you know that for the most part, I don't know what the hell I'm doing.
Still here?
Case in point:

I walk past here all the time.
That is not what it looks like; sodium lights, strange paint on the walls, etc. it is not pleasant place or picture material.
Okay, I sort of thought there was something there as you can see, but I never thought of wasting a frame on it until I had to well, waste a frame.
I wanted to finish a roll off and develop it so I popped that shot off and I was pleasantly surprised with what I got.
The camera saw and captured something I didn't.
See I mean.
The clouds parted, angels sang, a light bulb went off above my head, I woke up and smelled the coffee etc.
Okay, subconsciously I've been doing this all along:

Using the camera as a tool, as a means to create images.
Making pictures, not taking pictures.
I almost always shoot stopped down, meaning I'm always under exposing my shots to create a certain look or composition.
Almost nothing I take looks like what it looks like with your nekkid eyeballs.
Okay, almost nothing:

I do expose for normal light now and then, but for the most part it's always under:

Trying to see what the camera sees.
Of course it's partly my eyeballs, but the camera is large part of of it too.
What can the camera do?
How will the camera see it?
Can the camera change something ordinary into something extra ordinary?
I must be thick.
Or dense.
Why this concept didn't come to me earlier, I dunno.
I mean I've been doing it, but now that I know why I'm doing it well, now I know why I'm doing it.
If you know what I mean.

Of course It's All About the Light Baby (AATLB!)!
That helped me realize what I was up to with all this exposure stuff.
How can I use the light?
What can I do to make it AATLB?
I mean a sunset is just a sunset until it's AALTB:

What I see matters and having an art background don't hurt but again in the end it's what the camera sees; the camera's eye.

Now I feel validated for having all these cameras!
Did I mention I got a new camera?
More on that later.
Photography is a lot about what you see, but it's also about what comes out of the camera.
It's tool, not a jewel and one can never have enough tools!
Don't you know.