I’m in a state of transition good friends! Delicious, dynamic transition!

I haven’t posted any photos since Christmas in India. But that doesn’t mean I’m not taking photos, it just means I don’t have a means for posting photos.

Ok, so that’s confusing. What happened is that I sold my Fuji GW690 and my flatbed scanner to a friend. I now am scanner-less and Fuji-less. These things have been replace with a new 4×5 Chamonix field camera and Fuji 250mm lens. But… alas… no scanner.

No scanner = No digital photos = No photos on StillThrill.

I could of course outsource my development and scanning. But it is so expensive. It’s worth it to buy your own scanner. And to be frank, you can use a really crappy scanner for 4×5. There’s so much data in large format, you don’t need 9600 dpi (which would give me a 700mb file). I barely even need a 500kb file for the jpgs that go on this site. Which leads me to another item of note – posting photos on this site is a terrible way to see/view photography.

So what is a good way to view photos? Prints, glorious prints. I am far more interested in making prints these days than I am scanning and posting photos. And now that that is the case, I am more interested in making photos that are print-worthy.

“What is print-worthy” is a fantastic question. And in my ramblings through photography in my life, I’ve taken maybe 10 photos that could by estimated to be print-worthy (printing large, mind you). There is a thread running through these images and it’s one this author has picked up on.

So this is the current project. Take photos that are print worthy. Revealing more details is something I won’t do. Not now anyway.

Disclaimer: This is not about photography.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you – my new CrapPhone!

I’ve read a few different articles of late that discuss the problems associated with information overload. What happens when you live in a world when everything is constantly vying for your attention and sending you notifications? One such quality long read that Medium put out is here.

It was a topical read as I was in-between phones. iPhones specifically.

Well, calling the iPhone a “phone” is being much too generous to the phone. The iPhone is a computer with the internet that is with you all day long. In your pocket. Most of what I am saying is not ground breaking. But when you stop having the computer in your pocket, you think about this more.

So I thought I should leave it. And I did. I purchased the terribly un-user friendly LG Expression 2. Some notes about the phone and the plan:

  • Unlimited Text Messages
  • No Email. No Internet
  • No Instagram (just driving the earlier point home)
  • I get to make phone calls. 
  • A keyboard with little keys
  • If it had internet, I could connect with AT&T’s cloud based address book. But it doesn’t. So my address book has three phone numbers in it.
  • $20 per month
  • Amazing battery life. Like a week.

What’s incredible is how slow this thing is. To capitalize a letter, I have to push the “alt” button and then the key. Well, it takes about half of a second for the phone to register the alt key so typing has to be slower lest you cause a typo. I guess this is what happens when you don’t have a proper CPU behind your operating system.

The software also has an utter lack of regard for user experience. The best example I have is with text-messaging. Lets say I am in a “text conversation”. Everytime the other party texts me, a pop up exclaims “You have a new Text Message. Hit OK”. And then I have to hit the “OK” button and then respond. This is less a conversation than it is like using slightly faster snailmail. I have tried turning off this notification in the settings but no dice. At first, the unlimited text messages amenity sounded great, but now, I just don’t even want to text.

It won’t even render emojis. Just black squares. Not sure what protocol texts run on, but apparently winky yellow faces require HTTP.

Wowzers, is LG just terrible or is Apple just that great? I suppose all phones were this bad way back when (its almost been 10 years since Apple released the iPhone).

But, for now, I like it. No really, its true. I like the fact that it is shitty and recognize that I don’t want to use it. I simply don’t want to use my phone for anything. Except (god forbid) making calls.

I now read a book on the train. I don’t read the news when I go to the bathroom (too much information?). I have to look up the location of a place beforehand and make sure to have the proper directions because I’m now sans-Google-maps. I’ve noticed the wife looks way to much at her iPhone during dinner (maybe I need to step up my conversation game then?).

So, in the end, there are two benefits to not having an iPhone. First, I only pay $20 per month. Not to brag but I was fine with $120 per month paid to Verizon earlier as it wasn’t a huge portion of my disposable income. The second benefit is much more valuable – I am now less attention deficit. And this is not just hyperbolic luddism used to justify some new-age psychology. It’s like being addicted to smoking and really recognizing your addiction. I guess the long battery life is a benefit. But it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy because I just don’t want to use it.

Thank you, LG, for such a terribly shitty phone that I don’t want to use. It’s helping bring back what sanity may be left.

Different areas afford different photographic opportunities. I probably have some sort of photographic style. I haven’t given it much thought but there are certain elements that I love in a photo. India is one of those places that just keeps giving me those things that I love. We travelled from Mumbai to Kerala and this is a mix of them.

Image 25

Image 2

Image 37

Image 12

Image 6

I recently read Ebay’s “Common Mistakes When Buying a Film Camera”.

After reading, I was scratching my head wondering, “Did the author ever buy a used camera?”. I’ve purchased at least 15 (and sold many as well). So I figured I would write my own list.

1) Trusting that that old light meter works.

The Canonet is a cute lil bugger. It’s a small rangefinder with a fixed 40mm F1.7 lens (depending on the model). Even the name is nice; Canon with a feminine suffix. Apparently over two million were sold. Other manufacturers produced very similar cameras. Ebay is filled to the brim with them and they are less than $100. What’s not to love?

The fatal flaw! It’s aperture-priority only*. This means that for the camera to work and take photos, the light meter must work. No light meter, no camera. And guess what? These old light meter’s simply don’t last. I bought one with glee… only to find… a brick.

Just buy a fully manual camera! My recommendation is the Nikon FM with 50mm lens.

2) Not expecting a learning curve.

This isn’t so much an issue with a camera as it is with a person. Everyone should just understand that each camera will have a different learning curve. Medium Format cameras will be a different experience than 35mm ones (as will large format). If you’re a novice, start with a simple and inexpensive 35mm SLR. Then work your way up (if you want to).

3) Purchasing from a seller with questionable feedback.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Most of the transaction’s I’ve had have been smooth. But trust the feedback and stick to someone who has good feedback to avoid hassles.

4) Buying a Holga.

I’ve no inherent problem with the Holgas. I mean, I’m glad they are bringing back so much interest in film. But for the same price of that plastic thing, you can get a real engineering marvel along with some seriously nice glass. The Japanese made some great cameras from the 70’s that can go for a song. Why not get serious with these before the Holga?

5) Buying Wide Wide Wide.

It used to be a look that I went for. Wide angle and shooting close up. There’s something about that look… Well, nowadays, that “look” is everywhere. Wide angle lenses are everywhere. It’s getting boring! Why is everyone shooting so much wide angle?

How about a change? I shot a whole trip on a 135mm lens from Nikon along with my Nikon FM and I loved how the photos came out.

I suppose the real mistake is just copying the look everyone else has.

6) Not shooting Black and White. Not Developing yourself.

One of the advantages of film is the tonality and dynamic range of black and white film. Also, it’s cheap. Film is expensive in general so you should start with cheap black and white film (I recommend the cheapest film – Arista from Freestyle Photo). Developing yourself is also easy and makes the experience more intimate and cheaper. Highly recommended.

Let me know if there are mistakes you’ve had that others should know about.

I used to want to be featured on Hardcore Street Photography. Not sure if you’re familiar with it – it’s a Flickr group where people submit photos. Then an anonymous group of folks decides which ones make the cut. Any that are deemed to be a combination of “hardcore” and “street” then get accepted. I’ve submitted a few of my favorites but they never made it.

I used to get angry at the fact. I mean, honestly, some of the photos that do get accepted are awful. Of course there is some really great work as well, but it doesn’t seem consistent.

After some time I realized, I just don’t give a hoot. This is probably a natural reaction to things that at first make me angry. I cease to give the perturbation any power. Why should I really care if Hardcore Street Photography will feature my photos?

I feel the same way about this blog now-a-days. I want you to like it and it to reach millions of folks. It won’t. But who cares? This is about me and my own meditation.

This is what photography should be. It should be an exercise in solitude. A meditation with you and the world. Take any of the best street photographers (or photographers in general) and just look at the way they photograph. They could give a damn about their audience.

So, while I do love you and think highly of you (you amorphous blob of readers), I need to forget you. And you should forget me, at least for awhile :-).

Hey Gang –

Happiest of Holidays to you and yours.

Your humble narrator here, just checking in. A couple of things on the agenda:

All I wanted for Christmas was my two front teeth (and a pinhole 4×5 camera).

Every Christmas for the past three years, I’ve only cared about one thing: film cameras and photography. Last year my brother bought me my Nikon F3 :-). For my anniversary gift this year, my wife gave me a Rolleiflex 3.5. I am in love with these cameras. And even though I won’t stop shooting with them, I can’t get enough and want more.

I’ve been shooting with medium format very consistently for about two years now. And they’ve been getting bigger. I started with 6×6, then got very intimate with 6×7 (I still love that aspect ratio, maybe even more than 2×3) and now am shooting a lot of 6×9 with my Fuji. And oh boy do I love the Fuji. It’s almost a perfect camera.

I think though, it’s time to bring on the big guns. Hence the request for a large format pinhole camera to start with (and keep the costs down). Developing, scanning and all of that, will be tougher. But worth it!

My wife and I are traveling to India and Sri Lanka.

We decided it would be a good time to get away from it all in NYC and travel for a couple of weeks. I will certainly have my Fuji GW690 in hand, filled to the brim with Kodak Portra 220.

On a side note – I went this route when I went to Burning Man. I hate taking the time to change rolls. And 6×9 is so cumbersome when a 120 roll only gives you 8 shots. The 220 suits me really well and luckily for me, I found some good deals on 220 on craigslist.

I just can’t wait to sink my teeth into street photography in Mumbai, Kochi, and Southern Sri Lanka…

Wherever the Holiday season takes you, enjoy it to its fullest!


Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with photography, which is what my blog is normally about. But I found it so odd, I wanted to write about it and had no other real venue.

For those not aware, Fallout 4 is probably one of the most hotly anticipated video games of all times. Get this – it hasn’t really been announced yet, but run a google search for “Fallout 4″ and you’ll find at least two to three new articles written daily about it. How is that possible? There’s nothing to write about!

Ok, sure, there was a leak of some documents months ago which gave the setting – Boston. But that was really it for the cold hard facts. How can writers keep up all this speculation? It gets even weirder when you start looking at the websites posting this stuff

Below is a non-exhaustive list of websites that have posted about the speculative release of Fallout 4:

  • KDrama Stars – This is a website devoted to stupid drama news about Korean Celebrities. Here’s the Fallout article next to links to articles entitled “Did Yoon Eun Hye Gain Weight?”
  • Christian Today – A newspaper devoted to those devotees of Christ. Really? I suppose the article is in the “Entertainment” section. But this Fallout can be blasphemous/lewd and doesn’t seem to evoke thoughts of cherubs.
  • Hallels.com – Another Christian Newspaper. This is on the about page: “Hallel is a chant of praise consisting of Psalms 113 through 118 from the Old Testament, used during various biblical festivals and holidays including Passover.”
  • Christian Post – You can guess what this one’s about.
  • Ecumenical News – This news is really ecumenical.
  • Kpopstarz.com – Yep. Another Korean Celebrity one. WTF?
  • Tehran Chronicle – Glad we are getting away from Korea and Christianity here. But pretty damned odd. I checked if previous Fallout games were banned from sale in Iran and only found that the United Arab Emirates banned it, which is funny, because…
  • Canal Noticias – A spanish website based in the UAE… what? Spanish and UAE to my ears go together like oil and vinegar. I Google translated their about page “In recent months News Channel has focused on providing unique and original news from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain , Iraq and the Middle East. The lack of Spanish news sites in the region has resulted in a low number of news articles in Spanish about current events in the Middle East. Right now the main goal of the team behind News Channel, is poorly reported stories covering the Middle East.” Well, there obviously isn’t enough good news in the Middle East, so let’s write an article about a video game that doesn’t exist.
  • Lastly, MotoringCrunch.com – the tag line says it all: “Car news for Asia”.

Of course, there are many gaming* websites that have posted about Fallout 4. But I would expect that. I wouldn’t expect the above websites to give two hoots about Fallout 4. So why is this happening? And why are Christians so in love with Fallout 4? My guess? Clicks.