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A Random Anecdote

I take the 6 train home every night from the 28th street station.

Rolleiflex 3.5 in hand along with some Portra 400 (pushed to 800).

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Union Square is the main transfer station. All of the lines come together. It’s hot and muggy. Usually heat rises. But the reverse is the case in the subway, the lower you go, the sweatier it gets.
Out of the corner of my eye were red sequins. A man in a wheelchair had a plaid suit on, bright red pants, a red sequin bow-tie and matching sequin shoes. Friends… I’d struck gold.

But he was moving quick and my Rolleiflex doesn’t focus fast. It took me a moment even to walk as fast as he was pushing the wheels on his wheelchair.

I noticed he was taking the elevator down to the NQR Uptown line. So I went down the stairs and waited upon his arrival.

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And off he went, down the length of the platform. I followed behind, all the while visualizing a nice portrait shot of him and his getup, with a speeding train behind.

But my ideas never came true. He kept moving, even after the train came to a fullstop. He boarded and parked in front of the doorway, facing out the door window. Not much room for me to squeeze in between the bars…

He’s too close and within my minimum focusing distance. I can’t backup anymore. Oh well… we’ve now ridden to Times Square and he’s about to get off. I’ll pull the trigger.

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What next? Why not incorporate the elevator again? It’s the only time when he’s still enough to shoot.

Well, I found the elevator and raced up the stairs, well ahead of him. I thought of standing right in front of the doors and shooting him as a surprise. But I didn’t like the idea. I didn’t want the confrontation.

I noticed a path leading from the elevator to the main tunnel. So I knew where he’d be passing. I got low and waited.

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And off he went. I trailed a little behind to see if he’d slow down enough for another shot. He never did, but I felt satisfied. I got on another train and went home.

My dad would always preface some story with, ‘We were settin therr and…’ (commence the story).

So I was settin there, watching youtube videos as is my wont and came across a Polaroid video. The wheels in the brain started turning and I remembered there was a camera, setting there, on my shelf that came with a Polaroid pack film holder.

Digging through camera stuff, I found the pack holder and LO! she had film in her. Thus is my first Polaroid shot, taken on the balcony:
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Because I didn’t know when it would’ve expired and because I didn’t know what was going on, I exposed the ever-loving-crud out of it. But it’s kinda fun.

Some details:

The Camera – Hasselblad 903 SWC. So the photos are 6×6 and it won’t cover the entire frame. Hence the black area but the one lone square on the upper left corner of the frame.

So I wandered around China Town and shot a bunch of Polaroids. Some of these are cropped to the size of the 6×6 frame, and others are just allowing in the outer un-exposed positive.

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A couple of notes: the second to last one is a quarter of a second long exposure. The last one is of a buddy who got a purple banana-hammock-bike for $30 off some schmoe in Brooklyn.

If you get an opportunity to shoot polaroids, do it. Much more fun and better than instagram.

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.

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.

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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 meters 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 transactions 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 70s 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!

J

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.