A Year in Photos

Photography, fiction, and personal essays form my three primary creative outlets. For this blog's first 18 months, I used it primarily for photography. As I've returned to creative writing, I'll use this blog for fiction, too. Sometimes, when reality needs to be discussed more than truth, I write personal essays.

This blog will continue to showcase as many above-average photos as I can muster. Hopefully my written work will be as good or better than the visual. Whichever drew you here -- photographs or fiction, I hope you enjoy both.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Geriatric Gets a New Life

I bought my Pentax H3V for $11.13 broken at a camera shop in SF with the specific intent of having it repaired so I could make sure that my Pentaxes, which I like a great deal, would be safe and well repaired by the repair shop. In short, the repair was perfect, the camera looks and works great, and I'll be gladly sending each of my Pentaxes to the shop for repairs and servicing. A lot of them would benefit from new light seals and such anyway.

So to fully test the H3V, I went to the Civic Center and ran three rolls of film through it. Foma 400, Walgreens 400, and Kodak BWCN400. My goal had been to photograph Henry Moore's 1973 sculpture "Large Four Piece Reclining Figure" which is outside the symphony hall. That accomplished, I walked around the Civig center photographing things until it looked like I may be stabbed.

THis is the sculpture. I didn't see the reclining figure, either, until I got closer.

Just a reference image with the sculpture name, artist, and year.

Taking this shot, which was number 21 of 27, was when I first began to see the sculpture as a reclining figure. Either I took a while to learn, or the sculptor did something wrong. You may decide for yourself.

A closer version of the previous shot. One of my two favorites from this trip.

Inside the sculpture.

From this angle, it looks like the reclining figure is smiling. I'd be smiling, too, if I could recline all the time.

My other favorite photo.

One nice thing about this piece is that because it's so open shadows move around and through it freely. This presents interesting photographic possibilities.

After finishing the roll, I decided to meander around the area. Not too far, mind you, because it was getting dusk-ish and I look like a victim.

Rendered in color, this moving, inflated flower sculpture is interesting. It's not my favorite, so I'm glad it won't be a permanent addition to the area. It doesn't quite fit the area Zeitgeist, which is all metal and such.

I also walked up to the San Francisco Public Utilities Corporation Building, which opens soon. THis will be a LEED Platinum building. It's gorgeous from any angle (except up close, at least until the construction crews wash the windows of the construction dust.)

I actually used almost the entire Walgreen 400 color roll on this building, but figured you don't want to see 18 variations on the same shot. So here's a different one.

And another different one.

After finishing the color roll, I decided to try the BWCN400 on the inflatable sculpture and see if maybe some up-close shots would change my opinion. Well, not so much. I should have done these shots with color because the sky and the red rendered too close to make the images truly dramatic. They may have been dramatic had I had a deep red filter or more color film. I did have my K-7 on me, but, as I stated above, I look like a victim.

See, in monochrome it just doesn't work, not without some special handling, which I lacked the equipment for.

This sculpture I get and all, but I'm no fan. My take on this piece is that it strives to show life through movement in sculpture. Additionally hinted at because it's a flower. And it's bright red which makes it very noticeable. And it's quite, which is nice. But I can't get into it even though, I think, I like the purpose and intent.

Lest you assert that I dislike kinetic art -- I admit I think it's a bit gimmicky sometimes -- here is a piece of kinetic sculpture that isn't on my thumbs-down list. It's across the street from where the flower is. It's two "L"s and they move in the wind. Nifty.

In short, what did I learn this week? The H3V and Sears Focal 28mm works very well together. I'm not sure who made the Focal lens, but it was made in Japan. I read some posts online with speculation as to who, therefore, made it, but I'm not sold on this being a Tokina. Sun Optics, maybe. Anyway, it's a fabulous lens and cooperates with the H3V quite nicely.

Also I learned not to carry extra film with me. It takes about two minutes per image to scan these. So multiply that by 25 for a normal day and you'll see it takes me about five hours to scan all the images for a given week. Then I have to edit them and downsample them for Internet hosting. These images you see are about 150-225 kilobytes each. The originals on my hard drive are 3.6 to 6.5 megabytes each. I'd run out of Picasa space in a month! So, it takes about another 30 to 45 minutes to contrast balance, sharpen, and remove developing flaws (e.g., a piece of hair) from the negatives before uploading them. So when I do something like take two extra rolls of film, it adds about three hours to my weekend scanning and editing routine. That doesn't make my girlfriend or my dogs happy. So, lesson learned, stick to the one-roll-per-day thing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Great Lens, but Maybe not for me.

Last Tuesday I was supposed to take my Nikon F3 out. That didn't happen until Friday, so these are images I took Friday with the 105mm lens. The 105mm focal distance was difficult for me. Perhaps I was in a bad area for it, or perhaps it's just not a focal distance that I mesh with. Either way, I'll try it again in the future and see if I have better results.

Last Friday I also took my girlfriend's Nikon N80 with me, and that lens and camera combination yielded much better results. So we'll see those on Friday. Friday promises to be a long post.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The K2 Can, too!

Pentax's K line originally had four models -- the most film models the K line ever had. The K1000, KM, KX, and K2. Let me sidebar here for a minute and talk directly to Pentax. Pentax, who picks your names for you? They're so hard to follow! Why is the K-5 better than my K-7? What is there a K-x DSLR when there was already a KX back in the 70s? Why suddenly jump to the K-30? The K-8 trough K-29 were never released. Nikon has the right idea. D1. D2. D3. D4. That's a brilliant pattern, Pentax.

Okay, through that, the K2 was the top of the Pentax K film body line, but, I believe, the shortest-lived. The light meter in it is great -- as good as the Nikon F3 in my eyes. Also, the usability is simply and photographer-oriented. The whole K line is brilliant, but the K2 was a great flagship. So I always look forward to taking one of my K2s out. This week I took the black bodied K2 out (my chrome K2 is finally being repaired for it's stuck mirror and should be ready for use again as early as next week.) For those of you with broken or neglected Pentax film SLRs who want to get them fixed, I used www.pentaxs.com . Great service quality and turn-around time. He fixed my H3V and brought it back from unusable. I'm excited and hope to get through all my Pentax cameras with them because, with as much as they get used, new light seals and general cleaning will help a lot.

Anyway, I took my black K2 and my Samyang 18-28 back to the Trans America pyramid. Last time I used the Samyang was on the KX and was at Trans America. However, this time I focused on the park next to the building instead of the building.

A Year in Photos -- Week Twenty-two

I'm amazed that this year is almost half complete. And also that, despite hitting a bit of the creative duldrums, I've managed to keep the blog almost daily and (I hope) interesting.

This week will have a number of photos and hopefully some will be good. A few interesting trips this week included Fort Mason, the De Young Art Museum, and the San Francisco City Hall specifically to visit and photograph a sculpture.

First, I need to note that everything is going to be a bit behind this week -- such as my typical Sunday post being on a Monday. I took more photos this week than any other week in my life. In fact, I took more photos this week than in many of the previous years of my life combined. Work had be out at a site photographing stuff for three days, so between work and personal photographs, I ticked up my Pentax K-7's shutter count about 2,000 images, the Canon T1I's shutter count a few hundred, and then had 11 rolls of film to develop. So I haven't even gotten through editing a small percentage of my personal images because the work images are on a tight and inflexible deadline. That said, let's take a look at some of what you can expect this week.

Fair warning, this post has nudity. However, it's all marble and therefore art and should offend no one, right? So, that makes it totally safe for work.

This week has a great camera lineup coming. A nice mix of Pentax and Nikon cameras, all of which typically yield good results, should help this week provide some interesting images.

Today: Pentax K1000 (7834930), Tokina 28mm (8126496), Foma 400 ISO, and a red filter. A spoiler here, I used the K-7 today instead but all my shots were work-related, so no sharing here. Instead, I'll take the K1000 later this week, probably alongside the Spotmatic.

Tuesday: Nikon Nikkormat FTN (3634551), Nikkor-H 50mm (829414), Foma 100 ISO, and a yellow filter.

Wednesday: Pentax6X7 MLU (4083721), Takumar 55mm (8253411), Ilford Delta 100 ISO, and no filter. I need to get a 100mm filter. But those things are around $70-90. Nasty.

Thursday: Minolta SRT 102 (2042109), Tamron 28-70 (9003019), Foma 400, and an orange filter

Friday: Pentax Spotmatic SP1000 (5815145), Takumar 55mm (1426697), Adox 100 ISO, and a yellow filter. Friday I'll be in Daly City for work and new places either mean great photos or, well, the opposite thereof. We'll see in a week!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 5th Project (Part 2 of 2)

As promised, here are the San Francisco images from the Canon AE-1's May 5th roll. These actually weren't taken the 5th.

I've photographed this fountain before, so I kept this part to a minimum. Just three images.
There's another fountain in the park, but it's all naked boys and photographing that would feel creepy. Especially since it's right in front of a church.

Shot two of this fountain. It's one of my favorites. I like its whimsical, fun nature.

This is just a fun fountain to photograph.

The lion was mumbling at me as I walked past, so I took the ring out of the lion's mouth, but he went on about how, in The Chronicles of Narnia, he's an analog for God and that means that holding a ring in his mouth in real life is very humiliating. I mean he really went on like that for twenty minutes. So I put the ring back in his mouth.

One of the Greek mythological characters, and I forgot to write down which one.

Same guy as above, different angle.

Some statues of buildings. I forget exactly where I saw this, but it was a nice way to end the roll.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Chicago's DuSable Bridge

Michigan Avenue in Chicago crosses the Chicago River on a bascule bridge named the DuSable Bridge. I forget if the bridge was dedicated in 1971, or just the artwork on the ends. Either way, here are some photos. These first four are of the reliefs on each pillar of the bridge. They're quite detailed and intricate. Worth looking at if you have the chance. They also have brief inscriptions detailing how the relief represent's Chicago's history. I'm not 10% sold on the histories being entirely accurate, so I didn't take any pictures of the inscriptions nor do the research required to re-tell these stories.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable founded Chicago. The title founder stems from him being the first permanent resident of what later became Chicago. He beat the second permanent resident by a few months. No images survived of du Sable, and in his time -- the late 18th century -- he may never have had a portrait painted. So what he looked like is almost completely unknown, except that a poem of the time described him as handsome.

This bust of du Sable is on the northeast side of the DuSable bridge, and is a new addition since the last time I walked this bridge in April 2009.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mary Dyer: Quaker, Redux

Last week or the week before I posted a photo of a Mary Dyer statue. Here is the same statue, in color.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New Camera and New Lens to Test

Last summer I picked up a Focal 80-200mm with macro function at a garage sale for $15. I've listed it on eBay twice, it being far heavier than I can carry, and no one has bought it. So I decided to test it and see if it's any good. Coincidentally, I had a new M42 body to test, my newly repaired Pentax H3v. In short, I'll be keeping the lens. It's fantastic. I'm ecstatic no one bought it. The camera is also great and I'm pleased to have some great shots to share.

One interesting thing, the macro mode changes the way the images appear. This isn't a macro mode where the user simply keeps turning the focusing ring, no, this is a separate, dedicated third ring. And when the macro mode kicks in, the depth of field shrinks and the background becomes a swirling mass. It's a nice effect that, in portraits, could have a good deal of use.

This photo shows the swirling background effect. People pay stupid amounts of money on eBay for Russian-made lenses that have this same effect.

Even at greater depths of field, this would have been deeper than the f3.5 I used for many exposures because her whole profile is in focus, the background is still suitably blurry.

This was not, I don't think, in macro mode.Just a close-focus.

This one likes having his picture taken, unlike the other. That makes getting test shots much simpler.

Here his muzzle was a bit overexposed, so I grabbed a magic wand sample, pasted the sample as a new layer, dropped the gamma, and then made it about 50% transparent before merging the layers. This yielded some detail in his muzzle.

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