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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Found Photos Friday -- Car Show

A bit of a nonsequitor from the rest of the lot, these images appeared at the end. All were underexposed by four or so stops, which made the digitization and post-work challenging.

My brother had a Hot Wheels that looked exactly like this. I coveted that Hot Wheels more than anything else, until it one day got a chip on the nose.

Pooh Bear. Curious choice.

These last five weeks have had some interesting images and an interesting mix. In March we'll have a bunch of found photos that I picked out of a trash can -- the negatives were mostly unusable, so I can see why whomever took them pitched them, but some returned images.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rothschild Giraffes. NBD.

Yesterday I shared some antelope, kudu, and zebra photos. The giraffes are definitely the tour's high point for most people. I loved the giraffes, and petting a couple of them, but for me, the Greater Kudu were the high point. That doesn't change how amazing the giraffes are. 

They're amazingly gentle animals and were just fine pulling sweet potato out of peoples' mouths.

But who knows what they're really thinking.

A second later that giraffe was playing tonsil hockey with my girlfriend.

The other people on our tour. They had as much fun as we did.

The giraffes had short fur, coarse and stuff. And they moved carefully and gently around us.

She learned after the first time that it's better to play coy. Wait.. Why'd she need another kiss? Am I missing something?

At the last stop, the giraffes reach right out over you. We stopped here because, in their pen, they were fairly uninterested in us (except one of them.) Here we had better luck.

Because they could all see we had food.

I don't understand why anyone would want to hunt such a gentle, beautiful, and critically endangered animal. It it a distinct possibility that in my lifetime these will be extinct in the wild due to the poaching and poor land management. Basically, it boils down to this: humanity is forged in greed and rich hunters pay a lot of money for escorted hunts for endangered animals. Ultimately, the check will come due for our poor management of this planet's resources and, when it does, humanity won't enjoy having to pay.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Zebra, Sable Antelope, Roan Antelope, and Greater Kudu. NBD.

On the girlfriends' and my weekend in Point Arena, we had reservations for a morning feeding and tour of B.Bryan Preserve. The preserve helps protect two zebra species, one giraffe species, greater kudu, and sable. There may be another that I'm forgetting. So today I'll share photos of everything but the giraffes. Those will be in the next post because they're worth their own entry.

Let's take a few minutes and appreciate these beautiful animals while we can. Poaching and habitat destruction are doing a good job of eliminating these from our planet quickly.

Grevy's Zebra

Hartmann's Mountain Zebra

Roan Antelope

Roan Antelope fawn

Greater Kudu

Sable Antelope

Monday, February 24, 2014

Animation as Still

A few days ago I shared another lighthouse sunset time-lapse image. I'll kick off tonight with a still image compositing the animation's components.

Sunset Lighthouse Silhouette
Honestly, this may be my favorite photo from the trip.I think the composition work nicely, though were I to do it again I'd have a little less shadow space on the bottom.

I also did star trails facing the other way. The fog led to some breaks in the trails and the wind led to some individual parts that had trail shake, but that's all part of photographing nature.

One last one for today, a composite of multiple wave images. I like how this took on a look of smooth water and fog-like-gossamer.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Photo Credits

A couple of weeks ago, unexpectedly, a professor at UIUC e-mailed me asking for rights to use some of my photos in a book he's finishing that studies daylighting use in architecture. The compensation: photo credit. I'm down. No question in my mind is this a yes. Unfortunately, none of my images fit the book perfectly.

Well, I happen to know the building fairly well, having worked at Webcor when they wrapped it and been involved in to the photo process (even though I didn't get to attend the actual shoot.)

Since none of my photos fit the bill, I volunteered to go take some more. I was going to be at Civic Center anyway, I said (that was a fib, though there are some great restaurants down there) and I would just do it while there.

It actually worked out VERY well. After the shoot I walked to my favorite camera store in the city and they had a Pentax 6X7 bellows WITH the double release for $99. My gut reaction was 'how many holes are in the bellows.' But Gassers is known for good stuff, so I looked at it and it's in mint condition, the bellows having been recently replaced. I mean, shoot, for this condition I couldn't buy one on eBay for less than $400, so, yeah, it's mine now and waiting for its firsts tests. One thing I'll be making is a 6X7-to-M42 converter so I can use my M42 lenses as macros for the 6X7. That ought to have some neat effects and produce good results as the M42 lenses are slightly sharper than their 6X7 counterparts (on a lines per millimeter basis.)

Anyway, the trip was hugely productive and here are some of my favorite photos.

This lady stopped me after the shoot and asked me to take her photo. Whenever anyone talks to me, even people I know, my gut reaction is abject terror. So being stopped by a stranger nearly sent me into cardiac shock. She wanted her photo taken and mailed to her (snail mail.) I figured why not. So I hope she liked the shot when it arrived.

Here is the SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) building. It's LEED Platinum and all kinds of great. There are some wind turbines behind the sculpture column but they don't actually catch that much wind (that's the building's dirty secret -- don't tell anyone.) That said, this is still one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in San Francisco, if not the most environmentally friendly. SF should be really grateful such a great building is in our city.

I bet those offices get warm in the evening.

I love the sun shades on the building. Here's a high-key version I edited in post that I'm fond of.

Different angle in mid-key.

Yup, that's where you're at.

Thank you for reading!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Found Photos Friday -- Kid's Room

Here area few miscellaneous shots from the album. The second shot is one of the best in the lot.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

More Time-lapse Imagery

While the K-7 captured the sunset time lapse I shared last week, the K-3 took a time-lapse image of its own.

I wish I had this one to do over again. I'd have left it for about 10 more minutes so it could capture the sunset to darkness. But this is still a very pleasing result. Is there a composite to share of the whole time lapse? Of course. It's just not uploaded to my Picasa space as of this post's authoring. So that's a good excuse to share in in a few days.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

K-3 Night Shift

Two days ago I shared a shot taken by my K-7. While my K-7 took that photo, my K-3 was working on this image.

The star trail breaks stem from ocean fog, but I was glad for the fog. The light house's signal caught the fog nicely and the composited image is a pretty goo success.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday -- Ten Great SLRs

This week's Top Tn Tuesday showcases ten SLR cameras I've used and have great respect or at least strong admiration for. I tried to split the list up equitably and tried to choose at least two from each manufacturer. However, I've only ever used one Minolta -- but it's a great one. Where I've made videos about these cameras, I'll include the videos as an embed.

Let me say that this is definitely not an all-inclusive list. In fact, may cameras should probably be on here -- the Minolta XK and X700, Pentacon Six, and Mamiya RZ67 all come to mind. However, I've never used any of them and cannot speak fron direct experience to their capabilities. In fact, on this list only one of these camera (the Canon A-1) have I not owned (actually, as of this writing, I still own all of these.) The A-1 was loaned to me for a couple of months and I get to use that absolutely amazing camera during that time.

10- Olympus OM2N
Olympus' OM series with single-digit numbers represented their pro-grade offering. Though not as expansive a system as some of the cameras further down the list, the OM system had incredible lenses and great ergonomics that make using Olympus OM cameras an absolute joy. Small, compact, and light these are almost-pocket-sized SLRs and work great for street photography or for carrying around for hours. The lightweight aspect is something many of the other cameras on this list do not have going for them.

For the OM2N, I think it has the best meter of any OM camera. It certainly has the best long-duration metering and, I am told, is the best Olympus camera for overnight photography.

9- Olympus OMG

This is the Olympus that made me love the Olympus system. This is a capable camera though it lacks many of the pro-grade camera's bells and whistles. However, the meter is top-notch and the camera is light enough to be carried readily. As a street photography camera (one of the areas where I think that Olympus has the best system,) this is a great choice.

8- Canon F-1
The quintessential system camera, the Canon F-1 had more stuff in its system than any other camera ever made. In fact, the system was so expansive that it is highly unlikely another camera system will ever be made that matches this system. Literally the Ferrari of cameras in the 1980s, the F-1 was supported by amazing viewfinders, a huge focusing screen selection, multiple film backs, and some top-notch lenses.

7- Canon A-1

This is the top camera on my 35mm SLR wish list right now. To put it in perspective, right behind it are the Asahi Pentax, Asahi Pentax K, and Asahiflex cameras. This is, I think, the most capable Canon camera ever made and is every bit as good as the Canon F-1. The A-1 has one major advantage in that its batteries are still made.

6- Nikon F
The Nikon F was the first full-on professional 35mm system camera. Supported by amazing lenses and an array of viewfinders and film backs, the Nikon F set the bar for professional film systems that the Canon F-1 later raised. The Nikon F started the most successful line of professional SLRs ever developed and remains a solid and classic camera. I had mine repaired at the end of 2013 just to make sure everything was great with it and I'm looking forward to many years of enjoying this fabulous SLR.

5- Nikon F3
The F3 was not my first Nikon SLR, but it was the first one I loved. The F3 has a simply fantastic meter and my F3 has not once let me down nor failed to deliver a result better than I imagined. The F3 also turned me on to the amazingness of grid-line focusing screens. If you aren't using grid-line screens, there's something you're really missing out on. Right now all of my cameras with interchangeable focusing screens (except my 6X7 and K-3) have the grid line screens. The grid screens are simply that important for solid composition.

4- Minolta SRT 102
These are built like tanks. Many still work and if you can find a battery for the light meter they're still reliable. These don't have a lot of bells and whistles, but they're tank-like and rugged and have that mechanical toughness that basically every DSLR lacks.

3- KW Reflex Box
I know. You've never heard of this. You're about to do an Internet search. Before you do, there's very little easily found about this 1930's camera. It's an old box camera but it's also an SLR. It has a fixed lens of fairly good quality. It's real strength lies in the 6cm by 9cm negatives. The same image ratio as 35mm images, this results in prints of superb quality through reduced enlargement.

Mechanically, this camera is elementary. A simple spring-activated shutter moved the mirror and entire internal housing out of the way to expose the film. This, as you may imagine, results in extremely violent camera shaking, so this camera also requires a steady hand or hefty tripod.

2- Pentax K1000
Easily the most underrated SLR ever made, the Pentax K1000 has almost every capability of any of the system cameras above, though sometimes it requires a bit more work. The K1000's mechanical reliability (especially on older models) and simple construction make it a classic. The simplicty make it great for learning. This is the SLR that taught me and millions of others how to take a reasonably presentable photograph.

1- Pentax 6X7
The Pentax 6X7. Few words adequately describe this camera, but legend and massive come close. The long-time Pentax professional flagship, this camera was a staple of professional photographers and remains a much-coveted film SLR. I'm lucky enough to have this with a host of lenses that let me take almost any photograph I can imagine. And my 6X7 delivers quality and consistent results. If cameras have souls, and if they can feel, then I suspect this camera appreciates being rescued from the bottom of a closet of someone who bought it and used it once in the early 1980s.

This is a very capable system camera taking 6cm by 7cm negatives. The images enlarge to the same size as a typical print page without cropping (a decided advantage over 6X4.5 and 6X6 cameras.) With interchangeable prisms, focusing screens, and film backs, the 6X7 provided photographers exceptional capabilities. In fact, unlike any of the above camera systems, the Pentax 6X7 also had leaf shutter lenses. These really shine because they allowed flash sync at up to 1/500th of a second (faster than all the other systems above.) The Pentax 6X7's focal plane shutter has a 1/30th of a second flash sync, so the leaf shutter lenses are a valuable part of a 6X7 kit.

So those are my ten great film SLRs. Top Ten Tuesday returns next week with Ten Stunning Macro Photographers.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Found Photos Friday -- 1970s American West 3 of 3

One can only assume this is the photographer's trusty stead! A good choice for getting around the Western U.S. in the 1950s or 1960s.

I think the photographer liked waterfalls. Good taste, in my book.

The photographer really knew some great places.

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