Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Happy New Year to all of you! We continued our yearly tradition of running a 5k together (my best time yet), followed by traditional Japanese new year food (Osechi ryori):
From my family, please have a wonderful 2017!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Back to Color, Digital, Lumix? Well, Maybe a Little

I've been offline, mostly, working with black and white film in the darkroom. And, enjoying it immensely.
But, I decided to give Micro 4/3 a go again, after never being able to quite fall in love with the DMC-GX7 body. The image quality is fine, quite fine, in fact, but the camera feels weird in my hand, and I don't like the electronic viewfinder (EVF) on that particular camera. So, I decided to jump on a Black Friday deal and get the similar but somewhat less full-featured DMC-G7. Much better, for me. I gave up in-body image stabilization (which the GX7 has), but gained a camera that feels right in my hand, with what I feel is a better EVF.
Here's a shot I made with the new G7 today, using the Lumix 100-300mm f4-5.6 zoom lens, at 800 iso:
Mockingbird in Winter
I'm still really having a blast in the darkroom, but this was SO easy, and shooting color again is also fun...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Large Format Photography and Darkroom Printing - What an Education

Falls, Buzzard Hill, Appalachian Trail, Virginia, by Reed A. George
Horseman 45FA 4x5 Camera, Wollensak Raptar 135mm f4.7 Lens
EDU 100 film, f/22, 4 sec. exposure
I've gone back to basics for this phase in my photography. As I mentioned, a dear friend has given me his father's darkroom, which helped to set me on this path.
I'm making a lot of mistakes, learning about limitations, and really enjoying the occasional success.
This is a scan of a print I made in the darkroom, with my own two hands. It represents so much more thought, effort, and investment in the process than a similar image I'm sure I could have made with a digital SLR. In fact, I could've made hundreds of similar images with the DSLR in a fraction of the time. And that's just the point; that's not how this image was made.
I understand that viewers won't necessarily care, but I do.
So much left to learn about this craft...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Checking in - after a long break

My latest post, about shooting black and white film, specifically 4x5, is a reasonable hint at what I've been doing in my photographic life recently.
Spurred on by an incredible gift of a fully functional black and white darkroom, and the further gift of a place to set it up, I've been keeping my head down and practicing my large format black and white photography skills. I've come a long way quickly, but this style of photography does not lend itself perfectly to blogging. It's film, paper, and wet chemistry all the way.
For now, let me share a tool that's really helping me along, the SP-445 4x5 film developing tank by Stearman Press. (Click Here) to check it out. Once loaded, this is a daylight tank, and allows you to process up to four sheets of 4x5 film in 475 ml of chemical volume. It does a wonderful job.
I'm also still shooting digital and smaller format film, of course. But, the joy of printing great big negatives has had me focused on 4x5, and to a lesser extent, medium format. Lots to share, but it's going to take discipline for me to sit and scan images. I'll probably end up scanning silver prints to share my final products.
I feel that this is an important new phase in my creative development. I can honestly say that while it's much less forgiving, I really prefer darkroom work to post-processing on my computer. It's hard work getting a good print, but I think that makes it more rewarding, personally.
Of course, I'm not prescribing this for anyone else. I'm not sure that I'll always feel this way about going back to the basics, working with big black and white negatives and wet chemistry, but that is not what matters. What matters to me is that I'm learning new aspects of the craft.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Getting Out and About With the 4x5 Speed Graphic

I have a beautiful early Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 camera. Because it's not so convenient to use, I haven't spent much time with it. I decided to change that over the three day 4th of July weekend. I made a total of ten exposures (on Arista EDU film), and found that five of them are worth sharing. That's a pretty good hit rate compared to smaller formats, where I shoot a lot more images per scene.
Here are my five favorites from the weekend:
I usually set the camera on a tripod, using the ground glass back to frame and focus. I did that for the last three images above. For the first two, I used the rangefinder and shot handheld. Getting the focus right is a challenge, and I missed on some other shots. But, when you get it right, it's pretty nice.
In the picture of the house (Thornton House at Manassas National Battlefield), I used the front rise movement of the camera to allow me to keep the camera level to avoid distortion, yet still capture the roof and chimney. Pretty cool.
In the shot of the lotus flowers, I threw all concern for distortion to the wind, shooting with the camera nearly on the ground, pointing up at a steep angle.
I'm very happy that the Speed Graphic is not my only camera, or even my main one. But, it's instructive and fun to use.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Hike on the Unfinished Railroad

A few weeks back, I took a hike at the Manassas National Battlefied, site of two ferocious battles in the US Civil War. The Unfinished Railroad is a trench dug for rails, but never finished. It was a center of the second battle of Manassas.
I shot these images with my Rolleiflex SL2000F. Man, I love this weird old camera.
You could smell the summer honeysuckle all along the trail.
This monument is at the end of the trail. It reads: "In Memory of the Patriots Who Fell at Groveton, August 28th, 29th, & 30th, 1862.

Monday, July 4, 2016

A Distinguished Couple

From an Asian festival in Washington, DC. Photos made with my Rolleiflex SL2000F and Sonnar 135mm f2.8 lens. That Sonnar is one of the very best telephoto lenses I've ever used.