new camera, oh and also, the klan

Not long ago, I sold my Fuji X100T. It wasn't a bad camera, but as someone who doesn't shoot much digital, it was too much camera. I wanted something smaller, and lighter—something I could slip into my pocket and keep at all times. After doing a little bit of research, I settled on the Ricoh GR, the latest digital version of the classic 35mm point and shoot. 

I've been using it regularly for the last month or so, but this past Saturday was the first time I used it to shoot something dynamic, where speed was critical. The Klan descended on Charlottesville, Virginia for an afternoon, and I—along with many other people—went to document their presence and the protests that met them. I did most of my work on film, but I had the Ricoh as a backup camera for quick and candid shots. It performed wonderfully. Quick to turn on, I could take the camera out of my pocket and shoot a photo within 10 seconds. Faster, if I had the camera set to "SNAP," where it pre-focuses to a specified distant. At 2 meters, with the lens stopped down to f/8 or f/11, you could capture just about anything in front of you with crisp focus. And the actual photos, as you can see, are sharp and detailed. This is a "half frame" digital camera, but you would almost think it was full frame. Highly recommended, if you are in the market.

In addition to illustrating the kind of hate we still live with, the Klan demonstration and attendant protests were a useful opportunity for me to practice with a wider focal length, as you can see from these photos with the Ricoh, which uses a 28mm-equivalent fixed lens.

Of the photos here, I think the first one is the best. Technically it is pretty good, but the combination of all elements makes it evocative. I'm also a fan of the final photo, which captures motion in a way I haven't really ever done well before.

Anyway, I recommend the camera! And I'll have some of the film photos soon, so stay tuned.

may 2017—roll 11

Another roll from the folding camera, and this one was definitely the last roll I shot in May. These are actually slides—if I had a medium format slide projector, I could mount and project them on a wall. Indeed, the best way to view these is on a light table (which I do not own, yet). I think, when you nail the exposure, that slides have a kind of richness and tonality that you cannot get anywhere else. Unfortunately, I'm not all that great at getting exposure right for slides. But I'm trying!

All of these were taken in Charlottesville, over Memorial Day weekend.

may 2017—roll 10

I bought the Mamiya folding camera to shoot color film, but I had an extra roll of black and white and put it through, just to see how it looks. The results are...pretty good! And the look is much more vintage than with color film. These photos were taken in D.C. and in Charleston, South Carolina. As far as quality goes, they're largely pretty pedestrian.  Ordinary subjects, ordinary framing, etc. But as I've said elsewhere, sometimes its fun to just play tourist with a camera, even when you know the results won't be great.

may 2017—roll 9

I shot most of this roll in April, but I didn't finish it or get it developed until May, which is why you're learning about it in June (shooting film is fun!). These photos are from Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Washington Square Park in Manhattan, the Whitney Museum, and Tacoma, Washington. I don't have much else to add, other than that these are another set taken with the vintage camera, and I'm still impressed by the sharpness and resolving power of its lens, and I love how it renders colors.

may 2017—roll 8

I will straight up own the fact that these aren't good photos. From subject matter to perspective to framing, they are pedestrian in every way you can imagine. They are tourist photos. But sometimes it's fun to be tourist, and that's what I was up to the afternoon I took these; biking around D.C. to snap shots—large, 6x9 negatives—of my favorite Civil War monuments in the city. A little known fact about the town is that it is rife with memorials to the generals who actually won the war. They are one of my favorite parts about the District, and on the eve of my move, I wanted to get some on film.

I haven't printed any of these, but I wouldn't be opposed to it, if you're interested in a print.

may 2017—roll 7

For Mother's Day weekend, I flew down to Charleston to see my parents (and my brother, who was on leave and back in the states). I had a bit of free time, so I took the ferry out to Ft. Sumter, which was a first for me. It's a neat little trip, but there isn't much as far as photography goes, especially when you're handholding medium format film. It was mid-afternoon, and I tried to shoot images that emphasized the hard shadows of a hot South Carolina sun. You see some of that in the first two, of which I like the second photo most, as there's a bit more abstraction in the relationship of the structure to the rest of the picture.

In general, however, I'm not thrilled with this roll. Then again, I wasn't thrilled with the last two rolls either. Some of this was a lack of inspiration that carried through the month. But some of it is the focal length. This camera, the Fuji GSW690, has a wide-angle lens, equivalent to roughly 28mm. I'm not great with that perspective, and it shows—I'm never sure of what to excise from the frame to tell a story or build a visual. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

may 2017—rolls 5 & 6

I'm moving from D.C., and have been working hard to get in as much D.C. stuff as possible. To that end, we recently took a long walk through Rock Creek Park, to enjoy the scenery and the weather. I brought a 6x9 camera—loaded on a tripod—and a smaller camera for quick shots in color. The color photos were in a previous post. These are (obviously) in black and white. I shot two full rolls (about 16 exposures) and I think these are the photos that work best. I tried to capture the various tones of green by adding a green filter to the lens, which lightens that color and provides more separation between the foliage and other elements in the scene.

With the exception of one photo, I'm honestly a little lukewarm about this whole set. But, I'm committed to sharing just about everything I shoot, so here they are. 

may 2017—rolls 3 & 4

These photos are from two separate cameras using two different kinds of film. The first five are from the Leica and were shot using Lomography film. The second five are from an Olympus XA2 (that I have since sold) using long-expired Kodak Ektachrome film that was cross-processed (i.e. processed in chemicals for a different kind of film). Most of the photos are from D.C, as usual, but the car was seen in Tacoma, Washington and the windmills and wildflowers were in Chino Hills, California.

fun with a vintage camera

For some time now, I've wanted a "folding camera." These are vintage cameras, produced from the 1920s until the 1950s, that literally fold and unfold, with the lens attached to a leather bellows that retracts inside of the camera when not in use. They were the compact of the era, a camera small enough to fit into a bag or a large pocket, or wear around your neck. Most such cameras are medium format, taking 120 roll film.

Not long ago, after lots of eBay hunting, I found the camera for me: a Mamiya Six KII, first produced in 1956. It's a 6x6 format camera with a coupled rangefinder (rare!) and the ability to shoot in 6x4.5, if you want more frames per roll. 

Now, these cameras—or specifically the lenses on these cameras—were made when color photography was still new. They are built for black and white, and lack the coatings that capture the full vibrancy of color film. They still render color, they just do so with a bit of character. Which brings us to these photos. This is the first roll I shot with the Mamiya. You'll notice that things are very sharp and clear—that's the lens, which is in good shape for its age. You'll notice that the colors are vibrant—that's the film, Kodak Ektar. And you might also notice a certain character to the photos. They are sharp and saturated, but they don't quite look modern. That is whatever magic happens when you use modern film with a 60-year-old lens. I'm a fan, and I can already see that this camera will get a lot of use.

As for details re: these photos: I took the first four while observing a public art installation in D.C. I took the other eight while walking through Chino Hills State Park in Chino Hills, California.