more from the truck graveyard

A few quick details about these photos. I took them with a Fuji GW670 rangefinder loaded with Kodak T-MAX 400 film. The light was fading, and so everything was shot at either f/4 or f/5.6. For most of these I was far enough away that it makes no difference, but on a few you can see the somewhat shallow depth of field.

I was told that the graveyard may be cleared in the next year, so these might be the last photos I'll have a chance to take there.

another visit to the truck graveyard

This is the second time I've gone to this truck graveyard that's out near Columbia, Virginia. I brought my large format rig, equipped with a few transparencies and a few sheets of black and white film. I don't have much of a story here. The light was perfect, and I had plenty of time to take photos. The first picture is a personal favorite because of the incredible light. Everything just pops.

an autumn ride down skyline drive

In early November, just before the trees gave up their leaves, my wife and I (and the dog) took a ride down Skyline Drive, the scenic highway that goes through Shenandoah National Park. I wanted to shoot a few sheets of 4x5, and brought my Crown Graphic along for the ride.

Skyline Drive is incredibly scenic, but my favorite photo was of these leaves. Despite the sharpness of the photo and the relatively accuracy of the colors, there's still something dreamlike about the photo, perhaps a product of the shallow depth of field.

The remaining photos are from various points along the highway. We didn't drive the whole thing—the dog got pretty restless after about 2 hours—but we drove enough to get a few decent photos.

And here's a photo of the dog, taken in a smaller format, since she would not sit still for a large format portrait.


a few photos of kansas

I moderated a panel in Hays, Kansas last month, and had a chance to drive through a nice chunk of Kansas. I didn't have time to photograph everything that caught my eye, but I did take a few pictures, and these are the ones that were worth sharing. I used a Fuji medium format rangefinder and Kodak T-MAX 400 film.

a few thoughts on my favorite camera (and photos too)

I own a lot of cameras. But my favorite is a Fuji rangefinder in 6x7 format, nicknamed the "Texas Leica" because of its size. Despite that size (and really, it's no bigger than most DSLR rigs), it offers, for me, the right combination of quality (from a sharp lens exposing large negatives) and ease of use. You can almost shoot it like a smaller camera, capturing street scenes as if you're working with 35mm.

Of course, you can't this level of detail, depth of field, or tonality with 35mm film. As compositions, I'm just OK with these first two photos, both taken on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. But I'm sharing them because I think they capture the technical advantages of medium format film, as well as the tonal qualities of T-MAX 400, which is fast becoming my favorite black and white emulsion.

On to color film! These shots were taken at the annual harvest festival at Albemarle Cider Works, just a few miles from town. The film is Provia 100f, a transparency film that's hard to expose right, but offers great colors and tones when you do it well. Even here, in what's obviously overcast weather, the colors pop (take a look at those apples in the last photo of this bunch).

The next three photos are just snapshots. Nothing special, just compositions I thought were worth taking. But, to sing the praises of this camera again, it is very versatile despite its medium length fixed lens. I can't shoot anything that needs an exceptionally wide perspective, but I can shoot most things the way I'd prefer.

And these last photos are from a recent trip to Farmville, Virginia, just about an hour south of Charlottesville. It's on my to-do list for the new year to take another trip down to do a little more photography.

pastels and heavy grain

Earlier this year I bought several rolls of Lomography F2, a limited run film that was released suddenly and disappeared just as quickly. Here’s how Lomography described the emulsion:

In 2010, we bought the last ever Jumbo Roll of original 400 ASA film from some renowned Italian filmmakers. Then, ever the ones to experiment, we left the film to age like fine wine in oak casks in the Czech Republic. Thankfully, our crazy instincts were rewarded — seven years later, we went back to discover that this fantastic film still produces refined colors with a beautifully unique tone. It’s one-of-a-kind Color Negative with an X-Pro feel, and we’re so excited to share it with you!

Having shot five rolls of this stuff since its release, I’m not sure that it has an “X-Pro”—read: cross-processed—feel. But it does have an interesting look, with soft almost pastel-like colors and heavy grain.

I attempted to shoot my final roll of this stuff in a Nikon L35AF that I picked up. But that camera was a dud, and few of the shots I took were worth the time to scan, edit, and share. I put the roll in a different camera, my trusty Leica M5, and came away with a few photos I liked. All of these are snapshots from around town. Here, for example, I have photos of people spending time on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.

I like the second photo in particular; there’s a pleasing symmetry between the glass, the building, and the concrete.

The rest were taken on my various afternoon walks with the dog. And in fact, she features in the final shot of the bunch.

a day spent walking through (part of) san francisco

This is pretty self-explanatory. I was in San Francisco and had a little time to explore. As always, I had a camera with me—in this case, a Leica M5 with a 50mm lens and a fresh roll of Fuji Provia 100f. I shot most of the roll in the course of an afternoon, and finished it the following morning.

A few observations about these photos. Provia is a transparency film, and I leaned into its qualities, namely high contrast leading to deep blacks. It occurs to me that I shot this roll like I would a roll of black and white film, with an eye toward enhancing contrast and capturing shadows. You see that in the first photo of the group.

Scanning these was a bit of a bear. There were heavy color casts on some of these photos, so I spent a lot of time trying to correct for them.

picking and choosing (but mostly discarding)

At the end of December I will have been shooting on film (in various formats) for over two years. I think I've grown quite a bit as a photographer in that time, and one reason is that using film has changed my relationship to the each individual capture. The limits of shooting with a physical format—I have 36 exposures, or 10 exposures, or 1 sheet of film—and the expense (in either time or money) of developing those images has made me more deliberate about my shooting. And more deliberation in the act of making a capture has also made me more selective in terms of what I want to share or showcase.

A year or two ago, I would have picked a third or even half the images from a roll of 35mm to share. These days, I'm shocked if there are more than 5 or 6 that I like per roll. That's the case here. These 10 photos are pulled from 2 rolls of 36-exposures, for a "hit rate" of about 14 percent. And honestly, I could probably pare that down even further. 

It's not that the other photos are bad—although some definitely are—it's that they don't really do anything for me. 

These shots are divided roughly by time and place. This first one, of the (fake) leg in the truck was taken at the beginning of November in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I took these next three at Charlottesville's Riverview Cemetery, which is just a short walk from my apartment, and a nice place to take a stroll in the evening, as the light fades.

These two photos were taken on the Downtown Mall. I find the first just kind of creepy, and the second is the still-strong makeshift memorial to Heather Heyer, who was killed by white supremacists this summer on this particular street.

And these are a few shots from my various travels in November. The top is of the airport in Wichita, Kansas, the next two after that are storefronts in Oxford, North Carolina, and the final photo is of a shack somewhere on US-15 heading south toward Raleigh.

All of these were taken with a Leica M5 using a M-Hexanon 50mm f/2 lens and Kodak T-MAX 400. They were developed by Pro Camera in Charlottesville.

history in the moment

I was in Alabama covering the special election for Senate, and spent Tuesday night at the party for Doug Jones. I took this first crop photos in the five or so minutes after CNN declared victory for Jones, giving Alabama Democrats their first Senate victory in 25 years.

Going through the rest of my shots from Alabama and there are only two others I think are worth sharing. Both are of Doug Jones. The first is him greeting supporters at a "get out the vote" event on Monday, the second is him greeting voters at a precinct in Birmingham. All of these shots were taken with a Fuji X100F and edited in camera. I used the "Acros" film simulation for those interested in that stuff.

Between their small size and versatile 35mm lens, I think these X100 cameras are perfect for this kind of documentary shooting. Hope to do more of it in the future.

snapshots from a very quick trip to san francisco

Took one of my semi-regular trips to San Francisco last month, to do a live show for Slate's Trumpcast podcast. As always, I used one of those days just to walk around and enjoy the city. Here are some snapshots I took using my Fuji X100F and the "Acros" simulation, which looks so close to the real film that it's uncanny. The last photo is a shot of our Trump impersonator. Having him around while walking down the street was weird as hell.