Friday, May 31, 2019

Cadillac, Subaru, Kia

Thomaston, Connecticut

Yesterday, hoping to get the last of the vicious ice-melting chemicals off the undercarriage of my car, I went to the least expensive but well-equipped car wash in the area, which happens to be in Thomaston. Then I spent an hour and a half wandering around the town in quite interesting bright overcast light, looking for things to photograph. I kept noticing cars. Of course cars are everywhere all the time, and I see them all the time but for some reason yesterday I kept noticing them, as in noticing they were worth trying a picture.

Something else was happening though. As in my last few shooting sessions, a couple features of my Panasonic Lumix G9 were "acting up" or not functioning at all.

I know a lot of people don’t like the eye sensor feature in digital cameras—maybe the same people who insist that “real photographers shoot manual.” But I really like both the auto-switching between LCD and EVF, and the actuation of AF when the eye sensor is triggered. I had my GX7 set up that way and did the same with the G9 when I got it about ten weeks ago. Yesterday these features cut out again, and since I was in no hurry about anything, I interrupted my walkabout several times to sit on park benches and try to figure out what was wrong with the camera. I worked through the menus to find the settings that control the eye sensor functions, and to deal with the Fn3 button which switches—is supposed to switch in sequence—LCD/EVF/AutoSelect. I thought I got it working again, then it cut out.

Finally I was looking one last time, with the LCD in place (I usually keep it folded) and noticed that the hole in the eyecup that serves as a window for the eye sensor (the soft rubber cup is an incredible dust and lint magnet) appeared to be blocked by a layer of white crud. As soon as I rubbed at it to try to clean it out, the eye sensor actuated the switch from LCD to EVF. And continued to work exactly as it's supposed to. Using these computers-that-take-pictures, it's easy to leap to the conclusion that something about the computer is going wrong.

Doh. Not software, not programming, nothing to find in the menus, just a pure physical blockage of the eye sensor’s function…

Plus I like the car shots.

Sticks and Wall

Naugatuck, Connecticut

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Parades

Woodbury, Connecticut

Naugatuck, Connecticut

Memorial Day Shop Window

Naugatuck, Connecticut

The rear wall of the window display is a huge blow-up of the Washington DC Vietnam memorial.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Cha Cha

New York, New York

New York Bikes, Part One

New York, New York

One of the advantages of teaching workshops several times a year at the Penumbra Foundation is that I get to spend time in mid-town Manhattan. In order to secure a parking space in the enormous non-permit lot at Southeast, north of Brewster, I drive over to arrive at about 8:00 in the morning so I can buy a 16 hour parking ticket which takes me past midnight—weekend parking is free. Then I hang out for half an hour reading on my phone in the car before hiking the long walk to the station with all the stuff I need to take to the workshop, to catch the 8:48 which is the first off-peak train—half the price of peak with my senior citizen discount. Another hike from Grand Central to 30th street gets me to Penumbra, where I spend an hour or two setting up the workspace we will use for the workshop, which last weekend was Traditional Platinum, meaning that we begin by shooting film, developing it, and printing.

That means that by about 1:00 PM I'm free, and in late May I have about seven hours to spend street shooting. The actual workshop runs on "New York Time" which is 10:00 to 6:00. Since I can't sleep past six in the morning, this means that Saturday and Sunday I have at least a couple more hours of street shooting each morning. Another hour or two Saturday evening. Along with teaching the workshop, that's about twelve hours of street shooting, so it's not surprising that I arrive home exhausted and tend not to get a lot done on Monday and Tuesday.

I love bicycles. I was an avid cyclist in my thirties and forties but haven't ridden in quite a while now. My big-tube aluminum Cannondale road bike is carefully preserved in the barn and just needs new tires to go back out on the road, which I might even do this summer. I love photographing bikes and cyclists too. There's something essentially elegant about a bike, whether it's being used for sport, exercise, or delivering pizza. So for the next few posts, I'll show some of the bikes I saw in Manhattan last weekend.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Prints (and new glasses)

Woodbury, Connecticut

Back in my own darkroom this afternoon a couple days after the Penumbra Traditional (from film) workshop. Four Pt/Pd prints snapped with my iPhone as they sat in the second clearing bath, from my "Winter Woods" series shot over the last several months. I did these with an M-4/3s Panasonic GX7 and a variety of Panasonic and Olympus lenses. Digital negatives made with the procedure that I teach in my "digital platinum" workshops. 6.75x9 inch prints using a drop count of 10 ferric oxalate, 8 standard Pd, 2 standard Pt, plus 1 10% Tween20 on Hahnemühle Platinum Rag.

Also, this morning I picked up my new eyeglasses made to a very overdue new prescription. I had splurged and in addition to my bifocals, I ordered a pair of single vision "computer glasses" which hit best focus at something like two to three times reading distance. When I put the first humidified sheet of paper down at the coating station, I said to myself, wait, this is about two times reading distance! I changed to the computer glasses, and found that I could coat the sheet standing comfortably upright, instead of constantly bending over and craning my neck to see the faint pencil lines that mark the coating area. So, other people may have computer glasses, but...

Here I am with my new Darkroom Glasses.

Early Spring, White Memorial, Three

Litchfield, Connecticut

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A platinum/palladium 35mm Contact Sheet

New York, New York, Penumbra Foundation

At my Penumbra Foundation Traditional Platinum Workshop last weekend, Michael Page Miller brought several rolls of 35mm film dating back to the 1970s. Just to see what would happen, we tried making a Pt/Pd contact sheet from one. Maybe a first? But not the first exotic experience for this roll of film. Michael tells me it was shot in Peru in 1971—bulk loaded cassettes developed in the field with processing chemicals warmed on a small brass SVEA 123 camping stove and low-grade gasoline for fuel. But it worked.