I've been to the George Eastman Mansion and Museum so much in the past year that whenever I now go, I'm making candid photos of other visitors with cameras in between checking out the exhibits. When I am caught, I often get looks of extreme confusion on why I would want pictures of people instead of anything else in the museum.
I was going to write something photography related but deleted it. Instead, I'd like to say winter sucks. I'm still trying to find the balance between wanting to make photos and not wanting to be outside in the cold to make them.
Same goes for external stresses. They get the best of me so much that I leave little time and energy to make for myself to make photos. There isn't a day that goes by where a specific stress is thought or talked about intensely. On the positive side, I've been working on losing weight and trying to get stronger. I've lost A LOT of weight and I can now do more than one push-up, lift weights, do burpees like a pro and not feel like a big lump with no energy.
The rare moments when I get to make photos I do try to make the most of it. Almost all of my photos are in and around my neighborhood in downtown Rochester. I drive an hour away once a month to converse with other photographers who are wiser than I will ever be. I also enrolled in a class at a local community darkroom to try something new and perhaps use it going forward.
I'm hoping that this search of balance gets easier in March and going forward.
I live across the street from the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY. So, my access to live hockey has increased tremendously. I've never been much of a hockey fan. More like a casual observer. I do have fond childhood memories of watching Hockey Night in Canada with Don Cherry. Playoff hockey is always fun to watch. The Rochester Americans are fun to watch too. I've been to games in the past but didn't like watching slow uninspired hockey. To my amateur eye, though, the games we've attended in the past year are anything but slow and uninspired.
My one gripe is that hockey tickets are expensive. Baseball, my favorite spectator sport, is cheaper. Having said that, hockey fans are fun to watch and listen to. C.J. Smith and Nick Baptiste are fun players to watch. I'll continue to try to get cheaper tickets and sit at various seats in the stadium to get the whole hockey experience.
Last night is the closest we have sat to the ice. I'd love to sit in the first row to photograph hits into the board and the passionate fans who pound on the glass. It would be even better to be able to wander around the stadium and photograph the fans like I am able to do during baseball games. Anyone at the Rochester Amerks reading this who can make that happen?
One of my favorite photo holidays is Halloween. I’ll spend every minute I can downtown looking for human expressions and gestures like I normally do ... but almost everyone is in costume!
I was excited all day to start making photos. These are the photos as I took them. Obviously there are ones I left out but they all appear in order.
Over 90% of the time I made a photo this summer, it was made on film. I pared down my gear to a couple Nikon N80's (with 28mm and 50mm lenses) and an Olympus Mju-ii. I really didn't have an agenda or anything in particular I wanted to photograph. I had grand expectations to keep a film journal but that went by the wayside. Many miles were walked and I carried a camera just everywhere, even on date nights with my girlfriend. I'll continue to shoot film but now that the days are shorter and overcast I'll refocus to shooting indoors and with flash. Eventually I will put everything together to make a photo zine or two.
I've gotten some rolls back from my "Summer of Portra." While I am a little pleased with the results, I was hoping something would strike me or serve as a starting point to something more concrete. While it hasn't, yet, I have enjoyed shooting the film, finding it's strengths and weaknesses and spending the summer shooting care-free with film.
Below are some of my favorites from the first two rolls ... not necessarily great photos but some that mean something to me. At first I thought I was going to have to make deliberate photos. I've found that I can still shoot candidly with the Nikon N80's, especially at f11. The autofocus is fast enough to get some predictible action.
As for focal lengths, surprisingly the 50 is keeping up with the 24. I'm not a big fan of the 50mm length.
I'm still tracking all my shots in a journal. I may keep this up when shooting film after this self discovery process is over. It's a good way to keep organized and to remember shots I may otherwise not have remembered taken.
It’s been almost two weeks into shooting with two Nikon N80s, armed with Kodak Portra film, and two lenses. The lenses, a 24mm and a 50mm, represent two focal lengths that I rarely work with. Most of my photography is done at 35mm.
Why did I choose two Nikon N80s? I’m a single father and already had one body and the 50mm lens. I found a like new second body on craigslist for $20. I found a like new 24mm lens from KEH, rated at 70% for well below half the cost of a new lens. So, for two bodies and two lenses, I spent way less than buying whatever film point and shoot is in vogue now with the same, if not better, autofocus and metering.
To my camera bag, I added a Japan Camera Hunter film case and a Leuchtturm1917 journal. Sometimes I add a SB-26 flash for TTL. I was advised to keep a detailed journal of my shots by a mentor, Erich Camping. So far, I’m only logging my shots in the order in which I take them. This way, if I decide to show the shots in the order in which I clicked the shutter, I will know their order. Each entry is a description of a shot, which lens was used and the number of the photo on the roll. The Leuchtturm1917 journals are quite useful as they have a TOC in the front. I’m not much of a journaller so I doubt I will put any thoughts in the journal unless something exceptional happens that needs to be documented with the photos.
When I am shooting, I take notes in my phone then transcribe them to the journal later in the day. I missed two shots early on in the process. I am not sure if it was due to me forgetting to log the shots or some other user error.
I haven’t met any real challenges yet. The bag is light, especially when I have one camera in my hand. I’ve shot mostly landscapes, strangers I meet and candid street photos while walking in downtown Rochester. My girlfriend, youngest daughter and I have taken a few excursions so there are a handful of snapshots representing visits to the beach, Rochester Red Wings baseball games and the Maplewood rose garden.
I’m in no hurry to process the photos and upload them to whatever internet platform. At some point curiosity may overcome me and I may get the first rolls from each lens and display them in order on here; mistakes, poor composition, missed shots and all. Aside from that, I’m not sure what to do with these photos. Maybe I will make them into a zine. Maybe a project will come out of them. Whatever it is, I’m enjoying the personal discovery through film.
The goal is to shoot ten rolls of Portra through the summer. I’m almost through two rolls (one of each with the 24 and 50) so I may burn through 10 quicker than I thought. The Rochester Jazz Fest is coming up so I may get out with a flash for some candid street photography. July 4th holiday is right around the corner, Wall\Therapy is only a month away, and the baseball stadium is only a five minute walk from my apartment so I am guessing my goal of 10 rolls will be an easy one to reach.
I recently was lucky to spend an hour looking through the archives of Lawyers Cooperative. It is now Thomson Reuters but also was named West, West Group, and Thomson West. I'm sure there's some other names that I am missing. Highlights included some legal cartoons and a 1890's scrapbook.
Everything seemed business as usual today even though we now have a new president. I spent my lunch break in chances of seeing America becoming great again.
Tomorrow I am photographing a rally in Rochester, NY. I'm there to only observe as I did for a post election rally. I'd love to photograph pro-Trump people as well. But for now, anti-Trump rallies it is.
I set my camera at auto-ISO (200 to 6400) with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 and an aperture of f/11. Rest of the settings:
- Classic Chrome
- Dynamic Range: 100%
- Sharpness: +2
- Highlight Tone: -1
- Shadow Tone: +1
- Noise Reduction: -2
- Color: +2
Walking and photography go hand in and hand .. at least to me. Stick me in a studio and I would go crazy. Give me a camera of any kind and I will walk all day trying to make photos of some substance. There's the obvious benefits of walking, especially during your lunchtime, and then there's the not so obvious. Working in downtown Rochester isn't the same as a bigger city because on any given day there's rarely a spot where there's a cluster of people. There has to be a purpose and an inner bravery when making candid photos in the wide open. Everyone is going to notice you and someone is going to object to you taking a photo of them or question your intent on taking photos in public. I'm always ready to answer any question honestly. Answering "because I can" rarely does anyone good.
Personally, when someone confronts me, I avoid telling them I'm a street photographer. In fact, I cringe when someone calls me a street photographer. In theory, some/most of what I do is street photography. I just like making photos. Besides, the amount of people who try or practice classic street photography locally really have no idea that it is just candid photography of people. Let's not even get into knowing what makes a great image and what doesn't.
I'm admittingly pretty rusty at the moment. When I have been shooting, I've been using my Retina, which has a 50mm lens. I'm pretty slow and deliberate with that camera. Today, I walked with my Fuji XT-1 (with 23mm lens) and stalked the crosswalks and busier sidewalks. My favorite subjects are the many lawyers that work downtown.
Since we are talking gear. I set my camera at auto-ISO (200 to 6400) with a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 and an aperture of f/16. Rest of the settings:
- Monochrome +R
- Dynamic Range: 100%
- Sharpness: +1
- Highlight Tone: +2
- Shadow Tone: +2
- Noise Reduction: -2
While I didn't get any keepers, It was 30 minutes of shooting, breathing fresh air, getting the heart rate up and reintroducing the muscle memory with using this camera and which spots to stand in at this focal length.
I hate winter. I grew up in Upstate NY (outside of Watertown) and now reside in Rochester, NY so I have had my fair share of winters. The weather will be nice-ish one day and brutal the next. Winter weather here is like being in an abusive relationship. I would know. About both. Sadly.
In the fall, I told myself and anyone else who would hold me accountable, I would shoot through my winter blues and for the most part, I have. Now, it's only 10 days into the New Year and I'm ready to hibernate until March.
Knowing my inevitable failure at shooting through it, I'm starting to collaborate with two other local photographers who work I admire and I like being around. I also donated to become a member to the George Eastman Museum. If I am not making photos, I may as well be talking about them and looking at them in person instead of a screen.
On the week after Christmas, a friend and wandered to a few small towns close to the Southern Tier. We like to park the car and walk around all day, taking in these towns and photographing what ever comes our way. It was very cold and it had just finished freezing rain before we got there so the sidewalks were mostly too dangerous to walk on. After visiting three towns and having a few close calls on a icy sidewalks we called it quits.
After the Presidential Election, there was an Anti-Trump rally at the University of Rochester. I figured this would be a good chance to practice focusing with Retina and to try to get better acquainted with the camera.
Like before, the Retina IIa didn't like mid day sun much at all. You have to work to get an exposure that's not overblown. I'm not sure how much I like the small coupled rangefinder either. I pretty much just zone focus and point and shoot. This is the first rangefinder I have shot with so I'm at a disadvantage comparing it to other rangefinders.
KEH had a film sale a while ago and I took advantage, getting a stash of film at around .75 to .80 a roll. Most of it was Lomography color film. I stuck with the Lomography to test out the camera. I also shot two rolls of HP5 at the rally. Those will not be processed until sometime this winter by me in a darkroom.
Anyways, the Retina performed pretty well. If you are a street shooter who likes wider lenses, the 50mm lens will require a little getting used to. I'm still adjusting, positioning myself where I would be with a 35mm or wider lens.
I recently acquired a Kodak Retina IIa from a retired Kodak engineer. There's usually quite a few of these cameras popping up but none in the condition I was able to find. The camera looked brand new and had the original leather camera case.
The Retina IIa is very easy to use. The best feature of the camera is that everything is manual. No batteries are needed to run a meter. One downside is that while focusing the lens I sometimes moved the aperture dial. The Retina IIa seems to be more of a camera you would use for deliberate shooting. I found the rangefinder to be a bit tough to focus quickly at the start. I have never shot with a rangefinder before. As I used it more, I was able to be quicker to focus. You will get better results zone focusing.
The Retina IIa is perfect for places like Rochester, NY. You can only go to 1/500 second shutter speed. The camera may not like very bright sunny days unless you use 200 speed film or are able to find some expired 64 speed film.
I tried to shoot in as many conditions as possible. The 50mm f/2 lens seemed to work perfectly in fairly bright and dark conditions as well as in some challenging lighting conditions like the parking garage in the above photo.
I have since shot a few more rolls. Once I process the black and white film I used in the darkroom I will share the results. I think I will enjoy shooting with this camera through the winter.