Thursday, August 5, 2010

Week 27: Nuts!

I know I am very behind in the project, but rather than bore you with excuses I'll just pick up where I left off and try to sneak in a couple a week to catch up.

We spent a week in Maine in the middle of July - this marks our third year in a row doing this so it's becoming a bit of a family tradition. The difference from this year to last is that this year we were able to stay at the family camp that we've been re-habbing since early Spring.

It's nice to have space for everyone and be in a spot that is relatively quiet. You hardly hear anything when you're at camp except for the birds, wind and the river passing by. It's incredibly peaceful.

There's also quite a few little critters to observe.

While I tried to get pictures of the chipmunk who hangs around camp, I couldn't entice him to stay still for long enough. I did get him to eat out of my hand a few times, remembering how my grandmother used to do it. Put a few peanuts in the palm of your hand and hang out for a while... eventually chippy comes sniffing around and sits on you hand and stuffs the peanuts into his cheeks. I got him to sit for long enough to extend my finger up and rub his stomach - those little guys are super soft.

Anyway, back to the photo. So in the chipmunk's place I got a squirrel to dine on a few pre-planted peanuts and ended up getting a few good shots of him:

I also took a few rolls of film while I was up there that I have yet to develop. If I ever get the time to do it and scan them I'll add them in as some of the weekly shots.

I still have to try some setup shots at home - I have some ideas, but now all I need is some time to do them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The project rolls on, I've just slacked on posting

I have the past few weeks of photos done, I just need to process a roll of film (maybe tonight) and get to creating posts for each of the images. I'll be updating the blog soon with the missing weeks.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Week 26: skyline from the Longfellow bridge

Walking from Beacon Hill, across the Longfellow bridge last week.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 25: Laundry

Writers have writers block, so I guess you'd call what I have photographers block. Having a hard time thinking up things to shoot for this 52 weeks project. Typically I just walk around the office building at lunch and whatever catches my eye, I shoot. This has worked pretty well up until now. I feel as though I've exhausted all the shots within a 5 block radius of my building.

Of course this is impossible, but it's just the way I feel. Maybe it's not that there aren't any more photos to be taken, but more of a lack of inspiration that my surroundings are providing. I need to open my eyes more I think, or maybe take a break from the lunch-time photo safari routine.

I revisited a neighborhood I haven't been to in a while this past week, and while I did see some new sights, I don't really feel good about what I got. The shot this week is from a row of buildings that are across the street from the State House, on the eastern side.

This was one of those sights that just caught my eye as I was walking. I took a few more shots, each with a different set of people walking through them. This guy ended up being the most interesting. By the third set of people I started to feel a little strange about what they must be thinking - a guy hunched over taking pictures at ass level isn't the coolest thing in the world... So I moved on.

I wandered through a memorial garden for homicide victims that I had seen before, only when I was there in the fall the fountain wasn't working. Seemed like a nice place to take a break. Then I moved on to the familiar neighborhoods of Beacon Hill and snagged a knocker.

So I've decided that instead of waiting for inspiration to hit me, I need to start building my own inspiration. The first half of this 52 weeks project has been comprised of a lot of "found" photos - ones where I just happen to see a scene and shoot it. For the second half I might turn my attention to "created" photos - ones that I setup, not so much candids. I have one more week left before passing the halfway point, so one last "found" photo before I start planning...

...stay tuned...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Week 24: Stainless Steel

As sort of a response to week 22 and week 23's shots I thought I'd go out with my 100mm macro lens and see what small details I could find around Boston. I was walking toward Pi Alley when I noticed that the wrought iron gates that line the windows of one of the buildings were all locked with some rusty chains and beat up old padlocks.

The details and texture on the chains and locks made for an interesting picture, so despite the strange looks I must've been getting I pulled my lens very close to the lock and snapped away. After going out with film cameras more often than digital recently it was nice to be able to fire off a frame and check the display to make sure I had the framing and exposure right to my liking.

After what must be years of sitting out in the elements it looks like those locks are holding up pretty well. Even though they were pretty grimy and covered in rust from the chains they looked in decent shape. The chain on the other hand looked like more rust than metal.

I kept walking around that day and saw a few more small details that caught my eye. I also ventured down an alley I hadn't been down before and snapped another door and a couple wood pallets leaning up against the delivery dock.

I need to go out with this lens more often. I think I've said that before...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week 23: bike cops of Boston

I've put three rolls of film through the new Holga panorama camera, the first two were B/W (Efke 50 if you're interested) and third roll was from a new pack of Kodak 400 VC Portra film.

I have learned a few things.

First - the Portra film scans pretty well. Even with the complete guess work that went into the original exposure, and the fact that a lot of the frames were underexposed, the film still scanned well. The trouble I've been having with scanning Velvia or other thick emulsion film is kinda driving me to stick to color negative.

Second - I'm generally OK with the look you get from Holga cameras. The expected vignetting, and even the light leaks are tolerable and sometimes they create some interesting and pleasant surprises. I think I am getting a bit impatient though, and a bit less tolerant of the unexpected. Also, with a plastic lens (or pinhole in a piece of metal in this case) you're never going to get a crisp shot, and it's unfair to expect that of a Holga. I think I am getting to a point where I value sharp focus, and with the Holga you're just not gonna get it, so I expect that I won't be using this camera all that much going forward.

Third - most police officers are camera shy...

There was a parade starting at the back entrance of City Hall that I just happened to stumble upon this week. I saw a lineup of bike cops and thought it would make a good shot, so I asked one if I could take their picture. They said no, but I was welcome to shoot the bikes. Little did they know that the plastic brick I had mounted to the tripod captured a 120degree field of view. So the cops are there, lurking in the shadows, ready to hop on their bikes and hum the CHiPs theme song.

I took two more shots from the parade that day, consider them outtakes --

So it may be a while before I post another set of shots using this camera, but then again it may not. The Portra film does look nice, and I like the width of these shots a lot. Maybe I need to just experiment with some better subjects.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week 22: park panorama

So not too long ago I picked up a new toy. A Holga 120 WPC wide angle panoramic pinhole camera (read a review on it here). It created either a 6cm x 9cm negative or a wider angle 6cm X 12cm negative. Not really sure what would happen if you didn't use the mask, but that'll be an experiment for another day.

I used the widest mask, so my negatives came out to be roughly 12cm long, or around twice as wide as my regular Holga shots.

To frame the shot you use a V-like guide on the top of the camera. It's just there to give you an idea of what the field of view is, and how much of the scene in front of you will be caught on film. Also, there's a spirit level built into the frame to help you stay true to your horizon.

The first attempts brought me through Boston Common to try to capture some of the sights there. Since it's a pinhole camera and I don't have a handheld light meter I had to guess on the exposures, holding down the cable release to a 5 count or so. There are guidelines on the back of the camera: 7-9 seconds in bright conditions shooting ISO 100 for example. These are a good place to start.

Since it's a bit of a guessing game on the exposures I kept with negative film, hoping it would would be more forgiving than slide film. And here's the first test shot, which happens to be this week's photo:

And there's just one outtake for the week, a shot of the frog pond:

While it's not the easiest camera to shoot with, it could make some great images in the right setting. I've got a location I've been wanting to take pictures of at dawn, and it's a rolling landscape - this might be the perfect camera to captuer it with. We'll see...

Monday, June 7, 2010

I know week 22 is late...

I know I am behind on the 52weeks posting, and last week's post is late, but I am working on it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Week 21: On the way to Charlottesville

This past weekend I made a drive down to visit a friend who lives in Charlottesville, VA. The drive took us from MA through CT, NY, a sliver of NJ, PA, MD and finally to VA. That's a lotta states. And a lotta states means a lotta driving.

Luckily for me, at least in this instance, I got to ride shotgun the whole way while my buddy took the pilot seat.

Since this was a reunion weekend of sorts for three really close high school friends there were only a few photos sanitized enough to make it up for this week's post. Of those I only had one that I really liked, so there are no outtakes this week.

This shot could be from any one of those states we passed through. Really have no idea which one it was.

The one thing I know from this foggy quick trip to the South is that I really gotta get back there. Charlottesville was a lot of fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Week 20: Bike Messenger

In last week's update I mentioned that I've been playing around with panning lately. While moving cars are interesting to photograph I found that trying to capture bike messengers in motion was far more challenging.

Freezing their motion against a blurred background is definitely hard, but the hardest part was actually finding them. I started out waiting on a corner on Congress Street near Post Office Square in downtown Boston thinking there would be a lot of bike traffic through the financial district. I only saw one bike. So I wrote about it on twitter and a friend of mine whose wife used to work downtown sent me a note about how he would see a ton of them when he would visit her.

Turns out I was about a block away form there when I was first shooting, so while I was in the neighborhood, I was just far enough away to miss the action. I went back there the next day and sure enough a whole clutch/gaggle/school of bike messengers was hanging out in the park on Devonshire Street.

I parked myself on the sidewalk and waited.

I ended up catching about a dozen messengers on that street. This was the only one that I really liked. I shot this one on the Canon 35mm film camera I have, on some Velvia 100 film. Actually all of this week's shots are from this setup.

The next time I try to go on a panning hunt I'll be bringing my digital camera. Being able to get some immediate feedback on the shots with the digital camera will make the outing a bit more successful. As it was with the film setup I had to guess at what exposure settings would work, and just how slow of a shutter speed I would need to keep the biker relatively crisp against a blurred background. I obviously have a ways to go...

Here are the outtakes from the week:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Week 19: birdwatching

Who knew seagulls were so friendly? This guy was perched up on a pylon at the end of the Long Wharf near the New England Aquarium. I took his picture from maybe 5 feet away and kept creeping in on him until my lens was about a foot from his beak. He was pretty cooperative. I think he was hoping I'd make with the breadcrumbs.

I took a bunch of pictures of this guy, but this one was my favorite.

I got a few outtakes this week, two of them are previews of what is to come this week. I've been messing around with panning, and for some reason (maybe to torture my patience) I've only been doing the panning work on film. I'm planning to get out there again this week and try to perfect, or at least work on, my panning techniques.

And the last outtake image is from Christopher Columbus park, again near the Aquarium in Boston. Not really happy about this shot, but that just means I need to get back there and try it again.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week 18: P10

I found a new parking garage to get on top of. These are the sorts of things that excite the photographer in me.

This particular garage is above Downtown Crossing in Boston, pretty close to where I work. The 10th floor is the top floor, and it's completely open to the air. Some of the garages I've been in are the bottom few floors of an office building, and while they may offer some good views of older architecture, they're a bit limiting as far as skyline views go.

I will have to head back to this garage one night with a tripod to get some of the buildings. There's a great panoramic view of the nearby office buildings that would look pretty amazing through a really wide lens.

For this shot I went back to the digital camera and used the Canon 17-40 lens at 40mm with a circular polarizing filter on to darken the sky out a bit.

While I was up on the roof I also took a few shots of the action below. The downtown crossing area is pretty busy on a nice day during the lunch hour. I made a gimmicky fake tilt-shift miniaturization shot out of one of the images. Sure it's kitschy, but fun nonetheless. This is outtake #1:

On my way back from the garage I spied this pooch hanging out of a car, so I took a shot. He's outtake #2:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Week 17: Durgin Parking Garage

This week's photo is of the Durgin Park billboard from the top floor of the Dock Square garage in Boston, near Faneuil Hall. I have been on top of two other garages so far in Boston, and even though I park in this one nearly every time I drive into the city I had yet to wander up to the 7th floor. 

Today as I was heading back to my car I had two frames left on the roll of 120 loaded in my Yashica Mat. So instead of huffing up the stairs to the 4th level I decided I'd gamble on the rickety elevators and take the ride to the top floor. I wasn't really sure if the top would be totally exposed to the outside, but when the elevator doors opened I was presented with what looks like a football field sized flat parking garage floor with plenty of room to walk around and get some great shots of the Boston skyline. 

I will definitely be coming back.

And here are this week's outtakes, all from today. 

PS - I know I've been on a bit of a B/W film kick lately, but now that the sun is starting to come out more consistently I'll be shooting a bit more with the digital camera, and definitely more with some Velvia film. I have 5 or 6 rolls of 220 Velvia 100 that I'm hoping to unleash on the bright skies sometime soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A great piece on Dorothea Lange heard on NPR today

On the drive into work today I heard a piece on NPR about Dorothea Lange and a new book written about her by Linda Gordon.

The piece starts off talking about what is arguably Dorothea Lange's most recognizeable image, that of a California pea picker Florence Owens Thompson. The image was taken while Lange was employed by the Farm Security Administration in March, 1936.

One incredible piece of information I learned from the NPR piece was that all of the images that Dorothea Lange took during her work with the FSA became the proprety of the US Government. The original images were accompanied by captions that she wrote for each image, but they were not distributed with the images when the FSA would make them available to news outlets. Not even the titles of her images were preserved.

Listen to the NPR piece embedded below, or visit this link to read more about the new book by Linda Gordon.

5 questions from Etsy and a sweet pair of cuff links

The other day I was working on my Etsy shop and I ran into a gal who asked me if I'd be up for a quick interview on her blog. I couldn't say yes fast enough -  I mean, who doesn't like talking about themselves?

She is an Etsy artisan that makes some pretty cool jewelry so you should go swing by her shop to see her stuff - mother's day is right around the corner dontcha know (hint, hint).

She asked me five questions that you can read over on her blog, but one question totally caught me off guard. The final question was, if money were no object what item from Etsy would you buy. Since I have yet to see a Hasselblad for sale on Etsy I went with something I had come across only a couple days before - these sweet camera cuff links from Etsy seller CosmicFirefly. Check them out:

                                                                                  image courtesy of CosmicFirefly's Etsy shop

Check out the interview over at her blog by clicking on this link.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week 16: Argus (or, "Go Thattaway")

So week 15 in the 52 Weeks project was a tad late (due mostly to my being wrapped up in the 4am project contest) and this week's photo was threatening to be delayed too, but for totally different reasons. 

I've had one roll of 120 Delta 3200 sitting to be developed from the 4am Project shoot earlier in the month, as well as a roll of  Tri-x 400 35mm, Efke 50 120 and today I just burned through a roll of Kodak 3200. I got through the Delta 3200 and the Tri-x 400, mostly because they were the oldest undeveloped rolls and also because the Tri-x 400 was what I shot this past week and I needed a photo for week 16.

This roll was the first roll I've run through my inherited Argus C3 camera. According to the wikipedia entry for the C3 it was the best selling 35mm camera in America for nearly three decades. That's insane. It's a rangefinder, with separate viewfinders: one for setting focus and the other for composition. The viewfinders are about the diameter of an eraser, so composing shots isn't the easiest thing in the world. 

Oh, and there's no meter.

I had no idea how much I relied on my other camera's built in meters to help me figure out exposure. Without the meter to tell me whether I had a scene properly exposed or not I had to wing it. I used a calculator I found on the web to give me a starting point, then adjusted as the scene dictated. It was tricky, but thankfully I was using negative film which gives you a little more wiggle room than slide film.

I got a few decent shots, but it's clear I still have a lot to learn about shooting with this camera. 

Here's the shot I chose for this week. Taken near the Union Oyster House in Boston, MA. 

And here are a few outtakes, mostly from last week, but some might be from weeks past.

I landed 2nd prize in the 2010 4am Project photo contest!

It was a very tight race, and after being selected as a finalist from almost 1500 photographs I ended up winning 2nd prize in the 4am Project photo contest!

You can read about it on the 4am Project blog here:

Congrats to Nandor Hargita of Budapest for taking first prize with his photo - you can check it out here: Nandor's winning photo.

Can't wait until next year's event - in the meantime, go out and shoot some pinhole shots for World Pinhole Photography day - it's today!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My growing camera collection

In the past year I've aquired 4 new (old) cameras. First it was a Yashica Mat 124g, then came the old Duaflex II, then I inherited an Argus C3 and most recently picked up a Praktica (see the last blog post for output from that one).

So far I have resisted the urge to dive into the instant photography craze. Mostly because I am very preoccupied with the small horde of film cameras I can play with. But with the recent announcment from the Impossible Project that they have begun to sell two varieties of monochrome 600 format instant film, and with their upcoming release of a new color film, I am tempted to plop down some money for an eBay special.

That is, I was tempted, until I saw that Rachel is giving away an instant camera to one lucky fan. You can check out her giveaway over here at her Rachel B. Blog site.

The entry fee is a comment, or a blog post, or a tweet - just head over and say hello and your name goes into the hat.

And while you're over there you really should check out her work - she does some beautiful things with light and a camera.

good luck!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Week 15: Praktica

I have a new (old) camera. It's a Praktica FX 35mm viewfinder. I'd never seen anything like it when I read the ad for it on Craigslist.

It's a waist level viewfinder, but in the body of a 35mm. The only other waist level camera I've used is my Yashica Mat, but surprisingly this little camera is just as easy to handle. It even has a small magnifying loupe built into the pop-up viewfinder for critical focusing, just like the Yashica Mat.

I am always amazed at the precision and mechanics of older cameras. They usually feel very solid, an in a lot of cases the simplicity by which they operate understates the complexity by which they operate. Something as simple as the frame counter will make me smile when I think about how it's working internally.

I picked up the camera from someone local who had taken incredible care of it. Everything seems to be working just as it did when it was being heavily used. The leather case is well worn, but still holding up, which tells me that it saw a lot of use. The shutter works flawlessly, and the film loads, advances and unloads with ease. The only thing that seems to be a tad off is the aperture ring on the lens, but it still functions and opens the iris without any issue.

The camera doesn't have a meter, and I didn't want to bracket, so I was pretty much judging exposure as I went. I had Ilford HP5+ 400 speed film loaded. I brought it out at lunch a few days in Boston, then shot a bit at home too. Before each outing I looked up what some exposure guidelines were - trying to offset from the sunny 16 rule when I forgot the actual values.

Here's my first go at a self portrait, taken with the Praktica:

And here are four outtakes:

Friday, April 16, 2010

4am Project Finalist!

One of the photos I shot for the 4amproject has been selected as finalist in this year's contest, and I need your help and votes to win!

I would appreciate it if you could head on over to the voting page and vote for my image to win. My image is #14, and the voting form is at the bottom of the page. Voting ends on Monday, April 19th.

the 4am Project Voting Page

Thanks for voting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

a 4am outtake, or late night laundromat

Driving toward Marty's at around 3:55am on Sunday morning I passed this laundromat. This is the place my mom used to bring our comforters and big blankets that couldn't be washed in our washing machine at home. I had no idea it was a 24 hour spot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Week 14: 4am at Marty's

On Sunday, April 4th at 4am if you were awake and listened very carefully you could hear the sound of shutters releasing all around the world.

The 4am Project ( ) celebrated its second year in 2010 by inspiring over 1100 photographers and counting to wake up at 4am and take a photo of the world around them. A lot of the folks taking shots this year had participated in last year's shoot, but quite a few were brand new explorers.

Leading up to Sunday's early morning shoot I found that I had a really hard time explaining to people what it was I was doing, and an even harder time explaining why. I couldn't really come up with a great reason, other than I wanted to take part in a project that brought people together from around the world to share their love of photography and capturing everyday life.

Last year I took the easy way out and just woke up, stuck my lens out the window, and took a shot of the streetlight outside of my house that was wrapped in fog. You can see last year's shot here: 4am 2009

This year I knew I needed to step out of the house and find an interesting location to take photos, but the problem I had was finding a place nearby that would have some activity going on at 4am so that it wasn't just a static scene I was shooting. After thinking it over for a few days I decided I'd ask if I could take photos at Marty's Donut Land - a fixture in downtown Ipswich, MA that usually does the bulk of its baking between midnight and around 5am.

I called up, and after some back and forth (and explaining again why I was getting up at 4am) I finally got permission to take some photos. I packed my gear the night before, including 4 rolls of Ilford 3200 speed film, and set my alarm for 3:20am. It felt like I had just fallen asleep before the alarm went off.

I tossed on my clothes, grabbed my gear and hopped in the car. When I rolled up to Marty's there was a tow truck parked out front and a pair of guys smoking and drinking coffee. I had no idea there would be anyone but the bakers there at 4am. I said hello and then went inside, dropping my stuff off on a stool near the window.

I went around back to the kitchen and said hello to Walter and Ellie - the two bakers there for the night preparing the next days donuts. They were expecting me, and told me I could shoot wherever and whatever I wanted, so I immediately dove in.

I ended up with 19 images that I really liked, so far anyway; I still have a roll of 120 to develop. It's a mix of stuff from my digital camera and the Canon 35mm I have which was loaded with the other rolls of Delta 3200. The remaining roll was shot on the Yashica Mat.

So, here you have it - Marty's at 4am, and this weeks photos for the 52 weeks project. Killing two birds with one donut:

                                                          image made with bighugelabs mosaic maker

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Week 13: Spring has sprung

In the month of March we had over 15 inches of rain, the majority of it falling in the last two weeks of the month. It was insane. I've never seen that much rain in my life, nor do I ever want to see that much again. At least four nights this month I spend waking up 4 or 5 times to make sure the pump was working to keep the water out of the basement, and that was AFTER having to deal with 6 inches of water filling it up during the first storm, before we cut a hole in the basement floor and installed a sump pump.

Needless to say I'm pretty much done with Spring rain, and we're only into the 1st day of April.

Today was the first sunny day we've had in a while. By mid day the sun had popped out and the clouds were starting to thin. I decided to swing through Boston Common to hunt for some Spring growth for the current monthly theme my photo club at work is shooting for.

Even with all that rain there wasn't much new growth to be found. I'm guessing once we hit the warmer weather this weekend things will start to pop. I did manage to find a few trees that already had blossoms on them. And since I am not at all a horticulturalist I am going to go ahead and say this is a dogwood tree (it's my go-to tree whenever I have no idea what kind of tree it is).

This week the photo is three images, not just one. I couldn't decide which of the three I liked best and which two would be relegated to the outtakes, so I just pushed them together and that's that.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Epiphanie bags is giving away a new camera, and I wanna win it

Camera bags are usually pretty ugly things, mostly utilitarian in design, so it's nice to see a company making camera bags that don't scream "HEY LOOK OVER HERE, THERE'S A CAMERA IN ME"

Epiphanie is a camera bag maker that focuses on creating camera bags for women. You can check out their lineup here: The designs are pretty freaking clever. From the outside you would never know there's a camera and lenses in there.

Right now they're holding a contest where a lucky participant (read: me) is going to win either a new Canon 5dMK2 or a $2500 voucher on Southwest Airlines. I'm going to chose the camera.

If you want to find out more about the contest check it out here: but don't be upset when you find out that I'm the lucky winner ;-)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 12: Pseudo Pano

I hadn't shot with my Holga in a long while, so I loaded it with some 400 speed Ilford HP5+ and ventured out this week in the cold and rain. It's been pretty miserable weather wise, but miserable weather is what B/W film was made for in my humble opinion. Especially miserable weather in the city.

There's something about when it's overcast and rainy, and the buildings have a slick coat of wet on them, that makes it look perfect to me for taking photos. The tricky part is in the timing. I'm not very good at holding an umbrella and taking photos at the same time, so I need to get the timing right and get out in between the showers.

For this shot I actually never even went outside. I took this from my office window, looking East toward Quincy Market from Beacon Street.

two frames from the Holga, f/11 for 1/100sec on ISO 400 Ilford HP5+ scanned on an Epson v500

It's two images that I didn't fully advance the frame on. I had planned on layering them to make a panorama, but this sorta works on its own I think. There's a third frame off to the right that I was also going to include, but since that was totally separated from the image I just left it off.

This is definitely making me want to play around more with forcing panoramas within the camera. I need more practice obviously, but eventually it would be fun to try and seamlessly combine images within the camera.

The outtakes this week are more plentiful than last week. The two B/W outtakes are from Chinatown, also taken on the Holga. The color shots are from near South Station, just outside the place where I have my color slide film developed. I had a few frames left and these guys were staring me in the face.