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April 23rd, 2017

The Science Of Shadows And Light

I went to the March for Science in Washington D.C. More about that later. But I’m back home now, and the first thing I did naturally was offload my digital photos onto the network drive. I’ll put them into Lightroom in a bit and post a new photo gallery later. The rally was taxing enough on my sixty-three year old body that I had to bail out before the march actually happened, and retreat to my hotel room. But I got a bunch of good shots at the rally on the Washington Monument grounds so I’m happy.

Later, after my legs recovered a bit and I got some energy back, I took a dinnertime walk around D.C. and snapped off a few shots with the mini Hasselblad (Sony) of what was left of the march ephemera after all the crowds were gone and the streets were nearly empty and it was still drizzly because I’m a weird old fuck and I was in a gloomy mood just then. If you’ve seen my art photography here you know what was coming. And I wasn’t sure even as I was taking those shots whether or not I wanted to include them in a gallery of shots of the March for Science. What comes out of me at those times when I’m doing it for the pure art of it is pretty dark. I can see that photographic eye in everything I do and I don’t really like it. But it’s worse when I’m not working on a theme or an event. Then it’s the pure inner photographic eye that comes out. I was pretty sure none of that belonged in a gallery with the science march.

As I wandered, I found a street sign…one of those historical markers D.C. has been putting around town. This one told me the studio of Mathew Brady was nearby  on Pennsylvania Avenue, and that it was relatively unchanged from when he lived there. So I tried to find it just to nod in fellowship to whatever memories might still be lingering there…

Mathew B. Brady was one of the first American photographers, best known for his scenes of the Civil War. He studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. -Wikipedia

But of course it had no marking plaque or even a street number over the door so I’m still not sure I saw the right one. But something had drawn me there. Obviously since I’m at the March for Science, I count myself as a person of science. But I am also an artist, and those two sides of me were excruciatingly difficult to reconcile when I was a teenager, until I read Jacob Bronowski’s little book, Science and Human Values.  I try to be rational about things, but there are moments when I feel moved by a spirit I have no name for. That was one of them.

I am not a camera, the camera is me. What comes out of it is me. But also what was actually there. The reality within and without. The cold grey drizzle. The nearly but not quite empty streets. What I saw. How it made me feel. In no other art are both those things quite that literally true. The photographic image is fixed by light entering the camera and it exists in a fixed time and place, but the what the photographer sees is within and timeless. Brady was the first to show us what war looks like via the camera’s unflinching deterministic eye. But it was also a mirror held up to ourselves. This too is human. In retrospect it was a perfect sort of serendipity being drawn to Brady’s studio that evening because probably no other art owes as much to science as photography. Chemistry, optics, the physics of light. The camera shows us what was there, and in the process tells us what it is to be human. Whether or not we want to know it.

 

Mathew_Brady_1875_sm

 

reflection-sm

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Science Of Shadows And Light
November 9th, 2016

No.

Considered wearing my pink triangle button to work today because I know exactly what lay ahead for people like me. Instead I put on my Tomorrowland pin because fuck the bastards.

me_tomorrowland_pin

If you want to live in a cesspool go right ahead, but I won’t live there with you. This country, and this good earth, is big enough, and richer enough in human spirit that I don’t have to.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on No.
May 3rd, 2016

Teachers

According to Google, today is Teacher’s Day. I want to thank a few. Not the ones whose class I sat in though the ones who took an interest and kept the fire burning within me have my eternal gratitude. Frank Moran…my art teacher in high school, and one of the best teachers a kid could have. Marvin Watts, my college English teacher who encouraged me to write because he said I did it well if I put my mind to it. Don Poole, my jr. high science teacher, who encouraged my curiosity about the mechanical universe. I have the life I do today in large measure because of the interest they took in me when I was a kid.  But today I want to also thank others, who lit the fire within from a distance.

David Plowden…

plowden-sm

 

Robert Frank…

robert-frank

 

Margaret Bourke-White…

 

Russia's Dnieper River Dam, the world's largest, during the beginning phase of its construction.

 

…and…I hesitate to say this because her work is so relentlessly dark, but…Diane Arbus.

 

arbus_houseonahill

 

These were the ones who showed me what the camera could do. Plowden is the one probably closest to my heart, but the others are pretty close too. There are other masters of the art whose work I have loved very much, and found inspiring…Ansel Adams being probably the grand master of the form. But those four, Plowden, Frank, Bourke-White and Arbus, shone a light within which I could see myself. Which is what teachers do.

 

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Teachers
June 27th, 2015

Look At The Rainbows…

Yesterday, Friday June the 26th 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of extending marriage rights to gay people. Those saying that the court redefined what marriage is need to read the actual text of the decision. Kennedy wrote a paean to marriage, not a redefinition of it.  And of course, the usual suspects declared that they would go on with the fight, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. That was unsurprising.

But then…afterward, something amazing, something that lifted my heart to a place where I will never again doubt the power of love, and the essential goodness of (most of) my fellow Americans happened. The rainbows came out

rainbow world trade center

Rainbow Niagra Falls

rainbow whitehouse

rainbow empire state

rainbow marriage bridge

rainbow castle

Look…just look…at all the expressions of joy and affirmation. Go ahead and sniff that it’s just kowtowing to the militant homosexual agenda…and surely some of this, particularly among the corporate entities, is Hey There’s A Market There Let’s Make It Like Us And Spend Money! But look, just look for a moment, and the breath and depth of the expressions of joy at the decision. The sincerity of it, the massive scope of it, is something you need to grasp, if you can. Even if your prejudices can’t allow you to see the people for the homosexuals, at least try to understand that there are lots of people who aren’t homosexuals, who are absolutely thrilled that now their fellow Americans who are gay have equal rights in marriage.  Look at this carefully, all of you declaring now that you will keep on fighting this, because it’s why you lost, why you will keep loosing this fight.

Everything you think you know about gay people is wrong, and especially, emphatically this: that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. It’s why you keep miscalculating again and again and again our willingness to go on fighting no matter how much damage you could do to us. But more critically, it’s why you miscalculated, profoundly, what would happen when your lies lost their power over us, and we began to live our lives openly. You thought “normal” people would be disgusted when they saw the reality of our lives. You really thought that. You probably still think that.

They are disgusted. At you.

It’s one thing to keep on inciting prejudice and hate at the people who live on the other side of the tracks, in the ethnic and racial enclaves, at Those People that America, to its shame, still largely keeps segregated. It’s another when it’s your own children, your brother and sister, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people in your everyday lives.

Prejudice lies. It lies about other people. But first, it lies to you. You think you see reality, but you don’t. Others, not succumbing to prejudice, loving life, and willing to live in the world as it really is for better or worse, do. Anything that keeps you from seeing the world as it really is, makes you weak. The denouement came with the Proposition 8 trial. You’d built a multimillion dollar industry propagating one pseudo scientific lie after another about gay people you hoped would win the masses over, or at least enough voters. But be honest with yourselves for at least one thing: it was mostly to convince yourselves you weren’t really just a bunch of bigots after all. And when it came time to defend all of it at trial your prize experts ran away, all but two who nearly conceded our case for us on the witness stand. In the end the rest of the country saw your case against gay equality for the half-assed pile of pretentious crap that it is. The witness stand is a very lonely place to lie said Boies. Lonelier still is the bathroom mirror. Your prejudices lied to you. But you let them do it.

Surely you noticed how quickly everything came apart after that. Whatever doubts existed before Prop 8, they are gone now. Our humanity is understood. We are neighbors. We are family. We are fellow Americans. We have been embraced.

And you? Well…you are what you’ve always been. Still able to look at this torrent of love and support from the rest of America, convinced that most everyone agrees with you, and ultimate victory will be yours. So you dig yourselves deeper into the gutter. It doesn’t have to be. Listen to a gay man who gave a little beauty to this world and was wronged horribly and fatally by prejudice: “We are all in the gutter,” he said, “but some of us are looking at the stars.”

We are not all in the gutter, despite your best efforts to keep us there with you. And if you can’t bear to rise your gaze high enough to look at the stars, at least look at the rainbows. They are rainbows of joy and love…from Americans to Americans. Look at them. There’s the way out.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
June 18th, 2015

Why It Happened

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

why-it-happened

From the article…

But the “crazy” ones always seem to have a respectable counterpart who makes a respectable living pumping out the rhetoric that ends up in the “crazy” one’s manifesto–drawing crosshairs on liberals and calling abortion doctors mass murderers–who, once an atrocity happens, then immediately throws the “crazy” person under the bus for taking their words too seriously, too literally.

This.

I appreciate that freedom of speech is vital to democracy. I appreciate that. But these sorts of crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. And this kid isn’t the only one with blood on his hands. That said, don’t go looking at the obvious hatemongers either. The screamers. The Rush Limbaughs, the Michael Savages, the Ann Coulters, the Fox News Talk Radio gallery of race baiting demagogues. They may be completely sincere in their hatreds, but they have the platforms they do, because someone paid for them.

Someone paid for them.

There’s the problem. Where is the money coming from to give hatemongers a platform to turn this nation into a tinderbox of mutual hatreds? Who is buying that air time, so enough people can be blindly aroused by hate, so republicans can elected, so the advertisers, the corporations, the deep pockets, that fund the hatemongers, get their taxes cut even more, get regulations that protect workers, consumers, and the environment repealed and financial oversight gutted? Follow the money funding the hatemongers, who inflame the passions, arouse the hatred, that finds its way sooner or later, eventually, to a killer, to a bloodbath, to its source. There’s the problem.

Race hatred killed those people. Without a doubt. But it had an assist from greed. Greed that doesn’t particularly care about race. I put it to you, that without that assist, we would not be reading many of the headlines today that we are. I put it to you, that without that calculation in the rarefied atmosphere of the corporate and financial boardrooms, that exacerbating divisions between Americans, and thereby to break apart the New Deal coalition, was preferable to accepting a world where their right to rake in tons of cash by any means they cared to rake it in might have some limits placed upon it, we might have made real tangible progress toward healing the race wounds of our nation. But it was not to be. Race hatred killed those people. But it was fed, it was kept alive, by greed.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why It Happened
October 29th, 2014

Come, Let Us Reason Together. No…Not You…

The Southern Baptists are still trying to figure out what to do about The Homosexual Menace

ERLIC Conference On Homosexuality

The Christian Post is reporting that there has been plenty of healthy and outspoken debate on the issue of “the homosexual lifestyle” at a conference hosted by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Commission in Nashville. Much of the debate has taken place on Twitter (#ERLC2014).

The conference is live streaming.

The Christian Post describes it as a conference to address “…how Christians should react to the ongoing battle between those framing the homosexual lifestyle debate as a civil rights issue and those supporting what they believe to be biblical moral values, including traditional marriage…” Oh…is that what it’s all about is it?  Guess who was invited…

And guess who wasn’t…

As the Christian Post would have you see it, the conference attracted “plenty of fireworks” mostly on “social media”.  But Theocrat In Chief  and Baptist Pope in Waiting Richard Land stood firm…

“The gay community is never going to find the Evangelical response satisfactory because we’re not going to accept their behavior.”

Their behavior.  Their behavior.  Their behavior. Still can’t see the people for the homosexuals can you Richard.  And you never will.  But is that “the Evangelical response” or is it simply the knee jerk dance of the irredeemable bigot? You lost this fight decades ago Richard. Those voices outside the doors Richard…do you hear the people sing…?

Back before there was a commercially open Internet…back in the stone knives and bear skins days of DOS PCs, 800 baud Modems and dial up BBS systems, I saw the world change right before my eyes. Before home computers had powerful multi-tasking operating systems, back when 640k of system ram was considered more than most people would ever need or use, little computer bulletin board systems sprang up everywhere. At first, they just connected the people in their local dialing area. Then in the mid 1980s some of them banded together into an amateur computer network called FidoNet.  Back in those days I was on a local BBS system that had a gay Fidonet echomail board called Gaylink. It had participating BBS systems on it all over the world. I had an uncle back then who was a HAM radio operator. He kept trying to interest me in taking up the hobby, telling me about all the people all over the world he was able to communicate with via shortwave radio.  And I kept trying to tell him about all the people all over the world I was communicating with via FidoNet. The world was changing before my eyes.  Still, as a young gay man, I knew there were things that would never change.  And then they did.

Gaylink was mostly a social forum. We chatted about this and that…a little politics, a little dishing. It never really got very serious. One day a message from a BBS in the Netherlands appeared. It was short and to the point:

I’m 14 years old. I think I might be gay but I’m not sure. How did you know about yourself? What was it like?

And from literally all over the world this kid began getting coming out stories. Not the one where you come out to family and friends. The one where you come out to yourself.

Some of them were painful to read. Some were hopeful. Some were amazingly nonchalant. There were folks whose parents disowned them. There were others whose parents completely accepted them. Some people struggled for years with it. Others seemed to have always known and accepted it. There was romance. There was heartbreak. I sat down and for the first time ever, really thought about my own experience coming to terms with my sexual orientation and wrote it down for this kid and the whole world to see. And I could sense that something…wonderful…was happening.

It went on for two weeks. We never heard a peep from the kid throughout that entire time. And the stories, from all over the world, from people in all walks of life, just kept coming and coming. We all began talking to each other, seeing common threads in our lives that we all had, which set us apart from the heterosexual majority. Seeing those things that made each of us unique and at the same time those things we all seemed to share, no matter where we lived, no matter what culture we were raised in. Then the kid spoke up one last time:

Thank you. You’ve all given me a lot to think about.

That was it. We never heard another word from him. Maybe we gave him what he needed to accept himself. Maybe he was just confused about his own awakening sexuality, and what it meant to be homosexual. At that age, who knows? Maybe he wasn’t what he represented himself to be. That was as easy then as it is now. But as I watched that event unfold I realized that there had to also be hundreds of others, maybe even thousands, all over the world, generation upon generation, watching that conversation, hungry for those same answers to that kid’s question.  And I saw it then, what this new technology could do for us as a people. We no longer had to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes.

Now look at this again…

But they have their voices now.  And they will use them. We will speak our truths to the world, and we will be heard. Weep for the old days Richard Land, when you could tell us lies about ourselves from the pulpit you were thumping and we believed them because yours was the only voice we could hear. They are gone. You kept gay voices out of your conference, but you couldn’t silence them outside of it. And that is the reality bigots like you have had to deal with for decades now, since all there was for an online social space were the first primitive personal computers and some modems. Your song and dance took place, fittingly, at the Opryland Hotel. An actual conference was held in the virtual street outside. You can keep gay voices out of your church. You can keep them out of your theology. But you can’t keep them in the closet. Not anymore.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Come, Let Us Reason Together. No…Not You…
October 14th, 2013

Once Upon A Time In Washington…

On this date in 1979 the first gay rights march on Washington took place, with about 100,000 demonstrators. I was one of them.

Here’s an ad placed in the Washington Blade after the march for the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and in it the photographer caught me when I was walking along with the Maryland contingent. This is a scan from the copy of the Blade I saved, so the quality isn’t the best, but it’s all I have.  The Stein Club made posters with this shot and I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t snatch one up.

I’m there in the lower right hand corner with, oddly, my Argus C3 around my neck. It was a (very) poor man’s Leica and I was probably experimenting with it. The Canon F1 was probably in my backpack. I’d worked all summer long at a fast food joint in 1971 to be able to buy the F1, but apart from a couple lenses for it and a really nice German enlarging lens I wouldn’t be in any position to buy nice photographic equipment for decades to come.

I think I had color loaded in the F1 and Tri-X Pan in the Argus.  At some point I need to post a gallery of my shots here in the “Life and Times” section of that demonstration and other gay rights events I attended and photographed. I wasn’t working for anyone at the time, just documenting my life and times and the struggle I found myself a part of whether I wanted to be or not.

When I came out to myself in December of 1971 I wanted what most of us want when we’re young…the significant other, the soulmate, the happily ever after. What I got was not that. Yes, it’s so much better now than it was back then, but we had a lot of work getting from there to here and we still have a long way to go before every gay kid can dream the dream of love and joy and contentment without fear or shame or guilt.  The young guy you see in this ad would never have thought in his wildest dreams he would live to see the day he could get legally married anywhere, let alone in his home state of Maryland, to the man he loved.  But that day came.  If only I’d had a better world to grow into adulthood in, I might have found him.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
June 17th, 2013

Couldn’t You At Least Pretend We Have Facts On Our Side?

This comes across my Google news stream this morning…

Study Finds Supportive Tilt to Gay Marriage Coverage

News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday.

Yes, yes… I hear they take a pretty positive stance on the theory that the Earth is round too.

We’ll be hearing all about how this proves the news media is biased against Christians from the kook pews for years to come, but what’s happening is that the Proposition 8 trial pretty much destroyed the idea that the case against same-sex marriage has anything to support it other than animus.  Think back to how completely taken by surprise so much of the press seemed to be after that trial was over, that there wasn’t more to the case against letting same sex couples marry.  Those of us who have been in this struggle for decades knew exactly how empty their rhetoric was, how utterly bogus was their junk science.  For decades they’ve been burying the political debate in bullshit and you have to admire how energetically they went about it.  Their think tanks and research institutes produced tons and tons of deceptive, mendacious, carefully crafted bullshit and the fact that there was just so damn much of it coming out of them seemed to convince even tolerant middle of the road types that there was something to it, that homosexuality was if not an abomination, at least a tragic outcome that ought not to be encouraged if possible.  And then came the trial, and they had to put all of that bullshit on the witness stand…

“In a court of law you’ve got to come in and you’ve got to support those opinions, you’ve got to stand up under oath and cross-examination,” Boies said. “And what we saw at trial is that it’s very easy for the people who want to deprive gay and lesbian citizens…to make all sorts of statements and campaign literature, or in debates where they can’t be cross-examined.

“But when they come into court and they have to support those opinions and they have to defend those opinions under oath and cross-examination, those opinions just melt away. And that’s what happened here. There simply wasn’t any evidence, there weren’t any of those studies. There weren’t any empirical studies. That’s just made up. That’s junk science. It’s easy to say that on television. But a witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court you can’t do that.

“That’s what we proved: We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost.” -David Boies

There were never any facts.  It was always about prejudice.  It was always about hate.  That’s not trivial.  Hate has motivated the passage and enforcement of laws that persecute homosexuals for generations.  But hate is factual only in the sense that it exists, not that its excuses are themselves factual.

So another way of putting the outcome of that Pew study is that news organizations are likely to give greater weight to the facts than to bullshit, even passionately squawked bullshit.  And that’s because, at least in theory, newspapers are supposed to report the facts.  And there are no facts that support bans on same-sex marriage.   There are only myths, lies and superstitions.  Those are the facts.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Couldn’t You At Least Pretend We Have Facts On Our Side?
May 21st, 2013

France Awaken!

Via Huffington Post…

Dominique Venner committed suicide on Tuesday in front of the altar of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The death of the 78-year-old essayist and historian sparked numerous reactions from French nationalists.

Several executives and members of the country’s far-right National Front party took to Twitter to praise Venner. Directly referencing Venner’s last blog post, National Front party leader Marine Le Pen called the writer’s act an “eminently political” gesture destined to “awaken the people of France.”

“All our respect to Dominique Venner whose last gesture, an eminently political one, attempted to awaken the people of France. MLP”

There is no doubt in my mind that he did it to incite violence against gay citizens and provoke a political crisis for the current government. One final grand gesture to rouse the hatred of the street, wave the bloody flag, shout to the army of the gutter that their indecision was wretched. He died for the cause of civil war against the hated Other.  In June of 1865, Edmund Ruffin, American white supremacist, ardent supporter of the Confederacy, killed himself after Lee’s surrender, wrapping himself in a confederate flag before shooting himself in the head. Venner wrapped himself in a French Catholic church.

[Update…]

Just saw this on the Christian Science Monitor site..

Hours after the suicide, a message apparently written by Mr. Venner was read by a friend on a conservative radio station: “I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break with the lethargy that is overwhelming us,” the friend read on the air. “I am killing myself to awaken slumbering consciences.”

Yes…that was what this was all about.  France Awaken!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on France Awaken!
March 14th, 2013

Notice: Please Ignore My Cheapshit Prejudices And Focus Instead On My Sickening Behavior

Oh fer sure…

“Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” -Marco Rubio, speaking at CPAC

No.  It makes you an asshole.  It’s the reasons why you want to deny gay people equal marriage rights that make you a bigot.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
January 30th, 2013

Working On My Photo Galleries

My silence here lately is because I’m spending what free time I have to blog working on a redesign of my photo galleries here.  A big part of why I bought my domain back in 2001 and put this web site up, was for it to be a showcase for my cartoons and photography, and both those galleries need some refurbishing.  Over the years Facebook made it easy for me to neglect my own web site, but thankfully their policies lately, and Timeline which I absolutely despise, have brought my attention back to it.

Here at least, I have some control over how my artwork is displayed.  Also, by putting my artwork up on my own web site I am not agreeing to anyone else’s business model for their use.  Artists take note: Those Terms Of Service can change at a moment’s notice and next thing you know your artwork might be selling toothpaste.

Or worse…

NJ gay couple sues, condemns use of their picture in Colorado ads

Photographer Kristina Hill…and married couple Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere…are suing an organization that used the engagement photos of Edwards and Priviterein in a smear political attack mailer against Colorado State Senator Jean White…

This is that case of the same sex couple whose engagement photos were appropriated for use in some anti-gay republican attack ads.  They’d posted the photo in a blog they started to celebrate their upcoming marriage.  Two years later it was snatched by “Public Advocate of the United States”, nutcase Eugene Delgaudio’s SPLC listed hate group, for use in anti-gay republican attack ads.  Additionally the photograph was altered to show different a background, to make it seem as if it were taken locally for a given race.  Always protect your copyright…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Working On My Photo Galleries
September 16th, 2012

Adventures In Medium Format Photography…(continued)

I took a day trip to York, Pennsylvania yesterday to do a little test of the Hasselblad with the metering prism, diopter and focusing screen I bought for it, and two new black & white roll films I’d never worked with before; Fuji Neopan 100 and Agfa Retro 80. The Agfa is advertised has having almost H&W Control like qualities of grain and red spectrum response, but it develops so they say in HC-110. Since Kodak is not at all well these days, and they’ve stopped making Pan-X altogether, which is what I like using in my medium format cameras, I need another source of film.  So I am experimenting.

I haven’t developed the Agfa yet, but the Fuji is already stunning me. It’s emulsion backing is more transparent then the Kodak…to an H&W Control degree practically…so there will be more bandwidth in the resulting images.  Plus it lays absolutely flat on the scanner tray. I don’t need to fuss with it to get it to lay flat, it just does.  My shots with it in York are running though the scanner now.  I’ll see what kind of images I get later today.

But I am already delighted with what I see the metering prism doing for me.  All exposures are exactly on target with the new prism.  Much, Much better then I was able to get reliably get with the Gossen hand held.  My thing is I like shooting into the sun and that can be tricky.  I’ve developed the Fuji and the two additional rolls of Kodak Pan-X I took with me and glancing at the negatives as they came out of the wash everything was spot on.

And it’s faster to work with then I expected. Since there is no direct coupling between the meter and the lens, you have to transfer the reading you see in the meter to the lens manually. But the reading you get is in EVs (Exposure Values) and the Hasselblad lenses have EV settings on them that are a snap to use. Once you set the EV on the lens, the shutter speed and f-stop settings are latched together and you just rotate both depending on whether you want the highest speed or the greatest depth of field.

I am having zero problems now with focus.  The new focusing screen is both brighter and because it has that split-image focusing aid in the center, quicker to focus with.  Plus the diopter is a big, big help.  I can see everything snapping into focus now, whereas before I had to search it out and sometimes I was just guessing at it.  I got it wrong a bunch of times I later found out.

I should have done this Much earlier, but it was a pricy accessory.  The only problem I was having as I wandered around York was the Distagon wide angle lens is flarey.  I had to pass by a bunch of interesting shots simply because there was obvious lens flare where I was shooting from and I could not find a way out of it.  The Distagon is an old design.  It also has noticeable vignetting at the extreme corners.   But it’s amazingly sharp.  There is a newer 50mm lens for my Hasselblad I’ve seen on the used market, which they claim has improvements over the Distagon in terms of vignetting and flare.  But that’s another big wad of money.  There’s a 40mm that’s an even bigger wad of money and I really like shooting at the wide angle perspective.  It suits the kind of work I do.  But I can only spend so much on photography equipment in a year.  Film itself is getting a tad pricey…for some reason.

The Hasselblad is a tad heavy to start with, and the metering prism adds to that.  But it’s a compact weight and I don’t mind carrying it around if it’s because the camera is built to last.  I like solid things in my life and especially my tools.

[Edited a tad…]

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adventures In Medium Format Photography…(continued)
September 13th, 2012

Adventures in Medium Format Photography.

Looking back over my receipts, I bought the Hasselblad in January of 2005 with the Kiev 45 degree prism and the 80mm Zeiss Planar lens and hood for just under a thousand bucks. Sounds expensive but they went for about that new back in the 70s when I was a poor teenager and a thousand bucks back then might as well have been a million. I’d wanted one ever since I saw what those amazing Zeiss lenses were capable of. But it was way out of reach. New ones are still way (way!) out of my reach. But used older ones are something I can afford now, and this one was in cherry condition…like whoever owned it had barely used it. Over time I bought another two film backs for it and a 50mm Distagon lens because I like shooting wide angle. But the camera mostly sat in the camera cabinet.

That was partly because Apple’s Aperture software just gaged on the large scans off it. To work with them in Aperture I first had to drop them down in resolution in Photoshop. It was a pain in the neck. The workflow completely broke with those scans. You couldn’t even bring the image up in the browser because it would just go gray and you would get an “unsupported format” error message. Eventually Apple just declared it would not support grayscale image scans altogether, that Aperture was for digital photography only, and that pretty much meant it would not be usable for photographers who still liked working in film.

I could have switched to Adobe’s Lightroom product, but after working with the Hasselblad for a while I was discovering that everything about working with that camera was a pain in the neck. The standard focusing screen had no focusing aid and my aging eyes could have really used one. Or at least a diopter. So I was never able to focus on a subject quickly. Plus I had to work with a hand-held meter which only added to the slow deliberate pace of taking pictures with it. Some photographers are fine with that but that just completely messes me up when I want to explore a subject. And it was a triple pain when I had the red filter on it and had to futz with calculating the filter factor in addition to everything else.

It was: see an interesting subject. Stop. Fuss with taking the meter out of my pocket and its case. Figure how to get a good reading. Do I need to walk in close? Angle the meter down a tad? Wait…I don’t have my reading glasses on. I can’t see what the meter is telling me. Put the glasses on…take a reading. Transfer the reading to the lens. Bring the camera to my eye and compose. Wait…take your glasses off.. I’ll just set them down over here. No…better put them back in my pocket. Now try to focus. No…I need my distance glasses to focus because I don’t have a diopter on this thing. Focus…focus…not sure that’s right but it’s the best I can do… Compose. Shoot. Put meter back.

So I became disappointed with it and mostly the camera just sat. And I never got a chance to see what an amazing camera it really is or how much fun it could be to work with. I figured I would just stick to my 35mm SLRs for expressive photography.

As I said, Apple eventually declared it would not support film photographers. I discovered this after an upgrade to Aperture completely hosed the display of all my black and white image files and I looked on their support boards to see what the problem was. (As an aside…Never tell Apple disciples…never even hint to them…that their holy computers and software are anything but perfect.) So I bought a copy of Lightroom. I figured since Photoshop had no problem with the scans off my film scanner it wouldn’t either. And it doesn’t. So I was finally was able to just wander around the shoots I’d done with the Hasselblad. as few as they were because I hadn’t taken it out much…and I was stunned.  (The following JPEGS don’t do justice really to what I saw…but to do that I’d have to upload the original size image files and at about 150 meg a shot you would wait a long time for those to load…)

My God…why hadn’t I been using this camera more…? Well..could be because I needed a diopter and a metering prism at least. Through the lens metering is much, Much faster, more accurate because you are getting a reading of exactly what you’re taking a picture of, and if you put a filter on the lens you get a meter reading on the light coming through the filter…you don’t have to futz with filter factor calculations (those two shots of Monument Valley were taken with a red filter, which darkens the blue sky and brings the clouds out into sharp relief).  Then this month KEH ran a medium format equipment sale and I decided it was time to spend the money to make the Hasselblad usable for the kind of photography I do. Light footed, hand held wandering around for what I like to think of as found images. What I figured I needed to do it right: a plus 1 diopter, a brighter grid lined focusing screen with a split image focusing aid, and a center weighted metering prism.

The pieces came in the mail over the past couple days and just a few hours ago I assembled everything and…whoa. Gonna shoot some test rolls this weekend. One roll of Rollei Agfa Retro 80 and a roll of the Fuji neopan 100. Because Kodak is not looking at all well and I need other sources of film to feed my habit. But already I am Loving what the Hasselblad has turned into with the new accessories. This is going to be fun. Finally.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adventures in Medium Format Photography.
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