I'm no etymologist, but personal experience would suggest that the word "vacation" derives from two sources — the words "vacate" and "shun." Vacate means to leave, or to give up a place or position. Shun means to avoid or ignore something. For me, "vacation" means "to ignore my usual photographic inclinations, and to give up taking the kind of pictures I like to take — resorting to generic landscapes and banal 'I was here' photos." Photographs from my recent trip to the scenic Oregon coast belie, once again, my efforts to avoid the trappings of vacate shun photography.
The world is full of many things to see — big, small, chaotic, and quiet. Every person who looks out at this world sees it, feels it, and experiences it differently. The problem, for each of us, is to figure out how to craft a photograph that expresses exactly what it is that we see, feel, or experience. Studying the work of other photographers is the key to unlocking our own inner visual sense. It's through the examination of photo collections and photographer monographs that we discover how other photographers have wrestled a shared vision into a compelling photo. These are the lessons every photographer needs to learn, yet you'll never find them in a "How-To" book.
Unless one's soul is carved from stone, the Rollei 35 is the sort of camera that will infect both photographers and non-photographers with a powerful case of gear lust. I first saw this marvellous mini in the late 1970's — before I had even the slightest hint of an interest in photography — and I remember thinking "now that's the camera I'd have if I had a camera!" Flash forward 35 years (and at least that many cameras) later, and one of those funky little beauties is finally mine. In this article, I discuss how logic — not madness — drove my decision to purchase one, and how the Rollei functions in comparison to the superfluity of digital compacts on the market today.
I'm in love with the night. I enjoy the mysteries that lurk in the darkness, the enigmatic shapes, and the cavernous infinity of a bottomless shadow. In fact, I love the night so much that I want to photograph night itself — and not flood it with artificial daylight. As any photographer knows, the solution to such a requirement is spelled f-a-s-t-l-e-n-s. For M-mount shooters, this has historically meant choosing between an account-draining Leica Noctilux, or the gamble of an older, adapted lens. Now, however, we have a third option — the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.1 Nokton. It's (relatively) inexpensive. It's new. It's built for M-mount cameras. But is it any good?
The internet is boiling over with pretty pictures. Galleries are stuffed full of pretty pictures. Pretty pictures fill the pages of a million different magazines. Photography is now about the medium, not the message. Today, it matters little what a photo contains, as long as it's pretty. My pictures aren't pretty. And the crazy thing is, I don't care. If you find this an intriguing stance then perhaps, like me, you're on a ridiculous quest to uncover the meaning of life.
Camera toters are a curious lot. I frequently witness fashion-conscious point-and-shooters eye each other's stylish little cameras and ask each other questions like, "how big is that screen?", "Is it high-def?", "is that a touch screen?" and, of course, "does it come in blue?" Similarly, I've watched the eyes of SLR shooters as they dart about — not from picture opportunity to picture opportunity, but from one guy's SLR to another. I've observed as Nikon owners nod approval to other Nikon owners, while Canon carriers do likewise. Inevitably, they all ask each other the same question, "how you liking your camera?" In this crazy, gear-centric environment, I've always been thankful that my camera of choice is the humble, unfashionable, unloved rangefinder. No one pays it (or me) the slightest bit of attention, which makes it that much easier to practice my chosen craft… until now. No longer is my Leica 'invisible' on the streets. Everywhere I go, people are looking at my camera and scrutinizing it. They're stopping me, and asking questions about it. Attention is the scourge of the successful street photographer, and I place the blame squarely on the metaphoric shoulders of both Panasonic and Olympus — specifically on their latest crop of Micro Four Thirds (mFT) cameras. Everyone seems to be interested in these cameras. And, because many of them are styled to resemble rangefinders, everyone thinks I have some kind of new-fangled mirrorless, mFT-type camera. So now the camera watchers stop me. And they ask questions. They begin innocently enough with "what kind of camera is that?" But it doesn't take long until their questions gain weight. "What, exactly, is a rangefinder?" they ask. Or, "What's the advantage of shooting with a rangefinder?" The answers become far too involved to discuss in a brief on-street exchange. And so I've written this article in the form of an open-letter to all those photographers who have developed a sudden interest in my little Leica M-series cameras.
If you ever logged into iTunes in hopes of downloading some groovy new organistrum music, then you've run right smack into "it." If you ever went to your local camera shop in hopes of trying out a new rangefinder camera, film camera, or even to buy some film, then you've also run right smack into "it." "It" is the invisible wall that separates your tastes from a generation's. "It" is a mile thick barrier of public opinion that stands immutable between you and your goals. "It" should never exist, but "it" always shall.
With the bulk of Part 1 spent justifying the use of film cameras in today's world, Part 2 dishes on all the good, bad, and curious attributes of the Leica M6 TTL and why, maybe, you should consider adding a film camera to your own bag o' tricks.
To take a photo with the Leica M6 TTL is to take a trip 50 years into the historical glory days of photography — when men were men, women were women, and both could actually take photographs without aid of a computer. This, the first of a two-part article, discusses the relevancy of a fully mechanical film camera in these electronic digital days.
Photoshop CS5 has been on the market for only one month, but if you search Google for the phrase "Photoshop CS5 Review," you'll get 400,000 hits. Needless to say, I don't see any compelling reason to add to that total. Instead, this article focuses on a single tiny feature amongst the plethora of Photoshop CS5 enhancements — the "Content Aware Healing Brush." It may be "tiny," but its time-saving benefit to anyone who spots and heals scanned negatives is huge.
In 1924, Richard Connell wrote "The Hounds of Zaroff," better known as "The Most Dangerous Game." It told the story of General Zaroff, who had become so bored with hunting traditional prey that he turned to hunting the most cunning and clever prey of all — man. In 1948, Eugen Herrigel published "Zen in the Art of Archery", which Henri Cartier-Bresson considered an essential photographic text. How close are the parallels between hunters and photographers? And is there, perhaps, a little of Zaroff in every passionate street photographer?
Every year, a new generation of neophyte photographers become victims of nomenclature — mistakenly assuming that wide angle lenses are an ideal choice for photographing wide, scenic vistas. As an obsessive neologist, I examine how wide angle lenses are actually used, and wrestle with what designers should have named them.
On the afternoon of February 28th, in the final event of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, the Canadian men's hockey team beat the USA in a nail-biting, overtime gold medal game. If this country was a living organism, hockey would be its heart. It's a home grown sport that touches everyone who lives here. Canada is a nation of immigrants, but hockey unites us all. It's a passion that welcomes everyone and excludes nobody. It doesn't discriminate by age, nationality, religion, race, nor political view. The United Nations can only dream about this kind of harmony. When this country grants you citizenship, you must swear to uphold the principles of democracy, freedom and compassion. And this you do — through hockey.
With precipitation levels low and the temperatures high, Vancouver's cherry trees welcomed February with a display of delicate pink blossoms that, in years past, remained hidden until April. In marked contrast to most of the Northern Hemisphere, winter never arrived here, and spring has already sprung. It's a glorious time to be in Vancouver, save for one nagging little fact — we're hosting the winter Olympics.
So much for professionalism. Rather than keeping a cool, detached "street shooter's" eye, I joined the swarms of snappers and chased the Olympic flame around downtown Vancouver for 24 hours prior to the opening ceremonies. Sometimes you just need to be a tourist in your own town.
Its inevitability has, for a decade now, been forced into my consciousness and my subconsciousness. It's become a part of my Id, my Ego, and my Super-Ego. Its costs, benefits, politics and promise have permeated local news outlets since I first moved to Vancouver at the dawn of the 21st century. "It" is the XXI Olympic Winter Games and, in four days, "it" finally arrives in my downtown neighbourhood — on the very streets that I traverse each and every day.
This is an article about photographing the culture, chaos and cacophony that surrounds the NAMM music products show in Anaheim California. It includes several photos from the show, plus a link to a multimedia presentation about NAMM. The article also discusses the current state of photojournalism, and the difficulties facing those of us in this ever-challenging profession.
Out there on the mean streets of photography, it's a digital world. So what possible good can come from shooting with a 50 year old Yashica-Mat Twin Lens Reflex medium format camera? How about 50 megapixel scans, square negatives, and a classic "analog" look? Dive into this article to discover all the techniques, benefits and eccentricities inherent in Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) photography.
Common wisdom tells us that "the bigger the sensor, the better the image." Micro Four Thirds (MFT) cameras, though 3 times the price, have a sensor 9 times larger than a point-and-shoot. Great value! The sensor on a full-frame "35 mm" digital camera is 4 times larger than MFT and, coincidentally, costs approximately 4 times as much. Unfortunately, should you wish to shoot digital medium format, you'll run head first into the Law of Diminishing Returns, where a sensor only 1.5 times larger than 35mm currently costs about 7 times as much. Ouch. This article discusses my decision to go "medium format" in a decidedly analog way — by purchasing a 50 year old Yashica-Mat Twin Lens Reflex camera for less than $100. Read along with my tongue-in-cheek logic, and see if you won't end up scouring eBay for your own medium format film camera.