I spent a good part of last week and the week before on vacation in Washington, D.C.and Maryland.
It was cherry blossom time in the nation’s capitol. I took a few snapshots of the flowers, but on the one day I set aside for walking around and taking photos, I decided instead to work with the digital infrared converted Pentax K10. There were clouds with thin, diffused sunlight - not ideal for IR work but not bad either.
Here’s the Washington Monument - I processed the image with a little sloppy faux digital hand coloring to give it an old fashioned postcard look. I always see photos of the Washington monument and it is always alabaster white. It really isn’t like that.
And here is the Lincoln Memorial. Again, a digital infrared and a faux hand color look in the processing. A few more IR posts from this trip will be forthcoming.
Here’s a quick shot of a common houseplant - a Peace Lily. Taken with a plastic lensbaby muse on Tri-X developed in Rodinal.
Kalamazoo was in the sweet spot for an ice storm on February 21st this year - just to the north heavy snow fell and just to the south it rained. But here we had a heavy freezing rain that left well over 100,000 homes without electricity. Mine was one of them. Between the oven and the fireplace and a propane heater borrowed from a friend I was able to keep the house warm enough to avoid freezing pipes, if not crabby cats pissed off over being left in the cold - inside.
Here are a few macro snapshots of the ice, taken around my house.
All photos taken with a Pentax K-7 and D-FA 2100mm macro lens.
With Worldwide Pinhole Day just a few weeks away, I decided to look at some new options for pinhold photography. Up till now I’ve been using a converted Kinoflex twin lens reflect camera, which was converted to a pinhole with a micro-drill. It is very nice and the TLR finder makes composing a breeze. However, the pinhole in this camera is not very small - based on exposure experience I estimate it to be in the f90 to f128 range.
There are loads of pinhole options on ebay these days, from holgas to dslr body caps to beautiful hand made wooden cameras. For me, having some sort of a finder is essential - I get too fussy about composition to just guess what is going to wind up in the frame. Many of the cameras out there have no finder, and that ruled them out for me.
While I was poking around, I found a nice pinhole body cap for the Pentax 6x7/ 67 /67II family of cameras. I gave this a test drive yesterday - here is the first shot I took with the camera, a 32 minute exposure:
The documentation says the aperture is f244, which would be about 8 stops from f16. To estimate the exposure I used a light meter to take a reading at f16, which showed a shutter speed of 15 seconds. I then doubled the shutter speed 7 times - 30s, 1m, 2m, 4m, 8m, 16m, 32m, each doubling being one stop. I decided to call it quits at 7 stops - if I went the full 8 stops we’d have an hour long exposure. I wasn’t sure if the battery on the 6x7 would hold the mirror and shutter open that long. The negative was definitely thin, but scannable. Film used was Agfa APX 100 developed in Rodinal, 1:50 for 17 minutes.
There is nothing particularly interesting about the radiator, but I like the tonality. This and the other test images look fairly sharp, for pinholes, which is what I was hoping for. With the pinhole on the camera the finder is way too dark to do any composition, but the standard Takumar 105mm f2.4 lens is pretty close in angle of veiw to the pinhole, just a little narrower, so composing with the lens and swapping it out for the pinhole works fine.
I’m looking forward to running this through it’s paces a little more in the next few weeks! While I bought my pinhole body cap on ebay, it came from the folks at pinholeedum.com.
Here are a few snow crystal photos from the Groundhog Day blizzard of 2011 - I posted these on the Story of Snow blog a while back -
I heard about the London Street Photography Award and that got me looking through of my old B&W scans. This isn’t street photography since I was driving a car when I took it (like, how can you take a street photo while driving in the, um, street…)
But it’s an overlooked shot that I like. It has inspired me to unearth my original Holga from the depths of my car trunk, and I might even develop the film in it and try a fresh roll.
This shot was taken in 2007, whilst driving through Battle Creek, Michigan:
Here’s a re-work of a digital infrared image from last fall - I decided to ditch the channel swapping and go for a more subtle color tonality. You can see the original version here.
Here it is, bleak mid winter. The skies are gloomy and grey and days pass without a hint of sunshine. A little snow covers the ground. It is cold.
It snows, now and then, and I’ve been going outside to take snow crystal photographs. But the snow is opaque, dusty, and effervescent. Hours spent collecting snow crystals result in only mediocre images, as all the crystals are broken, odd or irregular.
The other night, after a few hours of collecting and discarding snowflakes, I realized just how selective this whole process is. The snow crystals I decide to display are the most regular and symmetric of the snow crystals I choose to photograph, which are the most regular and symmetric of the ones I gather. It seems that the vast majority of the crystals actually flying around in the air or landing on earth are irregular or broken, odd and ugly. I ignore them and focus attention on a small percentage that flatter my construct of how snow crystals really should be. Nature speaks with a loud and clear voice, but I hear only one word out of a thousand, and misunderstand even those.
Hmmm… Too much time spent out in the cold. Here are a few shots from the last couple of weeks:
This December has proven to be pretty cold - I noticed folks ice fishing in the last few day s- but aside from a little snow at the start of the month, it’s been pretty dry. Here are a few more snow crystals from the second good snow of December . As this month winds into the holidays and then to an end, no snow is in the forecast. Hoping for a productive 2011!
Hard to believe that just last week it was a balmy 53 degrees and warm gentle breezes were pushing the last fall leaves around on the sidewalks. The temperatures have dropped, the lake effect snow has begun, and here we are on December 6, with the first snow crystal shots of 2010/11. They aren’t particularly interesting, but they hold the promise for more to come.
Here it is, late November, and the first snows of the year are wisping in the air. Last year at this time, in a very late and warm spring, I was still finding the very last Autumn Meadowhawks. This year we’ve had a few days of below freezing temperatures, and the dragonflies are surely finished (at least till next spring.)
Here are a couple shots, leftovers from summer past.
First – the only mature male Blue Dasher that I was able to get a shot of – as you can see, he is a bit past his prime and worse for wear and tear. Well, we all have those days.
Second, a couple shots of a male Eastern Pondhawk, a species I don’t see as often as I use to.
A male Widow Skimmer -
And lastly, a Hairsteak Butterfly -
Well, here we are in late October. I’ve had little time to visit the fields, but fall is well under way and things are going to brown. Here’s a little essay from this July that never made it onto this blog:
There is an interesting place in the Allegan Forest. It is off 44th street, a ways south of 115th avenue. When you drive by on the dirt road you can catch a glimpse of a small parking lot at the end of a little drive, carved out of the forest. If you look closely as you pull in you’ll see a small log wedged in the branches of a pine tree near the entrance, with a moldering orange ball the size of a softball, or a grape fruit, fixed to it.
The parking lot is maybe big enough to accommodate 10 vehicles. It is dry gravel with the scrubby woods pressed close in on the north and the south. Someone dumped a bunch of garbage there, so plastic bottles, cans, scraps of tin foil and shreds of plastic bags adore the edge of the forest. If you look down and it is summer, you will see ants on the gravel. Lots of ants.
There is a small red gate, the kind typically installed by the DNR to close off two tracks and service roads. Behind the gate is a long disused two track, just two parallel bands of gravel with weeds in the center strip growing up 6 feet or more. Near the gate is an old cast iron pipe with a slot cut in the side. Similar pipes are used to this day at state parks and campgrounds - you drop your self-registration paperwork and fees into them.
The abandoned two track runs straight as an arrow into the woods. The trees have been cleared 20 or 30 feet to either side, though here and there a midsized tree has taken hold and is growing right beside the road.
The cleared areas along the side of the road are knee high with grass, knapweed, poison ivy, patches of milkweed and other plants. Huge anthills – domes 8 or 10 feet in diameter – rise up out of the grass. No plants grow on these nests, instead they are perforated with dozens of holes and millions of ants scurry in and out of them. The road extends for over 300 years, and the ant hills rise up every few feet for that entire distance. I imagine it is a huge single colony of ants – but maybe it is a federation of separate ant states. Either way, it pays to walk gingerly and not to stand around idle. Even on the road or the parking lot, you will get the stray ant tickling its way up you leg until it realizes it is stuck, and then the pinprick of its bite.
Thankfully, the ants here in Michigan are all pretty mild. Though it’s not a good idea to walk on the ant mounds and it is a very bad idea to jab a monopod into the soft sand of the ant domes. Take it from me.
Where the two track ends there is a break into a large field on one side. It is open and green and lush this time of year. Visiting it on Saturday, a white tail leapt out of the brush and bounded away gracefully. A moment later two young deer – still with their spotted coats but almost the size of a full-grown adult – bounded off in the other direction.
A couple of small concrete slabs are carved out of the vegetation – foundations form some now long gone buildings – and in a copse of scruffy trees a large sewer pipe stands on end – at least 6 feet in diameter and towering 20 feet or more into the air. I once spoke with a hunter here who referenced “the silo” – but it is a sewer pipe. How it got in this place and on its end is anyone’s guess. Someone – no doubt mystified by its presence here – chipped a hole in the side of it. Too small for a person to get through, you could peer into the inky darkness inside the pipe, if you wanted to.
If you keep going along the path that continues from the two track you’ll go 30 or 40 feet with large trees pressing in on either side, and then come upon a huge field, a few hundred yards long and wide. It is a regular square, carved out of the forest, and this time of year is full of knapweed, prairie grass, and lots of wild strawberries – acres of wild strawberries.
And all along the way there are dragonflies – lots of dragonflies – and their images are recorded here in this post.