Monday, February 8, 2016

It Works!

I shot the first roll of film with my new Hasselblad yesterday.  I didn't have a meter, so I had to ballpark the exposures.  Then I came home and souped the film in the one bath developer/fixer, the R5 from the New 55 project.  That's what they say.  "Souped."  I was nervous about the whole thing.  I've never been very successful at loading medium format film on the spool.  It takes me forever, usually, and I always fuck it up.  But I watched a YouTube video and learned something I'd never known before about loading the film onto a stainless steel reel, and it worked.  I had to heat up the developer, so I warmed some water on the stove and put a Ball jar full of chemicals in it until it was the right temperature.  Then I poured "the soup" into the canister.  Six minutes later, I pulled out the film, and there were images.  Holy smokes!  The camera worked.  The "soup" worked.  Everything worked.  It's just a bit like magic.

Excited, I took my camera downtown.  It was late in the afternoon and I still had to go marketing to get steaks for dinner before my mother came over.  It was a chilly but diamond clear day.  The light was simply crazy.  Before I had walked two blocks, I came upon a couple walking toward me who had a camera.  O.K.  Time to grow a pair.  I asked.  They posed.  It was the camera.  The girl liked it a bunch.  She was all dolled up in a retro way.  Turns out she wants to be a YouTuber.  She was a hairstylist in the shop we were standing in front of.  Her boy asked me if I was a "professional photographer."  No, I said.  He asked me about my camera.

"Real film?" he exclaimed.

"Yup.  Just like olden times."

"Is that a new camera?"

"Brand new to me, made int he 1960s.  But I could never have afforded one then."

"I like his camera better," the girl said to him.  He had a Sony A7.  But mine. . . oh, you know.

After a long talk, we walked on to the park.  All along the way, I asked if I could take pictures.

"Sure," and "Oh. . . yes."

It was the camera.  I don't do a lot of asking if I can take pictures, so the whole thing was a bit strange to m, especially how willing people were.  I was shy and bold.  I'm pretty sure I was taking lousy pictures, but it was a kind of rehearsal or practice, I opined to myself.  I was simply learning.

After an hour, I had gone through a couple rolls.  Twenty four pictures.  Quite a feat, I thought.  Really.

By then, it was time to go.  There was a dinner to make and a Super Bore to watch.  Mom came over for steaks and stayed for the first quarter of play.  She missed halftime, though.  I wish I had.

The New York Times was brutal about Cold Play.  But I was first.  What was that boy doing?  Kneeling all the time.  He couldn't stand up straight.  And he must have had some itchy balls, 'cause he couldn't keep his hands off them.  Then he asked everybody to get down with him, and Ili and I looked at one another.  WTF was he doing?  It was terrible, the whole thing, though that Bruno Mar sure can dance.  The Times compared him to M.C. Hammer.  Hammer time.

I watched the entire game, but I had to make a run to the liquor store somewhere in there.  They were out of the scotch I drink.  Hadn't had it for a couple weeks, they said.  I had to buy a much more expensive bottle, but it saw me through to the end.

I don't want to go to the factory today.  I want to go out and play with my camera.  But I have so many things to do, including renewing my tag.  I have to do that today or be illegal tomorrow, and I am getting too old to be illegal anymore.

I just hope I can find the paperwork I need to do that.  Etc.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

New Tool

It arrived yesterday in the early afternoon.  Now I have my very own Hasselblad.  And it turns out, its a beaut.  I took it to the camera store to ask a question about the Compu-Synch EV lens system.  Fortunately for me, one of the old time camera guys was there, and he knew Hasselblads inside out.  I had really just gone in to buy some film and to ask the one question, but fortunately I was given an hour's clinic in the functioning and use of the camera.  He even got the camera repair tech to fix something on the camera that I never would have known wasn't right.  When I left, I felt better about owning the camera, for what he showed me was the incredible design and build of the thing and the simplicity of it, too.  It is like a Tonka toy.  Everything is a piece and comes off and can be exchanged easily.

Of course, another of the fellows there, an old Brit who sells camera equipment on the side (he just had a Leica M7 for sale which I wanted) said he just sold one in perfect shape for two hundred dollars less than I paid.  Why do they do that?  It is always and inevitably the case no matter what you buy or how cheaply you bought it.

"Oh, man, you should have asked me.  I could have hooked you up for half the price."

I have no light meter right now as my old one was in one of the bags that was stolen, but I have ordered one and it is on its way.  So today, I will use another camera to do light readings.  Then I will shoot with the Hassie.  It is lighter than I thought it would be, but it is awkward, too.  This is not an action camera.  I will need people to sit very still for these pictures.  My bad eyes make me yearn for autofocus.  I will learn to deal.

Pictures shortly.  I hope.  It is still cloudy and rainy here, and Ili does not let me take pictures of her which feels very unjust.

Oh the world. I am with Francis Bacon whose mantra "which he might have proclaimed almost brightly, was: 'Nothing. Nada. Just nada, nada'” (link). “Life’s just like that. We’re all on our way to becoming dead meat. And when you go in that restaurant . . . you see the whole cycle of life and the way everyone lives off everything else. And that’s all there is.”

He was dark like his paintings, I guess--“Everyone I’ve ever been really fond of,” Peppiatt quotes Bacon, “has always been a drunk or a suicide.” Bacon’s avarice — drink and sumptuous meals — is a last gasp of Western Empire, which, in the context of today’s pressboard furniture, is tempting to recall with nostalgia. “I think I’ll move into a hotel like this just so that I have a place to die in,” Bacon pondered. “I love the atmosphere of these luxury hotels, though I suppose with the way the economy is going and everything else, they won’t exist for much longer.”

Indeed, I would love to live out the rest of my life in a luxury hotel. 

It is Super Bowl Sunday. I'm just signifying. We'll find out what it means tonight. Signified.

The sun is well up now, but there is no light, just the grey illumination of a cloudy day. I cannot play with my new camera yet. I'll have another cup of coffee and wait. There are worse things.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Do You Capitalize "Rap"?

I've made so many boring pictures in the street.  I'm coming to the end of them, though.  Perhaps I can make some more.  Sorry.

I just checked USPS Tracking and my package has arrived to the local post office.  I should get it today.  Heart in throat.  I'll see if I like the Hasselblad.  I'll see if it works.

We'll see if I work.  We'll see if I can make meaningful pictures that are aesthetically pleasing, ones that people will want to look at.  Terrifying, really.  Very.

China is recruiting male teachers.  They want to teach boys how to be men.  They are worried about the male culture.  What a contested idea that would be in the west.  Male Culture.  It makes me think.

I've never liked rap music, not since the beginning, not since it was big in the 80s and my friends were still young enough to want to be hip.  I didn't like it black or white or latino.  I would ask people to make the face they would make when "singing" along to it.  It was never a nice face.  I divided music into two types--melodic and rhythmic.  I preferred melodic, of course, because I am always hormonal (I was going to say "having my period" but I'm not allowed to talk like that any more).  Rap music makes me feel like fighting (R. Crowe).

But I was thinking about fighting music this morning.  I love bagpipes.  I know they don't change chords, that they are just complex whistles, but they seem melodic.  I associate them with going into battle, too, but it seems different to me.  Rather than being an angry fighting, it is more like a melancholic marching to an inevitable end, brave rather than mad, defenders of honor, truth and beauty.  I know I've formed that vision from watching too many movies.  But I like it.  And that is the way fighting should be, an inevitable, brave sadness.

Those fuckers were always losing in the movies, by the way, but they did it so beautifully.

Male Culture.

I prefer James Brown to any Rap artist (is rap capitalized?).  I know, I know. . . .

To wit, this (link).

Alice Denham.  I wonder if she was related to Carl Denham?  Highly unlikely (and that was a quiz question for you), but she seems to have been.  She would be perfect on that tramp steamer.  I am going to buy two of her books, including this one (link) because I've decided to go there.  New York in the '50s was like Paris in the '20s, she says.  I think, however, that she would have done better in L.A. during that period.  Oh, L.A. in the '50s would have been everything, and I think she would have been more successful as an actress and a writer.  She could have been a screen writer, I am sure, though I haven't read a word of what she has written.  I just think she could have.  Apparently, she was a woman with a big appetite.  I would have liked to photograph her (link).  We would have been friends.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Spending Spree

Richard Tuchman's images are on sale at Photo-Eye Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  You can buy one from them online (link).  You can get an 18 x 24 for $750 or a 24 x 35 for $1,250.  My birthday is coming up.  Just sayin'.

But I will match or beat those prices with images of my own.  Or do you think I should send the Photo-Eye Gallery some of my prints and see what they have to say?

Or would you rather me just hang myself now?

I'm on a buying spree.  I just bought a 24mm lens for my Nikon digital camera for $42 on eBay.  I'm buying all the cheap shit I can find.  I used to shoot everything with a 24mm lens, so I thought I might begin again.  Start cheap.

But I'm finding out that if you don't have a studio, you need light to make pictures.  That was no problems with the strobes in the studio, but now, after work, after the gym, the sun is going, going, gone, so I am stuck putting on my pajamas and making dinner.  How am I to work and make pictures, too, without a studio?  A working man ain't got no bloody chance.

As I write, I hear a big animal crawling under my house.  Or maybe its a rat going up the wall.  I am not pleased and am in a killing mood.  I have the Golden Malrin solution in mind, though.  Yes, it is evil, but I know what to do.

Being practical, I have two tree guys coming tomorrow to give me prices.  The maids come in between.  It is time to get things done.  I have had a recommendation on a pressure washing fellow, too.  Then the painting.  After that, the deck.  I want the house back together and beautiful before spring.  There is still a roof to (not) think about.

My camera will be here soon.  My beater lens, too.  I must think about new projects.  I must think about my time.

*    *    *    

Morning, and it is cold, the air crisp and clear.  It is Friday and a lazy weekend (I hope) lies ahead.  I did more damage on eBay last night late.  Never drink and shop on eBay at the same time.  There is no cure for that buyer's remorse.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Buying a Bit of the Past

I probably fucked up, but this is what I bought.  It was the cheapest Hasselblad I could find.  I won't tell you how much it was (in case I hate it and want to sell it to you later), but if it works, it will have been a good deal.  It is an old one.  I'd rather have had another, newer, fancier one, but my parents were Depression Era kids, so this is what was embedded in me.  This is what I get.  It should be here in a week or so.  If I use it and want a better one, I will sell this on eBay and get the other, but being suddenly poor and not knowing the cameras. . . whatever.

Yes. . . suddenly poor.  I called three tree companies today to come and give me estimates.  I have a tremendous amount of tree trimming and removal to do.  And that, my friends, is only the beginning. There is so much to be done (by others).  I seriously wondered today what it would cost to hire a "project manager" to take care of everything for me.  I used to be married to one, but that was a long time ago.

As I ate dinner tonight alone in front of the television, I watched the first half of the Jack Black version of "King Kong."  Don't watch anything past when they get to Skull Island.  Up to that point, if you are a romantic, there is no film that is better, I think.  The sets, the cinematography. . . it is all a dream.  After they reach Skull Island, it is just another adventure story, but up to that point is something incredibly else.  Tramp steamers.  What can I say?  Read Marlon Brando's "Fan-Tan," if you haven't.

There is nothing like that any longer.  I want to buy a vintage black and white hat like the captain of the ship wore in "King Kong."

I can't find anything like it for sale on the internet, but perhaps I am using the wrong search terms.  If any of you find one, let me know.  I just bought a camera.  I'm in the buying mood.

Apple has shut down its free radio stations.  I have been listening to them for years now, but this week when I went to turn it on--gone.  They want me to sign up for a free trial of whatever they are pushing now.  I've listened to those stations for a very long time, and some of you have listened to the stations I have made, too.  We've listened to those idiotic Fabreeze commercials and the irritating insurance commercials with that hideous woman, but these were only momentary irritations.  The jazz station I had was worth it.

My life is impoverished in a significant way now.  But that is the way of things always.  That station has gone the way of tramp steamer hats and my Leicas.  It is hard to hold onto anything at all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Micro and Macro Aggressions

They like to smile.  You have to watch for that.  They have learned that.  "Don't look so sad.  Smile!" So. . . tell them you will take one smiley picture and then another or more.  Only let them smile if they are homecoming queens.  Then it is apropos.

My bad.

I'm going crazy with the camera decision.  Just one.  Which do I choose?  I can buy the Hasselblad I'd rather have for about $2,500 or I can buy one almost as good for about $900.  The cheaper one will be older which means it might not be as accurate and it is more inclined to breaking down and needing repair.  Or I can replace the Mamiya 6 with which I took this picture, but as you can see, there is not a lot of out of focus stuff with it.  It is like a very expensive Holga camera.  But it is fun and easy to use.

Or I could focus on other things that I need to do.

More of the old world disappears.  Does anyone dream of owning a beachfront bar in Majorca anymore?  Does youth care about the past and its colorful characters?  Do they even like the idea of character?  I read this today (link) and wondered:

“Gordon Goody, who combined the rakishness of James Bond with the bravado of Jesse James to help conjure up Britain’s daredevil Great Train Robbery in 1963, died on Friday in Mojácar, Spain. He was 85. His death was confirmed by officials in Mojácar, his adopted Andalusian town on the Mediterranean, where he owned and ran the Chiringuito Kon Tiki beachfront bar after he was released from prison in 1975."

I was told by one of the younger workers about a meeting at the factory yesterday in which an executive said that he didn't want to develop a plan of action that people could bitch about later on.  The young fellow called him out for his misogynistic language.  Be careful, people, or you will end up in HR and subjected to some sensitivity training.  The executive's name is Dick, and so I opined that maybe they would want to make him change his name as well.  That didn't go over as I had hoped.  

Gordon Goody was a thief, though, just like the person who stole my cameras, and there is no romance in that to me just now.  Sometimes my thinking is off.  

O.K.  I'll let you know about the camera when I decide.  Until then. . . . 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fire Sale

Uh-oh.  It just got worse.  Cruz or Rubio--one of them might be president.  The circus is leaving town, I'm afraid.  It is going to become business as usual.  Now we'll see where the big money goes.  This is what I've feared all along.  I didn't mind Trump.  He never had a chance at being president.  Now the best thing to hope for is a third party run that does what the Perot campaign did so long ago. I know that the republicans are saving the big Hillary scandals for after she gets the nomination.

Sorry youth.  You will not win at the polls, I'm afraid.  If you want a show, you're going to have to take the circus to the streets.  I want to be there to photograph you if you do.  The times and all that.

So here is another of the pictures from the last roll of film before the camera was stolen when I was trying to learn to work out of the studio and in the streets.  The fellow in the hat saw me getting out of my car and pulling out my cameras when I parked.  He called over and said I should take a picture of the statue.

"I'll take it if you'll stand over with it," I said.

He called over his wife who had just come out of the house.  I took two pictures with the Mamiya 6.  It is a nice snapshot of people I don't know, but that is all.  Why?  I was focussed on getting over the initial anxiety of being a camera guy taking pictures of people in the street rather than being an aware photographer trying to say something in pictures.  I wasn't paying attention to a lot of things like light and posture.  I was hurrying, not wanting to bother them, wanting to get the picture and be on my way.  The picture needs more depth somehow.

Still, in twenty years, it will be a document of the times.

So. . . I've been thinking of what I will do about cameras now.  Having lost what I've shot with over the past twenty years, what would I do differently?  Not much, really.  But if I had to pick one camera to work with now, what would it be?  I keep running that question 'round and 'round my head, 'cause I don't have the money to buy much.  So I think I've decided.  It is down to two cameras, but the one I am leaning toward is a Hasselblad CM with an 80mm Zeiss Planar 2.8 lens.  Nothing fancy, but I've always wanted to shoot with a Hassie and I have found one that is cheap-ish.  It will be totally manual meaning I have to set the shutter speed and aperture and focus.  Just three things, but it takes time.  Oh, I have to have an exposure meter to measure the light before I do any of that.  What I am saying is that it is slow and obvious photography.  Slooooooow.  Big fat, heavy camera.  But I think I would dig it.

Or I might buy it and it will sit on a shelf like so many other things.  No, if I buy it, I have to use it.  It will be the only camera I use for a long time.  That is the deal.  One camera.  One lens.

Money.  Fuck.  Here's a deal for you.  I'll sell you a 16"x 24" print for whatever you offer.  It is a Fire Sale.  Everything must go.

Jesus, that felt sleazy.  Maybe I should just shine shoes.

Monday, February 1, 2016

I Don't Know What It Means. . .

Scanning the last film from the stolen cameras and my attempt to become a street photographer.  One can either approach people for a photograph or make candid pictures of them unaware.  With the medium format, I liked to walk up to them.  The juices flow.  But that doesn't always make for a good photograph.  I was just getting started.  I wasn't thinking about everything I should have yet.

Yesterday I started missing my stolen gear.  The shock is wearing off, I guess, and the reality is settling in.  I looked at Leicas online again yesterday and realized I can't afford to replace them.  Mostly, it is the glass I can't afford.  The lenses are just outrageously expensive.  And so. . . .

Something is happening in Iowa tonight.  Most of us won't be happy about it.  Some of us will be terrified.  But listen--all over the world, people live with worse.  If you want better, you will have to move to a northern European or Scandinavian country or you will have to go to Australia.  Many Americans retire in Mexico or some Central American country, and it is far worse there.

I've chosen to sit this one out.  Not completely.  I'll opine.  But I spent yesterday in the southern countryside driving through landscape that hadn't changed radically since I first moved to the state.  We stopped at roadside citrus stores that will ship fruits to our friends in the north.  They have wild honey and alligator jerky, too, and stalks of raw sugar cane.  We drove by stands of Cyprus trees and loads of sugar pines and girls riding horses through meadows and down old dirt roads.  And later, back home, my mother came to a dinner of wasabi mashed potatoes, broccoli, and pecan crusted wild trout.  I mentioned "The Revenant" once again, and we all agreed we were very, very lucky.

People are going to vote tonight and for the rest of the year for people who tell them they are going to do things that no president can do.  Bernie is going to raise taxes and give us single payer insurance.  Hillary is going to provide social justice for women.  Trump is going to tell everybody what to do.  Cruz. . . hell, who knows?

Somebody will get elected and then so will a lot of other people, and they will argue and disagree.  There is a book right now that proclaims that the U.S. 20th century can never happen again (link), and that the first half was more impressive than the second.  It is easier to look back and be a prophet than to predict the future.  I am remembering a Hemingway quote that went something like, "I don't know what it means, I'm just trying to figure out how to live through it."  I could Google it and get it right, but that is the gist of it.

I'm tired of this.

I'm just trying to figure out how to live through it.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bad Endings

The cameras are gone.  There is nothing I can do about it.  I try not to think about it, and I don't for the most part, though in the night sometimes I wake and yearn.  But they are things, and that is the way it is.  It is awful, but there are other matters that concern me more right now, and I must focus on them.

Like some (with whom I have little in common), I yearn for the America of my youth when people didn't lock their doors and left the keys in the car ignition.  What happened?  We all know what happened and there is no turning back the hands of the clock.  I was stupid to leave the cameras in the car all at the same time.

So now I wonder which one or two I miss most.  I saw a Leica M7 camera body on Craigslist for $1,700.  Buying a 35mm and a 50mm lens, though, would drive that price way up.  I saw a Mamiya 6 online for $1,100 with lens, and I like that camera a lot.  It is not as sexy and attractive to carry, though, as the Leica.  And I miss the Monochrom, but I definitely can't afford to replace that.

Lost cameras, no studio.  If I were a mystic or a believer, you know what I would think, but I don't know what I think, yet.  I haven't been well this week, so I have only thought about my comfort.  I thought to take this opportunity to stop the blog, too, but I guess I'm too much an egoist for that, for here I am talking again.

I still have cameras, and I might take out the Leica R5 SLR camera.  I haven't shot with it for about ten years.  I'll load it with some black and white and see how things go.

For a minute, I thought I would have a print sale and see how much money I could retrieve, but I don't know how to do that.  I may set up an account on Etsy, but somehow it makes me feel like a pimp and a whore all at the same time, and if nobody bought anything, I'd really feel like shit.  I would rather have somebody else do it for me.

But that is enough about it.  Everybody knows how much it sucks.  Nobody can fix it.

Little seems to be changing in the world if you read the news.  You could have been in the jungles of Borneo the past few weeks and coming out would not have missed a thing.  Still, people keep reporting.  I have retreated into movie watching.  Last night I watched "Rock the Casbah" with Bill Murray.  Holy smokes, the first half of the movie is a hoot, but then something changes like they got a new script writer or a new director, and the movie slows to a terrible, boring crawl.  That happens a lot.  There are more good ideas than endings.  Very few movies don't give up somewhere in the middle and then comes some plot summary and a quick ending.  Perhaps that is a good description of bad sex, too.  And since most people don't write, the only scripts they write are their relationships which seem to run that course as well.  I don't want to exclude novels, for too many writers do the same thing.  I may begin to read only the first half of novels and to watch only the first half of movies.  I would save a lot of boring, disappointing hours that way.

A blog, however, is a different thing.  You do not have to invest much to get beyond the middle even though it is more writing than most people are willing to commit to any longer.  And so, in the spirit of bad endings. . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2016


My life just got a lot simpler.  Someone broke into my car today and stole my the following:

Leica M7
Leica Monochrom
Bronica S2A medium format rangefinder and lens
Mamiya 6 medium format, lens and two film backs
Leica Summicron f. 2 35mm lens
Leica Summicron f. 2 50mm lens
Voigtlander f 1.5 50mm lens
Voigtlander f 2.5 25mm lens
Sony A7s
Zeiss f2 35mm lens
Zeiss f2 50mm lens

I'm pretty sick.  Life doesn't seem to be going my way at present.

That's all I have to say for awhile.

*    *    *    *    *

Here is the replacement costs for what was stolen from my car yesterday:

eBay prices.

Leica M7 body only—$1,800

Leica Monochrom body only—$3,500

leica summicron 35mm lens—$1,500-


leica summicron 50mm lens—$1,000

Voigtlander Nokton 50mm F/1.5 Aspherical Lens—$400

Voigtlander Color Skopar 25mm F4 lens—$400

Leica SF 24D Hot‑Shoe Flash—$250

mamiya 6 camera with lens—$1,400

bronica s2a with lenses—$425

Camera bags for all—approximately $400

Sony a7s camera body—$1,800

Carl Zeiss 50mm lens—$1,100

Carl Zeiss 50mm lens—$500

Total=$14, 475.

That's eBay prices.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Super Power

Ten percent of college students think that Judge Judy is a Supreme Court Justice.  I've been watching "Circus" on Showtime, a series about the 2016 election.  They've been in Iowa this week following the candidates who speak to small crowds in coffee shops, religious bookstores, and I don't know what all.  The camera shows the attendees as the candidates speak.  Jesus Christ, I am fearful.  These are the people who are going to choose our country's leaders.  I really hope that aliens from outer space come to earth in giant spaceships and take over the planet.  I watch and wonder how we are lucky enough to have the science we do.  It is not a circus, really.  It is a country fair.

After watching "Jessica Jones," I've asked everyone which superpower they would choose if they could have only one.  One fellow, a Ph.D. candidate writing his dissertation right now, said he would choose mind reading.  Really?  Well, he said, if he could turn it on and off.  I can't imagine it.  It would be a punishment, not a power.  Ili said she would choose time travel.  What would be the point, though?  It would be the same people in different costumes.  No thanks, I'd rather fly.

Or be invisible, but again, it would have to be one you could turn on and off.  I wouldn't want to be like the Invisible Man who had to put on clothes to be seen.  But perhaps we should all be invisible.

Just thinking, though. . . imagine being invisible AND being able to read minds AND being stuck in the building with those Cowboy Terrorists in Oregon.  Holy shit!  That WOULD be like time travel back to a time before logic was invented.

Or to be able to read the mind of Donald Trump!  That would be something.  He isn't going to the debate.  I think he is right.  They are awful.  

Jesus, though, thinking about it, Judge Judy or Justice Scalia--what a world.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First R5 Large Format Picture

I made the first image developed in the R5 monobathwith the Black Cat Liberator.  It works--kinda.  You can't see it easily on this image, but there are big scars in the emulsion from handling the film.  I don't know if it happened when I put the film in the holder inside the changing bag or when I took it out or if it happened in the developing tank.  The R5 developer is fairly convenient.  You pop the film into a tupperware container in the black bag and six minutes later you wash the film.  I've been online trying to figure out a better way to develop 4x5 film.  There doesn't seem to be a good way.  You either do it in a tray or a tank.  The tray development is best done one sheet at a time.  I've not read many good reviews of tank development except with one that costs around $600.  I may try the $150 dollar version, but it, too, seems like a pain in the ass and only holds six sheets.  In most reviews of tank development I've read, there is some streaking or uneven development.  Tray development is just slow.  But I like the way the image looks in the main.  The monobath both develops and fixes the image.  A 4x5 negative retains detail but is kind of creamy, too.  That really appeals to me, of course, being a longtime Polaroid user.  With the Black Cat, I can shoot 4x5 without a tripod.  I have another camera, a converted folding Polaroid instant camera that I had made in Australia long ago that will shoot 4x5 film as well, though the lens is not as cool.  But it is much lighter and smaller than the Black Cat, and I will give it a try.  The plan is to go out into the streets, so to speak, and make portraits in very public places.  The weirder the camera, of course, the better.  All it takes (for a man) is a big set of balls.  Pictures of me as a baby confirm that I was born with a much bigger pair than most people.  At least larger than 50% of the population which is significant.  Big Balls in Cowtown has been a theme of mine for a long time now, hereto known as BBC.  I have to wear the BBC shorts (made by Patagonia) which are not dissimilar to the Dirk Diggler shorts that are made for extreme coverage as well.  But the problem with shooting 4x5 film (with or without big balls) is that you don't get many pictures at a time.  But if my balls don't shrink, and they do often enough being tethered to a very elastic line, I think I can make some spectacular things--if I learn to do the development without scratching the film.

Wouldn't that be something.

I am going to shoot a roll of 2 1/4"x 2 1/4" film today and develop it in the same monobath to see how that turns out.  It is only 12 pictures, so I should not have trouble finishing the roll.

I am really enjoying the 4x5 and square formats better than the 35mm format of the smaller cameras right now.  35mm is good for some things where you are trying to tell a story with environment, but often when shooting in the street, there is too much that is extraneous.  It is a way of seeing, I guess, and I got used to controlling things in the studio.  But I have another camera, the Hasselblad Xpan, that shoots cinematic images that are very cool.  The trouble is that it is a film camera and trying to scan it is troubling and nobody has the equipment to scan it for you.

I don't know why I am bothering with all this film stuff anyway.  There is nothing wrong with digital images.  They can be very, very beautiful.  What's the point?  I don't know, but I am thinking about setting up for doing wet plate work as well which is torturously difficult.  But first I want to get this film stuff down.  So even though I don't have anything to say, I may have pictures to post.  Maybe.  And if not. . . well, we shall see.

Monday, January 25, 2016


I've been experimenting with films and processes, and now I remember why I bothered to get a studio.  The home version is bullshit.  I need a space where I can be sloppy and not worry about poisoning anyone but myself, a place where I can leave the chemical bottles and jars sitting about and not worry about getting them out of the way and putting them out of site.  I spend most of my time trying to figure out the logistics of what I am trying to do.  Yup.  I remember now why I got a studio.

But whatever.  The deal is done.  I may ask the True Artist if I can rent a small space in his studio for a few dollars a month.  How few remains to be seen.

I find that I am stupid this morning and have nothing to say.  It took me quite a while to discover this simple fact, but once discovered, there was nothing to do about it, so. . . .

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Whiny Little Bitch

I've been to the home chemistry lab.  Scotch, Benedryl, and coffee.  I hate the fucking cat.  The Benadryl is not for a cold but for allergy.  The cat has taken to sleeping on my part of the couch, the sacred, sacrosanct part, and now I'm a mess.  Last night, I started a sneezing fit that would not end.  Thirty or so violent sneezes that were making me hurt badly.  Benadryl was all I had to ease the stinging and swelling that had closed my throat.  At one point, I thought I couldn't breathe.  More Benadryl and scotch put me to sleep.  Coffee is helping me come back to the world.

Fucking cat.

The bad end to an otherwise pleasant day.  I don't want to talk about the weather to most of you.  All I can tell you is that you should keep voting for the climate change deniers and the moderates who take a careful approach.  You wouldn't want to rush ahead on a thing like that.  So while I would normally say it is cold here, I will simply say it is pleasantly cool.  Ili and I wanted to do little.  In the afternoon, though, we decided we should shower and go out.  I needed socks.  And so we cleaned up, but we didn't want to go out for socks at all, didn't want a mall, didn't want those people.  Still, we were clean, so we went to pick up my Leica Monochrom which was in the shop for cleaning, then to a camera store to get batteries for another camera.  I had listened to Ili about dressing, so we were not prepared for the weather.  The wind cut through us.

"I want some Scottish eggs," she said, "and an Irish coffee."

That sounded good, so we went to the little Irish pub down the street.  And then it was mid-afternoon.

"That was fun the other day when we went to see the movie."

"What's playing?"

She looked it up.  "Nothing."

"That's too bad.  I'd like to see The Revenant."

"Oh, that's playing in half an hour."

"I thought you said 'nothing'?"

It was a film you need to see on a big screen.  The camerawork is startling and Tom Ford deserves awards.  We were happy.

It was almost dark when we got out and twice as cold.  A full moon had just risen, big and yellow and blood red.

"It's a Full Wolf Moon," I said.  It seemed apropos.

Grocery store, health food store, home to make spaghetti.  I wanted to look up resveratrol.  The price has gone up at the store.  Surely I could get it cheaper online.  I read some studies on it while I was online.

"It says here that resveratrol increases your estrogen levels."

"Is that why you are such a whiny little bitch?"

"Stop it.  You're gonna make me cry."

Dinner watching "Jessica Jones."  Don't bother.  It looks good, but the plot and the acting are horrible.  Need to find something else.

Picture at the top is a film frame shot last week.  Fun.  I want to go out in a little bit and do it again.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

More or Less

The cold air sneaks
but I am
The cat won't go
An almost full moon,
another beautiful
dinner, drinks,
and a smoky,
peaty scotch
I like too much.

I lie in bed
and dream real things.
Life lived as
an educated guess,
an approximate thing.
More.  That is all we need,
all that we want.

The old lie,
or less.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Narratives and Lyrics

Ehsan Aminul not happy with the clutter in the background. the light shade popping up from behind her head looks ugly. sorry for my harsh comments.
LikeReply718 hrs
Ryan Muirhead Photography Was never trying to make anyone happy. Feel however you want. smile emoticon

I saw this on Facebook and thought, "Yes!"  However, upon reflection, the response is a linguistic trick.  The photographer is using the word "happy" in a way not intended by the critic.  The statement would work better as a statement of fact rather than as an opinion.  

That's what always happens for me.  I want to tell people to fuck off, but there is always some grain of truth in every criticism.  Still, I wish I could be as bold as this photographer. 

"Right.  Now let's talk about you."  

It is not really much of a picture, though, in the big scheme of things, but I'm sure the model is flattered.  

I'm working on making a documentary at the moment.  I have put together a crackerjack team.  I have contacted the raceway where I want to shoot, and now I must send them a prospectus.  In writing it, I have to think of the big questions I want to answer in the documentary.  What is it to be about?  It is the questions you answer that make the meaning of the thing, that decides if it can be any good or not.  It is like that with everything--almost.  I watched a five minute film last night that one of the fellows shot in NYC for his film program.  I read his prospectus before I watched the film and said to him what I have just said above.  But after watching the film, I realized I was wrong, for his was a visual piece on dancers and was lyrical rather than narrative.  You just watched it for the images, not to answer any questions.  

Mine will not be a lyrical documentary though it will have elements of the lyric in it.  But it needs to be informed by an overarching theme with many smaller themes that relate.  It is always exciting and scary to begin a project.  But if I don't woo the people at the raceway with my prospectus, there will not be a documentary at all.  

I will begin writing it today.  Wish me luck. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Natural Order of Things

(Raquel Chicheri)

I find that there are very few, if any, photographers who don't eventually back off what they are doing and become somehow "safer" and more "palatable."  It is the "edge" they posses that makes them noticeable, but the attention to the work also brings them hassles.  I say very few, but I can't think of any who have not fallen prey to this.  It is a terrible thing, but perhaps it is natural, too.  Nature is a natural thing and it is a terrible thing as well.  All things conspire to prevent us from doing what we would like to do.  This is called the natural order by some.  The Natural Order of Things.  So we take the little bit we get and go on.  

I heard a song on the radio yesterday, an older jazz thing that went, "We play when we want to play, and we work when we want to work, we sing when we want to sing. . ." etc.  That would be nice, I thought as I drove into the factory.  That would be very, very nice.  

Rather, we make deals.  I'll do this to get that.  If I want to feel like this, I can't be like that.  I will give you this if you will give me that.  The normal life is a compromise, whatever normal you choose.  You have to subscribe to the values of the group, whatever group you choose.  They will adore you and sanction you by turns, and if you want to play, you will have to be contrite.  

A Perfect Life.  The Big Puzzle.  

The Great Escape.  The Overriding Dream.  

To Thine Own Self Be True.  

Right.  You will be beaten and driven far from the crowd.  You will live like an awkwardly shaped dog, avoided, seen only from the distance.  

Forget those innermost things.  Do not believe in the "self" to which you might hope to be true.  We are a collection of the voices that surround us.  If we did what we wanted to do. . . .  

It has been cold here for many days now.  I don't understand how people can live in the cold for months on end, though it was hard winters that brought about higher order thinking skills.  People had to figure out things like farming and preserving.  They had to learn to keep themselves warm.  Europe wouldn't have happened otherwise.  But I am a lazy southern boy and can do little when it gets cold.  Everything takes so long.  No Viking, I.  Now, though, I will make the morning porridge and shower and prepare for the working day.  It is The Great Compromise.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Winter's Tale

I watched a lot of t.v. this Martin Luther King weekend.  Lots.  I needed rest and it was cold outside and just a few feet away there were movies and football and other things, too.  I watched the "Sixty Minutes" interview with Sean Penn by Charlie Rose.  I've never liked Charlie Rose.  I know he is considered to be a "master" interviewer, but there is something wrong there.  He has deep hidden secrets, bad, ugly things that come pouring out when he talks.  Just look at those sad, mean eyes.  Sean Penn wants to be Hunter Thompson, it seems.  I'll have to read the Rolling Stone article, I guess.  Sean Penn's eyes aren't very nice either, by the way.  There is something sneaky about them.

I ended the television weekend with "McCabe and Mrs. Miller."  Ili had never seen it, so I rented it for $4.99.  The soundtrack is made of three Leonard Cohen songs played in snippets over and over throughout the film.  Altman made some damn strange films for a general public.  That he was able to sneak that weirdness into popular movies is his legacy.

I had my mother over for dinner twice, too, being a damn good boy.

Like I said, I am normal now.  And like all normal people, I will clock in at the factory in a bit and spend the live-long day.  Another day older and deeper in debt.  I owe my soul to the company store.  Etc.

I'll leave you with the shortest of the three Cohen songs.  It is perhaps the loveliest.

Monday, January 18, 2016

All It Takes Is Time

All it takes is time to do what you want and suddenly life seems worth living again.  I don't know how people who don't work ever become bored.  There is not enough time in the day to get bored.  Mornings are so sweet and beautiful and short, and with a glass of wine, afternoons are for napping.  Then, once the sun dips below two o'clock, there is the beautiful light of afternoon and early evening, and there is the dark intimacies of evening.  There are walks to take or yoga studios and gyms to visit.    There is coffee to drink and meals to prepare and no end of things to read and music to hear.

And then there are the creative arts.

All within a mile or two of home.

I took some cameras out yesterday.  Ili and I went to the big city downtown to stretch our legs after a day of lying around with colds.  Big city downtown is much edgier than my own little hamlet and only a few minutes away.  And it seems to be popping.

It is difficult if not impossible to take pictures of other people when you are with someone.  The street takes all your energy and attention and you are not with the person with whom you walk.  Even more troubling, though, is that you never know how people will react to you.  If you are good and in a groove and if you are living by your morals, everything is beautiful.

"If you want to go take pictures alone, I can get a beer and sit at a sidewalk table."

But I wasn't confident that I would even use my camera.  I had the Leica M7, the beautiful little film camera that people always ooo and ahh over.

"No, let's just walk."

The crowd was exciting, mixed in age and ethnicity and styles.  It didn't seem like a place I'd been to my whole life.  No, the people were new.  It was a new town, and I liked it.

Two girls with little dogs on leashes came toward me.  I asked if I could take their picture.  Sure, they said.  And then a couple.  It seemed easy, but I was unsure about how much fun Ili was having.  I turned around to see.  She was off in the distance a bit looking elsewhere.  It is no fun to watch someone approach strangers with a camera.  It is probably a little weird and irritating, I think.  I grabbed the digital camera and started shooting from the hip instead, walking with Ili side by side.  Still my attention lay elsewhere.

We walked through the crowd for about an hour.  There are images in my camera that I won't see for days, silver particles that have been altered by sunlight.  The rolls of film sting my imagination.

Last night, I couldn't sleep.  I have the bug again.  I tossed and turned thinking through images I might make.  I have ideas of how to do them.

All it takes is time, beautiful days that drift away hour by hour, full of meals and drinks and making things.

But tomorrow. . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Reveling in the mundane.  Yesterday was a sick day, a cold, I guess, that Ili and I shared.  After a long walk, we both felt achy, so there was a long day on the couch watching two and a half movies and the second halves of two football games.  In between was a trip to the grocery and liquor stores.  Feed a cold, they say, and since we hadn't fevers, we did.  By evenings end, we were ready for a long night's sleep.

We were awoken by a severe storm, high winds and lightening popping all about.  Poor puss-puss was outside for the night (her choice, not mine).  But I had taken an Aleve P.M. which is very effective at knocking me out as it not only makes me sleepy but relieves my many terrible aches and pains as well.

It is terrible to spend your day being sick when it is beautiful outside as in the picture above.  But what can one do?  The movies were o.k. and the football games were fun.  Seeing so much naked Scarlett Johansson in "Under the Skin" was surprising.  I guess after her cell phone was hacked and the naked selfies were online, she figured what the hell.  But the film was a visual pleasure, a series of postcards, really, just a movie of beautiful moving photographs by someone who understands lighting.  The film seemed like a David Lynch film though it was directed by Jonathan Glazer.  It made no sense, but it was one of those films where you don't really care.  It is a film made for fifteen year old gamers in a sense, but really, it was pretty.  Made me want to go to Scotland which is saying something because I've heard little from people who have gone there that has ever made me want to go.

We also watched "Force Majeure."  You can skip it.

The mundane, indeed.  Defined by the Urban Dictionary as "A person who possesses no metaphysical talents or qualities. Alternately, a person who is perceived to lack a certain form of enlightenment."

Today, however, if I feel well enough (and I think I will), I am going to make some photo experiments with the Black Cat Liberator.  Nothing earth shattering.  And it will be slow and go, so don't expect to see anything here quickly.  Or ever.  If I had guts and was ready, I'd be making portraits at the Martin Luther King celebration in my own hometown.

As Jake Barnes says, isn't it pretty to think so.