Props

This image is from a recent session with a great model, and features a couple of props. She is using a vintage phone receiver (1940’s vintage perhaps) I picked up for a song, and she brought along a jewelry box. Together with her great pose and expression I think everything works together to tell a story.

Phone Heartache

(Mamiya M645 with 80mm f2.8 lens, single strobe through umbrella. Shot on Fomapan 100, developed in Blazinol, a Rodinal clone 1:50 for 8 minutes)

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Two Different Products, Two Different Philosophies

This is my recently acquired Leica IIIB rangefinder, dating from 1939 (it currently has a Soviet Russian lens on it, a genuine Leica lens is on the way). I could only afford it because it’s in bad shape cosmetically (which I will fix) and I offset part of the price via various trades.

DSC_0122

Today’s post is not about the camera though, but about the philosophy and world view behind it, compared to the Apple iPhone 4.

When the iPhone 4 was released, Steve Jobs compared it to a “Leica camera.” Now apart from the fact that the Leica did not need a rubber band around it to work (unlike the iPhone 4 which for at least some people needed what was basically a rubber band around it for proper 3G network connectivity), there are huge differences in the business practices of Apple, and Leitz, the maker of Leica cameras. In the article Hell is Cheap, China, Apple and the Economics of Horror, a damning account of Apple’s business practices are presented, and can be summed up by the following quote from the article:

“Companies like Apple don’t outsource to China because the workforce is better-educated or more highly motivated. They don’t even outsource just because the labor is cheaper there. They outsource because employers who defraud their workers can make products more cheaply, and those who ignore their safety can produce them more quickly.”

Now let’s compare Apple to Leitz, the company that made Leica cameras. According to a Wikipedia article, at Leitz, progressive measures such as ” Pensions, sick leave, health insurance — all were instituted early on at Leitz, which depended for its work force upon generations of skilled employees.” Further (as I just learned the other day), in the late 1930’s Leica started a project called the “Leica Freedom Train” in which Jewish employees, families, and even some friends of families were “assigned” to foreign countries, ostensibly to sell Leica cameras, but in reality to save them from the steadily increasing persecution which found its tragic culmination in the Holocaust. Leitz was taking enormous risks in doing this, but did it because it was the right thing to do, and because they cared about their employees.

Apple, the way in which you subcontract to arms-length companies to try to maintain plausible deniability regarding how workers are exploited proves to me you are no Leitz, and your products do not deserve the comparison. Shame on you.

I have a number of Apple products, and I feel guilt and conflict about benefiting from the suffering of others. I can take some small satisfaction knowing that all of my vintage film cameras (made mainly in Germany, Japan and the U.S.) were made by workers who we paid a living wage, and whose skill was respected and valued by their employers.

Alone

Today’s image was taken at the fountain in the middle of the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. It was taken with a Nikon F2 35mm camera (and I think with a zoom lens). It’s normally pretty busy around the fountain, but at this moment, at least on this side of the fountain, this man was alone.

Alone

Against the Grain

Another image from a roll sitting around for sometime waiting to be developed. In this case, a roll of 35mm Tri-X black and white shot late last summer in Toronto with my Nikon F2 (body since sold as part of a gear rationalization, since I have an F3 body as well).

Since this was shot on 35mm high speed film, grain is inevitable, and in comparison to decades ago when photographers would do everything in their power to minimize grain (in part as a response to shooters who didn’t take the 35mm format seriously), many film shooters now don’t mind the grain. It’s a badge of authenticity, and has a special character, especially when compared to digital noise. It is ironic that people spend money on Photo shop plug-ins to recreate this grain. I like the real thing 🙂

Street Performer, Dundas Square, Toronto

Concealment

Today’s image is from a shoot with Pash, a local actress/model of Iranian descent. She has long, exuberant hair, and in this image it was arranged to conceal much of her face; I was trying to create a sense of exotic mystery. After the fact, I started thinking about the tradition in Iran of women wearing head coverings (and in other Muslim countries where the requirements for female concealment is even more extreme). To me, I cannot help but see these mandatory coverings as symbols of subjugation; in this picture, I hope I am creating a feeling of power emanating from the emodel, with a different kind of concealment.

Pash

Mamiya M645, 80mm f2.8 lens, Ultrafine Xtreme 400 film, developed in HC-110 Dilution B

Ghosts

I finally got around to developing a roll left from our trip to Italy in November of last year. It was a rainy day in Pompeii, but the rain did a great job of detailing the stones and textures on this ancient street. When I looked at the streets, I could not help but imagine how it would have looked, crowded with citizens and slaves, so many centuries ago.

Pompeii on a rainy November day, 2011

Mamiya M645, 55mm f2.8 lens, Ilford Delta 100, developed in HC-110, Dilution B

A Fun Trip

Something different this time around; I finally got around to developing my first roll from my Olympus Trip 35. The Trip 35 has well deserved cult status among film shooters; a simple camera, with zone-focusing, only two shutter speeds and a Selenium meter. but with a lens (a Zuiko 40mm f/2.8) that is very sharp. The Selenium meter also makes it an auto-exposure camera that does not require batteries.

I’ll have to make a point of using this fun little camera more often 🙂

Crosswalk Lights