Three Sentences From a Manual

Here is my first picture (a close up of a shell) from my Voigtlander Avus, a folding camera (9×12 cm plate) almost a century old. Something that really struck me was three sentences from the manual:

“Each camera is supplied with 3 three plate holders. When going on a day’s trip six holders may be required. On longer journeys twelve may be required.”

When you consider that each plate holder only holds one exposure, the importance of a thoughtful, selective approach to photography is really underscored. Imagine going out with a DSLR and only one memory card, with a capacity of six images.

An interesting exercise, to be sure.



The Decisive Moment, After The Fact?

In a article from 1998, author Philip Greenspun predicted that eventually “we’ll all probably just be using high-resolution video cameras and picking out interesting still frames. ” Skip ahead to 2011, and the available technology on HD video-enabled DSLR’s is making that possibility a reality, and it really concerns, indeed alarms me, when it comes to street photography.

I think about renowned street photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and the recently discovered Vivian Maier, and how a large part of their genius was a instinctive knowledge of when a moment or scene worthy of photographic capture was developing (no pun intended) coupled with the ability to capture and create the resulting compelling image.

If one sets up a camera on a tripod at a busy downtown intersection and record 30 minutes of Hi-def video, a frame by frame inspection will reveal plenty of “decisive moments” but it’s just not the same; the photographer is reduced to an editor, at best. One no longer needs the ability to see (as opposed to mere looking). It’s like throwing a bunch of canned loops together in a program like Garageband, and calling yourself a composer, without having written a single note yourself.

It would not surprise me to eventually see someone write an application that could find “Decisive Moments” in video, to give a photographer the ultimate in convenience for generating images.

Just don’t call it art.

At the End of the Race - Toronto Marathon 2010

My attempt at a decisive moment from the 2010 Toronto Marathon

First In the Series

Here is the cyanotype version of my first image in the women and classic film cameras series. I am hand coating the paper with the cyanotype solution, so the brush marks will make every print unique. I like that 🙂

Rolleicord Vb


In a previous post I mentioned that my first shoot with a hired model was coming up, and I am happy to say it went well yesterday. I am busy developing the analog film (shot with my Mamiya M645J medium format, on Trix-X black and white film), but below I have one on the reference images, shot digitally.

In the past, almost all of my photography has been reactive, in the sense that I was an observer to a story or scene when I took the image. In this kind of shoot, I need to create the story, as well as shoot it. I must provide every element, and every detail is my responsibility. It is a stretch, but fun and exciting at the same time. I want more.


The Paper Matters Too.

Another cyanotype this time around. This picture was made at the Riverdale Zoo in Toronto, again using my Rolleicord Twin-Lens Reflex. I created a digital negative and then made the cyanotype below.  The paper has a fairly coarse texture, and I like the effect it has on the image. Just one more reason why it matters to see a print in your hands, not just pixels on a screen.

Path at Riverdale Farm, Toronto

Update On My Photographic Resolutions

In my Photographic Resolutions post at the beginning of the year, I listed a number of things I wanted to accomplish photographically speaking by the end of the year, and one of them involved a photoshoot with a hired model, and I’m happy to say that item is close to being checked off, as I have hired a model for a shoot for next week.

This shoot is for a new photo project that involves portraits with vintage analog cameras (both for picture taking and prop!) As the project progresses the images will be posted here.

In the modelling world, there is a term “Guy With Camera” or GWC for short, referring to a creepy man who uses the pretext of a photo shoot to attempt to engage in a certain other kind of activity with the model. This is a real concern for many models, especially when they are working with a photographer for the first time. I am tempted to call this series “Girl With Camera,” but I’m not sure I will; it might make light of a serious problem in the industry.

Update: If you are female and would like to participate in this series just let me know; no nudity etc. required!

More Questions Than Answers

I like this image because of its ambiguity. To me it looks like it could have been made anytime over the last ninety years or so; there isn’t much in the picture that would give the actual date it was taken. (For the record, I made this image just this month, with my Rolleicord Vb Twin-Lens Reflex medium format camera.)

The viewer gets to fill in the blanks, and there are no wrong answers.