I am NOT a street photographer. I’m not really sure what makes one, but I am not it.Read More
Spring has come to East Tennessee, and while it has been quite warm for the season, the weather has been very moist. This is good news indeed for our water table.
It was also apparently very good news for the Irises this spring. I have seen a score if varieties and colors this year, all in spectacular glory. Just within 500 feet of hour house I was able to corral three different colors and set them up in the studio (basement) under a single monolight.
The camera of choice was my Sinar F2. It may be a field camera (of sorts), but it is sooooo much easier to maneuver than my original Sinar P. And the Nikon 210 mm f5.6 lens that came with it is a gem. It isn't a macro lens, but the depth of field I get with it is near perfect for still life shots.
So, swing by the Study in Light and see what some Ilford HP5 can do.
Well, time flies when you work for a living, so there have been no posts of late. But I would be remiss to not post that I am once again the featured artist at The Nest at Blackbird Bakery.
Yes, from now until 28 April, you can see new works (and a couple of old ones) at the bakery, 56 Piedmont Avenue, Bristol, Virginia. Get an apple fritter while you're there.
This show is a mix of film and digital, and decidedly more economical than the Film Show from 2016. That show was obscenely expensive to set up (over $2K) and sales were, quite frankly, dismal. Sometimes life's lessons are hard. People don't go to a doughnut shop to spend $250 on a framed print. If you are an amateur photographer like me, pay close attention to this lesson.
So this show is 95% matted prints, no larger that 11x14 matted to 16x20, with a few 12x12s thrown in. There are also two canvases, including the very popular Spring Dawn on the Line. If this one doesn't sell my lovely better half wants it in the house.
If you happen to be in town this month, swing on by. Your comments on the show are always welcome.
This is a setup. One group will scream Canon, another Nikon, and a tiny pack will yell Sony. The philosophers among us will say "Whatever camera you have with you." This implies that you should always carry a camera, and just shoot because it might come out OK. And if not, there's Photoshop (or Affinity).
I beg to disagree. I have said many times that I am a photographer of opportunity. That does not mean that I keep a camera with me at all times (other than the ubiquitous cell phone), and snap away. No, it means when I have an opportunity and some desired subject matter (or perhaps location), I will take advantage of it.
Since this generally requires at least a bit of thought, my selection of camera is important. I shoot film and digital, both in small and medium formats, and large format film (4x5 and 5x7, with 8x10 on the way). So if I am going to shoot an event (wedding, festival) I am taking small format digital. It's easy, rugged, and my selection of lenses (either owned or rented) is vast (though I almost always end up with my 135 f2 in the end).
But if I am deliberately planning a portrait shoot, especially if for someone else, there is no better choice than medium format digital. And drag out the flash. It's tougher, more demanding, and the results are miles ahead of 35 mm. I choose a better camera, and I get better results. My skill level does not change.
Finally, if it's for me, it's film. Large format film takes time, patience, and planning (and a strong back). I have to load the dark slides with my selected film, grab a lens or two, make sure the light meter has a good battery (or use my old $15 Weston), be certain the dark cloth is packed, get the big tripod out and assemble it, and lug it all somewhere. Spend 5-20 minutes setting up the shot, press the release cable for 1/30 of a second, and reverse. Come home, spend two hours developing, scanning, and printing (maybe one negative), or send the color film off with $5 per sheet for developing.
And the results, 4 out of 5 times, are worth every minute of it. It's magic. My keeper rate is higher, and the look is unique.
Now, don't have two or more cameras? Then use what you do have. When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail. But I'll bet you do have to or more lenses, so don't just leae what's on the camera there; THINK about it.
Do most people care? Can they ever tell? Nope. Do I care? Nope. But that is a blog for a different day. Today my point is the best camera is the one that fits the job.
P.S. - I am an amateur - a mortal among the gods of film. I admire them; I envy their knowledge and skill; and I hope that someday I can consistently make images like theirs. In the mean time, please see Kenneth Lee's new website. It's all large format film, and it shows that mundane objects like pottery can be truly beautiful.
I just noticed that my last post was last November. That's five months ago! If I did this for a living, I couldn't even pay for time at an internet cafe.
But I don't. I have a job and a life that does not revolve around photography, so I am sometimes a bit tardy in my uploads. My Google rankings will suffer. Oh, my. What is one to do?
I have, however, finally uploaded some images. Some really cool images. I happened to hear on the local NPR station that old time baseball was coming to Rocky Mount in Piney Flats, Tennessee. Yes, that is a real name, as is Soddy Daisy, Tennessee and Frog Level, Virginia. And the nearby Goosepimple Junction, though they do not have a zip code.
First, a bit of history with me and baseball. I couldn't care less about it. I was made to play little league ball in elementary school, and I was so bad that I should have been cut from the team (they did that back then). But to this day I think the coach kept me on because my mom helped his kids pass high school chemistry by staying after school to work with them. And back then, such acts of kindness didn't make the news, but they were appreciated. So, thanks Mr. Stevens.
So why go to a baseball game? Well, it sounded like a good idea; and it was. See, old time baseball is played using late nineteenth century rules, balls, bats, and clothing. This game is part sport, part theater, and all fun. The players are NOT in their twenties and most are, shall we say, slightly portly (I'm one to talk). Bu they hustle. And they catch the ball bare-handed, which should count for a lot if you have ever played the game.
I hope you enjoy the shots. There was a little post-processing to give a couple an old-time feel, but generally if I want that I'll shoot with an old camera and film. I treated this shoot the same way I would have a major league game, though I have never been asked to shoot one of those.
Time flies when it's 90 degrees every day. No, time just flies. This is an avocation, not a vocation (yet), so it rather takes second place to life. Thus, no postings in almost a year. Unlike a few million Twitter users, I don't believe that everyone has a right to my opinion.
That said, I have put some new work up. There are two (I think excellent) portrait sessions under Pro Work (Stephany and Beckie). We had a lot of fun doing these shoots, and you can expect more from these models in the future. It is such a joy to work with people who take direction accurately and build on it from there. Class acts, both of them.
And a special thanks to my assistant on Beckie's shoot, Katie Sheffield. Katie is receiving a newly minted MFA from ETSU in December.
I also had a solo show in September at The Nest at Blackbird Bakery in Bristol, Virginia. If you didn't catch it, most the show can still be found here. The show was composed entirely of prints from film, and five images are silver gelatin prints. The catalog is here, and some prints are still available.
Come back soon. As the weather turns nasty, I might finally get some of the many film images that shot over the summer scanned and posted.
I admire all of the photographers out there that can get out to shoot weekly (daily?) and publish their work to the internet that day. Me? I'm not so good. It's been a couple of months since my last upload, but there are some new shots for the three of you out there that might look at this site.
I find my myself doing more and more film work and less digital. I still pull of the Canon for dog shots and most professional work, and some of the pro work from late this year can be found here. And if you are interested in a professional shoot, portrait or sports, I work a bit differently. The shoot might be typical, or it may not, but I will donate all of the fee to a local charity. If you want to help the community, have fun, and get some great shots for your Facebook or LinkedIn page, contact me.
As for film, I can't explain its allure. I believe that the images that film creates cannot be duplicated by a filter. It may come close, but it is not the same. Furthermore, I know that the resolution from a new Canon 5DS R is approaching that of a good film scan, but it's still 35 mm. The look of 6x4.5, 6x6, and 4x5 is different. Not better for everyone, but different. And seeing the image on the ground glass is a feast for the eyes; it pops in a way that an SLR cannot replicate. If you ever see a photographer shooting with a view camera (the kind with the hood you pull over your head), ask to see the ground glass image under the cloth.
You might notice that there are no links to Facebook, Instagram, or Google+ on this site. I'm a pretty private person (with a web site - oxymoron), and I am definitely old school. I believe that if your work is good word will get out, and it will be lasting work. So far word is isn't out, and I can't speak to the enduring part, but I will keep shooting because, well, I'm having fun.
Finally, my wife sent me a link to another photographer's web site today. Typically, I will scroll through admire the images, and go on. But this one I bookmarked to come back again. Take a look at Alex Burke's phenomenal work. And then please forget it when you look at my plebeian efforts.
Have I mentioned that I love Fujifilm Acros 100? I think with Acros 100, Ilford HP5-400, and Efke PL50, black and white kicks color's southern regions.
Thanks for stopping by.
No excuses. It's been too long since I have posed much for the three of you folks that visit this site. Fact - My wife is not one of those three.
Since the last posting, I have had more works placed in local businesses. If you give blood (and you should if you can), visit the Blood Assurance facilities in Bristol, Virginia or Kingsport, Tennessee to see my work. I am quite pleased to be selected to grace their walls. Many thanks to Adam Ellsworth and the great staff at these locations.
New film shots have been added as well. I finally got the new Sinar P mounted to a substantial tripod. That damn thing is heavy! But, I have never seen a camera that can do what this one does. I figure that I've got twenty-five years of shooting photos left in me, and it will take that long to master this camera. It's going to be a fun time.
New stuff in Film and People, plus a sprinkling elsewhere.
Big news coming soon!
Yes, it's Big News! My photographs have been chosen to be the first works placed in the Artist Nest at Blackbird Bakery. The two dozen pics are there now through 5 October, and range in price from $25 to $475. 56 Piedmont Avenue, Bristol, Virginia
Bigger news! ALL PROCEEDS go to the Holly Help Spay and Neuter Fund. That's right - 100%. So go get some art for the house, and help a great cause.
It took a few weeks, but I finally have the 2014 Special Olympics pics posted. The date was 5 April.
As I've said before, if you have never been to a Special Olympics game, go. There is much to be learned from these people who are often overlooked by society. And the joy seen on their faces can only be equaled by a five year old receiving a puppy on Christmas morning.
Every participant, every volunteer, every parent, brother, and sister was fantastic. Thank you for letting me record your efforts.
Digital strokes your ego. Film reminds you that you're human. - Matthew Mills, 2014
I love classic old machinery. The skill and craftsmanship with which it was assembled is becoming a lost art. And some of the most beautiful old machinery around today is cameras. For a few bucks and some digging, you can get an old Kodak to sit on your desk to admire. Spend a bit more, and you get a working model.
I have two Canon AE-1 cameras from the 1980s (I never checked the serial numbers). One was an antique store find, with a 50 mm f1.8 lens and a good battery (an $8 item). I paid $18 for it. It now resides in my car trunk all of the time, and I used it for an impromptu portrait shoot with some Ilford Delta 400 film recently. See Lacey on the Film page.
The grain was a bit off-putting at first. I thought perhaps I had overdeveloped the roll (more on THAT later). But as I looked at the shots more and more, the grain was part of the joy of those images. Sure, I can fake it in Silver Efex, but this isn't fake; it's the real deal.
On developing. I got tired of waiting for negatives to come back from California to see my work. TheDarkroom.com does great work; I was just impatient. So over the last few months I have collected everything I needed to get started developing my own B&W film. It's easy, but dammed if it doesn't require patience too! Thus far though, only two images on one roll were ruined.
You will notice a couple of new images from the latest old camera to enter the stable. I recently picked up a lovely Rolleicord Va (85 mm, f3.5) with a bright yellow body. It makes people smile. Thus far, I have done nothing but some portraits, and the 6x6 cm format is proving to be a lot of fun. Getting only 12 shots per roll means I can change out film more frequently and not feel bad about wasting film.
Finally, if you are kind enough to visit this site more than once, pay close attention to the People page. This is to be a year of portraits, many using film. Your comments, good and bad, are welcome.
At last! Lots of new pics added. Car show, downtown Bristol, and an old building being disassembled.
Also, new film pics added. These are the first from the new 4x5 field camera. Pro grade? Not even close. But not totally trashed either.
I have finally uploaded all of the shots form the 2013 Blue Plum Festival. Most of these have had no processing other than crop and exposure adjustments. I put them all here for folks who might like to find their picture.
A LOT of these shots are from the Finish Line of the 5K race. I tried to get every participant at or near the line, but when the runners were in tightly packed groups, the camera just couldn't buffer all of the shots. My apologies if I missed you.
Some of these shots were further processed, and have made it to the people page on this site.
I have finally uploaded the images from the 2013 Special Olympics held in Bristol, Virgina in April.
This is my standard disclaimer for this shoot that I try to do every year. These are very special and wonderful individuals. Their enthusiasm, happiness, and determination shame most "normal" persons. If you never attended a Special Olympics event, do so; you will be a better person for it. You will be a happier person too.
The first of the Blue Plum 2013 images have been posted. I had nearly 1000 shots in five hours, so this will take a while to complete. Keep visiting.
I was assigned to the 5K race, so there are LOTS of pics related to that. When done, pics of most of the runners nearing or crossing the finish line will be posted.
New film images just posted. They are Ilford Delta 100 and Kodak Tri-X 400. All are from Bristol.
I just posted a few pics of Engine 630 as it passed through Bristol yesterday.
Diesel is efficient. Diesel is clean. Diesel is cheap. Diesel is sterile.
Steam is cool. People come out see steam engines. Steam engines have whistles, not horns. Kids love steam engines. Adult men turn into kids over steam engines. Long live steam power.
Want to see really cool pictures of steam trains, back when they did regular service? Get this book. O. Winston Link was a fantastic photographer, and he captured the last of widespread Americana as we romanticize about it.
Today's uploads are a bit slow in coming, but this is not surprising. More importantly, they include a few shots courtesy of the Bristol, Tennessee Fire Department. See the Bristol link on the left.
The men and women at the BTFD are the best. They bent over backwards to let me in two stations to shoot, and they are extremely proud of their new Quint engine. Most of the shots you see are of this magnificent machine. A special thanks to Bunny at the Central station for making this happen.
Also in this upload are a few shots from a recent snow. I had great expectations for snow on early spring blooms, but the images, putting it mildly, sucked. THIS is why I am an amateur. At least I can still afford to eat.