Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby, It's cold outside!

Ron called early Friday evening and wondered if I wanted to go to the South Haven Lighthouse to catch the Moonset/Sunrise. Of course I said yes. Meeting early for coffee before the almost hour drive, we pulled into the lighthouse just as the moon was disappearing behind some clouds. So much for that idea. Because we had a warm snap earlier in the month, I wasn't sure about how much ice would be on the lighthouse. There was enough, as well as no trace of the warm snap. It was in the low single digits, and while I was pretty comfortable in what I was dressed in, I really needed a scarf or face mask. We took photos for a hour and a half or so, and retreated to a local bakery to warm up.

The cold must have affected our brains, because we decided we weren't done. After warming up a bit, we headed back to the north side of the channel to see what things looked like. I was entranced by the shadows of the snow fences, as well as the patterns frozen in the sand. Ron decided to head out on the pier.

It was slippery and he fell and jammed his camera into the ice. While he was ok, his camera wasn't. That's him scoping out the scene with a broken camera. Once I joined him, he explained what had happened, since I didn't see it. The camera would turn on, but complained that the lens needed to be reset. The lens mount was jammed and we weren't able to get it off, much less replace it. I took a few photos, and we decided it was time to call it a day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Model Shoot

The Grand Rapids Camera Club in conjunction with the River City Camera Club had a portrait workshop this week. A total of 6 setups and 7 models, with a couple members filling in also, it was well attended. The downside with the attendance was that the photographers only got a few minutes to work with a model before they had to let someone else in.

I primarily helped set up and tear down, and work one of the modeling setups in case anyone needed help. I did get a few minutes to photograph, and spent some time with the lone male model. I wanted some pretty dramatic lighting to emphasize the muscles in his back, and I think I succeeded.

I also thought it was somewhat sexist to expect the male model to take off his shirt, though the female photographers seemed to like it.....

Monday, January 25, 2010

MWLFA Portfolio Review

The Midwest Large Format Asylum held the annual portfolio review this weekend. The third year it has been put on, it is the first time I took some of my work to show. Rather than go for the whole weekend, which in retrospect I should have done, I just attended Saturday. While it was relatively close, it was still almost a two hour drive. It made for a long day.

Eighteen photographers presented work, a lot of it made on the monthly outings of the group. Very little of it was repititious though. Primarily the prints were silver gelatin, made in a darkroom. A few of us showed inkjet prints, and a few prints were in alternative processes. What color prints that were shown were made on an inkjet printer. Mostly the prints were black and white.

Of course people brought cameras. Some of the folks came to the area on Friday and spent the afternoon photographing the Indiana Dunes beach. There were also plans to go to the abandoned church in Gary on Sunday morning. Evan brought his new Chamonix 11x14 camera, he had just received it and hadn't even shot any film in it yet. I've heard good things about this brand, but this was the first time I've seen one. The camera is made of carbon fiber and walnut. It looks very nice and is a lot lighter than I would have thought. While it is a little pricy, it is cheaper than other new cameras that size and not out of line considering what a medium to high end digital SLR costs.

A couple of the photographers shoot panoramic formats. The camera on the right is a 7x17 format. The person who brought it uses it to photograph landscapes and architecture. He mentioned that it takes him an hour to set up his camera and to take the first photograph. He set it up a lot quicker than that at the review though. That is the 11x14 camera on the left.

This group has a more artistic eye than other camera clubs I belong to. The photographs were all of a high quality and it would be interesting to see a display of the members works hung side by side. Overall it was a great day, with lots of interesting talk about cameras and how photos are taken. The only down side was a somewhat upturned nose at digital printing. Everyone who displayed prints made on a inkjet was asked if they had ever done darkroom work and why they used an inkjet. While I like darkroom work and hope to start doing some, I think inkjet prints can compete against silver prints. They can have a different look, but that is not all bad.

Some of the other members do alternative processes. There were a few platinum prints and a couple carbon prints. This was the first time I had seen a carbon print identified as such. I did like the deep blacks and the overall look of the print, I may have to look into that process a little bit.

A good day looking at photographs, and I'm looking forward to next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A January Sunday

It's been a somewhat mild January so far compared to the last few years. Sunday was no exception, the temperature was in the lower 30's, and snowfall free. While the clouds were the typical solid grey, there was mist/fog hanging in the air. Getting my usual case of cabin fever, I decided in the early afternoon to head out with the cameras.

I knew I wanted to end up on the lakeshore to check out the ice build up, but other than that I just followed my whims. I started out at the Upper Macatawa Recreational area near Holland. I had stopped by before, but never really wandered the trails. A few people were about, but pretty much I had the area to myself. Being away from the highway, no people and a calm day, I continue to be amazed at how quiet it is, with just the crunch of footprints on the snow. I continued my black and white love, and just took the Mamiya 645 away from the car. Not wanting to carry a whole lot, I left the extra lenses there also, and just took the 80 mm macro lens that I had attached to the camera. I ended up regretting that later. While I like the macro, I saw a few photo opportunities where a longer lens would have helped.

A few other stops were made, with no results. Though I noted a few areas where I want to return to later. I ended up on Oval Beach in Saugatuck. A good sized crowd was using the area. I wandered for a bit, but really didn't see much I wanted to photograph. While I was in the area, I found Felt Mansion. I had heard about it, so I wanted to see what was involved. An old mansion that is being restored, it has had several uses, including as a State Police post since being built by the original owners. Some nice architecture and what looks like what could be some good landscaping. It is right around the corner from the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, so it is easy to find. I plan on dragging the 4x5 camera back in the spring.

That was it for the day. A good afternoon out on a gorgeous January day.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Since I've bought the Mamiya 645 medium format film camera, I've found myself using if more and more. I like the photos I get out of it, plain and simple. They seem, to me at least, to have a crispness and tone that I haven't been able to get out of my 35 mm camera or my digital stuff. So far, I've just been using black and white film in it, since I can develop that on my own quite easily, but I may try a roll of color transparency film in it to see what I can get out of it.

The only problem so far has been the backlog of developing film and getting it scanned. I'm planning of setting up an enlarger in my basement and printing some of them the old fashioned way. Since I still struggle getting an acceptable scan, that may be a better formula for me.

The above photo was taken with the camera at a local park, scanned and then adjusted in Photoshop. I really wanted a high contrast scene to be the end result, and I think it turned out well.

Thanks for looking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Best of 2009 at Jim M. Goldstein

Jim has published his collected links for his reader's best photo's of 2009 at this blog page. A lot of good photographs, and something you can lose track of time if you start browsing them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Kelly's been telling me about birding at the Muskegon Wastewater treatment plant for quite a while now. She's offered to show me the area, and we finally got a chance to go. A huge 18,000 acre facility, where the treated wastewater is used to grow corn, it is one of the top birding sites in Michigan.

Four of us met in the area, and took one truck into the facility. The first thing I noticed was a swirling cloud of birds over the dump area. Several hundred seagulls, with a few bald eagles mixed in. It looked like a bird tornado. We ended up counting 9 bald eagles in the immediate area, and I'm sure there were a lot more we missed. While we saw lots of birds and even an otter, I didn't get many good photos. Everything seemed quite skittish, not even letting the truck we were in get near before flying away.

Even though I didn't get much I liked in the way of photographs, it was a nice sunny afternoon, and a good day to get out of the house.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2009 Top 10

In response to this post on Jim M. Goldsteins blog, here are what I consider my top 10 photos from last year. At least right now. If I go through them again, you never know I might come up with a different set.

A sunset in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sunrise in the Smokies.

The Seux Choix Lighthouse on the northern shores of Lake Michigan.


La Grande Vitesse

The London Eye

Cormorants on posts.

Bridge over the River Grand.

The Bean on a rainy Octobers eve.