Friday, May 28, 2010

SoFoBoMo 2010

The Solo Photo Book Month participation period is pretty much here. A project once a year to photograph and produce a book in a 30 day period. This year the months to participate are June and July.

I've decided this year to produce a book about the local fairgrounds in a 5 or 6 county area of West Michigan. I'll be photographing them with my Mamiya 645 film camera, developing and scanning the film. All black and white. I like fairgrounds, mainly because I have a lot of good memories from them, but also because you can find some good architecture in some of them. Of course you can also find some weird stuff also, which only increases my desire to go photograph them.

I've decided to jump the gun by a couple days. I will actually be starting Sunday. I will be at the Allegan Fairground anyway, and I want to take advantage also of the day off Monday. I'm going to try to get Allegan and maybe Kalamazoo Sunday. Monday, I'm not sure if I will go west to Muskegon or go east to Lowell. We'll see when it gets here.

Once I get that one done, I may do a second book also. I know, I say that every year. I have a couple of ideas though, so maybe this year it will happen.

The photo above has actually nothing to do with the project. Mike introduced me to photographing smoke from incense backlit from behind. I've been playing with that a bit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Wandering around a nature area in Holland in January, I came across the remains of this tree. Since it looked like one of those abstract things I like to photograph so much, I took several photos of it. Yet another roll of film I've developed lately.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grand Haven Kite Festival

The yearly kite festival was held this past weekend in Grand Haven. I wasn't able to go Saturday during the day, which turned out ok. The coastline was fogged out all day and it didn't dissipate until early evening.

I headed out Sunday morning and arrived in town about 11 am. Stuck in traffic about three quarters of a mile from the park, I knew I had to do something when a guy pushing an older man in a wheelchair passed me. I ended up parking at the YMCA and walking in.

There was a good turnout and a lot of kites flying. I walked the beach, wondering about all the people in the 50 degree water, but since it was in the mid 80's, part of me wanted to join them. I watched the kite dancing for a while. I keep wondering how 6 kite flyers can fly formation and manage to keep their lines untangled.

I ran into a few people I knew and generally had a good time. One the way out of town, the line of cars into the park was backed up through town and out to US-31. I'm glad I went early.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Holland South Pier

I've always taken photos of the lighthouse in Holland from the state park on the north pier. I knew how to get to the state park, and I had heard that access to the lighthouse had been denied by the condos that were built around it.

I read that changed and I wanted to figure out how to get to the south pier. I hadn't seen many photos of the lighthouse from that angle, and I definitely wanted one.

It turns out it's easy. For those that don't know, take South Shore Drive in Holland until you run into the end of it. There will be a guard shack with a gate into the condominiums. If you're lucky, the guard will be on duty and let you in. There are 4 parking spots available for lighthouse visitors. If you're unlucky like me, you find an open parking spot with someone's name on it and hope they don't show up. Once you're parked, follow the signs, through the condos until you get to the lighthouse. It is about a 15 minute or so walk, depending on how much gear you're carrying.

I had dragged both my 4x5 and my digital cameras with me, but I had misjudged the light. I only got a couple of photos with my 4x5 before it started to get dark enough that I stopped. It didn't help that the battery in my exposure meter went out, and I didn't have my spare with me. I set up my digital camera and grabbed a couple photos and waited for the light to get right. The sunset was unspectacular, though any sunset on the lake is good. I talked to a couple of people who walked by, and as the sunset went on, I got the usual question. What are you waiting for? As usual, I tell them I'm waiting for the sky to darken up a bit. The lighthouse came on and the sky darkened up enough for me to start getting photos I liked.

I eventually called it quits and as I was walking out, I looked back. There was enough light in the sky that the lighthouse was silhouetted with the lights on in the windows. I set my camera up and grabbed a few more photos, which turned out to be my favorites of the evening.

Always turn around and look behind you. You never know what photos you would be missing otherwise.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pullman Radiator

Boy, I have a lot of backed up film to develop. This is a photo from the trip I took to the Pullman Hotel in January (I think). I just got it developed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fashion on Monroe

I had made plans to go out of town this past weekend, but circumstances made that impossible. So I was glad when I found an acquaintance posting on Facebook that he was going out photographing Saturday evening and he wanted to know if anyone wanted to tag along. And, oh be the way, what do we photograph?

We settled on a fashion event in downtown Grand Rapids, called "Fashion on Monroe". Not something I would probably make plans to photograph normally, but I'm willing to try anything once.

We met at a local coffee shop near the event, and once the small crew was all there, headed down the street. The first irritant was that the event didn't open until a half hour after we thought it did. Ok, we can wander around and talk, photograph things and generally see what trouble we can get into. Once it did open, we got in and selected good spots. After another half hour had gone by, the announced the show wouldn't start for 45 more minutes. We abandoned our locations and hit a local bar for a quick beer and conversation.

We got back to the show, and generally got back to our spots. Then a couple interesting things happened. A security guard mentioned that the media area was down at the end of what would be the runway. We all had dSLR's with external flashes attached, so I guess he thought we were all professionals. We told him we liked the spot we were in and he moved on. A few minutes later, a guy in a suit came by and asked us if we needed anything. He thought we were media also. We collectively gave in and wandered down to the media area to photograph.

I saw another person I knew in the media area, who was actually working with the media pass and everything. He gave us a funny look but ignored us after that. We ended up with clear shots of the models and designers, much better than if we had to fight with the crowd. Yet another example of assumptions people make if you wander around with a big camera.

After the show was over, one of the guys dragged his strobe light set out and we spent a little bit over an hour photographing strangers on the street. We were lucky enough to have one willing model who put up with us for over an hour. She had gone to the fashion show, and it got our earlier than she expected. She was just waiting around for her boyfriend to get out of work and was glad for the diversion. She also got some great photos out of it. While a few people just totally ignored us when we asked if we could photograph, a lot agreed to have their photos taken.

All in all, an enjoyable night, and more interesting than I thought.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Another shot from the Gilmore Auto Museum. I was attracted to the fronts of a lot of the older cars due to the shapes of the lights versus the grill. These big round lights are amazing. The upper ones have to be at least a foot across. This is the front of a Franklin Automobile. I don't remember offhand what the year was, but it was pre WWII. The lower lights have propeller emblems on them to market these to aviators. There were photos in the exhibit of Lindberg and other aviators in front of these cars.

A little better photo than the last one I published. I tried to get the museum to remove the license plate for a few minutes, but they wouldn't do it. I figured it didn't hurt to ask.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

More Gilmore Car Museum

I've got some film developed from this past weekend and I'm not too happy. I lot of it looks thin and underexposed. I seem to have this problem with indoor shots, I need more practice I guess. We'll see what the rest looks like and if I can get any good scans out of the negs.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gilmore Car Museum

Saturday dawned bleak, windy and cold. I was headed down early in the morning to meet some folks from the Midwest Large Format Asylum to photograph the Gilmore Car Museum. As I was driving through intermittent rain showers on the way south, I was consoled by the fact that we would be photographing inside.

After a leisurely breakfast in a small restaurant in Richland, we head the short way north to the museum. The last time I had been there had to be at least 10 years earlier. For some reason, I remembered a dingy, industrial looking place, rather than the clean set of barn red buildings that blended into the neighboring farmland.

Entering the grounds through a gate in a clean white picket fence, I drove past a recreation of a Shell gas station before parking on the lawn. They had moved the ticket area from a smaller building into the bookstore. Unfortunately for the lady manning the area, it was also unheated. She was bundled up and seemed pleased to see us, if only to get her mind off the cold for a few minutes. We chatted for a bit, and after making sure their photography policy hadn't changed, grabbed our gear and headed to the display buildings.

The first display we photographed was a new addition to a set of four interlocked buildings. These at least were heated. Walking past cars from manufacturers I hadn't heard of, races cars of all stripes, as well as old familiar names, we came to the new addition. A building dedicated to Franklin automobiles. We spent the next hour and half photographing these and everywhere I turned, it seemed there was another view I wanted. The museum wasn't very busy, but we got a few comments about our cameras. Before we left, I walked back to look at one of the original Shelby Cobra's, but they had it backed up against a older Corvette and I couldn't find an angle I liked.

I stopped in the building devoted to Pierce Arrows, just to get out of the rain, and ended up taking a few photos, before heading into the building devoted to cars from the Classic Car Club of America. Wandering around, I ended up spending the rest of the time photographing a 1938 Mercedes, that had spent 60 years buried underground in East Germany to escape being confiscate by the Russians after World War 2. Only one of 2 that remain in the world, it was simply a wonderful car and I could have spent a lot more time photographing it.

By that time, it was early afternoon. After quick lunch in the old style 50's diner on the grounds and some more good conversation, we took our leave. I had a excellent time, and left a lot of automobiles that I wanted to photograph. The light wasn't the greatest, so the next time I go, I may have to drag a set of lights along as well. There is also the gas stations and the buildings on the grounds I wanted to photograph, but I skipped because of the wind and rain.

But I have to add the museum to my list of places I need to go back to.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Art Chicago

Art Chicago happened this past weekend. Never having been to this particular show before, I decided to attend. I also had a couple of other stops I wanted to make near downtown, so this worked out well.

Art Chicago is a show attended by art galleries from around the world. Held on a whole floor of the Merchandise Mart downtown, there were almost 150 galleries represented along with several non profits. I mainly was looking for photography, but I stopped for anything that caught my eye. It still took almost 2 hours to see the whole floor.

Most of the photography I saw was by photographers I knew. Those considered the masters, and probably a safe bet that they would sell. They included Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Sebastio Selgado, and Henry Cartier-Besson. There were a few modern photographers also, but they were a small percentage of the show. Prices, when they were shown, ranged from $5,000 to $22,000. I would have like to bought a print by Caponigro and another by Julius Shulman, but they were out of my price range.

There was plenty of other art work also. Paintings, sculptures, and prints of all kinds. Since I'm not really a big fan of contemporary art, very little of it caught my eye. There were a few pieces I would have liked, but once again they were out of my price range. They were also big. It was common to see paintings with dimensions of 5 to ten feet on a side. I guess if you could afford the art, you could afford someplace to hang it.

It was instructional to walk around and see what is considered sellable art by the art world. I got a few ideas for different display techniques, and I saw a few I would never have considered. One of those was a display of the Sony OLed TV's with a short video loop running. Nothing too obvious, you had to pay attention to see the work. As far as I know, those tv's ran in the 6 digit prices range for an 11 inch model, and it looked like the gallery was trying to sell 6 of them as a single installation. No prices and I didn't ask.

There was also an antique show running in the building, which I stopped at for a few moments, and a show of upcoming artists. I spent more time at the upcoming artists show. A lot of the local schools in Chicago showcased their arts program, plus there had to be another 50 galleries showing artists. A lot of good work, but some of it was too far out for me. I figure if I have to read the placard to understand what the artists intent is, I'm not interested.

A further hour of so of walking in downtown, making the other stops I had gone for, and I headed home. A interesting day, and I plan on going back again next year.

Monday, May 3, 2010


The grill of an abandoned Mercedes sitting in a field near Ionia. A film scan.