December 30, 2014

Busch 4x5 Pressman Model D

Music | You Leave Me Breathless by John Coltrane

I forgot I still had this camera. Upon organizing and re-shuffling things around, I came upon a dusty black bag. I vaguely remembered what was inside, but confirmed it was my very first 4x5 camera. I remember buying it in a neighborhood camera store in Bucktown in the mid to late 80's. The shop had that distinct smell of all things old. Even back then, it felt the shop had been there for 60+ years. Things were all over the place, without any distinct organization to it. I was specifically looking for a 4x5, but honestly had no idea what to look for. The Busch was the first to grab my attention and the one I eventually walked out with for a mere $50 with lens!

The camera always had those awful looking bellows, but did not leak any light. I'm not sure about that now, but will test them soon. The lens appears to be in good shape, but does not open for viewing. I'm sure a CLA will get it back to new condition. For aesthetic purposes, I bought another Busch and that ended up the camera I used until the Chamonix. I recently traded a light box with ring for that camera. I am extremely pleased to have found the original still in my possession.

I'd love to get the bellows replaced along with having the lens gone thru as well. A good cleaning is necessary to be sure. I'm guessing I have had that camera for 27 years! Would be very nice to keep shooting with it!

December 29, 2014


Music | Acute Motelitis by Roswell Rude and Archie Shepp

As another year ends, there is a sense of melancholy that buries itself just below the surface of being. Maybe it is because we are all judging our past... another year has gone by and we want to quantify the changes that we hoped to have accomplished, but often do not. I'm not much to slant to the positive side and know I am more pessimistic in nature.

I often feel sad also in the way our lives are being steered. I remember being younger and yearned to discover things in nature that were profound. I wanted to learn about and feel. Internet, cell phones, and generally, technology and its constant push to feed us more and more useless information is steering us to be idiots. We click on stupid memes and more useless facts about if we were a car, what car would we be, or what celebrity got the worst face or body alterations... We are viewing more photos than ever in the history of photography, most of which is quite horrible, but yet we click on the like button just to solidify someone else's horrible vision. Technology, which has made more accessible to do bad, what we once had to hire a true artist or technician to do has made things in general, to take a few steps back as opposed to moving forward.

More and more information - visual, auditory, uninteresting facts... It comes at us getting shoved down our throats and we have become accustomed to try and keep up, rather than stop. Just yesterday, I was flipping thru the hundreds of channels on the TV and I stopped at a movie that I have seen at least 5 times. Yes, I knew it was somewhat entertaining, but I found myself looking for something else when a commercial popped up. I landed on an Australian independent movie that I knew was going to move slow, tell a story and knew deep in my heart was going to be so much more fulfilling. Yet, I had a big conflict to switch back to something I was familiar with and knew every twist and turn. I had to tell myself to hold on and let the secondary movie to grasp me and fortunately it did. I missed some of the beginning but fell into a much more interesting experience and one that made me enlightened on things that interested me and other things that I could relate to...

So it seems I have defined a few that bothers me and affects me in negative ways. The struggle now is to act upon the issue and not be sucked into the vacuum of the useless...

December 11, 2014

More Aiméelisa

Music | Polaroid Girl by Massive Attack

Just because...

Digital tintypes shot with iPad.

15 cm f:3 Petzval

Music | Sour Times by Portishead

Over the weekend, besides hanging those fantastic large format prints with Susan de Witt, that afternoon I got to work with one of my favorite models, Aiméelisa. Specifically, I wanted to test the gifted Petzval that I received a few weeks earlier.

2014-12-07 Aiméelisa

As you might imagine, I am ecstatic about having this lens! I love the characteristics of this little giant! Without much foreshortening, the shallow depth - the butter like and immediate fall off, contrast... all lovingly distinct. One of the things I wasn't too sure about was the somewhat short focal length that I usually do not like to shoot with. I much rather prefer a longer lens, not only giving me some distance from my subject, but elongating and not distorting - objects appear closer than they are, quality. That is the beauty of this lens. I'm shooting maybe 3 feet away from Aiméelisa, but there is no wide angle effect happening here. Given that this image was shot with a paper negative, I'm more than sure I will be happy with this Petzval's sharpness. The eyes are deadly!

I'm looking forward to working more with this one. I think I can work more intimately with my subjects, but still keep that shallow depth I crave. I love that speed kills!

December 08, 2014

Wheat Paste Winter Project

Music | I Still Feel It by Martina Topley-Bird

This project has been in my head for over a year... Having a hard time getting it off the ground, mostly because of laziness, I enlisted Susan de Witt to collaborate with. Our initial goal was to find a place to have the display, then get prints made, then hang. Our big issue was venue, but Susan came up with a place and the project rocketed to completion! Once we got our prints made, our outdoor gallery in St. Johns was hung in less than a week after that. Collaboration is always a good thing!

Thru the fence...

St. Johns Coffee Roasters
offered us wall space at the back of their café. Françoise Weeks and I will also be having an exhibition there in February. Mount Burns, owner of the café has only been too generous for these two projects!

Me, Amanda and Shoe...

My first foray into wheat pasting was pretty simple with visits to a few websites. Huge props goes to Mark Sink and his Big Picture Project he put together in Denver. A nice guide to getting started put me in a direction I felt confident about to get going...

Susan de Witt and I...

With good preparation, Susan and I rocked thru the process without incident. I have to say, working with wheat paste was like being a kid again. Because it was all new to the both of us, we had to have a sense of humore and just go with the flow...

The Collection and I...

The end result felt victorious and just great. I'm thinking public art like this is wonderful. Not having to deal with the bourgeoisie gallery scene where you spend a ton of money to have a show, make no money in return, but for a few pats on the back and ego lifting words makes no sense to me. This project was made by pennies on the dollar in comparison. I feel confident we'll have a bigger audience and for those who just happen just upon it, will have more appreciation for the unexpected art work.

fuck the traditional system...

December 03, 2014


Music | In a Sentimental Mood (1964) by John Coltrane

I have the best of friends... Just at the beginning of my foray into large format photography, I met a guy named Chris during a gathering of large format shooters. They would meet once a month, show prints, talk photography... I was the odd man out as I didn't shoot much large format, but really wanted to. I'm not sure if he knew it or not at the time, but Chris was on his way out. He had intimated in so many words that he just wasn't getting what he wanted out of the various analogue processes he had immersed himself in. During one of our gatherings, I decided to bring prints I had made digitally just to show my work. I printed them ~11x14. I remember Chris was especially interested as they were digitally produced, and I'd like to think, very high quality. He took an interest with the way I produced them, equipment including cameras, lenses, printer and even paper.

Fast forward a few months, Chris got me going with film processing equipment and an unopened box of 4x5 film. I think he recognized poor starving artist and he empathized! It meant quite a lot as I was able to shoot and learn more about the little 4x5 camera I had at the time as well as learn technique in processing the larger film.

Years have gone by, at least 7. Chris has moved on living the dream of Paris and photography. He is a master of the digital photography realm and I can tell he has found his outlet, his joy, to be able to let out his expressions of his art.

About a month ago, I got a message from Chris about a lense he came across in Paris. Not knowing a lot about it, but the price being right he just bought it. Turns out it is a 15 cm f:3 Petzval lense  that he was thinking about adapting to one of his digital cameras.

Well, the project stalled and the message Chris sent was to ask whether or not I wanted the lense. A Petzval that I knew at least would fit on my camera was all I needed to know to say yes! I received it a few days ago, quickly made a fitting lense board for it and mounted it on the Chamonix 4x5. I am hopefully going to be able to test it soon, but the view I'm getting out of the ground glass is bright with a wonderful depth fall off. Maybe a new signature look... I am quite excited!!!

Chamonix 4x5 with no name Petzval 15 cm f:3 lense

Upcoming Projects!

Music | On the Nile by Jackie McLean

November brought 2 big projects to light that I am pretty excited about. Both will be publicly viewed; One indoor and one outdoor and both are collaborations with people I really respect and admire. I will elaborate more as dates are finalized.

In the meantime...

Eating and Instant Film...

Music | You Wish by Nightmares on Wax

I bought myself a box of Fuji FP 100 Colour Instant Film the other day because the black and white Fuji 3000B has been discontinued. Though you can still buy it, it is difficult for me because I have been used to paying under $10 a box. The local photo shop is now selling it for $25... The colour version still can be had for about $12.50 a box, 10 exposures.

I remember in the mid 80's when Fuji came out with this film giving Kodak 669 a run for its money. The Fuji was a better product in that if gave the same typical Fuji saturated colours, rendering beautiful peel apart prints. It has probably been 25 years since I last bought this film. I never made the switch as I was used to the Polaroid product and it was also significantly cheaper.

Now as the tick tock  comes near the end, I'm getting my instant print gratification as I can. I thought about this for a bit as I could obviously shoot digital without having to spend dime and shoot til the sun goes down... I'm roughly spending a $1.25 per exposure with the colour Fuji. At this point, the black and white is costing me $2.50 per pull. I'm down to my last 4 boxes... I spend $80 on a camera that I knew would be a door stop in the next few years along with another $50 on a lens with hours of modifying time to put the 2 together... I am but a poor starving artist, and yet I go out and buy instant film, film, chemicals and spend hours to get a final image.

The satisfaction level, even with instant film exceeds what I shoot digitally. I'm not speaking about analogue vs digital debate, but I just know my soul gets fed a much more rich and satisfying meal...

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