During the Great Depression in the US, photographic studio owners had a problem. Itinerant photographers of varying talent roamed the land trying to acquire customers anyway they could, cutting into the profit margins of “real photographers” anywhere they went. These itinerant photographers were brought into the trade by advertisements like this.
By as early as 1915 photo studio operators began to lobby their local governments to start regulating itinerant photographers. By the 1930′s The Professional Photographers Association’s trade journal regularly (re)published actual city ordinances that had been designed to “act as an effective weapon against the itinerant photographer.”
Below are badges issued by the City of San Francisco as a way to regulate the street photography trade in the years after World War II. The different shapes allowed the police to see at a glance if you had a current badge. (Every three month period had a different shape.)
I have never seen a badge with a number over 12, so I assume that the total number of San Francisco badges issued at any one time was around a dozen or so.
After finally getting a free day where we could shoot, Mischa Marie and myself went to one of Oaklands many lovely parks. I brought along my Contax G2 with the 45mm f2 Planar and my Polaroid 680.
The 45mm f2 Planar continues to amaze me, its crisp focus and creamy blurred backgrounds just make me happy to own it. I like it better than my 85mm f1.4 Nikkor which has been called the “Cream Machine.”
Shooting the Contax G2 is a luxurious experience, it makes taking pictures is a special event thats not to be rushed. It reminds you that every frame of film is precious and that if your diligent, you are certainly capable of creating an image a little better than the one you made the day before.
I also shot a little PX-70 color shade.
To do this in Polaroid 680 you have to (with this particular batch of film) move the lighten/darken wheel halfway to the lighten side.
I of course remembered to do this and the first five shots were perfectly exposed.
However I did not remember that every time you shut a polaroid 680 (or 690 or SX-70 for that matter) that little wheel will reset itself to the center position, which for me meant that my next three shots were hideously underexposed.
Luckily for me, the awesome power of the Epson V700 scanner was able to pull some interesting detail from the underexposed Impossible film.
The Impossible Project film seems to be improving with each new batch. The colors Im getting now are far more vibrent than the earlier films.
I am proud to announce a collaboration between camera builder Kurt Mottweiler and myself.
We are designing an Instant Street Camera that we will be offering for sale to the general public.
Mr Mottweiler is known for his lavish pinhole cameras made for discerning individuals. Our street cameras will of course be built to this same luxurious standard.
I will be posting information on this project as it becomes available (We are still in the design phase at the moment.)
To say I am excited about this would be an understatement. (How many photographers get to help design and manufacture there own camera.)
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
They told me the park was on top of a hill, but what stood before me was no hill. The road constantly twisted back on itself as I inched up this mountain. After a sharp bend in the road at the base of a long incline I saw a goth kid on crutches walking along the side of the road. I almost turned back. Storm clouds gathered as I neared the summit and the sky was visibly darkening. I met my model in a dirt parking lot, cautiously we entered the woods.
Walking back to the car at the end of the shoot I stumbled and my hand landed directly on a poison oak plant. As I walked to the restroom, googling with my non-poisoned hand the first aid I should give myself. Flushing my hand with cold water and later rinsing in isopropyl alcohol. All of which did absolutely nothing. Within hours my hand was itching, swelling and turning red. Now, if you google image poison oak rash, what you get looks like the aftermath of a mustard gas attack. Suffice to say I was getting concerned and a trip to the pharmacy was in order. They sold me a tube of ZANFEL, a kind of soap that penetrates into the epidermis and pulls the toxic oil from the poison oak plant out and allows you to simply wash it away. After washing my hands in this miracle cream, it was like it never happened. Crisis averted.
Now I know what your saying, “Come on, a goth kid on crutches walking up a steep hill, thats one of the classic portents of misfortune.”
I’m not going to argue that fact.
I love Ilford Super Xp2, as I loved Ilford Xp2 before it. Its an almost grainless, contrasty film with brilliant highlights and inky shadows. You can change the ASA between each frame from 50 to 800 ASA and then just process the whole roll at 400 ASA. Its great for older cameras with uncertain shutter speeds. Finally its (in my opinion) the finest black and white portrait film made. Its important to note the Super Xp2 is not a silver based film, its a dye based film developed in the same chemicals (C-41 process) as color print film. This is the film I use the most.
(Click photo’s to enlarge.)
Lately, my good friend Justin (who just started his own very informative blog) kept chiding me to use some good old fashion silver based film. I decided to shoot some Ilford Delta 400, a fine grain 400 speed film with very good midtones. (far better than Super Xp2)
With Delta 400, its grain is evident, making the photo look soft and delicate in my opinion.
While its not going to replace Super Xp2 as my go to film, Delta 400 has a pleasing softness to it. And as I always say, both film and lenses are just just different brushes for you to paint with, try them all and learn to choose the right ones for the situation at hand.
Having done this I learned a valuable lesson, the Yashica T4 has trouble handling complex lighting situations in extremely bright light. This doesn’t actually surprise me, the T4′s light meter is just an exposed silicon photodiode located near its lens. Saying this, the T4 has handled other complex lighting situations perfectly, just at lower light levels.
The Contax G2 handled every lighting situation perfectly, as expected. However, I wasn’t paying attention and totally blew the focus on two shots. (both shots were focused at infinity when the model was about 7 feet away.) I wouldn’t call this a problem with the camera. Both mis-focused shots were taken in a dark alley with the sun at the models back. (Not exactly prescribed lighting technique.) I know the G2′s autofocus gets a bit wonky in dim light and I should have been diligently checking the green focus indicator bar in the G2′s viewfinder to see where the camera was actually focused.
Everything considered both cameras performed admirably, and I am more than happy with the results.
The other day I took out my Fuji X100 and my Konica Hexar AF.
I paired them up because the X100 seems to be a digital redux of the Hexar.
The X100 has gone from a camera I left at home to one that I’ve been using a lot thanks to the new firmware update.
I also want to mention how convenient it is to have an push button internal neutral density filter, especially after switching them out all day on my Konica Hexar.
I have to say that Hexar is the faster shooting camera. Its auto focus is extremely fast, as fast as my Nikon F5 and faster than my Nikon D300. The X100 not so much, its AF ranges between slow and glacial. (In macro mode.) I certainly would not recommend it for sports or auto racing. Though I have shot several birthday parties with young children and it was more than able to handle that, so maybe I am being unfair to the X100. (Its still way slower than the Hexar.)
The light meters on both cameras were on equal ground with each other. Both cameras produced images that were well exposed and only required minor tweaking.
As to which camera is best, I’ll let you decide.
However, if your trying to decide if you want to acquire an X100 consider this, Ive just put the X100 through twelve rounds with a camera I consider to have one of the finest 35mm lenses ever made. Other people have called the Konica Hexar’s lens a “Summicron killer, ” which is of course a reference to the Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron-M pre-aspherical. A world class lens to say the least.
When considering the out of focus characteristics of the two lenses, remember the Hexar is a full frame camera and will experience more blurring of the background at all apertures.
Today I visited one of the most accomplished and well respected woodworkers in the Bay area to get an idea of what it would cost to replicate the camera shown above. His quote was six to ten thousand dollars. I was seriously disheartened to hear this.
The reason why I went to the finest woodworker I could find is because I expect a certain rugged elegance in the cameras I use. In fact I know that if I build a sub-par camera, I’ll never use it. So at the time it seemed logical to just find the best woodworker I could.
The odd thing about his quote is that he only charges sixty dollars an hour. Which means he expects this project to take between 100 to 160 hours to complete, keeping in mind that he was going to bill me for the time he spent designing the camera and its mechanical parts.
After letting all of this sink in, I concluded the best thing to do would be to design this camera myself to be made entirely by a CNC router right down to the dovetail joints and the aluminum focusing unit.
At that point I could afford to have my master woodworker do the last few steps to assemble it and make it beautiful, in maybe ten hours.