Going analog with a 1970 Ricoh TLS 401 film camera

My first camera was a basic 35mm film point-and-shoot that had no settings whatsoever. I loaded the film that I bought (having no idea what film speed (ASA) meant) and shot away, winding the film each time with the thumb wheel. My camera had no settings to adjust aperture, shutter speed, or even focus. It was a true point-and-shoot. I remember the thrill of finishing up a roll of 24 exposures, going to the store, filling out those envelopes and dropping my film off to be developed and turned into prints. I think I typically had to wait 3 days to get an envelope back containing the images that I shot.

Of course many of them were over or underexposed and nearly nothing was anything worth looking at except to see my friends or family. Composition was an idea that I had never heard of and it showed in my photos. There was something to those days though. A certain magic to shooting with film and having no proof that the exposure I captured turned out until I got the film developed. There were happy mistakes when I got my prints back too and I still have many of them and still flip through my old prints.

Since going digital, my skill as a photographer is light years ahead of my film years, but recently I’ve had the itch to dust off an old film camera and try my hand at it again. I’m by no means going back to film exclusively, but rather it’s an artistic experiment. I intend to shoot a few exposures with my film camera when I’m out shooting with my DSLR and then see how the photos look compared to each other. I want to see how the old “Sunny 16” rule holds up compared to the advanced in-camera light meter in my Nikon. I want to see how a 40+ year old, manual-focus lens looks compared to my multi-point autofocus system. I enjoy how much thought goes into each shutter release with film, compared to burst mode on my DSLR.

As the project goes forward, I’ll record each exposure and shoot a photo with my smartphone to show the scene that will be captured on my DSLR and film. When my roll of 36 exposures is all used up, I’ll post the final results in a side-by-side comparison.

Why does Hugo Boss insist on cutting off the top of this guy’s head in crop?

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In the March 2013 edition of GQ Magazine, Hugo Boss has a 3-page spread showing it’s beautiful suits and a handsome model showing them off. The photography is gorgeous (although very blue, almost like the Walden Instagram filter was used on all of them) and I could only dream of being commissioned of shooting a spread like this one.

To me though, the editors of this advertising spread just don’t like the top of this model’s hair. Maybe it’s too spiked up, or maybe he got his tips done right before the shoot and they want to hide it, or maybe they just don’t think that we should see the top of his head at all. In my photography, unless there’s a really good reason not to, I try to show the entire head. If I’m focusing on the eyes, or mouth, or something then the crop will probably take parts of the head away, but if I’m showing a nearly full-body shot, I think that the entire head should be left inside the crop.

I could see maybe cropping the top of his head out on the closeup of him where he’s showing his beautiful Hugo Boss shades off because they’re directing focus to the cool sunglasses. But in the other two shots I just don’t see the reason for the loss of this poor, beautiful man’s head.

Occupy Cleveland

During the first days of the Occupy movement in 2011, I spent a number of days on the ground photographing the events. I knew there was history being played out on the ground and I wanted to capture it. The first few rallies were held directly in Cleveland Public Square with people camping overnight nearby in a park. The weather was absolutely beautiful for October in Cleveland with a warm breeze blowing in and low humidity.

The scene on the ground in the first few days was one of contained chaos. It was a group of people that wanted good leadership, but that was very difficult to find. People were running all over the place trying their best to put together committees for the distribution of food, water, and leaflets. There were men and women trying to organize sign-making groups (which was difficult because people hadn’t been able to figure out what common themes to carry on the signs) and to arrange speakers to rally the crowds that had turned out. People were very kind to each other, and they had a genuine desire to help their fellow man.

Internet access was very spotty and nobody had been able to get WiFi into Cleveland Public Square. There were a few other people in attendance with cameras trying to document the beginning of what could have been a very historically significant movement. News crews were on hand every so often to catch a glimpse of the would-be revolutionaries to beam the images into the living rooms of the local population.

I volunteered to allow my photographs to be used by the Occupy movement, but the lack of solid leadership prevented me from being able to properly submit my work to the right people and my contacts were very difficult to get in touch with and soon disappeared all together. The Occupy Cleveland movement was a great experience to have taken part in, and I’m glad to have photographs of such a unique time in America.

Here’s a link to the Flickr account where the many of the photos I shot are hosted: http://www.flickr.com/photos/occupycleveland/

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Shoot the moon

A quick photo of the moon I shot the other night. It was cloudy all day and I could see the moon peeking through the clouds every once in a while, but mostly it was obscured. When I was nearly home the clouds broke for a few minutes and I found a field where I could park my Jeep and set up for this shot.

Its surprising how bright the moon actually is. In order to get this shot I had to use settings that I would use if I were photographing a subject in full sun. This brought out the detail in the moon’s surface and also made the sky around it totally, perfectly black.

I shot this with a 200mm lens at f5.4, ISO200.

Made of cheese

Solstice service at the Unitarian Universlaist Church of Akron

Every year the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron puts on a beautiful Winter Solstice service and I was hired to photograph it this year.

It was a challenging shoot in a few regards. Firstly, it was very dimly lit, as this helps to convey the feeling of dark, long nights. Secondly, there were 100+ people in attendance and I had to keep from obstructing anybody’s view, which was compounded by the fact that it was dimly lit and I couldn’t use my low-light lens much because I needed my telephoto lens.

I ended up ducking behind the wall on stage for many of these photos, which got me very close to the ministers and performers. It also allowed me to use a lower-light lens and therefore get brighter photos.

Visit the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron at http://www.uuakron.org/

Livingroom leaf detail commission

I was commissioned to photograph macro images of local leaves for wall art. My client’s only requirement was that they be bright green and show the veins in the leaf. The type of leaves were left to my discretion.

I went on walks around the woods here in Northeast Ohio and collected specimens from as many trees as I could find. I then built a special light table with a 500-watt light shining through the leaves to give plenty of illumination to the structure of the leaves themselves.

The frames my client purchased were designed for square photographs, which is why they’re all cropped square.

I’ve thought about shooting a set of macro photos of local flower petals in the spring and early summer. I imagine that the colors and textures would be incredible.

Website shoot for CrossFit Legacy

I was hired to shoot photos for www.crossfitlegacy.com to use on their new website. I did the photo shoot over a period of four weeks to get a large number of different clients in the shots and different workouts.
CrossFit Legacy has large doors that face the east, so in the morning I tried to make the earliest workouts to take advantage of the beautiful sunshine streaming in. This allowed me to work without a flash and allowed for some very dramatic photos with a lot of contrast.
The athletes there were very understanding of the necessity to be open and not shy of a camera in their workout space. The intensity at a CrossFit gym is so high, that I don’t think they noticed me anyway. I tried to respect their space and their efforts and not impose into their zone.

I’ll post photos from the other shoots there, as each photo shoot was different and unique.

I am available for hire to shoot corporate events such as 5k runs, team-building exercises, team challenges, athletic competitions, and tournaments.

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