A Fun Day In Hamilton

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being in My Fair Lady, but it was eating into my photography time. With the show now just a very pleasant memory, time to get back to my first love, so this past Saturday I was able to join up with a few other film lovers/APUG members for a photo-walk in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The image below was captured using my trusty Mamiya M645J medium format camera, on Ilford Delta 400 film, processed in Xtol 1:1.

Gazebo and Deck, Hamilton Harbour

An Interesting Request

“I’d also love to throw a location nude black and white in there if you’re comfortable shooting nudes?”

While arranging a shot for my women and cameras series,  I got this response from a model, so in the middle of June I will be shooting my first nude session, and it certainly gives me pause for thought, as I consider the issues I mentioned in my last post. My main objective will be to avoid cliche, and female nudes are particularly difficult in this area.

The shoot isn’t for another month, so I have some time to think about it.

An Interesting Comment

Here is an image from my latest photo session for the classic cameras project. Sara was a great model to work with, and she did have one interesting comment, when she said “It’s refreshing to do a photo shoot with my clothes on.” I have never been one to have been objectified based on my physical appearance, but I could understand where she was coming from. The line between “art nude” and soft core porn is indistinct, and every time I think I might try my hand at the art nude genre I have to stop and think; what kind of image would I be making, and would it have anything to say? And can an art nude still recognize the subject as a person, and not just a body?

Universal Mercury

When Worlds Collide

Here is another shot from the Voigtlander/Kathleen session. Shot on film, but then enhanced using the Nik SilverFX Pro 2 plug-in. This plug-in is meant for making digital pictures look like vintage black and white film, but I find that it is also useful for working with scans of pictures shot with real black and white film. Purists may scoff, but at the end of the day, I got the image I was looking for.

Voigtlander 2

Breaking the Rules

A good rule of thumb is that when shooting a portrait when you have very shallow depth of field, you should make sure the eyes are in focus. This image, taken yesterday during a session with a model for my Women in Camera series, breaks that rule. The camera is in focus, but the model is out of focus. Although this particular image likely will not be the final selection for the series, I do like the effect and the resulting mood of the image, and the model made a great wardrobe choice with the hat, to give me the vintage look I was going for.

Voigtlander 1

I suppose one could say the lens, or “eye” of my Voigtlander Avus folder is in focus so in that sense I’m not cheating 🙂

Photography As a Live Performance

Posts haven’t been very frequent lately, as I have been very busy appearing in a community theatre production of My Fair Lady here in Toronto. (By the way, tickets still available for this weekend, just click on the link). The thought did occur to me backstage this past weekend that in some ways, film photography is like live theatre; there is always an element of chance involved, and one is never quite sure how things will turn out, and unlike digital, where the LCD screen acts as a security blanket, in film you never know if you’ve been successful until the film is developed after the fact. Along with knowledge and skill, you have to rely on (as Alfred P. Doolittle would say) “Faith, Hope and a little bit of luck”. Today’s picture of a bike in downtown Toronto, taken with a defective Rolleicord Twin Lens Reflex camera (sold for scrap after shooting only one roll successfully and replaced with a better example) to me is an example of this idea. The picture isn’t perfect, but I got just enough luck to make it work. 🙂

Bike in the Sun

Gear Talk: Universal Mercury II

Every now and then, I want to talk about gear, instead of the photo, and today I want to talk about the Universal Mercury II 35mm half-frame camera from 1945:


Some people have described this camera (and its predecessor) as the ugliest camera ever made, and while I am not sure I’d call it that, its look is certainly unique. Today, with so many cameras looking so similar, it is fun to look at a single example from an era where so many cameras had distinctive designs and looks.

The most distinctive feature is the large semi-circle, which contains the unusual shutter, which operates in a circular fashion. Multiple knobs, dials, DOF charts etc. makes this camera reek of the essence “gadget.”