Friday, October 19, 2018

Roadtrip: Rock and Rochester

Andy and Kristin bought a house, so Sarah and I decided to pack some family stuff and his Fender Blues Junior Amp in the trunk of the Mustang, and drive out to see them. We took the opportunity to indulge our museum and historic site habit along the way.

I took five cameras: The Populist, The New Glarus Populist, The Variable Cuboid with the 45mm front, The New Evil Cube and Long John Pinhole, all loaded with color film. All the images below are with the Populist except where otherwise noted.

Our first night was in a cluster of chain motels in the country, just off the Ohio turnpike. Oshkosh is on the eastern end of the Central Time Zone and Ohio is sort of on the western end of the Eastern Time Zone. We noticed that, according to the clock, the sun came up later. The sky was still pretty dawnish when I went out to the car and took this photo.

Then, I got Long John Pinhole out of the car to get a little closer.

Long John Pinhole - rising pinhole.
Cleveland was our first big city to drive into. Regular readers may recall my naive descriptions of the Raulf Hotel and the First National Bank in Oshkosh as tall buildings. It was kind of neat to see some really tall buildings, although we didn't spend much time among them.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Space-age architecture from I.M. Pei.

The building actually sticks out into Lake Erie and looks a lot different from the side than it does from the front.

The Populist

The exhibits seemed a little hit or miss, but the music was always loud. It was interesting. I had sort of a Punk reaction to it. Maybe I was just frustrated that there was no way to take pinhole pictures in the dark and benchless underground exhibit hall. When I encountered the nicely lit and tidy men's bathroom, I set the camera down on the floor and opened the shutter.

We drove on to Rochester. 

Our first visit the next morning was to George Eastman House, the St. Peter's Basilica for the photography enthusiast. The guide made the point that of course photography is encouraged inside, but no flash and no tripods.

A guided tour was beginning shortly after we arrived and as we sat down to wait at the end of the hallway, I set the Populist on the little tripod next to me on the bench. There were two docents looking right at it during most of the exposure.

If you're leaning on a railing holding the folded tripod legs under your hand, with the camera pointing into the room below, it doesn't really count as using a tripod, does it?

The private garden beyond the windows in the room above is open to visitors, with many convenient places to put a tabletop tripod.

It's bordered by a shady pergola.

There was a neat exhibition by Gail Albert Halaban: Out My Window. She uses social media to coordinate the action of the residents of buildings and to direct them to exact poses and positions for her images. I don't think I'm doing her prints much justice here. This was an inner room in the gallery not visible from the hall and we were all alone, so I set the little tripod and camera on the bench while we looked around the exhibit. We weren't alone long, several visitors came through to look at the photographs, one of whom is faintly recorded looking at the right hand picture. Nobody seemed to notice the camera at all. I just read a photography blogger's post where they went out with a pinhole camera and were immediately approached and engaged in conversation about it. One of the comments was something like: "That's what happens with pinhole." It's only happened to me twice. I was amazed on this trip that although dozens of people looked right at me taking pictures and a few even made some photography related remarks, no one mentioned the cardboard boxes on the tripod.

I had this strange fantasy that to cater to the fanatical photographers making a pilgrimage, the gift shop would have a huge display of all kinds of Kodak film you could buy. It was a little disappointing that they only had 35mm rolls of Portra 400 and a few Fun Savers. It might have been quite appropriate to old George's ideas to buy a Fun Saver there - it works much like a No.1 Kodak. I confessed my delusion to the clerks. They said the film usually got outdated before it sold but they usually also had Tri-X.  A while later, just as we were about to leave, one of the clerks saw me down the hallway and ran over to let me know they had just received a fresh shipment of Tri-X.  Now I have a $13 roll of Tri-X that I have to do something significant with. 

They also had a few pinhole camera kits similar to what you can find on-line. There was no rule against tripods on the grounds, so I got out the medium format cameras and the big Manfrotto.

The front facade of the house facing East Avenue.

The Variable Cuboid with the 45mm front - rising pinhole.

The Porte Cochere.

The New Evil Cube - rising pinhole.

A leafy wall in the back with a cluster of utilility pipes under a cover. What did you expect from me?

The New Evil Cube - rising pinhole.

We next drove across town to Susan B. Anthony's house. A very interesting and inspiring tour.  The bump-out bay on the left edge of the frame and the entire third floor were built to accommodate the National Suffrage Movement. Normally, I'm a little critical of wide angle cameras tilted up making verticals converge, but in this case it gives the house a dynamic stance that makes it look like it's ready to go out and take on The Man. It was a little hard to hear about all this during the last throes of the Supreme Court confirmation. I know that about 80% of my readers are from the U.S. Go out and vote next month. Smash the Patriarchy.

Later, we took advantage of the evening-hours night at the University of Rochester Art Gallery, conveniently just around the corner from our hotel. A cool feature was that they displayed a contemporary work of art in almost every gallery. It was related to the historical period of the room with the caption: "What's this doing here?."

Next, on to the East Coast!

Monday, October 8, 2018

From f295: The Nation's Capitol

f295 was an international discussion forum begun and administered by Tom Persinger. Originally just about pinhole photography, it expanded into all kinds of alternative methods. It was active from 2004 until 2015 but it remains on-line. Recently it disappeared from the web for a few days, and that prompted me to decide to reprise some of my favorites here at Pinholica, for backup if no other reason. 

Since I'm in the middle of a roadtrip to the East coast to see historic sites and explore museums, coverage of this visit to Washington D.C. seems like an appropriate recollection, originally posted on  November 2, 2011.

Sarah and I went on a vacation by ourselves, not with or visiting Andy or other relatives for the first time since 1982.

Sarah checking on the internet one last time before getting on the airplane.

The view out my window on the airplane- Ohio, I think.

Our first day, of course, was spent in the National Gallery, which has a nice little dining room,

Our hotel was just north of the Capitol so we walked by this scene twice a day.

A closer shot of the east side. Kinda reminded me of the Orangerie at Versailles

One of the famous cherry trees on the Capitol grounds

The Lincoln Memorial is jam packed with people all the time, but if you just walk around the colonnade to the sides or back, you're completely alone. Here looking down the side to the Washington Monument.

I've been having great fun at Mosquito Hill putting the camera in the shadow of a tree and shooting back toward the sun, so I thought I'd try that with the Washington Monument. I'm surprised someone hasn't marked the hours on the lawn of the National Mall with this giant gnomon in the middle. Maybe they have and I didn't notice. It's a pretty big space.

At the foot of the Lunar Excursion Module. I was holding my desktop tripod up against a railing so not the steadiest of shots, but it adds a little dynamism to the scene,

Actually one of my favorite things in the Air and Space Museum was a photograph of sorts - one of Hubble's (the guy, not the telescope) spectra of a galaxy. Much smaller plate than I expected at the main focus of the 100 inch - not much bigger than a 35mm frame.

The Lincoln Memorial at night.

The National Botanical Garden greenhouses were an unexpected treat. Here is some exotic flower polite enough to bend down to where I could set my little tripod.

All with the Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame. With Walgreens Studio 35mm ISO 400 film. Much prefer the ISO 200, and have mail ordered some Fuji now that my local Walgreens no longer carries the slower stock

Sunday, September 30, 2018

From f295: My second pinhole bike ride and my last post.

f295 was an international discussion forum begun and administered by Tom Persinger. Originally just about pinhole photography, it expanded into all kinds of alternative methods. It was active from 2004 until 2015 but it remains on-line. Recently it disappeared from the web for a few days, and that prompted me to decide to reprise some of my favorites here at Pinholica, for backup if no other reason. 

Although I'd been carrying around The Populist for eight years, I didn't use it riding around on my bike until I retired.  This was the second ride where I deliberately set out to take photographs, roughly in the same area as the first movement of An Etude for Three Pinhole CamerasIt concludes with one of my favorite jokes.

About a month later, new photographs could no longer be uploaded to f295, so I started this blog. 

It was posted under the title "A bike ride to Asylum Point" on September 24, 2015.

I had such a good time with my bike ride I thought I'd do it again. This time I'm going out northeast to Asylum Point.

Through Fairacres again, this time to the right through the tidy little townhouse collection on the east side.

You have to go through the Northeast Industrial Park, passing one of two Oshkosh water towers. This is probably where my water comes from. Anybody else remember that Kodak booklet that recommended framing scenes with tree branches?

When I was a kid in South Bend, Studebaker, Bendix and Singer Sewing Machines were huge multistory brown monsters in the middle of the city that came right up to the sidewalk. Now even some pretty heavy industry has a huge lawn and a little office complex fronting a massive flat building surrounded by cornfields on the outskirts of town. It's not as photogenic as Aramco Steel, but it's probably a lot easier to live around. 

Now we're really out in the country. In flat Winnebago county, that often means you're looking at a wall of corn.

Here's why it's called Asylum Point, the gigantic Winnebago Mental Health Institute, which also houses the state facility for the criminally insane. It's been here since 1871. Sarah's aunt was here briefly during World War II for something that at the time would have been described as a nervous breakdown.

Asylum Point itself ends with a little island you have to cross this bridge to get to.

A prime feature is the lighthouse. It was built by the Works Progress Administration during the depression, but the the Department of Transportation decided it was unnecessary for navigation, and it's never been lit.

Looking ten miles directly east across Lake Winnebago toward the much hillier Calumet County.

At the northern end of the park is a pathway that leads into the woods.

At the end of it is the Picnic Point Boy Scouts' camp. I was here once when Andy was a kid for the Klondike Derby. In addition to sub-zero (F) temperatures, there's always a stiff wind off Lake Winnebago. Andy's face got slightly frost bitten and we spent much of the event in first aid.

It's pretty isolated and I thought I was the only person around, but as I looked for scenes of the lake, I ran into this fisherman who consented to adding interest to the foreground.

Going out the access road, you come across the Asylum Cemetery, in use from 1872 to 1973. For me cemeteries are usually just quiet parks, but this one out in the middle of the woods sort of gets to me.

A mile or so north I ran across this other historic graveyard that must have been way out in the middle of the section when it was active.

I was going past it to go through the fairgrounds, for those of you who winced nostalgically a little bit when I said Fairacres by my house used to be the county fairgrounds. I always thought it was the ugliest fairgrounds in the state so I didn't mind when they moved it out here. This is the horse barn, which they were cleaning when I took this photograph. Good thing I hadn't brought my Smell-o-vision adapter. I don't know if it counts as dairy air when it's horses, but you get the idea. This has to be the shittiest photo I've ever posted.

All with the Populist. .15mm pinhole 24mm from 24x36mm frame.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Color around town.

While riding around town working in black and white with the new rising front cameras, I occasionally saw some scenes with colorful elements that seemed more appropriate in RGB so the Evil Cube went in my bag loaded with Lomo 100.

One day, Miller's Bay was full of sailboats.

There was some kind of regatta of a specific model of sailboat and they were putting them in the water as fast as they could from the three launch ramps on Miller's Bay. Later on, I counted 39 of them out on the lake. It was a bit chaotic and two nearly collided right in front of me. The action was too fast for pinhole. As I walked off the pier, this backlit boat on a dock nearby was paused to adjust something.  After it sailed away, the man standing in profile asked if the pictures would be posted somewhere. I showed him my pinhole camera and cautioned about the uncertainty of analog pinhole and the time it might take before the film was processed. He found Pinholica on his phone and bookmarked it. Hi!

On my normal route downtown, it's hard to miss these bright red bollards protecting the door in the entirely black back of The Dollar Store.

I usually don't indulge in this sort of thing, but sometimes the randomness and simulation of the passage of time get to you. When setting up the above picture, after measuring the exposure close to the wall, I went back to the camera and found the shutter was open. It must have gotten pulled when it came out of the bag, stayed open and recorded four distinct steps before the shutter was closed.

Behind the Romanesque chapel in Riverside Cemetery, I noticed this red door in the dappled light.  As I measured the exposure a fellow came around the building and remarked about my use of a light meter. He was surprised to learn it was an app on my phone.  He told me he was tending his ancestors' graves from the 1800's. I told him I was photographing the red door. He said he didn't think it was open. I thought "But it's still red."

On what used to be busy Highway 110 but now is sleepy County S, there is a discount construction materials store. Displayed by the road are many giant sculptures of animals and other characters they also sell. It was once featured in Zippy the Pinhead. It's a weird sight but a little creepy and oddly not very interesting to photograph.

I was listening to the Lensless Podcast the other day and Justin Quinnell, my Pinhole Day colleague and owner of the vintage web site, waxed on about how more interesting pinhole photos were from cameras placed right on the ground and not the ubiquitous viewpoint five feet up. I can do that.

All with the Evil Cube.  .3mm pinhole 6cm from 6x6cm frame on Lomography 100.