Friday, March 17, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I’ll try to keep this organized and not a firehose stream of consciousness piece that wants to gush out of my head-but no promises.
Earlier this week I stopped by a large overgrown parking lot to take some pictures of the grass and weeds growing out of cracks in the pavement.
I’ve had my eye on this place for a while and finally just stopped by since the light was right and figured since the lot next to it had been taken over by a used car dealership, this old lot might not have much uncivilized life left and I wanted it as a record, and as a reminder that no matter how in control we think we humans are, we are not in control when our backs are turned on nature.
Nature takes its course, has its own way and does well what it pleases. We can mow, snip, trim, weed, burn, shovel, dig, cut and saw and pave our stinkin lives away trying to get control but as soon as we stop to breathe or take a break, the weeds, grass, trees, bugs, birds and little critters in the dirt keep on keeping on. And Hallelujah for that!
Where is this going? Let’s go back to the photo taking part.
With me, was my recently acquired Pentax Spotmatic F that came with a 55mm 1.8 lens. This is a good setup. It’s all manual and just works.
I have a big soft place in my heart for Pentaxes. A Pentax was my first real camera way back when I started freelancing for newspapers in the 80’s, so when a Spotmatic F and lens showed up for cheap, I plunged off into the deep...
The problem is when I was walking around the parking lot, looking at tufts and clumps of grass growing out of the cracks, I had to keep backing up to get more in the frame. I wanted to get as much in as possible to show how big and out of control the place had become.
No matter how far I stepped back, I wanted more.
More weeds, more grass more chaos.
Stepping back is not really a problem, but all of my photo making days have been spent with a wide lens shooting wide scenes.
Wide open spaces wide. That’s me right there in the wide open space standing in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere shooting from here to Kansas. Like outer space wide too! You’ve seen my work.
At least 35mm often 28mm, and 22mm. Even wider with pinhole, so instead of stepping back, I’m more used to stepping forward.
Moving back to get more is a new thing. I didn’t think I would like the pictures. I thought I’d return on another day with a wide lens and redo them. And step forward like I’m accustomed and more comfortable doing.
I’m claustrophobic too. I don’t do tight, or pinned or confinement or street photography. It’s too busy and bound up for me to do and live to tell about it.
It’s why I don’t like zoos, or things locked up in pens….but that’s another story.
Back to the weeds and grass and stepping back.
The 55mm lens was not really doing it for me, but it’s what I had with me and I wasn’t going to leave the light and the weeds alone until I shot the whole roll.
I developed the film and realized I was happy with the photos. Surprised even!
Not about backing up to get more in, but to see and feel the grass and the texture and the crispy dryness of the blades rustling in the breeze. The scratchiness of the pebbles in the pavement, the bug crawling under the discarded coffee cup. The 55 mm lens did this for me and I didn’t realize what it had done until the next day while driving. An epiphany!
It was the realization that sometimes to get the bigger picture; you need to get closer to it.
Not necessarily macro close, I’m not ready for that and may never be, but instead of assuming I need to shoot everything wide to get the scale across, a little bit tighter is fine.
Maybe it’s the realization that refinement is good. A different take on the story is there too. It’s just not my usual wide story, but a story of scale no less. A narrower path for a change.
Where to go from here?
I’m going to use the 55mm lens exclusively for a while and get to know my favorite places in a different perspective. Just writing this kind of makes me anxious, but it’s going to be good. Not like using a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom good, but good enough that the end result is clean.
Here are a few sample shots from the outing.
Posted by astrobeck at 5:14 PM
Monday, March 13, 2017
The trees are budding out, it's getting warmer, the days are longer and I painted my kitchen!
Yes, it's time to Spring clean and spiffy up.
It was also time to go to a UNM star party last Friday night and help out some students do their astronomy "labs" or homework.
I took my Spotmatic SPF with me and shot a few night photos at the UNM observatory.
Black and white, Arista EDU 100 speed film
f/4 and 5 minutes does it on a 55mmTakumar 1.8 lens.
I like this combo. The camera has the right amount of heft to it and feels nice in hand.
I used a tripod for the 5 minute shots and you can see some of the students left ghost images during the exposures.
The UNM Observatory is open to the public along with students during regular school weeks. This week is Spring Break, so no star party will be held on Friday.
Posted by astrobeck at 9:55 PM
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Monday, March 6, 2017
Sometimes my brain just won't shut down. it thinks too much, especially at night when I'm laying in bed trying to go to sleep. My mind churns.
I have tried various things to quiet my mind, like meditating, counting backwards from 100, getting up and eating a teaspoonful of peanut butter...you name it and I have probably tired it.
* If you are wondering about the peanut butter, it's because I read that if you go to sleep with a little bit of protein in your tummy, you will sleep better. I don't have any trouble sleeping, it's the falling asleep that is the problem.
One thing that has helped, is keeping a pencil and paper at the bedside to write down thoughts or things I don't want to forget to do the following day. It seems part of the mind churning has been going over and over lists of things to do, that I didn't want to forget, so keeping a little list has helped ease the anxiety of forgetting and has let me fall asleep easier.
But why even worry about such things? That's a big question I have. Why worry? I'm retired and don't have to do anything important, so why does my brain insist on churning thoughts.
I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on this and remedies if you have some.
In the meantime, here's an accidental double exposure which is kind of what the inside of my brain might look like when I'm thinking too much before falling asleep.
Posted by astrobeck at 2:48 PM
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Every year for the past ten, I have been drawing on the envelope for my younger sisters birthday card.
Sometimes there's no card inside, just a drawing on an envelope. It's just a thing I started doing for her some time ago.
We don't exchange gifts, not even for Christmas, but we do send each other random things throughout the year.
Anyway, I drew this one last night. It just came to me to do it.
Maybe it was because I found this uber cool box of 25% cotton white linen envelopes for two dollars at the thrift store yesterday.
I left room for a bird postage stamp and lots of room for here address.
At any rate, this is for her and her birthdays' not until May, but maybe she'll get it early!
Posted by astrobeck at 8:01 AM
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Have I ever mentioned my love for Pentax cameras?
Not to go overboard with the backstory, my first camera as a working adult was a Pentax K1000 that I bought new in 1985 for $100.
It came from a Kmart that was going out of business, and I needed a camera to do some freelance newspaper work. I still have the camera and it still works like a champ.
Fast forward to a week ago.
While perusing the online auctions, I found a near mint Spotmatic F with a Takumar 55mm f/1.8 lens for sale. I've lusted for one of these for quite a while and as you have probably guessed I pushed the "buy it now" button and the camera is mine!
In my excitement, I totally tanked the first test roll through the camera. I mis-fed the film in the tank and most all of the photos were unevenly developed.
Here's one that was salvageable of some flowers.
You can see a blemish on the right side of the frame where the film kind of got mashed in the developing reel. The background going to nothing is nice though.
This next one is a mystery shot from that same roll.
I'll just let your imagination make it into whatever you want to see....I kinda like it.
After seeing this disaster of sorts, I reloaded the Spotmatic and took it out for another test roll.
Apparently still excited, I forgot to change the ISO from 400 (the first roll) to 100 for the second roll.
Anyway, these are a bit better although more punchy than my taste prefers.
The focus of the lens is buttery smooth and I really like the heft of this camera.
There's just something about using an all manual camera with manual focus that makes me happy.
This lens also makes decent close ups. Closeups really aren't my thing, but it's nice to have a lens that handles them easily.
The Spotmatic F will be my goto camera this Spring. The days are getting longer and the weather is shaping up to be a nice one. There may be some astrophotograhy in the future as well.
In the mean time, I sent the camera off for a cleaning and adjustment to Eric Hendrickson
In about a week the camera will be back here and making photos just in time for some Spring color!
I can't wait!
Posted by astrobeck at 9:50 AM