Lomo Purple and 500 yen Minolta in Amsterdam

Lomo Purple can be fun or it can be frustrating. I’ve been using it super lomo-style with a vintage Minolta I bought for 500 yen. It don’t come with a lens and I bought a 50mm to go with it for 10x that but c’est la vie. I meant to use the Minolta for pinhole work by adapting it with a lot of tape and a canon pinhole lens cap. I don’t always have the patience for pinhole and I love that 50mm lens.

Anyhow, the camera ended up on my Brussels-Amsterdam adventure where I mostly did Ebijiro The Traveling Sushi photos.

It was rainy and gray and a bit chilly in Amsterdam and I think Lomo Purple did a good job of getting that across. Below are some unedited photos I just scanned today (6 months later). I think I like this better than the Lomo redscale.

I think this one is my favorite.
l’m wondering if this is in tokyo


O-Tsukimi (Moonviewing) Report Part 3

There’s always a balance between what you imagine you are going to shoot and what you actually have to work with. I imagined this:

When I got there I found that the castle’s lightning rods were under construction. The low-lying clouds didn’t help either. By the time the moon emerged from the clouds, I lost out on the optical illusion of size created when the moon crests the horizon.But still, ya gotta test it just in case.
Tateyama Castle in Chiba with full moon behind it.
I think if I’d had a higher powered lens and more scouting time to find a distant hill or rooftop, I could have gotten something closer to my imagination. But that didn’t solve the pesky scaffolding situation. So I decided to try in bits and pieces rather than the whole facade.

But I like a lot of the photos I did. I liked a lot of my iPhone photos, too. Sometimes a bit better! That’s kind of annoying. But at the same time, the photos have a lot of noise.

shot with iPhone6plus
Shot with iPhone6 plus

lesncomparison-300-400-extendI was really glad to have a chance to test the Canon 100-400mm US ISM II against my 70-300 lens. I added the 1.4x extended to the 100-400 mm to compare as well. Here are the uncropped but layered frames to compare how much moon fills the frame. Some of the difference in the position is moonrise and some is my tripod moving during lens changes.


Sadly the eclipse creating the blood moon was not visible in my part of the world so I decided to pack it all up and leave around 9 P.M. My husband convinced me to go to a sushi shop. So hard to convince me.
sashimi-japanesefood-lori-onoThe actual full moon was September 28 and I went to Marukobashi over the Tamagawa in Tokyo to try again. If you have time, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of O-Tsukimi photoshoot.

Paper Pinhole Camera Photos

After sitting in a drawer for a year, I finally built the paper-pinhole camera I bought at The MoMA Design Store in Omotesando.

 The camera is made from thick cardstock and comes with double sided tape instead of glue. The instructions were in Japanese but the diagrams were enough to go on.

 It’s pretty basic. The exposure “setting” written on the back of the camera is 2-3 seconds with ISO100 on a day suitable for the sunny 16 rule. But who has time for that? I threw in a roll of Fuji 1600 to deal with the cloudy days and to make the camera easier to shoot hand-held. I like the idea of tripods, I don’t like the weight. Plus you can toss a camera in your bag for the day, but a tripod requires planning.

I got my first roll of film back. It actually worked better than I expected. That bar was quite low actually. I thought the film would all be blank or light leak city. Here are the images unedited, except for the addition of lots of dust from my scanner. I only realised now how much it needs a cleaning.

When building the camera, I didn’t put in the frame part on the film. I don’t get a crisp, classic 35 mm frame. Instead I get a longer image with a lot of vignetting. Advancing the film is an art. It’s not a simple turn the knob twice as the instructions say. I ended up wasting a lot of film.

I didn’t really get any amazing images this go-round. I pretty much just took photos when I remembered the camera was in my bag. The camera works and I like it well enough that I might actually plan for a day of tripod carrying. I can see some potential for better photos with a more thoughtful approach to subject matter.

Tokyo Art Book Fair 2015 and Kanna Art Festival 2015

It’s been a busy and great art time for me. I’m showing work at two locations. The Tokyo Art Book Fair and the Kanna Art Festival in Onishi Gunma.

The TABF 2015 has been a lot of fun. I’m at a table with the Art Byte Critique Group. I’m exhibiting some work from last year (Estello) and some new books that I made for this fair.


New work for this year are the 8-Fold books of poetry and illustration.

 I also made stab binding  books of holgaroid (a Holga with a Polaroid adapter) photos I did of Minato-Mirai area.


At the Kanna Festival I’m showing some pinhole camera photographs I took while snowshoeing in Zao, Yamagata.


The Kanna Autumn Art Festival runs until Sunday night, September 27 in Onishi, Gunma. Details on the Shiro Oni website.

Kicking Around With Some Sports Photography

Decided to tag along to my husband’s football game and practice some sports photography. He plays  for Tokyo Hibernia FC. The shooting ended up being more difficult than I expected. There was heavy cloud cover, from impending rain making the sky darker than usual. The field lights didn’t come on until well into the second half.

My 5D MarkIII handled things pretty well all things considered. I ended up shooting at ISO 3200-4000 in order to get some decent shutter speed but I still ended up with more blurred photos than I like. My 70-300 lens is too slow for sports photography on a stormy day. I’d like something faster than f5.6. Might be better on a bright day. I look forward to trying it out again.

Pinhole Project Start

This is the post I meant to put on my blog first. Instead I started with Pinholes and Ice Monsters which is actually the third installment. But now—I take you to the start of my mad pinhole experiments.

I’ve been interested in pinhole photography for a while. I have some great cameras and I love them. They are my spendy pencils. They can take amazingly sharp and beautiful photos. But I also love low-fi and DIY styles of photography so I’m quite keen on pinhole photography.

One thing I like about pinhole is that you really need to know how to manipulate the basics of aperture, time and ISO. It’s a good way to hone photographic thinking. I love the point and shoot of my iPhone and digital functions and algorithms are great. But there is also something about an analog image where I can look at the photo and honestly say to myself, “I figured out how to get that image.” Maybe it’s more of an artisan approach?

Detail of Hasuki. Canon Eos DSLR Pinhole
Detail of Hasuki.

My first foray into pinhole photography was in 2007 with my Canon Eos Kiss (Rebel in N. America) and Kenko Pinhole Body Cap 02 with a Canon mount adapter. The image looked really dirty like someone had a party on the sensor and forgot to sweep. It had little of the pinhole charm so I was unimpressed. Mostly I freaked that I was ruining my sensor. But I think the actual pinhole is covered with glass so I don’t know where this dirt came from. I let the body cap sit in a drawer, this exercise to be forgotten.

But this DIY concept won’t leave me alone so this pinhole thing has reemerged in my brain. This time I have more lo-fi standards. I don’t expect digital quality. I’m going to try making my pinhole cameras or at least cobbling things together.

Step One: Research
Getting the exposure guide times for pinhole was my first start. I like this site. Second is to review the whole thing. I bought this book: Pinhole Cameras by Chris Keeney. His site is super inspiring. I’m looking forward to building according to his directions.

Step Two: Cobble something together.
I found a Minolta SR-7 at Ozawa Camera in Ebisu (minutes from the station) for 500 yen.  The shutter worked, the bulb function worked and the film seemed to wind. No lens but perfect for my needs. I was planning on using the Kenko body-cap pinhole I had lying around from last time.The metering doesn’t work but I wasn’t planning on doing TTL (through the lens) metering. I’m going to use my lightmeter and make calculations. Yay, math! Joking. I’m using a chart so I will use someone else’s calculations. So yay sharing!

I looked on the internet and found some body caps for Minolta but I will have to order them. I want to try now. If I use that old canon body cap pinhole I can stash-bust (yay yarn terms crossovers!) not buy more stuff. So old body cap and tons of black-tape it is!

minolta_pinhole_setupHere’s a photo of the adaptation I made to the Minolta. Only I didn’t have any black gaffer tape. I suppose I could have used tinfoil to block light. Also used a cable release to reduce shake.

Step Three: Try it
Film used is Fuji Natura 1600. Meter reading was so according to the chart my exposure time is

Step Four: Evaluate Results 

Step Five: Review
The film has a really greenish cast. I will put that down to using film that expired two years ago. Now I know a lot about actinic radiation. Future post perhaps. Maybe it’s a waste of money to develop that old film, but I honestly didn’t think I would get any images. The color and the grain, plus the softness give the images a romantic feel. The next day test was to check the DOF. I read that there is no DOF to speak of so I wanted to see how close I could get. Meh. I need a grander scale.

I have to admit, I’m fascinated by this camera. Though I’m tempted by the idea of a 500 yen dedicated pinhole, I feel this need to let the camera be it’s true self and get it a real lens. I found a lens for 3000 yen in Nakano. I might take it to National Photo and ask them if they have any opinions.

Pinholes and Ice Monsters

This post is going to be out of order. I wanted to start with a general overview post about Zao, Yamagata, but I am working on my photos at the same time and the pinhole work a is little more compelling at the moment.

In January I did some pinhole experiments using a Minolta SR-7 (1964?) that I bought for 500 yen. I brought it along on my trip to Zao. I wanted to photograph the ice monsters, the juhyou, but I wasn’t sure about snowshoeing for the first time with nice cameras. The regret potential, it was just too huge.

In order to avoid the tripod (though I just bought a nice Photo Clam which I should figure out how to trick out for deep, deep snow) I used high speed film. Ilford 3200 BW, Kodak Portra 800 and Lomo Purple 400. Hand held shooting all the way, baby. Mostly at 1/2 second so my expectations were low. But hope springs eternal right? But because I also like “trust but verify” I only got the film developed and didn’t ask for prints. I’d scan them and then see.

Lesson One:
My scanner has some weird white dot and dust going on that I can not physically remove. It also gives me some weird color cast and Holy Film Grain, Photoman! (No photos. I can’t bear the mess. I cloned stamped them out)

Leson Two:
I totally abused the Lomo by exposing as 800 ISO then pushing the development 1 stop (Thank you National Photo. I couldn’t get that done without you.) The Purple is supposed to have a purple tone (shocker) but if you over expose it, you get an indigo color. Perhaps.  But I think Lomo Purple and snow scenes are not ideal matches. The purple needs some color to make it sing. Snow scenes are too monochromatic. I did get some shots I like but I’ll have to compare to my digital shots to see what was going on.

Lesson Three:
For a 1500 yen roll of film, Kodak Portra 800 is not thrilling me. I’ll keep in mind that my scanner picks up every bit of film grain, but… blechy! What is this green cast? This is unedited and it was a misty part of the day.  I’ll hold off judgement until I see a developed print. Ach… I’m hoping.

Lesson Four:
Ilford Delta 3200, why do I try other things when you are so reliable. Yes, you are a grainy beast, but your grain looks like a deliberate aesthetic instead of a hot mess. And you are so hand-holdably good. You’re my reliable best friend while I try out all these other flash films but you know I always come back to you. I promise to expose you better in the future. (wait… that sounds weird now. The personification stops now)

Lesson Five:
These images were hand-held at 1/2-1/8 second while standing on snowshoes on the top of the mountain? I could have been a surgeon! (Not)

Lesson Six:
The Minolta SLR-7 is a workhorse! I had it outside, in my hand, at temperatures ranging from 2 to -3 degrees C for 5 hours and that camera worked like a charm. I planned to use a cable release to reduce shake but it gave up in the first roll. I have another 50 year old camera, christened Grampa Petri because it’s a Petri 1.9 that stops working if it even gets chilly. The SR-7 was produced between 1962 and 1966 so this camera is not much older than Grampa Petri. Maybe it’s just happy to be rescued from the junk bin. The meter doesn’t work (because the battery is that old scary kind they don’t sell anymore) but I use a hand-held light meter anyway. I feel like this camera deserves a second life, so I went and bought a 24mm 2.8 lens for it. We’ll see how it goes.

So far, sorting out the work from the Zao trip is interesting but I can see it’s going to take me a while.

A Photo Clam Tripod and Ball Head for Me!

CP+2015, a photography trade show at Pacifico Yokohama , ended today. I was supposed to meet up with a group of people but due to a mix-up I ended up taking in the show on my own. This ended up being a good thing because I was able to take my time.

20150216-005056-3056934.jpgBest part of the show for me? I got a Photo Clam tripod (PTC2440P), ball head (PRO-42NS) and a quick release plate! I’ve been looking for a tripod for a long time. I’ve had the same Manfrotto tripod which I bought second hand in 2001. It’s heavy and has clips that are almost impossible to open and winter? Forget about it. Not to mention that someone dropped my tripod and the ball head is not what it used to be. I don’t even want to talk about the baaaaad habits I’ve formed due to not using a quick release plate. I know I’m lucky to not have experienced a disaster.

I’d never heard of Photo Clam which is based in Korea. I hadn’t seen them in any stores, but the reason for shows like CP+ is to explore something new. I’d been wanting a new tripod system for ages but I never made the jump because that I couldn’t afford a system I liked. And frankly, it’s overwhelming and nerve-wracking. It’s hard to strike a balance between good quality, appropriate weight and price.  I’d talked to different camera shops and done lots of reading, but I never felt comfortable enough to go through with the purchase given the price points involved.

Yeonsu Jeong was a joy to talk to. We talked about Seoul and bonded over our love of hotok (I mentioned a place in Myeong-dong but I meant Insadong) and she gave me great advice about selecting gear to suit my current kits. Because I was buying the floor model, I got a discount. I hadn’t planned on buying anything so I ended up running like a demon to find my nearest bank and make it back in time before the show ended and everything got packed up. I made it back with ten minutes to spare. I can MOVE when I’m motivated.

I did some reading about their products after I purchased my tripod (so opposite my usual MO that I still can’t believe it) and I’m feeling even better by the good reviews.  llford films probably loved my old tripod. I use a lot of their 3200 BW film in my Hasselblad and my Fuji GSWII because I hate using the old Manfrotto tripod. I could hand-hold my camera in most situations with that film. The 3200 is a great film but  it doesn’t allow me to take advantage of the great glass. That all changes! I’m looking forward to using the tripod and enjoying the delights of the finer grained lower ISO films.

I’ve got a few more things I want to write about regarding CP+2015 and will definitely write another post once I have a go with the tripod.

Egg Breaking News

It’s always good to practice photography basics and I thought I would try the photograph an egg exercise. The exercise I often see at photography schools is to light an egg. I think the point is to use only artificial light. I’ll get to that eventually. I’m just not in the mood to pull out my strobes and set them up.

My first attempt was to use natural light. It was a darkish, overcast day so the light was nicely subtle but meant high ISO. Here is my attempt.
20150124-193753-70673210.jpgThen a friend challenged me to photograph the egg breaking.

Still not in the mood to pull out the strobes, I decided I’d try the window light again and just practice. It was another overcast day so more high ISO. Capturing the moment something breaks is hard I knew it would take practice but I didn’t want to waste a lot of eggs. I was not predicting a lot of success.

I roped my husband into helping me.  We practiced by dropping a roll of washi tape. The toughest part was the communication. It is surprisingly difficult to coordinate a count-of-three egg release. Let go on “3”, say “3” and then let go? Good thing we practiced.

We finally moved on to the egg. We only had one egg. It was make it and break it time.

20150124-193817-70697853.jpgAnd we got lucky! My first egg breaking photo has some of the shell popping out! More success than I anticipated.

ISO 5000 f5.6, 1/5000s

I am ridiculously pleased with this photo but something bothered me. The continuous shooting function on my camera wasn’t what I expected. Even though I’d bumped the ISO to 5000 shooting at f5.6 (I was using my long lens to prevent egg splatter on my 5D) the shutter speed of 1/3000 wasn’t catching the whole fall. The shutter snapping just didn’t “sound” rapid-fire either. My fault. Usually I research before I try something new. This time I shot first and asked questions later.

So I did the research I should have done. Instead of going through the user’s manual like I usually do, I just relied on my experience with my old 5D. One big upgrade from the 5D to the 5D mark III is the high-speed continuous settings.

I learned:
* The 5D Mark III will do 6 shots per second on high speed continuous shooting I need to *Set the AF servo for high speed continuous (check the menu from the AF drive button on the top of the camera and set by the wheel on the back)
*I need a fully charged battery so frame rate doesn’t drop
*I need fast processing memory card. Until now I never saw the need for the faster cards.
So… Yay for experiments!

I was pretty excited by what I’d learned from my first attempt. So I did what comes naturally… I went and bought more eggs.

I tried again with a few changes:
We changed our practice object from washi tape to a cherry tomato.
The tape bounced way more than the egg. After looking in my fridge for something suitably splatty I settled on a cherry tomato. The tomato still bounced but a lot less than the tape. I expected the fruit to splat on the plate but that little tomato was surprisingly resilient.

We dropped the eggs on a plate instead of the paper.
I actually washed the washi paper to use again but it came out a bit wrinkly. My husband suggested dropping them on a plate. Easier clean-up and more dramatic shell breakage sounded great to me. Plus then we could eat the eggs instead of toss them.

We made three more tries. For some reason I could not catch the egg on the whole trip down even though I started shooting before the egg drop. The shutter speed was slower than the first test but the burst was faster. These were also faster than the tomato.
Set 1: f5, 1/2500 (ISO 4000)

Set 2:  f4.5 1/2500 ISO4000

Set 3: f5, 1/2500s, ISO 4000

My favorite egg breaking photo is actually the first one, though I do like the intial splat from set 3.

Some random broken eggs after the drop photos.

I learned a lot today. I enjoyed working with my husband and he enjoyed eating some eggs. I also realized how much I love the word splat. I have a few more things to research but I’m pretty satisfied with today. I think I will try again sometime with strobes next weekend.

Mission Inspiration: Paris

Rather than heaps of text, I thought I’d just post the photos of Paris that I took and still look at for inspiration. There are color swatches from some of the photos. Hope you like the photos.

Two different approaches to photographing the Eiffel Tower.

Chocolate Shopping: only a fraction of the stores I went into!

The Seine and Pont Alexandre III

Twilight and Night

Color swatches inspired by Paris:

I have heaps of photos from different Museums which allowed photography but I’m saving those for me.

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