Snowfences: My First Solo Show

The Snowfences series was exhibited at The NeiCrescent Moon- Snowfencesghbourhood and Coffee Starbucks Okusawa near Jiyugaoka Station in Tokyo for the month of July. This series had 13 photos ranging from A2 to A5 in size. They were printed on inkjet washi paper. Everything A3 and smaller was printed on Awagami Paper Factory’s Inbe inkjet print paper.

It was a thrill to see my work on the wall. Many thanks to the manager, Nakano-san and the staff who made the experience so wonderful. It’s a beautiful place to hang art.

The photo, Crescent Moon is probably my favourite in the series though I almost didn’t include it.

Most of the photos were taken during a trip through the Rocky Mountains in Idaho and Montana during stormy, almost white-out conditions so the majority of the work in the show is stormy white.

Later during the trip, the sky cleared to reveal this clear moon. This print will continue to be available on my shop.

Below are some photos from the exhibition and the last day. Thanks again Starbucks and Nakano-san for the wonderful experience!


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

Brussels and Old Negatives

This week I’m lucky enough to travel in Belgium. I’ve enjoyed Brussels and a quick day trip to Bruges. I took a lot of photos. When I shoot, I shop less and I hope my photos don’t suck. But my Brussels souvenir (aside from copious amounts of chocolate) is an odd combo of shopping and photography. I bought negatives and slides at a flea market at Place du Jeu de Balle.

assortment of negatives and slides.
Flea Market souvenir from Brussels. I really like the retro style of the negatives envelopes.

It’s a little bit strange to be in possession of these photos. It’s a very intimate glimpse into the life of the photo subjects and the photographer and now that I have the negs I can pretty much do whatever I want with them. That makes me feel like I have some kind of responsibility to these unknown people. But at the same time, it’s an art resource that was pretty much thrown away.

I have no idea how these images came to be at the flea market. Maybe someone did a massive purge, maybe a storage locker fee wasn’t paid and the contents went for auction. Perhaps someone went into elderly care and their house contents had to be dealt with in a hurry. I will probably never know.

The first batch of photos is black and white 6×9 negatives from the 50’s maybe. I can’t quite be sure of the era. I played around with photographing some of the negs with my iPhone and then editing them with Photoshop Express. The photos have some environmental background since I didn’t use a light table.

The slides, it turns out, were mostly shot in Algeria, assuming the text on the box is accurate. They look like photos from the late 70’s or 80’s. They are a bit harder to deal with by only using the iPhone. I’m going to try scanning them when I get back home. Here are some iPhone attempts.

What will I do with these photos?
I’m working on a project that uses old Japanese women’s magazines for characters to use in a diorama or a collage. I think some of these photos characters might make an appearance. Maybe I will incorporate them into some type of photo collage.
These photos do make me think about what I want to have happen with my photos in the future. Probably nothing. They will likely be buried in the millions of photos we take every day.

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.

The Absence of Color. Weekly Photo Challenge

The absence of of color, or more correctly in this case, the tone of black and white is my subject for the weekly photo challenge. I adore the sepia color of this film.

I had some packs of Polaroid 100 film from the Impossible Project. This was the Paul Giambarba Sepia edition. I enjoyed using this film and I’m really sad it isn’t being made anymore. I was hoarding this film for something special and it ended up being at least a year out of date. When I went to shoot Sakura, I brought out my Polaroid back for the Hassy determined to use the film. I also had a bunch of 120 film that was old so that day ended up being more experimental than I planned.


This is probably my favorite shot. Not sure if it does my Hassy any justice as it looks quite soft, but that is an effect of the film. I’m really entranced with the tone of this sepia film. It has a nice dreamy quality. I’ve never been able to get anything really contrasts with this film, but given the overcast, drizzly weather, it was going to happen this day.

Most of the polaroid photos came out ok despite the film being out of date. Out of 10 photos, only two showed real signs of emulsion degradation. Not bad.

Even Shooting Sakura Gets a Kind of Poe Riff

Two weekends ago I braved the rain and drizzle to shoot the last of the cherry blossoms at Tamagawa. I think I got a few good shots of the flowers and I got to try working on different lighting style for me. But that Edgar Allan Poe comic with the raven and the Bohemian Rhapsody riff has been floating around FB again and became an ear wig I couldn’t shake. With the crows out in full force and the dreary weather (now I feel like I should break out into a parody of  “The Raven”) sometimes one needs to take a break from the flowers and go gothic mystic. I caught the following image with my Fuji 690 GWIII.

Crow sitting on trees on rainy spring day by Tamagawa, Tokyo, Japan.
Crows sitting on trees on rainy spring day by Tamagawa, Tokyo, Japan.

This tree was filled with crows but with my typical luck, a bunch of crows took off while I was focusing. A few were kind enough to pose.

I scanned the image under a color film setting and ended up with an interesting sepia tone. The film is Ilford 3200 shot at ISO 1600 and exposed normally.

I’m looking forward to pulling out the dark room equipment and contact printing this image to see what happens.

In case you missed this comic, here is a version from

Designed by Jack Kelly

I finally found an attribution for the image at where it is credited to Jack Kelly. Yay! And I’m so impressed with this person. Not sure if this is the first iteration of this design but I’m happy to have someone to attribute it to.

Snail Geometry

Geometry is this week’s Postaweek Photo Challenge. I already posted one entry, and I really like the photo but it has a lot of hard lines. I had originally wanted to do something spiral-oriented. I dunno, maybe I’m in a spinny mood but I didn’t remember any photos. I was enjoying looking at some other posts and noticed the focus on architecture and hard lines and then I saw Liz Hardeman’s really nice photo of a spiral shell on her blog Nature on the Edge. Then I remembered the snails I photographed along the Tamagawa in Oome. I thought the spiral would contrast my previous square post.

It was raining pretty hard and photography was not that great that day. There was a kayaker practicing on the river. It was interesting but the photos were murky. I didn’t even get any nice atmospheric landscapes. Then I looked down and saw some snails. I did some macro photos of the snails. It was fun to watch their antennae pop in and out and watch their little snailish moustaches snuffle the moss.

I stayed and photographed them for about thirty minutes. I thought I was pretty rainproof and toasty. I was, until I put my camera bag back over top my rainsoaked down jacket. It pressed the water right through the jacket. Then it was a twenty minute walk to the train station, at least twenty minutes until the next train and then over ninety minutes until I could get warm and dry. I ended up with the worst cold I can recall having. Not sure if the snails were worth it.
motivational snail pictures

Still Using Film

I had a big surprise while scanning film I took in London. I used a 35 mm film called Solaris 400 and was really surprised by the color.

The film camera I used is a Petri 1.9 Super Color Corrected 35 mm rangefinder. I bought it from a junk box at an antique market in Yokohama for ¥3000. I had planned to just use it for a decoration, but on a whim, I tried a roll of film and it worked fine! I decided it would be great camera to use Lomo style.

Generally, I shoot black and white film with this camera. I find color often doesn’t have a fun, retro feel. The Solaris 400 definitely has the retro vibe. The image hasn’t been digitally manipulated yet. I probably will change it up for fun some day.

I’m still going through the film and I’m surprised by the yellow cast. I remember the weather being more grey than sallow. I don’t mind the color cast. It gives the image a Euro-sepia filter effect.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Photo taken in Prague in front of the Rudolphinum, April 2010

Solitary is walking alone.

Solitary is a statue, isolated in its thoughts.

Solitary is rain. The wet brings a chill that heightens the senses. The subtle aromas released or covered by the rain allows the mind to turn inward.

For me, the key to this photo is the statue. It reminds me that even when we think we are alone in our journeys we are always being observed, that even solitary existences converge, cross then move on.

If I were to do a photo with that theme in Tokyo, I might capture the same idea, but the energy would be completely different. I could catch solitary but it would be adrift in the frenetic energy that characterizes this city. Hmmm… there’s a thought for a future photo.

I tend to do a lot of photos that examine the theme of solitary. This one is from a collection on my website that I titled “Channeling Atget.” For me, Atget is about capturing that contemplative melancholy on misty or rainy days.

Which artists or photographers do you think capture the ideal of solitary? Come to think of it, is there only one ideal for the concept “solitary”?

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