Fort Bokar, Dubrovnik, Croatia Friday, Oct 19 2012 

Friday is the day when we celebrate the end of the work week with simple posts.

Fort Bokar, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Fort Bokar, Dubrovnik, Croatia

This is Fort Bokar in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It’s one of my all-time favorite places to visit, and I love the wonderfully preserved city walls. During my visit in 2009, I stayed within the walls and photographed them extensively, so perhaps I can do a series of posts with those photos.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Pontiac Starchief Thursday, Oct 18 2012 

Since I talked yesterday about some rusty cars, I thought I’d add another.

Pontiac Starchief

Pontiac Starchief

Most of the cars in the field were covered in rust, but this Pontiac Starchief still had the bright red paint on. Perhaps it wasn’t shiny as before, but it still made it stand out, especially with that massive tail fin.

Again, my Mamiya 645 1000S camera, with expired Kodak Portra 800 film, shot at EI 200 (2 stops overexposed), due to the age of the film.

Ford Truck Smile Wednesday, Oct 17 2012 

I wrote the other day about my Mamiya 645 camera and the fisheye lens I had for it. This is one of the photos I made with it.

Ford Truck Smile

Ford Truck Smile

A local photographer I know suggested that we look for abandoned vehicle lots somewhere south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The field where we found the Desoto Powerflite was one of such locations, and this was another. It looked as if it was someone’s back yard, and it had a lot of old rusted out trucks and cars that still had some really distinctive design features.

I made a few shots with my normal lenses, but then I wanted to play around with the fisheye. The photo is made from about a foot away from the grille of the truck, and the way the lens curves the lines, it makes it seem like the truck is smiling, like a cartoon character.

In the end, I decided that the fisheye lens is a nice toy, but that my preferences lay on the other end of the focal length scale, in the normal to telephoto range. So I sold the lens for a nice profit and eventually used the money to upgrade to the Mamiya 7 I have now. I have no regrets, but I do have a few fun shots.

And the Place Goes Boom Tuesday, Oct 16 2012 

Two and a half years ago, on April 11, 2010, Dallas Cowboys blew up their old stadium, because they made a big new shiny one. They made the implosion a public event, and I was there with many hundreds of people who love to watch things blown up.

Texas Stadium Going "Boom!"

Texas Stadium Going “Boom!”

About six months earlier, I purchased the Canon 7D digital camera. One of the secondary reasons for the purchase was the amazing speed of the camera – it was advertised to be able to record eight frames per second. It’s not something you expect using all the time, but, for example, when you’re on a photo-safari hunting whales, it helps.

On this Sunday morning, I knew I’ll only have a few seconds before Texas Stadium falls down, so when the explosions started, I pressed the shutter and kept it pressed. One of the shots was this one, with two fiery explosions going off at the same time. The very next photo on my memory card, taken fraction of a second later, doesn’t have these fireballs.


Double White Line, Lewisville, TX Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Double White Line

Double White Line

The story behind this image might be my favorite photography story so far.

It begins with my purchase of the 70-200mm f/4L USM lens – I wanted to play around with the telephoto zoom, and this was one of the best bargains in Canon’s lineup. Fantastic image quality and great utility for a few hundred dollars. It was irresistible, and I loved it.

To test it out, I took it to a highway overpass to take some shots in the late afternoon light. I set up my tripod and had fun looking for a perfect long exposure shot, first on one side of the overpass, then on the other. A few people honked and I got a few looks, but I took it all in stride.

That is, until the police car pulled up next to me.

Canon Rebel XT with a 70-200mm f/4L USM lens

Canon Rebel XT with a 70-200mm f/4L USM lens

The officer couldn’t have been nicer. He said that there were a few 911 calls talking about a sniper on the highway overpass, so he came to check it out. I showed him that my Canon Rebel XT with the 70-200mm lens doesn’t look anything like a rifle, except for the fact that I “aim” it like a rifle and “shoot” with it.

We talked for a bit about photography, he laughed it off and left. I shot this shot a few minutes later.

Mamiya 645 1000S Monday, Oct 15 2012 

Once I started shooting 35mm film, I found that I was really enjoying the process and the result. Film makes you slow down, think about your shots, and as a result, you usually end up with better photos.

Mamiya 645 1000S

Mamiya 645 1000S

I got greedy, though, and I knew I wanted to get into medium format film. I stumbled upon a great deal on Craigslist and bought this Mamiya 645 1000S camera, with the 80mm lens, for $250. I even got an extra body, along with some knicknacks.

It was heavy and clumsy, and it took some getting used to, especially since there were some minor bugs that I had to learn the hard way. But I enjoyed the simplicity of it – manual focus, manual exposure, split level focus point, and a gigantic viewfinder. Most of all, I liked the huge image area – when the developed slides would come from the lab, it was just beautiful to look at.

Mamiya 645 1000S with the 25mm fisheye lens

Mamiya 645 1000S with the 25mm fisheye lens

I bought two other lenses for it; one was a slightly wider 45mm, which worked brilliantly, and the other was Mamiya-Sekor 24mm f/4 Fisheye ULD C, which was a mouthful to say, and a beast of a lens. It works out to be about 15mm on a regular film format (35mm), which is extremely wide.

I eventually sold all my 645 gear and traded up for the Mamiya 7 that I have now. I wrote a blog post when that camera was only a shy little wish list entry. Mamiya 7 is a 6×7 format, so it is slightly larger than the 6×4.5 format. The camera is also a rangefinder, so it’s more compact and easier to carry around. I’m still enjoying the medium format film, and I think I have a great camera; I may start getting some more lenses for it soon.

Forks, WA Saturday, Oct 13 2012 

I mentioned earlier that my friend Tyler and I went on a quick tour around the Washington state National Parks. For our visit to Olympic National Park, we decided to spend the night in one of the motels at the city of Forks. I don’t remember the name of the motel, but I do remember that it was the only one in the city that wasn’t Twilight-themed.

Forks = Vampires; LaPush = Werewolves

Forks = Vampires; LaPush = Werewolves

You see, in case by some miracle you didn’t know, the Twilight books are set in the Pacific Northwest. Tyler told me a story that, apparently, the author Stephanie Myers never visited the area, but picked Forks, because it was reported as the wettest city in the US, and she thought that would be an interesting setting for her books.

Not far away is the city of La Push, which apparently also features in the novels. This photo was taken in one of the diners in Forks; while waiting to pay our breakfast bill, I snapped it with my phone camera.

Belize Sunset Friday, Oct 12 2012 

Friday is a day for celebrating the end of the work week with simple posts.

A few years ago I went on a cruise around the Caribbean, with stops at Progreso and Cozumel in Mexico, and in Belize. The visit to Belize was particularly nice – I spent the morning shopping around Belize City, but in the afternoon I took a tour to one of the cays, which looked like one of those deserted islands you’d see in a cartoon – a patch of sand with a palm tree or two sticking out of it.

Belize Sunset

Belize Sunset

After we left Belize, the ship was going to take two full days to return to Galveston. I took one last look back and snapped this photo.

Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX Thursday, Oct 11 2012 

I mentioned recently that I had some fun shooting expired Kodak Portra 800 film a few years ago. The film expired in 2003, and the first effect of that was that the film lost at least a stop of light sensitivity. So, I exposed the following rolls at EI 400, which yielded much better results. The colors were still hit and miss – in the Desoto shot I posted earlier, they looked great, but they looked quite muted elsewhere.

Deep Ellum, expired film

Deep Ellum, expired film

In terms of content, the murals in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas depict two blues guitar icons, Robert Johnson, who famously sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads, and John Lee Hooker. The third painting seems to show a Dallas skyline, with a cat resting on the half moon above the city.

Final note: on this occasion, I went on a walk through Deep Ellum with two other local photographers, who were also shooting medium format film. It was one of them who gave me the idea to try developing my own film. The process of developing color print film is much more involved, but developing black and white film turned out to be pretty straightforward.

One Last Rome Post Wednesday, Oct 10 2012 

I spent this Sunday afternoon finally developing a roll of Ilford FP5 Plus film. It’s a roll I started in Rome, and finished at the Italian Car Festival in Grapevine. I was a little hesitant, because the last time I tried to develop my own film, I wasn’t very successful.

I meant to split this post in two, with one photo in each, but decided you probably had enough of Rome shots for a little while. So, I’m combining them into one post, so we can move to something else tomorrow.

Forum, film

Forum, film

First we have the Forum again, with Temple of Saturn in the foreground on the left and the Coliseum in the background on the right. I like the clarity of this shot, and the high-contrast afternoon light gives a more pleasing result here than in the color shot from a few weeks ago. There is, however, some banding in the sky that is probably a result of an uneven exposure to some chemicals during the development process. But it’s still a very nice shot overall.

Trevi Fountain, film

Trevi Fountain, film

The second shot is Trevi. Again unflattering, late morning light, but a slightly tighter composition brings up the majesty of the fountain a little better than the earlier shot. It also helps that there are no tourist heads at the bottom, but I’m really angry at the Rome municipal government for setting up that scaffolding on the left of the fountain.

Rome is my favorite city in the world. What’s yours?

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