Archives

September 2002

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Sep 25

How does the technical evolution of photography change the way people take photos? The BBC has a more or less interesting article about it. If you read articles and opinions online it seems to me that in the fine art photography crowd there’s a certain snootiness in the making. Lots - fortunately not all - of fine art photographers dismiss digital photography as basically gimmickry without any value. The basic argument usually always boils down to claiming that what takes hours to achieve in the lab is necessarily of higher value than what everybody might be able to doon his/her computer. This confuses art for the process of making art or for the materials involved. But what can you do? As I noted (in a similar context) before most of those snooty art-ists would probably drop their artsy equipment in an instant if they had the money to buy high-tech high-quality digital equipment.
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Sep 23

Karen and I like checking out thrift and “Goodwill” shops, trying to hunt down the unexpected treasure. Camera-wise, we haven’t been to successful - until this past weekend. At a “Goodwill”, we found a Rollei B35, the simplified model of the famous Rollei 35. [I know the English on the page I’m linking to could be improved. If you’re interested in the manual of the B35 click here.] We paid $20 for the camera which is in pristine condition. I didn’t know how much the B35 would sell for usually but I figured it’d be way more than $20. Plus, those Rollei cameras are a sheer pleasure to use. Today, I went online to find that the B35 should sell for around $100 or more. No, we’re not going to sell it. Interestingly enough, the “Goodwill” had an old Polaroid camera next to the B35 which they wanted to sell for $35. I knew that model and I knew it’d sell for maybe $5. It doesn’t hurt to know a little bit about cameras!
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Sep 16

One of the cameras I brought with me to Pittsburgh on the plane is my Diana - a plastic camera made in the 1960s (or so). I guess there are two main reasons why the Diana and its sister, the Holga, have become fairly popular. First, because of the fairly crappy lenses of those cameras the photos look… well… let’s just try to be neutral and say they look different. Depending on what you like about photography, they look either totally shitty or great. They’re somewhat soft-focused. What’s more, light tends to fall off *a lot* at the edges of the lenses. All this makes the Diana/Holga a good camera for fine arts photography - provided you manage to get those light leaks under control. Second, the Diana and Holga are fairly cheap. The Diana isn’t produced any longer so you either get them at yard sales for really cheap (if you’re lucky) or you buy them on Ebay for around US$25-40. The Holga is still being produced and you can get one for under $20. That makes those cameras perfect for aspiring and poor photo students. The majority of Diana/Holga fanatics would probably throw their Diana/Holga out of the window if only they had the money to buy an expensive camera but, of course, that’s just me being cynical. It’s probably not too cynical, though, to claim that the number of photographers who really know how to get good photos with a Diana/Holga is *much* smaller than the number of Diana/Holga users. But I guess you can say that about any camera. What makes the Diana/Holga people so irritating is the fervour with which so many of them proclaim how much they love their Diana/Holga even though it’s completely obvious they’d rather use a Leica or some expensive SLR. If you don’t believe me check out those photo communities on Livejournal, say (try “toycamera” or “photophile”). BTW, if you want to check out some really good photography with that kind of camera have a look at Don Brice’s toy camera photography. Anyway, I brought my Diana to do architectural photography. I figured the camera’s “bad” optical properties would go fairly well with all those old and semi-decaying buildings here in Pittsburgh. One of the problems I ran into right away was that I didn’t know where to get the film processed. Dianas/Holgas use 120 film and photo shops usually send that out to Kodak - which means you have to wait for around two weeks to get fairly shoddy prints back. I might have found a good pro lab now but I have to take some bus there so I can’t drop off film that easily. And so far I haven’t processed my own film. This past weekend, I had an idea, though. Why not shoot digital Holga photos? Here’s how it might work. First, one would need to place a screen inside the camera at the position of the film. That should be relatively easy. Then, the camera’s shutter needs to be removed and the camera needs to be fit into a dark box. One could then use a normal digital camera to take photos of the images on the screen. I am planning on doing this once our new apartment is set up.
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Sep 13

A provocative question: Is it wrong to like art done by a Nazi (replace the word Nazi by the word Communist or murderer or rapist or whatever else your favourite arch-nemesis might be)? Assume you see a photo, say, which you really like and you learn it was taken by a Nazi do you feel bad about liking the photo? And if yes, why?
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Sep 13

Leni Riefenstahl is probably one of the most controversial Germans alive. She is widely known for the propaganda movies she made for Hitler and for her photography, in particular for her photos of the African Nuba. Was she, is she a Nazi or not? Here is an interesting article about her by James Faris.
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Sep 12

“Few have the guts to admit it publicly, but we’re all monsters.” (Michael Middleton) Salon.com prints a large list of “forbidden thoughts” about 9/11. I’m sure plenty of us had thoughts like some of those people who are being quoted on that page. We probably only differ in our magnitude of denial. Of course, salon.com got plenty of angry responses from some of their readers (find a reply to one of those here) - which, at least if you believe in modern human psychology, does nothing but confirm that many people had those non-pc thoughts. The introductory article - which includes more quotes - can be found here.
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Sep 10

I found newphotography.co.uk on consumptive.org. It’s a weblog with lots of “blurry” photos. Needless to say, I love it.
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Sep 9

Pittsburgh has plenty of old buildings many of which are just decaying. Yesterday, we went to an old mall called the “Eastland Mall” - unfortunately, these photos (from deadmalls.com) aren’t nearly as nice as they could be given the state of the mall. Yesterday, there was quite a “lot” of stuff going on there because of a flee market. I was told that the mall and its parking lot are usually nearly completely deserted. I want have to go back and take some photos when there’s no flea market. I shot a bunch of pics yesterday but I’ll only be able to post those once I get my computer delivered by the movers.
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