Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Streamlined Gear List

I have been thinking of the best possible STREAMLINED gear kit for the trip. I am 51 years old traveling to the other side of the world. I need to streamline as much as possible. I have cut out the 60mm Leica lens, the 21mm M lens, the 210mm large format lens and the Canon 1/2 frame camera (not sure on that one as it is a small light camera).

The heaviest gear set up is the large format stuff, I need everything listed. There is no getting around what I need to shoot large format. In this large format gear set up list I will only take 1 lens the 120mm (risky).Taking one lens will force me to compose, to see with only one point of view. It will force me to really learn the lens, something I have promoted on this blog for a long time. It is something that Jock Sturges taught me.

In the streamlined look I am also taking less film. 500 sheets of 5x7 down to 400, 50 rolls of 120 down to 40, 75 rolls of 35mm down to 65.

Looking at this list makes me feel more comfortable. I am still taking lots of shit but at least it's manageable now.

Large Format 5x7 Gear
- 5x7 Linhof
- 120mm Nikon lens
- Pentax spot meter
- 10 film  holders
- Tripod
- Reflector (small)
- 400 sheets 5x7 Tri-x
- Film changing tent (small)

Medium Format Gear
- Rolleiflex 80mm
- Close up lens (small pack)
- 40 rolls 120mm Tri-x

35mm Gear
- Leica R6 body 24mm f2.8
- Leica M6 body 35mm f1.4
- 65 rolls of 35mm Tri-x

Monday, August 24, 2015

My New Leica 24mm F2.8 R Lens

Got my new Leica 24mm f2.8 R lens today in the mail. No extra charges so that was good. I paid $450 USD lens which was the cheapest price on eBay. The lens is in great shape, the lens hood also. I am not that happy with the 2.8 speed of the lens (my Canon digi 24mm lens is a 1.4) but we can work with it. Leica lens are world classs pieces of glass, I am sure this will make great pictures. One other benefit of the R versus M series lens is that because it is an SLR lens you can focus closer. With this 24mm I can focus down to 11 inches, pretty good!

The only only issue is a stiffness in the focusing which I knew about before I bought the 24mm. I will eventually send this lens in with my 60mm which has a similar problem for a CLA, both should focus smooth and easy after that. The stiffness of focus is not that big of an issue, I should be able to work with it. I will shoot this lens this coming trip and maybe the next as it is. I plan on shipping it in for a CLA mid 2016.

Here is are a few shots of the lens mounted to my black R6 body (have another one of these bodies being shipped to me).

Note* I have a used B&W protective UV filter on order for this lens. The 24mm lens hood also fits my 60mm. Not sure it will provide that much protection thou. I will probably have to buy the 60mm lens hood at some point. Also need to buy filter and lens hoods for the other 2 Leica lens I have in the mail, the 35mm f2.8 and the 28-70 f3.5-4.5 zoom.

Leica R6 body (taped) with 24mm f2.8 R lens

Contact Sheet Style Book?

While driving the car just now I had an idea for a photo book. It would be a book with a variety of contact sheets, chosen photos and the stories behind the making of the pictures I would put together a book of 50 or so of these contact sheet/photo/story combos using 35mm, 120mm and 5x7 contacts. My next 2 photo trips to different parts of Asia would provide the materials I would shoot and tell stories of these trip projects. If I go ahead with this idea I could have a working version (Blurb magazine) of the book by late 2016.

Another book idea, another project to think about. This would be a variation on what I have already done. I did something similar with the magazines I made for the "Living on the Margins" show.

A possible titles?

   Contact Sheet Asia
                      by Gerry Yaum

  Contact Story Asia
                      by Gerry Yaum

Maybe I will go through every world region and do up similar books. There can be an African version, Central America, South America etc. : ))

Trying For Too Much??

I feel I might be trying to do too much this coming photo trip. 3 different types of camera formats, multiple projects, over 1 hundred rolls of film and maybe 500 sheets of 5x7.

How much can I do in less than 7 weeks. My 7 week trip includes traveling time, so will have less than 7 weeks of actual shooting. Maybe I need to slow this down a bit, it is better to do less well than a lot of stuff poorly. I so wanted to do a 3 month or 6 month trip, 7 weeks is just not enough time to do everything I wanted to do.

I just have so many ideas, plans and hopes. I hate to give up on them.

Almost Completed All My Rosebud Show Prints

Did up more prints of the coffin photograph tonight. I also did the secondary printing on the staring and coffin shots. The photos are washing now, I should have them on the drying screens before bed time.

Tomorrow after my security nightshift I will take the dried prints and flatten them in my dry mount press. I never dry mount photographs to mat board as that is a non archival process not approved of my collectors and galleries. Who knows some day this current work may end up needing to be archival.

I will take the prints to work on Tuesday-Wednesday night, spot them, cut mats and frame them. I should have these last two photos framed and ready to go by mid week. That will be the end of the printing for this next show my 6th larger photography exhibition (4 of those showing over 25 prints).

The more I do these things the easier and efficient I become, still it is a lot of work! This show was easier to produce because I am reusing a ton of the photos from the "Life in the Margins" exhibition. I only made up 4 new prints, all of "My Fathers Last Days", to tell the complete story. Those last 4 images deal with dads eventual decline and end with the coffin photograph.

Still Haunted By Walker Evans Portrait

I am still haunted by the photograph Walker Evans made of the Fields family in 1936 Alabama. The photo communicates the message of who these people were so well. You get a understanding of all the individuals, their poverty, their strength, their vulnerabilities. It transports me back in time to that place and time, into the Fields home.

I think what I need to do this trip is to try to do a group portrait outside each shack in the dump. I need to photograph every family this way. I might not be able to get everyone to pose for me, but I think I can get at least 10 families shot in this group portrait way. The large 5x7 negative should yield a crisp beautifully detailed family portrait.

Only when I have my own good versions of this group portrait, will I find relief from my Evans-Fields photo haunting.

Update* With this added side photo project, I will probably need more film. Am thinking of upgrading from 400 sheets of Tri-x 5x7 to 500.

Update** Just noticed something I had not noticed before (when I looked at the variation). There is a dark shadow under Bud Fields raised foot, indicating Walker Evans probably used a flash for the shots.

Bud Fields With His Family , August 1936, Alabama By Walker Evans

Sunday, August 23, 2015

More Film

Bought another 20 rolls of 120mm Tri-x. I needed to fill out an order for a used B&W UV filter for my Leica lens (over $99 USD you get free shipping). I need to get a couple of screw in 60mm filters for the newly purchased 24mm and the 35mm lens. The used filter I bought is rated 9 and a top end German made B&W so it should work fine. Total cost for everything $134.41 USD with free shipping to my door in Canada. You got to love B&H photo.

I always feel good after I buy film. In the past I was criticized for choosing to buy film over spending money on clubbing. engaging in social functions and boozing, but going the film way always makes me feel good. When you buy film there is always the chance of making great photographs. With the newly purchased Rolleiflex's and the Plaubel Makina 67 I will probably use up the 120 stuff fairly quickly. I plan to take a minimum of 50 rolls with me to Asia this next trip, and probably another 50-100 rolls will be used up on the trips in 2016.

Printing The Coffin Photo

Here is the coffin photo of dad, the last picture of the exhibition and the last I will be printing for the Rosebud show. I thought it was important to include this image so that the gallery viewers would understand dads complete story.

Initially I worked on a 35mm coffin shot made in the chapel just before dads funeral. I was not happy with the look of the print, it did not have the tonality and strength I hoped for. I switched off to the photograph below, a totally different type of shot. The photo was made with a 5x7 camera in available light the night before the funeral in the family viewing room. I like the sense of isolation in the shot. The family has moved away from dads body and dad seems so alone in the room, not forgotten but isolated and alone. There is a sadness and loneliness to the pic, everyone alive is looking away from the coffin. The living move during the long exposure, dad does not. 5x7 negs have such wonderful detail and tonality, even the blurred areas have extra dimension because of the very large negative.

I will let this print dry and continue working on it tomorrow night. I might have to do up another 2 or 3 versions. Tomorrow I also want to do the secondary printing on this shot and the photo of dad staring that I did on Friday. I should be able to have these two pics, spotted, mounted, framed and ready to go by the end of the next work week. I will then have all my photos ready for the Rosebud exhibition.

Now it's time for bed, I only have about 5 hours sleep before I need to get up and to do my biweekly swimming workout. I am looking forward to shooting the 5x7 Linhof in Asia, I should come home with 400 or 500 exposed sheets of film. It will be a joyous experience to print that work in 2016-2017. I will continue to work with motion in the photographs.

3rd print attempt, Dad in viewing room of funeral home with family, Linhof 5x6 210mm lens long shutter speed

Rolleiflex GX Converted To Leica Rs

I have basically converted my refund from my Roleifex GX to Leica R system equipment. I can make a much larger variety of photos with the Rs so it is probably a very good deal. I have about $650 USD to spare, could get a 90mm or a 135mm Leica lens with that. It is strange how these purchases work out. When I bought the Rollei GX I was worried I made a mistake. This time round I feel like I did the right thing and will be using these tools extensively over the next 10-20 years.

1) Rolleiflex GX camera and 80mm lens
Refund $1950 USD.
for a
2) - Leica R6 body
    - Leica R4 body (throw in, might use or sell)
    - Leica 24mm f2.8 R lens
    - Leica 35mm f 2.8 R lens
    - Leica 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 R lens (throw in, might use or sell)
Total Cost $1298 USD

Leica R Camera Equipment Deals

I decided to fill in my Leica R SLR equipment package today. I already own 2 Leica R6 s and a Leica 60mm Macro. I have a 24mm f2.8 R lens coming in the mail. Today I low bid on some combination R equipment auctions and won the auctions at cheaper prices. Probably saved around $350-550USD on these combined deals as compared to if I have bought everything separately. These cameras were part of a collectors collection, so they are going back out into the field again! Got to love that. They will travel the world making pictures before they are to beat up to be used any longer. Camera's are made to be shoot pictures, and that's what I intend with these cheaper R Leica's

In today's auctions I got:

Auction #1: $451USD
- Leica R6 Black body
- Leica 28-70mm f3.5-4.5 R zoom lens

Auction #2: $397USD
- Leica R4 Black body
- Leica 35mm f2.8 R lens

I was mostly interested in the black R6 body and the 35mm f2.8 R lens. I wanted a 35mm lens to take with me to Tondo slum next year. A lens that was world class in sharpness yet cheaper, much much cheaper than my 35mm f1.4 M ($3000+USD). These buys today add to my collection of world class Leica R equipment at discount prices. Cameras I would reluctantly give up in a robbery attempt.

I will probably take this R series equipment into dangerous places in the future, leaving my very expensive Leica M camera system stuff safely at home. Hate to leave the Ms at home but the Rs are also world class cameras and I will be braver with them. I know that I will go into more dangerous shooting situations with the Rs than I would with the Ms. I am thinking of also traveling to Africa and Central America in the next few years. I am currently reading a book on El Salvador.

Note* I think the Leica R system cameras/lens are currently much cheaper than the M lens because the M's can still be used with Leica's digital rangefinders. Both the R and M lens are renowned for their extraordinary sharpness, and quality of glass. One my workshop students explained the selection and building process to me. Only the best of the best for Leica. Now I can profit from digi taking over the market and buy these discounted world class Leica film lens at great prices.

Note** Both these auctions are from the same seller so I am getting a cheaper combined shipping cost. I am not sure if I will have to pay duty and GST tax, sometimes I do, sometimes not.

Update* I could use the R4 body with the 28-70mm zoom in the worst conditions or the most dangerous situations. They are basically freebees I got thrown in, if I lose them I am out $0.