Sunday, December 20, 2015

Urban Christmas Tree Lots

It's amazing how many Christmas tree lots sprout up during the holidays here in Manhattan.  Most people I know don't get one, and I don't either, but would love to if I had more time to spend with it, along with more space so it could breathe and not suffer with the radiator air which dries them out very quickly.  Walking near or through one of these lots, however, does conjure up all sorts of childhood memories, the pine-y smells reminding me of the magical time.  I don't think that will ever go away.  May the season be bright and merry, any way you celebrate it.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Driving in NYC

It's not necessary.  You certainly don't need a car here, and I've never missed owning one ever.  Nonetheless, there are people who cannot live with out them.  They are a part of the landscape, as no street is complete without them lining the sides.  Here are a few from my normal neighborhood night walks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Uncovering The Magic

In a recent post, I spoke about scanning the 'duds' - those photos which came out either way too overexposed or underexposed.  I showed examples of an underexposed Polaroid, and my scanning methods used to uncover the magic hidden within.   Today I'll share one which was overexposed, a Type 600 version of Impossible Project's color film (a 'skins' version with animal print frames).  My cameras are sx-70's, so this film will result in an overexposed image.

The original

The original cropped, after adjusting data in the individual color channels.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Two Cameras, One Scene

On the left, my Holga with Polaroid back and homemade filter.  Held together with a bunch of rubber bands and electrical tape.  On the right, my Arunas cam: a cigar box pinhole with Polaroid back.  Both sitting on a seawall, ocean in the background, my mini-recorder weighing down an unpeeled Polaroid in the foreground.  Taken with an sx-70 camera 2 months ago.

Taken with the camera on the right.

Taken with the camera on the left.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

That Blood Moon

The other night we experienced a total lunar eclipse of a super moon. (This is also known as a Blood Moon.)  I'm not usually one to take the usual photos of things like moons, or sunsets, or rainbows, or other similar subjects, but never say never.  In fact, last week, during the Pope's NYC visit, I did actually take a photo of a rainbow.  It was not your standard rainbow, but one that was in the formation of a halo, encircling the entire Madison Square Garden area about a half hour before his arrival to give Mass there.  And then, this Blood Moon hits town, and darn if I didn't walk up to the the corner and aim up there and get this one photo.  It's certainly nothing, compared with all the wonderfully lit and detailed images I saw friends, even non-photographers, uploading on social media, but I do like it, nonetheless.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


From acid, to butter, to mild vanilla....

Tourists checking out fake goods on Canal Street, NYC

Weeds growing out of a sidewalk against a cement building.

Apparently a crash test dummy has made off with the cab.

A member of my toy collection.  Hitting the sauce again.

Art gallery on the Lower East side of Manhattan.

Beach Pavillion on the New England coast.

Paste up on the old Tennessee Mountain restaurant in Soho.  
It's sadly since become a Crocs store.  :(

Foggy dirt road captured on Redscale film.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Scanning Film Is An Endless Task

There's a reason my film scanning is a never-ending process. First, I am always taking pictures, so the rolls of film and stacks of polaroids continue to grow. Second, since the majority of my cameras are low end and quirky, they can cause double exposures, uneven spacing between frames, and, due to unsophisticated or absent focus/aperture controls, too dark/light and/or blurred images. All these lend to far more time necessary in the scanner with each of these types of images as I attempt to find and make a picture.

Generally, if I take a photo with a sophisticated camera (ahem, I have only one, the Pentax 67) then scanning is a breeze. I can do an entire roll of film in a couple of hours; one evening. With the lo-fi cameras, I spend more time first making a 'reality' scan of the image "as is", and then doing multiple variations of the same image through adjustments to each of the color channels in attempts to 'find' a better photo, more detail, or more character and soul. I may also increase or decrease the saturation, or convert it to black and white, and save all these versions for later comparison.

Pictured above is one of my recent scans. It was an image taken last month in a plastic camera with an attached polaroid back. The film was a black and white Polaroid type which expired 9 years ago, and while I should have shot this as a long exposure, because it was very early morning, very cloudy, and I had a dark filter over the lens, I forgot. All this resulted in an underexposed photo with barely any image, as you can see.

It doesn't end there, however.  All's not lost.  There's nothing to lose in trying to pull something out of these types of images when scanning. Sometimes I find my best images this way. Lightening it, manipulating the color channels (I always scan as 24bit color, even if it's black and white) and other adjustments will cause distortions, and exaggeration of the film emulsion's aberrations, and the dust particles, but all that adds to the character.  The following are three of the 5 or so variations I made of the above photo:

Friday, September 4, 2015

End of Summer

Well, I tend to cling to summer for as long as the weather cooperates, but I guess for many, the Labor Day weekend which kicks off today is the last hurrah.  Back from the beach house, ending my official annual summer vacation, I'm adjusting to city life again, and embarking on the love-hate relationship I have with the task of scanning stacks of polaroids and film.  Happy Labor Day for my U.S. readers.

Monday, August 3, 2015

You Never Know...

So, it's not very easy to write a post and add pictures from an iPad, but I am going to try.

Recently, I went through some of my old Polaroid film stores.  Among the mix are some really old boxes I assume are all dried up inside, but I've kept them for the old packaging and graphics.  I pulled one out, recently, and thought to myself, "why not?  Just try to shoot some."   This particular box,  (type 108 expired in the mid-70s) has the lovely rainbow packaging which is so iconic, ( not to today's generations!). I carefully opened it, and put it through the test.  As I expected, every shot was a dud, but i had to try, I mean, you never know.

(Sorry for the grainy photo.  iPad cameras are pretty bad.)

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Some time back I doodled a bunch of cutesie 'flapper' looking girls.  If you've seen my Facebook Page, you may have seen this particular pencil sketch.  I'm working on digitally painting a large scan of this sketch with variations in the oval frame and background.  The hair is still rough, as are a lot of the features.   Thought I'd share my progress so far.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Blues

Not the sad kind.  Just some instances of this wonderful color in my life....

Some street art.....

A hot summer night rooftop cocktail...

An old building in lower Manhattan shot with a plastic Diana camera...

Other people's art I've collected....

New England tufts captured on expired Polaroid film....

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Shoreline Abstract

Taken on a very foggy day, at the beach with a cardboard box pinhole camera I made.  Just enough image to get the gist of it.  That 'dot' a bit left of center is a couple walking along the coast.

UPDATE: Not a couple, but a man and his black lab walking along the coast.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Brownie Holiday

This camera is one of the easiest to shoot.  It uses size 127 film, which is less common, but not difficult to find.  There are zero settings, no "cloudy" vs. "sunny", no "near" vs. "far".  Just point at the subject and click.  And every time I use it I make a notation in my mini recorder (which later gets transcribed in my film logs) that it might be broken, because the 'clicker' feels so slow and like it's not 'catching' on anything.  I note this in case after development I can't understand why the film came out blank or blurry.  But each time, I get some decent shots on the roll.  Here are some recent scans.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Scanning Film

When I scan my film, I usually scan several versions of a single frame.  This, for example: original on the left, more neutral in the middle, and b/w on the right.  Taken with a toy plastic Holga TLR camera, using Lomography's RedScale film.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Three Little Kittens

Calico kittens in color, sepia, and black.  Hand drawn pen illustration, scanned and digitally painted.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Parking Lot

Parking Lot. Soho, NYC, 2015
There was a time when you'd find these small parking lots in the empty spaces between buildings all over the place. Now, almost every one we had in the neighborhood has been snatched up and replaced with ugly big buildings, slick glass monstrosities with no souls. Even lots, as narrow as little more than a car's length.... are bought by developers intent on building highrise condo's to sell and rent out at ridiculous prices. These spaces were/are as much a part of the character and beauty of this city as anything else which marked it's once unparalleled style, unfortunately, at breakneck speed, I am witnessing the eradication of history, and the destruction of this city's unique character by the greedy real estate machine, intent on obtaining every inch of available space in order to build something new to block out more and more of the blue sky and sun. Bah.