Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rayko Plastic Camera Show

Last night San Francisco's Rayko Photo Center held the opening for their 2nd Annual International Juried Plastic Camera Show. We arrived promptly at the designated 6pm start time hoping to have a chance to view the assembled masterpieces before crowds decended en mass. Good idea but the gallery was packed from the get go.

The show featured the excellent work of Roy Berkowitz (double color image seen here), Michael Emery, and Aline Smithson

I've admired the work of Tinker Green for several years. Using the very tiny self-portrait he uses as an icon on Flickr I was able to recognize Tinker and have a very pleasant conversation about our mutual interest in toy camera photography. Tinker has his work in the show too.

The variety of display choices and image innovation was enough to spend far more time digesting than the crowded gallery would permit.

A few of the compelling images of Aline Smithson line the bottom of this photo and Miles Mattison goes big on top.

Flickr pal Ann Texter scores a hit with this well known image.

Long time toy camera photographer Gordon Stettinius makes an appearance.

And then way in the back, well away from the frothy crowd surrounding the wine table, the remaining photos were to be found, including my panorama called Cantor Steps.

Monday, February 23, 2009

the guppy

This very unusual aircraft is confusing from any angle--seen head-on probably makes it even more-so. Called the Super Guppy or the Pregnant Guppy, the plane was designed to carry outsized cargo. The only one left in service is used by NASA to carry parts for the international space station. This particular one is non functioning and is at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

One of the choices I have when taking a picture is whether to make the subject matter clearer or more obscure. Obscurity allows people to consider various meanings for subject matter they would not be familiar with. Obscurity allows for wonder and imagination. Clarity generally has the opposite effect. Aircraft aficionado's typically would prefer clairity. I am not one of those.

Enigmatic art (another way of saying obscure) seems to be mostly a product of modernity. Okay, I haven't done any research about that--it's just an assumption. I have a hunch that it comes from the desire to undermine the desire for knowledge and certainty that comes with the rationalist world view. For centuries art, painting, photography--the visual arts--have been put work in service of explanation. As various methods of explaining ourselves have proliferated, we increasingly take the tools of explanation in other directions.

Here's the sideview that allows you to figure out the function a bit more clearly.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Pantheon, Roma

Last May I visited Rome for the first time. Before going I began having ideas about places I wanted to photograph--including the Pantheon. Once there it is easy to see why the Pantheon gets lots of attention. It is a very imposing. But that's also part of the photographic problem: It's nearly impossible to take a shot that doesn't diminish it. And, since I planned to do the job with a toy camera, it seemed rather foolish to try for the grand shot. But then I noticed how the hole in the center of its dome directed light across a few columns.

This snapshot gives a sense of how that appeared.

And this awareness of what unique about that slice of time caused me to rethink the problem. By shooting a series of overlapping exposures with the Holga camera I could multiply the effect. Readers may already know that the Holga doesn't automatically stop when you wind film to the next frame. In fact it willingly lets the user shoot over a previous shot. Using this technique I was able to shoot a couple rolls this way. Of course it's nearly impossible to know whether any of it will be worthwhile until after the film is developed.

My version of the Pantheon will be displayed in Krappy Kamera XI at the Soho Photo Gallery in New York from March 3rd to April 4th 2009.