I'm dreaming still of who we were.
"He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood." – E. M. Forster

Archive for the 'Photography' category

Compact rangefinders, P+S and SLR cameras.

Wednesday, 4 August 2004

The immortality of Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of my favorite photographers and one of the founders of Magnum (along with Robert Capa, David Seymour and George Rodger), died on Tuesday. The legacy of his art ensures the longetivity of his memory — as evidenced by the fact that, although he had given up photography years ago, his name and work are still revered.

   » "Cartier Bresson, Artist Who Used Lens, Dies at 95" by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times
(Reg req’d, or use BugMeNot, but the article is well worth reading, even if you’re not a photographer but generally interested in history, art or media.)

A quote from Kimmelman’s article:

[Cartier-Bresson] studied English literature and art at Cambridge University, then in 1930 was inducted into the French Army. He was stationed at Le Bourget, near Paris. "And I had quite a hard time of it, too," he remembered, "because I was toting Joyce under my arm and a Lebel rifle on my shoulder."

The Magnum home page has links to Cartier-Bresson images. There’s also an online version of the Magnum exhibition that’s in Germany until 15 August:
   » The Man, the Image & the World – A Retrospective by Henri Cartier-Bresson (592 pictures)

Posted at 10:14 pm | Filed under Photography |  

Tuesday, 25 February 2003

FED fun

A few weeks ago a friend let me borrow his FED 5 camera when he heard I was into photography. Apparently he’d had it around but never used it. I’d read about old Soviet/Russian rangefinders but hadn’t actually held one. So here was my chance to see one up close.

Before I get into details, let me first say that the Internet is awesome. I learned so much about this camera from various sites. My favorite one about FEDs turned out to be the rangefinders section of Matt’s Cameras. Wonderful site, especially for classic rangefinder enthusiasts like myself. I also loved the section on folders (don’t have a folder yet but maybe someday a Kodak Retina I…). I also got some very helpful tips and suggestions from a RF list, especially from one guy in particular (I’ll call him RFguy), who helped me solve most of the problems I encountered with the camera.

The camera itself was/is pretty clean, with the case in good condition as well. This is a FED 5, not a 5b or 5c. First thing I noticed about this one: the rangefinder wasn’t working. Turns out that the arm had gotten stuck and turning the focusing ring on the lens didn’t do anything. So thanks to a tip from the RF list, I simply removed the lens, wiggled the arm and it popped out. This seems to be a common problem (i.e. the arm getting stuck) because I’ve had to pull it out every so often.

Other noticeable problems: the rangefinger wasn’t aligned correctly — both vertically and horizontally; the pressure plate was scratched; there were no foam or felt light seals. Otherwise everything seemed fine: shutter fired at all speeds, film winder worked smoothly, self-timer was functional, even the selenium meter was operational. The Industar-61 L/D lens looked very clean.

Adjusting the rangefinger was the toughest part. I had a lot of trouble opening the front panel, but apparently all I needed was to pry the thing open with a fingernail. I had been too careful in not wanting to scratch or somehow move the viewfinder glass…but it’s more secure than it looks. The collar around the rangefinger window was just as secure, because after removing the plate, I couldn’t turn it to correct azimuth. It just wouldn’t budge, no matter what tool I tried. So thanks to RFguy’s suggestion I dug out a pair of small scissors from a portable first aid kit. The ends of the scissor points weren’t even — one was a bit too large to fit into the ring, but after a few misses, I was able to successfully turn the ring loose of the paint and adjust azimuth! Let me say, this was my first time working on camera repairs and it’s kind of scary poking around a rangfinder window with scissors! Certainly, being careful is key. The horizontal correction was a piece of cake, since the screw for that is easily accessible.

I worked on the light seals earlier today. I wasn’t sure there would be light leaks but with the whole removeable back coming off the way it does, it wouldn’t surprise me if the camera leaked. I could have put some film in it, left the camera in bright light and then checked for light contamination, but I figured I’d just be cautious and install some foam anyway. All it took was a couple of thin strips of 2mm-thick black foam (available in 9″ x 12″ sheets from any crafts store and some drug stores). I just used a metal straight-edge, scissors, a metal-tipped mechanical pencil (with the lead recessed) and a stick of acid-free glue. The only strip of foam I had to glue was for the bottom of the camera back — everything else (both side-edges of the camera and the alley running above the shutter curtain on the camera body) I just nudged into place using the pencil tip. Reattaching the back is a much tighter squeeze now, but it’s still fairly easy to lock into place.

As for the scratched pressure plate: it was a long jagged scratch running down the plate. On a whim, I rolled up a piece of leftover foam strip and tried cleaning the entire plate. It took a little while, but I was able to buff out the scratch! Now the plate is much smoother with only faint signs of the scratch.

So, a roll of Superia is now in the camera and I hope to get the test roll finished soon. The flash sync/hotshoe works fine. Still need to test all apertures and shutter speeds. Hoping for: no light leaks, accurate rangefinder and proof of what’s supposed to be a great lens. Even if there are still problems, at least I’ve learned a bit about simple camera mods.

– Some history on FED cameras: check out Jim Blazik’s site (includes Zorki cameras and other Soviet RF info).

Posted at 9:46 pm | Filed under Favorite posts, Photography |  

Tuesday, 3 September 2002

Let’s go fly a camera

Last night, I found this treasure trove of kite aerial photography by Charles C. Benton, after seeing one of his photos featured as the "Photo of the Week" on I highly recommend checking out his site, even if you’re not a photographer. Everyone likes pictures, right? Well, there are some stunners in this lot.

Posted at 3:53 pm | Filed under Photography |  

Wednesday, 14 March 2001

Latest news

     Hey there. Wow, it’s been over a month since the last update! How did that happen? 🙂 It rained felines and canines for a while (with some awesome hail and lightning/thunderstorms to round out the madness), then there was a respite for a few days, rained again, repeat cycle 2x…now we seem to be in sunny/cloudy/rain-free weather. Latest goings-on: Still swamped with projects, and I dearly miss playing guitar and recording some new stuff that I’ve wanted to work on. Soon, I hope…

     Good news (for me, anyway) since the last time I wrote: I’m going to see David Gray perform! (A big thanks again to Jay for picking up the tickets.) 🙂 I’m really looking forward to the show. I know that DG postponed his European tour because of an illness in the family, so I hope that by the time May rolls around things will look better and that he and his family will be in good spirits. I also heard an interesting interview/live performance (taped in January) of him on Ground Zero with Chris Douridas over the weekend, where he played three unreleased — and I think still unrecorded — songs. Now, if you don’t know who David Gray is, then (1) you haven’t talked to me recently, (2) it’s either your first time reading my plan here (welcome!), (3) you did read my previous plan(s) but managed to block out my DG raves or (4) you did talk to me but managed to block out my DG raves (hmm…). 😉

     Music of the moment: David Gray and Richard Buckner still claim two spots in my my CD player but I have changed three discs since the last update. I’m sure that by this time next month there will be at least another CD change; DG’s wonderful acoustic album Lost Songs will finally be released in the U.S. on April 17th! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy. 🙂

     And last thing: I finally got a cable release for my camera. Yay! I haven’t gotten a chance to try it out on some nice long 3-minute exposures though. Maybe I’ll wait a week or so when the moon isn’t so full, to be able to get some good star shots.

     Quote for the time being: "[When] a guy reaches for his wallet and pulls out the periodic table, you know you’re in for a good night." — Michael Feldman, commenting on his guest, geology professor John Valley (Whad’ya
, 13 January 2001).

Friday, 19 January 2001

Gray, Buckner, guitar strings & night skies

Not a whole lot of new developments since a few weeks ago. I’m still really into the music of David Gray and Richard Buckner, and my CD player still has the same discs in it as the last time I wrote.

I know that I’ve been mentioning Mr Gray quite a bit within the past couple of months, and a lot of my friends aren’t familiar with him. So in case you’re not either, you might try catching this week’s Austin City Limits on PBS. ACL is an hour-long show featuring live music, and usually is split up into two half-hour segments (each segment showcasing a certain artist’s performance). So if you’d like to hear/see David Gray and finally find out what I’ve been raving about, please try to tune in. If you’re in the Los Angeles basin, you can either tape/watch ACL with Mr Gray this Saturday night (20 January) at 12:45 a.m. (yeah, technically it’s Sunday, the morning of the 21st). His set includes six songs, including "Babylon," which is probably his most popular song in the U.S. right now. He performed a condensed version of the song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn earlier this week (and yes, I saw him both times). Anyway if you’re not familiar with ACL and aren’t sure when it’s on in your area, you can find out the exact time/date on the Austin City Limits site.

Other news… Well, I was de-tuning my guitar from standard to DADGAD a couple of days ago and my first E string decided to break. I must say that the sound of a string breaking is never pleasant, and almost always unexpected. I think I’m going to try to devote my classical for alternate tunings and my steel-stringed for standard (but a half-step down) tuning to try and avoid more de-tuning string breakage, since it’s not the first time that happened. But nylon strings just don’t sound the same, and sometimes steel just sounds more appropriate, e.g. when I was practicing a Nick Drake tune, the steel just sounded better. Anyway. Sorry for rambling.

Earlier in the month, on kind of a whim, I signed up for one of those free Barnes & Noble information sessions. I prefer to say that than "courses" because they’re not exactly what I’d call courses, and I definitely think the whole "university" name is just wrong. In any case, I’m taking "The Night Sky: An Introduction to Astronomy." It’s a month long and we’re almost three weeks down. I only bought one of the (two) books recommended for the session, but just reading that plus the online lessons are actually pretty helpful for such a newbie like me. I’ve wanted to learn more about astronomy for a while now, and thought that the free session might be fun, or at least a good starting place. So far it’s been interesting, and the lessons are directed toward complete newbies like myself so I don’t feel overwhelmed. Plus, getting involved with the info session has also re-sparked my interest in photography (using an SLR camera), especially in photographing stars. We’ll see how that progresses.

See you later. Hope everyone’s 2001 is getting off to a good start!