Monday, September 2, 2019

Greaserama 2019 through a classic cinema lens: Part 1

Note: I'm breaking this post into multiple part so I don't run into the the perfectionist trap and never get it published. I have too many drafts already.

The staying power of the Kansas City area Greaserama car show is impressive. The original founder passed away several years ago and a network of area car clubs just keep making it bigger and better, year after year. I spent a good portion of Labor Day weekend Saturday at the Platte County Fairgrounds and wandered with a Fujifilm X-H1 and a variety of vintage lenses.

Yes, I had even more lenses in the trunk. I picked four to carry and experiment with.

I vacillated between adapted Olympus PEN F and Pentax AR lenses and wasn't happy with the output on a cloudy day with on and off spitting rain. Then I tried the Taylor Hobson Cooke Ivotal 50mm f1.4 and fell in love with the previews.

Photographic perfection on a cloudy day would have been really boring.

For the sake of clarity, I'll just share out of camera images. Color and contrast are tough in deep cloud cover and aesthetic choices are personal by nature. The slightly funky bokeh is partly due to the classic Cooke triplet design and partly because the lens was designed for a smaller 16mm frame. It's a C mount with a larger than average rear element.

More than you ever wanted to know about Cooke triplets:

Patent information:

This early '50s lens came off a 16mm camera that was stored badly for decades. The old lube was so gummy that is was almost seized up. Fortunately, it was designed well and easy to tear down for a basic relube. I love the feeling of old-school brass and glass.
The triplet design patent is fascinating. Imagine thinking through how to bend light properly in an era where glass was shaped and polished by hand.

Honestly, 50mm is a bit long on an APS-C sensor when attempting to shoot large objects. That and a really shallow DoF make the process a labor of love. There are mistakes and I would not trade them for modern autofocus perfection at a vintage car show.

The Dirty Shame Saloon is a converted chicken display barn.
Cruising the perimeter dirt roads is an honorable pastime at Greaserama. It's also really hard to shoot manual focus. The old ways are still good ways.

At 70mm equivalent, life comes at you fast.
Earlier in the day, I shot a collegiate cross country meet. That's a venue where perfection counts and autofocus is my friend. I used the well-loved/abused X-T2 for that. There's no way to get accurate shutter actuation counts on Fujifilm cameras, but it's way over 200,000 after multiple events, street photography walks, cross country, and track and field meets. The X-H1 has great focusing aids and the leveling indicator is more reliable than that on X-T2. I know the sensor stabilizer has saved more than a few marginal shots.

One of the things I love about Greaserama is that people as old as me or older are just doing their thing. I started going grey quite awhile back and have taken to wearing a cap whenever I am at youth oriented street events. I ran into a couple we knew at church. I had no idea they were part of a car club. I could get used to this lifestyle.

Bike cruising has always been a thing at Greaserama. The background swirl is very dependent on distance to object and background. This is at f2.0

Teach your children well. Seriously, they were cruising at 5 MPH or so.
Back before the death of G+, I kept a collection of artist at work images. I met one of the pinstripers who has a great Instagram feed and had fun learning a little about his craft. Get this: the top of his toolbox is his palette and has layer upon layer of paint on top. His personal car is practically dipped in paint.

Neko Lynn's personal ride


A steady hand and untold hours of practice


The build on this rat rod is truly amazing. The dashboard was a work of art.

It's solitary work. So is photography.
That's it for tonight. The next entry will likely focus on capturing some of the musicians performing in the Dirty Shame Saloon. As always, thanks for reading.

Yes, this circa 2008 lens carrier makes me happy every time I look at it.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Happy World Photography Day!

It's nice to have an excuse to blog and I need to keep myself honest. For any photographers that come across this entry, thanks for inspiring and sharing your work. It's a cold, cruel digital world for those of us who have not achieved Influencer status. Know that your things may still appear in Google search and will be appreciated by people that never get around to clicking or commenting.

Kansas City First Friday - July, 2019

And you know what? Your photos don't have to be perfect to matter. I've taken to using old, manual focus lenses on Fujifilm gear. Sometimes the focus isn't quite right and the image still tells a story.

Kansas City First Friday - July, 2019

In 2018, people captured roughly 1,200,000,000,000 (yes, trillion+) digital images. I'm not trying to be a nihilist, but it's a miracle if anyone sees your photos but you. So why not just live life and play with light?

Kansas City Maker Faire - June, 2019
If you happen to find this post and have gotten this far, thanks for helping keep Blogger a viable platform. We need digital commons with some semblance of continuity. If you love photography and are really excited about things you have seen and images you have captured, I'd love to read your comments. That's what really matters in a disposable digital world.

Kansas City Maker Faire - June, 2019

Sunday, August 11, 2019

What a year...

It is time again to blog into the infinite void that is the Interwebs. It's been almost a year since I have given this place some love. In that time, Spawn the Younger started and completed her first year in college, Google+ died, Facebook had a dozen or so scandals, and Twitter became an even worse cesspool. So here I am.

Honestly, I wasn't sure about using this space again after Google abandoned the G+ project. What's to keep them from shutting down Blogger at random? I don't know the answer, but the content has to go somewhere and that somewhere is definitely not Facebook.

Anyway, let's test out integration with Google Photos. Remember when that was all on Drive and that was integrated with G+ and Picasa? Good times. Let's pull a photo or two...

Okay, this is a very good sign. I was able to select an image from a Google Photos album or one that had been imported to Google Photos from my phone. In this case, I had downloaded images from the Fujifilm X-H1.  My love of vintage glass continues, unabated. Lately, I have been nerding out on fast glass. This is as captured with an Olympus PEN F 42mm f1.2. With selective focus, who needs elaborate lighting or a proper set?

The desk is an absolute mess. My recent glass fetish involves adapting lenses from 16mm and 8mm film cameras for use with the Fuji, a Pentax Q, or Nikon V3. Most of them are from the 1940s - 1960s and have old, gummed up lubricant. I've been doing a lot of lens surgery to take out gunk and put in brand new helical lube imported from Japan.

This beast shines with a Fuji sensor and processing. It's a C-mount Cooke Ivotal 50mm f1.4 from the early 1950s. It was almost seized up. With fresh lube, it was my walk around lens for street photography at the August First Fridays in the Kansas City Crossroads. Here are some out-of-camera samples. Yes, I want all of you to lust after old glass. After all, what modern camera equipment would be usable sixty years from now?

Want a cinematic look? Cinema camera glass is just the thing you need.

Yes, I am in love with this lens.

There's a story behind this photo. Stop here if you don't want to read a short story and a mini-rant.

Last weekend, America was on edge after another couple assault weapon slaughters by angry, young men. At around 10:00 PM, a series of fast shots rang out in the KC Crossroads among the huge First Fridays food truck crowd. I was up the street - downloading images from the Fuji to my phone - when people came screaming up 18th Street. I wasn't going to be the last person visible and we all just assumed it was a mass shooter with an assault rifle since that's the American brand nowadays.

So run I did. No photos or video. I am serious about street photography, but not serious enough to be shot. I turned out to be an angry young man with a 9mm that he emptied into a crowd at random to make a point to the rival kids who were running the other way. A 25-year-old woman was killed. And after almost 15-years, First Fridays is now an ominous thing.

Enough is enough, ya'll. The Crossroads I know is so civilized that two police officers can calmly tell a mobile DJ that it's time to break up a street party and a few hundred people just cooperate. (Photos from 2015). Anyway, we're all better than what this country is becoming.

Thanks for dropping by. The Internet is vast and most of us are just tossing bytes into the void. I genuinely appreciate your time and will continue to post here until the lights go off at Blogger.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Vintage Cars Through a Vintage Lens

"I'm not dead yet!" this blog, probably.

I have been AWOL for longer than I had recalled. Dang, the last post was from late 2016. Much has happened since then. Spawn the Younger has since graduated from high school after much success in Cross Country and distance Track events. She and her team broke every one of the girl's distance records at their high school in her last season. We went through the long and drawn out recruiting process (which will be blogged to help other distance runner parents) and tomorrow she is running her first collegiate meet with the NCAA DI UMKC Kangaroos.
Not a car. This is 3/4 a a Kansas State championship 4x800 team. The bouncy one is now a Kangaroo.
Yes, the last few years have been a blur. The blog needs to be brought back among the living since Facebook is a dumpster fire, Twitter is a burning dumpster sharknado, Instagram is getting spammed by Facebook, and G+ appears to have little to no engagement on photos posted there. Seriously, I get tons of engagement by posting decent photos on Google maps location reviews, but not on one of the last non-trolly social media destinations.

That's the long way around to the topic of the day. Several years ago, I made the switch to mirrorless camera bodies and fell in love with Fujifilm products. Mirrorless bodies like the Fuji X-T2 can be fitted with most lenses made in the last 70-years with relatively cheap adapters. The photos in this entry are out-of-camera using a 1960s era Olympus PEN F 20mm f3.5 lens.

The subjects were in seen at the Kansas City Great American Car Show, hosted on the Liberty Memorial grounds. There were a few garage queens, but for the most part it featured enthusiast grade and daily driver vehicles. Just super chill and pleasant.

Why use a vintage lens? Well, I'm lazy when it comes to post-processing. I do some PP with Snapseed, but beyond that I am bored with spending all my time behind a screen. I enjoy the natural rendering of a lens that delivers a period look on demand.

The Olympus PEN F/FT system was built to shoot on a 1/2 standard 35mm film frame. Conveniently, that's about the same size as a cropped, digital sensor. In theory, the Fuji X-T2 is using the lens as it was intended.

The system has some truly amazing glass, including the 40mm f1.4 that I often take on light travel excursions. The 20mm is kind of a mess. But it's a good mess with vignetting and out-of-focus areas one expects from a certain era. It's really soft under heavy clouds with a different character in hard daylight.

This car show is the second coming of the now defunct Art of the Car Conquers. Nothing lasts forever and that show took many volunteer hours to maintain. I hope to see that caliber of a show again, but enjoyed hanging out with people that drove their cars to this show.

Also not a car. Shhh... please don't hurt its feelings.

Which begs the question: could I become one of those guys that takes an interesting car to shows and drive-in nights? Maybe. But not until our adorable spawn are on their own and we have more room on the driveway. I recently came really close to buying a beautiful BMW E36 M3 sedan. I decided it would be a not-so-great daily commute vehicle and opted for a 2016 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid in the end. Luxury car depreciation is a minor miracle for used car buyers.

Vintage lenses are small, portable and fun. They take up a lot less space than a car. I am a car guy and love playing under a hood, but that kind of toy will have to wait. My hope is when I have the space and time that I can find the Datsun 280z of my dreams. I love pretty much everything about the 240z and 280z. They even have enough leg room for a six-foot tall guy. I can't say the same for old Fiats or the Mazda Miata.

This post is something of a beta test. Google profoundly screwed up their old photo catalog system when they dissolved the first iteration of G+. My Google Photos uploads are now working great in Blogger on a pure Android Pixel Book. I'll watch metrics on this compared to G+ posts. Likes and comments are free and appreciated by anyone in any social media space. I have to pick where to scream into the Internet void and appreciate the time you have spent on this humble blog.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Journey of the IKEA Shark

Around Christmas time, my Younger Spawn became enamored and obsessed with stuffed sharks from IKEA. For the record, they are cuddly and adorable!

As time went on, I realized the the lack of IKEA sharks would haunt her. Worse yet, she would haunt me. Holding a grudge is a genetic predisposition. The depth of obsession went to the point where she stated that winning Powerball would mean being able to acquire the IKEA sharks. As in all of the IKEA sharks, anywhere in the world.
Wants ALL of the freaking IKEA sharks. This is the look of madness.
Obsession - coupled with eternal grudging - is not a good combination. Besides, all she has to do is make bunny eyes at me and I am utterly defenseless. I am a weak parental unit.

I remedied the situation last weekend and adopted a shark to surprise her. This is the journey of the IKEA shark.

Checkout time.
Once liberated, the shark took care of a seafood craving.
And found an exit. Did you know IKEA sharks can read? 36 in language on the ACT, but not so good with math.
Sharks love conveyors. Just sayin'.
And technology. IKEA sharks love technology!
Goodbye, IKEA store!
The poor Costco shoppers just had no idea ;-)
Um, pizza guy? Or perhaps 'Land Shark'.
The fifteen-year-olds' face lit up like Christmas morning when she found the shark patiently stalking waiting in the back of the Volt. She'll have to find another excuse to make me miserable ;-)

IBM Electromatic Sighting

I had to share this beast seen in the wilds of an antique mall. Other than a stuck "z", it appears to work fine and badly needs a new power cord. It wheezes and chugs and smells vaguely of ozone with its open armature motor design. Unfortunately, I could not find a serial number to accurately date it.

The typeface is a simplified sans in all caps. It didn't appear to be a Ham mill. Such an interesting machine, but I have no space for it.

I keep seeing silly descriptions for old machines. They are all steampunk. I would be interested in seeing this with all of the sheet metal removed. Below is the closest thing I could find to a serial number. The motor was serviced in the 1950s. Again, such an interesting critter. Must resist...