Saturday, October 12, 2019

A few scenes from Nashville

Well, heck. It only took a few weeks to get totally sidetracked from posting on this blog. So, back in the habit with a quick and dirty peek at the few days I spent in Nashville last week.

I took a pass on the heavy tourist zone on and near Broadway. I spent a few free hours in the Musicians Hall of Fame and it just blew me away.

 This museum is focused on studios and musicians that created our soundscape. The few photos here don't do it justice. Jimi Hendrix has his own section with artifacts including a drum kit, guitar and outfits.

 Shall we bump up the volume to ear shattering?

 The last thing you see on the way out is a Roy Orbison section. This is just a small part of it.

 I absolutely loved the Enactron mobile studio trailer that now lives in the museum. Visitors get to walk through and get a glimpse at how recordings are made. After a number of years on the road, it was parked in the yard of the owner's home and continued on as a fixed studio.

 The mixing board and preamp live in the middle of the trailer.

 Can you imagine Dolly Parton and Rosanne Cash recording in this space?

 You know how audio fetishists get all wound up about analog and warm sounding amplifiers? Here's a reminder of the kind of equipment that was used to process music before the pure digital era.

 My nerdy stereo loving heart went pitter pat on seeing this stack.

Here are a few artists that recorded in this space.

And how about the pianos that contributed to the sound of David Bowie and Elton John albums? Mind blown.

Captain Fantastic is one of my top twenty favorite albums of all time.

Too much to share here. I hope you make this museum a Nashville destination.

Next up: Hatch Show Print. This shop has been making show posters for over 140 years. The gallery space in front featured a visiting artist that dove into the collection of wood blocks and added some twists of his own.

 Yes, the visiting artist created this amazing take on the Ramones.

 The Hatch work space is visible through a glass wall. The technology is delightfully analog.

A sampling of the prints available in the store.

In my last full day, I had an hour to spare and took a walk to Third Man Records. The brand aesthetic is incredibly strong in this store.

 Vinyl is forever, y'all.

And then it was time to go home. Southwest is a quick direct flight from Kansas City. I love what they do for Halloween. It helps take the drudgery out of travel. The Nashville airport is a pretty decent place to spend time. The Burger King even has Impossible Whoppers.

 Adios, Nashville!

These photos were captured with a Google Pixel 2. It's a very good travel companion.

As always, thanks for reading!

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.