Great-grandmother Lucy’s dress

June 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

I found this dress in my parents’ house. This note, which is pinned to it, is in my mother’s handwriting.

“My great-grandmother, Lucy A. Johnson Wilkins (1816-1893), had this brown dress. She lived in Weston, Vermont, in the white house opposite the present library. A painting on the wall of the Weston Historical Society’s living room shows the house, built by and for Matthew Wilkins.

“My mother, Marion Chapin Wilkins, wore it for the Klondike Ball in Bridgton, Maine, ca. 1948 and again at the Bridgton Bicentennial in 1968. ”

–Dorothy Chapin Wilkins Sanborn, May 6, 1980

Photographed with an Olympus E-PL1 and a Lens Baby Composer.

Summer solstice

June 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

As a photographer, I’m always thinking about dark and light. There’s no better time than the solstice–summer or winter–to think about how they intertwine with each other in our seasons, our lives, and our photographs. It’s summer now, and the light in this part of the world is at its greatest strength. But the darkness is also here, mixed in and waiting its turn.

Night flower

June 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

lily

I spent most of the evening watching “Funny Face (see yesterday’s post), but wanted to take at least a few pictures before the end of the day. Fortunately, there were flowers around the house.

Taken with an Olympus E-PL1 and a Lens Baby Composer.

“doing something related to photography”

June 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

“If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up.”

–Richard Avedon

OK, it’s just silverware in the kitchen sink. But keeping a camera close by means that I can do “something related to photography” almost every day, even when cleaning up after dinner!

Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was one of the top fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th century. In 1947, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar sent him to Paris to photograph French fashion just as it was beginning to emerge from the war. Avedon was among the first fashion photographers to take the models out of the studio and into the street. Before that time, fashion photography was mostly done with large, tripod-mounted cameras and banks of lights, which meant that the poses tended to be quite stiff. But after the war, smaller cameras meant that both the photographer and the model could move around and not be confined to the studio. Avedon showed women in motion, exploring Paris, being active and engaged with the world. You can see all of this taking place in the movie “Funny Face,” which is modeled on Avedon’s experience in Paris (although I’m pretty sure he didn’t dance like Fred Astaire!). At the beginning of the film, the Avedon/Astaire character is using huge cameras. By the end, he and his models are moving freely, using Paris as a backdrop for a new kind of photography that expressed the freshness and optimism of the postwar years.

Panasonic FZ35

A modest camera

June 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve been looking at photographs from three or four years ago and find that many of the ones I like were taken with a Panasonic LZ3 that I bought for cheap in 2007 at one of the office warehouse stores. Although it got good reviews when it came out, it certainly has never been among the industry-leading hot cameras. But there was something about it that encouraged me to experiment, and the result was that I took lots of pictures I still like. At about the same time, I bought a Nikon D80, which was hugely more expensive and that deservedly has a much higher reputation. But it’s a bit sobering to note that a lot of the pictures I took with it seem quite boring now. Certainly the D80 is a marvelous camera and the LZ3 can’t be compared to it. But still, one worked for me at the time and the other didn’t. I think the difference was that the Panasonic was small and inexpensive and I didn’t worry much about it. I could shove it in my pocket or toss it into a backpack, and I took it everywhere. Also, I didn’t think I had to  “make art” when I was using it, although as it turns out I probably did, more so than with the bigger, more expensive camera that I only used for “serious work” on special occasions. Both the D80 and the LZ3 are gone now, swept away on the restless tide of camera upgrading that has happened to so many photographers with the coming of the digital age. But this was one camera that really encouraged me to work. Here are a few shots I like from the LZ3.

orange x

red in lines

tear

spiral

construction. abstraction.

June 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

wrapped blocks

taped

87 in blue

Now that summer is here and the students have gone home, repair work has started on some of the campus buildings. This is from a site where they’re fixing the roof of one of the dormitories.

Panasonic ZS3, normal setting

Keychain camera

June 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

blossoms

Taken with an Innovage Mini Digital Camera, which costs $18 on Amazon. The camera is about as cheap and low-tech as you can get, with many, many technical flaws. Still, I like the picture.

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