Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Jim Grey's New Book, Textures of Ireland

Our mail usually arrives around the cocktail hour, providing an opportunity to sit back and leisurely concentrate on seeing what has been delivered.  Unfortunately, our mailbox is most often stuffed with junk mail which gets tossed without opening.  Then, I will sit down in front of the tv and the drink I have made will help a little bit to dull the jagged edges of the daily news.
Tuesday was a different story.  The mailman left a package on our front steps too big for the box.  I could tell immediately by the size and flat shape that it was a book I had been looking forward to: Jim Grey's latest, entitled Textures of Ireland.

So, there being no Guinness in the refrigerator, I mixed myself a Manhattan and sat down to enjoy Jim's new book, this one a travelogue of a journey to Ireland by Jim and his wife, Margaret.  The book's cover offers the perfect entry point to the narrative, a lusciously textured and toned image of the open front doors of Kylemore Abbey in Galway.  Jim's first book focused on a favorite camera, the images it makes and extensive explanations of the process of using the Pentax ME.  This new book about the Emerald Isle mostly lets the pictures speak for themselves.  There is an introduction in which the technical considerations are given their proper due.  Jim says he made a very large number of color images with his digital camera on the trip, but all the pictures in the book were produced by his Nikon N2000 loaded with Kodak's black and white T-MAX 400 film.  That seems an excellent combination to portray the rugged cliff-bordered coasts, quiet bays, quaint towns and ancient abbeys encountered on the tour which went through Portrush, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ardara, Killy bes, Sligo, Ballinrobe, Clifden, Oughterard and Barna.

One thing I have particularly enjoyed about both of Jim's books is the fact that they closely resemble the style and content of his photography blog, Down the Road.  The difference, of course, being that one can enjoy the high quality images on paper without the size limitations and unpredictable variability of any on line presentation.  Whether displayed on paper or on a screen, however, Jim's stories are always first rate, reflecting his dedication to achieving ever more mastery of image making and narration. Especially appreciated by me is that every blog post in Down the Road is fashioned by Jim to contribute to creating and sustaining a community of peers with a passion for photography.

The book, Textures of Ireland, is available on the Blurb publishing site where there is also a generous on line preview available.  Jim, himself, also distributes the book directly in pdf format at a reduced price.  He can be contacted through the email form in the About Page of his blog.

Monday, November 12, 2018

From one extreme to another

I spent time this week shooting two very different cameras.  I have made more pictures with my Vivitar Ultra-Wide and Slim than with the others in my camera collection with only a couple exceptions.  The little plastic point-and-shoot probably doesn't weigh an ounce.  It has no adjustments for speed or aperture, and a sharp two-element lens with a 22mm focal length that catches a finger a couple times in each roll of film.  The exposure latitude of modern color films like Fuji 200 makes the camera a lot more versatile in regard to varying light conditions than might at first be imagined.

The Kodak Monitor Six-20 was the end of the line for the company's medium format folding cameras that lasted over half a century.  It is the most capable of its type with auto frame advance, double-exposure prevention and a parallax correcting view finder.  My example has a very reliable Supermatic shutter with a 1/400 top speed and a coated four-element f4.5 Anastigmat Special lens.

100% at 1200 dpi

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Cate and Roxy

My old Nikon F2 came with a highly regarded Nikon 105mm lens, but I thought I might not be able to use it on my Nikon FE because the lens had an old-style mount.  However, I found a little button on the camera mount that let me flip the little meter coupling tab out of the way.  You can then mount the lens and manually adjust the shutter and aperture, and the dof preview button can be used for stop-down metering.  I'm looking forward to getting to know this lens better.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Parade Gloss

I carried along my Olympus XA to the Marigold Parade loaded with Kodak Gold 200.  The rangefinder image is lacking in contrast, so this was not the best choice for shooting in a very fluid environment.  Still, the camera always turns in nice images and I was happy enough with the results.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018


I have to confess that one of the main reasons I like to attend the yearly Day of the Dead Marigold Parade in Albuquerque's South Valley is the excuse it gives me to shoot some Kodak Tri-X.  It seems a film ideally suited to this sort of event. I'm always surprised by the fine grain of this fast film which looks good even in big enlargements.  Tri-X responds well to HC110 development, with good contrast and wide latitude which captures detail in shadows and highlights.  It is also pretty economical; the 24-exposure cartridges are just $4.49, and for a dollar more you get 36 at B&H.  I shot two rolls of Tri-X this year in a Pentax ME Super with the SMC Pentax-A f:2.8/135mm.

Friday, November 02, 2018


I used to shoot a lot of Kodak's chromogenic black and white film.  I liked it for its fine grain and wide exposure latitude.  Kodak discontinued the film a couple years ago, much to my regret.  I decided to try a couple of rolls of Ilford XP2 400 Super to see how it compares to Kodak's film.  The XP2 turned out to be quite a different beast.

The first roll of XP2 I shot had very dull tonality, so I decided to shoot this one a stop slower than box speed, which is what most people seem to do.  That ended up giving me some nicer tonality, but it took quite a bit of adjustment in PhotoShop to get near to what I wanted.

I arrived at the enclosure housing this little bobcat at the same time as the keeper.  He sat down on a stump, tapped his knee and the cat jumped into his lap for pets and scratches.  The keeper explained that the bobcat had been raised as a pet before ending up at the zoo.

On the way out of the zoo I shot the last frame at the 400 box speed.  It seemed pretty good to me in regard to tonality and required little adjustment.  I'm going to withhold judgment about this film for now.  I'll try another round some time to see if I can sort out the variables a bit better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Twin Trouble

I took my Yashica-Mat twin-lens reflex to Chaco about a year ago hoping to do some pictures of the ruins, but the film advance jammed on the first shot.  I tried another roll recently on a walk through Albuquerque's Old Town and found that it still has a problem with the shutter release and the film advance.  I was able to get past the problem with some jiggling of the focus control, but a good cleaning and adjustment is clearly called for.  I found a good service guide on the web, so will try to motivate myself to tackle the job some time in the future.  I have several good tlr cameras in addition to the Yashica-Mat, but the Lumaxar lens on the Yashica is a stellar performer.