Posted by: David | March 10, 2008

Old Photography

You’ve probably noticed the imagery changing around here lately. It’s become kinda black and white. For me, and I think it IS all about me, it’s been a delightfully non-gloomy nostalgia. I’ve been scanning negatives and slides from my salad days. I think I’m still having salad days.

webnyc73.jpg
New York City street in 1973. The sign says NO this & NO that …

These images mean a lot to me, for many reasons. They represent what I’ve always thought to be my very best efforts at the craft of 35mm black and white photography. I still remember the serial number of my Leica: 725202. I wonder where that wonderful little camera is today?

webhhs674.jpg
I had a Leica III-f rangefinder with a Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. That’s my high school behind me. 1973

webjan75brynmawr.jpg
January 1975, a little snow in Bryn Mawr, PA.

pacificsunset2.jpg
A sunset on the Oregon coast February 1977.

I started with my father’s Rolleiflex when I was like 12 or 13. Darkrooms in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, closets. It was my first real hobby. That Rollei got traded in and the Leica was my first 35mm. I left for college in Oregon with a Nikon F2 and a few lenses. I left Reed College- twice. The second time really took. My Nikon got traded for a piano. Sorta. A really cool old player piano with an oval beveled glass window. Anyway, there have been many cameras over the years. But not enough pianos. I’d like more pianos. Please.

piano.jpg
The only picture (badly scratched negative) of the cool piano with a window.

For a time I entertained the notion that I could actually make a living with photography. It never panned out. My short stint at a commercial photography studio was the only job I’ve ever been fired from. It was more of a “quitfire” really. I was mentally done with the job and wanted out right away, no notice, and the boss disgustedly told me to “beat it”.

evesrightfoot.jpg
Pacific coast again. Oregon was SO beautiful!

That marked the beginning of my life’s most wanderous period. It was a brief phase, but took me as far west as Maui, then back east, via Los Angeles and Connecticut, to New Hampshire, where I’ve been since the Bicentennial!! And since I cannot imagine living anywhere else, I expect to die here in the “Granite State”. Hopefully many years from now. And if not here, then how about on an intergalactic vessel en route to Tau Ceti under the care of the best Lemurian physicians? There’d be nothing they can do for me, as I’d be 153 years old. Gotta go sometime.

bedsprings.jpg
Rusty old bedsprings. They look intergalactic, don’t they?

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Responses

  1. These photos are *beautiful* … maybe one day i can take lessons eh?

    Start a photography sub-blog! Give us lessons on how to be amateurs first and then pros!

    There, I fixed your typos. Hope that’s OK, I know that you intend them sometimes and like to think that I can tell the intended from the un-.

    Thanks for the compliments and glad you like the photos. More to come. I suck at lessons, and never made it as a pro. It’s important to take LOTS of pictures. Digital photography changes things somewhat, but makes it easier. Great, easy to use cameras, and you can just delete the crap. No messy chemicals and expensive processing. Your eye does all the work.

  2. amatuers*

    (I type too fast for ym own good.)

    Gotta go sometime.
    For myself, I feel the scary bit is the part between now and the time. Especially since I don’t think there’s any afterlife/judgment/rebirth, I keep double checking myself if I’m going wrong – no do-overs, no reset points, no +1 life bonuses.

    Yeah, even if one does believe in something after life, the permanence and inevitability of death is irrefutable, terrifying, reassuring, focusing. I’m giving myself the creeps godammit!

  3. *my

    (this is getting repetitive, isn;t it?)

  4. I misspelled “amateurs” twice.

    *Hangs head in shame*

    No need to be ashamed Mr. B. We all make mistakes. If I had 10 to the minus 23 cent for every typo on the internet, I would be very rich!

  5. There so much to said for old photographs. Some great insights. Might be interesting to re-take the same photo – today.

  6. (I’ve taken this blogpost over!)

    Do a high res version of all these PLEASE!

    I’ll get great royalty free wallpaper for my (widescreen) laptop!

    I’m too lazy to redo the crops in high res but pick one, tell me what res you’d like and I’ll email it to you.

  7. These are simply amazing, MrDavid. Each one says something, but Im drawn to the springs. My love for abstract is drawn to it.
    You have talent, oh wise one, let it not go to waste.

    Hi Red and thank you for the kudos. On wasted talents, sorry, too late! These images are all very old, but it’s nice to have found a new way to share them. God Bless The Interweb!

  8. Quite striking! I especially like the Pac coast 2nd to last…

    Thanks C! I call that one “Eve’s Right Foot”. Looks all primeval and sparkly-like don’t it?

  9. Great photos!

    I used to do some amateur photography, but like so many things, it sort of faded away. I miss my old SLR camera and my black & white darkroom. I love my digital camera though, but I only ever use it to take pictures of my kids.

    Thanks Adam. Nothing wrong with taking pix of the kiddies! They’re awful cute when they’re little. Children photograph really well, and today’s digital cameras are such a pleasure to use. Now that digital quality is comparable to film, there’s no reason to pine for the messy days of wet photography. Didja see a week or two ago that news item about Polaroid stopping production of all their films?

  10. What a beautiful post, and I learned what “salad days” means!! Seriously, your blog is such a source of education and fun, I love it! 😉

    I think my favourite picture was the the one of the rocky Oregon coast; when I stare at it, it’s like it harnesses all my dreams into one steady stream, and I love that 😉 ………..

    Thanks Romi! That was like the nicest comment EVER! Your favourite is also my favourite.

  11. But they are all so great! How can I pick just one?

    (I have a photo of me snapping your photo on my laptop’s screen – once with flash, once without – I’ll send it out once I arrange for bandwidth.)

    I’ll have the first, second or last – whichever you like best. (1280×800)

    I’ll trade you with something from here or one of the parent folders.
    (I’ll be putting a hell of a lot of photos up on it o’er the weekend. I do custom resolutions, touchups – basically I can edit photos well enough for my purposes, and once I get a photoshop license, look out world! )

    Again, thanks for sucking up! I like your photobucket. You look much as I pictured you, covered with a plastic film. I think I can get good quality wallpaper images to be around 1M. How’s that sound?

  12. Loved this post. Loved the photos. Photography runs in our family. My father (who would be 93 now if he were still alive) started photographing with a Bolex Movie Camera (from Switzerland) back in the early 40’s. He even did special effects and some of his short films had story lines with my sister and brother as the stars.

    My first camera was a Mamiya Secor SLR camera. It was the first mass produced camera with dual metering systems back in the late 60’s. I loved that camera. My father bought one for both my sister and I.

    Then when he was older and going in for heart surgery, just before he went to the hospital he bought us both Nikon cameras. Though I think I took better photos with the Mamiya. It also had a depth of field previewer which was awesome. My father lived through the surgery and then bought himself a Nikon.

    Unfortunately, now I only use my digital camera. Though my digital can be used manually so you can control aperture and shutter speed yourself. But I’m usually too lazy and just use the automatic part of it. They just keep making cameras better and better. You almost need to buy one every year to keep up. Mine’s a Sony with a Zeiss lens.

    I am now in the process of putting all my Dad’s movies on DVD.

    Thank you Joan. Why am I not surprised that you do photography too? Renaissance woman you are! I’m glad for the film photography that I did, but I don’t really miss it. Digital photography is fully mature now. If I had all the money I SHOULD have, I would own this camera- Leica M8. However, I am trodden down by THE MAN. The Canon A710is a sweet and easy to use little camera. The laptop/darkroom is also fully mature. So it’s all in the eye!

  13. One more thing I love black and white. We also had a darkroom and finally just got rid of all the darkroom stuff when my daughter moved in.

    Yup, I scored a lovely B&W darkroom kit back in the 80s, had it set up once, and it now molders in the attic. I’ll never use it again. I need to get rid of it too. Our attic is too jam packed with the crapstack!

  14. On the photo taken from the Pacific coast you can see the Loch Ness monster swimming, and I believe there are two of them side by side. You may not have noticed. This photo could put an end to all kinds of destructive speculation. Can you see? There is one swimming just below the horizon, and another one coming up behind it. If these are male and female, imagine what there could be! A real renaissance, and the complete Pacific coast peopled by little Nessies. Now I will really have to google to find out where the Pacific coast is.

    But I like the first one best, the one about New York city. Who would have thought that in New York there are little streets and little houses and little people? I thought it was all sky scrapers standing in the way of passing airplanes. ( I am the only human who has never seen that video, you know). And these stairs going up to the door?

    The other fotos are a bit too dark. Can’t they be lightened up a little? I thought that JPEGs darken with age.

    Thanks for the comments, especially about the NYC photo.That’s sort of what I’d intended that photo to mean. Where I grew up was an hour and a half from NYC, but I never was drawn to that place. Its artificial immensity always intimidated me, unlike any other city. Not a big fan of cities anyway …

    I never noticed “Nessie”! Honestly, I think that they are either rocks or “weather balloons”. I’m not allowed to say anything else.

    And by the way, JPEGS LIGHTEN with age cantueso!

  15. I love B&W photography, and these are beautiful. There’s a happiness crapstack in my heart. Thanks!

    😀 “Happiness crapstack!” 😀


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