Salon Night

It's Monday, and it's salon night — for the biweekly themed SP salon. Tonight's special, personally chosen by John Brownlow: Dope, Guns, & Fucking in the Streets.

Too bad I've been locked up indoors for the last month :)

Posted March 31, 2003 | Comments (0)


One roll Acros, two rolls Tmax 100, Xtol 1::1 9.5mins. I forgot about the mystery red stain from the TMax (anti-halation layer?). One Neopan400 rated 800, Xtol 1::1 11.5 mins.

Acros has a unique snap, described well by one early reviewer as "metallic." I've never run any charts on it, but suspect it's just that it blocks-up in the highlights, similar to slide film. Anyone know?

I can say this much — dries faster than Kodak, probably due to the plastic film base. This is ready to scan and sleeve after 4-5 hours, while the Tmax is still a wee bit sticky and still hanging.

Posted March 30, 2003 | Comments (0)

Family Values (Part 1, probably)

The ... industrialization of camera technology only carried out a promise inherent in photography from its very beginning: to democratize all experiences by translating them into images.
- Susan Sontag, On Photography

Such democratization's most-obvious expression, its adherents might say, is the photoblog. There's no obvious shortage of them —a href="" target="linkframe"> currently lists over 1100, with new ones being added four or five each day.

The aforementioned site bills itself as a guide to "high-quality photoblogs." Their definition of "high quality" leaves me skeptical. They cite four criteria in their FAQ:

  1. Photo Quality
  2. Interface
  3. Photo Freshness
  4. Photo Quantity

The sub-criterion for "quality" is simply stated "are the photos well done?" For the sake of democratic breadth (or was it really to patronize demographics?), they seem to be aiming awfully low.

The last two are more troublesome, because they imply that volume equates to quality. Personally, I'd rather find a website with two amazing photos than a website that floods the webspace with hundreds of repetetive and uninspired ones. Yet it's precisesly the latter type that seems to dominate, with "new photos every day" being held-aloft as the zenith of photographic excellence.

It's a disease that seems to have infected even sites like where there are genuinely good photos amid a mass of banal ones. Are the photobloggers simply unable to distinguish?

One might argue that this torrent of "unaffected" imagery is needed in order to create some as-yet-unnamed New Aesthetic — I find it more fashion statement than artistic movement. The photos I find in the top100 sites all seem to cave-into the pattern of "conform and confirm," either pounding on familiar safe notions (flowers and vividly-colored fruits, one-light nudes on black, raggedly texture-filled homeless people), or worse getting caught-up in the factory-manufactured signifiers of "quirky" and "independant" photography (toy cameras & lomos, cross-processing, rock bands).

I wonder if anyone has yet undertaken any kind of sustained, rigourous attempt to deconstruct the photoblogiverse.


Link for thought: an old SP post by Rob Appleby.

Posted March 30, 2003 | Comments (1)


All these "one-off" rolls are killing my pace of processing. I usually prefer to do trios — this one-of-a-kind backlog will take at least a week of steady attack to resolve, even if my schedule weren't so compressed.

  • 1 Neopan 400@800
  • 1 Neopan 400
  • 1 Acros
  • 1 Tmax 100 destined for Rodinal
  • 3 Tmax 100 destined for Xtol (but one still in the camera)
  • 1 Delta 400
  • 1 Kodak Gold 100 (still need to find a good lab for this locally)

Yeah, it would all be easy in digital, blah blah blah.

Posted March 29, 2003 | Comments (0)

Old Ho's Last Laugh

Back in the 1960's, there was an episode when Lyndon Johnson suggested offering North Vietnam a large dose of western-style incentive, as a deal to secure the peace. Cash and know-how to build hydroelectic power reservoirs in Vietnam, thinking it would transform the region into Tennessee-on-the-Mekong.

"Ol' Ho just can't turn that down!" Johnson is reported to have gleefully proclaimed, before the plan was rejected by the Vietnamese.

I have thought often of this story whenever I heard politicians talking about Iraqis' supposed willingness to turn themselves into happily westernized "free" consumers as a result of the coming (now current, and stalled) invasion. That this sentiment is repeated without question by CNN is no surprise — was Ted Turner who had similarly sappy (though similiarly self-serving) ideas about world-peace-through-global-TV-networks only a few short years ago (as if feeding folks in Yemen and Somalia the same re-runs of Gilligan's Island as those beamed to hapless American children would somehow make the human condition more bearable).

For a moment there in Afghanistan, I actually thought there was a chance that the US would "get it" — that achieving military objectives wouldn't change the region's inherent core of Pashtun-Wali beliefs, and that it was best to let people follow their own courses, albeit in some way that would be harmless to the US, while realizing that it would never be the US. Forget that, I guess.

There has been a huge apparent ignorance of the underlying al-Tikriti foundation of the Ba'ath Party government, a foundation that goes back to well before Saddam unambiguously took the helm in 1979. Surely the State Department and Pentagon had plenty of people who must have had some clue as to the social order of which Saddam was merely a symptom. And that someone could have done the math: if the rebelling Iraqis of 1991 were erased en masse, then who was left behind to inherit Basra? And more, have they forgotten how the country of Iraq itself was created as the result of a 1920 fatwa that unified both Sunnis and Shias, declaring it against Koranic law for muslims to be ruled by infidels? In particular, the British, who only three years ealier had promised the Iraqi that they [the Brits] were there as "liberators"?

Saddam is an intolerable beast, to be sure. But the planners in Washington and Whitehall who replaced thinking with wishes had best be prepared for a formidable backlash from the families of the soldiers whose lives have been so capriciously threatened and lost by those planners' hubris.

Posted March 29, 2003 | Comments (0)


Another SP blogger: Neil Ford's Weblog blasting out of London. I'll list him even if he doesn't use MT :)

Posted March 29, 2003 | Comments (0)

More Delta

Feeling better about the Delta switchback — as contrasty as the Fuji maybe, but then again that just seems to be due to the Ilford's better latitude. Scanning/printing to adjust makes all the difference.

Took me until tonight to even begin to look in detail at the first of the rolls from a couple of nights back. Previously I just grabbed a frame from the end of the roll and rushed it through. Been really slammed on schedule at work, and the process of reviewing scans has been slow. The slogging part, ironically, is the computer — takes time, even on a fast computer, to pick through photos in detail, and the little 200-px sized thumbnails are no replacement for a clean, hi-res viewing.

On the way back from errands Courtney & I stopped at Kamera Korner in SJ and bought some Dektol. Looks like the darkroom is poised to rise again, after a long hiatus...

Posted March 29, 2003 | Comments (0)

Small Blogiverse

Ha, on the heels of starting this journal I find John Brownlow has started one too.

Posted March 28, 2003 | Comments (0)


After a year of sitting on it, Warners has finally released Final Flight of the Osiris, the final production of the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within studio, Square USA. Though it gets this release in theatres, latched-onto Dreamcatcher as a standalone short, it will also appear as part of the upcoming AniMatrix DVD.

What a difference a year makes! After Final Flight I shifted my attention from production on a massive scale to doing it all on your PC (and every scale in between). I've been hammering furiously at the latest release of the CgFX plugins for Maya and 3ds Max. I hate to sound like an ad but for me, this stuff is hecka great — lets you work-out ideas about light, shading, and texture really quickly and fluidly. I'm really keen to get one of the upcoming GeForce FX Go laptops — studio!

(Now if I can just find a way to wedge 150 artists into that same suitcase....)

Posted March 27, 2003 | Comments (1)

Back to the Delta

Xtol 1::1, 11.5 mins @ 20C. About 18C, make that 12.5 mins. Three rolls @ ISO 400.

After a four-month fling with Neopan 400 Presto (aka Neopan Professional), as of this batch I'm back to Ilford Delta. The Fuji is great stuff, easily pushed, crisp, contrasty. I picked some up in a corner store in Tokyo, having run out of Ilford. I was delighted with the results, but Delta has a smooth tone and latitude that I've grown used to. And I can actually find it bulkrolled in the store.

I ran the Fuji through a battery of tests — to ISO 200, pushed to 800, 1600, 3200. Xtol, Rodinal. For web purposes, running it at 800 was perfectly fine — for reasonably-sized printing. Good for an overcast winter. The last dozen rolls were all shot that way.

In going back to Delta I've realized that I hadn't done any methodical examination on it since first shooting the old version, almost a decade ago. So it's overdue! Hopefully over the next few days I can run a few rolls for the sake of the same tests — do some more-formal comparisons on Tmax 100 too (Acros is really great but hard to find around here and never in bulk). Rich has said he'd like to go out shooting in Marin sometime soon... hmm

Two rolls of unprocessed Neopan still sitting in the "need to process" box. One marked "Jan03K." Tsk.

Posted March 27, 2003 | Comments (0)


I had no idea how many atheist blogs there were. I've no doubt there numbers are dwarfed by religious sites of every brand, but it's encouraging to see a number of voices out there.

Then again, if there are enough of either stripe then I suppose they can all blogroll each other and never notice the other world's existence... is this a good thing?

Posted March 26, 2003 | Comments (3)

Digital Fencewalking

Folks are occasionally surprised to hear that I acquired my 35mm Contax G in early 2002, a year after my digital Canon G. I got the digital in the hope of supplanting my 35mm SLRs, but instead found it in turn supplanted by a 35mm rangefinder.

I tried to carry the digital every day — every day I found myself losing shots. Now I carry the Contax every day, and the sense of lost shots is far more rare. It's simply more capable: instant-on, predictable focus, dependable, fast.

I expect to return to the digicam fold sooner or later, of course — fact I get terribly impatient with it. I ran into Eric Cheng over the weekend — was toting-along the current leader of the pack, a Canon D1s with a hefty zoom. It looked reasonably fast, and even pretty quiet. The color from it looks crisp and clear. But it's still huge & costs more than a new Kia. Argh.

C'mon Contax/Minolta/Konica/Nikon, where's that "digital Hexar"????

Ah well, time to stop typing & go get fixer on my fingers.

Posted March 26, 2003 | Comments (5)

Begun, It Has

The new war in Iraq has given us the chance to see some hot news stories that our keenly-suspicious eye might've not otherwise caught. No, not about Saddam or Bush but about the real force in the Gulf: the treacherous invisible forces that control life across the globe from the shadows. Thank goodness for a literate society where the free press can get these important issues out in the open. Personally, I suspect the war isn't truly about WMD or liberation at all — are just TV-friendly canards. It's just a cover-up to keep the media busy so that the truly important stories are drowned-out and ignored.

Posted March 25, 2003 | Comments (2)


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