22 March, 2005

Last year's film

Utah Highway
Originally uploaded by mjm1138.

Continuing the process of catching up on rolls of film I haven't developed. I found a roll that was shot in the area of Natural Bridges national monument in Utah. Sarah and I were on our way from Moab to the Escalante area.

This was shot using a Nikon SLR, on Ilford Delta 100 film. Too much foreground, but I like the notion of the highway disappearing off the frame. It was quite a drive; the feeling of aloneness in the desert was overwhelming at times.

More on the way from this roll, and from Utah in general. We shot a fair amount of film there.

14 March, 2005

Sunset Over Clear Creek Canyon, Golden Gate Canyon, Car Wash, Subway

Sunset Over Clear Creek Canyon, Car Wash
Originally uploaded by Michael Merideth.

Another shot taken with the XA in Golden, CO. I'm trying out Flickr for image hosting, and it appears you can only post one image per blog entry. Or at least that's all I've figured out how to do.

The Olympus XA Takes on Landscape

Sunset Over Lookout Mountain, Loaf N' Jug
Originally uploaded by mjm1138.

I was out in Golden Colorado a few weeks ago for a friend's musical performance in a coffee shop. Walking out of the shop that afternoon, I was struck by the stunning natural features of the area, and by the juxtoposition of that natural beauty against the intrinsically transient and aesthetically void archetecture of the shopping area I was in. Luckily, I had the XA in my pocket, and for once it occurred to me to take some images.

The XA is not much of a landscape camera, as it turns out. The lens lacks the resolution to take in the detail of a real landscape. It is helped out somewhat by the forground details on the pavement, but the car and the gas station are not as sharp as I would have liked. I think a longer focal length would have helped as well, compressing the foreground a bit and bringing more emphasis to the mountain.

On the other hand, there are things I like here. I think it captured the sky nicely, and again the frame and the vignetting offer a gentle reminder of the photographic process at work. That's on an aesthetic level only, however. I think for this image to really work, the camera needs to slip out of the viewer's consciousness; the image needs to be about the image, and not the process.

And I like the idea of the image. If I notice the clouds looking just right some day, I may go and try to re-shoot with my SLR.

13 March, 2005

The Olympus XA

Hooray for rangefinders! I'm a huge fan of rangefinder-focused cameras. They're easy to focus, quick to shoot with, and generally a great deal quieter than an SLR. Rangefinders you can buy new today tend towards the prohibitively expensive end of the scale, so I'm becoming an aficionado of vintage Japanese rangefinders.

Starting in the 1960's there was an explosion of good quality consumer-grade rangefinders coming out of Japan. EBay is rich with these cameras, which can be had for a song, considering the high-quality optics in some of them. My current favorite is my latest eBay score, an Olympus XA. This was made from the early to the mid 1980's, and is by far the most portable rangefinder I own. It's tiny! I can carry it around in a coat pocket and not even notice it's there. I've had a roll of film through it, which I just processed last night (Tri-X 400 in Ilford developer, for the wonks). It has its limitations, but it hits a nice sweet spot with close to mid-range photography.

Untitled - 2005  Copyright Michael Merideth
"Untitled - 2005"
Copyright Michael Merideth

Some trees in a local park. The lens is not a super high-resolution lens, but it does produce a nice contrasty image, is fairly fast for the size, and brings in sufficient detail to do an 8x10 print, I think. There's a bit of vignetting around the corners, and the frame mask is comically uneven, but those are both qualities I happen to like in this kind of camera, at least in moderation.

This isn't much of a photo. I kind of like how the frontmost branches pop out at the frame a bit, but there's not much more I can say for the composition. Obviously, you're not going to get much of a nature shot in a city park, and in Colorado, it's absurd to waste your time trying.

Untitled - 2005  Copyright Michael Merideth
"Untitled - 2005"
Copyright Michael Merideth

Another shot on the same roll. I liked the texture created by all of the staples in the light pole. Everything is so crooked that I'm afraid the overall image doesn't work that great, but I do like the organic feeling, the immediacy of the image, which I think is a result of the vignetting and uneven frame. The camera is imposing itself into the image, and in doing so is recalling the reality of the moment when the shutter was tripped.

Coming Soon: the little Olympus takes on landscape photography.

First Post

I'm trying to inch my way back into photography, after studiously ignoring my gear for the last decade or so. I left my undergraduate studies in Fine Art in 1995 to break in to web publishing, which evolved into an IT carreer. This has been great in terms of providing a comfortable living with all the benefits a middle-class lifestyle brings, but has left me feeling creatively sapped. My torpor towards creative work may be a result of the common stresses a carreer brings, or maybe I'm avoiding the practice of a way of life I gave up on.

Whatever. In the past couple of years i've started collecting cameras again, and I'm starting to shoot pictures again. I'm going to use this space to post some of the more interesting images I manage to produce, and discuss the peculiarities of the different cameras I use and their artistic implications. I hope anyone who happens across this site will offer me feedback on what they see and read, as I seek to reignite my creativity.

Anyway, let's not do a first post without an image:

Moving Landscale

Moving Landscape, 2001 Copyright Michael Merideth

Yeah, so this is a few years ago. My wife and I took a vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico in September of 2001. This was shot on the way. Don't remember the camera, but I'll bet it was my old Canon FTb which I inherited from my grandpa about 15 years ago. I like the sense of motion, and the visible grain, as well as the gradation in the sky. This version is a duotone done in Photoshop, and is cropped.