Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Somewhere in San Francisco

I shot this photo the last time I was in San Francisco, October 2007. I don't remember exactly where I was, but I suspect it's Russian Hill. I also suspect I was on my way to dinner at a fantastic sushi place that I visit every time I'm in San Francisco (sorry, I can't recall the name of the place).
That's Alcatraz off in the distance in the water, by the way.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Here's a pair of Holga camera photos taken (with expired film) on a cold day last winter when I was waiting for the L to take me into the Loop (downtown for you non-Chicagoans). The first photo is looking southwest from the platform (you can see the Chinatown gate in the distance), the bottom photo is looking north towards the Loop.

Even though these photos are exposed badly (typical for a Holga, and the expired film didn't help), I like them. They really capture the experience of waiting at a freezing L station.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Communist Statue

This is the last Polaroid manipulation I'm going to post, at least for a while. My next post here should be something else entirely.

This Polaroid lift is made from a photo I shot at the Communist Sculpture park in Budapest, Hungary, when I was visiting there a couple of years ago. I loved the sculpture park, and I'm glad that someone had the foresight to move all the old Communist era sculpture to a park at the edge of town rather than dispose of it all.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Polaroid Transfer Vs. Polaroid Lift

Here's another pair of images, one a Polaroid lft, the other a Polaroid transfer, both made from the same source image. They were both made like the pair of images I posted earlier this week, from a piece of a magazine page stuck in a slide mount and used as a slide to make the Polaroid prints.

The color difference between the lift and the transfer is due to the process of making a Polaroid transfer. Both of these processes use Polaroid 669 film, which comes with a paper cover that is peeled off of the print after exposure. That cover is actually a negative version of the print. During the minute wait time between snapping the photo and peeling the negative off, the image is transferred from the negative to the positive surface of the print.

When making a transfer, you generally wait only 10-15 seconds before peeling the negative off and beginning the transfer process. Because the different color layers transfer from the negative to the positive at different times, there is a shift in color due to all of the color layers not having been transferred. That color shift isn't terribly strong in these two images. Other times, it is very noticeable.

Friday, June 26, 2009

San Fran Tran

This Polaroid transfer was made from a photo of houses in the Height Ashbury district in San Francisco. The original photo was manipulated as part of a project for a class I took a couple of years ago-I'm sure you've noticed the sky is paisley. That manipulated image was shot onto slide film, and the resulting slide used to make the Polaroid print this transfer was made from.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Comic Transfer

I like this Polaroid transfer quite a bit. It started as a photo I took of a page from an old comic book, which I put on a light table so that the image on both sides of the page would show. I shot it using a macro lens, which allows close up focusing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Field Museum

Here's an attempt at doing a panoramic image involving several Polaroid lifts. The photos were taken at the Field Museum in Chicago. There's a large area in the museum with beautiful wood cases holding taxidermied animals. I've shot there several times, and on a couple of visits decided to make panoramic type shots. These panoramas, as unaltered photos, are really lovely. I like how the geometry of the spaces becomes confused in the panoramas. As Polaroid lifts, however, they're not nearly as successful. The sense of unfolding space that I like in these panoramas largely disappears in the wrinkles and distortions created by the lift process.

Polaroid list panoramas aren't any more difficult than doing lifts of individual images, but they do take more time. Each lift must be completely dry before attempting the next one. For this piece, there are four seperate photos, meaning I worked on it for four days.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Play Ball!

Here's another Polaroid lift. This one was made from a photo I shot at Musee Mecanique, a collection of vintage arcade games on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. It's a closeup of one of the small figures in an old baseball game.

I like Polaroid lifts quite a bit. The wrinkles and folds give a dimensionality to the resulting images, and it's a look not easily replicated in Photoshop (unlike Polaroid transfers).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Polaroit Lift And Transfer

Today's photos might not be photos at all, depending on how you define photography (I'd say they are). They are a Polaroid lift and a Polaroid transfer, both made from the same 35mm slide. They weren't made with a camera, which is why you might not regard them as photos.

Polaroid lifts and transfers are both pretty standard photo manipulation techniques (Polaroid film is no longer being manufactured, although people have been working with Fuji instant film with limited results). What makes these different is that I didn't start with a photograph when making them. I cut a piece from a magazine page, stuck it in a 35mm slide mount, and used that as the image I exposed onto the Polaroid film.

The image at the top of this post is a Polaroid lift, made by soaking a Polaroid print in hot water until the emulsion separates from the paper backing, then transferring it to a new surface.

The image at the bottom is a Polaroid transfer. Polaroid transfers are made by placing the negative side of a Polaroid peel-apart print (type 669 film) onto wet paper and braying it to transfer the dyes to the paper surface.

Over the next few days, I'll post more examples of these. As always, your comments are welcome.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Peeling Paint

I shot this a couple of weeks ago in an elementary school in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. I was there helping my mother and sister run their booth at the 57th St. Art Fair. The fair is located on and around the grounds of an elementary school, which is open during the fair.

I like the color and the texture of the cracks in this photo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Self Portrait With Arrow

I took this photo with my toy Holga camera a couple of years ago. I don't have much to say about it, I just like it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Fog

This photo shows the fog rolling into San Francisco. It was taken in Corona Heights Park, one of my favorite places in the city.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Sale

About a week and a half ago I posted a photo taken with an old Kodak 35mm camera. Here's another photo taken with that same camera. It's of a used car lot, now closed. It's by no means a great photo. The exposure is off (this camera has no meter, so I generally guess at proper exposure), and it lacks sharpness (focusing is a little hit or miss with this camera as well). There's something about it I like, however. I like the spontaneous feel here, and the loose composition. It just feels right.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


This was shot at a parking lot carnival back in 1997. I was using color saturated film, which I loved, but is no longer made. I love the blue sky in this photo.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Moving car, long exposure, streaks of light from what I think is the tail lights of the car ahead of me. Interesting abstract photo.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Red Light

Here's another photo from my 2007 trip to Amsterdam. This is in the red light district, you can see some of the actual red lights reflected in the canal. The red light district is definitely an interesting part of Amsterdam, and worth at least a quick walk through (go at night, it's much busier, and the lights are all on). It's not the most interesting part of town, however, and also nowhere near the most beautiful. It's also completely overrun with tourists, but that's to be expected.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Difference

I shot this when I was in Amsterdam in 2007. It's an advertisement for some art installation pieces that were scattered around the central city area. All of those pieces featured nude figures similar to the ones on that poster.

That's one of the differences between The Netherlands and the US. No one bats an eyelash at displays like this in Amsterdam (you should see the photo I took of a piece displayed in the town square at the photo festival in the Netherlands village of Naarden), but I don't even want to think of the shitstorm of controversy that would erupt if someone tried a similar thing here.

Here's one of the pieces I mentioned above. It's taken at a bad angle, I shot this so that I could see the actual piece. if seen from head on, looking down the canal, it looks like a bridge made of nude people. It blends in well with the surrounding scenery. From a few feet away, It's hard to tell it's a photo.

Friday, June 12, 2009


When I first bought my Holga toy camera about three years ago, I shot a couple of rolls of film learning how to work it. This is an accidental double exposure on the first roll of film I shot. It's my sister driving someplace in her truck (I was in the passenger seat) and an outdoor scene in winter. Double exposures are pretty common with the Holga camera. Unlike most cameras, the film is advanced manually, and there's nothing preventing you from pressing the shutter multiple times on a single frame of film.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Budapest Underpass

I shot these photos in Budapest in August, 2007. The location is a pedestrian underpass beneath a busy street. I liked the graffiti there, so shot photos. Later, when going through the photos I shot on that trip, I noticed that these two fit together. It was completely accidental-I wasn't planning a panoramic image when I shot them. I love showing the same person twice in these things. It's an interesting visual representation of time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Well, we don't seem to be having much summer weather here in Chicago (temperatures have running 15-20 degrees below normal for several weeks), so I might as well skip right to fall. I shot this photo a couple of years ago when I was out walking on a crisp fall day. This is part of a stone wall around a church about a mile from my house.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lack Of Communication

I can't exactly remember where I shot this Holga camera photo. I know it was in Chicago, and I was probably on my bike when I shot it, but that's all I can remember.

I made a cyanotype print of this photo, which was shown as part of a triptych in my post-sabbatical exhibition in April, 2008.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The First

This Holga camera shot is of the first McDonald's, located in Des Plains, IL. OK, if you're being techincal about it, it isn't the first. It's the first once it became a franchise. It's also not the original building, which was torn down. This is a recreation of the first franchised McDonald's, built in the same location as the original building. It's supposed to be open for tours, but I've been by it a couple of times, and have never seen it open. A real working McDonald's is directly across the street.
As I write this, I'm wondering why I know so much about McDonald's. I never eat there.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

50's Wall

I've been doing some shooting lately with an old Kodak camera I bought at a garage sale nearly 20 years ago. It's a 35mm camera, but it has no light meter, so I have to estimate proper exposure using the sunny 16 rule. I like the rounded corners shots made with this camera have, so when scanning them, I'm including part of the blank area at the edges of the negatives.
This photo is of a wall of a restaurant/banquet hall in my neighborhood in Chicago. I've never been inside, but if the decor matches the 50's exterior, I'm sure I'd love it!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Today's photo was shot in Maui. Specifically, the east end of the island, near Hana. There are amazing black sand beaches there that make the water look very blue. I wish I was there now!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I shot this photo in London's Highgate Cemetery in 2003. I don't really have much to say about it, really. If you're ever in London, make it a point to visit Highgate. Not only is it a stunning example of a Victorian cemetery, some well known people are buried there, including Douglas Adams, Karl Marx, and Michael Faraday.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weeds, Pole

Here's another photo, shot on the same day as the photo I posted yesterday. This camera is the first I've owned with a swivel screen, which allows you to tip the camera in various directions and still see what you're shooting. I was playing with that feature here.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I shot this a few years ago, right after I bought the digital camera I'm still using now. This is one of several photos I shot while teaching myself to work the new camera. In case you're wondering, it was shot in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Calumet City, IL, southeast of Chicago.