Issei Suda and Japanese Photography

On Memorial Day, today I received ‘78’ Issei Suda’s last photo book = published posthumously.  Researching his style he is set apart from the other more famous Japanese photographers of his era.  He blossomed late in life and to a certain extent his appreciation is continuing to grow.  He was never a part of revolutionary groups - like those participating in PROVOKE like Daido and Araki.


In an interview with Ferdinand Brueggemann, a Japanese photography specialist the maturation of the photographer there is different than in the US or Europe.  Typically the western photographer hopes to get a gallery showing with book appearances occurring much later.


Books by photographers are second only to photography exhibitions in terms of their importance for the reception of Japanese photography. Books by photographers are of much greater importance in Japan than in the West. In Japan, artists have traditionally presented their works to the public by means of their books and magazines and – as was previously mentioned – young artists are still more likely to have a publisher than a gallerist.  -Ferdinand Brueggemann





Color vs. B&W Landscapes

“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!” - Ted Grant


This whole question of color vs. BW in landscape photography is important.  Watching a Youtube video about Robert Adams who I think always shot BW the comment was made that Color hits the viewer like a bold of lightening but with little after affect.  Black and White on the other hand may have many levels of understanding and is revealed slowly

The above represents this dichotomy.  I would never hang the color photo on my wall - it’s too garish.  The Ansel Adams photo to the right would be great on my living room wall if I could afford it!


Pawnee Grasslands

Spent a couple days near the Pawnee National Grasslands.  We opted to stay in a RV camp in Wyoming and make day trips to the grasslands.  We were sort of dumb as we thought there was some grand entrance to the area.  There is not.  There are many county roads that criss cross the grasslands.  Much of the western half is taken up with commercial operations like wind farms.  This is the result of BLM allowing this on Forest Service lands.  When we finally figured out how to get to the Buttes we were able to take a small hike.  Our previous visit there many years ago, we were able to park very close to the base of the Buttes - I don’t don’t know if they have eliminated that parking spot.

We also snooped around the area including ending up in Nebraska !    The roads criss cross the tri-state area freely.  Ended up at the highest point in Nebraska and also seeing a few Bison at their watering hole

Our last nite there was punctuated by the drama of a hail storm.  Airstreams and Hail storms do not mix well.  We were lucky as all we had was pea sized hail.  Much larger and we would then be faced with a multiple week stay at the Airstream Hospital in Jackson Center, Ohio.


Astrum 200

I previously reviewed Astrum 100 which I really liked.  This time it was it slightly fasted brother.  I tested this in the absolutely worst way - new used camera, new film and guessed at development times.  There is a 5 fold chance of something going wrong when doing it this way……but everything worked out fine.  

This little beauty is the original Leica CL - not to be confused by the new digital Leica CL.  The original film version was a co-developed product with Minolta.  With the knowledge that Minolta gained, they put out their own body known as the Minolta CLE - a fine camera but if the electronics go you are in deep trouble.  The Leica CL was a very simple swing out/in light meter but if this goes you can get it repaired.  It also works without the light meter.  I needed a 2nd body that uses Leica M lenses.  My plan is to use the CL to shoot Rollei InfraRed film where the exposure is somewhat of guess work anyway.  This example was purchased from Tamarkin in Chicago.


Now onto the film - Astrum 200

Astrum 200 was a guess as to the development times in HC110B.  I saw one reference only to using 7 minutes.  I thought this was a little short so I used 8 minutes and I’m pretty happy with the results.  In the past shooting black dogs - I have two - was difficult.  It’s still not easy but this film gave me the detail in the fur that I frequently don’t get - the blocking of the black tones makes it impossible to see the detail.


A great day at High Plains Racetrack

Today was the first day of open lapping at High Plains Raceway during COVID.  It was definitely nice to get back to HPR. I did very little socializing.  All folks were to wear a face mask when out of their car.  6 feet social distancing.  I started the morning with absolutely slow 2:44 lap times.  By the time I left I was consistently doing 2:29 which is actually my best from previous seasons.  I either need to get better ( I already know how I can do this OR I need a faster car - and in retirement that ain’t happening.)


Some Pictures need an Explanation

This picture was taken at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  Dad was called in to do surgery on this Ostrich.  The vet was gonna tell Dad what all the parts were and Dad was just the technician.  Dad handed me his very expensive Rolleiflex Magic to take pictures.  The ‘surgery suite’ was just an un-airconditioned shed.  It was hot, I was looking at bird guts so naturally I started to faint with an expensive German camera in my hands.


Everything turned out ok for me. Not so much for the bird as it died on the table.  Not an auspicious start to my career but I did become a doctor and a photographer.  Not something I would have predicted from this early experience.






The Custer’s view of Route 66

Ran into this article from the Chicago Sun-Times about this couple who photographed in the 1950’s - a friend of theirs found a box camera with undeveloped film in it.  150 images were discovered - they are amazing.  See the article here.  Mr. Custer just passed away at 91 hence the obituary.

Here’s a photo of them doing their thing


Springtime with COVID

Despite COVID I am lucky enough to live in a house where I can walk around.  Imagine being homeless or living in a small apartment where just getting to the front door is another chance to get COVID from a neighbor.  Anyway here are a few flowers that are in the front of the house.







Rabies and the Plague

With the onset of COVID lock down I decided to read about other infectious diseases - don’t ask me why.  I’m reading other things as well.  I’ve always been fascinated with Rabies - it is after all primarily a neurological disease.  I’ve never seen a case.  WE did recently have a sick Raccoon in our yard.  The animal control people didn’t think it had rabies but this was probably the impetus to read about it.


Then I thought The Plague by Albert Camus would be an appropriate next book.  It is more relevant to our current situation with COVID.  Here are some quotes from the book:


“The doctor remembered the plague at Constantinople that, according to Procopius, caused ten thousand deaths in a single day. Ten thousand dead made about five times the audience in a biggish cinema. Yes, that was how it should be done. You should collect the people at the exits of five picture-houses, you should lead them to a city square and make them die in heaps if you wanted to get a clear notion of what it means. Then at least you could add some familiar faces to the anonymous” 


 Still, that could stop, or be stopped. It was only a matter of lucidly recognizing what had to be recognized; of dispelling extraneous shadows and doing what needed to be done. Then the plague would come to an end, because it was unthinkable, or, rather, because one thought of it on misleading lines. If, as was most likely, it died out, all would be well. If not, one would know it anyhow for what it was and what steps should be taken for coping with and finally overcoming it.”


 “They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views. How should they have given a thought to anything like plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.” 


 According to religion, the first half of a man’s life is an upgrade; the second goes downhill. On the descending days he has no claim, they may be snatched from him at any moment; thus he can do nothing with them and the best thing, precisely, is to do nothing with them.”


 “It was done through official channels, and half-heartedly. What they’re short on is imagination. Officialdom can never cope with something really catastrophic. And the remedial measures they think up are hardly adequate for a common cold. If we let them carry on like this they’ll soon be dead, and so shall we.” 


 The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.” 


  


Back to Scanning

I have had this multi year project of scanning all my negatives from 1996 when rejoined the world of photography.  My Dad died that year and with inheritance I bought a Leica M6.  He had taught me about photography so I was a good way to honor his memory.  In the meantime I accumulated at least 600 rolls of negatives that needed scanning.  The COVID quarantine seems like a good time to get back to it.  I’m somewhere near roll 438.  Anyway here are a few that I liked.


Prairie Madness about to go on Sale

Have sent out about a dozen postcards to friends and family advertising the book.  It’s gone thru two edits with Vicki and both were rough but I think in the end the book came out better.  As is sometimes done, I’m including a printed photo from the book if folks buy from me- they get an autographed copy of the book as well.  Considering the costs, it’s not a money maker at all but just something that I wanted to do.  The proceeds after expenses will be split between the Southern Plains Land Trust and American Prairie Reserve.  


Bergger Pancro 400

Finally getting to use some of the film that I’ve stockpiled for the last 4 years.  This time it was the French film Bergger Pancro 400.  I didn’t review the film before I shot it.  I find that it’s helpful to make up my own mind first.  Shot it @ 400 and developed it in HC110B 9 min. as per Massive Development Chart.  Well guess what - I found it to be less contrasty than I normally like- this is exactly what the reviews talk about.  They also say that this can be helped by pushing it to 800 or 1600 and develop it normally.  Makes sense.


COVID made me do this

This COVID lockdown has caused lots of changes - I used to scour YouTube for fun videos - dogs adopting opossums for their friends,  etc.  This lock down has somehow turned dark…….


This first video is about exploding a dead whale on the beaches of Oregon in 1970 and how they went from one large sticking mass to multiple dispersed pieces of sticking whale.  This video was said to represent the mishandling of the Corona Virus outbreak.  Not sure the analogy is there but it’s too late, I’ve already seen the video.

The next video is about a naive girl from Kansas who gets seduced by a ner-do-well who buys an underground missile silo in rural Kansas and opens up THE largest LSD lab in the world.  

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