Japan 2016

My wife and I were in Japan in November for a combined vacation and business meeting. What a fascinating country! We really enjoyed it all. People were friendly, the food was great, and there is such a rich cultural history to explore, even if we were handicapped by not knowing any of the language.

All photos were taken with a Leica M-A, Summilux 50 mm Asph., and Tri-X 400 or Portra 160.

Grand Old Days 2016 with a grand old camera

Last weekend’s Grand Old Days (along Grand Ave. in St. Paul, MN) was, as usual, a lot of fun. I put a roll of Ilford Delta 100 film (size 120) into an old Rainbow Hawkeye No. 2 Model C camera to check it out.

These cameras were given free to kids back in the 1930s by Kodak, who sold the film. They have no controls! The shutter speed is fixed at about 1/30 s, the aperture is unknown to me and is not adjustable. It’s the ultimate point and shoot. The viewfinder is almost useless because the mirroring has gone. It’s hard to predict what any photo will look like! Here are a couple I took.

The negative size is a pretty large 6 x 9 cm, so this is definitely medium format. I think I’ll try some more with this camera and mount it on a tripod to avoid the camera shake at the slow shutter speed.

Chicago Street

I was downtown Chicago last weekend and spent a day and a night shooting with my Leica M-A and Summilux 50 f/1.4.
My aim was to capture something of the city, especially the contrasts that one finds in most large cities. The heart of the downtown area is Michigan Avenue. North of the Chicago river is very upscale retail along this street. South of the river are the main parks (Millennium Park and Grant Park), the Art Institute, and the museum district. Most of time was spent in this area of the city.


I have a preference of films that I use regularly. For daytime street shooting I use either Kodak Tri-X or Ilford HP5+. I find the ISO 400 speed of these to be very adaptable to a wide range of lighting situations. In general I use a yellow filter and the Sunny 16 rule with B&W films and my Leica M-A, but I do carry a Sekonic light meter for checking the light if I feel unsure about it. I generally use these films at ISO 400, set the shutter speed to 1/500 s and adjust the aperture as needed.

Ilford HP5+ (click to enlarge images)


Nighttime is a very different story. If I want B&W, I’ll use Ilford Delta 3200 and push it 2 stops in processing (no filter used). I nearly always open the aperture all the way to f/1.4 on my Summilux 50 mm lens, and shoot at 1/60 s. With city street lighting this exposure seems to work quite well most of the time.

Ilford Delta 3200 (pushed 2 stops). Click to enlarge images.


I really liked my initial experience with CineStill 800T for night shooting in color. Again, I keep things simple by shooting at 1/60 s and f/1.4 and push 2 stops in processing. The halation effects that I mentioned previously work well for me with street shots and give an interesting and dramatic effect around lights. The film can be used with an 85B warming filter in daylight (with appropriate aperture and shutter speeds) and gives a very nice color palette, at least to my eye. The daylight shots look somehow like older 1960-70s photos, but I like this look.

CineStill 800T (pushed 2 stops). Click to enlarge images.

I have a couple of upcoming visits back to Chicago this summer and will be shooting there again.

Thanks for reading!

Savannah, GA and Hilton Head, SC

Another trip, this time to Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is a beautiful city, filled with history, architecture, friendly people and Southern charm. It’s the location where the novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” was set, a novel that I am now reading. The older part of the city is laid out in a series of squares surrounded by houses, each square with its distinctive character. The Savannah River meanders slowly by the downtown area, and across the river is the state of South Carolina. We had time to make a brief trip to Hilton Head, SC, and the beach area there.


Protesting Downtown

These photos were taken 3 days ago at a downtown Minneapolis protest demanding prosecution of police officers involved in shooting a young black man named Jamar Clark last fall. For background information, see this website. Leica M-A, Summilux 50 mm f/1.4. Click to enlarge.

Update 3/30/16: The prosecutor declined to charge the police officers involved in the shooting.

Pension Cut Protest

These were taken at a rally last weekend in St. Paul, MN to protest cuts in union members’ pensions. This is a really bad situation for these people who have retired, are mostly older, and are facing huge cuts in their promised pensions. More details on the story background are on the MPR website. This is story I want to follow up on later this year.

Leica M-A, Summilux 50 mm f/1.4 Asph., Ilford HP+ film. Click on thumbnails to enlarge images.