Seeing with new eyes

In addition to my regular shooting and darkroom printing, lately I've also been digging into photographs I took early last year. At the time, I did not put much stock in these images. I did not think they were very compelling, and not worthy of adding to my portfolio, printing, or even posting to Instagram. 

But what a year does to your perspective! Since I started focusing on shooting film, I've certainly developed my eye. I've become more selective, and specific, about the things I shoot. I have a much better sense of what, and how, I should be photographing. And I'm constantly refining my eye. 

But apparently, it goes the other way too. My eye must also be attuned to things that I did not initially appreciate. Because when I look through these photographs, I realize now that they are compelling, in their own special way. Here are just a few, all shot in early 2017.

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Shooting with the Pentax K1000

Today I went out and walked around Chinatown, and the Embarcadero, primarily to scout some possible spots for an upcoming shoot I'm doing. But I brought my Pentax K1000 with me, and ended up shooting quite a number of street photos in the process. 

It's been well over a year since I've used this camera, and I realized again what a joy it is to shoot with. Because it's fully manual (and mechanical), making pictures on it is a much more tactile, physical experience. You need to do a little bit more work to take your pictures, but that's what makes it so great and so fun to shoot with. It really feels like you're working the camera, and making all the decisions on your own (because you are), and I love that about it. 

Plus, it just feels great in the hand. It's very ergonomic, without any unnecessary frills or clutter, and the perfect weight. Not too light, and not too heavy.  

It also has a wonderful shutter sound. It's more of a clap than a click or clack, but still plenty swift and mechanical. 

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Falling in love with slide film

I was recently gifted some slide film, and have since fallen in love with the format. It certainly has a much livelier tone and vibrancy to it than color negative film. But what I think I love more is what you get back: Individually mounted exposures that are exactly the pictures you took. It's like holding a tiny little print in your hand, which you can do whatever you want with, and enjoy for as long as you live. You can project it, gaze upon it on a light box, or simply hold it up to the San Francisco Bay. 

Series: Desert Forms

Last month I visited Joshua Tree National Park, and I was blown away by its contrasts. It's a calming, peaceful place. And a dry, dusty place that will eat you alive if you're not prepared for the heat. 

It's a place full of whimsical, human-like trees that conjure a fantastical Dr. Seuss story. And yet it's also the California desert, offering sunsets that remind you that you're still just due east of LA.

It's a place for artists seeking to escape the rat race. And yet it's still a hard place to make it all work. 

But I think it's important not to get caught up in these contrasts. Above all Joshua Tree is elemental. It's the land, it's the road, it's the rocks, it's the trees, it's the plants, it's the sunsets.  

I wanted to try to capture those simple forms with these photographs.

If you like what you see, please head to the store! The 8x10 handmade darkroom prints below I'm selling there. All are limited edition, so get yours before they run out! Enjoy and thanks for looking.

Desert Forms / Untitled #8

Desert Forms / Untitled #8

Desert Forms / Untitled #12

Desert Forms / Untitled #12

Desert Forms / Untitled #5

Desert Forms / Untitled #5

Desert Forms / Untitled #4

Desert Forms / Untitled #4

On Exploration

A month or so ago I rented a zipcar and took a drive up to Point Reyes. I had never been there before, it was a beautiful Saturday, and I wanted to spend some time just exploring, walking around and making photos. These are a few of the pictures I developed.

Even if you feel settled, and you think you know an area, it's very important to venture out just a little bit, and explore. Often times you don't even have to go that far. It might just be the next neighborhood over, or a few towns above you, or an hour's drive away.

Whatever it is, there are whole other worlds out there to explore and see new things. You don't have to pay hundreds of dollars and get on a plane and travel to another country just to experience something new.

That's the perspective I have, when I feel like exploring. Point Reyes is only a couple hours from San Francisco, and yet it feels like an entirely different world. There's a calming peacefulness to it. And a sense of it being untouched. It's glowing country.

Seaport Blvd., Redwood City, CA

I took this photo on my way cycling into work one morning. From a realism standpoint, it's kind of a failure. For some reason I decided to shoot directly toward the sun, which was bad enough, and I don't remember exactly why. It also doesn't help that I shot it with my Olympus XA, which has a maximum shutter speed of only 1/500th. And, I probably had the aperture set too wide.

Nonetheless, I tried to salvage it in post-processing, by readjusting the shadows, contrast and brightness. I think it amounts to an interesting abstract.