Sunday, September 26, 2010

Run (and Walk) For Their Lives

PAWS is the local no-kill rescue shelter, and where we met Rudder (aka, the best dog ever!).  PAWS was throwing a fundraiser today - a 4K walk/8K run.  K and I headed over this morning with Rudder to do our part.  K did the 8K run, and Rudder and I did the 4K walk.
It was windy and more than a bit chilly on the Lakefront, but the event was a lot of fun and there were a ton of great dogs and dog owners there to support PAWS and animal rescue efforts.

Rudder met a bunch of new friends . . . 

And everybody had a great time.
All in all a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happy Accidents

Still have a bunch of photographs to process and post from my Labor Day weekend photo expeditions, but work has been crazy busy and I haven't had a lot of time to play with pictures or wax poetic about bikes.  I like having a little corner of the web to post my pictures and random writing, but I doubt I will ever be one of those really consistent bloggers who post daily (or even consistently weekly).  The blog, along with the photography, writing and even the non-commuting biking, are hobbies that necessarily get set aside when more pressing obligations intrude.

The wait for the remaining  black and white and slide film continues as well.  Not having to wait for processing is perhaps one of the biggest advantages digital has over film.  Perhaps even a bigger advantage than cost - which nods to digital after the initial cost of the camera.

Here is a little something in the meantime, however.  The shot above is an old shot, newly discovered.  I found a roll of old, exposed negative film that had not been processed.  The roll dates from mid-2003, and are mostly snapshots of K and I coming to the Midwest.  I had completely forgotten the roll and finding it and discovering the images it held was a fun little mystery.  

I have no idea where this was taken or even if the blurriness of the shot was intentional or simply a messed-up attempt at a skyline sunset.  I knew enough about photography in 2003 to either brace the camera or use a tripod for a low light shot like this if I wanted it to be in focus, so it may have been deliberately shot to be blurry.  Either, way I love the colors and the shot itself has an almost impressionistic feel to it.

I have also trying to shoot some abstracts recently as well (and not having much success), so that may have influenced my being drawn to this shot.

Hope you like it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just Pretty Pictures

Sunrise and sunset pictures must be one of the most over-done subjects in all of photography.  Still, something about rolling yourself out of bed when its still dark, filling up a thermos full of coffee and then hiking your butt out to some remote spot to wait for just the right combination of clouds and light is very satisfying.
(Chicago Lakefront, September 2010, Elan 7ne, expired Fuji Superia 100)
These shots are from the jetty/retaining wall at the North Avenue beach on Chicago's lakefront.  There was one other photographer out there at the same time, but he was pointing his camera in a different direction, toward the cityscape to the right of these shots (a project for another day) and took off just as the light really started to get good.
(Chicago Lakefront, September 2010, Elan 7ne, expired Fuji Superia 100)
All three of these shots were taken within 10 to 15 minutes of each other.  It is really amazing how much the light quality can change in such a short period.
(Chicago Lakefront, September 2010, Elan 7ne, expired Fuji Superia 100)
These were taken with some crappy, expired color negative film.  I am still waiting for the slides that I took just before these to be developed.  So more (hopefully) pretty pictures to come, with a slightly different angle and perhaps even better clarity and color.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Peek

"Ascending" (September 2010, Elan 7ne, cross-processed Provia 100f)
I never really did a lot of cross processing even when I was shooting film exclusively.  But I've bought a bunch of expired slide film and am really liking the scans that I am getting.  More to come soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Destination" Photography

K and I stayed at home over the Labor Day holiday, and I took the opportunity of the extended lazy weekend to cross of few items on the "Honey-Do" list - and - to go on a couple of "expedition" photo shoots.  Now, of course, this was not the equivalent of an extended photographic vacation to Venice or a photo-safari in the Congo, but I did get to do some aimless wandering in Chicago's Northwest suburbs and actually voluntarily got up before the sunrise to take some photos of a couple of city locations that have been on my short list of locations to explore with a camera.  One shoot was an exercise in deliberate surprise, one a specific self-assigned project.
"At Play"
(Chicago Lakefront, September 2010, Polaroid Land 250, expired 669)
None of it, however, was shot digital.  As the recent spate of posts can attest, my photographic funk has definitely broken.  For better or worse, however, almost all my recent photography has been shot analog.  This is fine by me - although K did recently say that I needed to shoot some "real" photos - but the analog world definitely does not have the turnaround time that blesses digital.
To Come: The Wilds of Suburbia,
The result of these "destination" shoots was a couple dozen Polaroids and a large batch 35mm roll film that is now winding its way through one of the local pro photo labs.  I had a couple of straight color negative rolls that I would usually take to the nearest Walgreens where I just get the roll developed and take home the uncut strip to scan (no prints = fast and cheap), but I also had several rolls of slide film that I wanted cross processed, a roll of straight slide film and another bunch of black and white rolls, so I tossed the whole batch together and took it to someone who (hopefully) knows more about developing film than "insert cartridge into slot and push red button."
The Clarity Of First Light,
The color and cross process negatives should be ready later this week, but the rest will take probably another week at least. Even this lab, which did not bat an eye at my cross-processing requests, does not do its own black and white or slide developing.
And A Subject Worthy Of The Weekend
So expect to see posts of Labor Day Weekend photos trickle in as they become available over the next couple of weeks.  Not only does analog just take a little longer, but I am afraid I was a bit giddy with the shutter this last weekend and there is a lot of frames to go through with, hopefully, a proportionate share of keepers.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I had thought that having a second blog devoted to bicycling-related posts was a good idea (and I had a good name for it, the Random Randonneur).  The idea was to have Midwest Migrant be the general purpose blog, with a heavy photography influence, and with Random Randonneur to be a more focused enterprise.  But two blogs turns out to have been at least one blog too many.

Between the acquisition of a new dog and a work schedule that was much busier than expected, there has been a lot less time to ride and, thus, a lot less riding to blog about.  I continue to commute to work daily by bicycle, but have not been able to go on most of the "epic" rides that I had anticipated taking on this summer.  As the weather (finally) begins to cool, the riding time will diminish even more.

Given that there is not enough material (or at least inspiration) to provide posts for an entirely separate blog, the obvious choice is just to incorporate my bicycling-related posts here, along with the photography posts, life-as-a-lawyer posts and the rest of my other musings.  To that end, I have imported the handful of posts that I had made from the Random Randonneur blog to here, and have deleted the other blog from my Blogger profile.  (BTW: Kudos to Blogger on this - they really made the import seamless and simple.)

So, going forward expect to see bike-geek posts sharing space with the photography and the rest.  Among these bike-related posts will be a follow-up on my impressions of my Handsome Devil bicycle now that I have had a couple months of almost daily riding to really get a feel for it, some more write-ups on my favorite Chicagoland rides and other posts about utility bike advocacy, bike "culture," bike-related photography and whatever else springs to mind.

This is going to make the blog a true mishmash of topics, but I guess that will be a true reflection of my own odd stew of interests and amusements.  No focus, but lots of targets.

Keep the rubber down.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Scenes From The Commute

Damen Street Bridge (August 2010, Elan 7ne, expired Fuji Superia 100)

Early Adopter

I've been doing some experimentation with Impossible Project's new "Silver Shade" PX 100 instant film for the SX-70 Polaroid camera.  I am a cheerleader and supporter of the Project, as they are doing the crazy, journeyman's work of restoring a source of instant film for the classic Polaroid cameras that continue to have a huge fan base, but which Polaroid stupidly abandoned a few years ago.  I am a supporter of the Project and its goals with high hopes for the future.  And I have to be hopeful, unfortunately, because the present leaves a little bit to be desired.
(September 2010, SX-70, Impossible Project PX 100 film)

I will write more about this later, but will just say for now that the Project really is a labor of love . . . and the the use of these early films requires quite a bit of love, patience (and forgiveness) from the photographer as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Case For Grain

(Navy Pier, Chicago, August 2010, Elan 7ne, expired Fuji Superia 100)

This recent shot made me remember one of the aspects of film shooting that I really love, that is part and parcel with the film experience, and that (like so much that was once considered a drawback of film) is now experiencing a resurgence of popularity: grainy film.

(Harstine Island, Washington State, Fall 2003, Elan 7ne, Fuji Provia 100) 

I am old enough to remember the consuming quest for film stock that would produce "grainless" images - when landscape photographers waxed eloquently about the smoothness and lack of grain in Velvia 50 and the ongoing technical talks about how to expose/process/develop so that your final images showed as little grain as possible.  Yes, some people even then used grain artistically, but for the the majority of shooters grain was bad.

(Seattle, Washington, Fall 2002?, Canonet QL-17 GIII, Fuji Super HQ 200)

Now, when consumer-level digital SLRs and noise-reduction software can easily achieve near-pristine smooth images that could only be dreamed about in the days of film (and even from images shot at high ISOs where grain was just a given), grain is  no longer the big bogeyman of the film shooter, but often rather a courted "feature" of the images.  Film shooters have reversed all the technical wisdom developed to reduce the look of grain.  We shoot expired film, underexpose and cross and push process to our hearts content, just so we can get that "chunky" look.

(Seattle, Washington, Fall 2002?, Canonet QL-17 GIII, Fuji Super HQ 200)

I like grain, and have always had a thing for dark, brooding and grainy images.  When I want clean, crisp shots I reach for my 40D without a second thought.  Many post-processing programs now have options for simulating grain in digital shots, and there are techniques for layering blank frames of certain types of film onto a digital image to get an even more realistically grainy effect.  But simulating the grainy effect well is difficult.

(March 2007, Bloomington, Indiana, Canon 10D, color conversion and simulated grain)

And while digital noise can sometime create a pleasing effect, the mood is a lot more harsh and uncomfortable (sharp and rough) than the rounder, softer effect from film grain.

"Six String Samurai"
(Chicago Loop, January 2008, Canon 10D, color conversion, amped up sharpening and contrast)

How much easier to just pop in that roll of expired drug store film or some nice chunky and contrasty Tri-X and see what develops.

"Woods In Snow"
(February 2007, Bloomington, Indiana, Elan 7ne, Fuji Provia 100)