Monday, December 03, 2007

Got The Blues In The Morning


My first inclination was to write about color. I fell asleep, words flitting through my brain and falling into place all about the blue of the shirt and the car and the color of cloudy day light, and how I've always been attracted to red, supposedly a Scorpio trait, and here was standing by this bright red car. When the picture first appeared on the screen this morning the words just weren't there.

A lot of people ask me how I shoot these "self-portraits" and they remark that "it must be an expensive camera!" The camera body just carries the Voigtlander name, which was purchased from the old German camera company by Cosina in Japan. They briefly marketed a really stripped down version, the Bessa L, which had no built in rangefinder, not even a viewfinder. Essentially (as I half kiddingly say) it's a rear lens cap with a shutter, a film transport mechanism, and a surprisingly accurate behind the lens light meter. Naturally it didn't sell and Cameraquest closed them out for $59.95 if you bought the body with a lens. The 15mm lens with a viewfinder lists for $345.00, and just the bayonet adapter to fit it on my Leica cameras would have cost me $55.00. I guess that means that my "expensive camera" cost me a whopping $4.95. The lens itself is really very good, although the build quality of the aluminum mount doesn't compare to the precision of a chromed brass Leica lens, and Leica doesn't make a 15mm lens for their rangefinder cameras. If they did it'd probably cost well over $5,000 with the viewer.

The technique consists of holding the camera out at arm's length pointed back towards myself. I guess at what will be included in the picture and pose myself, put what I think would be a good expression on my face and click of 3 or 4 exposures. I can do that with either hand.

For the past 3 years or so I've carried that camera and lens everyplace. The first year I shot black and white. When I discovered that it was cheaper to shoot color I made the switch. No artistic reason. I'm just a parsimonious guy, a result of my "waste not, want not" New England upbringing. Now I kind of enjoy the color, playing with color composition instead of just the lights and darks of black and white. Inexpensive lens, cheap camera, film bought on sale, drugstore processing and scan. Then my good buddy Todd Frederick, who's not as color blind as me, tweaks things to perfection and posts the photo on the blog. There you have it!

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