Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

I shot some B&W photos today (but they still need to be developed) and I ate way too much food. Flo Tiger had invited me to noontime"breakfast". She's been trying to sell the house in South Dade where she and her late husband Spencer had been living. She and her two dogs are now living at her dad's place on one of those ritzy islands along the 79th Street Causeway just east of the Channel 7 studios.

It was an interesting mix of people. Spencer's nephew Robbie was there. Well, since he got hit by a car while bike riding a few years ago he's never really "there", what with a steel plate and drain tubes in his head. He walks OK and his speech is understandable. He pretty much thinks like an eight year old and lives to play computer games. It's all he talks about. Flo's brother, who writes software for a living was there. Two of Flo's friends from South Dade were there. I think the reason for having our "breakfast" at noon was that the two ladies attend a Baptist church near where they live and then had to drive about thirty miles after the Christmas morning church service. They told us that normally the minister's sermons last about half an hour but today it was like he couldn't stop talking.

Flo is a gourmet cook! She made some kind of eggs with spinach and bacon in an egg poacher, as well as some fantastic potato latkes (pancakes) and French toast. I ate way too much, probably because I was eating breakfast so late as much as because it was so tasty.

I gave Flo a framed 11 X 14 print of Spencer when he was maybe 15 years old with his sister Donna, perhaps 17 at the time, sitting on the hood of an old 1950's vintage car on the Miccosukee Reservation. Donna was Robbie's mother. Now both Donna and Spencer are gone. Too soon, too young.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Giving Florida a Bad Name?

This afternoon I got a call from my cousin Joel. He calls every year when he visits Florida to escape the New England chill. But this call wasn't the usual "What day are you available to get together?" It was "Do you know anybody in the State Attorney's office?"

That didn't sound like the Cuz I remembered. He just wanted to rent a house in a warm climate for a few months, a house in Boca Raton, FL. He told me about his problem with getting ripped off by a real estate agent seemingly in cahoots with the homeowner, and for a substantial amount too, over five thousand dollars. I made a few suggestions as to what he might do and who he should contact, then I had a flash of inspiration! I'm a lazy dude and this would be a great way to fill some blog space! "Joel" I said, "Put it in an email. Write all the gruesome deatails, name names, and if you do manage to get down here we'll go take a picture of you, sad look on your face, tear filled eyes, standing in front of the house that you'd paid for but weren't going to get to stay in. We'll post the photo on The Price of Silver right here!"

So here's Joel's email, his very own words, from him to me, and now for the whole entire world to read:


On the 22nd of November I went into contract for a house in Boca Raton, Fl. with the real estate office of HOME RUN REALTY, INC. 2918 Jog Road Green Acres, Fl. Since the time I gave them a sizable deposit there was nothing but heart ache. The Real Estate agent handling the home was very unprofessional and rude to me. On the 11th of December, I was informed by the real estate agent LEONARD GREENBERG to send a check directly to the owner which I did by OVERNITE and the check was cashed on the 12th at my bank. As of yesterday, I received a call from the agent that was handling my end named DARWIN SEALEY that he heard from Mr. Greenberg that the owner did not want to rent to me. My plans were already made to be in Florida on the 17th of December leaving me no place to go. As of today (December 14th) Mr. Sealey told me that Mr. Greenberg as not heard anything from the owners. I also have spoken to the owner of HOME RUN REAL ESTATE (Debbie Smith) and got no where with her as she just gave it back to Mr. Sealey. NOW, MAYBE PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND WHY THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IS SO BAD IN FLORIDA AS THE REAL ESTATE AGENTS AS WELL AS THE OWNERS OF THE OFFICES DO NOT CARE ABOUT RENTALS AS WELL AS SELLING.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elena Kaplan, Atlanta Attorney

Yeah, that's me, maybe a year or two before my daughter Elena was born. Her mom, Stephanie, and I were still married. She made that shirt for me. I think they called that a Nehru collar, and love beads were in fashion. The only grey hair that I had was a dime size circle in my left sideburn, probably where the dimple was when I was little. Wow,I had a big head, and when I was being born the doc had to pull me out with forceps, leaving a dimple on each side. I guess it caused some damage, at least on one side, because when my sideburns started to grow in at 18 or 19 there was that little patch of grey.
Stephanie took this picture of me in our back yard. Judging by the angle she probably used the Minolta Autocord, a camera best used at waist level.
There's an old Jewish custom. When a child is a complete dissapointment, marries out of the faith, whatever, you go through a period of mourning as if they were dead, a seven day period called sitting shivah. It helps to bring finality to your feelings for this person. Time to move on with life for the living.
About six or seven years ago I was planning on driving up to Gainesville for a few days to visit Elena. She had gone back to school to pick up a masters degree in tax law. She was already an attorney in Atlanta. I'd visited her there a year earlier We talked on the phone all the time. Then I got The Letter. She wrote that she never wanted to see or speak to me again for the rest of her life. I tried calling her but she wouldn't talk. I tied calling her mother. She said to give her two or three months. She'd get over it. She didn't. Now it's been six or seven years.
I decided to just enjoy the memories of the good times we'd shared and accept the fact that she was gone from my life. I'm amazed at how many men that I know that have the same situation with their daughters, but not with their sons.

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A Tale Of Two Weston Master V Light Meters, Etc.

The fun part about writing this blog is trying to figure out what to write to go with each photo. Sometimes it takes a bit of convoluted thought to make the connection. Bear with me. My Weston Master V was in current production when Peter Tepper made this utterly fantastic photograph of me looking utterly bored shitless. The other two? I'd met Shirley Rigby while she worked as an editor at the soon to be defunct Miami News. I'd met Jon Sinish a year or two earlier at the annual Wilson Hicks Photojournalism Conference at the U of M before it was named after him.
I was wearing horizontal stripes on my shirt in an effort to make myself appear heavier while Jon was wearing vertical striped trousers because (choose one) they were fashionable, vertical stripes are supposed to make you look taller, or they were all that Good Will had in his size.
Well, Shirley had left the Miami News to take her British accent to Manhattan and do some editing for Time Magazine. I was driving to Massachusettes to visit my dad and on the way spent a couple of days at Jon's apartment in Westport, CN. Shirley took the train up to Westport for the weekend and Peter had his camera handy. I guess he wanted to preserve the moment so future generations could ponder (choose one) why anybody in their right mind would wear diagonally checked trousers with a shirt featuring horizontal stripes under a corduroy jacket, was Shirley jealous that both Jon and I were blessed with curly hair while she had straight hair, or would anybody end up giving a damned about any of it. Thirty-eight years later Jon and I stay in touch via phone, email, and an occasional visit. I lost touch with Shirley about thirty-five years ago, but if she reads this, or if you know where she is these days, I'd love to get in touch with her again.
My once shiny new Weston Master V light meter is rather old now. A few years ago it made a trip to Hollywood, CA so George at Quality LightMetric could perform his magic and make it work like new again. He did and it did, but I don't like being caught meterless so I also purchased a rebuilt meter from him. Last week one of them stopped working, but I was going to wait until after the holidays to ship it to George. Yesterday the other one died. This morning they got packed for travel and they both started their westward trip, holidays be damned. I need a working meter!

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Back When I Had A Fence ~ Circa 1970

Yup, the front yard used to have that fence around it. An idiot in a black pick-up truck ran through it a few months ago. I decided not to replace it. I can't remember what happened to that young tree but it's been gone for years now.My wife Stephanie probably shot this back around 1970 with her Leica III-f and a 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens to show the world my new Greek fisherman's cap, a navy blue twill cap with a short brim. I still have the cap and wear it on occasion.
The beard has come and gone dozen times over the years, I still have that huge brass belt buckle but the belt long ago started cracking, then tearing, until it was at last discarded.
Two things that haven't changed are the cigarette in my hand and the grass that should have been mowed two weeks ago. The city was less strict in their code enforcement efforts back then and about the only thing that motivated me on rare occasions to crank up the mower was my wife's kvetching. I still hate mowing, but now I pay one of the neighborhood kids to do it.

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Girl Watching, Fancy Foot Work

Al Olme shot this back about 1969. He made the print and even signed it. (Al, get famous fast so I can sell the print for big bucks and retire in style!)

I have no idea as to where this was taken or why, or who that couple might be. The odd thing is that their hair styles wouldn't look out of place today.

I can imagine the guy with a lot more grey, perhaps balding. The girl would be sixtyish. Likely as not a kid or two would have affected her figure. Or they both might be dead.

A few years later Al moved to Minneapolis. Since then I've spoken with him a few times but haven't seen him. He was a big fan of Minolta cameras back then so this was probably shot with a Minolta ST-101. I was most likely shooting with my Leica M4.

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Jonathan's Early Years ~ The Lady Killer

That handsome young gentleman is my son Jonathan. I don't remember exactly why he owned a suit at the time. Perhaps for a wedding in the family? He was five years old when I shot these photos at the annual Miss North Miami Coronation Ball, but he'd reached the age where he loved to go places with me, meet new people and find out exactly what it was that Daddy did for a living.

We got dressed and I checked to make sure that I had enough film and batteries to get through the evening. A lot of the pictures had to be shot in black and white for the newspaper and the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, as well as get color shots of the girls with their sponsors. I think that Jonathan was the only one there that not only got to dance with all twelve of the contestants, but they were the ones who asked him to dance.

These scans are off some old prints and somehow it just seems more authentic to leave the faded colors and age stains. The photos were taken with a 35mm Summicron on a Leica M camera, but I don't remember which model.

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I Wonder Whatever Happened To Jill?

I first met Jill at a Greynold's Park Love-In in the late 1960's. She was truely a miniature woman, about 4 foot 9 and 80 pounds at best, good looking and she knew it!

She grew up on Miami Beach and eventually got married, changing her name from Aberman to Carpenter, hardly a Jewish name, and had a son. I guess that he'd be in his late twenties by now. Jill and I used to run into one another frequently for many years and then one day I realized that I hadn't heard from her in months. I asked around but never did find out what happened to her. I guess that was back in the early 1980's.

This shot was for no better reason than to try out a "new" Polaroid camera. Polaroid had made first a Model 110 with a quality Wollensack lens and coupled rangefinder, following that up with the 110B which had a fantastic Rodenstock lens, but they were both designed for the original Polaroid roll film. They wouldn't accept the new pack films. It was getting difficult to find the roll film, and a lot of us used to like to shoot a Polaroid test shot to check the lighting in studio shots.

Somebody came up with the idea of taking a Polaroid pack back made for a 4x5 view camera, a hacksaw, and some epoxy. With an hour or two's work the 110B would take Polaroid film packs! I located a 110B at a thrift shop for next to nothing, bought the back at Browne's Photo Center, did a bit of sawing and glueing, adjusted the front standard to move the lens back a few millimeters, and ran into Jill. That solved my model problem. I wasn't testing the lighting, I was testing the camera. It worked! I still have it. Now I read that Polaroid is stopping production of all their films. Who needs instant pictures when you have a digital camera, right? I hope that Fuji starts importing their version of instant film. A lot of other people do also.

And that table that Jill is standing on? It's an old treadle Singer sewing machine from near the turn of the last century.

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Senator Pepper

I guess this was about twenty or twenty-five years ago, about the time when Barry went from calling itself a college to calling itself a university. Barry is a few miles south of where I live and I did all of their photography for about twenty-five years. One of the reporters at the North Dade Journal left the newspaper for the position of public relations director at Barry College which at the time was a Catholic girls school. I'd been working with her for a few years at the paper and she started to call me to shoot events at Barry.
Senator Claude Pepper was the Grand Old Man of North Dade County politics, and he was always willing to speak someplace about something. If it had anything, anything at all about what was going on, he knew everything about it and was only too happy to step up to the podium. I have no idea what was happening this day but I suspect that it was the groundbreaking for the new library, based on the background. Claude Pepper had no doubt been instrumental in getting a few million dollars of public funding to help with the project. I'd photographed the senator on dozens of occasions and he thought it was an OK idea. I set the camera and handed it off to somebody ~ CLICK! ~ and this was the result
This was about the time that I'd decided that damnit! if I was going to be taking everybody's photo being pals with the bigwigs I wanted to start getting some pix with me also. Now that the good senator is no longer around I can't put him in charge of the white hair, nor can he put me in charge of the brown hair, like we used to do in the old days. Now I wear a mixture of both in memory of a great man.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Last Of The Al Kaplan T-shirts?

Amazing. James Mitchell gets the idea of sticking my ugly face on a T-shirt, complete with a cigarette dangling from my lips, posts the thing on an internet Leica Photography forum, and suddenly orders are coming from as far away as Australia! Next thing I know I'm having coffee at a sidewalk cafe on South Beach, another photo of me, this time with Leicas draped across my chest. by a top advertising photographer, and James decides another T-shirt is called for. In the meantime I've discovered that a market has developed for the few T-shirts out there, used I'm assuming, and I suggested to James that maybe he should make up some more, or better yet, a coffee mug! He just emailed me this link. Seems he has a few of the first batch of both editions still available and right now he's listing them on ebay. Put one on, grab a cuppa java, and you can pretend that you're having Coffee With Al

"Al,Can you put a link to the auction in your blog. This is on Ebay for the remaining 7 Large size shirts. I have a couple of odd sizes, but these are the last. I have two more of the newer shirt too. But let's see how this goes. Here is a link"

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Friday, December 05, 2008

What's Going On With This Blog? Find Out:

I've already mentioned that things here would be a slow go through the holiday season. I've been keeping too damned busy doing other things. Today I dug through drawers and boxes filled with photo related dohickies, old filters, lens parts, dead cameras and such, and listing them on the Rangefinder Forum. All the members there are doing it. The idea is that if somebody wants something all they have to do is pay for shipping. No charge for the item itself. It's a great way to get rid of all that "too good to throw away" clutter, and my house sure is cluttered.

Another thing I've been doing is sifting through my clothes closet. I'm one of those rare guys in his sixties that still wears the same size, the EXACT same size, as I did when I was in my twenties. Time was when I was in suit and tie most every day, then for maybe twenty years it was jeans. In the meantime lapel widths fluctuated a bit but now they're about what they were when the suits and sport jackets were new. I've been freaking people out! Instead of wandering around North Miami looking like a homeless bum carrying a toy monkey I'm getting comments like "Oh Mr. Kaplan, I didn't know that you were an attorney!" I'm not, but the old saying that "clothes make the man" still seems to hold true.

In keeping with the new image I've been shooting with a Leica M2 equipped with a 21mm Super Angulon instead of the cheap little Bessa L and the 15mm Heliar. Gotta hang the proper expensive classic camera in front of a silk tie...LOL. I'm mostly shooting B&W once more, but I'm still doing the self-portrait thing mixed in with various other shots. After the holidays thepriceofsilver will be back, reinvigorated and better than ever. Until then keep checking in for occassional updates and perhaps a story or photograph here and there.