Another go around with an old friend

Image shown from eBay auction.

In a strange turn of events, I have accidentally won another insane eBay auction. If it weren’t for the amazing effort put in by the eBay support staff after the debacle involving a hostile buyer for my canon 1d (yes my idiot self had to sell a beloved camera for car repair and such), I would have sworn off the site entirely. In the wee hours of the morning I sent a random “joke” offer to a seller for the camera above and they accepted.

For an accidental $8 I accrued through doing those pointless online surveys for dimes, I said why the hell not and made a gamble. It’s tough to find motivation to not be online, despite my amazing surroundings, when you’re stuck with only a broken Nikon f2 eating half of every roll or breaking them mid-roll and my trusted Olympus with its now broken lens.

The focus ring is coming apart due to age. 7 years of going everywhere, I suspect.

This “little win” means so much. If you’re unfamiliar with my older work, ( hint: the images are buried in the earliest posts of this blog.) I used one of these and a Nikon f4s almost exclusively for a few years doing editorial fashion in Florida. I sold my old Argus c44 kit, as they are known, to a friend who fell in love with it. She had developed a focus issue in the geared finder so he got quite the deal. I sincerely can not contain my excitement. These lenses have accumulated a cult following with Sony users creating custom mods for their digital bodies. The “kit” lens has a 19 blade aperture and a full leaf shutter, providing flash sync throughout its entire shutter range. I have a sweet spot for leaf shutters for this very reason. The camera provided a solution to combating the harsh gulf coast sun, where the Nikon usually fell short. In my opinion the lenses rival most Leica lenses in color rendition. Sadly, this was argus’s only interchangeable model. Made in Ann Arbor, MI as well!

These are just a couple of the examples form the previous copy I owned.

With luck, I’ll find a few rolls of film for my trip down to LA. I am still, just shy of the GoFundme goal to repair the car. But the idea of having access to processing chemicals in California is brightening my day. As always, much of this work is for sale, so please message me for any bookings or print orders. Ultimately, this is how I fund my #vanlife. Speaking of which, will from now on be known as #focuslife, as this feels more appropriate to having a normal car and not an $80k custom conversion van, while not also making six figures and “living off the grid” to be trendy. I love the outdoors and I’d rather sleep outside. as always, thanks for the support.

Homesick for Detroit

After a long conversation with a customer, who hails from Detroit before the 1970’s, regarding the rich history of the industrial revolution and american culture, i found myself becoming deeply homesick. home to me, or what home has been regionally, is that little corner of Lake Erie, stretching from the Detroit metro area down to toledo ohio. its graciously known as the upper end of the rust belt, formerly a manufacturing powerhouse. its not where i grew up, but where i lived most of my adult life. I attended school in Bowling Green, Ohio, while living just south of Toledo. Upon graduation, I immediately left for Detroit proper. I spent a lot of my time in college running between concerts, galleries, and eventually working in freelance street and event photography in the great motor city. sadly, I departed the city with my average wage sitting at a rough $8,000 a year. I ventured back to ohio, my home area of Cincinnati and Dayton for a reboot of both my art and my finances. While achieving these has helped greatly. I feel my heart still belongs to that region of the country.

Tonight on PBS, I watched Detropia, a documentary of the current state of Detroit by film makers, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing at Loki Films. Needless to say, it has been one of the most emotional films I’ve seen in quite some time. I am often asked how or why I left, headed south, and am now living in Florida. Its tough to explain, though the visuals in this film show what I often attempt to lay out in words. It is extremely tough to tell someone who hasn’t lived there that we do in fact have these third world environments inside the United States. It’s harder to have people fully grasp this and not just bully it into a crutch, a talking point for political conversations of who is right or wrong and doing what. My answer for leaving a place i love and still call home, though i haven’t been back in four years, is simple, I along with 300,000 people in the last decade, could not survive in that environment. I do keep a small bit of hope alive for a good job or situation which could make it possible to return. The option of returning to such a culturally rich, though dying place and rebuilding is something to keep alive. its a sense of hope that if that town place can survive and possibly flourish again, that any problem our country faces internally can be overcome.

20130602-232548.jpgThis Image, best illustrates where i used to work, downtown. Still taken from the film.

Photography in 2013

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This is my photo submission for the new year. I hope 2013 is as wonderful to everyone else as it has been to me.
The photos above was a self commissioned Christmas present for a coworker, whose wife is an amazing found jeweler and fashion designer. I have had the wonderful opportunity to photograph many if her pieces this last month.
Below is an example of her work.

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More can be found at Marie Gagne.
Happy new year everyone.

Sound proof cages.

I took a long trek around downtown St Petersburg for the fourth. The views from the pier were astounding. Such a clear day with so many people. After hours snapping shots, which will be part of the following post, I ducked out to a small cafe on the main strip. It was approaching ten and I’m not one for liking fireworks. I grabbed a now, new favorite dish, at a new favorite spot, the Sab Cafe. For $16, a tofu yum salad and two yuengling at this small asian eatery gave me a small chance for a full, happy belly and a much needed spot at a bar to rest and be social. This little photog is appreciatively, happy. ( my iPhone also just learned the word photog. I am so proud.)

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buckets of the things i need to learn about parachord could fill tropicana field.

I’ll be straight; this is a two parted review. I could go into detail about everything that happened before 1pm, but that’s best left for someone else’s’ lawyers to figure out. After 1pm, I began my day trip north. I set out with a simple mission to try on some of the backpacks I’d been drooling over for months online. It was a nice sunny afternoon to bus/hike/hitch up to the other side of Pinellas County, FL.
My first leg, well the snake rather, almost caught my leg as I took my first twenty steps towards the bus stop by where i’m staying. i startled a 5 foot black racer poised under a bush by the sidewalk. Fast little things. What is it with me and black racers in Florida? I know, I must have mentioned this in a previous posting. The wildlife here never amazes me, As though the state’s ecosystem is always trying to kick out civilized mankind. The bus trip to the transfer with my trusty new camera remained uneventful. The next bus was 25 minutes off, so I ducked into a wendy’s for a frosty. It’s the columbus, oh part of me. I had been avoiding this chain the entire time I lived there and for the past half year. As I finished some fries and approached the stop, a bumper from a newer mustang flew across the road into the sign post in front of me. Thanks to the county for amazing sign placement. I avoided the debris from a 55 mph crash. luckily a woman pulling out of the parking lot near me ran from her car and called 911. As it turned out the camero, hit by the mustang, deployed all its airbags. Neither driver, being only one person per car, sustained any injuries. They both denied the paramedics help. Two totaled sports cars, completely sober drivers, and zero injuries: one hell of an insurance problem for someone, i’m sure. With the stall in traffic, I even caught the bus to just south of Tarpon Springs. Oops. My destination is just outside of Clearwater. Taking some spare time saved for picture taking, I hoofed it to the store, over a few miles and through a really nice Korean War memorial park.

the scene of the accident.

florida has an amazing collection of old war vehicles lying all over the place.

As I thought the stores entrance was on the south side of this park, I walked the length of the park. In hindsight, the backdoor is actually a loading dock for kayak tests, not an entrance, but the employees graciously led me through the door and onto the amazing showroom floor of Bill Jackson’s. This is a store I’d heard about in great detail on the way down through Georgia. The place lives up to the hype and exceeds it in many ways. Unlike a box store, no one pestered me at minutely intervals to ask, too chipperly, if I needed anything. This is one of my greatest pet peeves. But the second I had my first question a gentleman was there with exactly the answers I needed.

the ebtrance to bill jackson’s, just off us 19.

I really only meant to see how the packs felt, but there is something amazing that happens when you step foot into a real live store with real live people, especially such a nationally recognized, locally owned, outdoors store. You spend more money, but you wind up with what you actually need, not what you thought someone else told you to want. No specs or biased, inflated forum reviews. With bags, its just that. You need to speak to someone who actually uses the products. Like shoes and cars, you, also, have to test drive them. I’ve owned as many bags as any bicycle-commuter/weekend warrior and have owned many things that have been returned or suffered catastrophic failures. I lost a laptop down three flights of stairs in college from a faulty shoulder strap, for example. Just as you’d expect from a place like this, the person assisting me took his time to help me get everything right. They offer an amazing $35 pack fitting. Without even asking, I was given a general fit by the associate at no cost. I had become overwhelmed with so many options from kelty, northface, and $900 wonder packs. This store only carries what really works, something for every one’s individual needs, no crap, and nothing that costs more than is worth in practice.
I found out as I combed through each model with my rep that I’d been looking at packs from the wrong perspective. I wound up purchasing an osprey porter 65, from their travel and trekking collection. Basically, what I needed was a backpack/duffel bag/back country hiking bag. Osprey actually makes something that does all this, with out jingling outer straps, can be checked on planes, has a removable day pack(which at $35 I saved to buy later), and all for $129.  I chose the 65l version which is the larger so that i can use the extra room for film supplies and my sleeping bag. For now I find my Timbuk2bag fits perfectly as the attachable day-bag. I hope the photos of all this do it justice, my journey now takes me back home and to the grocery.

What went into the bag.

with room to spare.

Just as I had some bus issues finding the store, these problems persisted. After a bus passed my by at the stop a mile down from bill Jackson’s, I spent a half hour talking about weather, storms, and Florida’s heat with a woman waiting on the next bus. Luckily, I flagged down a pickup driver and went on my way to the downtown Walmart for groceries, skipping the bus, altogether. The bag on my back ignited constant conversations with almost everyone I met. But what better way to test a frame less 65l bag than to fill it with $75 in groceries for the next few weeks, then hike the five miles home. I’m sure the sight was something strange to people downtown. Drenched in sweat, I made it home just before 9pm. My initial findings are that I’ve found the best possibly bag for the way I travel. I may never fill it up to 38lbs in canned goods again, though it handles well. I suited it up with everything I had to normally carry as well, roamed around the house, yet nothing I could do made it difficult to maneuver in or carry. I even found that the cavernous sleeve for the straps to tuck away into at the airport can hold a water bladder, if needed. Not having the extra straps is a godsend. I’m yearning for the daypack to go with it. It’ll give me a system which is actually only one pack when it needs to be, but can be separated when i need something lighter or hop the train. In the coming months, I’ll be able to fully test it out, as I plan on heading back to Ohio for a short family reunion, then out to Vegas to visit with friends. All this after the summer heat passes of course.

a shot of the bag, fully loaded with all my camping gear. smile.

The Bailout.

Sarah and I found two new unsuspecting victims of our rampant cross continental spree on the evening of february19th. Slightly outside Atlanta’s great bypass in a small thoughtful town and an address were all we had received a day before via a short phone call about a mythical warm bed to crawl into. The two days prior found us pitching a tent and crashing, bundled in layers of blankets and coats in the hills of tennessee after a friend’s backyard south of Lexington. Breakfast is always the first accomplishment of the day. A little slower to finish that morning, but the five hours on the road, stopping here and there, were harder than we had expected. At least the campground provided nice hot showers.

Front of the diner in Norcross.

In the outer loop of the city, Boulevard Diner demanded we stop for internet access and free coffee refills. I am a sucker for chrome and red neon. Free wifi with some of the best service I have experienced in any restaurant. A good resting spot, great food, and the ability to unwind with a massive stack of pancakes. This is also a great lesson on when and when not to eat regarding a road trip of this caliber.

I had a few rolls of film burning a hole in my bag so we awaited processing at a local pharmacy with a 1 hour lab. By no means was this to be our much awaited destination for the evening. On a rescue from my coworker Chris, mentioned in previous posts, we had an arrangement for a place to stay in Norcross. Chris set us up with some of his family for the night, so we could sleep comfortably, before booking early in the morning on our 9 hour drive to Tampa Bay. Sarah and I approached a secluded dead end suburban street, per the iphone’s directions. This continued past a few spooky gates and onto a dirt and gravel path the width of a single small sedan. Night had set in. there was a pause and an unanswered call to our host as we passed what turned out to be a small quest house on the property. Down a slight winding hill and a spectacular wood and stone house, romantically lit, fell into view. Our host stood welcoming just outside the front door. Sarah parked.

Stereotypically, an artist’s rugged beat up vintage pick-up truck sat to the side of the drive way. Our hosts were to be artist, Sal Brownfield, and writer, Eve Hoffman. These are family of Chris and the beginning of a night of food and conversation which have shaped my personal outlook and inspiration for our trip and every time a shutter clicks on my camera. After unloading our bags into a drive up, lower level bedroom, we joined Eve and Sal in the kitchen where we had a late, light meal and a beer. We journeyed to the living room in the house. Glass windows, floor to ceiling with naked wood trim and a collection of the most mismatched, yet complimenting furniture beckoned for a round-the-coffee table chat. A shower, rearranging my oversized duffel, and bed were the last order of the day.

A veiw out the door of the lower driveway to Eve and Sal's house. One of only three images that came out from my malfunctioning camera while we were in Atlanta.

Waking after a nice long sleep, 10am; Sal and Eve had fruit, cereal, and coffee waiting. A little more conversation, then off on the road again. A simple stay, well needed, yet of our short conversations a few clear points resonated. Eve, both night and morning, provided books like ‘Weird Georgia” by Jim Miles and locations to see inviting us to visit Atlanta again, like Fab Downtown Lunchroom. By morning we talked of writing and a need to remain focused on just that, writing and sharpening the skills daily. Eve brought an interesting idea that accents, southern from her perspective, are being eroded nationally, through the internet and other video media. She led into a self assessment for our journey regarding editing, keeping things raw and responsive or controlled and eloquent. As we discussed our travels sarah and I heard stories of traveling east to become an actor and a tale of Boris Marlowe in Provincetown, MA from Sal. As we discussed media and art, he dropped in with a simple question. Through this point in my travels, I have had unexplainable issues developing film at local labs, paying costs for a “dying” media, and wrestled with the possibility of acquiring a digital SLR to curb costs. The sentence he uttered which sliced through my skull and rewired my mind’s lighting came. Between film and digital, “do you need instant results?”

The answer is no. I have all the time in the world, no income and now real bills, no responsibility, and am in a situation which is unique day to day. I love digital, but I choose to shoot film. I have my reasons, but as an artist first, with journalism and paying gigs being second, I find film and its required dedication in this age, to be my best loved tool. The integrity in my expression is what I value the most. Although it may take a side seat to food and drink, with new friends whenever the chance arises.

 

Please check out the links, after originally writing this I discovered an amazing book released by Eve, “Red Clay“. Sal’s work can be seen here. I look forward to our communications in the next few months. I apologize for a lack of photos as this is the roll of film half eaten by my camera.