Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The power of photography

exceeds the value of the paper that it is printed on. Steve Williams posted a very thought provoking essay (LINK). I read the letter and went to the author's site and then to the subsequent post and it only confirms what I already know that photography is not valued by many. I know people who never take a photo and don't even own a camera. I am the opposite, I take photos of everything I see, the ordinary, and special events in a style that I have adopted by hanging around photographers in my past life. It wasn't always this way. I remember a time when I knew nothing and I got a job developing film in a pro-lab. This led to a retails sales position in the camera department at Eaton's, part-time when I went to high school. I received my first camera on my 8th birthday, a Kodak Brownie 127 roll film. Remember the Kodak slogan "one click and we'll do the rest", and when the film was ready to be developed everyone would say, "I want to see them IF they turned out". While I was working for the lab, I bought my first Minolta SR-1 SLR with std lens. I knew nothing about how to work it but I suddenly became one of the school photographers.

Yesterday I stumbled across a blog where Martha mentions that she used to have a Nikon F2 photomic . She also has a photo blog HERE This got me thinking that I still have my Nikon F which I bought used from my uncle back in the early 70's


I have 3 heads for this body. The plain prism, the cds version, and the Photomic FTn later version but I prefer to use the camera in complete manual mode. It still has the original 5.8cm 1.4 mounted. If you are a Nikon collector this is a sought after model being produced in the first year of production, 1959 with a low serial number starting with 64xxxxxx. Being a camera collector, I used to keep my eye out for these models and I have another one in this number series.

Everything I have learned has been by reading and experimenting. From bulk loading film, hand developing, printing and framing, I do it all myself. I have many cameras, mostly medium format and large format as I was always interested in producing large, sharp, technically perfect enlargments (in Black & white).

For many years I walked the streets of East Side Vancouver taking stealth photos where Leica was my camera of choice


Notice that the cameras have their logos blacked out. All the street photogs we knew did the same to not draw attention to the camera brands. The two M6`s have Abrahamsson RapidWinders. I have known Tom Abrahamsson for many years and he anodized them for me so I could identify which one had slow speed or high speed film. The other M body is a Leica CL with 35mm f2 summicron

I have thousands of negatives taken of virtually everything around town. It was expensive back then having to purchase film, develop and print. After a while I moved to medium format nearly exclusively in my quest for big prints. You know what they say Bigger is Better. I used to take photos of my unsuspecting subjects with the intention of producing a framed print to give away. Of course I never told them ahead of time. I have always felt that photos were a way of preserving memories, of happy times and if it gave them joy, then it made me feel good that my hobby has brightened someone``s life. Because I do everything from start to finish, when I look into my viewfinder I don`t see an image, but rather I see a framed photo.

I don`t collect cameras anymore but I really haven`t sold any either. I am sure that digital has reduced the demand for film based equipment. Perhaps it would be nice to take a step backwards once in a while and do things the OLD way


I used to be sucker for Leica LTM (screw Mount M39). Whenever I saw one at a camera swap meet it was like a magnet. I just had to hold them, and often it was hard to put it down and walk away.


These are two nearly pristine models in my collection which have SCNOO`s attached. I believe that they are very rare and hard to find, but I have two. CameraQuest rates these as èxceptionally rare`` , perhaps one will show up once every 3 to 5 years.

It took me a long time to embrace digital and I had a lot of catching up to do. I never thought that digital would surpass film in resolution. I was a hold out until the end.

I still take a lot of photos but once you have the equipment to process, the cost is irrelevant. I still make memories and whether it be an edited Video or a framed enlargment, I still take pleasure in giving them away to my friends. I have complete control of my project from start to finish, which includes printing and framing. It is my hope that they appreciate my gesture and it will give them fond memories of a moment in time


  1. Bob

    There is something very sensuous about the Leica.

    Whilst I always try to take photos I remain at a loss what to do with them - that's partly why I blog to make a photographic diary (of sorts...)


  2. That was an excellent post and a very moving letter. Back in the 70's, I used to mostly shoot B/W doing the whole bulk loading, developing and printing and took my Canon FTb everywhere with the goal of making prints. When moving to Alaska, I sold the camera and lenses and moved to an Olympus XA P&S. Leica's were something I only dreamed about. I also stopped taking pictures. Recently I started again to take digital pictures for the memories. Rarely does anything ever get printed and generally throw most of the stuff out if it didn't come out like I thought it should.

  3. You are so right in that learning ultimately comes down to just doing it. Too many people are under the impression that if only they had a little fancier camera.....

    Right now I am working on seeing more than a rectangular frame. I'm trying to see through the viewfinder as if I'm looking into a cube. Trying to regain the three dimensional that gets flattened into two when we snap a photo.

  4. First, thanks for the nod to my post. I saw a big increase in traffic from your site and wondered what was going on.

    Going through your post on photography was like a walk down memory lane especially in the Nikon world. From the beginning of my professional career in the early 1970s I have been trapped in Nikon world. Most of my sentence has been comfortable but there have been a few times I wanted to escape and defect to Canon land. But those opportunities have passed I fear.

    The memories are made more bittersweet by the eminent demise of Kodak. I have watched the big yellow box dissolve over the years. I still wish I had a box of Medalist paper at times. Can hardly believe Dektol is still available...

    And I didn't realize you hung out with celebrities! Tom Abrahamsson is a mythic figure in Leica circles. More that once I have dreamed of one of his RapidWinders...

    I'm not so rapid anymore though.

    Thanks again for the great post!

    Steve Williams
    Scooter in the Sticks

  5. Oh you wicked man. What torture. Beautiful cameras! My stealth pocket camera is a Fujifilm Finepix F200EXR. I see more that I want, but I'm going to behave and work with what I have. A Hasselblad would be nice....And thank you so much for mentioning my blog!

  6. I think it is valued, just changing. Look at camera phones. Now they exceed all other photos combined over just 2 years. Instagram is adding a million users a MONTH. there is something visceral about shooting and sharing via twitter or whatever while you are there.. geo tagged too!

  7. Nikos:

    When you are a photographer and hang around with others of the same ilk, you tend to buy the best equipment available. somehow I got involved with Leica, Hasselblad, Linhoff. we all know that cameras make better photos . . .


    I just gave away my extra Canon, with breechlock lens mount. I may have an extra film Rebel to give you. I also had an XA, and XA2 but found them not to be that sharp. I still have a collection of Rollei 35's but the best user cameras are Retina's. The IIb model is the best one. I carried a Contax T for many years, so small with excellent lens.


    We eventually learn that it is the person behind the camera that produces the photos, the equipment just has to be capable for the circumstance. It cost lots of $$ to learn the stuff that I did. I am amazed that no one has taken me up on my offer to teach them how to use a 4x5 camera. You should learn to shoot with "both eyes open"


    I used to shoot a lot of Tri-X prof 120, and also Agfa or Ilford. I still have my enlargers but there is a small selection of chemicals now. You basically have to go to FreeStyle in LA to get stuff as it is not available here in town. I had great results with NeoPan 1600. using my divided D76 recipe I got from Tom (Abrahamsson). I have a 3 beam scale and I mixed it myself. You noticed that I have two RapidWinders. One Red and One Black. I have one of the Few Red ones in existance. The black one also has a finger grip (prototype).

    Martha/Teeny Puppetmaster:

    you post some very nice photos. Your camera was one of the first to shoot HDR.

    Happy Puppy:

    Are you the same one from ? I used to go there all the time until I ran out of time. I was just recently in Seattle for the IMS m/c show but I wouldn't recognize you.

    I'm still not sure these web photos are valued. to me unless a photo is printed and displayed, they aren't treasured and perhaps not appreciated in the same way

  8. Bob, Steve, my dad worked for Kodak all his life and retired from the company in the early 90's, before the final decline. We had a darkroom in the basement and I grew up surrounded by yellow boxes. Kodak is a textbook case in the disruption that digital technology causes to its analog forbears. Thanks for the great posts gentlemen.



  9. I have always loved taking pictures since I was kid. I am sad that Kodak is going under. We had many of their cameras when I was growing up. You have inspired me to think about pictures and their composition. Mine may only be a point & shoot, but it does the job.

  10. David:

    when I was much younger, and interested in photography, it was always my dream to be able to work for Kodak. Luckily it was not to be. I still have my enlargers and I actually developed a roll of film last year but selection of film/paper/chemicals is sparse. You have to make do with what you can get locally. I hope your dad's retirement doesn't get short changed with the eminent collapse or reduction in the Kodak pension fund.


    when you shoot film, it makes you stop and think as it costs money for every shot, unlike digital. Most hobbyists would still use B&W film and develop themselves. I used to do this before dinner and then I had Negs to print. I frequent a lot of photo forums and it is obvious that many don't know what they are doing.