Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

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The solution is at the end of a shovel

by on Oct.04, 2012, under Cameras, Commerce, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Film, Friends, Location, website

The solution is at the end of a shovel.  Or so I have been told.

Many people are educated but not schooled.  What do I mean by that?  In my years of hiring and firing employees or sitting on committees there are always those that are very well educated but do not have a clue how things really work.  In many instances these honoured individuals arrive with an attitude.  It’s easy to pick them out, they are the ones doing all the talking but not actually accomplishing anything.  I hate to say it but my many years of dealing with and working with academics has soured me to “higher” education and what is does to some people.  These individuals are book smart and people stupid.  Too many academics have a bully mentality which is probably derived from many years of being bullied themselves for being the nerds in school.  Of course there are some excellent post secondary educators out there.  Heck if you’re reading this you’re probably one of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of higher learning, just not the attitude some carry with them once they get their masters or phd’s.

I’m a big fan of compulsory military service.  Not that I support the war machine, I don’t, but I do support the discipline that is taught and the comraderie  that is taught.  You soon learn that to achieve your goals you have to work together.  Failing military service, high school graduates should be handed a shovel and put to work alongside twenty other know-it-alls building or renewing much needed infrastructure.  Pay them a decent wage.  At the end of the day they will realize they actually earned their pay.  The blisters and aching muscles will remind them of what it takes to make a buck.  After a couple of days when the muscles gain strength and the hands harden they will look back on that ditch they dug TOGETHER and feel a sense of accomplishment.  A shared accomplishment.  After their year of “service” they will have a totally different outlook on and appreciation for post secondary education.  They also will not put up with the paper tiger ( 紙老虎) prof’s at the front of the classroom.

If you look back to a blog I did last October 2011 you will see that I help out on a farm during harvest.  It’s my two week sanity break each year. This year a historical society asked Eric Goerzen my brother-in-law to leave around 5 acres of wheat standing.  We ended up leaving 7.5.  The historical society wanted to bring out the machinery used back in the 20’s and 30’s to harvest this patch of wheat.

During my 3 years helping out at this farm and my years helping out at my first wife’s family farm in Saskatchewan I have met some very interesting individuals.  The old timers that I met never made it through the end of high school and many did not finish junior high.  But a better “schooled” bunch you will never find.  The complexity of farming even back in the 20’s and 30’s just blows my mind.  To see the equipment these folks brought out to the historical harvest day was truly amazing.  Essentially nothing has changed in the basic mechanics which are the same as are being used today.  One of the old timers I just love to chat with is George Spooner.  He’s 80+ years old and still has a sharp mind and keen eyes.  Eric and I (yes my brother-in-law has the same first name as I do) generally start our harvest days by going to George’s for coffee.  George has been living on the same patch of dirt most if not all of his life.  His home is modest but is lit up by his twinkling eyes and quick wit.  George loves telling me stories about harvests past.  Generally there was a crew of men numbering 8 to 16 depending on how many threshing machines they had in the field.  Teams of horses were used to pull anything needing pulling.  These men worked from sunup  till sundown.  Sometimes paid only .75c an acre.  That doesn’t seem like much by today’s standards but it was enough to support a family.  Now Eric and I do the work with just the two of us.  That’s 14 men that had to find another line of work.  Over the years most did, becoming mechanics or moving to the city.  The tragedy today is that the jobs are being transferred offshore.   Both skilled and unskilled.  Who’s transferring these jobs? The educated but unschooled.  They are only thinking of themselves and the big bonuses they get.  My wife used to work for an oil company where the CEO got over $20 million in pay and bonuses.  His bonuses were tied to the bottom line.  If they were having a slow quarter, through no fault of the staff, hundreds would get laid off to ensure the quarterly results looked good for the shareholders.  Bingo – bonus time.

During our historical harvest day we had at least 40 men and women working.  Working together to get the job done.  At least 20 kids were running around playing in the haystack or riding the hay wagons.  We worked together and worked hard.  At the end of the day it was a combined accomplishment.  In this case the shovel was replaced by the pitch fork.

Of course the “shovel” I refer to is a symbolic thing.  However it’s a concept that can be applied across all fields of work whether blue, white or pink collar.  We need people who will pick up the shovel to dig ditches as much as we need people to design computers or perform surgery.  We also need people to feel a sense of community and understand that one is not any better than the other.  We are our brother’s keeper, or at least we should be.  As taught by Paul in Romans – “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  I am sure the same sentiment is expressed in all major faiths.

The photography stuff – finally…..

Recently I have gone over the tipping point with respect to digital photography.  Choking computers, large files, hard drive crashes, endless hours staring at a computer screen and file management have taken their toll on me.  For the next six months I am only going to shoot film for my personal stuff.  Clients insist on digital.  Well what they actually insist on is immediate access to finished, PhotoShopped files.  Their lack of planning is transferred to me as a looming deadline.

The magic is gone.  That anticipation you had waiting for your C41 to be developed and proofed by the lab, gone.  That thrill of checking your black and white negs just as they came out of the wash, still dripping, gone.  Watching the print come alive in the developer, gone.  That special look of Tri-X, gone.

I just had a power spike destroy 3 years worth of digital files.  Even my backup drives were toasted.  However negatives I shot in the 60’s are still there just as good as they were back then.  The management of digital media is just too complex and time consuming.  It’s a full time job.  One of the many “full time” jobs digital has created for me.  There is only one “me” but at least five full time jobs created by digital workflow.  I want my life back!

The historical harvest day was a prime candidate for a film shoot.  I blew the dust off my trusty Nikon F5, bulk loaded up four rolls of Ilford XP2, took my Nikon D700 from the backpack and threw in the film stuff.

I picked Ilford XP2 for two reasons.  The first being my darkroom is having some electrical challenges right now and secondly and more importantly I like the look of XP2 for people stuff.  I knew the sky was going to be blank and featureless which was another reason for choosing XP2.  With XP2 you get grain in the shadows not in the highlights like traditional silver based black and white films.  It’s also wickedly sharp with a great tonal range.  Being C41 I can take it into my local drug store and get the negs developed and proofed within 1 hour.

Generally when shooting in the environment I was in; bright sun, no clouds; I just take a meter reading off the northern sky and go with that.  God must like photographers because the northern sky is 18% grey.  For shadow shots I just open up 1.5 to 2 stops depending on how deep the shadow is.  No need for fancy matrix metering.  Another thing that I enjoyed was the limit on the number of photographs I could make that day.  Four times 36 equals 144.  That was it.  No changing cards, no chimping and deleting to make more room.

What this did was bring me back into the mode I used to be in while doing PJ work.  Anticipate the action, be in the right place at the right time, get that one shot that summarizes the action.  I loved it!  No spray and pray!  The F5 would chew up the entire 36 exposure roll in a matter of seconds if I used that digi mentality.  This put me back in the “moment” again.  Getting the “shot” was more about skill and timing than just dumb luck and a big CF card.

I used my old AI converted Nikkor 85mm f1.8 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4 lenses for 90 percent of the shoot.  The Tokina 16mm came out for some “drama” shots.  All lenses have shades on them and no filters were used.  I probably could have used a polarizer for some of them but what the heck I can burn down the sky in the darkroom.  I find so many people do not recognize the importance of using a properly designed sunshade for their lenses.  Why spend big bucks on a great lens and then kill it’s colour and contrast by not using a sunshade?  It’s like putting skinny retreads on a Ferrari.

I always set my cameras to aperture priority if they have that feature unless the effects of subject speed become the priority.  Using depth of field (DOF) plus out of focus areas in the foreground or background is one of the creative tools missed by so many beginning photographers.  For this reason I do not use hyper focal distance techniques very much unless doing street photography.

The following images are scans of the proofs obtained from the drug store.  When the snow is flying I plan on getting into my darkroom again.  Once that happens I will share some of my favorites from this shoot on my main website.  To see full size images click on the thumbnail.  This takes you to another page were again click on the image.  Kind of dumb but that’s how this gallery system work.  Looking at installing a different one in the future.

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LensWork Magazine – 100 issues of greatness

by on Oct.03, 2012, under Darkroom, Film, Location, Photographers, Vision

In the pantheon of photographic publications I believe LensWork initially found its place as a niche magazine mainly aimed at an older demographic.  It probably identified with and found influence from Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and others that were part of the west coast photographic movement of the 1930’s.  Over the years this has changed with LensWork showcasing very divergent photographic styles.

What sets LensWork magazine apart from the other more mainstream photographic magazines are its exquisite black and white reproductions.  Many of the photographers featured have commented that the images in LensWork are the equal of those they could produce in their own darkrooms.  Each publication is like being given a miniature gallery print from artists you could never afford an original from.  Brooks Jensen, owner and editor, features lesser known artists along with familiar names such as Kenna, Barnbaum, Witherill and Shelby Adams.  Getting your images published in LensWork is a real boost to a struggling artist not to mention the honour.

I have been a big fan of Brooks Jensen’s LensWork Magazine since it’s inception.  Even when times were tough I would always make sure I had enough scratch to buy the latest copy from my local book store.  Funny thing was this “local bookstore” was this sketchy shop that had a large number of what I guess is referred to as gentlemen’s magazines at the back.  I hated going in there lest someone I knew saw me or even worse saw me coming out with a magazine in a plain brown bag.  I can honestly say it was worth the angst and I have not been disappointed with any edition.  Do I enjoy all contributions?  No but there are always some images, words of wisdom from Brooks or interviews to keep me turning pages.  “End Notes” by Bill Jay was always a favorite of mine but sadly he passed away several years ago.

The past several years has seen LensWork recognize that the paper format may be coming to an end, either due to lack of demand or cost.  To Jensen’s credit he has embraced digital publishing using Adobe Acrobat.  With the reduced cost of production Jensen has published what he calls LensWork Extended.  This is a digital version of the paper magazine in pdf format plus extra folios in both black and white and colour.  Additional video and audio clips are added in the form of in-depth interviews.  I receive both versions.  The reason I get both is because I find even with a high quality calibrated monitor I still do not enjoy the richness and luminosity the printed magazine gives me.  I want to see photographic images on paper.  I guess I’m old fashioned.

A short time ago LensWork Magazine reached the 100 issue milestone.  I have to admit I have an entire shelf devoted to back issues.  Those I don’t have a printed copy of I have on a CD.  When I am in a photographic funk I grab six or seven issues and sit down on the couch immersing myself in the rich creativity contained within.  It’s not to learn new techniques because LensWork does not publish “how-to” articles.  That’s one of its strong points in my opinion.  My revelry is merely to lose myself in the wonderful diverse creativity LensWork showcases.  It’s like watching a great game of football to get psyched up before your own game.   Somehow gets my photographic endorphins going and beats artificial stimulants.

Some of my favorite artists and a representation of their images follow.  As you can see, even with jpg compression, Brooks sets the bar high when reproducing photographers’ images.  I feel it’s just not a desire to satisfy his readers but a respect for the artists he is showcasing.  To see full size images click on the thumbnail.  This takes you to another page were again click on the image.  Kind of dumb but that’s how this gallery system work.  Looking at installing a different one in the future.

If you are serious about photography and have moved beyond the “gear” phase I strongly suggest you buy a subscription to LensWork in whatever format suits you.  You will not be disappointed.  The images will inspire you, the interviews entertain you and Brooks will challenge you with his always thought provoking articles.

Here is the link to LensWork:  http://www.lenswork.com/

Do not miss Brooks Jensen’s personal work:  http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/

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The passing of a giant – Horst Faas

by on May.29, 2012, under Cameras, Commerce, Digital, Film, Location, Photographers

In the 70’s I was a freelance PJ.  Although only local and for the most part unsung I had dreams of covering the “big events”.  People like Horst Faas, Larry Burrows, W. Eugene Smith, and of course Alfred Eisenstaedt were my heroes.   Latter on David Burnett caught my attention with his images from Tehran during the uprising to overthrow the Shah.

In our busy world, spinning in all directions, we have lost sight of that old tradition – PHOTO JOURNALISM.  “I was there” photos and staged scenarios for news media consumption have replaced real journalism done through photography.

David Burnett worked with Horst in Viet Nam.  I encourage you to read his blog posting about the passing of Horst.  It’s inspirational and has the depth that only someone who was there could convey.

I could go on and on about the dumbing down of news reporting both printed and visual.  I could say that with the passing of Horst there is yet one less REAL photo journalist out there, but it’s not true.  There are hundreds of great PJ’s risking life and limb to bring the news to us.  The unfortunate part is that the news media for the most part ignores them.  Rather than pay professionals who know how to interpret an event or compile a story, they would rather use free unverified cellphone pics and videos.

We live in a Walmart society.  Sadly people seem to want the cheapest, fastest delivery of anything and everything they consume, be damned with quality.  Corporate greed has devised a business model that has convinced us that we should have everything we want, NOW.  The only way in which the average consumer can attain this ideal lifestyle is through the consumption of ever cheaper products.  Nothing has value anymore.  In the past we would save up for a new TV or 3 speed bike for Johnny.  Today we have been conditioned that it’s our God given right to have everything we want when we want it.  Easy credit and cheaper prices make this Utopian world achievable.  To insure the consumer mill keeps churning, quality is reduced so products wear out quicker and need to be replaced with the latest and greatest.

Inglewood Food Mart - Eric G. Rose Photography

Old and New

A lot of those old 3 speed bikes are still very functional.  Why?  Because they had “value”.  Work went into saving for them.  Sometimes sacrifices were made in some areas to achieve financial goals.  Once Johnny got his bike it was a big deal and he knew it.  Johnny took care of his new or new to him bike because he knew what his parents had to go through to get it for him.  It had value.

Bridge 531 - Seebe Eric G. Rose Photography

Bridge 531 - Seebe

Why a photograph of a bridge you might ask.   I first photographed this bridge in the late 60’s.  It’s still standing and in use every day.  This photograph and the next one were taken May 26th, 2012.  I wonder if our make it cheaper and faster mentality will produce bridges today that will still be around and fully functional in 52+ years.  The lens I used for the above shot is my beloved Nikkor AI modified 85mm f1.8.  An oldie but goodie.  To show I don’t scorn all things modern, the camera body is the Nikon D700.  I am sure it will not last as long as my still working Nikkormat FTn or my Nikon F5, but for now I am holding pack with the digital Devil.  The following image is made with the same body and a Tokina AT-X pro 17mm lens.  Very minimal post was inflicted on the RAW files.  Unfortunately the compression algorithm WordPress uses diminishes the colour somewhat.  In the first shot the green leaves are vibrant having only revealed themselves to the sun mere days ago.

Bridge 531 long view - Seebe Eric G. Rose Photography

Bridge 531 Vanishing Point

Read David’s blog.  Do a photo search on the photographers mentioned.  Experience what we have lost or at least allowed to be taken away from us.  Demand better quality and after purchase support.   Save for things.  Take your life back from the banks and CEO’s who’s only concern is the bulge in their wallets.

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I love this stupid town, I really do!

by on Apr.29, 2012, under Family, Life is Good, Location

A couple of nights ago my sweetie and I met a Large Format Film photo buddy for a warm beverage.  The area of town we were in is generally referred to as Connaught.  Most people know it as the street the Galaxie Diner is on.  The Galaxie has been a city landmark for over a decade.  I have spent a lot of time photographing the Galaxie and its employees over the years.  Some day these images might even be worth something.

eric_g_rose_diner_04272012_blog

Galaxie Diner at Rest

As evening turned into night the street came alive with bright lights and reflections.  The passing automobiles with their H.I.D. headlights create retinal searing lightning-like flashes intensified by the puddles left behind by a recent storm.  The dancing shapes cast upon the walls and glass windows of darkened stores are meant for a Stephen King novel.  At the end of a generally dark street is the  Kalamata Grocery.  A true traditional Greek supermarket.  How traditional you ask?  Well all the gentlemen working inside are called George.  Yes that traditional.

eric_g_rose_11st_04272012_blog

Kalamata Grocery

 Our photo buddy had told us that the Kalamata Grocery had the best olives in town.  Having developed quite an appreciation for good, fresh olives while traveling in Turkey we just had to check this out.  Once inside the store we were instantly transported thousands of miles to some small town grocery in Greece.  The noise level was higher than normal for we staid conservative Canadians.  Shopping for us is a very serious endeavor indeed.  Any spontaneous outbursts of enthusiasm is generally met with disapproving stares and whispered insults shared with a fellow shopper.  The joyful mood in the Kalamata Grocery was very welcome.

The owners were negotiating a transaction with a middle eastern lady who wanted to sell them some sort of non-tobacco tobacco.  This is the same lady who found it almost impossible to park her over sized Range Rover in a spot 1.5 times bigger than she needed.  Maybe she came from a country that doesn’t allow women to drive.  The photo above shows her fifth try at getting into her spot.  Cheap entertainment for me at least.  In all fairness she was a very nice lady.

My sweetie was on the hunt for the perfect olive with one of the resident George’s.  His animated descriptions of how great their olives are would make a Mexican beach walker selling Elvis felt paintings proud.  I went in the opposite direction looking for interesting compositions.  What did I find but yet another George.  This time a customer.  He was more than willing for me to take his photograph.  In fact he struck a pose for me.  This George told me he is the King of Calgary, but has to work as an underpaid and barely appreciated lawyer to pay the bills.  Calgary could do much worse when looking for an ambassador.  George was a gas and I greatly enjoyed our five minutes or so of conversation.

eric_g_rose_george_04272012_blog

The King of Calgary - aka George

Yes I do love this stupid town.  Calgary is such a schizophrenic place.  For the most part it is inhabited by super over achievers who have to park a BMW SUV in the driveway to make sure everyone knows they are making the big bucks.  Type A doesn’t even come close to describing the typical oil patch worker in Calgary.  Eighty hour weeks are the norm.  Many just don’t care about our city because they are only here to make loads of money and then go back to wherever they came from.  The sooner the better is their attitude.

On the other hand you find pockets of humanity like the Kalamata Grocery all over the city, whether they are in older neighbourhoods or carved out of the new coffins of concrete we call malls.  I am currently writing this blog in one such oasis, The Good Earth Cafe – Creekside.  Even though it is located smack dab in the middle of a new area the “real” people have slowly found it.  During the day when I come here to work on my website development business I meet other “geeks” and we have fun sharing war stories.  New moms come in with their burping and pooping bundles of joy.  Just now a large and very noisy group of new Canadians finished up a weekly get together.  Even in the city hated by most of Canada (yes even more than Toronto!) we “Blue Eyed Arabs” as we have been branded by the east are real people just having fun.  Well at least the ones that come here and make it their “home”.

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Website Re-design Completed, finally

by on Apr.29, 2012, under Commerce, Photographers, website

As with most things it takes longer than expected.  A sudden rush of customer websites naturally takes precedence over my own humble efforts.  However I can say it is up and running, finally!  The general consensus is that there is a major improvement in functionality.  Using the new features in Joomla sure adds some zip/zap to things I must say.

I just unleashed to the world a new website for George Barr.  George is a well respected photographic artist who has two highly acclaimed books under his belt in addition to his beautiful photography.  Check it out at www.georgebarr.com and let me know what you think.  The website is designed around George’s keen eye for graphic layout and contains the features he wanted.  Simple but elegant.  I also moved George to a new and much more professional looking Blogging package which is totally integrated with his main website.

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Total redesign for ericrose.com

by on Mar.01, 2012, under Location

Open Wide - Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

Ok, lets see what's in there

My main photography website is down right now as I do a complete redesign.   The look and feel will be different and under the hood I have installed the latest and greatest CMS system.  Rather drastic to nuke the entire thing, but what the heck no pain no gain.

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Camera Review – Olympus 35RD

by on Feb.28, 2012, under Camera Review, Cameras, Film, Scanning

Yesterday I saw an announcement for Nokia’s latest cellphone.  What makes this important to me was the claim it sported a 41 megapixel camera.  Should be interesting to see just what the image quality will be.  Being the contrarian that I am, I have decided to do an in depth review of a 64 megapixel pocketable point and shoot camera, sans phone.  This little modern wonder is the Olympus 35RD, produced in the 1970’s.  To get 64 megapixels requires one further step, you must scan the 35mm film it uses.  I found this little beauty in an antique store here in Calgary.  It was just sitting there looking very lonely and forlorn so I just had to buy it and take it home. Cost me all of $10.  Yes my parents had problems with me bringing home puppies and kittens too.

Front view Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art PhotographyOnce home I fished out a roll of 35mm Fuji color negative film from the refrigerator and loaded this baby up.  The meter proved to be operational but the battery was leaking so I replaced it.  The shutter sounded good, no oil on the aperture blades and the foam seal around the back door looked soft and light tight.  Time to put it through it’s paces.

I am use to rangefinders as I have both a Leica M3 and M5 so focusing this camera was not a problem.  The patch could have been a little brighter but it sure beats the focusing patch in my Olympus XA.  The XA seems to have a cult following but it certainly does not have anything over this camera.

The features I immediately recognized as nifty were the flash settings.  On the main aperture rotating ring there is a green thunderbolt.  If you are using a fully manual flash set the camera to this setting.  Then look under the lens and you will see a little tab where you can set the Guide Number (GN) of your flash.  From then on just focus and the camera will set the proper aperture (f-stop).  Heck we had to wait until the mid 2000’s to get this kind of functionality on digital SLR’s!  Another feature I appreciate is the ability to meter through filters that are added to the taking lens.  Many small rangefinders have the light sensor on the body rather than in the lenses light path.  If this is the case in my opinion it renders the camera useless.  For those of us that love to take manual control of a camera this little baby allows us that freedom as well.   Just move the aperture ring off of A for automatic, set your shutter speed and the camera’s meter will suggest the f-stop you should use.  Makes it easy to bias your exposures plus or minus for tricky lighting conditions.

The lens on the Olympus 35RD is a razor sharp 42mm f1.7.  Something or a rarity these days.  Fast lenses are not being produced by point and shootTop view Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography manufacturers due to cost and the new digital sensors being able to shoot in low light with ever better performance.  However I like the ability to use fast lenses for their wide open shallow depth of field look.  Something that is impossible to get with the newer cameras unless you spend mega bucks.  Many have said that the only way you can tell the difference between images taken with this lens and a Leica 35mm f 1.4 ASPH Summilux-M is through a microscope.

The proof is in the pudding so to speak.  My usual method of testing any camera or lens is to take a bunch of real world photographs that will highlight any strengths or weaknesses of the test equipment.  I am not really all that interested in laboratory measurements and voodoo speak.  My main test criteria is for a camera and lens to be able to handle low contrast, high contrast, straight lines, edge to edge sharpness, focus accuracy and exposure accuracy.  Ergonomics, sound and just general vibe are also important.  One thing I must say is that this camera is so quiet sometimes I couldn’t tell if it actually took the picture.  If this is something that is important to you then definitely seek out one of these little gems.

On the downside I found it hard to focus with my glasses on.  It was possible, but worked better if I took my glasses off.  I didn’t have to worry about scratching my $1200 pair of specks as the viewfinder has a plastic guard around it.  Hey Leica, learn something.  Maybe the later Leica’s have plastic guards now but my M3 and M5 sure don’t.

The following photographs are scans of drug store 4×6 prints.  No Photoshop wizardry  has been added beyond making them look like the original prints.  You can see for yourself that this camera performs very well.  The detail in the shadows was exceptional while not blowing out the bright areas.  The glint on the bright silver tubing on the chairs was well controlled with nice little stars.  The camera’s meter handled complex meter situations well too.   You can also see in the shot of the fence that there is no perceivable distortion or fuzziness at the edges.  Most shots were taken between f8 and f16.

This camera really has a “vibe” factor of 4 out of  5.  The Olympus XA has a full house 5 but it harder to use and the image fall off in the corners is bothersome unless that is the look you are going for.  This little camera will find a place in my computer bag for daily film shooting.  Those poor Leica’s are going to whine and moan I know it.

Sharpness test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

close focus test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

bright highlights test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

extreme exposure range test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

low contrast test Olympus 35RC - Reviewed by Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

 

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Dreaming of Spring

by on Feb.26, 2012, under Cameras, Family, Film, Friends, Location, Photographers, Travel

Eric Rose Fine Art Photography - Spring Crucus Photograph

My "Perfect" Crocus Photograph

As I write this, snow is swirling outside my office window.   Anyone who knows me well knows I hate winter.  Winter in Canada anyway.  October to May in the Caribbean, Thailand, Bali to name a few places would be infinitely more bearable.  Life is what it is and I am firmly planted here in Calgary Alberta, Canada for the foreseeable future.

Today my thoughts turned to a right of spring I participated in for at least 30 years.  It was the search for the perfect crocus photograph.  According to Wikipedia: “Crocus (plural: crocuses, croci) is a genus in the iris family comprising about 80 species of perennials growing from corms. Many are cultivated for their flowers appearing in autumn, winter, or spring. Crocuses are native to woodland, scrub and meadows from sea level to alpine tundra in central and southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, on the islands of the Aegean, and across Central Asia to western China.  The name of the genus is derived from the Greek krokos (κρόκος). This in turn is probably a loan word from a Semitic language, related to Hebrew כרכום karkōm, Aramaic ܟܟܘܪܟܟܡܡܐ kurkama, Persian and Arabic كركم kurkum, which mean saffron or saffron yellow.   The name ultimately comes from Sanskrit कुङ्कुमं kunkumam, unless the Sanskrit word is from the Semitic one.”

As the weather warms and the snow recedes I keep an eye out for a faint burst of purple peaking through the native grasslands around Calgary.  I  inherited this crocus fascination from my mother. I think deep down she was just as depressed about winter as I am.  As a child I would tag along with her as she hiked through local grasslands looking for that “perfect” crocus.  Many years later and several hundred photographs of crocuses printed my mother rewarded my efforts by purchasing a crocus photograph from one of my photographic students.  This picture was prominently displayed on our living room.  In all fairness it was a very nice photograph (grumble grumble).

My quest continued, now with a heightened sense of urgency, I had to replace that photograph in the living room with one of my own.  It was a pride thing.  The gauntlet had been thrown down.

It never happened.  My mother died from cancer but at least she had a crocus photograph that gave her pleasure and reminded her of the great times we had together.  However my quest continued unabated.

Jump forward a bunch of years to an afternoon spent in Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park with a group of photographers from my Large Format Users Group.  I started this group around 2006 to promote the use of large format film cameras in Calgary.  Naturally a side benefit was meeting and becoming friends with a great bunch of photographers.  On this day however I had my Nikon D70s equipped with a razor sharp Nikkor 60mm macro lens by my side.  No pretty large format landscapes for me today, it was crocus day!

After two hours of climbing hills, sliding down into steep gullies just to climb up the other side I finally found my crocus.  There were no trumpets.  Charlton Heston did not appear as Moses and point to this perfect flower with his God given staff.  Nor was the light right.  Urgh!  After several moments of disgust I thought I might as well take the shot and see if I could do something with it in Photoshop.  Heck if you can make ugly people look like runway models in Photoshop I should be able to fix the lighting.

My tripod would not allow me to get down to the level I wanted so my LowePro pack was pressed into service.  A few errant sprigs of  grass were removed (yes I am one of those, get over it) focus was adjusted and I was ready to make my photograph.  Then a miracle happened, a cloud covered the sun.  Thanks mom, I am sure you were watching me.  Hopefully you find this shot worthy of your mantel in heaven.

The photo may not be perfect in your eyes and maybe you have better ones yourself.  Personally I am happy with this one and have ended my quest.  I have not taken another crocus picture since.  Mission accomplished.

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Innocence

by on Feb.14, 2012, under Cameras, Family

Innocence (or guiltlessness) is a term used to indicate a lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. In a legal context, innocence refers to the lack of legal guilt of an individual, with respect to a crime.

The lamb is a commonly used symbol of innocence’s nature. In Christianity, for example, Jesus is referred to as the “Lamb of God”, thus emphasizing his sinless nature. Other symbols of innocence include children, virgins, acacia branches (especially in Freemasonry), non-sexual nudity, and the color white.

Tamara Picking Clover - Eric Rose Fine Art Photography

The Innocence of Youth

 

The photo above was taken with a Nikon F2 and probably my old trusty Nikkor 43-86 zoom on Kodachrome 64 film.  This is my oldest daughter who just recently turned 30.  She still exhibits the same wonderment and zest for life as she did 28 years ago, but now tempered with life experience.  Is the innocence still there?  Sure it is.  It will always be there even if it has to work it’s way to the surface every once in awhile.  She has the strength to insure no one will ever take that part away from her.  Whether she believes in God or not, her spirit was given to her by the Creator and will be welcomed home when that time comes.  Hopefully not for many years to come as she has so much spirit to share with those around her.

Sometimes bad things happen to even the most innocent.  Think of the souls lost in Syria right now.  Babies and mothers blown to bits by a mad man.  When people lose their innocence it is usually at the hands of the guilty, if you can call the opposite of innocent – guilt. However these unfortunate victims of murder in Syria have not really lost their innocence, just their worldly projection of it.  Innocence is within the spirit, which now rests with God.

Those that have that special ability to make others feels special, whether it’s their own child, extended family or close friends are special in themselves.  They are a rarity in today’s “me” world.  These special people are selfless and work long hours, many over looked, to insure the quality of life for those around them is the best.

I want to talk now about someone in our family who is one of these very special people.   I have only known her for around ten years but in that short time have learned to love her.  Every time we visit she goes out of her way to make us feel special even though at the same time she is working a very demanding job and running a very active household.  Juanita is her name, not that would mean anything to many of you, but this is one person that should not remain nameless in a world of sensory clutter.  Nothing she has done will make the evening news.  She won’t appear as a trending item on Twitter. Nor will she have hours and hours of coverage devoted to her by CNN as she fights the biggest battle of her life.  This person who could have done anything in her life devoted all her waking energy to the well being of others.  Juanita worked in an old folks home for most of her adult life.  She choose to work in a position that gave her a very hands on relationship with those in her care.  Her spirit and innocent light infused those around her.  Juanita is the ultimate “mother hen” even taking on the job as head contract negotiator for the care workers at her place of work.

Juanita and her husband Gerald brought up three lovely, caring and equally “innocent” children into adulthood.  Each of their children have been infused with the spirit of their mother.

Juanita has been struck with a inoperable case of cancer.  Bad things happen to good people.  Just as they happen to bad people.  There is an equality there that doesn’t seem fair.  Why would God allow that?  Why would God allow a child to lose his or her little life as in Syria?  From God’s perspective, that life is not lost.  God is able to restore to that child their life, so no loss is suffered on the part of the child.  Life is not lost to the One who can restore it.

What about the grief that parents and family experience?  In our loss, the presence of God is available for us to experience His strength, His comfort, His sustaining love and assurance in the face of the evil that exists.  God sustains those who grieve for those He calls to Himself.

Juanita’s brothers, sisters and parents have flown to Abbotsford, BC where she lives to offer support and encouragement.  This is one very close family.  In the pictures my wife brought back Juanita still has that special smile.

I’m not writing a eulogy here, Juanita is still with us.  I can feel the warmth of her smile as I think of her.  Juanita is a unique person who deserves all the blessing, prayers or positive vibes any of you reading this can send her.  She deserves it.  Juanita has the fight of her life ahead of her.  She has spent her entire life helping others.  Now it our turn to help this very special person in any way we can.

Juanita has that special innocence.  She still has that special ability to get excited about clover flowers just as my daughter did 28 years ago, even though her world around her is anything but easy.

 

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The Wildrose Brewery

by on Feb.05, 2012, under Cameras, Developing, Location

Wildrose Brewery Vats and Kegs - image taken by Eric Rose Fine Art Photographer

I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Wildrose Brewery a couple of years ago.  I had spotted this place about a year before while at a farmers’ market.  The brewery is housed in an old decommissioned Canadian Army base .  What was more than likely a storage building for machinery now housed these gleaming vats full of God’s special nectar.

I lugged my backpack full of large format lenses, loaded film packs and a Linhof Technica IV past the patrons in the front, through those special swinging doors that separated reality from a Willy Wonka-esk sudsy utopia.  The Wildrose Brewery is a relatively low tech facility. Since they are a micro brewery the output is small when compared to the big operators like Molsons or Labatts.  Here the staff are very hands on with every facet of production.  They actually care about the product they produce and it shows in the taste.  Years ago I had dealings with one of the chemists that work for a once large beer “manufacturer” here in Canada.  I asked him what was his favorite brand.  His answer surprised me, he said he didn’t drink beer, he knew what was in it.  Interesting to say the least.

Here at the Wildrose Brewery they coax out several very distinctive brews from their specially picked ingredients.  “Manufacturing” suds is so far from their reality you have to wonder how some of the swill produced by the big manufacturers can be called beer.   Wildrose beer has become popular here in Calgary due to its taste, not through juvenile commercials.

This particular shot wasn’t easy.  There was a door open on the left that was bathing the kegs in direct sunlight.  The vertical vats were in shade with the background almost dark.  The scene brightness ratio (SBR) was approaching 10 or 11.  Fortunately I use PyroCat-HD as my primary developer utilizing a semi-stand regime.  I adjusted my ASA (ya I’m an old fart and still call it ASA) to the appropriate value, placed my zones where I wanted them and let’r rip.  As it turns out the neg is fairly easy to print, only a little dodging and burning here and there.  The film I am using is Efke PL100  also known as ADOX 100.  I would really like to make a digital neg about 11×14 and use it to produce a carbon print as I have seen Sandy King do.  Carbon prints have such a 3D look to them.

Once finished my shooting for the day the Brewmaster took me around and we spent at least an hour sampling various beers straight out of the vats.  Before I left I did a crew portrait which was dropped off to them the following week.  One copy for each of them.

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