Eric G. Rose – Where It's At

Film

Lens Quality, what does it mean?

by on May.06, 2013, under Cameras, Digital, Film, Photographers, Vision

 

 

fly_wheel1_TVGP_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Rodenstock Sironar 150mm – this lens is so sharp and contrasty you could smell the grease when looking at the print.

Mike Johnston has an excellent blog called The Online Photographer.  I usually start my day by checking to see what’s new on TOP as the regulars call it.  Recently he asked the question: “I’m asking how important the quality of your lenses is to you. That is, when you’re choosing which one(s) to buy.

My idea of  “quality” might be different than the usual consumer definition.  This is what I responded to Mike’s question:

The signature of a lens is of utmost importance to my photography. I utilize it as a painter uses different brush strokes to mold the look he/she wants. I have differing photographic styles (portraiture, landscape and still life) that require different lens signatures to fulfill my vision.

A lens I love for landscape probably will not be my first choice for portraiture. All my personal black and white photography is done with film as I find the type of film used and how it is developed just as integral to my vision as the lens signature. Please note I am not saying film is superior, it just works better for what I want to accomplish.

I strive to create photographs that are true to my vision, not technically perfect photographs. MTF charts, pixel counts, resolution etc. mean nothing to me. Like Frank DiPerna said, ‘show me the print on the wall.’ That’s all that matters to me when I choose the tools I need to create the image I have in my mind. Today it might be a lens with smooth bokeh, tomorrow a lens that is razor-sharp and contrasty.

While putting my kit together I spent a lot of time viewing as many photographs as possible. If a photograph had a ‘look’ that I resonated with, I would find out what was used to create it if at all possible. My intent was not to copy but to learn which lens and what capture media produced what results. For 35mm I ended up with two systems, Leica and Nikon. Each system had lenses that ‘worked’ for me. Please note they were not always the latest version of a lens but sometimes a golden oldie. I am not saying Leica and Nikon are better lenses than Canon or Olympus etc., just that they gave me a look I wanted. So for me what worked was first determining the lenses I wanted to use, then the capture media.

Not surprisingly I also have a preference for enlarging lenses but that is a whole different story 🙂

In addition to this I would like to add.  I recognize that many of the qualities of old lenses and film can be replicated using a digital workflow.  Bokeh is one such lens signature that is extremely hard to handle in a digital environment if your lens does not have good bokeh to begin with.  I used a high end digital camera for a number of years and got quite adept at getting what I wanted from Photoshop.  In the end digital is not my first choice for my personal black and white work.  For commissioned work digital is the only way to go because these days customers are more interested in getting the finished product quickly than they are in quality.  For me it’s not an “us or them” mentality when it comes to choosing film over digital for my own creative personal work, it just works better for me.

So some would say I put the cart a head of the horse.  Lens selection drives my choice of camera body.  I haven’t found a camera body yet that added to the creative artistic impact of an image.  Lenses however contribute the most.  Don’t just look for the sharpest, contrasty lens with beautiful MTF curves.  Lens choice is part of your artistic tool belt.  Not just focal length, but signature as well.

All this is an important part of taking your photography from great snapshots to images that have emotional impact.

DAVIDHAMILTON

(c) David Hamilton

Photo by David Hamilton – he used Minolta lenses exclusively due their lower contrast.  I started off with Minolta cameras and lenses but got tired of the lower contrast images.  I found I could use Nikkor lenses which had better contrast and simulate the Minolta signature with filters.  The Minolta lenses were not as sharp as the Nikkors either.  You can always reduce the sharpness in the print but if it’s not there to begin with you are out of luck if you are looking for a sharp contrasty image.

coba_boy_with_pet_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Boy holding pet – Coba Mexico.  I used a Rolleiflex TLR with Tessar 3.5 lens.  I love Tessar’s for their great bokeh.

bannack_merry_go_round_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Schneider 210mm lens wide open and front standard rotation.  This lens is not only tack sharp stopped down, it has nice out of focus qualities when shot wide open.

san_sebastian_cem_eric_g_rose

(c) Eric G. Rose

Mexican cemetary – Leica 50mm Summicron shot at f2.  Another lens that has great bokeh and is tack sharp and contrasty when stopped down.  I have used other 50mm lenses that would render the background in an ugly blotchy manner.  Not what I was looking for in this image.  Although that might be a quality I want in an image that is meant to cause tension in the viewer.

 

Leave a Comment more...

Mother and Child

by on Dec.27, 2012, under Camera Review, Cameras, Darkroom, Film, Location, Scanning, Travel, website

coos_bay002_web

Mother and Child

This Christmas I gave my wife a 40 x 24 print of the above photograph.  I made this image probably six years ago at Coos Bay, Oregon.  As soon as I saw these two geologic manifestations it looked to me like a mother and baby wrapped up papoose style.  It also symbolized to me the rock solid connection a mother has with her child.  Sometimes those children do not survive, or vice versa.  In any event this mother-child bond is “cemented” in all time.  Once both are returned to our maker reunions can be made.

geronar

Rodenstock Geronar 210mm

At the time my favorite large format colour negative film was Kodak’s Portra 160.  It was as close to the venerable Kodak VPS as I could find.  The tonal range of Portra 160 and even 400 is outstanding.  Colours are very neutral and images crystal sharp, but don’t take my word for it, check out the great review at Shutterfinger.  The above image was made using a Linhof Tecknika IV (see pic below) and a Rodenstock Geronar 210mm lens.  As is always the case a lenshade was used even though it was an overcast day.

The Geronar lens has unfortunately suffered a bad rap from the lens queens.  I love the image signature of the Geronars.  While not technically a Tessar design they exhibit a lot of the same 3D characteristics when used wide open.  Colour rendition is accurate and they don’t suffer from flare.  Another bonus is that they are small and light weight, great for backpacking and travelling.  I have used the 150, 210 and 300mm versions of the Geronar lineup. Quite frankly I cannot pick out prints made from these as opposed to my more expensive large format lenses, especially once the lens is stopped down to f11 or greater.  Currently I only have the 300mm version of the Geronar but am on the lookout for a good 210mm.

What many people don’t understand when it comes to print sharpness is that a sturdy, heavy tripod is essential to reduce vibration.  I cannot count the number of times I have seen people spend huge amounts of money on lenses for their large format cameras only to cheap out on the tripod.  When they produce slightly fuzzy photographs they lament they must have gotten a mis-aligned lens.

Not having the ability to produce 40 inch colour prints in my darkroom I was forced to scan my negative.  Having recently purchased an Epson 750 Pro from George Barr I scanned my negative at 3200 dpi, processed in PhotoShop, upsized and saved as a jpg – 300 dpi.  A very small amount of sharpening was applied in PhotoShop.  The file was ftp’d to a local professional printing service for output.  So far I have scanned both medium and large format negatives with the Epson.  Results have been stellar!   My Nikon 35mm scanner recently packed it in so I am hoping the Epson will do a good job on those negatives as well.  I will keep you posted.

I hope to get back to Coos Bay again having been there three times already.  It’s one of those magical places.  Please check out my website for more Coos Bay photographs.  I have images in both the colour and black/white galleries of Coos Bay and area.  Most of the colour images were taken with a digital camera.

600px-Linhof_img_1876 photo by Rama

The venerable Linhof Technika IV. Mine is not as pretty as this one.

 

Leave a Comment more...

Print on Demand – Dammit Janet, let’s get published!

by on Oct.31, 2012, under Commerce, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Film, Location, Photographers, Scanning

As the affable Brad said in Rocky Horror Picture Show – “The future is ours so let’s plan it, Janet

I don’t know about you but I’ve always wanted to get a book of my images published by a respected publisher.  For my generation it was the holy grail.  You had arrived once you could thump a 20 pound photographic tome of your images on the dining room table. There were only five or six publishers doing credible photographic table books 15 or 20 years ago.  Not having Weston’s talent nor being anointed as today’s (or yesterday’s) flavour of the month photographically speaking has relegated my dreams to the dustbin.  Alas my delusions of grandeur were trimmed back to the odd appearance in photography magazines.  Fine art print sales were always as strong as I could handle.  Some years I would neither have the time nor inclination to produce museum quality fine art black and white prints.  I’m a temperamental artist, what can I say.

My creative juices are feeling rather frisky these days and part of this new found energy is due to my ability to produce quality print on demand (POD) books at a reasonable cost.  Years back I flirted with Lulu but the results were quite dismal.  From what I’ve seen they have improved somewhat but are still not up to the minimum standards I would be happy with.  Blurb  on the other hand has made tremendous strides.  Recently I have seen books published by photographers I respect and must admit I was feeling a little jealous.

As fortune would have it our local camera emporium The Camera Store organized an information session on self publishing.  Dan Milnor was the featured speaker.  Check out his website for his bio.  You will see he has extensive experience in both photography and publishing his own material.  Rather than a dry how-to session Milnor offered up a spirited discourse on photojournalism, the photography market and publishing trends.  Dan has published so many Blurb books and pushed Blurb’s processes to the extreme and got away with it, they decided to hire him as a type of “artist in residence”.  Good move on Blurb’s part.  A more enthusiastic pitchman Blurb couldn’t find.  Along with Dan’s audio/visual presentation, Blurb brought at least 30 different books showcasing their papers, bindings, colour and black and white printing.  I was impressed with the quality and paper options to say the least.  Colour images were reproduced very faithfully but more importantly to me the black and white reproduction was VERY good.  Not LensWork good, but darn good.  I was hooked.

The only Blurb book I had been impressed with in the past was produced by Frank Petronio.  In all fairness I had only seen early examples of POD books.  To say POD production standards have come a long way in just a few short years would be an understatement.

In my years of conversing with Frank either directly or via various photography forums I developed a deep respect for his vision and artistic integrity.  Petronio is uncompromising when it comes to the quality of his imagery.  I have several of his fine art prints in addition to his Blurb book.  All are very well done.  Over the years Frank has reinvented himself photographically.  Whatever the genre, Frank pushes his vision to the boundaries.  His extensive experience in publishing and as a professional photographer  prompted me to ask him to share his thoughts and experiences on POD with you.

Blurb has made it very easy and cost effective for short run editions to produce your own photographic publication.  Maybe too easy.  Rather than unleashing a Flickr type avalanche of images in book form, it would be best to seek an education in the fundamentals of book design from the likes of Frank Petronio.

I asked Frank to share some of his experiences with you on POD publishing.  Naturally his sense of humour also shows through.  If you want to learn more about POD, layout and graphic design I encourage you to contact Frank directly.  Some of Frank’s more recent images are included.

 

POD Experiences by Frank Petronio

Eric asked me to write a little about my print-on-demand (POD) book publishing experiences. I’ll remind everyone that I grew up doing farm and construction work and somehow managed to avoid getting a PHD so I’m worthy of a quick skim (ed. – a subtle reference to my last blog) .

First off, for about 15 years I worked as a graphic designer, art director, and pre-press monkey, progressing through the industry at the same time that Macintoshes, Photoshop, and QuarkXpress started to take over and revolutionize the industry. While I was never a full-time book designer, I did do several fairly successful coffee-table books and a few smaller corporate and vanity publications. If you’re reading Eric’s blog, chances are you’re a large-format photographer “of a certain age” and that means you probably see publishing a nice quality book as a sign of success, an important part of being recognized as a serious photographic artist. And for good reason, since even 20-30 years ago, publishing a quality art book easily cost several tens of thousands of dollars. Getting a publisher to invest serious money into your work is impressive in its own right. However the sad fact is that most artistic photo art books have been self-published using grants or the photographer’s own capital – and unfortunately, many of these books end up on the remainder shelves or in attics… unless your work is truly popular, it’s almost impossible to break even, much less profit, with a photo book.

I once did a nice book for a university photo professor – he needed to publish or perish (as in getting tenure) so we slaved away for a about a month one summer. He printed 2000 books at a unit price of about $12 each, $24000. I doubt he sold more than 50 but he got tenure. That’s how it went. Ironic that so many photographers call themselves environmentalists….

Around the Turn of the Century, once people got over the Y2K jitters, some of the digital printing technologies matured enough that printing-on-demand became a reality. At first these were little different than simple black and white xerographic copies with customized covers and a slightly better binding than what Kinkos offered. The photos were a bit coarse and quality control was lacking. The early vendors using proprietary layout applications and their online interfaces were not robust – the whole process was clumsy. It was about 2005-06 before there was a really solid, reliable online platform for print-on-demand available for consumers and that was http://www.lulu.com. They are still around, using Xerox toner based printers and do a credible job with text book quality projects. Their pricing is fairly reasonable but they are not geared towards printing fine photography so the old adage that you get what you pay for comes into play.

But… finally you could publish your own book for less than $50. To hold something in your hands, condensing your life’s work into a real book… well if you do it right you could fool your Mom and the tenure committee into thinking you’re a famous photographer!

Once the potential was pioneered by lulu, up popped competitors. Several companies started to produce photo books of varying quality using proprietary software – Apple makes creating a nice “consumer” quality color book pretty easy using iPhoto for example, see http://www.apple.com/ilife/print-products.html. And some fine art studios also came in on the high end – my friends at
http://www.booksmartstudio.com – using professional fine art quality inkjets to produce short run artists books costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars. But let’s talk about the most popular POD printing service with serious photographers – Blurb http://www.blurb.com.

Blurb hits a sweet spot in the tradeoff of price versus quality. For $35 you can get a decent softcover book that actually feels like a store bought book, albeit you might only pay $20 for it retail. They also will make a lovely “imagewrap” hardcover book for between $50 to $150, about two or three times what you might pay for a mass market retail book.

The quality, to my eye is remarkable, in large part because they use the ink-on-paper digital presses like the HP Indigo as opposed to the less expensive toner-based printers that most POD vendors use to keep the costs down. They can also run a slightly heavier, more opaque paper through the HPs, although the paper will still be on the thin side compared to a top-quality book printed with traditional offset lithography. Color images look punchy and vibrant, I can not fault them. Black and whites (or greyscales) are more problematic, although they have made significant progress in getting them to appear more neutral. In 2007 my greyscale images would print strongly green or magenta ~ but for the last couple of years they’ve been looking neutral… except they they are plagued by metarism. Slightly green under incandescent, purple out in the sun. But better than before and showing signs of improvement… I am not sure if the problem can be licked or not? In any event, you need to be cautious and follow Blurb’s directions for image prep to the T and accept that these will never quite be perfect in the real world. You get what you pay for.

If you shoot color, Blurb can reproduce your photos quite nicely, with a little extra contrast and deep blacks. You may want to open up the quarter (shadows) and mid-tones 5 to 10% in addition to the recommended image prep.

As a designer comfortable with Adobe InDesign, I like that Blurb lets you submit press-ready PDFs. I haven’t used their proprietary online book design Booksmart app in years but I image it has improved over time and is more responsive with a fast internet connection. With all of this, read and follow the instructions, which in Blurb’s case are extremely well-done compared to their competition and a big reason why photographers have developed a loyalty towards them.

Chances are you aren’t a book designer…. here is some advice: Start looking at photo books from a design point of view. Do you like photos on facing pages? How much margin is comfortable? If you do a full-bleed (running the photo off the page) you get a larger image but your thumbprints are also going to be on the image. Spreads give up half-an-inch or more into the gutter’s nether regions. It isn’t ridiculous to use a ruler and take notes. Look at sizes, page counts, flow and feel. Notice the type and where they put it. Captions? How far are the captions from the image? Measure it! Even deciding where and how to do page numbers can be a huge topic.

Once you start designing, start with a master page and, at the least, a “grid” so that you are laying images and text boxes out in a consistent manner. Run a few prints off your desktop printer and trim them out, then set them into an existing book. Do they make sense, can you read the captions, is the photo in the best place on the page?

Editing and sequencing is challenging, few people are good at it. Some people can do it on-screen but most of us like to print out small prints, trim them out, and shuffle them around on a large table (or better yet, a wall). Think in terms of side-by-side pages and how images may “point” visually inside or outside the book – experiment to see if an image is better on the right or left page, especially in relationship to another image.

Also, while some are inclined to square and center everything, once you start measuring well-designed books you’ll be surprised to find that they often cheat images a fraction up and out away from the book’s spine. What looks fine on a flat 2-D computer screen is not the same as a physical object with bound pages, and that bindings will soak up page area. If you simply center an image on the page, depending on the binding it will not look balanced and centered.

And so on… there are a jillion considerations and in the end please realize that book design is – or was – a profession, just like photography used to be. You’re going to screw up. Accept this as a cheap education and reiterate. That’s the beauty of POD, you can tweak it and do it over.

Also, I would avoid attempting to do a 200-page hardcover magnum opus as your first project. Not only will it be more expensive, but it will be tedious and crushing. Also stick to the standard sizes and pay attention to price versus page counts – sometimes dropping two pages can save you a bundle. And you probably have too many mediocre photos anyway so shorter and simpler is almost always better. Make the first few books cheap, without all the extra options like fancy endpapers or premium anything. Maybe by the third or fourth book you’ll have something worthwhile… and what do you expect? Were your first few photos and prints all that great? A book is much more complex!

I have to say that getting the Blurb package a week or two later is great excitement every time. Sometimes they mess up, in which case you contact their customer service and they rectify things very quickly.  Sometimes they want a cell phone picture of the problem or ask you to send the book back on their dime, but they always make good on their mistakes. Don’t abuse this, try to think it through rationally as to whether you failed to follow the instructions properly or otherwise messed up – ask questions on the Blurb community forums and you’ll learn a lot.

I’ll also mention that as a man of the earth, if you want to pick my brain or have me help you, that time is money and it is perfectly fine to pay me to advise you and the quality of my paid advice is much superior to the free stuff.

OK it’s late, I am sure Eric will edit this perfectly and clean up all my misteaks (sic) 😉  Good luck self-publishers!

I hope you got some valuable information from Frank’s piece.

Blurb has come through with a special offer for readers of this blog!  Here are the details:

20% off (no minimum purchase required)

Code: ERICTHANKS   (I receive no compensation from this, it’s a special thank you from both Blurb and myself)

Expiration:  12/10/12

Link to:  blurb.ca

Fine Print: *Offer valid until 10 December 2012 (11:59 p.m local time). A 20% discount is applied to your product total. Maximum value of $150 CA / US.  Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

1 Comment more...

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.

2 Comments more...

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/

Leave a Comment more...

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.

Leave a Comment more...

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

 

2 Comments :, , , , , , more...

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.

1 Comment more...

I feel a Draft!

by on Apr.09, 2011, under Cameras, Darkroom, Developing, Digital, Film, Location

Road Kill Coyote

Road Kill Coyote

Well this poor coyote did not make it through our never ending winter.  I found him about a month ago and shot a pic with my cellphone.  These are the kinds of finds you know are worth going back to with a real camera when the conditions are right.  My fear was that the city workers would find him since he is just off a walking path.  Or some kid who had his sling shot taken away would kick the crap out of him.  Alas after several more snow falls and melts this coyotes final resting place remains undisturbed.

There are a fair number of these critters in my neck of the woods.  The poor souls have had their natural territory taken over by houses, asphalt, cars and concrete.  We are enduring a rather rapid increase in rabbits due to the coyotes not wanting to venture to far into suburbia.  Smart coyotes aren’t they.

Well it seems this one tried to go from one semi-open field to another but didn’t quite look both ways before crossing the four lane.  His brethren might have benefited from his untimely demise by donning their bibs and chowing down on some tasty ribs.  I am sure the crows and magpies swooped in for dessert.  By the looks of him I would estimate his age at about 2 years.  Chances are he spent his first year and a bit out in the near farm lands enjoying a steady diet of mice and small birds.  Whatever happened to him I hope it was a quick end.  Maybe he did not get hit by a passing vehicle at all.  It could be he just froze to death waiting for the traffic to break so he could get across the road.  Maybe he was waiting for the chicken.

Today I went out with my Nikon D700 adorned with my new to me 28-70mm AF zoom.  Shot off a few quick images to check composition before I hauled out the Linhof Technica IV.  My film image was shot on Ilford Delta 100 rated at 100 asa (ISO whatever).  The lens was my trusty Rodenstock APO 150mm.  I just love that lens!  So sharp and contrasty.  Tomorrow will have to be a darkroom day as the large format group I started 6 years ago meets on Tuesday and the theme is “skeleton”.  How convenient.  I know what you are thinking I set the theme knowing I had an ace up the sleeve.  In actual fact the wife of the member who had the last meeting picked the theme for this meeting.  Sometimes things just work out.  Sometimes.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , more...

No Man Left Behind.

by on Aug.12, 2010, under Cameras, Digital, Film, Location, Travel

No man left behind!

While the genesis of this saying may be from the military, it applies to many things, both animate and inanimate.

My wife had a university reunion in Winnipeg, Manitoba scheduled for July 30 to August 1st. I felt this would be a great opportunity to take an extended photo trip from Calgary
to Winnipeg spanning three days.  The vehicle of choice would of course would be Mr. Happy my 1970 VW hippy van.  Mr. Happy got his name from the happy face tire cover he proudly wears on the spare.

Mr. Happy having lunch in Redcliff, Alberta

Kids and grownups alike love Mr. Happy.  Kids wave and people my age give me the peace sign.  I’ve even been waved at by some cops that I am sure could have stopped me for speeding had I been driving anything else.

This adventure was planned to be a full-on photo safari.  The large format camera, a selection of lenses, 20 film holders, tripod, Nikon D700, Nikon F5, a selection of Nikkor

On the Road Again

lenses, Canon A640 for snap shots and tonnes of film was loaded into Mr. Happy.  A few clothes, some food and water, Ipod, cellphone and my favorite pillow were chucked in for
good measure. Off we went in a cloud of dust July 28th.

The only two deadlines I had were to met a photo buddy I have gotten to know through Analog Photographers Users Group www.apug.org in Brandon, Manitoba on Thursday night for some beers, tall tales and a place to crash. The second deadline, the important one, was Friday evening to pick my sweetie up from the airport in Winnipeg.  The rest of the trip was wide open.

The first day say me getting some great shots of a lonely gas station out in the middle on nowhere Alberta.  Some people hate the praires and I can understand that sentiment.

Lonely, dusty gas station in rural Alberta

This gas station offered a small oasis of humanity in an otherwise hostile environment.  Cars pulled in, kids pilled out, parents would bark orders.  Trucks would charge in to
gas up, their drivers checking the tire pressure.  Locals would hangout on the bench not in a rush to head anywhere.  Especially into the dust and heat. Some feel this land is
barren and empty. Well I suppose it is to some but I feel it mirrors what’s on the inside more than anything else.  Personally I love the wide open spaces Alberta and Saskatchewan offer.  To me they offer an endless vista of ever changing tones, complicated compositions and a sky that can be both threatening and beautiful at the same time.

They joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days.  Some quick shots with the Linhof Technika IV, a couple with the D700 and a record shot with the A640.

Mr. Happy the perfect photomobile

It was off again, destination Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  In the old days this town was know as a bootleggers paradise.  It’s rumoured that Al Capone stayed in Moose Jaw on

occasion to oversee his distribution network into the US.  Canada didn’t suffer the delusion of prohibition.  There was some talk that my own family had benefited from quenching
the American’s thirst for spirits during that time. Economies have been built all over the world supplying the Americans with things they don’t really need or are not suppose to
have.

Moose Jaw is a very pretty town with a wicked Thai restaurant, a very photogenic oil tank farm and the most unusually painted bridge supports.  There was not enough time to
photograph ever

Nit's Thai Eats

The next day saw Brandon, Manitoba on the horizon.  It would be a full days drive given Mr. Happy doesn’t go over 60 mph. Well he will but it’s not safe in my estimation.  I
dropped into Indian Head, Saskatchewan to see if they had any funky buildings.  To my surprise what I found was a TV production crew filming a CBC weekly series called “Little
Mosque on the Prairie”.   I got as close as I could to snap a quick “I was there” picture and then beat a hasty retreat before the traffic control thugs got a hold of me.  Beyond that, Indian Head didn’t have much to offer photographically so it was back to the asphalt ribbon.  I should have had Meat Loaf’s “Highway to Hell” blaring on the stereo.  It was sure hot as hell!

Running with the big dogs

Just west of Wolseley, Saskatchewan I spotted a drive in theatre in what looked like the middle of a farmers field.  I found the road leading to it and soon realized it just
looked that way from the highway.  At one time this drive in had mulitple rows of posts each holding oversized pot metal speakers that hang from the car windows.  Today there is
only one row left.  In todays HD 52 inch widescreen LCD TV’s I guess no one wants the outdoor movie experience.  To bad really but I guess if kids want to make out in the back
of the truck these days they can put on the movie of their choice and have it play on the in-vehicle DVD screen.  I would suppose the advantage would be the movie screen doesn’t
fog up even if the windows do.

Drive In ticket hut

The drive-in wasn’t worth getting out the large format gear but I did manage to mangle a few digit with the D700.  I spent 45 minutes there and had a great time both making
photograps and remembering my own drive-in days.

Once back to Mr. Happy I found it wouldn’t start.  The engine was very hot and had what is normally called a vapour lock.  Another 30 minutes and Mr. Happy was cooled off enough to start. Back to the highway.

"Some like it Hot"

The next 16 miles was straight east, and I do mean straight.  Not one turn of any kind.  Mr. Happy started to loose power so I turned into Grenfell, Saskatchewan thinking that
after he cools off I could check the timing and/or the valve gap.  If either of these are out, overheating is the result.  He wasn’t pinging so I was leaning to valve problems.

Mr. Happy and I toddled around town and found a nice shady place right across the street from a auto parts store.  Lunch was in order at this point so I walked down the street and spotted the usual Chinese cafe you find in any rural town in either Alberta or Saskatchewan.  Seemed everyone was having the number one special so not being one to tempt fate in one of these establishments I ordered the same.  Once it came out I thought to myself that if I had any problems with constipation this meal would cure it.  Everything
was either deep fried or very greasy.

Back to Mr. Happy.  I quickly checked the timing and it was spot on.  Next up was to adjust the valves.  Normally you do this when the engine is stone cold, but I didn’t have that
luxury as I was suppose to be in Brandon that night.

Mr. Happy's engine

Since I was so preoccupied with getting my photo gear ready prior to my departure I neglected to pack my repair manual.  This was a problem because I have never adjusted the valves on a Mr. happy before.  I sauntered across the street in my best local farmer saunter and asked the guy in the parts store if there was a library in Grenfell.  Indeed there was, but he wasn’t sure if it was open today.  In any event it was at the end of the main drag.  More sauntering and a 15 minute wait for them to open up and I was in heaven.

Air conditioning!!  I asked the gal at the counter if there was a computer hooked up to the internet I could use.  Indeed there was and did I have a library card.  Well I be
giggered.  Once I related my tale of woe she relented and let me use the computer but it would cost me 25 cents a sheet to print anything out.  I quickly found what I was looking for, gave the nice lady 75 cents and headed back to Mr. Happy.

Well after about 4 hours of back twisting eye straining grunting I had all the valves adjusted.  I was covered in thick dirty grease but the friendly gentleman at the Standard
Auto Parts place let me clean up in his bathroom.

Off we went again.  We galloped down the highway a glorious 18 miles and then that was it.  Mr. Happy said enough is enough.  The number three cylinder was not producing any
power.  One of the valve wasn’t working and was probably broken.  Valves that go in, must also come out.  No such luck.

Now things get interesting.

It was evident that I was not getting to Brandon tonight, and probably was not getting to Winnipeg for the Friday pickup of my sweetie.  So what to do?  I called my sweetie in
Calgary and explained the situation asking her to call AMA to send a tow truck out to me.  Fortunately they had one in Grenfell.  This meant Erna had several options; 1. fly to
Winnipeg without me and fly back (one more plane ticket), 2. that very night once home from work jump into our minivan and drive to where I am, or 3. change her plain ticket to
Regina – pick up a car there and drive to Grenfell in the morning.  Since Erna wanted me at the university reunion, bless her soul, the first option was out.  She was bagged
from work so option two was discarded.  That left the more costly option of changing the ticket and picking up a rental car.  Somewhere in the discussion me taking the Greyhound
was mentioned but with all the camera gear I had this would not work.  Poor Erna, this extra stress, she did not need.

Death Row

Mr. Happy, now Mr. Unhappy was towed to a lot in Grenfell and I booked into the local highway motel.  This motel was just purchased by a commercial real estate agent hoping I’m sure to fix it up and flip it.  I named the establishment Hotel 1 1/2.  Given that every commerical building in Grenfell was up for sale, he might have to be a bit patient.

The room was comfortable and once I figured out how to get the AC working quite cool.  Things went on well until about 3am when some yahoos wanted a room and began banging on the office door and for good measure my door as well. I just told myself it was probably better they get a room here than drive since it sounded like they were quite drunk.

The rest of the trip was very uneventful. Once back in Calgary my father in law and I drove his 1/2 ton truck back to Grenfell and we towed Mr.Happy back.  No man left behind!

1 Comment :, , , , , , , , more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!