Port Photo Photography Show

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A quick note about this show of selected works from the photographers that participated in the Port Photo Walk on April 30th. This day was also Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day so most of the photos in the show are pinhole. For the second year in a row, the weather was lousy, cold, windy and very rainy. I shot a roll of 120 film with a borrowed Zero Image 6×9 pinhole camera. It’s a beautiful camera and since it wasn’t mine, I put it away before it was damaged and shot a roll of color film in the Mamiya M645 I had recently acquired.

The show runs until September 2 and is in the excellent little Studio 224 gallery, in the basement of the Boerner Mercantile building in downtown Port Washington, WI. It is open from 9-1 on Saturdays, 211 Franklin Street (north alley entrance). Many thanks to Martin Morante for arranging the photo walk and show.

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24 Hour Project recap

The 2017 edition of the 24 Hour Project was the first time I have participated so I was a bit unsure what to expect. I took the afternoon off from work on Friday with hopes of getting a few hours of sleep. I did lay down for a bit and got some rest but sleep was elusive as the excitement of the pending 24 hours was too much to overcome. What this meant was that I was about to be up for 42 hours before falling asleep early Sunday.

I met up with my friend Jake at 11:30 Friday night and we drove into Milwaukee. Our planned first stop was the area around Oakland and North. I posted my first photo of the night in Von Trier at 12:13am and enjoyed a tasty Founders Breakfast Stout. Second shot of the night happened just outside Von Trier as we left at 1:03am. From there we took some photos around the donut shop on the corner of North and Oakland and then had a drink at the Eastsider.

Bars in Wisconsin close at 2am so we wandered the area a bit but quickly decided to find people at Ma Fischer’s Diner. This was my third photo, outside the restaurant at 2:31am, and my fourth inside at 3:29am.

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2:31am

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3:29am

The photos needed from 4-6am were a couple of the toughest of the entire project. It was a chilly April 1st morning and the streets of Milwaukee were deserted. Additionally, a couple of drinks, a stomach full of breakfast food, and a lack of sleep added up to extreme exhaustion. I nearly fell asleep in the car waiting for a stoplight to change. Finally in desperation we both found people doing their last bit of bar cleanup. Jake got his photo at the County Claire and I got mine at Cafe Hollander on Downer Ave at 4:54am. After that difficult hour I figured to have better odds of finding people, we needed to go to the Milwaukee Intermodal Station where there is rail and bus service. The place was far from full but we did manage to take care of the 5-6am hour. I got my photo outside at 5:24.

Shortly after 5:30am we could see the first bit of light coming up over the eastern horizon and we headed to the lakeshore. The steadily increasing light was like a shot of adrenalin and suddenly my head cleared, my legs had a spring to them that had been missing the past two hours, and I knew the rest of the day would be ok. The sunrise was beautiful and I got a nice reflection/silhouette photo of another photographer at 6:03am.

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6:03am

We grabbed some excellent coffee at the lakefront Colectivo and I took care of the next two hours with a photo in McKinley Marina and one in Milwaukee’s Third Ward. From there we headed to Brady Street but not too many people were out yet. I managed a desperation photo of a window washer at 9:47am and three ladies in Peter Sciortino’s Bakery at 10:09am. On the hunt for more people, Jake and I headed south to Bay View but the sidewalks were nearly deserted. Where is everyone??? I took a photo at the Bay View Colectivo at 11:36am and knew we needed to find people as we crossed the halfway point in the day.

The Milwaukee Art museum did not fail. I took care of the 12-2pm photo requirements with an outside photo of the iconic Burke Brise Soleil at 12:11pm and inside at 1:27pm. I also was able to take a second look at the excellent Helen Levitt: In the Street exhibit as well as watch about 20 minutes of the 61 minute mesmerizing Street video by James Nares. It is a masterpiece of slow motion street scenes in New York City done with a high speed camera. Incredible.

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1:27pm

24 photos. One every hour. You are always on the clock. The pressure of the clock increased in the afternoon as my brain felt sluggish and inspiration faded. The timing of my next two photos are a dead giveaway to this as I got them at 2:57pm and 3:59pm. Then two more at 4:22pm and 5:16pm. Neither were satisfying but as each hour drew to a close, they were the best I had. Finally I caught one of the many skateboarders I saw that day at 6:25pm and decided we needed a change of venue.

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6:25pm

From here we took a brief detour to the top of the parking ramp near the historic Pabst Brewery and took a near golden hour photo of the Milwaukee skyline to the east.

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After that brief reprise, we went for food and drink as the streets cleared and people packed into bars to watch the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four games. On the upside, there are plenty of people, good beer and food to be found in a bar. On the downside, it is quite dark and that noticably increased the challenge of getting a good shot. Shot 20 came at 7:47pm in Stubby’s Gastropub. After that stop we had a good idea of how we wanted to end the night so we headed back to Bay View and I got this shot at 8:28pm of the hostess at Odd Duck.

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8:28pm

Photo 22 was inside Cafe Central right at 9:00pm. Checking this box right away took some pressure off and with the end in sight, we began discussing the day a bit. Then it was off to Burnhearts where I got photo 23 at 10:47pm and finally, we finished the day with a fantastic Old Fashioned at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge. Whiskey sour for me, bourbon sweet for Jake. I uploaded the final photo of the project at 11:52pm. I dropped Jake off around 12:30am and my head hit the pillow at home shortly after 1:00am.

A few technical/operational details. Both Jake and I used the Fuji X100T for the project. I’ve had mine for a year and a half and I have really enjoyed using it. It was perfect for this project. I was on my sixth battery as the day drew to a close. Six. I knew battery life would be an issue, particularly using the X100T’s built in wi-fi to transfer an image to my iPhone 6s+ each hour, so I had plenty on hand. Still, six batteries is kind of crazy. I’ll enjoy a future where this is less of an issue.

The Fuji has a number of film simulations built in. I shot in black and white with a yellow filter for the whole day. Jake was shooting in Classic Chrome. I lightly edited photos on my phone using Snapseed and sometimes added just a minor tweak in the Instagram app. I really like the selective editing capabilities in Snapseed compared to most mobile apps that use global adjustments only. Jake was using the Filmborn app for editing, both in color and black and white.

Overall, this was a great adventure. There were moments I questioned my sanity but those passed quickly. Finding someone you can shoot with for the full 24 hours is critical. After many long days of shooting with Jake in Chicago, it was great fun to experience this with him and we’re both committed to doing it again next year.

See my 24 photos on Instagram or here.

See Jake’s 24 photos on Instagram or Flickr.

 

24 Hours, 24 Photos

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I’ve wanted to participate in this event for the past couple of years but the timing has not worked out. This year the timing is right and I’m really excited for it. 2017 will be the 6th edition of the 24 Hour Project where photographers across the world document the human condition in their city for a day and post one photo per hour over the 24 hour period. The first year there were 65 photographers covering 24 cities and it has since grown to nearly 3000 photographers in over 700 cities worldwide.

My bud Jake immediately committed to the project when I asked him if he wanted to join me and we have decided on Milwaukee, WI as the city we will document. I’ve loaded up on extra batteries for my Fuji X100T and will rely on good food, lots of coffee and plenty of determination to make it through the entire day. You can check in on our adventure this April 1 (no joke!) by following both of us on Instagram and I’ll surely have plenty to share from the project so expect a followup post here as well.

 

Letters to Sassnitz

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I’m very happy to have 5 photographs chosen to be a part of this show. The show started with a conversation between Gallery 224 director Jane Suddendorf and Port Washington Mayor, Tom Mlada. What resulted is a selection of photographs from 17 local photographers in which they share their personal connections to the city. After the exhibition concludes near the end of April, the entire show will be displayed in Port Washington’s sister city, Sassnitz, in Germany. An opening reception will be held on March 24th from 5-7pm at Gallery 224. You can read more in the Ozaukee Press article published this week.

Chatbooks review

There is a lot of lament in some circles about the age of digital photography relegating nearly all photos to hard drives and only screen viewing rather than actual prints. While the argument can be made that more photos are shared now than ever before, there is something to be said about the print as a physical object that no amount of screen viewing can replicate. Working with prints is also a great way to evaluate and edit your work.

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There are times though that individual prints can be a bit of a burden when your objective is to share them and not to cover your walls. We no longer need to assemble all our prints and insert them into photo albums with stripes of adhesive and then cover them with cellophane sheets. Printing on demand has changed all of that. There are many, many services for printing your photos in book form. Most are relatively inexpensive so I’d suggest trying a few to find what you like. Today I’ll review a service called Chatbooks which puts your photos into 6i x 6i book form.

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I decided to try them to create a compilation of the photos in my Familiar Strangers show. Chatbooks is first designed as a way to get your Facebook or Instagram photos into book form. Their entire app interface goal is to make this as easy as possible directly from your phone. You can also access them through a web interface which gives you somewhat more control over the images, text and layout.

Learning from a friend who had tried this service already, I went directly to their web interface to begin the book creation. Uploading images was straightforward. I wanted to have a text page opposite each photo and achieving that layout was a bit tedious. It was also not obvious how to turn off the on by default page numbering, photo date and caption options. Once I figured that out, I rearranged to the order I wanted and added the text on the opposite page (Location/Date).

Chatbooks does not offer an option to adjust font or size. If you add a text page, it will center the words (horizontally and vertically) on the page.  If you use captions, it will vary the font size to fit your words into up to three rows below your photo. This make sense in theory but if you have varied amount of words, you can end up with facing pages that have three lines of text in different font sizes. I was going for a fairly minimalist layout so I turned off the date and page numbering options and did not add any captions.

It took me a bit more than 45 minutes to upload the photos and finish the layout that I wanted. From there I previewed the final form and once satisfied, finished the order and uploaded the design to Chatbooks for printing. I chose the cheapest/slowest shipping method and 7-10 days later, my book arrived in the mail. I did get an email confirmation after uploading, a thank you email from the founder and his family, and an email again when it shipped. The tracking number provided upon shipment did not work for me.

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The finished book was a total of $14 ($12 + $2 shipping) and for that price, I am quite satisfied. The cover has a very nice, almost velvet feel. The printing is good for the money and the book looks just as I had hoped when designing it. The black and white images I used had just a slight color tint to them which is common in print on demand services. If you are using color photos you should not have this problem at all and the color examples I have seen look quite nice.

Pro’s: Inexpensive (starting at $8 + shipping), good print quality, encourages getting digital images into physical form, great for gifts

Con’s: Layout design is not intuitive, limited layout options, black and white images have slight color tint

Collaborating with Chance and the Essence of Street Photography

I subscribe to more podcasts than I can keep up with. This past week I’ve been working on catching up on some from B&H Photography. One episode that I thoroughly enjoyed is this conversation with Amy Touchette and Gus Powell.

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“I’m trying to say yes to something” is how Gus described each press of the shutter when shooting on the street. This is such a wonderful way to explain my favorite part of the process.  Amy shared a great statement from Diane Arbus who talks about photography as”being a condition of being on the brink of conversion to anything.”The combination of both, trying to say yes while being open to whatever you may encounter is so crucial to success as a street photographer. We do not and cannot know what is going to happen but we have to be open and willing to see, engage, and embrace what we are given.

These ideas combined with the patience to let things come to you are so important to finding success on the street. Whenever I have gone out looking for a particular photograph I am nearly always frustrated and disappointed. Choosing to enjoy the experience and knowing that getting is all about giving has helped me see and accept what happens. I can’t make things happen. It is my job to release enough to be able to see and then I can make my photos.

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Familiar Strangers opening reception

The opening reception for my Familiar Strangers show at Studio 224 was last Friday. There was an excellent turnout and it was a great night. The Shepherd Express in Milwaukee also had a nice preview of the show in their issue last week (below). A big thank you to Jane Suddendorf, Director of Gallery 224 and Studio 224, for her efforts to help artists and their work to flourish in Port Washington. Thank you as well to Martin Morante, Studio Director, for his interest in showing my work, his feedback and guidance through the editing process, and his hard working getting the prints on the walls. I appreciate all the friends and family that made it out and the new faces too. If you couldn’t make it, the show will be up until early January and Studio 224 is open every Saturday, 9am-1pm. Let me know if you’re stopping in and I’ll make sure I’m there. Directions here.

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