Printaphilic Phorum

December 24, 2017

#166 Prints From the BOX – Part 2

Filed under: Just gotta say it., Thoughts on Photography — printaphilic @ 4:34 pm

#166 Prints From the BOX – Part 2



A first selfie shows up in the near x-ray region. Long aftermath of childhood football collision that pulverized my nose. Later, a massive sinus infection  took a few years to bring under control.  I have the negative, though it might be hard to put a hand on it.


This one is just the other way around.  Only extant is  the proof sheet, a whole roll from the 645 Nettar of my college yearbook work.  There are a couple of prints to remind me of that period of incarceration.

5586LafayetteChapelCompulsery-©WEB  Compulsory religion…think about that.












Crappy pictures here with two exceptions:  The  microscope from Bio 101 still moves me because I took my written notes and drawings seriously as scientific illustration and part of the learning process.  At the time, with that camera and my understanding of practical photo technique I was light years from being able to do microphotography.  The frame with the red arrow was the steps and Doric entableture of the  Government and Law Department around whose frieze was cut, in stone, “IS IT NOT LAWFVL FOR ME TO DO WHAT I WILL WITH MINE OWN?”   It struck me as somehow wrong then…and still does.   The frame with the red arrow will make its importance known later in the post as well.

Here are a couple of places whose importance is that they no longer exist as they did then.


Both locations have become “upgraded,”  condominized  out of existence.  Howard Beach was a lower working class neighborhood at the end of the subway line to Far Rockaway,  for a while famous for the virulent racism that sometime goes on in such ‘hoods.  It was distinguished by the  outright love the residents had for living on the water.

I loved it too. Today it is manicured.









Just a little distance from the century and a half old resort area of Cape May, NJ  was once…not that long ago…open rural land where people homesteaded…raised corn and chickens and kids.   These days you can’t get within two counties of this site without running into real estate prices  that ain’t chicken feed.  I’d have loved living here.  Nothing is quite so sure as change.

Here’s a frame that just establishes that I’m not a complete Luddite; there are some aspects of digital image technology that I like.  The point of the picture is the huge messiness of many marine scenes.  They are seldom tidy, shipshape, nor Bristol fashion.

5589Green PointHobokenCLUTTER-©WEB

For many years I tried in the darkroom to get a ‘singing’ print from this negative.  It still exists…I just couldn’t print well enough to cope with the extreme dynamic range of the negative and the analog manner in which reducing picture contrast left me with either the central dark rectangle dropped into the depths, or the highlights blown out, or complete mud that no amount of dodge and burn seemed able to cure.  A really good hi-res scan of the negative yields me a print file that, after lots of ‘turd polish’ can make a print that actually says what I wanted to say.  You had to read this here.

Two more survivors from the Nettar 645

5575IRTsubwayOriginal-©WEB   Sometimes loved that warmtone paper


At the very earliest times of using the camera as a tool for exploring the world, the world was very new to my visual thinking.  Each venture could produce a sense of wonder, of excitement, of risk even.   A trip on the IRT Subway in NYC was an adventure !   Staring at the light coming through the alley between two buildings was a revelation.   The Subway picture captures, for me, and still holds, the sensations of stink…ozone and sweat, foul air and the thunderous DIN when the express roars through.   The diffusion/flare from the uncoated (pre WWII) lens of the Nettar told me somehow that for this frame…just this one maybe…not to worry about convergence of verticals…they didn’t even have to BE vertical…in fact the whole frame didn’t need to be rectangular,  nor even symmetrical !   I’ll print it that way once…just this once. Why do we lose that sense of adventure in risk ?

Here’s a last little risk before moving on.  It opens a HUGE ball of wax.


A basement corridor after school.  I’m not sure of the identity of the guy leaning on the lockers.  I have NO clue of the girl. Her face is in shadow.  I’ve pointed my optical snout into what seems to have been, long ago, a significant and private moment. The legal situation regarding pictures of people has become outright Byzantine.  Once, the basic principle was that one could legally photograph anything they could legally see.  The legal question came up with what one did with the picture as realized ‘hardcopy’ in the real world.  There were ways of dealing with invasions of privacy and of newsworthy events, pictures relating to national defense  and proprietary processes.  There was also the prohibition by cops on the beat who might, and sometimes did, beat on you.  Decades of precedent  law accumulated willy-nilly court until  judgments in six and eight figures appear that defy even UN-common sense.  A lawsuit in France awarded a photographer a quarter million dollar penalty for infringing on another’s ‘style’ by marking his contact sheet with a red grease pencil mark !  A whole school of ‘eye-candy’ photography has grown up that allows no subject capable of hiring a lawyer.  I have no release to post this picture of people from 60 years ago.   In some sense those people no longer exist.  ? Do they ?  Of course in SOME sense they do.  I have to post the picture to establish that there was then an understanding of the need to look !   Who knows what was actually going on?   There is something in the legal morass called the ‘doctrine of just and fair use.’   I so claim.

‘Nuff for now   The next post was to be a third installment of Pix From the BOX.  I’ve decided to cancel it because many of the frames I wanted to use are personal and identifiable enough that getting permission to use them would just involve more hassle than an old Hasselblad is worth.    Until next time…whenever that may be.




December 11, 2017

#165 Prints From the Box — part one

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 11:20 am

#165 Picks From Pix In The Box — part one

Every serious photographer I know has their own version: The Box.

Into The Box goes the stuff that you can’t figure out what to do with. Sometimes it’s reject or damaged prints that don’t fit in easily named folders. You just don’t want to throw them away. Sometime it’s pix taken on speculation that the potential client didn’t buy. Sometimes it’s just lost and found. Throw it in The Box.

Mine occupies about 1 ½ cubic feet in an old wood fruit market crate. It’s almost all old silver gelatin hardcopy prints.

5562BrickWallClipboardOriginal-©WEB   Of what possible importance has this print ?  It was made sometime in 1958 in a basement darkroom from a negative out of my first real camera, a 1938 Zeiss Nettar that I still occasionally use.  In those times we often printed on toned paper. Except for a drop of india ink on the top the print is still in excellent condition condition after 60 years.








About a week ago thru a mutual Facebook friend I chanced across the widow of a guy I’d been good friends with in Oahu more than half a century ago. In our facebook chat I mentioned that I probably had a couple of pictures of Ed from that period…would she like them ? I offered to scan and send them electronically.  I had two spercific pictures in mind and never did find them, BUT

It occurred to me to look in in The Box…I hadn’t touched it for several years. Once I got in there it seemed I’d opened The Box of Pandora. There were the half dozen contact sheets from the unsold speculation job. About half never had the negative numbers or filespecs written on the back. I found some prints by my East Hill photography class kids, the only survivors of a major 5th grade science project. There’s a contact sheet of college yearbook pictures I was sure I destroyed.


This violin still life got me graduated from high school. I was flunking senior English because I was spending too much time on photography.  I was also hopelessly in love with a gal who was principle second violinist in the all-state high school orchestra.  That began my lifelong fascination with the violin. I spent many week researching the evolution of the violin and the report with a grade of A+ changed my Flunk to a C-

It got serious when I found one drugstore print from a portrait session with a lovely high school gal buddy, shot by available light in math class with my late sister’s borrowed Samoca 35mm. The negatives were so underexposed that they’d been treated in chromium intensifier. Only that one print survived.


Somewhere there used to be a roll of negatives stored in an aluminum Panatomic X film canister of a sweetheart who was one the most important people in my entire intellectual and artistic life. I’ve searched for those negatives on and off for years…I’m sure they’ve perished…but there were eight drugstore prints and a handmade 8 x 10 in The Box.

These pictures all seemed to have survived for a reason. Sometimes I don’t know* the reason. Here are a few, with explanations of why they still seem important.

This print I feared lost forever, but there it was near the bottom of The Box.  The negative is gone. There is only the one print.  I was SO proud of this picture. It was made with a salt water corroded Leica IIIc  with Zeiss 85mm f/2 Sonnar lens whose rangefinder was mis-adapted from Contax to Leica mount…never did focus correctly. The industrial subject was dust separation cyclone cones on the roof of a factory …O-Jack Manufacturing Co…where, during WWII, my big brother tended a turret lathe after high school, making bomb detonators for the U.S. Navy.  The thing that so impressed me about the print was the “look” of an 11 x 14″ LIFE magazine page.  The print was slightly overdeveloped and has a stain of the same color as old pages.


Here are two old prints…the originals…of subjects that for not clearly understood reason reappear several times over decades in widely separate locations with different equipment.  The pictures KEEP happening











The railroad underpass was on my walking route to high school.  The rainy windshield was while waiting to pick up someone at a train station.   Whenever I encounter these two visual situations they strike an emotional chord that reappears as a life motif and I make the picture again.  Who know why ?

This picture is not about the gal at all.  There are many better of her.  It’s about the structure nestled in the New Jersey shore sand dunes behind her.  The negative is lost, short of examining hundreds of proof sheets with a hand lens, because I neglected to write the negative number anywhere on the print.  I wish I had several more pictures of the historic architecture of the compound of buildings.  There was a U shaped complex with a two story clerestory main building in the center, facing the Atlantic ocean, and two one story wings, the southern one shown here as guest house appendages to the main home.  The construction as rough cast concrete with corrugated sheet iron roofing and many windows. The complex was utterly out of context with the carpenters shingle gothic of its wealthy neighbors and most people considered it an eyesore.  I though it was a masterpiece of simplicity in its site.  The entire compound were destroyed sometime in the years between 1980 and 2000.



They say you cannot go back again…but in some senses of memory you not only can…but you must.


Only by understanding who you were in the past can you come to terms with who you are in the present.  The Future ?  That’s any ones guess, NO?


Next post:  there are are least two more of these Pix from the Box.   Many of the pictures will require permission from people pictured to post, so I don’t when to predict their appearance.

November 13, 2017

B&W Challenge “Eight Days A Week !”

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 11:19 am

I’ve more than seven distinct eras since getting Viewmaster stereo disks and a projector for them in fifth grade. The projector was my first enlarger, cannibalized to print onto 2 x 2” war surplus glass plates. The endless string of cameras came later…the bakelite Hawkeye, my sisters Samoca 35mm, the Nettar bought with proceeds of six weeks shelving books in the public library after school.

I’m quite aware of, and basically agree with the precept that only the message of the picture matters…that whether it’s made with a Leica or a cell phone is irrelvant. But in some ways it’s not irrelevant at all. The science and mechanics (must* I say ‘technology” ? ) of the camera and sensor (film !) define the universe of pictures possible with that hardware. What a fight we had to get film and lenses fast enough to take pictures indoors without flash. Now it seems like nothing…you just throw enough dollars at equipment…”the Mind of Minolta”… and you get 50K ISO. I do mind if you don’t mind ! This is why I remember and acknowledge the film, cameras and darkrooms that made my pictorial retrospective in these selections. I know it’s a kind of snobbery… the ubiquity of imaging devices has brought a great democratization to pictures,  but those who’s image making starts with an i-phone and becomes B&W entirely in software just haven’t paid their dues. My dues, in the National Press Photographers Association, haven’t been paid in quite a few years.

Here are some explainations.

Eight Days A Week ! I-855-12AuldeStonesAtOdessa©WEB The mission is just to make sense of it all. Odessa, NY 2017. The stone mason here truly grokked the mystery of this place. The further up the hill you walk, the deeper you go into mystical space.   It’s been an era of massive computer hardware problems.  Creative Suite demands upgrade. Authentication issues w/WIndows7 migrate to Win10 and no drivers for legacy hardware….it nearly destroyed ALL digital image access…took weeks of reinstall from backups. Digital printer dies. Microsoft is not my friend. Adobe is not my friend. Life makes other demands! Film cameras ! These I understand: Ensign 820 from UK, $20…an idiosyncratic beast… Hungarian ISO 200 film @125. Ilfotech HC developer. Flea market treasure..Mint genuine Zeiss 6×6 , one dollar ! …keep shooting…darkroom, keep printing. Anne Becker

Seventh Day: I-669-16DrydenVFWtankInSnow©WEB Sometimes, I have to take a cold look at the negative.  Nikkormat EL, 35-105mm lens, Tompkins Weekly. Built real darkroom in Slaterville. Deadlines, deadlines. First serious digital cameras. Canon G-12, Nikon D-80 Battles with digital printers. Small success showing in art fairs. There doesn’t seem to be any way to earn a living at this; people like what I do but no one wants to pay what it costs to do it. Maybe that’s what make it “art;” it doesn’t pay but you got to keep doing it anyway. Peggy Brent

Sixth Day: BV018-15DeflectionShotBull©WEB Return to the womb…Ithaca ! Ithaca Journal…shoot, shooot shoooot…never give up. A small town bullfight somewhere in Bolivia, Aug 1993…Pamplona in reverse as a terrified teenage bull chased down the street by sub-teen humans…dude steps out for grab shot…’gringo fotographista con huevos !’ Nikon S-2 rangefinder, re-spooled Tri-X…no time to focus. 76 Rolls of film. (mostly color) Sells one picture. ‘Three Nikon bodies…only the rangefinder S-2 could stand up to daily use in the Andes…dust, second class buses. Peru. First digital camera, Apple 100, was crap. Photoshop ver. 2.5. Forced migration from 8-bit Atari to Mac SE-30, to unix mainframe to Dos to Windows…more crap. Life scatters to the winds of change. My little haven…studio/sales office downtown…never made two nickels. Ben E-F

Fifth Day: M806-07HungAshore-©WEB Aug 1992. Portland, Maine. Attempts to go-Pro. Lee’s Boat Shop, Spruce Head Marine, Harbor Builders, Maine Coast REPORTER, Maine Times, National Fisherman. Midcoast Photo Service attempts to fly on its own two wings. Deadlines, deadlines. Experimented with many cameras in this era, but Nikkormat El with genuine Nikkor 35-105 mm lens became my personal sidearm and remains so to this day.  Eight bit Atari computer and classic Macs: invaders from cyberspace. Steve Cartwright Nancy Griffin

Fourth Day: M498-38Priorities©WEB Knox County, Maine 1983 Too busy living to do much photography. Skipping an era. East Hill School (search Facebook for alumni association ) , the Chateau, then The Weird Years, ( every body must get stoned ), grandpa’s fiddle…nothing to show here…move right along ! Blueberry Cove, Renaissance time with Eve and Maine homesteading… get Priorities in order…market garden 6700 ft^2. Seed Savers. MOGFA. Violin untouched in case for a decade. Ed Emsh’s Exakta VX w/58mm Jena Biotar…lost overboard at a schooner launching….recovered, but lens sandblasted on harbor bottom. Nikon F, totally manual SLR w/varying lenses. Still have it, still works. Production wet darkroom shoehorned into 45 ft^2 bathroom including toilet.”What do you think about Art?”…”Oh, Yah, Man, Art blows the most!” Marjorie Strauss, Myron Jay Dorf, Susan Emshwiller.

Third Day: Minus018-17YachtClubDogsGreenPointHoboken©WEB Nothing whatever remains of my Lafayette college era pictures from the yearbook. Fortunately I destroyed them, kept shooting. Hoboken NJ. 1971 These are not junk yard dogs. Very friendly, they were the mascots of the Green Point Yacht Club  while I was studying PhotoJourn with late Joseph Brieghtenbach (“fotograph must make Schtatement !”) at New School for Social Research. Leica IIIf, Retina lla with it’s fatal design flaw…when dropped always landed on irreplaceable film transport lever. Handspooled TriX, Acufine. Staying in sleazy rooming house…midnight insurance arson fire…got my ass out… Leica perished. nominate Gene Z’bear Endres

Second day: Old020-22HonoluluStreetNames©WEB 1965-6 studied with Japanese photo/Buddhist teacher Lawance Hata. Almost all pix from this era are of people. Documented Waikiki Wobblers barfly culture. Camera Hawaii, freelance Waikiki Beach Press. One published Photo CD, another someday, maybe. Minolta Autocord. Canon IV rangerfinder…used to jam below 40 deg F. but OK in Hawaii. Zeiss Jena 85mm…rangefinder out of sync with lens…traded out. nominate Rick Bernstien.

First day: Minus098-10DL&W-rrMontclairStationNov’58©WEB. Began doing photography in B&W in 5th grade in a darkroom in my grandma’s fruit celler using WWII surplus glass plates to make B&W slides from Brownie Hawkeye 620 negatives…the process has never lost it’s magic. This photo of the former railroad station where I grew up was taken about 10:30pm of frigid November in 1958 with a Zeiss Nettar 645 camera on Panatomic X film F/11, 2.5 minutes exposure, developed in Microdol. I still have the Nettar 645; it still works ! nominate Ted Orland

 “Eight days a week” (?Lennon?McCartney?) Caveats about the whole thing. “No People…”… my editor on Maine Coast REPORTER once said “There are two kinds of photos….those about people, and those that don’t matter!” Only the byzantine legal situation about pictures of people make me acquiesce to this stipulation. No People, OK. “No explanations.” ? Where did we take that wrong turn? Explanation is context; the vast majority of pictures cannot be understood properly out of context.  H. Cartier-Bresson kept long pages of notes that were seldom published with his pictures.  In deference to the spirit of the challenge I’ll post the explanations only at the end of the week. Finally, due to copyright issues, (Facebook’s terms of use,) I’m posting my pictures on my regular blog site. 

RE: 7 day B&W photo challenge I’ve very nearly seven DECADES of being a B&W photographer.  Eight Days A Week !

I now return this blog to it’s regularly scheduled erratic activity.



November 12, 2017

B&W Challenge Day 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:23 am



November 11, 2017

B&W challenge, Day 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:53 am


November 10, 2017

B&W Challenge 5th Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:39 am



November 9, 2017

B&W Challenge 4th Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 8:55 am



November 8, 2017

B&W day 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 9:30 am


November 7, 2017

B&W Challenge, day 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 10:13 am



November 6, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — printaphilic @ 11:42 am


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