« A Platinum Print from an iPhone? | Main | Dennis Huff Photographs the Eclipse »

Wednesday, 30 August 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"In aesthetic appreciation there is general rough agreement" - I don't know where you get that from. Do you mean "general rough agreement within the art establishment" ? I think you'd get a different answer if you included all the general public.
As for me and this picture, I like it. I like the way it conveys the period and the people, I like the sense of motion, and I like the composition. I'm sure I partly like it because I also like old sports cars and like the idea of driving one around italy.

What is "Midcentury Modern," please.

[Basically, 1950s style. --Mike]

If that photo doesn't make you smile, nothing will.

Mike, I'd be very interested in what you think about "estate prints". I was recently at a show of work by Robert Mapplethorpe where they were charging over $10,000 for estate prints. The prints were very well done (spectacular really), but something in me balks at paying top dollar for a print that the artist never saw or approved. I'm not even sure these were printed by Tom Baril, Mapplethorpe's printer supremo. Is there a market discount for estate prints versus prints that were done or approved by the artist?

Is that image printed correctly, or was the negative flipped? The caption says that the image was taken in Italy in 1951, and I did not think that MG was producing left-hand drive cars for Europe at that time.

- Tom -

An interesting self-portrait that shows the photographer with a camera but isn't taken with the shown camera.

I'm so used to mirror self-portraits that I initial rad it as that but then I realized the camera is pointing in the wrong direction.

Dear Mike
I was wondering if you could shed some light on a doubt I have which you've mentioned in this post. With the advent of the latest top digital cameras and printers what would be career wise advantage of still shooting for example classic BW 35mm film? Are those photographers who are still choosing to shoot film doing it out of simple personal preference or is it an added advantage when it comes to working with art galleries?
I continually come across successful photographers in all genres who's prints are being sold by galleries who still use film, be it color or BW, 35mm or medium and large format film. There must be some reason apart from personal taste knowing that digital has reached a point where in many ways it has equaled film and of course the "basic" monetary advantage of digital shooting.

Thank you Paul

[Hi Paul, Well, the post is not about shooting 35mm film now, nor anything about its effect on a career. I just like looking at it is all. --Mike]

I didn't notice the hand gesture when I first looked at the pic - the hats, goggles, and smiles drew all of my attention.

But looking closer it appears she's holding something between her middle finger and thumb... hence the unusual hand position.

If so, does that make a difference? I.e. that it's not a gesture, just that she's holding something?

What camera does Mrs. Orkin hold in her hand? Is it a Contax with a Sonnar? (Because the bokeh in her picture "Couple in MG" is very appealing)

It wasn't staged, but it was posed. Ruth Orkin and her new buddy (model Ninalee Craig) spent a couple of hours walking around town, contriving photo ops. When Ruth noticed the men gawking at Ninalee at this particular street corner, she took a snap then asked Ninalee to double-back, so she could take another. The second image (only two were taken) is the magic one.

Here's a nice write-up with more photos:


Ahhh, that's the life... touring Tuscany in an MG-TD with the windshield folded down. And no doubt a Leica in the glovebox. Lovely photo, too; pictures that good are always in style. Ask Peter Turnley!

The camera that Ruth Orkin was holding is a Contax III. The lever to the right of the lens is the "setting lever for the delayed-action shutter release". The regular shutter release button was in the center of the film advance knob on the top right of the camera.

Based on this, plus the angle and position of the camera, suggests that the picture was not made with this camera, and probably was not a "self portrait".

PS: My first new 35mm camera was a Contax IIa.


Thanks Tyler.

I'll just point out that it can still be a self portrait even if the camera in the picture is not the camera taking the picture. --Mike]

I clicked through to see the American Girl In Italy image. It's spot-on documentary material. A year earlier that could have been my mother in the spotlight. We had the good fortune of accompanying a ridiculously wealthy woman on a three-month tour in the summer of 1950. A different place from today...still too close to the end of WWII. People were living in bomb craters in Monte Cassino. In the big cities, though, that was the scene. Right down the motor scooter.

I am still trying to figure out whether that is a TC or a TD. I am leaning toward TD because of the folded top hardware and low rear fender.

Thanks for the intro, Mike! Ruth's work is well worth getting to know. Is it just me, or is there more than a hint of Ruth's influence in Vivian Meier's pictures?


Nah, the real bonus is the Contax III in the self-portrait. Glorious camera.

(I really should buy a good Kiev II again - it would be nice to get a Sonnar & a Tessar for it going again. )

Yes it is a great picture. I hadn't heard of Ruth Orkin, and then you mentioned the "An American girl in Italy" and of course I realised I had seen this without knowing who's it was. Shame on me. Interesting composition. Many would have put the occupants further into the frame. But then the sense of the road they are in would have been lost. Thanks for introducing me to her work.

Ruth Orkin's work is just wonderful.
"American Girl' is a really wonderful Picture, but it does overshadow her other work. Thanks for the reminder.

It's an MG TD. Current production model in 1951, and available in LHD, while its predecessor, the TC, was RHD only.

What a great photo, so much fun!

Tom asked if the image might have been flipped. Looking at the direction that the man's jacket is closed would probably indicate that he image is not flipped.


For years, we had a copy of "American Girl" (it's so famous, the title has been shortened to a diminutive nickname) hanging in our house. When my daughter made a trip to Italy, we wound up with our own version-


I wrote to Ms. Orkin's, estate, and they gave me permission to use her image in this blog post.

I guess that's the "American Girl" Jinx Allen, or Ninalee Craig as she is known today, again. It seems to be part of that shoot.

And it's a TD of course, LHD as Tom pointed out and that rules out the TC which were never available other than RHD.


You should have waited until today, September 3rd, to post this wonderful article about Ruth Orkin. You could have celebrated her birthday!



The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007