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Wednesday, 08 April 2020


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Beautiful photo. If the rest of your project looks like this I hope you get it restarted soon. Best of luck.

Sorry to hear that, but understandable, given your goals and the circumstances. On the other hand, I've found this an ideal time to spend even more time in my makeshift darkroom, exploring aspects of printing that I might not have otherwise set time aside for if I still had open access to the outside and to doing things with friends and family. So I guess for those of us with sheets upon sheets of negatives, now's a great time to break those out and get printing!

Sometimes it seems time passes as fast as a semi on the Interstate!

Too bad, Mike. In my view, making black and white images of nature, uninfected by the clutter of humans and their artifacts, would be a perfect way to spend this time. Unfortunately, you're in a location where there's beautiful nature around you and I'm not. I guess the grass is always greener, etc.

I certainly can relate to your state of mind. This enforced isolation could conceivably be the best of times for holing up and exercising the creative juices. But for me, my heart just isn't into it right now. (More below.)

But, when you get back into your film experiment, consider adding to your equipment an eminently carry-able 35mm camera, the Olympus XA2. More pocket-able than most digi-cams, except perhaps for the Canon Elph line. Adding to the "Best Camera for Carrying All the Time" but for film.

Regarding that category, and surveying my own inventory, I seem to be prepared for any contingency: LX7 with or without LVF2 viewfinder, in a convenient belt pouch; LX100 in a larger Think Tank Mirrorless Mover 5 belt pouch; and an even larger military khaki colored belt pouch that now holds an IR converted GF1, which I also used for carrying a GX7 when I had one. (The G85 is in a sling pack.) It justs depends on how much weight and fussing I'm up for.

But, I'm going another way right now. Remember the old days, before getting "serious" about photography, when you kept a roll of film in a camera for weeks or months? Then, when you got your prints back from the drugstore or camera shop, every picture was a surprise? I'm trying out the same thing. Instead of going out for a "shoot" then immediately uploading to computer, I keep a camera in the car, for whatever grabs me, and near the kitchen table, a D700 set to monochrome, also for "whatever." I think I will continue this for the duration, then see what I've got some indeterminate time in the future.

By the way, the LX100 was my only camera on an Iceland trip, and more recently, in San Francisco. Very capable camera, sort of like a GX7 made into a point-and-shoot.

Sounds like the right decision. Most of my work involves people as subjects. I’m not shooting much now, but I will when this crisis is over.

And I can’t resist quoting Groucho Marx, “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

I imagine you're disappointed, and quite reasonably so. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures you take, but if that's further in the future than originally expected, so be it.

While of course one can photograph things other than people nicely in B&W, if that's the project you had brought yourself to buy into, and no workable substitution leaps to mind, then postponing is the right choice.

Me too. I'm sure not going to wander around the city taking pictures. I never planned on doing darkroom work. The company I use for developing/scanning is still working but on a smaller scale and recommending you hold orders: https://thedarkroom.com/faqs/how-are-your-operations-affected-with-coronavirus-event/

I sympathise. I am struggling to find the motivation to photograph. On the other hand, a friend of mine seems to delight in photographing London’s deserted streets and empty landmarks.

Luckily, I am finding solace in a number of writing projects. A couple of these are set in the past. That’s the problem with photography, you can only take photos in the present. You can’t set them in the past or in the future. Bummer.

Another option would be to finally get over your aversion of tele lenses :-)

Take some portraits with a 300mm for a change!

Why not take one working film camera with one working 50mm lens and take one roll of film for twenty days at one local store, photographing the local people who come to the store? Nothing sneaky, just a photographer documenting a unique event. You can make a photograph without getting within 15 feet of the subject. You may make new friends. You surely will have a nice project to print-- the most interesting photo of each day. Your son may one day think it's the best thing you've ever done.

So, Mike, stop futzing with cameras and setting up roadblocks for yourself and just. Go. And. Shoot.


You write beautifully at times, but overthink photography. Pick one camera and look through it throughout the day. Watch the light change coming through the windows. Have a tripod close by. Find that special place in your home where the light is amazing for 15 minutes or 30. Photograph found objects: food, dishes, dogs, etc. Photograph the light on the objects. It should be based around the light. Let it find you.

This summer more and more people will start walking around in the nice weather, even if maintaining distance. Perhaps a slightly longer lens will still get you some nice shots. You could set up your camera on a tripod and just wait for people to come by.

A famous painter once said that the paintings he went to the canvas with a plan to make were often fine, but the times he went to the canvas with no idea, just to play, those were often the best.

Try taking the camera and playing. Shoot self-portraits. Shoot what strikes your fancy when you go out and play. Don't think about whether anyone will like it, just make it for you.

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

I was living in a town in Colorado that got flooded in 2013. Everyone was evacuated so they could rebuild the infrastructure (water, electric, sewer, gas lines), and I went in every two days to photograph what was going on to show the residents who were displaced.

Every time I went in I got 20 photos because I set a goal of finding 20 photos. From a place that looked like there was nothing else to shoot, when you need them, they show up. It fascinated me how that was able to happen every other day! Just show up. Consider it a challenge.

One more thought, Mike.

Deadlines make thing happen! No deadlines, we'd never get anything done--nothing is due. If there were a gallery, the Corcoran, waiting for your work, you'd find a way, right?

We excitedly await what you'll bring to the show. We know it'll be something good. When is it?

I agree with you Mike. Photography is not like exercise--of course one must practice but that's not the same as making images. And that does not feel right right now.

Of course it is also possible we can react to a symptom called depression, rather than reacting to the cause of depression, but ... .

The problem with making big decisions via blog is they're out there right away without the benefit of some "stewing time".

With the passage of a bit of time, you may think of a way to keep your project going. There are lots of good ideas in the comments.

Don't be shy to change your mind! If some stewing time passes and you want to keep your project going, perhaps in a simpler way that fits the times better, then don't let this post hold you back.

In the meantime, I remain grateful for TOP, especially during these dreadful times.

Hi Mike, just because you can’t shoot portraits doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing the background / prep work to get ready to shoot portraits.
You’ve scratched the GAS itch and now have a bunch of gear. What’s the next step in the process?

Dear Mike, I am, as usual,late to the party but I just wanted to say that one of the best ways to enjoy and improve in photography is to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. In any case you will need to make tests with your cameras to get the exposure and development right. Film cameras, especially old ones, often have less than accurate shutters.
I bet there are wonderful things inside your house and outside your door. Photography is very therapeutic I find.


You found good photos at Farmer Dave's.

Take photos without people if there aren't people around.

At least re-consider the ideas offered in the comments.

Bonne chance!

Go with your feelings, ignore the opinions of others. It's your project to be done on your terms. I, for one, respect your decision and will enjoy your results regardless of when the project comes to fruition.

Darn... I didn't get my reader's betting pool together fast enough to see if that project would last... Ha!
Some great portraits coming out of this crisis... a vacant landscape photographer's dream, in dire need of some well-placed human content. Ghost towns that cry out for recording their wasteland existence! Granted, the orders are to stay at home, but if one is protected the nines...maybe a once in a lifetime (for better or worse) opportunity that may never be repeated.

Mike I know you want to see eyelash and button stitch detail with that Rollei- but maybe try some tabletop arrangements or bring some flagstone inside and create some heroic mythic canyons. Give still life a shot! At least you’ll be practicing the moves..

Regarding Ken Tanaka's comment, I'm fairly up to date with current expert opinion both of public health people and medical people, and I have not really heard this Fall of 2022 idea mentioned. Most people seem to be indicating that there will be some intermittent easing of social distancing in the medium short term.

Because of the insane lack of testing that is still plaguing us, we have no real idea how many people are infected. But infected people are very likely to be immune (again, getting this from expert opinion). It appears that some large percentage of people have probably been infected already so there will be some element of "herd" immunity beginning. It's unclear as to how long the immunity will last but it appears to be likely to be at least a year (again, expert opinion).

As far as I understand it, the "flattening the curve" part is partially pointing to the idea that a large percentage of people will be infected, and that's inevitable, but that by flattening the curve, the health care system will be able to deal with a constant but steady influx.

Clearly, if you were to quarantine people indefinitely, eventually the disease would be greatly reduced if not eliminated, but that's not really possible.

But who knows? I sure hope we are galavanting around to some degree in less the 27 or so months.

That said there has literally NEVER been a better time to start practicing a musical instrument. You can take a skype lesson with some genius who wouldn't have answered your text message 6 months ago. If you have money. Which I don't

Don't know what the hell camera you took that with- but I like it!

Harumph. I've been pushing hard and taunting you from the beginning, so you'd think I'd be all "told you so!" But I'm not. I am a little disappointed. I see your logic and I agree, who needs more imagery of rusted farm machinery, whether it's shot on film or not.

I guess I was hoping your momentum would be strong enough to (insert river metaphor here) simply part and go around the huge boulder. A case could be made that the future will need a visual record of this particular global event, even as it manifests itself in far-flung rural communities. There's a clever way to do that without endangering yourself in others (I bet).

Besides, what else you gonna do—bread and soups, eh?

Mike: Your post reminded me of something I read in the mid-1970s in the "Photojournalism" edition of the Life Library of Photography. I still have the collection, and reread the feature. It was on Edward Steichen, and how over many years he photographed a single tree in the backyard of his home in Connecticut. I was struck in my early 20s, just as I am today, of the power of a simple, very personal idea brought to life by photography. In your case, well, life happens. I would think you could come up with a doable, small focus project that would still have meaning for you. And if it had meaning for you, it would likely have meaning for us, too. And if it didn't for some readers, so what? It did for you.

of course, unless you're just looking for an excuse not to use the film cameras...

I vote for digital, spent too many years locked away in the dark, quarantine is bad enough but a darkroom is like solitary in the pit.

As I read your posts about preparing for this, I thought this was way overthought, but also thought you might need the material for the blog... So I'm not surprised. My impression was that you'd end up at a point where you'd feel paralysis by analysis... It was just too much, your plans were just too big, too many cameras, too many films, too many formats...
I don't see how it was going to be enjoyable.
Just get one camera, one lens, one film... You know the deal ;)

[It's purely because of the pandemic. Situation beyond my control. --Mike]

I believe your logic and reasoning is flawed...however, I respect your right to make your own decision. We look forward to you continuing the project sometime in the future.

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