In New York City – The Skylight Diner

By this time in my walk I had been walking around for nearly three hours and I was feeling tired and hungry. So I looked for something/somewhere to eat. I realized that coincidentally I had walked to the largest (I think) photographic store in New York: B&H Photo. It occurred to me that I could find somewhere close by to eat and then after that have a walk around B&H. Then I could return to wherever I found and have a coffee while waiting for my granddaughter to arrive. Looking around I discovered the Skylight Diner, just across the road.

It bills itself as “The Best Diner in Manhattan”, which might be true since there aren’t many classic diners left in Manhattan. I went in and found a very pleasant diner with, to my surprise, a number of nice black and white (i.e. monochrome) prints on the wall. I ordered a full English breakfast. The bacon was American style rather than my preferred English style (less smoky, less salty and more meaty), both other than that it really hit the spot. After I’d finished I went off to B&H. Amazingly I overcame my Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) and didn’t buy anything. Then, as mentioned above returned to wait for my granddaughter.

Taken with a Fuji X-E3 and Fuji XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS II

Trying out Infrared Photography – A New Photobook

I was now producing reasonable infrared photographs. But this was, after all, coming from a 20 year old camera with an old 8 megapixel sensor. Sure the pictures looked OK on screen, but how would they look printed?

So I decided to make a photobook and found that the answer to the above question was…not at all bad!

So far my efforts have all produced black and white images. My next attempt will attempt to produce the type of false color pictures often associated with infrared photography.

And I’m enjoying infrared photography so much that I’m seriously considering acquiring a modern, infrared converted camera.

Stay tuned.

Interesting video

Back in April I posted about a photographer, whose work I generally respect, but who seems to have a strong aversion to people who use phone cameras (See: A rant). He seems to feel that you can’t be a ‘real’ photographer if you use a an iPhone. In another post (See:You’re a photographer. You’re not a Photographer) I noted that I don’t feel that the quality of your photograph depends on the tool you use.

So I think that this guy should take a look at the above video, which contains some amazing photographs taken with an iPhone.

His website can be found at Eric Mencher Photography.

Still more postcards – this time by Ansel Adams

I recently posted about Cornelia Cotton and her wonderful used book store/gallery in Croton-on-Hudson (See: Cornelia). While there I bought an Ansel Adams Yosemite National Park Postcard Folio Book.

It consists of 25 postcards (23 photographs, a title page, and an introduction). I think there were supposed to be more. The title page mentions “Front Cover Photograph: Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, 1944″ and “Back Cover Photograph: Ansel Adams by Mimi Jacobs” (Mimi Jacobs took a number of photographs of Adams. Since I don’t know which one was included in this collection I can’t provide a link), both of which seem to be missing. I’ve included five images here to give you a feel for what they’re like. Of course my low resolution scans from my cheap, poor quality scanner don’t come close to doing justice to the the postcards themselves.

My interest in photography started around 1978 when my wife gave me a brand new Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII. Maybe I mentioned that I would like a camera? Maybe she just thought it would be a good idea? Little did she know what a monster she was unleashing. Not long before, an Ansel Adams print (Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico) had sold for what then seemed to be the astonishing amount of $71,500 (the same print sold for $609,600 in 2006 and the current most expensive photograph is Le Violon d’Ingres (1924) by Man Ray, which sold in 2022 for $12,400,000). Around that time a friend lent me one of Adams’s books (I believe it was “The Camera“). With my new found enthusiasm for photography I wanted to be Ansel Adams, to make those lovely black and white photographs. Over the years my interest for landscape photography has waned a bit. I live in the rather picturesque Hudson Valley so I still take plenty of landscape pictures, but my photographic interests have broadened to include street photography, macro photography, nature photography etc. I still like black and white photography though and to me he’s still the master of that.

Curiously, while I was working on these images ended up temporarily in a folder, which also contained ten black and white pictures I’d taken of the New Croton Dam. Of course they weren’t anywhere near as good as the Adams photographs. But I was pleased to see that they didn’t look that bad either – at least as seen in low resolution on screen. I’m sure that Adams prints would blow anything I could produce out of the water.

Half Dome and Clouds, Yosemite Park, c.1968, Ansel Adams.

Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn, Yosemite National Park, 1939, Ansel Adams.

Fern Spring, Dusk, Yosemite National Park, c.1961, Ansel Adams.

Dogwood, Yosemite National Park, 1938, Ansel Adams.

Mirror Lake, Mount Watkins, Spring, Yosemite National Park, 1935, Ansel Adams.

The complete set Copyright 1996 by the Trustees of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Published by Little, Brown and Company.

Peter Lindbergh on Fashion Photography

I haven’t shown a lot of interest in Fashion photography. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it – I do, and I have a number of photobooks by/about well known Fashion photographers including Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Edward Steichen. I’m also somewhat familiar with the work of others including Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Horst P. Horst, William Klein, David LaChapelle, Lord Snowden, and Mario Testino. It’s just that I don’t think, much as I might like to take pictures of gorgeous women on a beach I don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to do so. Moreover, I’m not really comfortable taking pictures of people in general.

However, my interest was piqued when I saw this video on one of my favorite YouTube channels: Alex Kilbee’s: The Photographic EyeThe Photoshoot Which Changed Fashion Photography

I’d heard of Peter Lindbergh, but had not really appreciated how influential he had been. So I immediately ordered “Peter Lindbergh. On Fashion Photography“, Taschen Books, 2020. In his introduction Lindbergh says:

In 1987, I got a call from Alexander Liberman then the creative director of Condé Nast

I’ve got a couple of books by/about him too. I decided that I would get them after being invited over to the house of, as it turned out, someone who used to work for him). But back to the post:

He couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to work for American Vogue. I told him, “I just can’t take the types of photographs of women that are in your magazine.” I simply felt uninspired by the ways women were being photographed”. He said: “OK, show me what you mean, show me what kind of women you’re talking about.” I wanted a change from a formal, particularly styled, supposedly “perfect” woman – too concerned about social integration and acceptance – to a more outspoken and adventurous woman, in control of her own life and emancipated from masculine control. A woman who could speak for herself.

A few months later, following Mr. Liberman’s proposition, I put together a group of young and interesting models and we went to the beach in Santa Monica. I shot very simple images; the models wore hardly any makeup, and I wanted everyone to be dressed the same, in white shirts. This was quite unusual at the time. Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, and Karen Alexander were all there that day.

Back in New York, Vogue’s editor in chief at the time, Grace Mirabella, refused to print the images. But six months later, Anna Wintour became the the magazine’s editor and discovered the proofs somewhere in a drawer. She put one of them in Condé Nast’s big retrospective book “On the Edge: Images from 100 years of Vogue (1992)”, calling it the most important photograph of the decade. The “supermodel” would go on to represent the powerful woman that I had articulated, and their images dominated fashion visuals for the next 15 years.

The book consists of two distinct parts: a short, but very interesting introduction by Lindbergh himself followed by the heart of the book – Over 300 hundred images (that’s what the book’s sleeve says, but the book actually has 505 pages and the introduction – in English, German, and French – takes up only about 30 of them, and itself contains a number of photographs). Such a large number of images requires some kind of organization and in this case it’s alphabetical by client e.g. Azzedine Alaïa, Heider Ackermann, Giorgio Armani etc.

I like this series of Taschen books. Most photobooks are quite expensive, large format, heavy and difficult to hold. This series is more compact (6×9 inches) and fairly inexpensive. I have a number of them. I guess the only problem with them is that the photographs are relatively speaking rather small, but they’re good enough to provide a thorough overview of his work. Taschen also has a larger format series. I have a few of them too (e.g. Sebastião Salgado‘s wonderful “Genesis” (10×14 inches, but still quite inexpensive for a photobook of this quality), but I find them too big and too heavy to comfortably hold and read.