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Archive for July, 2011

Plastic Cameras (Book Review)

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity

The plastic camera offers up the perfect bang-for-your-buck path into film photography. The Holga 120N, for example, weighs 7 ounces and sells for under US$30. There are 200,000 Holgas sold worldwide every year and over 1 million Holgas are out there in the hands of photographers. The Holga is a simple plastic camera that shoots 120 roll medium format film through a plastic lens with the opportunity to embrace photography for it’s true quirks and foibles. From that price point you can move into collectable Dianas or the newer Diana+ or through the numerous other plastic cameras (including plastic pinholes) on offer. There is probably no better or more affordable entry point into shooting film photography than turning to plastic.

Plastic camera photographer, Michelle Bates, has released a 2011 second edition of Plastic Cameras: Toying with Creativity. This book is going to be your best friend if you’ve purchased a plastic camera. Michelle exposes the reader to a wide variety of artistic and professional photographers who shoot with plastic. In the second part of the book the objective is entirely a practical guide to shooting with a plastic camera, loading and unloading film, using flashes, strobes, processing film and opening the reader’s mind to the possibilities of the tool.

Because that’s what a camera is… just a tool. You don’t need the $5,000 professional DSLR body to take world class professional photography. What you need is the creative mind, the photographers eye and the experience to make effective images. The camera is just another thing a photographer uses to produce a final image.

The only trouble now is the book has inspired me to the possibilities of plastic. I’m even thinking of ways I can corrupt the images that are shot through my Zenza Bronica ETRS medium format film camera so they might produce less conventional images. A world of possibilities I had seriously not considered to this point.

You might also enjoy Pinhole Photography by Eric Renner.

The Simple Math of Photographer Xenophobia

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I have written this article because the average vendor may not understand why there is no money in a photographer stealing their idea and opening a stall in direct competition. The idea we are idea thieves out to screw them over is a glaring absurdity.

The math is simple. Consider that the concerned market vendor may take $240 per Saturday in sales (and I believe that may be optimisic) for selling something we will call their Product. The individual Product is worth $40 and the vendor sells 6 of them on the day.

Let’s work backwards. With all things being equal and given no advantage of stall position to foot traffic at the market on a given weekend, the assumption has to be the same number of Product will be sold – $240 in value. This would mean $120 sales to Vendor A and $120 to Vendor B. In other words, the sales pie for Product doesn’t increase simply because there are two vendors and therefore the current sales figure is split equally between the two.

So Vendor B, who stole the idea with a photograph some weeks earlier, would rake into their pocket $120 in sales. That math should make sense.

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True Grit (Movie Review)

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

True Grit

The Coen brother’s adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name (True Grit) is a deep and dark revenge story about a young girl named Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel) who embarks on an uncompromising pursuit after her father’s killer – the coward Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin).

However, True Grit is also the story of two diametrically opposed lawmen who set out to hunt Chaney down in the Indian Territory – the hard drinking “one eyed fat man” US Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and the incessant talker of refined upbringing Texas Ranger LeBoeuf (Matt Damon). Unlike the original True Grit movie, which earned John Wayne his only Oscar, the Coen brothers breezed past a lot of the underlying contention between Cogburn and LeBoeuf. So it’s worth revisiting to better understand their relationship within the narrative.

LeBoeuf and Cogburn had fought in the American Civil War for the Confederate Army. LeBoeuf’s war was that waged by the West Point trained officers who waged it with what they saw as honour, integrity and valour. Cogburn’s war was served under the guerrilla fighter William Quantrill who gained a Confederate commission as captain of partisan rangers. Quantrill, dead at 27 from a gunshot wound to the chest in an ambush, was reviled by the West Point officers for the barbarity of taking no prisoners, the murder of women and children and his propensity for hit-and-run raids. Quantrill’s men were responsible for the infamous Lawrence Massacre of 1863.

Notable real life outlaws who rode under Quantrill were Jesse James, Frank James, Cole Younger and Jim Younger. These were the breed of men that would have fought beside Rooster Cogburn only a decade earlier.

That explains the uneasy tension between the two men hunting Tom Chaney through the Indian Territory of the 1870s. The Civil War was recent history and a time of lawlessness as parts of America readjusted to the Union victory. The further contention between the men was LeBoeuf’s incessant talking and high handed attitude as a Texas Ranger. Even when LeBoeuf nearly bit his tongue off he found it impossible to hold silence.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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