Friday, February 29, 2008

Limber Pine

I've been using the Epson V700 scanner to scan some of my medium-format negatives to use for my print inventory. Here's one example: an extremely picturesque Limber Pine (related to the Bristlecone Pine) found on the trail up to the summit of Mount Baden-Powell in the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California. I think I used a Mamiya RB67 (very clunky and heavy) for the shot.

Photo: Limber Pine--San Gabriel Mountains, 1980

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Glen Drive Productions

Over the years I’ve come to use Glen Drive Productions as the catch-all title for all my creative endeavors, from artsy photos to Mr. Happy Tooth birthday cards. My California Seller’s Permit shows my business as Glen Drive Productions, and my web site is And, as you can notice, the copyright on all my recent photographs is under Glen Drive Productions.

So it was that yesterday I found myself at the Marin County Clerk’s office to register a fictitious business name, filling out a form and paying $32.00. In addition, "a Legal Notice MUST be published in an adjudicated paper within 30 days of the filing date." So that task is solidly in front of me.

The best part about traveling to the Marin County Civic Center is the building itself, a masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The building was featured in the science-fiction movies THX 1138 and Gattaca, and is supposed to have been the inspiration for the architecture on Naboo in the most recent Star Wars movies, or so says Wikipedia.

Photo: Ficus, Civic Center—Marin County, 2008

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Selling Photographs

After many years of extremely minimal marketing efforts, this year I’ve been working towards selling my pix at art shows, festivals, etcetera. To that end, I’ve been trying to formulate a Business Plan (conceptual, of course) dealing with product discrimination, inventory, display and blah blah blah.

But talking about displays, take a look at this photographer’s setup, right at Tourist Central: the San Francisco Embarcadero. No canopy, no storage bins. In fact, he appears to be using a dishwashing rack to display his photos (along with recycled Sensodyne, Keri and Degree cardboard boxes and an old plastic storage container).

Verrrrrry interesting . . . I’d like to take a look at his Business Plan.

Photo: Selling Photographs—San Francisco, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

. . . from the archives #4: Pacific Electric Tower Car--Los Angeles, 1958

Although Pacific Electric streetcars stopped operating in Hollywood in 1954, the railroad yard just off of Santa Monica Boulevard still existed in 1958 when I took this photo. I used (I think) a small camera that had a collapsible bellows. The negative, made on medium-format roll film, is quite sharp!

Photo: Pacific Electric Tower Car--Los Angeles, 1958

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Seagulls, San Quentin

Passing by San Quentin on the ferry . . . a vast number of seagulls roosting on the prison's roof, then taking flight as the ferry approached.

Photo: Seagulls & San Quentin Prison--Marin County, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Market Street, Late Afternoon and Night

Off to a birthday dinner in San Francisco yesterday. Walking down Market Street, taking photos after getting off the ferry, then, waiting for the last ferry back to Larkspur, pix of the Vaillancourt Fountain at night.

Photos: Shoeshine Stand--Market Street, 2008, Pigeons--Market Street, 2008, Vaillancourt Fountain, Night--San Francisco, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Peter Koch: The Book As a Work of Art

Attended a little talk by Peter Koch, a well-known printer of letterpress editions, last night at the Donna Seager Gallery in San Rafael. Mr. Koch, located in Berkeley, began his presentation with a discussion of What is Art . . . always a difficult proposition. One example he adduced via Martin Heidegger was the difference between a Greek temple and a used pair of boots. The Greek temple is Art whereas the boots are not: the Work of Art is not meant to be "used up." Later in his presentation he showed us objects he had designed that would conceivably last longer than a Greek temple. For example, Diogenes: Defictions is a "text transmission object" and consists of "printed letterpress from zinc engravings onto soft lead plates by Koch."

Mr. Koch went on to discuss some of his other works of art, including one of his latest projects entitled Watermark. I will reprint here the description of the making of this work as found as his web site:


In early September, we imported a printing press, on loan from the Tipoteca Italiana Fondazione printing museum in Cornuda, near Treviso and floated it down the Grand Canal to the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia in the Cannaregio sestiere, where Peter was artist-in-residence for the Fall of 2006.
The paper is Twinrocker "Da Vinci" handmade, with our own watermark designed by Christopher Stinehour and Susan Filter. Robert Morgan’s photographs were digitally re-configured by Donald Farnsworth and printed at his Magnolia Editions in Oakland, California from photogravure plates made by Unai San Martin. The printed sheets were shipped to Venice, Italy, where we printed the text in Monotype Dante types cast in lead at the Olivieri Typefoundry in Milano. Once the printing at the Scuola Grafica was completed, the sheets were shipped to our studio in Berkeley where the book will be bound in richly pigmented papers made by hand at Cave Papers in Minneapolis, MN.


Mr. Koch seemed extremely satisfied by the complexity of this endeavor: the imported printing press floated down the Grand Canal, the specially designed watermark, the digitally reconfigured photos, etcetera. He said something to the effect that "if there’s a more complicated way to do things, we found it!"

There were more examples of his work, full of erudition and, to be honest, somewhat convoluted. I was pleased to have attended, however, given my interest in photographic book projects.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stop Sign, Rain

Taken from inside the car.

On the Olympus front, there are a few posts concerning the E-510 on this site. How’s this for an encomium?

"I won't claim that the E-510 marks any point of progress where concept or materials are concerned; but it is the last word in magnitude, I size, shape, and weight, just what a camera should be, ideally. It could usefully be used by all manufacturers as a model of perfection."

Photo: Stop Sign, Rain—Woodacre, 2008

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Limantour Estero

I had scheduled a photo trip yesterday to Point Reyes. The forecast called for rain in the afternoon so I headed out towards the coast early in the morning, and, of course, ran into rain—heavy rain—as soon as I reached Taylor State Park.

But that was OK! Number One: I was still able to get coffee and a morning bun at Bovine Bakery in Pt. Reyes Station. And Number Two: I went ahead and used my old umbrella technique and took photos anyway. The wind was picking up when I reached the Limantour Beach parking lot; as I hiked towards the beach the rain slanted down on funereal, mid-winter grasses and shrubs, Limantour Estero in the distance. At least I had enough presence of mind to attempt to take some vertical merge shots (as seen above.)

Interesting: my pix total was 72—exactly what two 36-exposure rolls of film would have been.

Photos: Bovine Bakery—Pt. Reyes Station, 2008; Limantour Estero—Point Reyes, 2008.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Buckeye & Oak

Just off of Lucas Valley Road. The California Buckeye is the first tree to leaf out, according to Barbara, my science advisor.

Photo: California Buckeye & Oak--Marin County, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

. . . from the archives #3: Flowers & Fences--Mendocino County, 1982

I took this photo with an old Yashica twin-lens reflex. I got this angle by holding the camera above my head and peering into the square ground glass on the top of the camera, much as one would use a rotating LCD on a digital camera today.

Photo: Flowers & Fences--Mendocino County, 1982

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leaves & Stairs

I've been going through my older negatives recently, looking for candidates for my burgeoning inventory of prints-to-sell. Here's a photo taken on 35mm black and white film (TMax 100, probably) from the 90s. Nice grain!

Photo: Leaves & Stairs--New Mexico, 1993

Saturday, February 16, 2008


As I've said, I'm not a bird photographer. But if one just happens to glide overhead following the homebound ferry . . .

Photo: Seagull--San Francisco Bay, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hewlett Packard Photosmart 8750

There is always—always—stuff piled up in front of it.

I bought it in June, 2006 to replace my smaller (and artifact-prone) HP 7960. As I recall, I got both a Staples in-store reduced price and an HP rebate! I had weighed the pros and cons between dye and the more expensive pigment printers and decided that, given the price differential, I would go with the dye printer knowing that better pigment printers would soon be coming out.

But I’ve found no reason to switch yet. I’m pleased to note that HP is still listing the 8750 as a current model (meaning that paper and ink for the printer will still be available for—what?—two years from discontinuance?—can’t remember . . . something like that).

Of course the ink and paper are very expensive—that’s just to be expected nowadays. But the results are great. Yes, the color might be just a bit too vivid, but I’m fine with that. And the black and white prints are, alas, better than my old darkroom Ilford Galerie silver prints (equally subtle gradations and tonalities, plus the benefit of Photoshop processing.) The downside is the need for frequent replacing of the (expensive) gray ink cartridge.
The ink is designed to be used with HP’s "swellable-polymer" papers—as I understand it, the paper acts something like a sponge, the ink sinking into the surface of the paper and thus improving longevity. Wilhelm Imaging Research display permanence ratings for this printer/paper combination are as follows:
Color prints framed under glass: 108 years.
Black and white prints framed under glass: 115 years.
Dark storage: Greater than 200 years.

In point of fact, I’ve only sold a few prints so far, and no one has yet to ask me about print permanence issues. I include a little cheat sheet giving that information with each print anyway.

Yes, yes, I know. HP has just announced its new $549.00 B8850 pigment printer. We’ll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Leaves, Framed

Photo showing finished photomerge project.

Now, what would I charge if I put it up for sale? (Haven’t gotten to that point, yet.) We will have to discuss pricing issues at some future date.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wine Country

I was asked recently if I have any photographs of our local wine country . . . Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino Counties. It's interesting, and somewhat perplexing, that I really don't have that many pix. I found this scene of a leafless vineyard taken in the wintertime, but I obviously need to sacrifice and make the few hours journey north in different times of the year to bulk up my wine country portfolio.

Photo: Winter Vineyards & Pond—Napa Valley, 1998

. . . from the archives #2: Atomic Cafe—Los Angeles, 1974

When I was working for Los Angeles County in 1974 my co-worker, Danny Perez, told me about a place called the "Atomic Cafe" . . . it really appealed to his sense of the absurd. I took this picture with, it looks like, Tri-X film (I usually used Panatomic-X); I still had the Nikon F at that point. And there's my reflection just to the left of the "Atomic Cafe" sign in the window. Interestingly enough, a recent Google search turned up another Atomic Cafe black and white photo that’s been posted on the web, no date given.

Photo: Atomic CafĂ©—Los Angeles, 1974

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lagunitas Creek

Early Sunday, standing on the Shafter Bridge overlooking Lagunitas Creek, hands frozen in the frigid morning air. Fumbling in my pocket for the cable release, I inadvertently grab the E-510’s lens cap and drop it; I hear the distinctive click as it hits the sidewalk. I look down only to find out that . . . it has disappeared . . . no lens cap to be found! I then realize the awful truth: it undoubtedly rolled off the sidewalk, off the bridge and into Lagunitas Creek. Hope it won’t disturb the steelhead migration.

Then, a quick trip to Point Reyes Station to buy a nice new horse feeding tub for Tuffy (bright red) at Toby’s Feed Barn.

Back home, I’m relieved to find that the lens cap from my C-8080 will fit onto my SLR’s lens.

Photos: Top: Lagunitas Creek, Marin County, 2008 / Bottom: Old Western Hotel, Pt Reyes Station, 2008

Chinese New Year

Happy New Year! Gung Hay Fat Choy! We had an amazing feast last night, the whole organized by Hali and the product of many great cooks.

Photo: Chinese Food To Go, San Francisco, 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Autumn Leaves, Marin County

I spent a good portion of yesterday framing a large inkjet print of the above photograph (24x33 inches) that I had ordered from West Coast Imaging.

The photograph itself is made up of four separate exposures (upper left, upper right, lower right, lower left) that I made on a back road in the San Geronimo valley; I used the light center leaf as the common element of all four photographs. The four separate exposures were "put together" using Photoshop’s photomerge feature.

I "mounted" the print on a 32x40 inch acid-free foamcore board using Filmoplast tape at the top; a mat was cut from a 32x40 inch acid-free 4-ply rag board using a Logan mat cutter. These elements, plus a 32x40 inch sheet of plexiglas, were sandwiched and inserted into a Nielsen aluminum frame. The only issue, so far, is a kind of a visible "rippling" across the print, which I have encountered on all larger inkjet prints mounted without the use of a dry mount press.

The result is very interesting. The final product has a . . . well, call it a "pricey" look. A large print, a decorative subject: I could possibly charge a handsome sum!

Or possibly not.

(Photo: Autumn Leaves, Marin County 2007)

Friday, February 8, 2008

At Last!

I've been trying to get a photograph of this storefront in San Anselmo for some time now, but there's always been cars parked in front blocking the view. At long last, passing by yesterday I saw my chance . . . the storefront, carless. I quickly parked, yanked the camera out of the trunk, and started shooting. Please note the sand bags, put there to guard against flooding.

I'm reflected in the door . . . I could Photoshop myself out . . . undecided on that point.

(Photograph: Two Bicycles, San Anselmo, 2008)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

That’s It, San Francisco

Here are two photos I’ve taken of the "That’s It" market on Mission Street in San Francisco. This market, as well as being nicely photogenic, also has its own Yelp review page.

The bottom photo was taken from across Mission Street in afternoon sunlight with the Olympus C-8080 in 2005, using the tilting LCD screen which I’ve spoken of before. The top photo was taken right in front of the store in the rain this year using the E-510.

I played with the first photo for a while in color, but soon changed it to black and white. This year’s picture was an easier black and white decision.
Photos: Top: That's It, San Francisco, 2008 / Bottom: That's It, San Francisco, 2005

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Juniper Trunk

Another photo taken during my Bishop Pass backpack last year.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Backpacking: Thoughts on the Olympus E-510

Backpackers regularly obsess about bulk and weight, and, since I regularly backpack in the Sierra Nevada it follows that I too obsess about bulk and weight, including what kind of camera I use when hiking. I remember one memorable trip when I carried in a Nikon F-100 and a tripod: my backpack, a top-of-the-line Gregory, weighed so much that trees shook when I dumped it onto the ground! OK, maybe they didn’t, but the pack was pretty heavy. I’ve also been known to carry in additional lenses but this stopped when I left a wide-angle lens sitting on a log, only remembering it some time after I got back to the trailhead. Just one zoom lens for me now, thank you.

So I’ve tried to strike a balance between bulk and weight . . . and image quality. For a number of trips I carried an Olympus C-8080 and was extremely satisfied. Now this isn’t one of your tiny pocket-sized cameras, but hiking with the camera strap slung over one shoulder I was able to get a number of nice photos.

I’ve now switched to an Olympus E-510 SLR. As you may know, it has RAW capability, larger file size, live view, in-camera image stabilization plus the advantages of a single-lens reflex viewfinder. When I received it I immediately got out the kitchen scale and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it only weighed, with the "kit" lens, a few ounces more than the C-8080 (at most) and, equally as important, was comparable in size. So, I took it backpacking last summer, up over Bishop Pass, through Dusy Basin and then down, down, down into LeConte Canyon, and it performed very nicely.

The reason I’ve been thinking about the issue of weight and size is that Olympus has just introduced their new "pro" camera, the E-3. Unfortunately (or should I say, fortunately), it is apparently very bulky and heavy as per this review, so I have just dodged the bullet in terms of new-camera desire!
Photos: Top: Mt. Agassiz, Approaching Bishop Pass 2007 (taken with E-510.) Bottom: Rocks at Forester Pass 2005 (taken with C-8080.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

. . . from the archives #1: Red Coat—Kyoto, 1965

In 1964 on my way back from Okinawa to California I managed to get myself, courtesy of the U.S. Army, routed through Kyoto. I took this with my newly-acquired Nikon F.

Photo: Red Coat—Kyoto, 1965

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Steelhead Weather

Steelhead Weather is the title of an evocative silkscreen print by Elton Bennett, which I have here appropriated. Steelhead, of course, are the amazing fish that frequent the streams of Marin County from December through April.

February, 2008 has come into the Bay Area very wet and windy, so it was only natural that Hali & I decided that yesterday afternoon, at the height of the storm, was the perfect time to take our horse, Tuffy, for a walk. (Yes, for a walk. Like a dog.)

Braving many perils, including a propane delivery truck that had the temerity to honk—yes, honk—at us, and a downed electrical wire (cable, by the looks of it) we made it through the stable past an outbuilding with wisps of smoke curling though the rain, down the street, up the grade towards the redwoods, and thence down in the gloom and the noise of rushing water, finally back to the safety and security of Dickson Ranch.

Hali led Tuffy for his walk, and Mike tagged along behind with a somewhat incongruous umbrella sheltering his E-510 for his steelhead weather photos.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Redwoods & Photomerge

This is made up of two vertical photographs, left and right, that I took yesterday in the San Geronimo Valley. The reason for doing this is that the final print can be much larger than if I had taken just one photograph. The two pictures were "merged" in Photoshop CS3 . . . still experimenting with the process.