Saturday, January 31, 2009

Big Camera / Small Camera: The Film Years

For a number of years, going back to the 1970’s, I’ve had a two-camera system: 1) a larger camera, sometimes bulky and unwieldy, sometimes rather heavy, sometimes even requiring a tripod, and 2) a smaller camera, always handheld. The reason for this was that the larger cameras used larger film formats—thus producing higher-quality negatives (in theory). But of course the smaller 35mm cameras were much more convenient.

Pre-digital, my large cameras were a Mamiya RB-67, a Mamiya C-220 twin-lens reflex and a Toyo Field 4x5. The small cameras were a Nikon F and F100, an Olympus OM-1, and various Minolta Maxxum models. And, comparatively recently I acquired a Leica Minilux "pocketable" (35mm) camera.

The Mamiya RB-67 and Nikon F were lost when our house in Los Angeles was burglarized, the OM-1 gone when I upgraded to autofocus Minolta models.

Now in my possession, pictured above (left to right): the Nikon F100, the Toyo Field 4x5 and the Leica Minilux. Not currently using any of them, although I still think that I could do something interesting with the 4x5 using a roll-film adapter.

Photo: Cameras—Marin County, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Shadows, Swan & Crane

We left Matsumoto for Tokyo around noon. In the morning we walked over to Matsumoto Castle, pausing by the moat to do some swan viewing. Hali pointed out the shadows falling on the water.

Then, castle viewing, a crane perched in the pine tree in the foreground.

Then, Matsumoto Station and the train to Nagano for our transfer to Tokyo.

Photos: Swan & Shadows—Japan, 2008; Matsumoto Castle—Japan, 2008

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Interior Spaces

Yes, "Interior Spaces" should be the title of my next gallery show:

"Mundy’s lapidary images in his latest exhibit, ‘Interior Spaces,’ resonate with the cold precision of photorealist geometry. The sense of longing that accrues blah blah blah . . ."

Um, maybe not.

Photos: Ferry Building Interior—San Francisco, 2005; Herbst Pavilion Interior—San Francisco, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

. . . from the archives #34: Dogwood—Yosemite, 1986

Are we our black, wet roots,
Or do we live by light?

Taken during a spring visit to Yosemite in 1986. From the evidence of the contact sheets, I didn’t take any 35mm photos, relying exclusively on a view camera (with roll-film adaptor) and a Mamiya twin-lens reflex.

Clearly, for this image I used the Mamiya since the uncropped photo is square. The original image is presented below the edited version.

James Linden and I picked this for use in a letterpress "keepsake" edition featuring the poem "Tree Song" by Gary Snyder (lines quoted above). Available now at auctions and suchlike.

Photo: Dogwood—Yosemite, 1986

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Blackberries (2)

Following last year’s post, here are two more winter blackberry photos, both taken in Marin County’s San Geronimo Valley.

Photo: Blackberries & Oak—Marin County, 2009; Blackberries & Fence—Marin County, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

That "Mike Look"

Two pix showing the straight-on compositional style utilized by Mike. Don’t know exactly where it comes from. More examples here, and here.

Maybe from Max Yavno.

Photos: Orange Building—San Rafael, 2009; Landmark Building C—San Francisco, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009


During our October, 2006 trip to the East Coast, Dan and I took a day off to visit Cape Cod in search of pix.

Approaching this lighthouse, I guess that I was remembering the Andrew Wyeth drybrush painting, "Storm at Sea." He had an anecdote about someone passing by while he was painting and making critical comments because Wyeth had "cut off the top of the lighthouse."

So I went ahead and cut off the top of the lighthouse. Of course, Wyeth’s painting has the trademark Wyeth gloomy sepia look.

Photo: Lighthouse—Cape Cod, 2006

Saturday, January 24, 2009

E-30 Review Site

Mr. Wrotniak is starting to review the new Olympus E-30, here.

Although supposedly a high-end camera, nonetheless it comes with . . . face detection, something you'd normally find in entry-level point and shoot cameras!

Best quote so far from his review:

Face detection: the camera tries to detect human faces in the scene, adjusting the exposure and (probably) autofocus to have them rendered best. This works based on the continuously updated Live View information and therefore is available only in the Live View mode. In other words, you are using your SLR as a point-and-shoot camera.
This was introduced already in the E-420 and E-520, and most other manufacturers believe it will appeal to first-time SLR buyers who are considered, by the said manufacturers, to be idiots.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mike & Three Umbrellas

A narrow lane in Kyoto.

Taking photos then hurrying to catch up with the others.

Photo: Mike & Three Umbrellas—Kyoto, 2008

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bicycles in Japan

Bicycles in Japan were omnipresent, actually being used as transportation by everyone from schoolkids to secretaries to businessmen in suits.

Somehow they have not yet learned of the necessity for spandex outfits or the trick of ignoring traffic signals.

Photo: Bicycling in Rain—Kyoto, 2008

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You Gotta Have A Gimmick

You can sacrifice your sacro
Working in the back row.
Bump in a dump till you're dead.
Kid you gotta have a gimmick
If you wanna get ahead.

Thus Sondheim has spoken.

The folks in the booth opposite mine at last week’s Farmers Market had a gimmick: they were actually creating their art on-site! Placid landscapes and bas-relief Indian adobes. Hm.

I have yet to find my own particular gimmick.

Photo: Painting—Marin County, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Have a nice day! I am off to have some mimosas at Barbara’s Inauguration Day get-together.

Photo: Grass & Fence—Marin County, 2007

Monday, January 19, 2009


One of the pleasures of birding is arriving in the early morning darkness: it gives you a chance to check out the moonset reflecting in the water and the first rays of sunlight hitting the wetland reeds.

Another benefit is, of course, the fellowship of the birders. And, speaking of reeds, we were hoping that we’d see the elusive "rail" peeking out. The birders were on high alert anticipating this rare event.

Photos: Moonset—Sacramento National Wildlife Area, 2009; Reeds & Sky— Sacramento National Wildlife Area, 2009; Birders— Sacramento National Wildlife Area, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009


A photograph from our 2006 trip to the East Coast. I really must go through these photos again someday.

Photo: Walk—New York, 2006

Saturday, January 17, 2009


What to do . . . do we go for small, with good, but not great, quality, or do we go for large, with the better quality that size confers? Talking about cameras, of course.

My current camera, the Olympus E-510, is slightly middle-of-the-road, being somewhat smallish, but when coupled with the 12-60 lens, ends up kind of biggish.

I’ve already mentioned the new—larger—Olympus camera, the E-30. (To be sure, not as large as some offerings from Nikon and Canon.)

So, here we have two new cameras, the LX3 and the G1, from Panasonic, which I haven’t up to now thought of as a serious camera company. But both models are generating considerable attention in the photography world.

Both are small cameras: the LX3 is basically pocket-sized, and the G1 looks like a mini-SLR. Reviews of the LX3 can be found at Imaging Resource and DPReview. A review of the G1 can be found, again, at Imaging Resource.

Although the reviews are excellent, I don’t think I’m interested in the LX3, or any pocket sized camera for that matter: just a little too small. I actually don’t mind carrying a camera using a neck strap, when it comes to it. (Of course, you don’t want something really clunky, like the Sony R1, hanging around your neck.)

For me, a small camera is something that I could fit easily into a daypack without its being obtrusive, either in size or weight. The G1 is, to me, much more interesting, because it probably could do just that. As it turns out, Panasonic and Olympus have some sort of arrangement that will eventually lead to an Olympus entry into this particular small high-end market.

And the G1 has interchangeable lenses. And, it has a tilting LCD screen!

Photos: LX3 & G1 images from Imaging Resource

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mike & Cow

A self-portrait taken in Kyoto.

And what about that guy off to the left? What is he looking at?

Reminds me of Antonioni’s Blowup.

Photo: Mike & Cow—Kyoto, 2008

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Otter

During our late afternoon walk through one of the trails at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area Dan spotted an otter doing its busy otter activities.

My photos are OK, I guess, but of course, running through the back of one’s mind, is always the refrain, "What if I had a longer lens? What if I had a high-end Nikon with better dynamic range and resolution? What if . . . ?"

But we need to take photographs with the camera we have: an Olympus E-510.

Photos: Otter, Land—Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 2009; Otter—Water—Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Flyoff

This flyoff occurred when hundreds—no, make that thousands—of snow geese decided that they would like to be on the east side of Highway 5, instead of the west.

It was the sound that was the initial clue: a kind of crinkling, fluttering noise off in the distance. Then, a vast amorphous white form rising as one, then splitting itself into confetti-like dots, then gradually turning into individual birds.

As I’ve said, my lens won’t really function as a wildlife lens—not enough of a telephoto range. So as the birds came over I tried to concentrate on showing them as part of the landscape. (Click on the two upper shots for larger images.) Of course I had to take one or two shots of the birds themselves. Since this flyoff happened during mid-morning I was better prepared than last year’s sunrise one.

Photos: Flyoff—Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 2009; Snow Geese & Tree— Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 2009; Snow Geese— Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sacramento Valley Birding

Another birding pilgrimage last weekend to the Sacramento Valley: Gray Lodge State Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent rice paddies and agricultural fields. This time Dan was able to join Mike, Hali and Barbara for the event.

Another late evening at Gray Lodge, then the evening drive to the motel in Willows, then margaritas and beer at Casa Ramos.

Another early Sunday morning continental breakfast, then down-jacketed sunrise viewing.

(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Photo: Sunrise—Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

. . . from the archives #33: Sunset—Central Coast, 1978

"Central coast", in this instance, being the small tourist town of Pismo Beach where we were vacationing. I was standing on the bluffs overlooking the ocean with a Mamiya RB-67 on the tripod. This camera took medium-format film, so the negatives—when they came out—were nicely enlargeable.

This photograph was featured by James Linden in his limited edition of Robinson Jeffers’ poem "Apology for Bad Dreams," now only to be found in rare book collections, including the Library of Congress.

Photo: Sunset—Central Coast, 1978

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Directions to the Snow Monkeys of Japan (Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park)—Map & Timetable

I thought that I should elaborate on my earlier post for those wanting to know how to get to the Snow Monkeys of Japan.

The principal points along the route are Nagano, Yudanaka, Kanbayashi Onsen and Jigokudani.

First, make your way to Nagano. We took the train from Matsumoto to Nagano, thus adding an extra hour each way to the trip.

Once in Nagano, go outside the station and find the Nagano Dentetsu subway entrance. I think that they’re probably on all sides of the station, but don’t really know. We asked a station employee using just the word "Yudanaka?" (Phrased as a question.) He pointed us in the correct direction. Once at the underground ticket counter I once again used the "Yudanaka?" word. The ticket agent probably gets a lot of blundering tourists such as ourselves because he was able to show us on the timetable where we had to transfer, point us to the correct track and even work the ticket machine for us.

It starts as a subway but then soon reaches the surface. We transferred in Suzaka, having taken the "Limited Express." Only 4 minutes to switch trains, but the correct train was already waiting right across the platform. This, by the way, is a very pleasant train ride through highland fields and villages. Someday it would be nice to just randomly get off at one of the stops and wander around.

As you exit the station in Yudanaka, restrooms are to the left, bus station is to the right. You buy your tickets at the bus station ticket window—the ticket lady understood some English.

I’ve already mentioned our not getting off at the right stop. Make sure the bus driver knows that you want to get off at Kanbayashi Onsen. (This is part one, part two can be found here.)

Photos: Map to Monkey Park; Nagano-Yudanaka Timetable; Yudanaka Station—Japan, 2008

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Directions to Jigokudani (Part 2)

(Note: Part One Directions can be found here.) Once off the bus (at the gas station), walk down the main street to the first intersection going to the right and start walking up the street. (Top image above, with Roman Museum on the right. I took this photo from the return bus stop.) The road winds around to eventually arrive at the start of the trail to Jigokudani. There are a number of signs along the route.

Finally, the famed Monkey Park, described earlier.

To return, retrace your steps back to the main highway. There was a little problem for us, because we had neglected to find out how often buses ran back to Yudanaka. So we waited at the bus stop for about 45 minutes before a bus appeared in the intersection across the street. We waved and shouted, the bus driver waited for us and we got on for the trip back to Yudanaka station. Personally, I think that walking back to the station would be much too far and uncomfortable, with all that traffic whizzing by.

We had bought some food for breakfast, but not for lunch, which we should have done. Luckily we had both brought granola bars which sustained us until our return to Matsumoto, and our dinner at the hotel’s Chinese restaurant, with Mexican music in the background.

Photos: Highway & Road to Monkey Park—Japan, 2008; Trail Entrance—Japan, 2008; Entrance to Monkey Park—Japan, 2008

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mike & Pachinko Parlor

One in a series of self-portraits made in Japan last year.

Photo: Mike, Pachinko Parlor—Tokyo, 2008

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Years Hike

We went with Barbara’s group (larger than usual) for her annual January 1 hike through the Marin County water district.

Chilly and damp . . . required a steady pace to keep the old blood flow going.

Then, over to Barbara’s house for homemade tamales, potluck and various liquid refreshments!

Photos: New Years Trail—Marin County, 2009; Oak Trees—Marin County, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sonoma Horse

This draft horse was nicely posing in a field just outside of a feed store . . . on the highway between Rohnert Park and Sebastopol in Sonoma County.

Photo: Draft Horse—Sonoma County, 2009

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Little birds wading in the Corte Madera wetland adjacent to Nordstrom’s parking lot.

Not having a zoom lens that can really reach distant subjects (I’m still using the Olympus C-8080 as my carry-around camera) I had to turn my back to the water and practice the old "walking backwards" trick.

Then I looked up at the sky and hummed a little tune, hoping to convey by my demeanor that, oh no, I’m not at all interested in you little birds.

Then I turned around and took a few photos. The two birds on the right were starting to get suspicious, starting to do their own little shuffle.

But the real news is that I was able to identify the birds on my own! (Of course, I had to have Barbara confirm it for me.)

After the fact, of course—from the photo. Hali gave me a National Geographic bird book for Christmas; I plunked down with it in front of the computer and there they were.

Photo: Avocets—Marin County, 2008

Monday, January 5, 2009

. . . from the archives #32: The Fantasy is Real—San Francisco, 1989

Billboard advertising the opening of a new San Francisco shopping center.

Never could figure out the symbolism involved.

Photo: The Fantasy is Real—San Francisco, 1989

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Point Reyes—Late December

A few more pix from the Point Reyes hike last week.

Low light conditions: I need to go back with the tripod. Yes, the camera has in-body image stabilization, but results seem to vary.

Withal, a very pleasant longish hike.

Photos: Arch Rock Overlook—Point Reyes, 2008; Alders—Point Reyes, 2008; Hikers—Point Reyes, 2008

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I resisted the idea for some time, but I’ve eventually come around to the idea that notecards should probably be part of my for-sale products. The main reason is economic: I need to have some items priced well below twenty dollars.

Twenty dollars (the price of my smallest 8x10 prints), which normally wouldn’t be considered all that much, is just a little too much for some folks . . . especially, I think, the folks who frequent Farmers Markets. Of course, the current recession also plays a part.

My current notecard offerings are all virtually handmade, i.e., notecards printed on my HP printer using 8x11.5 cardstock, then trimmed and folded. Photos printed the same, then trimmed and mounted. Then, card with envelope inserted into a clear bag and sealed. Very labor intensive.

My first step in production simplification will be to order some blank prescored notecards and experiment with those. Later, will have to figure out a way to print the photo directly onto the notecard.

Photo: Notecards—Marin County, 2008

Friday, January 2, 2009

Digital Crows

There were, in fact, two crows at the Arch Rock overlook in Point Reyes National Seashore. (Actually they looked suspiciously similar to the two crows I saw at Dantes View in Death Valley, maybe 10-15 years ago.)

I had hiked to the viewpoint with Hali and Margaret. I was expecting intense sunlight bouncing off the ocean, so it was gratifying to find winter fog blurring the horizon and shrouding the sun. And, of course, the two crows.

Naturally I tried to take some photos. Got one crow in one wide-angle shot, then the other as a telephoto close-up. You will have to take my word for it that the shots were of two separate crows.

It’s been my experience that it is easier to take things out of digital files (telephone poles, unwanted bystanders, etc.) than to add things in. But in this case combining both pix was fairly straightforward since the lighting for both was the same.

Some say that when this is done that the end result should be labeled as a "photo-illustration." Don’t think I’ll be doing that.

Photos: Crows—Point Reyes, 2008; Crow 1—Point Reyes, 2008; Crow 2—Point Reyes, 2008

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day

Total blog entries for 2008: 353

Total "from the archives" entries: 31

Total "Japan" entries: 56

Total "Marin County" entries: 70

But, you know, there are a lot of entries that I never bothered to label, and still a lot of photos left before I hit the wall!

Photo: Tulips—Marin County, 2008