Category Archives: Street photography

Instaxography

the Instax 200 – instaxographers weapon of choice

Instaxography (copyright) is my latest hobby of the week, for this week, until the film pack is gone that is. I picked this baby up at a thrift shop complete with the batteries, several shots left on the pack, and a new pack of 10 pictures, for cheap – about what the film pack costs. I knew I had to have it after I took a test picture of the clerk in the store who showed it to me. They keep these under glass, like gold jewelry, and you must request a showing. They don’t wear white gloves however, which spoils the entire effect. However, it brings me back to the days of Polaroidography (copyright that too) and my old SX70. I thought the film was expensive 35 years ago! Holy crap! Today…. don’t ask! But Fuji is cheaper, and just about as bad as Polaroid was, so why not?

the bay bridge (not THE Bay Bridge – our Bay Street Bridge)

While out for a bike ride we stopped beneath the bridge and I also did a watercolour sketch.

Looking the other way we have a lovely barge and a lot of water and sky, but Instaxography gives it a very artistic feel, don’t you think? Ugly can be beautiful.

Anyhow, I’m not finished this experiment yet, and I have to say it is still a sort of thrill to watch and wait for the image to appear as if by magic. My Dad had a Polaroid, I had a Polaroid, and recently I sent my son in Germany – a Polaroid! I hope the film is cheaper there. If not he can get himself a Instax, or just forget the whole thing. But one day, I know his genes will express themselves and he will take up instant photography, if only now and then. It’s in our blood! Also, I took Polaroids of the babies… you gotta love that.

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Sketching, Street photography, Technology, Thrift shop finds, Uncategorized

Uncle Cedric

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I saw an old lady today, shuffling along on a cane and an umbrella, accompanied by a dog that was keeping a few yards ahead, poking his nose at things with his tongue hanging out. After they passed I stopped and turned to watch them, and was reminded of a day long ago and my Uncle Cedric.

You’re OK kid, Cedric used to say, winking secretly.

He said it whenever I did stuff for him, like washing his car, or going to the corner store for cigarettes. Sometimes he gave me his spare change, and when I was old enough to do bigger errands, one day he sent me to pick up a box in the back alley behind the ABC Liquor Store.  That was soon after he gave me a brand new 10 speed bike for no apparent reason. Then I discovered there was one.

I met him at the far end of the lane where he was waiting in a Ford Mustang he called McQueen. Then, to impress me he peeled away burning rubber with a crazy grin on his face. Dust and dirt flew up and hit me in the face, but I didn’t mind because I had a new bike and ten dollars for my trouble. A week later I used the money and bought myself a dog. My parents weren’t happy about it, but they let me keep him anyways. I called him Champ.

Not a month after I got Champ, Uncle Cedric, going much too fast in his Mustang, ran him over right in front of our driveway. Champ lay there on the road, panting and Uncle Cedric jumped out of the car, picked him up and sped off to the vet with Champ and me in the back. I noticed an empty bottle of rum on the floor. Cedric ran into the vet’s office with Champ, and came out a half hour later. He looked shaken, gave me ten dollars, and made me promise not to tell my Mom, his sister. When I got home, Mom asked where Champ was.

He ran away, I said. I really wanted to tell her, but I had some foolish loyalty to Cedric. I went to my room and lay down on my bed, burying my face in the pillow so I could cry in private. I felt trapped by the bike and the money.

The next day Cedric saw me on the street coming home from school and stopped to tell me, with a sad look on his face, that poor Champ had to be sent to another hospital, and might not be back for a while. I had a bad feeling he was lying.

How long of a while, I asked, but Cedric said he didn’t know. Then he gave me ten bucks and made me promise not to say a word, and also would I go get another box from the alley for him that night?

I didn’t want to, but I promised to do it, hoping this might get Champ back. I thought maybe Cedric was using Champ to get me to do his bidding, but I was afraid to say anything. He burned out of there again and a little stone shot up from one of the back wheels and chipped my front tooth. All of a sudden Cedric didn’t seem so cool.

When I got home my Mom saw my chipped tooth and freaked out. I said I got in a fight at school, and the guy I fought lost his front tooth, so after that she calmed down. Late after dark, I snuck out the back door and rode my bike into town.

There was the box as usual, behind the big steel bin next to the back door. As I leaned my bike on the fence a car came down the lane with no lights on, so I walked away trying to be casual. Then the headlights came on and so did the flashing red light.

Hold on kid, a voice yelled at me.

I jumped a fence and ran home as fast as I could. The next day after school there was a police car at our house. They found my bike behind the liquor store and wanted to ask me some questions. I told them I liked hanging around in the alley pretending to be a detective and they seemed to believe that, so they left.

Afterwards, my Mom asked me what was really going on, but I didn’t tell her out of misplaced youthful loyalty to Cedric, and a nagging fear that I was already mixed up in something wrong. To make matters worse, I was afraid that if I told the truth I might not ever see Champ again.

You’re not to go out at that hour any more, she said, is that clear?

I nodded and tried to look like I meant it. What did she know about how it felt to be twelve and get paid ten bucks for picking up a box in an alley? When I told Uncle Cedric about the cops in the lane he rubbed my head and gave me five bucks.

You’re OK, kid, he said.

Then he said he wanted me to go back soon. When the day came I could hardly think between worrying that the police might show up and hoping that if all went well I might see my dog. To compound my anxiety I was still feeling guilty for deceiving my Mom, and afraid that whatever it was I was doing, it wasn’t strictly honest. Half an hour before the pickup, I got on my bike and cruised to town.

Riding down the street in front of the ABC Liquor Store, I noticed an old lady on an electric scooter drive up to the café next door. She creaked off the seat like the rusty tin man in the Wizard of Oz and shuffled into the café, leaving the dog outside.

I rode around the block several times, checking the big clock that hung in the window of the drug store. Just before the agreed time I headed down the block and around the corner like a rider in the Tour de France. I hit the alley and cranked it hard until mid-block, whereupon I jammed on the back brake and came skidding towards the box in a foolish attempt to kick up dust like Cedric’s car. I got dust alright, lost control and hit the dirt, skinning my elbow and the side of my leg.

I got up bruised and sore and looked to see if anyone had seen, but there was nobody around. Embarrassed and aching, I picked up my bike and leaned it on the fence, then hobbled over to the box. I limped back to the bike with the box, put it on my carrier, slung my leg over the top bar and put my foot to the pedal. I rode down the lane slowly as the pain began to set in. Across the street Cedric’s car was waiting in the opposite lane.

He flashed his lights and pointed left, then drove to the first corner, crossed the street and turned down into the next lane. Just then the old lady came down the sidewalk on her electric cart, with her dog ambling along beside. I waited until she passed and began pedaling.

I quickly caught up and passed the old lady, but she stayed close behind me on the sidewalk. I turned down the alley and saw Uncle Cedric’s car halfway down the block. Cedric got out and looked up and down the lane.

I was halfway there when from behind me a dog flashed by and within a few strides jumped onto Uncle Cedric, who immediately hit the dirt. I just about skidded off my bike again as I hit the brakes and came to a stop. Looking back I saw the old lady coming down the lane in a cloud of dust like a geriatric maniac. Then her cart stopped and miraculously she sprung up from her seat, throwing off the shabby old coat and hat. Under the coat she wore a police jacket and a big black gun that she kept her hand on as she broke into a run.

Don’t you go anywhere son, she said as she passed.

A minute later, two police cars arrived and took Uncle Cedric away. After she took my name, my statement, the box and my bike, the police woman sent me home in a police car, where I had to explain to my mother what had happened.

After the police left, my Mom asked me how much money I’d made doing Cedric’s pickups. I told her I had fifty bucks. She took the money, and told me she was keeping it so the dentist could fix my broken tooth.

What about Champ, I blurted out?

Suddenly she stopped looking angry. Champ’s gone, she said, he’s not coming back.

©Donald J. Nathan

January 24  2018

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Filed under Books and Short Stories, Street photography

A 1950’s December

This weekend we made a day trip up island to buy some great German style rye bread from our favourite bakery, visit the street market, hunt through thrift shops and eat at the brew pub. We did all that, and I was hoping to find a rare 1914-1920 Royal 10, which of course I did not. There seem to be many old Underwoods however, but Royals?  Nope.1-IMGP0360

Along the way I took some pictures and bought some fascinating vintage stuff at various thrift shops. One was this incredibly colourful old Italian made nativity scene. One piece had an old Woolworth’s price tag on the bottom; 35 cents. I set it up at home and took some photos with various lenses to try to get all the figurines in focus, which was impossible. I resisted the urge to insert a little gnome/elf with a rake, which would fit perfectly but might be considered offensive, so I’ll merely mention the concept. The elf, in my mind, would have represented Santa Claus, who arguably, was out on his first mission. If you believe in Santa, that is.

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I also had to grab this 1957-59 Kodak Brownie Model I, made in London. On the street I saw a Christmas tree and placed it there to take the picture above. That was item 2 from the 1950’s, assuming the Nativity was such. It might be!

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Then there was the red caboose. Definitely 50’s, at least it was when I was there. And definitely no longer available in any store, or ebay, unlike the first 2 items.

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This scene picture has a timeless feel to it, so I thought it fit well with the theme.

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And finally, what is more December than frost on dead leaves?

 

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Filed under Cameras, Photography, Railroadiana, Street photography, Thrift shop finds

Shiny Black Things

Shiny black thing 1

Volkwagen

Seen last summer

Streamliner

Streamliner

Seen today

Can’t afford either one! OK, maybe the Remington, but $130? I have a Deluxe Model 5 already…I think it was $25.

Oh to be on the road in my VW with my Streamliner beside me on the seat, typing as I drive along. Ridiculous, you say? Yes, but how many people died because some idiot was typing while driving? My guess, very very few. How may have died because some idiot was talking, texting, or browsing their smartphone? My guess, thousands. Once again, the typewriter proves its worth.

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Filed under Street photography, Thrift shop finds, Typewriters, Uncategorized, Vintage cars

What’s Left Out

One theme about art which I’ve heard all my life is that what’s left out is as important as what’s put in. In architecture school, my most influential teacher said the best buildings looked simple, a sign of great skill in their design. Many great photographs were cropped from the original shots to achieve their best impact. I was looking at a picture I shot on the street recently, of a girl dressed up in various shades of pink. She had obviously gone to great lengths to achieve her look and it certainly drew my attention. But looking at the picture I began to notice things I hadn’t seen when I took it. Two men were coming, both dressed in black, with not the slightest nod to fashion. I couldn’t figure out if the picture worked this way or that, however, despite trying various crops – until I tried a function called ‘Cinemascope’. This removed even more than I had done in all my experiments, but I found it nevertheless had more impact. I give you both shots here, the original and the ‘Cinemascope’ version, for you to judge what works best.

the original photo

the original photo

CinemaScope wide screen version

Cinemascope wide screen version

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Filed under Photography, Street photography

Street Scenes – late afternoon

The nutrients are working - my hair feels more intelligent already.

"Dude - I forgot my board in your shop!"

"forgot your board? Dope!"

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Filed under Photography, Street photography

City Life

8.30am at 7-11

8.30am at 7-11

Long ago, in the era of film, it was fun to shoot street scenes. They only thing that curtailed my shooting then was the cost of film, processing, and printing; among other things, like the need to attend school, etc. We always shot in black and white too, as colour was much too expensive, besides which black and white was the medium on the street beat, and could be developed and printed in a home darkroom without an enormous investment in equipment. Digital has changed all that, mostly for the better, with the exception of the tendency to want to buy a new camera every few years. My Minolta SRT 101 lasted 25 years, and was every bit as good as the finest cameras money could buy. Not so today.
Nevertheless, my present DLSR is certainly good enough, even if it is already technically obsolete. This morning I had an hour to kill while getting some work done on the car, so I brought the camera along and wandered around the downtown core. I converted these images to black and white, because I feel that they have more impact when you remove colour as a consideration; it’s all about subject matter. That is the point of street photography. I tried not to shoot photos of people right up front and in their faces, because I’ve never felt comfortable doing that. Today in fact I shot a picture of one fellow who passed me on the sidewalk and heard the click of the very noisy shutter of my Pentax K50. He stopped and turned to ask me if I’d taken his picture. Since I had a photograph of only his back I replied I had not, hoping he would drop the subject, but he didn’t. He told me to show him that I hadn’t taken his picture. I told him there was nothing to see, and walked away. He then called me an f-ing goof. Some street people are known to suffer from paranoia, so I guess he was one of them. I will not use the picture of his back in any case.

setting up at a cafe

bet he's unemployed

blasters

heading to work

church that still is one

intense concentration on a piece of paper

someone likes pigeons

the pigeon roost

spare change?

trash bin alley

flashback

PS: last day for the free ebook!

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Filed under Cameras, Street photography