MCAM Photography: Blog en-us (C) MCAM Photography (MCAM Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:03:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:03:00 GMT MCAM Photography: Blog 92 120 Keep Shooting Jeda BowlingJeda Bowling I take a lot of pictures.  No, really, I take A LOT of pictures.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that 9 times out of 10, I have a camera with me and it will be used.  Even when I don't have a "real camera" on hand, I still have my smart phone.  I am not ashamed to shoot photos on my phone, and for something with a camera sensor the size of a tic tac, my Galaxy S6 edge takes phenomenal pictures.  In any case, although I may capture a lot of photos I don't often do anything with them.  Since I fell in love with film it's even worse.

After developing my film, I often find myself choosing to scan the negatives with photos that I may consider to be "artful" before I scan the family shots.  Sometimes the family shots go right into the archival sleeves.  I found that I was criticizing myself too harshly because of motion blur, weird cropping, hard shadows or some other perceived flaw.  I suppose that at least the photos are there for someone to use in the future, but what about now?  Well, there are some things that I've had to come to terms with and since then, I find a lot more joy in the family photos that I take.  Here's where my self reflection has led me:


Family photos don't have to be technically sound.

By that, I mean that it's OK if the photo of your kids or your young relatives aren't in tack sharp focus.  Kids run and shake and move a lot, so unless you're outside with a lot of light, chances are there will be some evidence of movement in your photos.  It's ok.  That can actually be a good thing.  It helps to tell the story of what was happening when you took that picture.  No one will ever accuse my youngest niece of standing still too much (unless she's actually posing - she's a ham!) and the pictures that I take when she's being herself show that.

Composition isn't as important as capture.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "If you study long, you study wrong?"  Well, that definitely applies here.  Don't spend so much time trying to line up the perfect shot or fret over where people are situated in your picture.  Take the freakin' shot already before the moment passes!  You'll regret missing a moment, but having a picture with half of 2 out of 5 people's heads chopped off in the frame is better than not having a picture at all. 

It's OK to be annoying.

People may complain that you're always taking pictures - so what!?  They won't be complaining in 15 years when they're looking back and laughing at the memories that your photos elicit.  There's a camping trip that I try to attend most summers at a cabin that some friends own.  I shoot digital there, so I snap off pictures like I'm trying the spend the rest of the photo budget at the end of the fiscal year.  Some people will complain, albeit lightheartedly, that, "There you go with that camera again!", or something similar.  However, it never fails that they appreciate me being the annoying shutterbug when they get to relive their experiences through the pictures that were captured.  Sure, there's a balance that you have to achieve, but you should know the difference between being slightly annoying and being Paparazzi annoying!  Use your judgement.  You are a documentarian in these instances.  Document, but try not to get yourself uninvited from the next event.

Fix it in post!

If you simply can't get over the idea that your nephew's big head doesn't follow the rule of thirds in your snapshots, then, by all means, make it so by editing if you must.  Here's another case where capture is more important than composition.  You can't crop a picture if you don't have a picture to crop.  This can actually be a lot of fun too.  When I use my smart phone to take pictures, I usually edit them with a program called, 'Snapseed.'  If you don't know, now you know.  Snapseed is a really powerful, easy, FREE way to take your pretty good, straight out of the camera mobile photos and put them over the top - especially when you have lots of vivid colors in the scene.  Just try not to filter the hell out of everything.  Otherwise, you run the risk of inadvertently becoming a hipster!


(MCAM Photography) black & white black and white candid family film film photography kids people Fri, 27 May 2016 04:24:25 GMT
Nostalgia Like a familiar smell, a familiar sight can elicit strong memories.Like a familiar smell, a familiar sight can elicit strong memories.

Like a familiar smell, a familiar sight can elicit strong memories.  How many times have you smelled dressing cooking and it reminded you of Thanksgiving with the family?  How many times have you seen a building, car or other object that reminded you of an experience that you had in the past?  Just about every time I drag out the 50's vintage Rolleiflex that I sometimes like to shoot with, I get people who stop me and ask about it.  50's vintage, twin lens reflex (TLR), Rolleiflex, medium format camera.50's vintage, twin lens reflex (TLR), Rolleiflex, medium format camera.  I can't say that I blame them.  Its a damned sexy piece of art, masquerading as a damned sexy piece of photographic machinery.  Either that or people want to make sure that I haven't time traveled from the past.  Anyhow, on this day (I forget which day it was since film has no EXIF data and I generally suck at keeping notes) I was wandering aimlessly downtown in pursuit of an interesting scene from which to make a photo.  This gentleman, let's call him Earl, was a city worker and he was deconstructing the ice rink that gets installed in Cincinnati's Fountain Square every winter.  He saw the camera and we began a discussion.

It's amazing how many personal details a complete stranger is willing to share with you once they latch onto some element of commonality.  Our element was this camera.  Earl told me all about how his grandfather had a very similar camera and how he would take pictures with the camera during the war.  I don't know which war - that's not the point.  Earl's grandmother apparently kept a lot of the pictures that his grandfather made in the war.  As he told me about how his grandmother would show off the pictures, I could see Earl's brain transporting him back to granny's house and looking through those old photos.  The smile on his face is evidence that the trip back in time to the source of his nostalgia was an enjoyable one.  It was good to be a part of his brief respite from working that afternoon.  From our conversation, I was rewarded with a portrait of "Earl" to help me create a memory of my own.  

I love when I'm out making photos and I get to interact with the people who share the space with me.  I'm sure that I'll revisit this memory when I come across this photo in my collection in the future and I'll smile, having remembered our brief interaction on this mildly chilly day.  Even though I'm a generally outgoing person, I sometimes have trouble asking people if I can take their photo, not wanting to inconvenience them or make them feel uncomfortable.  However, this experience with Earl taught me that the reward is so very often worth the risk.


I made this photo with a Rolleiflex, medium format camera and 120, 400 speed Ilford film.  The back lit sky was tricky to compose against for this one. I knew that I wanted to get the fountain (to the left of Earl) in the photo and shooting into the sun, or where the sun would have been if it hadn't been so overcast, is always a challenge.  I developed the film in my basement, as usual, and scanned the negatives into the computer.  I was able to make some adjustments to lighten up the shadows in Earl's face and get a usable photo.  You can view other photos similar to this in the Street Photography gallery.



(MCAM Photography) black & white black and white film film photography people street street photography Wed, 09 Mar 2016 22:55:20 GMT
Fins, Feathers & BBQ Father & son outside of Fins & Feathers BBQFins & FeathersFather & son outside of Fins & Feathers BBQ

In the city of Cincinnati, there is a lot of room for you to survive on your hustle.  There also exists opportunity to build legacy.  That's what I witnessed when I visited this tiny BBQ joint at 3 Garfield Place.  A friend and I were trolling the streets looking to make some photos and we saw this place on the way out.  We decided to come back and have lunch when the time was right and we were happy that we did.  The owner, Rev, is a really nice guy.  He's one of those old school cats that you might remember from your childhood who might stop and offer you unsolicited, fatherly advice that you might actually listen to.  Rev read the menu off to us from laminated printer paper on the counter and once we decided on an order, he went outside to call his son back in to help put it together.

To say that this little shop is nothing spectacular would be an understatement.  There is one table on the inside and you would be "in the way" if you sat there to eat your food.  However, the apparent joy with which the food was prepared and served was all that I needed to convince me that this place has all the hallmarks of one that might actually stick around.  I came to find out that this, the smallest BBQ joint that I had ever visited, had been in business for at least a couple of decades!  This goes to show what a little know how, a great attitude and the courage to move your feet and set up shop can do.  They cook their food out on the sidewalk on grills that you can get at Lowe's or Home Depot!  Nothing fancy, but the taste is there.  Their motto is, "Taste the Smell" and aptly so.  You can't help but salivate if you're in the vicinity when they're smoking their meats.  The taste is made better through the knowledge that a father is handing something down to a son.  Oh, and the hot sauce is hot as hell!

This photo was made on a 50's vintage Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera.  As usual, I processed the film by hand in my basement and scanned in the 6 cm x 6 cm negatives to digitize them.  I made some adjustments in Lightroom CC to tighten up the contrast and get rid of some lint artifacts from my notoriously dusty processing environment and what you see above is the result.  You can view other photos similar to this in the Street Photography gallery.



(MCAM Photography) black & white black and white film film photography street street photography Mon, 22 Feb 2016 22:06:50 GMT
Do Not Enter Do Not EnterDo Not EnterThis is an image that I made in downtown Cincinnati on 35mm film. I developed the film by hand, scanned the resulting negatives into digital format and made selective edits to clean up the image and crop the frame to what you see here.

I recently had a conversation with my son about striving to see the positive in every situation.  I told him that even if your car breaks down on the side of the highway, you can find solace in knowing that you at least have a car and maybe even the means to get the problem fixed.  So often, we take for granted the blessings that we have and we forget that we could be so much worse off.

As I stood outside of a restaurant, waiting to go in and buy food and carrying at least 3 cameras in my pack, the contrast of my reality and that of the man just across the street in this scene struck me.  Here was a man who, as best as I can tell, was either homeless or afflicted. I was inspired by the rich, basso resonance of his voice as he crooned Christmas carols for passers by and the persistence that he displayed as he sang the same 3 or 4 carols again and again. As the stranger faced the bright windows of the shop, the street sign peering around the corner and the street signs in front of the store seemed to bark out silent orders.  It was almost as if the signs wanted to make sure that the man did not attempt entry into the shop.  Of course, this is the narrative that played in my head as I surveyed the scene, but the reality of the situation wasn't too far off.  Seemingly closed off from parts of the very environment in which he obviously played a part, the stranger found a positive in the chill air of the night.  He could celebrate the season along side his fellow man and sometimes - just sometimes - he was rewarded for his efforts.

This image was captured on a particularly chilly evening on 35mm black and white negative film. I developed the film by hand, scanned the resulting negatives into digital format and made selective edits to clean it up and crop the frame to what you see here.  You can view other photos similar to this in the Street Photography gallery.



(MCAM Photography) black & white black and white film film photography street street photography Fri, 12 Feb 2016 22:09:57 GMT