Truck in the Center of the Town

Truck and TownWhen framing up these panoramas my compositional agenda was to look for layers. I tried to bring some object into the foreground while looking for a perspective that aligned interesting items behind it. While looking for this image, I walked all the way around the truck and finally ended here giving each element a place of its own.

Horizon Perfekt, Arista Premium 400 (TriX 400), Clayton Chemicals F76+ (1+9), 7:15 @ 68º. Agitate for the first 30 seconds and 2 turns every minute.

Propped Up in Bodie

Propped UpThe Horizon Perfekt is a Russian camera, made in China, and sold by Lomography. It is in a class of cameras called swing-lens cameras. This camera takes a 120º pano with a 28mm lens by rotating a slit from left-to-right. The film itself, ordinary 35mm film, is held in an arc so that the lens is equidistant to the film plane during the full image capture.

I was inspired to purchase this camera by the work of Jeff Bridges (yes, the actor, son of Loyd Bridges the star of Sea Hunt) who uses a vintage camera called a Widelux. Jeff Bridges uses his to document the making of his movies. I was looking to purchase a Widelux, but they are expensive and due to their age, prone to need custom repair. The Horizon Perfekt was $349 through the Lomo site and comes with a 2-year warranty.

Development notes: Arista Premium 400 treated as if identical to Kodak TriX 400. Developed in Clayton Chemicals F76+ (1+9), 7:15min @68º. This was an experiment to increase the development time to bring out a little more contrast than my previous TriX negs. I will keep this new time, especially for overcast soft lighting. Agitation first 30 sec, then 2 turns per minute. Your mileage may vary.

Bodie and the Horizon Perfekt


Do a search for Bodie on the inter-galactic-web and you will find lots of pictures. Color, black & while, and plenty of HDR. Each time I visit Bodie I want to capture its mood in a special way. My plan for this visit was to take a bunch of 4×5 looking to capture as much detail as I could muster. But I also took along a new toy – the Horizon Perfekt. The Perfekt is a “swing-lens” camera taking a 120º view by, literally, swinging a lens around an axis. It uses 35mm film, but the negatives are about 1.5 times wider. Once I started framing up the area with the Perfekt, I couldn’t stop.

My Artist, My Geek

Ghost Town
Ghost Town, originally uploaded by I Nancy.

I am in the process of reading David duChemin’s book Within the Frame, The Journey of Photographic Vision. Refreshingly, this book is neither about mastering photographic technique nor photo processing software. Rather, this book is about creating and executing your photographic vision. Early in the book is a discussion of two opposing forces for the photographer: the Artist and the Geek.

You probably know these two personalities. The geek who concentrates on the gear and technique – both in the camera and in post processing. The artist who brings creativity and uniqueness of vision. The point of David’s writing to that we need to find the balance. It is the harmony of the two that provides us our best images.

This line of thinking leads me to two questions worthy of evaluation:

  1. What can we learn from the masters about how they keep the balance?
    I’m not a great photography historian, but I think I can somewhat compare the process of Ansel Adams with that of Henri Cartier-Bresson. By all accounts, both of these photographers were masters of their art. There is no denying that Adams had his technical skills honed to great advantage. Cartier-Bresson, I am lead to understand, was not interested in the process of photography, only the process of capturing an instant drawing.
  2. Who am I?
    Which of these two personalities do I most often bring to the party and what happens when one or the other fails me?

How I choose to study and practice my craft based on the pushes and pulls of these different sides will surely shape my photography. Do I contain the artist, bringing it back on the path after a little too much experimentation? Do I disdain the technician and the possibility of cold, unfeeling, yet perfectly correct, imagery. This defines my own personal photographic journey. Is it a peaceful co-existence or a battle of wills?