The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

New York at dusk

The low-light performance of my new camera astounds me. I took an hour-long hike around Midtown Manhattan right around sunset. Cranking the camera up to ISO-6400 allowed me to do this:

That's f/3.5 at 1/30, using available light. Sorry about the nerd moment but: day-um.

Another one, in Washington Square:

ISO-3200, f/5.6 at 1/30. Again: day-um.

To celebrate, I had a greasy slice of New York pizza from a corner pizzeria for dinner.

My new baby

Ain't she purdy?

This new Canon 7D replaces my five-year-old Canon 20D, and finally, finally, gets my digital photography back to the resolution and color fidelity of the film cameras I used from 1983 to 2000. (The shot of my car from this morning came from the new 7D.) Take a look at this snapshot of how my cameras have evolved:

In 17 years I took about 9,000 photos on film. The 20D has shot over 17,000 and I'll keep using it for several thousand more. I expect to shoot even more than that with the new 7D.

I'll put the thing through its paces over the next few weeks, including testing out its video capabilities. It shoots full 1080p HD video, which I have never experienced with an SLR before. I'm giddy.

Mama took it away after all

The last Kodachrome processing machine is gone:

In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced [to Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas], transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.

In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010."

I used the film for close to 90% of my color work from 1983 to 2000, when I took my last Kodachrome photo at Lake Sacandaga, N.Y. Red always made the most striking Kodachrome slides; I don't know if a scanner exists that can duplicate it:

Boston Public Garden, 10 May 1986

But wow, was that film hard to use. It had an exposure latitude of about 1 stop, meaning you had to hit the exposure dead on to get a usable shot. A slight underexposure bias seemed to yield richer colors, so I always set my meter down a third of a stop (to ASA 80 when using Kodachrome 64, for example). And it was slow, so slow; until Kodachrome 200 came down in price in 1986, I used 64 (or even 25) most of the time. As side effect, it forced wider apertures to use reasonable shutter speeds in anything but bright sunlight. And at about 60c per shot (including developing), it led to more considered shooting. I probably wouldn't have gotten this using a digital camera or a faster film, for example:

Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Burlington, Vt., 26 September 1992

I miss Kodachrome, but not enough to keep shooting with it. I just hope the dyes last for another 50 years or so, and that sometime before they fade too much I find a scanner that can capture their true colors.

Rolle, Switzerland, 17 June 1992

Missing things

The slide scanning project is almost done. I'm right now scanning the end of 1998, right around when I switched to digital cameras. Here are three from the mid-1990s showing bits of Chicago that no longer exist.

First, in this view from the Sears Tower from April 1993, you can see Meigs Field and Soldier Field, both since destroyed:

This April 1995 photo shows the view from the Michigan Avenue Bridge that now would encompass Trump Tower:

The sun, however, still rises above Lake Michigan:

Ghosts of campaigns past

During the few months I lived in Vermont, Bill Clinton got elected President. He spoke at one big rally that year, up in Burlington, and thanks to a press pass from a friend at a radio station, I got to see him in person:

I think you can see the Secret Service agent pushing me away in this shot, though Clinton himself couldn't get enough of the rope line:

Then-Vermont-governor Howard Dean was there too:

Vermont, part 1

Few people knew before, you know, this blog entry, that I lived in Vermont for a few months in 1992. (I was young, I needed the work.) Actually, it was the most beautiful place I've lived. That said, I grew up in one big city and went to college in another, so the things that made Vermont beautiful were precisely those things that made it difficult for me to live there: wide open spaces, trees, idyllic rural living, etc.

I moved back to Chicago in short order, but not after taking a few hundred photos. These, for example, I took in Middlebury, where I lived at the time:

The first two are from July 1992; the last one, from September, in southern Vermont, near where my friend Renee lived at the time.

I went back to Middlebury in May 2006. It looked almost exactly the same, except I had a digital camera with me instead of one that took expensive slides. Unfortunately it was rainy and gray in 2006, so these photos from 1992 turned out much better.

Scotland

More photos from 1992. Taking the Kyle of Lochalsh train from Inverness through the Scottish highlands capped the trip. I took three rolls of film in as many hours. (We didn't have digital cameras back then, so each photo, with processing, cost about 35c—the equivalent of about 70c today—so those three rolls represent about $75 of today's dollars.)

Here are three of those shots, from 24 June 1992:

Note, please, that I have licensed some of my work as stock photos, and I would like to do so again. So even though generally this blog is licensed as a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States work, photographs are not, and have never been, CC-licensed. Only the text is covered by the CC license. Photos are, and always have been, Copyright © David Braverman, all rights reserved, from the point of creation.

My first trip to Europe

Like many Americans, I backpacked through Europe right after graduating from college, in the summer of 1992. I've been scanning all of my slides, gradually, for a couple of years in fact, and I'm now up to that Europe trip. (The trip starts on slide #2362, and I'm just today up to slide #2500.)

Here are two. First, Chichester Cathedral, England:

Then, from Rolle, Switzerland:

I'm glad I took slides—almost all of them on Kodachrome 64. Some of the earliest photos still have perfect color and grain, 27 years later. I hope they all last another century. If not, at least I've got a huge chunk of them scanned. Then there are the 180 rolls of negatives...but that project is a long way off.