A Random Portrait for a Sunday Afternoon.

I've got my Nikon F loaded with ISO 100 color negative film.  I have an ancient 50mm 1.4 Nikkor latched on to the front.  I'm headed out the door to walk around my city and see what's new since last time.  While it's very un-Zen-like of me I do have a goal that's more like a consistent, subconscious pulse.  I'd like to see who is out there.  The portrait subjects I've worked with over the years of doing this for myself generally are strangers that I've met somewhere.  Something about them (a kind of beauty that falls outside the American mainstream?) that is different and hard to describe helps to guide me to meet them and invite them to sit for a portrait.  Not everyone wants to participate and I understand that.  But you'll never see who's out there unless you spend some time looking.

I don't know what or whom I will find today.  I don't know if I'll even click a frame.  But the process of walking (good exercise for the body and the brain) will be fun and I'll stop in at all the places that make us feel welcome.

When I come back to the studio I have to confront the renovation I'm about to embark on.  I'm trying to get rid of as many useless treasures as I can.  Empty camera boxes, extra filing cabinets the contents of which could be compressed into other filing cabinets or discarded. Papers from decades ago.  Prints I've come to hate and a curious assortment of black picture frames that take up way too much space.

I've replaced the air conditioning and that's made me want to repaint the interior of my space for the first time in fifteen years.  That means everything has to come down off the walls and up off the floor.  All the ghastly, giant filing cabinets have to be moved out from the walls.  Another coat of white paint.  And while we're painting I guess it makes sense to repaint the red door to the studio.  It's looking worn, faded and (thanks to my little dog) well scratched.  After we paint I'll add a kick plate that I bought years ago as a prop....

No wonder I'd rather go and wander the streets with an ancient camera, a pocket full of film and an incident light meter.  Looking for my next portrait subject.


  1. Learning why to use an incident light meter was an epiphany for me: don't measure the light reflecting, measure it falling. It was an epiphany because it forces you to view the world as a gestalt to be captured as is, with all its warts and foibles. You can never capture the true dynamic range of the world, but rather always something compressed and compromised. You can work with your film, with its spectral response and ability to capture nuances of shade, with your developer and its way of transforming silver halide grains into fixed silver, with all the nuances of the chemical process involved, including the slow exhaustion of the process and waste effects.

    Using an incident light meter forces you to understand these things and work with the light, instead of doing things haphazardly. It makes you think.

    But you knew that already... :-)

    1. A Norton Director - with the white translucent hemisphere - was my good friend back in the slide film days. It wasn't confused by black walls or white walls - It just cared about the light. To me, the Weston Master series were the "thinking man's" meters - when shooting B&W it took one into the realm of the Zone system - "placing" whites here, or blacks there on the calculator dial. The incident meter was much more straightforward for me.

    2. I modified my Sekonic meter (the one with the huge selenium cell) to show the gray scales ala zone metering. Upgraded to a digital Sekonic when it finally died after 22 years. Not quite the same. :-)

  2. Wow that's a beautiful woman, I can't take my eyes off her.

  3. I want to walk where you walk ...


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