Day Off

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bangkok / Contax Tvs / Kodak UltraMax 400

Bits of an ordinary lazy day in Bangkok, shot on a borrowed Contax Tvs:

Tiny cup of Bulletproof Coffee; Contax Tvs

Man Barber, Bangkok; Contax Tvs

Thai Barbershop door shadow, Contax Tvs

Reading at Ceresia Coffee; Contax Tvs

Patched pants, Contax Tvs

Bedroom shadows at sunset; Contax Tvs

Things one might do on one’s day off: Drink Bulletproof coffee. Get a head shave at the neighborhood barbershop. Catch up on esoteric reading at a favorite coffeeshop. Snooze with a knee in the sun…until the sun begins its descent.

Some scattered notes on the Contax Tvs

The Contax Tvs is currently the only film compact in my possession (discounting a leaky Olympus Trip 35 that I haven’t been in a hurry to repair – I last ran a roll through it in 2010). I’m not alone in wanting a decent pocketable film camera to throw in my backpack – try bidding for one on eBay! I mean, of course, that I have fair-to-very-high expectations, a low budget, and little patience for bidding bots. I’ll take a chance on a $20 camera that other shooters have bought in-person for $3, except when it costs $60 to ship. Still, this is all an aside: this post is not about eBay, and more importantly, the Tvs is simply not a $20 camera. When we’re together, it’s like a Beast holding a Beauty.

On focusing: I usually don’t eyeball distances with success, so up until this point, I’ve kept the focusing dial in auto-focus mode. I find the camera manual indispensable for deciphering the triangles in the focus display (see pages 25-28). I encounter the bowtie mark more often than I’d like, which indicates that “the subject cannot be focused by the camera’s auto-focus system and the shutter does not trip.” As a result, I’m often reframing subjects. A compact the Tvs may be, but in my hands, fast it is not. Solutions for greater flexibility: Use the focus lock. Shoot another roll – and use manual focus.

The zoom is wasted on me; I find it too fiddly. I’d also much rather work within the limits of a fixed lens, and potentially cut down on camera wobble. The Contax T, T2, and T3 all have fixed lenses, but they have cult followings for a reason. Oof, those prices. Maybe this is a case of letting the tool determine what I shoot – or, to put it in more marketable terms, to embrace the limits of the tool. Like they say, shoot stills or slow-moving subjects in daylight. Might try some faster film to satisfy my curiosity though.

Site-related updates

* The comments function has been fixed, so you should now be able to comment on a post.
* I’ve added an about page, so you should now be able to contact me about not being able to comment on a post (and yes, that is the Tvs in my hands!)
* Finally, if you would prefer to be notified about blog updates via email, you now have that option (click the cross in the top-left corner).

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate it. I’m going to experiment with mandarin orange recipes this week.

Contax Tvs + Kodak Ultramax 400
Processed by IQ Lab in Bangkok + Triple D Minilab in Singapore;
Scanned by Triple D Minilab

Oranges and Persimmons: Yamanobe-no-Michi trail, Part 2

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Canon Elan 7E / Fujicolor Superia Premium 400 / travel / triple d minilab

Persimmon grove; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail

Cabbage scrap heap beneath a persimmon tree; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
Close-up on a cabbage patch; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
Orange bush covered with a net; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
Oranges through a textured pane; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
A crate of persimmons, soaked to the core; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
Orange towel hung out to dry, village on Yamanobe-no-Michi trail
Twan in the forest, Yamanobe-no-Michi trail

Squished crab on a village road; Yamanobe-no-Michi trail

More photos from a walk along the Yamanobe-no-Michi, after the rain. It was still too early in the season for flaming trees, but elsewhere, the orange was a-callin’.

The Yamanobe trail is actually an ancient road that runs along the eastern edge of the Nara basin, at the foot of Mt. Miwa. In terms of landscape, it is surprisingly varied, passing through forests and bamboo groves, shrines and old tombs, small villages, rice fields, and fruit orchards.

How to choose

* Persimmons: One of my favorite poems by Li-Young Lee.

Elan 7E + Fuji Superia Premium 400
Processed + scanned by Triple D Minilab, Singapore

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Forest: Yamanobe-no-Michi trail, Part 1

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Canon Elan 7E / Fujicolor Superia Premium 400 / travel / triple d minilab

Over the wall, house with mossy roof

Water shrine

Shrine stream in the woods

Stream in the woods

Wilting branches

Skinny pockmarked trunks


Forest facade

Yamanobe-no-Michi trail, early November – On day 2 of our visit, the boy from the Berkshires took us hiking. Hot black coffee at 5.30am, then a 150km drive from Nagoya to Tenri. I dozed in the car, caught snatches of conversation: a bear and a backpack of food in the wild, a boy gone fishing. Fly fishing and A River Runs Through It (an old favorite of mine – will rewatch this spring; will certainly read). At some point, it started to rain.

On the trail, shaky hands, hasty clicks; a faint fear of slipping on wet leaves and smashing my lens – or so my pictures suggest. But by the time I finished my roll of black-and-white film and switched to color, the umbrellas had been put away; the woods were dewy, and the earth smelled at once musty and fresh.

Elan 7E + Fuji Superia Premium 400
Processed + scanned by Triple D MiniLab, Singapore

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Lazy Sunday chez Monky + K

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Contax 159mm / friends / interiors / Kodak UltraMax 400 / singapore / triple d minilab





December 2015 – From an afternoon spent lazing around Monky + K’s living room with a Contax 159mm. In keeping with my intentions for this blog, I’ve resized the scans, but have otherwise held off tweaking them.

The camera was gifted to me last year, along with a Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.7 and a casual warning I ignored. My first test roll was OK; I was eager to shoot a second. Didn’t run into any problems until the following week in Bangkok, 14 shots later, when the shutter refused to fire. I fiddled with the camera and managed to finish off the roll, but with some focusing difficulty. Hmm. Let’s see how we get on this coming month.

Music for lazy Sundays

* First, a live session by The Wood Brothers. I much prefer it to the studio recordings and live clips of theirs I’ve heard; none seem as warm, full, and immediate as this set, slowed and stripped down. I like to plug in my headphones and let the clip run. At some point, the stereo track splits and drives me crazy, but it’s only for a few seconds. Besides, since I lack a good set of speakers, using headphones is the only way I can pick up the bass (and the shuitar).

If you like that, try two more from The Wood Brothers:
* A live acoustic version of I Got Loaded;
The best cover of “PYT” I’ve heard, though it must be said that I would much rather mull over lyrics like “Tenderoni you’ve got to be” than watch discordant pretty young things na na na na. It’s no wonder they call me surly.

Contax 159MM + Kodak UltraMax 400
Photos processed + scanned by Triple D MiniLab, Singapore

Sunday afternoon at Cafe Kurokawa

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Canon Elan 7E / food + coffee / friends / Ilford FP4 Plus 125 / Kodak Portra 400 / travel / triple d minilab












Nagoya, early November – Shots from a Sunday afternoon spent with friends at fetching Cafe Kurokawa (喫茶クロカワ).

Between the four of us, we consumed two single-origin drip coffees, two chai lattes (one with rum!), one ginger ale, two creme brulees, and one wee slice of cheesecake – all of which evaporated rather quickly.

I picked up a few postcards at the cafe, which has since led me to a few cool things:

* On Reading is a bookshop that publishes artist zines and limited-edition books under the imprint Elvis Press. If independent bookstores and galleries interest you, here’s a handy list of their stockists in Japan, Seoul, Shanghai, and Paris.

* Swedish photographer Sannah Kvist blogs on tumblr and posts to Flickr, but I am most drawn to her yearbooks. A close look at her images sometimes reveals minute scratches and the occasional light leak, intimations of film. Even when captured in dreamy light, her photos feel candid and spontaneous, largely sustained by recurring subjects, sharp framing and composition, uncorrected misalignments, and a subtle sense of humor.

* Osamu Yokonami’s 1000 Children is a fascinating series. The book looks good, too. See more portraits from the series here.

* I wish I had come across Thomas Demand‘s work in 2009 when I was working on my grad school thesis. Demand’s most recent project is The Dailies. If you’re new to his work, consider that each of these shots is of a sculpture constructed entirely of paper and cardboard. The sculptures themselves are based on Demand’s own cellphone captures of everyday details, and the prints were produced using the dye-transfer technique, a method closely associated with William Eggleston. The Dailies is also available in book form, published by MACK Books.
Plus: an interesting interview with Thomas Demand on ugly cities, art and aesthetics, and perfection; and another international list of bookshops and galleries of possible interest (via MACK Books).

Elan 7E + Kodak Portra 400 and Ilford FP4
Photos processed + scanned by Triple D Mini Lab, Singapore

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