Friday, August 10, 2018

Picture this....

So, as often happens, it all started with a camera.

First, there was strictly film in the camera - a Kodak Duoflex - when I was in Middle school. Long before digital.

 It used a roll of Kodak film, of course. Probably 12-shots.

These dozen experiments would be unveiled a week or so later when Walgreens returned my black & white prints. 

Oh, the suspense!

Quickly I learned to make sure to carry it with me to record things, events, and people. Mom even tried snapping some family photos...usually with the sun over her right shoulder as we squinted.

To capture a moment that could be shared later... even many years later.

I had discovered Time Travel when in my early teens!

In Bishop England high school, the whole adventure was bumped up to a new level..someone donated a large camera that used a sheet of film sized 4 x 5 inches.

Little did I realize the history that the gift Speed Graphic press camera and I would have together.

After a year of using the large-format camera, I joined the Marines right out of high school.

It was 1957 and the world was at relative peace, breathing a sigh of relief after 3-years of bloody battles in Korea.

My older brother had joined the Air Force and had spent some time there. 

My younger brother was still in high school so not in harm's way.

I joined the Marines on a curious basis - 6 months active duty and then 7.5 years as a member of a local Marine Reserve. 

After boot camp at  Parris Island, I was finishing advanced infantry training up in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune.

The first 6-months were the worst - and the roughest  - time as a Marine and I looked forward to receiving my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) assignment.

The first 25 fellows who came out were headed to MP (Military Police) School and I knew I would make a terrible MP.

At 6' tall and 129 pounds, I was in great condition but was not a big husky Marine.

During the interview, I brought up my photo training and the Captain said "OK, you'll go to the Base Photo Lab"

(It was a bit more involved than that... with me claiming to have my photos published in LIFE Magazine. Oh, and TIME News magazine. 

(Hey, why the hell not, at that point?)

The Warrant Officer at the Photo Lab had a laugh when I explained what I had done to be assigned there and, once he found I did indeed know how to use a large-format camera, I was accepted.

My six-month active duty was about up, and I was told I could re-enlist for 3 years and not have to attend Reserve meetings. I was in a happy place and gladly signed up and extended my tour of active duty.

Peacetime was a great time to be designated as a Marine Combat Photographer!

Traveling with the Camp Lejeune football team to other bases to compete meant now I was doing Sports Photography. 

While in San Diego to play the MCRD team, I met some friends at the relatively new University of San Diego and was offered a photo scholarship to start a few months later when I finished my enlistment!

I accepted, packed all my darkroom gear and cameras and headed West.

I set up a terrific darkroom in a small room  with a long sink and running water downstairs in the main classroom building 

My first year there in San Diego, we produced a yearbook for the College for Men. 

That may have motivated the College for Women to start thinking about doing one of their own in the 9-year old college. 

When I was a rising Sophomore, I was hired by the daily metro papers to work in the Union-Tribune Photo Lab. 
We tried split days off and working weekends,  but I eventually took a time-out from college.

In six months, I was promoted to Staff Photographer and was out on the street....carrying a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera.

I eventually went back to USD in 1966 and graduated in 1968.

Oh, I was still working at the paper but, by then, the paper had down-sized to the much lighter Mamiya 330, a medium-size format camera of 21/4 x 21/4 images.

Later we started using a complete line of Nikon cameras and lenses. So the long transition was done

My aching back from the heavy and bulky Speed Graphic became a distant memory. 

Until just a few days ago!

First, a buddy had touted me on a Speed Graphic t-shirt he had bought online 

He and I had lugged these cameras all over San Diego a long time ago.

So. I bought the shirt.

A few days ago a fellow photographer who is leaving town was selling off lots of cameras and other gear so I stopped by.

I bought a vintage (non-working but repairable)  Bronica medium-format camera for $20. As we talked, I mused too bad you don't have a Speed Graphic.

"I have two, he responded. One just the camera that I am keeping and the other is the complete 4x5 kit with camera, lens, flash with two heads, a dozen film holders, etc in the original fiber case for $200."

I left with my old friendly workhorse, the heavy "repairable" non-working BRONICA film camera, and a $20 Kodak photographer's vest.

Well, I already had a photo vest that was too small and another that was way too large. His was medium-size. Perfect fit.

Now it is mine.

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

Whenever you go "shopping," it's a good idea to leave credit cards and checkbook at home. 

Otherwise, you've gone "buying."

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Sunday, July 29, 2018

If it ain't broke, don't fix it...

But, of course, if something really IS broken, then do something about it.


I tried to push the protruding piece back into place but it would not cooperate.

I know exactly when the damage happened.

I was coming off a plane in May after my family-visits vacation in California and Missouri.

As usual, my ever-present small Canon P/S camera was in an older pouch on my hip.

I heard the "thud" when it fell to the carpeted floor of the plane. I scooped it up and realized the pouch was really worn out and I planned to replace it.

I continued to use the camera even though the shutter button was tight at first but gradually began to work smoother.

I continued capturing scenes around me in full color - or black & white -  for more than a month.

At the July monthly meeting of my Photo Group, I was showing my clever little $200 pocket-size camera to a member

I was talking about the amazing 25 mm - 500 mm zoom lens and she pointed to a bulge and gap across the top of the camera and suggested I have somebody take a look at fixing it.

Yikes, I had not even noticed.

Of course, I tried to pop it back in place with my hands but quickly saw that was not the answer.

 Then I did the next best thing..I went online and bought a similar-sized Canon SX620HS with a 25 mm - 625 mm zoom lens. Actually I bought a refurbished model for about $180.

Another member of my photo group suggested I call Michael Harler at Focal Point4 Apollo Road in West Ashley.

The specialty there is quality cameras repaired.

I called 571-205-2116 -even though I had only a $200 Point & Shoot pocket-size digital camera.

Nothing fancy at all. and probably too expensive to even have him try.

Mike was gracious in his little shop downstairs at his home.

He usually does not work on digitals at all, he explained, but he said show me what you have and let's see if I can help.

I looked around at a lot of familiar 35mm film cameras and felt right at home.

I mentioned I had carried a hefty 4 x 5 Speed Graphic for 10 years and, not surprisingly, he had one sitting on a shelf.

At home, I had several of the same 35mm Canon film cameras he had hanging by his workbench area.

While I was looking around, Mike was using a small screwdriver to remove a handful of really tiny screws from the camera I had banged up.

He looked up and held the camera out to me. "Oh," I said, "you can't fix it?"

He smiled and said, "It's all done."

He said it was a simple fix so he had finished the repair in about 5 minutes.

Removing a few screws meant he could pop the parted pieces in place, put the screws back in and tighten it all together.

I laughed and said it reminded me of a sign I had seen in the Administrators office in a small Georgia hospital a few years ago that said:

SURGERY $500..

So, my camera was ship-shape again and I had met a technician who really enjoyed his work.

(Thanks for stopping by. Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Sometimes, dropping a camera might not be a total disaster. Thanks, Mike!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Now we start the SECOND thousand entries..

 Because we are starting a new series of postings, I decided to "go back" and add some from the past.

Not the actual past in wartime history, just scenes I caught at a Battle Of Charleston re-enactment at Legare Farm a few years ago.

It's an annual event in April and features a whole timeline of wars from Indian and pirates through the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

Variety for sure and lent itself to some strange pairings of re-enactors from different eras.

 General Robert E. Lee was in attendance and charmed the ladies.

It was a warm April and some of the outfits had to be a bit uncomfortable.

But, these are people paying attention to details and what's a little sweat way back before air conditioning became the norm.

Surely humidity then was not as fierce as it is now?! (Hmm, global warming?)

This young fellow I spotted in the parking lot but tried to avoid showing him with modern cars around.

I had just arrived myself and had not yet seen how many juxtapositions would play that afternoon.

To me, it became the norm to seek them out.

The organizers have done this for awhile and knew to use the ample space at Legare Farm to separate the eras as much as possible.

The battle scenes were announced in advance so avid photographers could cover mounted charges, and cannons booming.

Include musket fire as well as machine guns and the ever popular Garand M-1

When I was handed an M-1 I realized the last time I held one was in the 1950s!

So "soon" you forget that it weighs nearly 10 pounds. Yikes.

But, of course, I was younger then and the Marines had beat me into a lean, mean, fighting machine at Parris Island.

I buy USMC t-shirts online and one I saw stated: "Not so lean, not so mean, but I'm still a U.S. Marine."

The catalog said they came in XL, 2XL and even 3XL.

For some reason, one of my favorite photos that day involved a lady wearing the fashion of the 1860s, but facing a modern-day dilemma. 

She agreed to pose when I assured her I did NOT want a photo of her actually trying to enter the facility.

Closing on that high note, I realize some time has passed since my last entry and I had many opportunities to post live music shows I've attended and other interesting events and activities.

I will conclude this one and promise to get more written and posted in the future.

Here are some additional shots from that Re-enactment.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

1,000 th Posting!

In honor of reaching this goal of one thousand blog posting, I pondered what I should re-cap or to stress.

For the last several years I have been selected as an Extra or BG (Background actor) in 5 or 6 tv shows filming here in Charleston and three movies down in Savannah.

This scene was from the Adam Sandler Netflix 2017 movie called THE DO-OVER.

We were told to walk straight toward the camera and an injured man stumbled past us. My "wife" was listed in the credits as "Hospital Screamer." I got a pat on the back and a well-done by Adam.

I have talked about growing up on the peninsula in Ansonborough when the area had bottomed out during the 1940-1950s. Few owned and most rented. on Society Street.

Remembering my 4-room schoolhouse on Anson Street at St. Joseph's K-6,  then the walk down to Cathedral Grammar school for 7th & 8th grades before braving the steady - and constant - wind when you turned the corner and started up Calhoun Street to Bishop England high school.

At graduation in 1957, I had no interest in college and no financial means to do so.

The Marines gave me a military education during a rare - and, for me - excellent peacetime with nobody shooting at us.

That was very important to a Combat Still Photographer.

That led to a visit to MCRD San Diego when I traveled with the Camp Lejeune "varsity" football team for a game on the West Coast.

While there I was offered a photo scholarship to the very young University of San Diego when I finished my USMC tour of duty.

This I accepted!

While living in Southern California I met my wife, we had two children and I even photographed Senator John F. Kennedy when he was campaigning for President against Richard Nixon.

I continued posting stories and pictures when I later re-married and had a red-headed daughter who showed up in my blogs too.

Photography has been an important part of my life, as a Staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspapers and most recently, founding a local photography group here in my hometown 10 years ago.

Right now we are migrating the members, meetings, photos and all talks from an old site to our newly- named Charleston SC 21st Century Photography Group, on our new Facebook site.

We have several hundred members, ranging from professionals to wannabes and everything in between.

Wander back through my 12 years of posting my thoughts and photos.

I truly can say the beard I grew about 2 years ago has landed me quite a few roles.

My first was the movie LIZZIE about the young lady with an ax who gave her father 40 whacks.

Her trial was set in 1893 Ohio and wardrobe furnished me period-clothing.

I played the assistant prosecutor but had no lines or credit.

It comes out to theaters this year and I hope to see if I had a lot of "face time."

We shot all day at the historic Effingham courthouse in Springfield, near Savannah. Wardrobe would change our ties to show it was the next day of the trial. My last "day" I wore a bow tie.

I seem to play a lot of hospital patients. Especially on Season 1 and 2 of the just-wrapped MR. MERCEDES series, by Stephen King.

First time I was in a hospital gown was in a CBS pilot called "IDENTITY" that was shot at the old Naval Hospital in North Charleston.

 It was not picked up by the network so I never saw myself on screen.

My latest pilot is SALVAGE, a tv show/series that stars Jim Belushi in a small Florida town (filmed here on Sullivan's Island.)

I was put in a choir gown and became a "prop" at the front of the church. We 12 did not sing but avoided being mixed in with 130 other extras who were the congregation.

 Sometimes the director uses you in several different places as they shoot many different angles or an extreme close-up of the star.

Then you are merely one of the blurred, out-of-focus people walking around in the background.

So, this is my posting to mark a special milestone in my blogging.

I am glad I started to blog and I even found a company called Blog2Print which did as expected and produced five (so far) bound hard-cover volumes of my writings and photos. These I will pass along to my children to remember me.

(Click on the photos and links for more information.)

 A "thousand thanks"  for stopping by. Here are some more random shots from my blogs:

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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hangin' with JT....

Things get a little confusing when you are seated in the FIRST row at the North Charleston Coliseum for a James Taylor concert.

Yep, about 8 seats to the right of center.

The good news is the microphone is not right in front of his face as it is when you're seated in the center, quite a few rows back.

The bad news is Bonnie Raitt had to cancel her appearance with James due to a medical condition.

He announced at the start of the show that her surgery was successful, she's doing fine and will join the tour very shortly.

The confusing part is you are too close to appreciate all the images changing behind James and his band.

Country roads, mountains, forests, etc. move around, drift across the projected sky, and slowly fade from one scene to another.

Even the Jumbotrons are at odd angles so you can't see what the rest of the audience is being shown.

I'm such a complainer! Sheesh.

Had a young excited couple sitting next to me who said it was their first time seeing Taylor in concert.

She too was using her phone cam and I complimented her on her composition.

I added that we had seen him here in 2014 and in Columbia in 2011.

Just as she asked me if he ever gets up off the stool and moves around, he jumped up and did just that!

He was moving toward our side of the stage.

She was laughing and tried to swing her phone camera to keep his image.

Then, he turned and went back to the stool and sat down again.

I said "well, it's a live concert. We just need to enjoy the show." 

She didn't ask me any more questions about what he might do next.

I concentrated on his interaction with band members, most of whom I remembered from when I had seen him previously.

Without Bonnie Raitt to share the stage, I guessed he would do a shorter show.

Well, he actually ran a bit longer than we expected so I'm glad I had not mentioned that to the young couple.

It had been announced there would be a short intermission so it was fun when the crowd started suggesting songs he should play next.

James had a ready answer,

"We are going to take a break pretty soon and I hear you calling out your favorites."

"Here's the list of what we are going to play in the second half."

"Take a look and see if the ones you want are listed. I'm really looking forward to the next half.

"It has a lot of my favorites too and I'm glad we all are going to hear them."

He played one more of his hits and announced the break and said be sure to come back in about 20 minutes.

As the band left the stage, the young couple got up to go check the merchandising table for t-shirts and CDs.

At about the same time, James walked over to our side, sat down in front of me on the front edge of the stage.

He started signing his name to anything presented to him.

I saw tickets to his show being signed and handed back.
Others had come prepared and had copies of vinyl albums to be autographed.

It was a calm but excited crowd that filled the space all around me, holding out items and taking selfies with their cellphones.

He was relaxed and good-natured, keeping track of who presented what and handing it back in their direction.

My plans to slip out for another beer were stymied as the crowd grew, blocking any easy exit.

Well, what the heck.

 I handed my phone cam to somebody and asked them to take a shot of me. And they framed it pretty good.

I have found my arms are too short to do a good selfie so this was fine.

I even fished my ticket from my shirt pocket and he signed it.

I tucked it back in my pocket so I could show the usher I belonged here in the front row when the show resumed and the crowd had dispersed.

Glancing at it, I saw the "James" was readable but the "Taylor" was more of a scrawl.

I knew what it said and when and where it had happened.

In past concerts, I have been handed a guitar pick from Buddy Guy, one from c.d.lang and another from the late B.B. King so I appreciate when performer rapport happened.

Oh, the young couple came back for the second part of the show. They didn't ask so I didn't mention the signings they had missed.

Nor the brief conversation I had had with James Taylor.

I  said, "we enjoyed your show in Columbia with your son Ben." He said thanks and added he was going to play there again later this year.

As you probably know the big hits come toward the end of the show and really flourish during the encore.

The young couple ducked past us before the encore and mumbled something about "beating the crowd."


(Click on the photos and the links for more details.)

Enjoyed the concert but regretted NOT bringing my small camera along.

The phone cam has its place with really nice HDR results but a real zoom lens was sorely missed.

*Uh, this is posting number 999.

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Thursday, June 07, 2018

Dress to suit the job..get it? "Suit."

 As I've mentioned before, I receive a daily newsletter from San Diego.

It's written for and by former editorial employees of the Union-Tribune newspapers, where I worked for most of the 1960s.

The topics bounce all over the place as writers are wont to do.

The focus the last few days has been on the "dress code" of the paper, back in the time frame I worked there as a staff photographer.

Not only was I sporting an impressive LARGE format 4x5 Speed Graphic camera, we drove around in distinctive red and white camera cars.

We were highly visible and dressed the part.

We eventually switched to a smaller (21/4 x 21/4 format)  square image camera and that lightened the load. but we kept the "uniform" we were required to wear.

I have not sent this mid-sixties coat and tie outfit I basically wore every day -yet - but I do plan to respond to the current newsletter topic.

I still have some of these very thin ties in my closet, even after all these years. I found a few skinny knit ties that have been ignored by moths.

Retired, I seldom dress up (Uh, my suits shrank while hanging in the closet) but I do recall feeling pretty sharp looking as I sauntered along on my way to take some society photos.

Yes, that is a cigarette in my hand.

In those days, actors dressed as doctors endorsed smoking in ads as "good for you." Cough, Cough.

Hmmm, now and then you didn't spot an ashtray in sight. An empty 35mm film canister often was used to knock off an ash or even to snub out a cigarette when needed.

Actually, the dress code was a good plan.

You could always slip off your coat, loosen your tie and roll up your sleeves if need be. Easy to "dress down."

 I mean, each day you had no idea who you might meet and greet and take their photograph.

It might be San Diego shakers-and-movers or sometimes it was a well-known out-of-towner on the campaign trail.

One day I was sent to what sounded like a massive car crash.
When I got there, I doffed my coat and start focusing on at least 6 or 7 badly crushed cars!

The police and I finally realized a truck carrying junked crashed vehicles had flipped on an overpass, dropping cars in every direction.
Good pictures for the paper and, best of all, zero casualties.

But, nowadays, as a retired guy, I tend to dress less formal.

I still carry a camera with me (a small pocket-sized digital Canon about the size of a deck of cards) and have been known to be in shorts,  wearing a t-shirt.

Did not buy this one though.

It seemed too complicated and I would have to be explaining it too often.

I did buy one that featured a Speed Graphic mage on the front.

Just a simple image of a type of heavy camera I carried in high school, for almost four years in the Marines and for my first several years at the San Diego newspapers.

Mainly for the memories, I added it to my "dress code" here in sultry South Carolina.

(Click on the photo and links for more details.)

For anyone keeping score, this is my 998th posting on my 12-year old blog.

Inching closer to that 1,000 entries mark.

Thanks for stopping by. Come by often. Thanks.

*Her's a few more U-T Photographer's photos from the 1960s.

We were a well-dressed bunch of guys.

 We did FINALLY begin using 35mm film cameras!

Here are three fellows I worked with "back then."

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Monday, June 04, 2018

"and I shouted 'OLE!'"

 "Hey, they just announced "No flash photography," and there you go...
sitting there smug in your fancy 2nd-row seat."

The lady next to me touched my arm and said "Tsk. Tsk."

My buddy just rolled his eyes. Again.

Well, if she didn't say that she sure wanted me to know that popping a flash in the first 10 seconds of a show is rude.

Fortunately, I knew HOW to turn off the automatic flash.

I just forgot to do that. Oh, crap!

I didn't see the drummer Dafnis Prieto squinting at his sheet music so I didn't really interrupt the start of the Spoleto concert by the Chucho Valdes Jazz Bata at the Gaillard Music Center.

I did sort of slouch down lower in my comfortable seat as I pressed hard on the OFF button for my flash.

Multiple Grammy-winner Leader Chucho Valdes did not pause and glare or even look at me. He sat at his piano and started playing and the music and fun began.

What a tight Afro-Cuban quartet.

It was nice to revisit my jazz roots: roving solos followed by appreciative applause and on to the next player in a delightful "round robin" of fast-paced music, thumping with percussion, drums, piano and upright bass.

My ear picks up a quick familiar riff from "Take The A Train," or some Dave Brubeck classics. Nice.

Yeah, this is international Afro-Cuban jazz.

I could imagine a broad smile on the face of the late Jack McCray, tapping his foot.

He was a leader in recognizing the jazz history and talent here in Charleston. He helped make a night like this possible when he founded the JAC and it continues to bear fruit.

But, my intent right now is trying to catch a face photo of percussionist Yaroldy Abreu Robles. It isn't easy

Not just his blurred hands as he pounds from one of his congas to another rapidly or picks up a variety of small devices that tings or he shakes and rattles.

I want to catch his intensity, seen with his tight smile and bulging eyes. But mainly I am capturing shots of twin mics framing his face. flash thank goodness.

The other downside of sitting very close to the stage is not having a wide enough lens to capture the whole scene of the four musicians.

This came close and I am glad to see the active bassist Yelsy Heredia is featured.

He was a whirling dervish (what would that be in Cuban?) in almost constant motion that only slowed during brief delicate use of his bow.

The group got to pose and take their "bow" twice.

First when they finished and, again after they came back onstage to satisfy the pleased applauding, standing ovation by the rapt capacity audience.

Even though the show was technically over, I kept the flash turned off.

Didn't want to be an ass more than once.

(Click on the photos and links for more details and information.)

I try to include some samples of the music I hear and at shows like this, it's always announced "No audio recording of any kind."

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