Yumeji’s Theme by Shigeru Umebayashi, from Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love, was one of my classic film soundtrack obsessions (perhaps along with Michael Nyman’s score for The Draughtsman’s Contract). In simpler film school times, when I didn’t care for copyright, I even used it in (unfortunately illegal, academic-only versions of) my own movies. (hat tip to Ckck)
I rarely mention things about my hometown, even though I sometimes post planimetric pictures of its run-down façades. However, this 1945 photo by Helga Glassner did somehow capture my interest. In it you can see the southmost part of Avenida dos Aliados and the Praça da Liberdade at its end, and beyond that — at the top right of the picture — it seems the Douro river can be seen. And that strikes me as odd. Even though the picture seems taken from the clock tower of the City Hall building at the north end of Aliados, the building was still under construction in 1945. Was it taken from a crane, perhaps?
Having my studio in a building located in the vicinity, I find it nice to remember the time, not long ago, when there were trees and a bit of gardening in Aliados, instead of just the drab granite pavement that greets me as I leave the subway station every day. (via Pedro Quintas)
Recently I made the decision to dedicate a few of my older videos to the Public Domain. This meant getting formal permissions from the people who contributed to the making of those videos and a small amount of reediting to replace those bits that weren’t PD-kosher (i.e. stuff I used that had Creative Commons licenses).
Life is Change is the first of my videos to go full-blown Public Domain (through the CC0 Universal Dedication). Even though many web services encourage their use (and some don’t even allow you to check a Public Domain option) I am not at all interested in the common Creative Commons licenses, as I feel these encourage a ‘free-ish culture’ with strings attached. I believe your stuff should be either free or not free. Public Domain or Your Domain.
So enjoy Life is Change: Remix, redistribute, do whatever you want. I have made some downloads available at Archive.org. They’re yours.
Closed I Aug 4th
Closed III Aug 4th
Legs Aug 4th
Mail and Toys Aug 4th
Closed V Aug 4th
Closed IV Aug 4th
Closed II Aug 4th
Rua da Boavista Aug 4th
Triangle Aug 4th
Yellow doors Aug 4th
Submarine Aug 4th
Bikes Aug 4th
More photos taken with the Voigtlander Bessa-L, this time without the faux black & white.
This photo makes perfectly clear how the Industar lens, made before advanced optical coatings were commonplace, is soft: the diffusion in the edges around the sky isn't due to any kind of post-production effect. The soviet lens does hold very well in the other pictures, though.
Recently I bought a Voigtlander Bessa-L camera body, getting it for quite cheap at a used cameras shop here in Porto. I found it the kind of incredibly well-made object I had to own, but of course a camera body is useless without a lens, so I had to find one. Voigtlander has incredible wide-angle lenses for it, but at more than $500 that's more than I ever paid for one, even for my frequent use Canon DSLRs. I scoured eBay for cheap compatible Soviet lenses, and found a mint Industar-61 LD for $30. At 55mm, it's perhaps too narrow-angle for use with a finderless camera, but luckly I have the viewfinder from my Yashica Electro35 kit, with 38 and 58mm guides, so the final setup works like a charm, even if it looks like a retro mutant camera.
Since M39 (or LTM — Leica Thread Mount) lenses are incredibly expensive unless you go for the Soviet stuff, I'll also want to try a couple of M42 lenses I own, and perhaps stay on the lookout for a M42 wide-angle. If you plan on doing the same, beware though: you need a real M42 to M39 adapter, not the cheap stuff sold in kilograms on eBay. Since M42s are SLR lenses, in order to focus properly (or at all!) they need to sit much farther from the Bessa-L body than where a simple adapter would place them. The proper adapters will cost around $50 and are rare so you'll need to Google for them — just confirm they're around 2cm thick in order to compensate for the flange distance!
The Bessa-L having no finder means you have absolutely no way to focus other than estimating distances and dialing those in — which is yet another good reason to use a wide-angle lens. As I took my camera for a test walk I had to make do with what I had, though: an overcast day and the slow 100 ISO film (so I couldn't stop down the aperture much) made things even more difficult. Anyway, I'm pleased with the first results. The lens seems a bit soft but still better than expected considering how cheap it was, and the exposure metering seems almost as accurate as its reigning champion in my collection — the Electro35, with its analog rather than discrete shutter speeds (a feature which will always be on top of my digital camera wishlist). And I'm especially pleased I didn't make many focusing mistakes.
The Bessa-L is becoming my favourite film camera from my colection, even if using it is highly technical: that means serendipity is strong with this one.
A History of 19th century optical toys — Dawn of the Flick: The Doctors, Physicists, and Mathematicians Who Made the Movies (via Boing Boing)
Having the vending machine throw a momentary ‘obstacle’ is something that makes the story more interesting? The Significance of Plot Without Conflict, by Still Eating Oranges, elaborates on the relevance of Kishōtenketsu, the conflictless Japanese four-act narrative structure, and on how teaching the Western conventional three-act structure as The Sole Narrative Structure shapes people’s worldview.
Back when I was still studying film, no question irked me as much as “where is the conflict?”, as if there was no other choice. And I never really got the hang of having conflicts shape my films.
Besides being an interesting photography project, I find this really useful. One of the perils of color correction work is that after a while one starts to question how certain colors (for instance: skin) are supposed to look like. Not only your sight adapts to certain hues (blue-ish, orange-ish, etc.) until they seem neutral, but after a while you find yourself in a position similar to someone who repeats the same familiar word out loud until it seems strange and meaningless. So, no matter how good and calibrated your monitor is, objective electronic assistance is very much needed (if available, the vectorscope function is your best friend), and having a list of skin tones at hand can help — not forgetting one should always ask “what color is this skin under this light?”, a question that some decline to answer… (via Designboom)