Black and White – Round 3

Lunch Break

Lunch Break

Next week, I start a third semester of black and white photography.  We use film cameras and my current film of choice is Kodak Professional 400TMax.  We develop the film in the classroom lab through what is chemical magic to me.  I’ve learned to use an enlarger, negative carrier, contrast filters, and an easel.  A year ago, I didn’t have a clue what these items were.

The first semester of this class produced high anxiety.  The worst task for me was going into a pitch black closet, extracting the film, and then rolling it on a metal spool.  As I blindly looked for the correct prongs to attach the film to, my hands began to sweat, and my head started to ache.  I’d slump down on the floor, methodically turning the spool to attach to the little square openings on the film.  After an eternity, I’d complete this task and then gently feel the film to see if it was smoothly wrapped.  Instead of the required uniform consistency, I’d feel a large wart-like protrusion immediately signifying I’d screwed up again.

Question

Question

Another huge challenge for me was developing a perfect print.  Most of what I learned in the first two semesters were the myriad ways you can actually improve a mediocre print: e.g., changing your f/stop and exposure; using contrast filters; adjusting the enlarger head; and selecting different developing times.  While this may sound straightforward, it isn’t.  The path to a perfect print is scattered with one quarter inch test strips, and later, full sheets of expensive Ilford Photographic Paper.

                                                                          North Beach
North Beach

You might wonder why I am taking a third semester of this class.  I’ve learned more about photography using a black and white film camera than any digital class I’ve taken.  I’ve learned patience and persistence…beautiful photos just don’t happen.  I’ve collaborated with talented photographers in my class and I’ve learned from them.  My instructor’s demand for excellence has pushed me to improve.  The number one reason I’m returning for round three…to see a print magically appear before my eyes again and again.

Man with Cane

Man with Cane

Skyscrapers-SFO

Skyscrapers-SFO

Shadow  Book

Shadow Book

The above prints are some of the framed and matted images from my black and white portfolios over the last two semesters.  I took a digital picture of each.  Just for comparison, I then shot the following digital photos which have a black and white vibe.  So much to learn, so little time.

Angel Wing

Angel Wing

Shadow Line

Shadow Line

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“U. S. Route 395 – Manzanar War Relocation Center”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 

       

EntrySign

Desolation

Desolation

Manzanar Story

Manzanar Story     

“This travesty of justice could easily happen to any other group…Educating people about the incarceration of one group will help prevent its happening to other minorities in our American democracy.”  Personal Justice Denied:  Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians”

My recent trip to Manzanar, one of a number of “relocation” camps for Japanese-Americans in World War II, brought to vivid reality one of the worst chapters of American history.

The Manzanar National Historic site is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 395, 9 miles north of Lone Pine, California and 6 miles south of Independence, CA.  Having spent many years in Hawaii and counting many Japanese-Americans as my friends, I had heard of Manzanar, but had little knowledge of the detailed circumstances that gave birth to the “relocation” camps.

American citizens were uprooted from their communities, their homes, their friends and transported to camps for their “protection.”

American Family

American Family

James D. Phelan, mayor of San Francisco and later U. S. Senator,  is representative of the majority of white America at the time.  Mayor Phelan clearly establishes the racism and economic basis for Japanese-American citizens to be incarcerated,  He called the influx of the Japanese (making no distinction as to whether they were citizens or not) “a silent invasion” that would convert the United States into “a Japanese colony.”  “But California is a white man’s country, and the two races cannot live side by side in peace….”

Mayor James Phelan San Francisco

Mayor James Phelan
San Francisco

Hate

Hate

Hatred

Hatred

Racism at Work

Racism at Work

My children and I walked the grounds of the encampment.  Very little of the original camp is left, torn down after World War II.  A sleeping area, dining hall, and watchtower have been recreated.

Sleeping

Sleeping

Mess Hall

Mess Hall

Watchtower

Watchtower

Waves of heat beat down on our heads.  The landscape was barren and hauntingly lonely.  The wind picked up the dust and spun the fine sand into tiny tornadoes.

Lonely

Lonely

Many of the people that came to this camp had left picturesque areas with their own homes.  They arrived to a very hot area in the summer and a freezing cold area in the winter.  Utilitarian barracks were shared with strangers.  A picture of toilets described in stark language the embarrassment they felt at sharing intimate bodily functions with people they had never met.

No Privacy

No Privacy

An original, bright yellow fire hydrant splashed color against the arid land.

Hydrant

Hydrant

A stark monument surrounded with hundreds of origami cranes beckoned.

Remember

Remember

Cranes

Cranes

A short distance away, a few graves remained.

Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place

One grave brought tears to my eyes.

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry

Baby Jerry Ogata died in Manzanar, an American prison camp on American soil.  I don’t know if he was born in America.  It doesn’t matter to me.

The fence surrounding the graveyard cast shadows on the ground imprisoning Baby Jerry for eternity.  I wiped away my tears and turned away.

Imprisoned

Besides prior noted links, more information about Manzanar can be found at the following links:

Internment of Japanese Americans-newspapers 

HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History 

WW2 LETTERS TO THE WAR RELOCATION AUTHORITY ABOUT JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,WW2 WHITE AMERICANS AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,1940S WHITE AMERICANS OPPOSED TO JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,AMERICAN SOLDIERS RAIL AGAINST THE INJUSTICE OF JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMPS,JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT CAMP HISTORY LESSON,PROTEST AGAINST JAPANESE-AMERICAN INTERNMENT 1944 – Article Preview – Old Magazine Articles

Interview with James D. Phelan – 1906

Children of the Camps | HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS

“U. S. Route 395 – Alabama Hills”

Sculpted

Sculpted

I grew up watching movies and television shows about the Wild West.  My brothers and I attended Saturday afternoon matinees at the base movie theatre in Berlin, Germany where my Dad was stationed.  The landscape portrayed in these shows was ruggedly beautiful. Mountains soared to the heavens and snowdust capped their peaks.

Eastern Sierra Magic

Eastern Sierra Magic

Many of these Western movies and television shows were filmed in the Eastern Sierra mountains’ Alabama Hills area,  a short drive from Lone Pine, Calfornia.  As I drove toward the entrance to Alabama Hills, the palette of colors in the mountain terrain surprised me.  I snapped pictures from the car.

Red Heart

Red Heart

Subtle shades of gold and the palest of oranges and pinks created a tapestry of soft hues.

Softly

Softly

The mountains changed with the miles and the light.

Shadow Hill

Shadow Hill

The unique geology of the area caught my attention.

Cowboy Country

Cowboy Country

Three Rock

Three Rock

Masterwork

Masterwork

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum

Rock Study

Rock Study

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

Future posts will highlight other scenic vistas from U. S. 395, the majestic route through the Eastern Sierras.

Urban Geometry

InnerView.2

Saturday afternoon in the San Francisco Financial District.  The skyscrapers form deep ravines where, during the work week, commuters and workers bustle and jostle along the City streets.  I love the relative quiet of these urban canyons on the weekend.

Geometry

Looking for photo opportunities, I stretch my neck upwards and marvel at the masterful work of many talented architects.  Skyscrapers are works of art.  Their symmetry and predictable patterns of shapes, angles and curves fascinate me in a way classroom geometry never did.   The mirrored facades of the buildings create strange and distorting images of their neighbors.

Blinds

Altered

Some buildings transform into designs reminiscent of tribal art.

CrazyQuilt

VerticalLines

The old and new bridge the years through the use of repetitive patterns of squares and rectangles, and the juxtaposition of cool modern angles with exquisite lines and swirls from the past.

Classic.2

Old&New.2

Other reflections project a sense of disorientation and visual confusion.

Wavy

Earthquake

A late afternoon shadow on a geometric truss creates triangular pools of light.
ShadowedAbstract

A pattern of identical window openings march in perfect unison along regimented rows.


Uniformity

Urban geometry transforms my vision.  I see its influence in painted brown, square bricks centered with a long rectangle of white.

Unsaid

But the ultimate representation of urban geometry is the Transamerica Pyramid.

Infinity

Old Dames of the Sea

PtReyesBest3

Over the last few weeks, I’ve headed out for a number of photo adventures.  On a crisp, sunny weekend, I drove the coast and made an unplanned side trip to an old boat dock. Much of the dock was abandoned, but glimmers of beauty remained.

Battered, weather-worn fishing boats charm me.  Rusty hulls, paint cracking and splitting, surprise me with the soft hues of colors faded by the sun, wind, and rain.  These “old dames” aren’t considered “hot.”  Their bodies are often weathered and worn, but their character and beauty shine through.

Hull

Boat docks offer unlimited photo ops.  Abstract reflections appear in the water.

DoubleExposure

Fishermen and young lovers no longer watch a sunset from this dock:  entry is forbidden.

OldDock

Signs of life do exist.  Crabpots wait, neatly stacked in rows of four, with turquoise ropes and orange buoys nestled in their silver wire cages.  Dungeness crab still reigns off the Sonoma Coast.

ColorfulCrabpots

Buoys tether their charge until the next day’s foray into the sea.

Buoys

Seabirds flit across the water, searching for a tasty morsel.  I watch them whirl and dive over the blue plane of water.  The beauty of life.

BirdsofaFeather2

But beauty exists even when the subject has lived life long and hard.  The old dames prove it.

BoatAdrift

MIAMI

A recent trip to Miami excited my creative senses of touch, sound, and sight in a distinctly different way than the colder, foggier San Francisco climate.  Under a star-filled Miami sky, public places are filled with spectacular fountains spraying colors of fuchsia, bright green and pink. While I shot a number of the usual ocean and beach shots, the night lights, unique structures, street scenes, and other random images captured me.    Poolside after a brief rain.  A  beach covered with  footprints.

The street scene is colorful and edgy.

At dusk, the

lights come  on and invite you to come and be seen.

I loved the Latin American vibe of Miami; the anything goes art and architecture.  The warm, balmy evenings and the glowing lights.  Everywhere I looked a place, a thing intrigued me and my camera clicked away.