Category Archives: Cameras

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #8

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Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

 

 

Letters From Prison: Part 8, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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As I said earlier, in the early 70s I was working for a small TV station in Roanoke. I did a little of everything; ran a camera, directed, produced live TV shows, even introduced late night horror movies on Saturday nights, even filling in for the weatherman on our local news a time or two. It was a real shoestring operation, and when we picked up our paychecks we had to rush to the bank and cash them because those brought to the bank later frequently bounced. The best paid were the engineers, so I went down to Atlanta and took a crash course in electronics at the Elkins Institute, took the government test and got a first class FCC license. Suddenly I was an engineer! In those days the FCC required that an engineer be present at the TV transmitter at all times when the station was broadcasting. Our transmitter was atop Poor Mountain near Roanoke, to get the widest coverage. I got to work there on a “road” that was really just a fire trail. Luckily my car at the time was an FJ40 Toyota Land Cruiser with four-wheel drive, a real mechanical mountain goat that could go anywhere. Amazing vehicle that I kept into the late 80s, and was sorry to part with. I retired the Toyota in favor of a Citroen DS21. Eventually I owned seven of these wonderful French vehicles, ranging from early 60s models to my last one, a beautiful sky blue 1972 model, the last year they were sold in the USA. I bought all of the special tools, shop manuals (some in French), and learned to do all my own maintenance. These cars have an active hydropneumatic suspension, that makes them seem alive. The softest ride ever. Jay Leno says his DS21 is his favorite of all his cars to drive. Of the many cars I’ve owned I could say the same. I stuck with the Citroens after they stopped selling in the USA because parts were sold by Peugeot, but then they also pulled out of the USA and parts became harder and harder to get. I ordered from Holland for a while, but finally gave up and sold my last one to a homesick piano tuner from Paris.

I seem to have gotten sidetracked into automotive things. I love a number of things, and cars are just one more. I can’t bear owning any mechanical device without knowing how it works, so all of my cars, household appliances, and cameras have been taken apart and reassembled. My old friend Marty Forscher was the dean of camera repairmen. He ran Professional Camera Repair in NYC for many years until he retired. He told me he taught himself how to repair cameras by completely disassembling a Rolleiflex, putting all the parts in a box, shaking it up, and then putting it back together. I did the same with an old Pentax Spotmatic, and only had a few parts left over!! So I signed up for the old National Camera home study course in camera repair and learned to do things the right way. For years after that I made money on the side fixing cameras. But that ended when cameras became heavily electronified, and required specialized tools and equipment that were brand specific and were too expensive for anyone outside a factory repair service. No room anymore for a generalist mechanic. I did for a while sort of specialize in repairing the Swiss Alpa cameras that were literally built like Swiss watches, but they went out of business and that work dried up. So my sideline of fixing cameras came to an end except for an occasional favor for a friend and tinkering with my own equipment. Today’s digital SLRs are foreign territory to me and too expensive to risk messing up.

That being said, I took to digital very early on and learned Photoshop before there was even a version number. I believe I shot the first totally digital magazine cover (for PIC magazine in London in 1993 or 1994.). I’ll tell you all about PIC next time…..

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-7/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Men, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture

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Smithsonian Institute. Washington, DC.

 

Letters From Prison: Part 7, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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I lived in Washington, DC, in the mid to late 60s while working for the Smithsonian. I never worked in the buildings on the National Mall. Our division was housed in a big old building on Lamont Street that said “Sunshine Arcade Laundry” on the facade. (The museum has dozens of buildings all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia.). I shared an apartment with a friend a few blocks from DuPont Circle in one direction and Georgetown in the other. Those were the early days of the psychedelic revolution and I found myself right in the middle of it all. Some friends and I went up to NYC when I was between jobs and saw The Grateful Dead at a little club called The Bitter End. Also saw and met Frank Zappa and the Mothers at a really rundown old theater, where he spent most of the set insulting the audience because we all wanted to hear things from the album. He had a cymbal stand with a black leather glove on it, so that when he pumped the pedal it gave the audience the finger, and used it a lot. My best memory of that time in NYC was seeing The Velvet Underground at a club called Max’s Kansas City and falling madly in love with the ice princess Nico. I’m still a big VU fan and have a lot of their music on my MP3 player here.

Back in DC some people had bought an old theater called the Ambassador Theater and brought groups like Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Vanilla Fudge, The Byrds, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly, The United States of America, Mandrake Memorial, Stone Poneys, etc. The best rock groups of the day played there with very elaborate light shows behind them. In those days and well into the 70s there were no prohibitions against bringing cameras into concerts, so I took my somewhat battered Nikon F (no light meter, much less autofocus. In those days we felt real photographers didn’t use built-in meters!). I only had one lens, a 50mm f/1.4, so I had to get very close, shoot with the lens wide open, and push the hell out of the film. In spite of all that, I did get some decent photos. I think some were used in the “Freep” the underground newspaper, The Washington. Free Press. I was also doing drawings for them, Beardsley-esque pen and ink nudes. In school I’d taken “life drawing” classes, so nudity was no big deal to me. Working with nude models was just natural. Also, during those heady days in the 60s I joined a group known as the Washington Sexual Freedom League and attended their meetings, where some very interesting people would show up. One time Richard Alpert, Tim Leary’s research associate at Harvard, was there (he later became. Baba Ram Dass, and I read last year that he’s now considered one of the 100 most spiritually influential people in the world.). At another meeting Bill Stanley, Owsley’s cousin, was there from San Francisco, bearing gifts from “The Bear,” including a reel to reel tape of an unreleased Doors album. It was at one of those meetings, I think, that I first heard Procol Harum, for my money the best musical group to come out of the 60s. We had a lot of fun at those meetings, all legal back then.

But all good things must come to an end and I ran out of money because Congress kept cutting the museum’s research budget. One year they appropriated money for salaries but no research funds. Basically everyone sat around their offices and did nothing until the next fiscal year. Well, that’s. not completely true since some continued their work, funding it out of their own pockets. Yes, the government makes sense! Anyway my museum jobs ended and I worked odd jobs for a while, even working in a “head shop” called Yonder’s Wall or a while and a picture framing shop for a bit. But with no real jobs to be had I reluctantly left DC and moved to Richmond, Virginia where my cousin was attending art school. That move led to my first experience with the American ” Justice” System. That story next time……

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-2018-6/

 

Also posted in Art, Documentary, Film, Men, Photography, Popular Culture

Field Report: Happy Hour and Available Light

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Happy Hour. Bernie's Bar & Restaurant. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

Happy Hour. Bernie’s Bar & Restaurant. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Field Report: Happy Hour and Available Light

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I was sitting at the bar at Bernie’s restaurant and bar in Glenside Pa. enjoying a delicious Ketel One martini when I finally realized why I like this place so much.  The food, beverage and sexy millennial wait staff is excellent. The modern well appointed interior space is beautifully designed accented by natures natural light. Well positioned, the bar faces west with large plate glass windows behind it looking out on to Glenside’s charming suburban neighborhood. There’s an outdoor seating area for diners as well.  I’ve observed on several occasions when the sun sets behind the bar on a clear day, it seems to have  a magical impact on the mood of the diners and wait staff.  Everyone seems to be happy in that moment. The light is deliciously seductive at that hour in this place.

I had my compact SonyRX100V camera handy and framed a few pics that I think captures the feeling during this happiest of  hours.  Camera was balanced for daylight with ISO 400, F-2.8 at 1/80th of a second. Zoom lens was set to 20mm. It’s hard to beat the nimbleness and refined resolution of this Sony capturing device.

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Happy Hour. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Tony Ward shooting with the SonyRX100V.

Tony Ward shooting with the SonyRX100V.

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional field reports by Tony Ward,  click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/03/20/field-report-sony-rx100-v/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture

Field Report: Sony RX100 V

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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Field Report: Sony RX100V

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I’ve been working with the new Sony RX100V since December of 2017. It was first time that I made a complete switch in shooting style and I was mostly interested in a camera that was mirrorless, high in resolution and extremely portable.  I switched to digital capture in 2004 and worked my way through several single lens reflex DSLR’s before I decided to make a wholesale change with respect to day to day shooting.  There is nothing like a high end 50 megapixel  camera for making large exhibition prints. However, the RX100V is holding up extremely well with its 21 megapixel image sensor.

The photograph taken above speaks to the spontaneity inherent in keeping this small camera in my pocket; whenever I leave the studio. I was on my way to the Reading Terminal market in center city Philadelphia to test the camera in a fast moving environment, when I came upon this window display at The Trocadero, a famous night club in center city where I have  photographed to the wee hours of the morning in the early nineties.  This window display instantly captured my attention and reminded me of the fun times mingling with the interesting club goers at this iconic night spot.

With my camera set to Shutter priority at 1/60th, and ISO of 100, the cameras metering system calculated the f-stop at 2.8. With this setting I was able to capture excellent detail on the fly with no camera shake. By shooting in RAW I maximized the cameras pixel power and was able to crop out any extraneous information on the edges of the frame without a loss of image quality. The next big test for the camera is to make large exhibition prints.  I will report on printing results in another post.

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To access pictures taken at The Trocadero during the early 1990’s, click herehttp://tonyward.com/early-work/alternative-lifestyles-1995-1998/

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To access additional pictures taken with the Sony RX100V, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/03/09/george-krause-lunch-legend/

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Tony Ward Shooting With the Sony RX100V

Tony Ward Shooting With the Sony RX100V

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About The Author: Tony Ward is a fine art photographer, author, blogger, publisher and Adjunct Professor of Photography at the University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Tony Ward,  click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/george-krause-lunch-with-a-legend/

 

Also posted in Art, Documentary, Photography