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Bob Shell: Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

tony ward cameras meditations industry photography

Tony Ward. Self Portrait. Copyright 2019

 

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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Meditations on Cameras and the State of the Photo Industry Today

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The first professional level camera that I ever used was my father’s Exakta VX1000. It was an odd beast, obviously designed for a left-handed user, with the film advance lever and shutter release button on the left of its angular body. It had shutter speeds, as i recall, down to 16 seconds, and an internal film knife that let you cut off part of a roll of film if you wanted to develop just a few frames without sacrificing the rest of the roll. That camera was my father’s pride and joy, and he’d saved money for some time to afford it. In those immediate postwar years Japanese cameras were considered junk, and the German photo industry was top dog. The Exakta cameras were made by Ihagee in Dresden, Germany, I have that Exakta now at my house in Radford, just waiting for my release. It came to me on my dad’s death in 2000, along with the rest of his photo equipment. It has the 50mm Steinheil lens, a lens that will focus very close; almost a macro lens, and is super sharp. The Exakta VX cameras were mechanical masterpieces. The VX1000 had a top shutter speed of 1/1000 second, while the less expensive VX500 only went to 1/500. My father got some great photos with that camera. It had no built-in light meter, so you used a separate hand meter or guessed exposure. I got to be pretty good at guessing, plus the black and white films we used were very forgiving. You could miss by quite a bit and still be able to pull off a good print in the darkroom. Of course, we developed our own film and printed the photos in our basement darkroom. For a while my father was the photographer for the Easter Seal Society in Roanoke, and the job came with the privilege of using their very nice darkroom so we would do our developing and printing there.

I must have been 12 or 13 when I “souped” my first film, and printed the pictures. Wow, that was a miracle, watching the images appear in the developing tray under the red safelight! I was hooked but good. And the pleasant addiction never went away. That sense of wonder has been lost in today’s digital world. Not that I’m down on digital, I’m not. I was an early adopter of digital, but never thought of how disruptive it would be to the business I love. Suddenly, almost overnight, major photography companies found themselves in the buggy business while automobiles took over the roads. Some companies made the transition and survived, but some didn’t.

A prime example of corporate head-in-sand blindness is Kodak. Essentially they invented the digital camera, and their electronic sensor division made, and may still make, some of the best digital sensors. But did they build cameras to house those sensors? No, they just sold those sensors to camera companies and gave away that market sector. Yes, there were Kodak professional digital cameras, but Kodak just bought Nikon and Sigma film cameras and modified them with their digital sensors and electronics. They shut down this operation some time ago. You can buy a Kodak branded point-and-shoot digital camera today, but it’s not made by Kodak. It comes from a manufacturer in Asia. So far as I know, the last cameras actually made by Kodak were some APS film cameras made at a Kodak factory in Mexico, where they wrestled with serious quality control issues. The last Kodak black and white photographic paper was made at a Kodak facility in Brazil. Rochester, NY, once “Kodak City” has seen the Kodak workforce drop radically, and people there can no longer look to Kodak for lifetime employment. It’s really sad to see this great American company go down, victim of bad management decisions. The same thing happened to Polaroid, another victim of the digital revolution. Both Kodak and Polaroid were instrumental in getting average Americans to make photographs. None of us in the photographic press anticipated the rapidity of the digital revolution, I’m sorry to say.

And now, there is another digital revolution going on, this one moving faster than anyone could have predicted. It is being driven by the cameras built into cellphones. These tiny cameras keep getting better and better. Last year saw the front covers of Rolling Stone and Conde Nast Traveler shot with iPhones! With cell phone cameras so good, many are asking, “What’s the point of carrying around a camera?”. This is a good question for the vast majority of people. And it’s sending ripples throughout the photo industry. You probably didn’t know that those compact point-and-shoot cameras were the bread and butter of the camera companies, and sales of those cameras provided the R&D money for advanced SLR development. Some companies saw those simple cameras making up 85% of their revenue. Where will that money come from now? I foresee a few camera companies going bust, unable to stay in business from SLR, high end mirrorless cameras, and lens sales alone. I’d say that Sony and Canon have the best chances of survival, as both companies are very diversified, with many other product lines to provide income. Fuji has a good probability of survival, too. I wouldn’t bet serious money on the survival of the others. At the very high end, where digital cameras sell for $ 30,000 and up, companies don’t need to sell many to survive, so it’s likely that Hasselblad, Leica, and Phase One will hang on. At least right now you can’t shoot a Times Square billboard with a cellphone, and there are other applications which require more pixels than even the digital SLRs can produce. Serious photographers will want more image control than phone cameras allow, and for things like wildlife photography only a long lens will work, so cellphone limitations will keep up a demand for more capability. To see beyond about ten years my crystal ball becomes hopelessly clouded.

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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 for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-music-photography/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Film, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel

Katie Kerl: Take me to the Disco

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Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Take me to the Disco

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Reflecting on this Miami Music week, I have to say it was the best one to date. I have incredible friends and family that made this birthday beautiful. It started off with our friend Bob upgrading Amiee and My flights to the admirals club, and TSA pre check. We got in a few pre flight eats and cocktails. We touched down in Miami ready to shake shit up. 

Bob arranged our room the Marriott Vacation Club Pulse. The staff was the nicest there. I highly recommend it. We went right to the roof for their happy hour and for photos of course. There were beautiful views of South beach in every direction. We shopped a bit on the city walk and ate before getting ready. 

After more than a few drinks in the room, we were off to our first party at Do Not Sit On the Furniture. It was the Sweeeet Party with Dennis Ferrer & DJ Sneak. I love that old school funky house vibe. The venue was intimate, and there was so much room for dancing.  I have to say it was amazing for a small setting . We walked back to the hotel and got a few hours of sleep. 

I woke up on my birthday around 7am, and went to see the sunrise on the beach for the first time and not in a club. I realized that this trip was different, a much more mature way of doing it. I sat with my Cuban coffee pondering life, and what was in store for the day .It felt amazing to be alive and 35. When everyone was awake we headed to the classic News Cafe for breakfast. I really needed that Bloody Mary, chicken, & French toast. 

The Esscala Pure Trance yacht party was next on the Musette with Gabriel & Dresden, Solarstone, and Simon Patterson. 

One thing about yacht parties, the drinks are the least expensive you’re going to find in Miami. Needless to say we left a little wobbly after dancing for 5 hours. After a disco nap we were ready for the coming night, which was The Paradise Party at Space.

Amiee and I went to that and gave Bob a break. We were in the front of the DJ booth and it was pure musical happiness. One thing I noticed, I didn’t need to stay till the end . By end I mean to be determined into the next afternoon. We went back and slept around 5am. 

We got up and ate at Puerto Sagua the best Cuban diner you’re going to find in South Beach. Aimee had the whole diner singing Happy Birthday to me over my tres leches. 

From there we walked to Wet Willies. 3+ hours of Call-A- Cabs , and one entertaining Britt offending people’s outfits , talking in a Brad Pit pike like voice from Fight Club , we were more than on our way to a good night. 

After that hilariousness, Aimee and I walked back to the room. Of course we got side tracked by the shopping mall with a bar and Dj outside. When in Rome (Miami) you order more frozen cocktails. 

By the time we got back to the room, I had fallen asleep with a trail of gold fish behind me in the bed, and my hand still in the bag. 

After my 4 hour coma, I rallied & we were off to the Laser Face party at Mana in Wynnwood. Gareth Emery put on an amazing show! It was something I usually would not have picked, but was so happy I went, as did my voice from there on out for the entirety of the trip. 

I found myself wanting to get up and do the things I hadn’t before. The next morning I walked the ocean drive market, saw the Versace Mansion, got fresh coconuts, and just laid on the beach. 

Now, to many people this may seem normal for vacation, but not this week in Miami. Usually, you pass the beach on the way to a party, or coming home from one. I’m so happy I slowed down enough to enjoy the city I already loved even more. That final day we ate at the hotel restaurant Havana 1957. The lobster /seafood dish we had was amazing. 

Then, we went to the Spinnin Records pool party at the Sixty Nautilus hotel on Ocean Drive. We walked up and who did we see? Only Sander Van Doorn, the headliner doing an interview. The pool was beautiful, and even the 71$ drinks were worth it. Leaving a bit before it ended, we ran into Erick Morillo. He just ended his pool party at The National Hotel. He was nice enough to take a photo with us. I rarely ask Djs for photos, but his energy while performing his sets is amazing. 

We went back to the room for the last time, but I wasn’t done just yet. I went back to Mana in Wynnwood for Elrow. I decided that hanging with the new friends I had made was better than trying to get out of that place at 6 am. 

I made my way back to the hotel.

We had week ending mimosas at 7 am and back to Philly we went. 

I must say that I feel like a completely rejuvenated 35 year old. Who has some seriously amazing people in her life. I will never stop going to Miami on my Birthday. 

Music heals your soul and the friends you go to dance with make it perfect.

I’m one lucky girl. 

Cheers till next year Miami! 

Kerl Up with Kate 

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Katie Kerl: Miami 2019

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About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology. Occupation: commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include: Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos & house music lover. Instagram:  @kerl_up_with_kateTo access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: http://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-picking-up-the-pieces/

 

Also posted in Blog, Documentary, Music, Popular Culture, Travel, women

Upcoming Events: Heroes Awards Brunch

Heroes Awards Brunch: Hotel Monaco, April 7, 2019

Heroes Awards Brunch: Hotel Monaco, April 7, 2019

 

 

PHILADELPHIA

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Upcoming Events: Heroes Awards Brunch

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HEROES was started over ten years ago to spotlight and honor the unwavering dedication of community leaders and organizations to advance the rights and wellbeing of the greater Philadelphia regions LGBTQ community. Through the nomination process, HEROES identifies youth, adults, nonprofits, straight allies, and businesses who have bold ideas, act with selfless intention, are admired for their integrity, and are regarded as courageous in advancing LGBTQ equality in the Greater Philadelphia Area and beyond. DVLF honors these HEROES annually to celebrate their character and to encourage others to act heroically.

 

Since 1993, DVLF has served the greater Philadelphia LGBTQ community through philanthropy. More specifically, DVLF works to empower and advance the LGBTQ community through grant-making, scholarships, advocacy, community leadership development and education. DVLF has established an endowment that provides crucial support to the diverse array of LGBTQ nonprofit organizations and programs striving to address our community’s pressing needs. This includes: youth homelessness, civil rights, the elderly, cultural/ educational entities, and more.

 

As we enter its 26th year, we are looking to partner with businesses, individuals and organizations that share our values and which are interested in deepening their connections with our dynamic donor base, our stakeholders, and our region’s LGBTQ community, including its thought leaders.

To access tickets for the event, click here: https://co.clickandpledge.com/sp/d2/default.aspx?wid=71189

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Editor’s Note: There will be a live auction in which and original vintage photograph by Tony Ward will be auctioned to benefit the LBGT community.

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Men, Popular Culture, Travel, women

Bob Shell: A Stitch in Relative Time

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Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

 

Photography and Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2019

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A Stitch in Relative Time

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What really is photography? I think it is an outgrowth of our inability to revisit moments in time. The old tentmaker wrote:

The moving finger writes, and having writ,

moves on, Nor all thy piety nor wit

can lure it back to cancel half a line,

Nor all thy tears wash out one word of it.

We move through time headlong, like a boat with no rudder, and must follow the current wherever it takes us. When we die, all the moments of our lives are gone, “like tears in rain.”

That, at least, is the viewpoint of most people, who never realize that they are projecting a Newtonian viewpoint onto external reality. But since 1905 and Einsteinian Relativity we should have realized that we actually exist in a Relativistic reality. Time, that we seek to capture slices of, is not something that flows. It is the fourth dimension of reality that Newton simply took for granted as being the same everywhere. But Einstein showed us that time is not absolute, that it varies depending on the position and motion of the observer. Most of us haven’t integrated Einsteinian Relativity into our daily worldview, we’re stuck back centuries ago with old Isaac Newton.

“Physics itself recognizes no special moment called ‘now’ — the moment that acts as the focus of ‘becoming’ and divides the ‘past’ from the ‘future.’. In four dimensional space-time nothing changes, there is no flow of time, everything simply is…It is only in consciousness that we come across a particular time known as ‘now’ …It is only in the context of mental time that it makes sense to say that all of physical space-time is. One might even go so far as to say that it is unfortunate that such dissimilar entities as physical time and mental time should carry the same name.”. — Russell Stannard, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Open University.

“Particles themselves do not even move, being represented by ‘static’ curves drawn in space-time. Thus, what we perceive as moving 3D objects are really successive cross sections of immobile 4D objects past which our field of observation is sweeping.” — Roger Penrose

So if the time we perceive and the motion we perceive are illusions, what is the point of photography? I’ve been wrestling with that question. Will we one day be able to get outside time and revisit “moments from the past”? I’d be very surprised if we don’t.

Years ago, in the early 1960s, my father came home from his job as a TV news reporter one day very excited. He showed us a press release from the U.S. Navy in which it stated that the Navy had developed a “time camera,” which could take photographs of a scene as it was hours before. The example they used was to photograph an empty parking lot and get images of all the cars that were parked there earlier in the day. We were all wowed by this announcement, and I remember anxiously awaiting more news about this “time camera,” but none was ever forthcoming. Nor was there ever an official denial — nothing. If it was a hoax, I’d have expected some official denial. Periodically over the years I’ve tried to find any information about that camera, but have never found a thing. I’ve always suspected that the information was released to the press by mistake, and quickly withdrawn behind a veil labeled “Top Secret.” Just imagine what a powerful historical research tool that would be!

In a very real sense we always photograph the past. Say you are photographing someone twelve feet away. Light falls on that person and some is reflected to your camera, but it takes time for that light to come from your subject and reach your film or digital sensor. Light travels at a rate of one foot per nanosecond, so if your subject is twelve feet away, you are photographing them not in the present instant when you trip your shutter, but twelve nanoseconds in the past. Your subject is always younger in your photographs! Your camera is always a time machine. However, until that light strikes your film or sensor the image is in the future relative to you.

Now twelve nanoseconds is pretty small potatoes, but what about when you hook your camera to a telescope and point it at the moon, which is one light second away, or at the sun which is eight light seconds away, or even at Alpha Centauri which is 4.3 light years away. You’d be photographing respectively 1 second, 8 seconds, or 4.3 years into the past. From the perspective of someone on the moon, the sun, and Alpha Centauri, you are 1 second, 8 seconds and 4.3 years in their future. So you see their past, but their “present” overlaps with your past so from their perspective they see your past. Clear? Relativity can be confusing!

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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 for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Shell was recently moved from Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia to River North Correctional Center 329 Dellbrook Lane Independence, VA 24348.  Mr. Shell continues to claim his innocence. He is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click here: http://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-why-radford/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Erotica, Glamour, Men, Models, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel, women

Katie Kerl: You Don’t Have to Move on to Let Go

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Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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You Don’t Have to Move on to Let Go

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Who would have thought I’d be quoting a Deadmau5/ Kaskade song at my age. Thirty five is slowly creeping up on me next month.

35.35?!?!  I’m supposed to have 2 kids, a husband, & the dog with the white picket fence right? 

Instead I’ll be celebrating my 35th at Miami music week. Yes, there are endless locations to pick for vacation. That’s just what I enjoy doing. It brings me inner peace.  Dancing my life away one week a year on my birthday, to some of the best house music you can find. Eating Cuban food and drinking Mojitoon the beach until my heart is content.  Sounds awful right? 

To some people that is actual torture. 

I’m sitting here a little high after a hot shower thinking, “What the fuck?” Taking the appropriate steps with someone in a relationship is what we dream about right? 

What happens when money and a dream of a different kind of life gets in the way? 

Believing in someone is one thing. Supporting their choices is another. Watching it change who they are is heartbreaking. Even if they don’t see it now, or do and will never admit it. Money with no meaning in is an empty feeling.

He said, “I wanted to give you everything.” I said, “All I wanted was you.”

In a world of fucked up dating, pretty vs. money, one would think finding someone who completely understands you would be ENOUGH

Think again. If you have to fight for the things you find important, and someone dismisses your concerns. It’s time to rip the bandage quickly. 

People do not change overnight ,or by accident. They change because something drastic happens. They change because they can’t go on living a lie. They change because the stressful world they live in has beaten them down. They change because life has become unmanageable. 

Finding yourself, and not letting go of who you are is just as important as chasing your dreams. I’ve mentioned it before; no one wants to feel dropped into someone else’s life and expected to act accordingly. Gold diggers want that. Not REAL women.

I never want to feel like I have to give up who I am , my hobbies , health , or views on family values for someone working themselves to death chasing money . 

Money won’t be there when you get sick, it’s not going to support you when you’re down, and it’s not going to make a home out of the house you live in. You’re supposed to grow as a couplelearn from each other,and accept problems as they arise,and address them together. 

If you are so busy taking care of everyone else around you that you forget to be good to yourself, of course you will feel mentally drained and used. A person’s presence will fill the room with joy, or it will suffocate you to the point you feel like you’re not going to make it up for air. 

Being single I feel completely free to be my ever weird self. If I let you in you’re special.  You’re adding to my happiness that took me so long to find. Once you start taking that away from me, I retreat and go back to doing exactly what makes me happy alone. 

Someone out there needed to hear this today. I know I did while typing it. I’m not quite sure if anyone is meant to be permanent in your life, or just come in and out to teach you lessons. 

To those who feel they cannot be alone. You truly become the person you are meant to be without any outside persuasion. If you’re stuck making that decision to stay or go, my grandmother always told me to list that person’s good and bad qualities, then make your decision based off that. 

Her system has yet to steer me wrong. I am going to continue to be myself. If I find that person to compliment my ever complicated life great! 

If not at least I am doing my best.

That’s more than enough for me. 

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Portrait of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

Portrait of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

About The AuthorKatie Kerl. Born 1984. Raised in Drexel Hill,  Pennsylvania. Attended Drexel University for Behavioral  Psychology .Occupation : commercial/ residential  design Philadelphia resident since 2011 . Hobbies include  : Foodie, whiskey drinker,  fitness , cooking  , tattoos , & house music lover . Instagram:  @kerl_up_with_kateTo access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: http://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-love-the-one-youre-with/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Popular Culture, Travel, women