Fifth Avenue, Winter 1893″ is the title of Alfred Stieglitz’s masterpiece. Although it is said to have been criticized by then fellow photographers “blurred and not sharp,” the photograph shows a horse carriage in severe snow storm with movement. It is a great photograph.

Although knowing that it was photographed on Fifth Avenue, New York, recently I have seriously searched what exact spot Stieglitz was photographing the masterpiece at. As a matter of fact, it was not that difficult, especially after finding out A.T. Stewart Mansion and Astor Residence on west of Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. It was already a famous corner of the city even before the Empire State Building.

Fifth Avenue is now one way, going south. I stepped into the road to photograph the view. Stieglitz must be roaming around me some 130 years ago. A sweet encounter. KT

Fifth Avenue, Winter 2020. Almost everything changed, but I see some buildings stay there for 130 years.
One of the earliest photographs in 2020. The whole year was a struggle to me photographically.

The year 2020 was a terrible year. The world was devastated by Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 from the beginning. I don’t really remember what happened in what month. Some months passed fairly slow, or other months passed in a flash. We all tried to survive, and lived through mostly within our minimal activity range.

Looking through my photographic archive of 2020, there was not much happening. Of course, all photographs were shot in my walking range, except ones from the earliest months. I can see my struggles from them. I tried film photography as well as digital. I also tried color film. However, I don’t think I could hit a home run often.

I don’t really know how the situation goes entering year 2021, but someday, everything would come back to “normal.” I would have to struggle until then, I understand.

Everyone has to keep walking, and hope for a safer, better new year.

KT

In my impression, film Leica has more accurate viewfinder than digital Leica

(Somewhat continued from my old blog post)

About the same time last year, I was trying out Kodak Alaris Ektachrome E100 Professional film. Now, since I shipped my digital Leica M Monochrom for sensor maintenance, I am back shooting with the same film.

In daily life, there are still restrictions due to Coronavirus, but I enjoy shooting with “all mechanical” film Leica M4-2. Reading light with my handy reflective lightmeter is not so redundant as digital spotmeter. I can also look for some colors. Scanning processed color reversal films is a good routine, although my scanner is not the best. Thank god a good professional lab is still in operation in the city.

Ultimately, there must be no practical difference between shooting digital and film. Of course with film, you cannot check the image immediately after you photograph. You need to wait until you finish and process the roll. However, it is just the matter of shorter or longer wait. Eventually, you obtain and keep the images.

The truth is simple. Forget everything, and keep shooting. KT

Indeed, it feels good!

It is mid-June of year 2020, about a month later since my last blog post. “Stay Home” officially began from March 22nd, and the city has experienced the most desperate. Now, it seems changing. Entering “Phase One” reopening over a week, we see something on brighter side.

The most visually apparent is construction. In the city, there seem more constructions being resumed or initiated. Noise from construction sites rather sounds cheerful. I can feel the energy of this great city. I pull out my camera, and snap the energy around the site. It definitely feels good. The city is coming back. Cheers!

KT

On New Year’s Day, I believe no one could ever imagined that year 2020 was going to be like this. We are now in the middle of historic pandemic disaster. Literally no one can get away from this serious situation. New York City is one of the most devastated cities in the world.

To my surprise, my life has experienced the minimal impact even in this situation: I do not commute or work in office; I just walk around and photograph here and there. However nowadays, I live my life strictly within walking range. No subway or bus ride. I can have no luxury to travel anywhere, even a day trip.

Looking up, I can still find something bright and good.

After 9/11, I experienced a decade long difficulty working with my photography. I once even became hesitant to pull out a camera out of my bag, simply for public security reason (of course, I am no terrorist; camera is not a gun!). Different, but now I experience another difficulty. The city is almost “dead,” exposing a totally different side that I had never expected to see. People now have no face, covering overall.

Nevertheless, the only thing I can do is to photograph, no matter how difficult I may feel to. I would look up, and hope for the better. Please stay safe, healthy, and upward.

KT

(Somewhat continued from my previous blog post)

Recently, I had a chance to try Kodak Alaris Ektachrome E100, a color reversal film, re-introduced sometime last year. I pulled out my old film Leicas, and loaded the film. A light meter in my camera bag. It had been quite a while since last time I regularly worked with film camera, which could be four, five years ago.

Surprisingly and unexpectedly, there were some new findings, maybe only possible after significant experience with digital photography. Handling mechanical film camera is amazingly, curiously fun. Measuring light; winding film; setting exposure and checking film counter, they are all integrated into one action: photographing. It is a pleasant concentration of mind.

Very refreshing to see my photograph in color

I had been long cursed by the fact: film photography takes so, so long before being able to show results. It is true if you process black and white film and print paper all by yourself, but not if you work with reversal film. Dropping your film at the lab, then you can see the result in a day or two. Scanning is easy. I realized that I should practice film photography more often, even without traditional wet darkroom.

Through past four years with digital Leica, I have become an “ultimate inconspicuous shooter.” Now I can photograph in a few seconds, pulling out and putting camera back to my bag. My visual sensitivity has become super responsive, but shooting with film Leica, I started to give up being inconspicuous. I simply need time to finish my job. Now with legit visual sensitivity from digital photography.

What is going to happen, by practicing as such? I don’t know, but will keep working both with digital and film simultaneously. Way to go! KT

I have been photographing with Leica cameras for thirty years. My first Leica was a IIIf, screw-mount Leica with flash sync capability (I actually never used flash). I added another IIIf, then sold both, switching to M-mount Leicas in early 1990s. I now own three M-mount Leicas, including one digital, added four years ago.

I have used many Leica lenses as well, but now I only own two 50mm, one 35mm, and one 90mm Leica lenses. All of them were purchased in early 1990s, and still working great. I will keep shooting with them for the rest of my life, so to speak.

Under Brooklyn Bridge. Photoville 2019

I have been mostly shooting with digital Leica for past four years, partially due to lack of darkroom. I had no problem with it, until recent visit to Photoville 2019 in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where Leica Camera booth was hard to ignore.

In film era, Leica used to be legendary among professionals from 1930s through 1970s. Then, Japanese SLR system took over. Now, Leica is regaining their popularity by digital convenience and versatility. Little by little, I see more Leicas on the street and in professional’s hands. I also know Leica now try to become a fashion icon, with extraordinary price tags.

Leica Camera booth at Photoville 2019 was also focused solely on digital Leicas, introducing current cameras with accompanying image shots. They look so brilliant, but wait. There was  an era of film Leicas for over eighty years. I still own two bodies, and I can shoot as long as I find 35mm film. I pulled them out and operated. Pure mechanical operation feels absolutely great with silky smoothness. Now, I determined I shall resume film photography in some way, occasionally.

Before shooting with film Leica, I have to read the light (mostly using light meter) and set exposure, which I can omit when shooting with digital Leica. They are redundant, but may be an indispensable part of photographing, I now realize.  “Slow down,” I remember the word; I was told decades ago shooting with film. KT

In this photograph of west Tokyo Station, I only remember white facade of the building on the right. Everything else is brand new.

Last month, I had a chance to revisit Tokyo and Kyoto of Japan. It was a nice vacation to me, with no specific engagement during trip. Thanks to jet lag, I could start walking around the cities right after sunrise, and photograph here and there.

Even since way before getting ready for the Olympics, Tokyo has been transforming and expanding. The huge earthquake in north part of country 2011 gave a tremendous impact on building design in Tokyo. I don’t want to call them “ugly,” but their new tall and thick appearance is nothing but visually intimidating. In a way, I had difficulty to find nostalgic remaining in Tokyo.

Kamogawa River of Kyoto City. The river must have been here for over thousand years.

Surprisingly, Kyoto was not quite like that. Of course, it is an old city, but the way the city transforms seems like water dripping into a pond. I was happy to find things I saw there about forty years ago. Kamogawa River is still flowing. Shrines and temples are there, of course, as if time is not an issue.

This was also the first time for me to revisit Japan with my five-year old digital Leica. I truly enjoyed quick photographing of scenes, of where I used to live and visit decades ago. KT

These trees might have been here for over a few hundred years. In Kyoto City.

 

5″ x 7″ digital inkjet prints

For a new year, I have just created a portfolio book: “Dobby! …and, a bit of my “real” work.” Original book is of 5″ x 7″ digital inkjet prints, and this is a digital version. It is a photographic memorandum of my dog Dobby, a Miniature Pinscher. He is a happy eight-year old. Hope you would enjoy! KT

View

 

This image scanned twenty years later

When I used to photograph only with film, I should dedicate all of my darkroom time to “work.” Of course back then, I photographed a lot of my family, friends and all, but I could not really spend much time for printing those. Darkroom work was so energy-consuming and professionally precious.

When I lost my darkroom three years ago, finally I could make myself some time to look at those “family, friends and all” photographs, and scan them. Some of them were almost twenty years old. They became to own another meaning even for myself. I felt sorry for my family and friends, who eventually had a chance to look at those photographs much later.

What I think of digital photography great is the “convenience.” No matter what your photographic device is, digital images could be sent immediately even to the other side of the planet. Using RAW processing application is as easy as just a few clicks, no physical exhaustion as darkroom work. Occasionally I miss darkroom work, but I shall cherish the convenience of digital photography. KT