Monday, December 15, 2014

What's In A Name

Berlin, West Germany, July 1987

Ricoh KR-5 Super / Rikkenon 50mm/f2

Agfachrome 100 film

When you walk into a store like Kroger, or Wal-mart, or any other store that has been built from the ground up by a family and bears the family name, you probably don't really think about the history. This is especially true in America where stores like that don't bear deep emotional scars such as this one in Berlin.

Behind the name Leiser is a history of determination, struggle, success, triumph and heartache all wrapped into one. The Leiser family was a Jewish family in the early 1900's who started their shoe company from the ground up. They became one of the most successful businesses in the area until Hitler and the S.S. finally forced them to sell off completely to Nazi run German government.

What a sign such as this that speaks volumes to the people who know its story. That through the destruction and through the history of all that happened, the name lives on and the sign, while such a simple thing, serves a reminder of perseverance and family.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Colors of Fall on Film

Who doesn't enjoy the colors of fall in the Midwest? I know I do. Color film does too and this Agfa Ultra 50 print film replicates it with an unparalleled beauty. The range of colors and saturation that you get out of it is a treat for the eye. This photo was taken in West-Central Michigan using my Nikon Fm-3A with a Nikkor 50mm 1.4.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Desert Oasis?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you see this photo? The Sahara? Camels? Well, while you may be able to ride some camels through here, these dunes are actually right here in the United States. Oh, so we're talking Nevada, or Utah? No, and no. These sand dunes are in Michigan.

Silver Lake State Park is comprised of both mature forest land and over 2,000 acres of sand dunes. The park is divided into three segments: An all terrain park in the northern area, the Walking Dunes in the middle of the park, and the southernmost section that is leased to Mac Wood's Dune Rides.

Stats: Nikon FM-3A / Nikkor 50mm/f1.4 / circular polarizerAgfa CT Precisa Plus 100 reversal film

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dr. Strangelove

The "Dr. Strangelove Room" at Diefenbunker, Canada's cold War Museum, Carp Ontario, July 2014

Nikon FM-3A / Nikkor 24mm/f2
Fuji Sensia 200 reversal film, pushed +1

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bodega Head State Park

Bodega Head is part of the Sonoma Coast State Park in California. Sonoma Coast is made up of several beaches that are separated by rock bluffs and headlands. It spans 17 miles from Bodega Head to Vista Trail which is 4 miles north of Jenner. Everyone from beachcombers, picknickers, sunbathers and fisherman can access the beaches from over a dozen trail points along Highway 1.

This photo show Bodega Head, which is a rocky headland that forms the entrance into Bodega Harbor. Crabbing is very popular here and there are many hiking trails on the ocean side that allow access to small coves and scenic views. Many people go to the high cliffs to observe migrating gray whales.

Stats: Hasselblad Xpan / Hasselblad-Fujifilm 45mm/f4
Fuji Superia 200 print film

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Howard Johnson: The Decline of an Era

In the 1960s and 1970s, there were more than 1,000 combined company owned and franchised Howard Johnson outlets. It was the largest restaurant chain in the U.S. at the time.

Howard Johnson started out owning and operating a small corner pharmacy in Quincy, MA. Little did he know that the food industry would become his legacy. After he installed a soda fountain in his drugstore, he realized that the fountain was quickly becoming the busiest and most profitable part of his store. With the mind of an entrepreneur, Johnson decided to branch out into homemade ice cream, quickly accumulating a large variety of 28 different flavors.

During the summers of the late 1920s, Johnson would opperate concession stands along beachfront property on the coast of Massachusetts. He sold soft drinks, hot dogs, and ice cream. With the growing success of his pop-up concession stands, he was able to convince bankers from the area to lend him enough money to open and operate a sit-down restaurant. Finally, near the end of the decade, the first Howard Johnson's restaurant was opened in Quincy. The menu included fried clams, baked beans, chicken pot pies, hot dogs, ice cream, and soft drinks.

Johnson received a rather lucky break in 1929 when the mayor of Boston prohibited a production of Eugene O'Neill's play, Strange Interlude, from performing. The theater moved the production to Quincy, and the influential Bostonians that came to see the play flocked to the closest restaurant, which happened to be Howard Johnson's.

In the 1930s, Johnson persuaded an acquaintance to open a second restaurant in Orleans, Massachusetts which ended up being on of America's first franchising agreements. By the end of the 1930s, there were 107 restaurants all along American East Coast Highways.

By 1944 though, ravaged by the effects of war rationing, only 12 restaurants remained in business.  Johnson managed to maintain his business by serving commissary food to war workers and United States Army recruits. By 1951 though, the restaurants sales were back up and totaled $115 million.

The first motor lodge for Howard Johnson was opened in 1954 in Savannah, Georgia. Shortly after that, in 1959, the elder Johnson turned the company over to his 26 year old son. He would continue to oversee his son's control of the company until his death in 1972.

When the company went public in 1961 there were 605 restaurants and 88 franchised motor lodges across 32 states. By 1975, the company had more than 1,000 restaurants and more than 500 motor lodges in 42 states and Canada. This would be the peak of the business. By the late 1970s though, the signs of the end were beginning. Between the oil embargo of 1974, the fire of 1971, the day-long siege that former Black Panther Mark Essex used the hotel's roof for as a sniper perch, and the $2.5 million dollar judgement awarded to Connie Francis who sued the motel chain after she was raped at the Howard Johnson's Jericho Turnpike lodge, the company started failing. Along with that, Johnson tried to streamline the company operation and cut costs which proved disastrous because guests were unhappy with the "new" Howard Johnson's after being accustomed to the services that they had known for the previous years.

In 1979, Johnson accepted a bid from Imperial Group PLC who sold the company to G. Michael Hostage for more than $630 million.

This Lake Placid restaurant was one of the only three remaining restaurants. It closed on March 31, 2015.

Stats: Nikon FM-3A / Nikkor 24mm/f2
Agfa RSX II 100 reversal film
Taken July 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Human Spirit on Film

The human spirit. It's something that only a photo can so uniquely capture. It can portray a thousand different stories to a thousand different people if you put it up without words, or you can use it to portray a specific story that you want by putting the words behind the picture. Pictures of people are also one of those things that when you sit down twenty, thirty, forty years from now, you will look back and memories will come as well as questions. What ever happened to them? Did they ever do that thing they talked about wanting to do so much?

While you can see the majesty of nature in a landscape from New Mexico, Northern California or Pennsylvania, the way that a portrait evokes emotion is unparalleled. The human face is a landscape all in itself with expression lines and feeling that can be felt simply by looking into that person's eyes. The power that architecture like the grain silos in the southwest can create in a photo can't be compared to the power that a person shows in a photo simply by how they're standing or how they're dressed. The story behind the portrait is always something that will hold a place of highest regard in the society of film photography.

Stats: Leonard, Proprietor, Leonard's Barber Shop
Augusta, Georgia, June, 2001

Sunday, May 4, 2014

City of Warriors

In the state of Coahuila is a municipality called Guerrero. It's a small city, with less than one thousand inhabitants. Even such a small city, it's filled with lots of beautiful and bright colors that are well known to the south-west culture in Mexico.

Guerrero is a surname that means warrior. These small municipalities are home to a large number of Roman Catholics and even though the state of Coahuila has over two million citizens, given the size of the state that only equals out to be 15 people per square kilometer. While that may seem small, Coahuila is home to the country's largest coal reserves and the state's capital Saltillo also has a growing automobile industry with plants for both General Motors and Chrysler.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Steam-tastic Invention

While visiting Vancouver, one must stop into Gastown and take a look at the steam-powered clock that has become a major tourist attraction, and rightly so. While boasting a vintage appeal, the clock was actually constructed in 1977 as a means to cover a steam grate and also prevent the homeless from sleeping on it in cold weather. At first the clock was wrought with malfunctions and had to be powered electronically, but once the local businesses saw how much revenue it bought in because of the tourists it brought, they grouped together to have the steam mechanism completely rebuilt.

Once completed, the new steam mechanism worked by a miniature steam engine that drives a chain lift. The chain lift then moves steel balls upwards where they are then transferred to a descending chain. The weight of these steel balls on the chain controls a conventional pendulum clock escapement that is geared to the hands on the four separate faces of the clock. The steam also powers a whistle, instead of chimes, that have become known as the Westminster "chime" to denote the time.

The long exposure of this photo and the black and white aspect give it a very "Sherlock Holmes" feel while the lights on the trees add a fairy tale-esque dimension that draw you in and pull your attention to the clock itself.  Think Scotland Yard meets Peter Pan.

This image was taken in March 2014 using a Hasselblad 500C with a Zeiss Planar 80mm/f 2.8. Exposure time was f/22 at 1 minute on Agfapan APX 25 Film.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Black Gold

U.S. Route 50, Capon Bridge, West Virginia, June 2013

Rolleiflex SL-66, Zeiss Planar 80mm/f2.8

Kodak Ektar 100 film

Oil. It's been a part of our history for generations. Rockefeller provided the nation with fuel for lamps and streetlights and then figured out how to use the "trash" as fuel for the horseless carriage. We have fought wars over it, rejoiced in the finding of it, cringed over the prices of it, all in the name of convenience and demand. 

Gulf Oil, or the company that we know as Gulf oil, was started in 1901 after the discovery of oil at Spindletop, near Beaumont, Texas. A group of investors, the largest being William Larimer Mellon of Pittsburgh Mellon banking family, joined forces to promote the development of a modern refinery in the nearby Port Arthur to help process the oil. 

Spindletop's output peaked early on at 100,000 barrels per day. The early peak and decline forced Gulf to find alternative sources of supply to sustain its substantial investment. The effort to do so resulted in the construction of a 400-mile pipeline connecting oilfields in Oklahoma with Gulf's refinery at Port Arthur. This pipeline was known as the Glenn Pool pipeline. 

The distinctive Gulf logo was an assurance of sorts for the "name brand" oil so people purchasing it knew they were getting good quality gasoline. At this time in the United States, non-branded gasoline was often contaminated or of unreliable quality. 

This photo shows a sign, though old and worn and riddled with holes, that defined a company. Logos are an influential part of today's society and oftentimes a logo is literally the first and last impression people get from a company. A brown and gold shield, a white eagle on a blue background, a blue oval or a red target. All these signs are what influence us and stay as reminders in our mind. 

Gulf oil may not be in its hayday anymore, but the distinctive orange sign will always be associated with it. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The American Motor Lodge

There is something beautiful about vintage motels and Polaroid film. It's like they were made for each other. In my travels across the U.S., I've made it my goal to try and capture and preserve the great American family vacation culture. Reminiscing about times growing up when these motor lodges were the place where memories were made. Back then times were simpler and customer service was about quality, not just quantity. These motor lodges possessed a certain individuality to them that you don't see anymore in the cookie cutter style hotels of the modern era. Among that individuality was the sign that posed as a "first impression" of sorts. This sign was something that the customer would see coming down the road and depending on how unique and individualistic your sign was could determine whether or not a family would pull over for the night and also how they would remember their stay. These iconic motor lodges are fading out of existence, but the photos that I hope to show of them still hold a lingering breath of the original spirit of travel in the mid-century United States.

Stats: Polaroid Colorpack III, Polaroid 690 Instant Peel-apart film
San Pedro Avenue, San Antonio, Texas, October 2000

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Oh, Canada

Near Beardmore, Ontario, Canada, June 2012

Nikon FM-3A Nikkor 50mm/f1.4
Agfa RSX-II 100 film

Construction of Canada's Trans-continental highway began in 1950 and it is one of the world's longest national highways, stretching an amazing 8,030  KM (or 4,990 MI). It was officially open for business in 1962 and completed in 1971. 

The highway is recognized distinctively by the white-on-green maple leaf route markers, such as the one pictured above. 

As you travel across this highway, prepare to be awe-inspired by the scenery. A traveler will experience everything from the majestic peaks in Banff National Park to the prairie areas of Saskatchewan.