Haunted Curio Shoppe

My tiny home studio is used for recording music and working on photography. The motif is “Haunted Curio Shoppe” – and is heavily influenced by my Assemblage Art – which I have posted here:


These days I don’t commit the doo dads and curios and trinkets to boxes – but use and reuse these creepy things in many photographs. If you look a few posts back – where I have a Man Ray book cover photo that has his example of a still life that looks like an Assemblage piece – now you know where I got that from.

I’ll be posting more parts of my curio motif – I’ve now got it set up better than any Assemblage that I did in the past – although maybe a dozen out of a hundred were really good – if you don’t mind me bragging. That Flickr site is sort of where I had my “training wheels” on.

I’m also having a blast with the Lap Steel guitar that I modified – as you’ll hear in today’s song. It goes quite well with the Cello – and inspired me to get crazy on the Cello at the end of the song.

The Swabian Cheapskate

Recording King $250 Lap Steel

Adding to the “anemoia” theme of somehow living the 1930’s, the first Lap Steel Guitars were produced in the 1930’s – but I am sure some earlier in someones garage or workbench.

Joseph Kekuku was the first to “discover” sliding a piece of metal across a guitar. It started out as “The Hawaiian Sound” or Slack Key.

I couldn’t resist trying the Recording King Lap Steel. Its very well built but the pickup is crap. I replaced it with a Seymore Duncan for only $100 – and I can’t stop playing this. It’s more fun than my $500 Gretsch Lap Steel.

I don’t know for sure, but German’s from Swabia (near Stuttgart) are supposed to be cheapskates and squirrel away all their money. I bet that there’s a twist – and I saw this in my father. Its not that Swabian’s are cheapskate – its that they demand Value. I suspect the reason why is because in the land of Mercedes and Porsche – there is a lot of precision machining and Kraftwerk.

I bet the reason why I am in love with gear that is cheaper than the “top of the line” is because I followed a Zen Buddhist saying “Do nothing extra”, which is the same as “Less is more”. Its an economizing and performance thing. Squeeze every penny. Get your monies worth.

I’m trying to come to grips why – when I had a Leica M6 – which was $4000 with a lens in the 80’s I gravitated to a $200 Pentax ME Super instead.

I think the answer has nothing to do with money. I think its more a challenge. When you make or modify something you get a real rush. Just buying top of the line makes you feel like there is no challenge. Then the buyers remorse sets in, and well, I think I finally figured this all out

I certainly have Swabian blood in me and besides the contrite expressions of “cheapskate” I think I figured it out. How do I know this?

Its in my genetic makeup and in my blood. I just feel it. Intuition I suppose

Digital Rangefinder Blues

The most beautiful 35mm film camera in my books
I know cameras are just a tool
Taking photos is their lot
I have the Leica rangefinder blues
Under my collar I'm feeling hot
The most practical beautiful digital rangefinder you can’t buy
Some Range Finders cost too much
Some are un-ob-tanium
Why do I want one, what's the fuss?
I think I'm going insane-ium
Leica’s $10,000 digital camera with one lens
The evil devil says "go buy"
That you only live just once
I suppose before I die
I'll be that buying dunce
Only $6000 – such a bargain!
Angel tells me to be good
I already have everything I need
My present camera engine under hood
Has all the strength and speed

My friend Mike commented yesterday about film vs. digital. He’s right, and it made me think of several paradoxes associated with cameras these days.

  • Digital cameras fail after about 10 years. Film cameras last forever
  • Digital media gets lost or goes bad. Ever record on a CD and it went bad?
  • I offered all of my film to my kids (after I scan it). Neither wants it and one is a photographer. I’ll throw it away before I move to Bend next year
  • Film is too expensive, requires too much work and is in short supply
  • Fujifilm cameras are in short supply – the only reasonable answer to all of these conundrums

Don’t suggest to buy an iPhone. NEVER. I did have fun rewriting this.

Girl With Leica

I have a cheesy Leica Digilux – 1 camera. Its Leica’s first digital camera. It was made by Panasonic but does have a Leica lens. They are collectors items so I’ll probably sell it.

Here we see a young fine thing using said Leica.

Fujifilm vs. Kodak

The current “winner” – but with a big Catch -22 problem

As I had expected – Fujifilm has a serious problem – and I very much hope they can get past it. Their cameras – based on what I think is the best digital camera idea that has come out since film – which is basing their digital cameras on their “color science” (and even some of the other great color science – like Kodak’s Kodachrome) is something everyone wants, but just can’t get. Sure – Covid and supply issues are to blame – but I have been reading more and more that people are so disgusted that they are now swearing off Fujifilm products.

Where Fujifilm is screwing up in a major way is no communication or PR and so there are more rumors than facts. Fujifilm needs to issue Press Releases, and stat.

The undisputed loser – Kodak

Although I only worked for Kodak in Rochester, NY for one sad year (1981 – 1982), I did have great pride that I worked for THE worldwide winner in the film business. I never tried Fujifilm back then – but did like Agfa a little and Ilford a lot. It totally breaks my heart at what Kodak has become – a very sad peanut shell of their past glory.

What is most amazing to me – Fujifilm got it right – and Kodak got it so wrong. When I worked at Kodak I had heard about the guy who more or less invented the digital camera – and how the fat cats at Kodak ignored him and stuck to their film background. I remember silver was already getting expensive – so they were investing heavily in silver reclamation processes. WOW – what a terrible bonehead move – ignore digital for a polluting heavy metal just because your top management had its head up their ass.

I feel totally lucky I was able to score the Fujifilm XT30ii that I did. But I now worry that Fujifilm will become a victim of its own success. If it doesn’t come up with a better marketing and manufacturing strategy – they will die on the vine – almost like Kodak chasing silver vs. digital. Fuji could crash under its own weight.

One thing for sure – now more than ever – its abundantly clear that the US better get it manufacturing shit together – or we are screwed. If the ROC were to invade Taiwan and take it over like they have Hong Kong – America will be screwed. I applaud Biden’s Chips Initiative – but I worry time is nigh . . .


“She” is a Rangefinder Camera . . .
I was to be her pet
She made me sneeze and sweat
She left before we met
A day I can't forget

Bohemian Love Jones?
Feel it in your bones?
Does it cause gall stones?
Makes you write bad poems?

"She" is not a human being
Prettiest thing I've ever seen
Her shunning is rather mean
Oh how she primps and preens

She's made of finest metal
Finer than a roses petal
To buy her my soul I'd have to sell
While the rest of me burns in hell

Lets all do the dance
Of the Sacred St. Vitus
Before we become detritus
While she still excites us

I took an image straight out of my Fujifilm XT30ii and tried to improve on it in Gimp. I couldn’t.

Yes, these young whippersnapper hipster photographers really nailed it when they sent Fujifilms sales through the roof.

Its going to be very interesting. I am so very glad I purchased what I did, but later this year will no doubt get a rangefinder. If the X100V were available, that would have been end of story. However it would have been the WRONG camera for self portraits and photographing my art and curio shop themed home recording studio.

What I will do is do street photography, but in small towns. Looking at my Blairstown photos and Canyonville photos, I realize that my 80’s street photography was my “Swan Song” for big city street photography – and honestly, I doubt I can do better. That took walking around all day and those days are long gone.

I’ve looked at my Emmigrant Wilderness and other Sierra photography. Its quite good – but it just doesn’t move me like the town and city stuff does.

When I was in Canyonville last November, and Bode in September, I loved walking around small shacks and local small town kitsch and historic places of interest.

This will become my next phase of “street photography” and it fits my age and where I am in my life.

The Blairstown Witch Project

An old stone building near Blairstown, NJ

Way back in 1991 or so I visited my old county – where I grew up – Sussex County, NJ. I visited Blairstown and Stillwater. I came across this spooky place.

Here’s a list of famous people from that area – Jeanine Garafalo – Newton, NJ – my home town. Blondie – went to college at an all girls college called Centinary – in Blairstown. Railroad Earth (band) – Stillwater, NJ. Friday the 13th was filmed in and around Blairstown the year my family moved to California. But I digress.

When you stumble upon an old building in the woods

Anyhoo, I walked around these two tiny towns – which look like they could be in New England – and stumbled on this old rock building. I’d say it was a Grist Mill – but as far as I can remember, it wasn’t next to a creek or river.

What’s he building in there?

I do have these old images, but my memory has no recollection of exactly where this was or what this was or how I got near it to photograph it.

That alone is the spooky part.

The Last Fifth

The way I see it
We're dead lucky
If we live till 80
Throw our ashes to sea

Drink your time on earth
One Fifth at a time
Fifteen years to life
Commit love like a crime

The first fifth a kid
The second a teen
The third for a family
The last Halloween!

The “Influencer”

The typical internet “Influencer”. No disrespect to dummies …

The more I hear and read about internet “Influencers” the more I long for the days where mannequins in store windows were the influencers.

Fujifilm, Kodak and Man Ray

Man Ray used the Carbro method of creating color photographs in the 1930’s

Man Ray was in my grandfathers generation – in fact they were born close in years and passed away within one year. Man Ray was mostly a black and white film photographer, but did experiment with color in the 1930’s. He used a process called Carbro where you take three photographs – red, green and blue and layer and filter them.

When I graduated from Lock Haven State College I had been recruited to go to Rochester and work for Kodak. I used to shoot Kodachrome plus Kodak and Ilford black and white. Film companies had “color science”.

Fujifilm and its line of cameras has all of the world buying out every model available. On several social media sites people can’t stop saying how cool Fujifilm film simulations are.

After being appalled at the run on such products, after just two photograph sessions taking goofy self portraits – it hit hard. I’m smitten and have been converted by these young whipper snappers. And in fact, I’m thankful that they are getting into real photography and stepping away from their iPhones. Using a real camera with no texting or social media disruption will be great for their mental health.

These young hipsters and cool kids are right. The color and look of these Fujifilm simulations are fantastic.

Since I use Gimp and now RAWTherepee, I can get the “Man Ray Carbro” look, and I love it.

Its an old soul thing – Young hipsters surely understand where I’m coming from – heh heh.