The Beacon

28 08 2009

While recently browsing the wall of retired cameras that came with our apartment, I stumbled across one humble looking fellow who looked as if he might still work.

the fantastic plastic 50s Beacon

the fantastic plastic 50s Beacon

A little digging around  online confirmed this vintage snapper as a Beacon 225 – a stylish Bakelite plastic creation from the 50s, and still in perfect working order. Sweet!

Not only is it a med-format point-n-shoot (crazy in itself..),  you also have to pull the ‘lens’ out from the body before shooting. Ha!

After a bit of work with a pocketknife I was able to wrangle a roll of ‘modern’ medium-format film into the beast’s innards, and I set off for NYC, confident the muggers there would not bother stabbing me for anything less than a digital Nikon D90.

The pics weren’t bad,  I double-exposed a bunch on purpose and a bunch more because I am a moron, but that’s the fun of it, right?

New Bedford house and ...Brooklyn bridge. whoops.

New Bedford house and ...Brooklyn bridge. whoops.

nyc upview

NYC

croquet is so stupid. lawn bowls, now there's a sport.

croquet is so stupid. lawn bowls, now there's a sport.

this one was intentional.

this one was intentional.

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United States of Strange. Part 3: A Trip to the Feast

6 08 2009

‘Are you gonna be here for the Feast?’

‘Have you heard about the Feast?’

‘Only one week til the Feast…’

This is all I have heard from the New Bedfordites since arriving at the start of June.

The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament has been running 95 years and purports to be — among other things — the largest Portuguese feast in the world, and to hold a record for the most wine consumed per square foot, anywhere in the world.

No one seems to know exactly what it celebrates; a festival of Madeiran culture seems to be the popular answer.

But if this is Madeiran culture, I can only advise you stay the hell away from that particular island.

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Cardoza looks for a fire pit to sear his meat

Despite the vaguely religious title, the Feast involves thousands of people crowding into the Feast Grounds (a park which remains empty 361 days a year), and getting absolutely hammered on cheap wine and beef.

But that sounds right up Ben’s alley, I hear you say.

Yeh, kind of, but this one was a bit of a letdown after hearing the hype for the past three months.

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

and you wonder why kids are scared of clowns?

I guess it’s fun for locals to catch up with their mates if they can push through the crowd, but one night of having my feet stepped on and overproof Madeiran wine sloshed all over me was enough. It goes on for four days…

There are also fights all weekend, grabbing girls’ asses is considered fair game by the throngs of teenagers and they don’t serve wine in bottles anymore after someone was killed a few years back.

Classy, right? I call: Hoax.





new bedford photo essay

26 07 2009

Pics from The Whaling City

new bedford rust

Mr and Mrs Burr's letterbox, apparently.

Mr and Mrs Burr's letterbox, apparently.

sunset scallop trawlers

sunset scallop trawlers

stars n bars, right?

stars n bars, right?

caitlin's beach house; now demolished to make way for the new pad

caitlin's beach house; now demolished to make way for the new pad

YES to abandoned textile mills

YES to abandoned textile mills

sadly, adding 'Lee' to any name automatically has them sound like a redneck.

sadly, adding 'Lee' to any name automatically has them sound like a redneck.

god bless....camels?

god bless....camels?





tilt_shifter

16 07 2009

Even if you’re not a photgraphy nerd, this is pretty cool:

Introducing, tilt-shift photograpy.

For one reason or another (possibly as i have waaay more time to surf the net these days) I’ve been coming across a lot of tilt-shift pics, so thought I’d take a minute to explain ’em, as it’s a neat procedure.

Basically, lenses are available (at great cost) for SLRs and digis now which produce the effect of a miniature world in every shot.

not a model...

not a model...

tilt-shift lens for Nikon. $1500+

tilt-shift lens for Nikon. $1500+

The lenses allow you to pinpoint a small area of selective focus to produce a very shallow area of sharpness – unusual in landscape or aerial photography, where focus is usually set to ‘infinity’.  This tricks the eye into reassessing what you are looking at, as the lack of focus just does not look real anymore.

tilt-shift fake by paragon

tilt-shift fake by paragon

Interestingly, when you go looking for examples of tilt-shift pics you find that most are post-processed Photoshop fakes,  probably due to: a] the lenses are super pricey, b] I would also guess it’s probably real hard to do and c] It’s not too tricky to fake in Photoshop.

There are however, a few dudes doing it properly. Vincent Laforet shoots for the NY Times and has put together a video on how he works here.  Keith Loutit is another doing it closer to home, and his Little Sydney project uses tilt-shift combined with time lapse video for some startling images, particularly the Bathtub V shoot.

And as i mentioned, everyone’s getting involved…

A little amatuerish, but loads of fun.

new bedford scene from our window

new bedford scene from our window

fuel truck down the harbour

fuel truck down the harbour

valdemossa, mallorca

valdemossa, mallorca





New Bedford Field Trip: a journey to the untamed north (end).

22 06 2009
portugal day on the ave

portugal day on the ave

Now, I haven’t spoken about my new home yet.

I’m still getting to that. But what you do need to know is that New Bedford is home to an astounding number of  folk who identify themselves as Portuguese, Azorean and Cape Verdean –  chiefly  as a result of the region’s past as a major whaling port.

What this means for me, is indecipherable accents, amazing restaurants, a welcome sense of multiculturalism and a bunch of extra holidays.

Enter, Portugal Day.

droppin' it like it's hot

droppin' it like it's hot

June 10 marks the date of Luis De Camoes’ death – the man who penned Portugal’s national poem, then lost an eye, was shipwrecked and went on to save said poem by swimming with one arm while keeping the other (poem-holding) arm above water.

Kind of beats Australia Day, right?

What Portugal Day in New Bedford means is a big ol’ street party. Acushnet Ave at the north end of town is blocked off, streetside stalls hawk Madeiran wine and plastic cups of beer.

The smoky tang of barbecued sardines hangs thick in the air. Portuguese is spoken everywhere. And everyone has a good time.

We checked it out first on Saturday night where the streets were thronged with middle-class teenage gangsters, their hair in cornrows, looking mean and telling each other that, ‘Yo dawg, this is, in fact, whack’.

Unfortunately for them, these spotty Tupac-wannabes weren’t old enough to drink, but we were, so we enjoyed the Massachusetts rarity of a few streetside beers before calling it a night.

Caitlin and Mitch munching churros

Caitlin and Mitch munching churros

getting up to get down

getting up to get down

Now street festivals are really designed to be enjoyed in the sun. So after our traditional Sunday breakfast of cucumber bloody marys, we hit The Ave again.

Grilled sardines hot off the bbq, cold cups of summer ale, fresh rolls filled with charred chorizo, hot sugary churros. That’s what I call a lunch.

guy was AMAZING

guy was AMAZING

There was all manner of entertainment too.

Some bloke was going nuts bashing out tribal beats on an assortment of upturned tubs. Kids in traditional costumes showed their dance moves.

We even found an amazing cathedral with a church-run ‘roulette’ table out front. God smiled on me and I won.

A good day.

one man who looks like he has just been born and another who was at the wrong national day??

one man who looks like he has just been born and another who was at the wrong national day??

church window detail

church window detail





S P A C I O U S N E S S

8 06 2009

I’ve shared a flat in London with six other people.
I’ve crouched down to shower in a bathroom built too close to the roof at my friend’s house in Clapham.
I was recently forced to tape rubber tubing across the five-foot doorways in our Spanish apartment after enduring repeated head wounds.
So I can only conclude there are too many people living in Europe and they are all very tiny people. (I know this isn’t true, but really, who’s designing this shit?)

 

Happily, not everyone lives like this.
My former rental in West Oz was a ramshackle federation home with 12ft ceilings, jarrah floors and fireplaces in every bedroom.
Needless to say, I loved that house, especially for the welcome sense of space when you arrived home to flop on a couch. And, yep, I thought that was an enjoyably huge place to live.

 
So nothing could prepare me for the sense of awe I felt when my buddy Nick unlocked the 3rd storey door to his New Bedford joint.
We had just passed shelves filled with antique clocks and a display of ancient cameras. “Cool foyer,” I thought. Nope, just the beginning.

 

camera porn

camera porn

 

Somehow, Nick has secured the rights to a soaring penthouse loft, the kind I imagined hip, overpaid graphic designers might frequent.
Fully furnished, the trappings include leather couches, a grand piano, four-poster beds, hardwood floors, a 15ft fireplace, antique lamps, a telescope(?!) and best of all, a wrought-iron spiral staircase to nowhere (they haven’t built the roof terrace yet…). 

An apartment I can stand tall in. About time.

new digs

new digs