Ansel Adams: “Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi,” Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1943
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi, Manzanar War Relocation Center, 1943. Photo by Ansel Adams.

Ansel Adams: “Dr. Nello Pace and monkey,” UC Berkeley, 1966
Dr. Nello Pace and monkey, December, 1966, UC Berkeley. Photo by Ansel Adams.

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Cigarette Card -- Camera

Photography. — Photography is permitted almost anywhere. No trouble will usually be experienced in changing plates at night, as most rooms have good shutters. A piece of non-actinic fabric and a few drawing pins will be found useful for covering the little window over the door by which a passage is often lit. Let me assure those unused to long tours with cameras in foreign countries, where they may never be again, that it is very easy to develop as one goes along. I carried half a dozen light unbreakable 7 1/2 by 5 dishes, two boxes of Anderssen’s eikonogen cartridges, a bag of hypo, a folding candle-lantern, a couple of wide-mouthed bottles, a bib, a duster, and a large piece of mackintosh to lay over the table. These reposed peacefully at the bottom of a strong leather box, in company with many dozen of Lumiere’s most rapid quarter plates and other trifles. I used one of Shew’s “Xit” quarter plate cameras, and carried two Goetz lenses, one of six, the other of four inch focus. The latter was invaluable for architecture and interiors. A swing back and rising front are necessary. An aluminum stand proved thoroughly unworkmanlike; it was on the bayonet principle, and as sure as one division declined to pull out, another would get jarred and refuse to go in. Finally pieces of the legs took to dropping off like a frost-bitten nose. I used a light folding wooden tripod the next time. An exposure of about the thirtieth of a second with F 16 is right for a general view of the exterior of a building well lit by the sun of Spain. On my last visit to Spain I used Imperial plates, developed them at home, and obtained very satisfactory results.

Cities and Sights of Spain: A Handbook for Tourists, by Mrs. Aubrey Le Blond, 1904


Keeping his mouth shut and working fast as he had learned to on this job, Prescott got the baby crawling on the dirt floor between pans set to catch the drip from the roof. He got the woman and Dago and the baby and two smaller children eating around the table whose one leg was a propped box. By backing into the lean-to, between two old iron bedsteads, and having Carol, Johnny, and Dago hold flashes in separate corners, he got the whole place, an orthodox FSA shot, Standard Poverty. That was what the Foundation expected. As always, the children cried when the flashes went off; as always he mollified them with the blown bulbs, little Easter eggs of shellacked glass. It was a dump, but nothing out of the ordinary, and he got no picture that excited him until he caught the woman nursing her baby on a box in the corner. The whole story was there in the protective stoop of her figure and the drained resignation of her face. She looked anciently tired; the baby’s chubby hand was clenched in the flesh of her breast.

From “Pop Goes the Alley Cat,” by Wallace Stegner


MoMA New Documents press release February 1967
From Page 1 of MoMA’s press release for “New Documents” exhibition of 1967

Though of course they wouldn’t have known it at the time, The Museum of Modern Art’s 1967 exhibition, New Documents, organized by John Szarkowski and featuring the work of Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, and Garry Winogrand, became one of a handful of truly landmark exhibitions in photography’s history.

And so it is with some measure of amusement that one notes the human frailty contained in this facsimile of the original press release for the show. With the typewriter just about clickety-clacking in our ear as we look at the Courier type, the after-the-fact insertion of the demonstrative pronoun “this” in fact demonstrates, by following the exception-that-proves-the-rule precept, the care with which these old documents were prepared, back in the day. One questions whether this sort of dodo markup will be understandable in another generation or two from now.

Allow me to use Stephen Shore to put a fine point to it:

There seems to be a greater freedom and lack of restraint. This is analogous to how word processing affects writing: one can put thoughts down in writing, even tangential thoughts, with a minimum of inner censorship, knowing that the piece can be edited later. The other side of this lack of restraint is greater indiscriminancy. Here’s a tautology: as one considers one’s pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures.

Stephen Shore quote from “A Conversation with Stephen Shore,” by Jörg Colberg, Popular Photography, September 24, 2007


Dutch Royal Mail Christmas Postage Stamp Sheet (Fireworks)
Christmas stamps produced for Royal TNT Post BV (The Netherlands)
Design: Eric Kessels/ KesselsKramer
Original photos: Kurt Easterwood

If you can read Dutch, you can read about the above Christmas stamp for the Dutch postal system, of which I had very little to do with other than to supply the photos, here. (A barely understandable machine translation is also available courtesy of Google Translate.)
What I do know is that there were 750,000 of these sheets printed (in Australia, no less), and that for the first time (for the Dutch postal system), the stamps include some sort of sweepstakes (you scratch off the grey part). I’m not sure how the stamps were received, though the blog post referenced above does give off a hint of controversy about the concept.

Erik Kessels of KesselsKramer, with 2007 Dutch Christmas stamps
Erik Kessels, flanked by two Dutch celebrities, showing off his Christmas stamp designs in Amsterdam

Also makes me wonder if the Dutch have discovered email yet. 750,000 sheets at 20 stamps per sheet comes to 15 million stamps. That’s almost one stamp per every man, woman and child in the Netherlands, and this was not the only Christmas stamp produced. Not that I’m complaining, mind you! But perhaps it’s appropriate there is a Japan element (albeit unstated) to these stamps, given that Japan has its own posting frenzy during the year-end holidays, when up to 4 billion (!) New Year’s cards will be sent at the end of this week.

To everyone reading, Season’s Greetings for 2007, wherever you may be.


“Masahiro” tofu from Otokomae Tofu company

Naoko asked me the other day, “Don’t you ever just want to blog something like ‘This is what I ate for dinner tonight.’ Why do you always have to write long posts?” Well, actually, no, I don’t want to make “Here’s tonights dinner!” posts with a crappy cellphone photo attached. For whatever reason, it seems that many Japanese blogs (meaning those written by Japanese) and Mixi diaries are like that. For the most part, I find them incredibly boring. (Sadly, the ones not like that take a lot of effort to read, through no fault of their own.)

So here’s what I ate for dinner, last night, with simulated crappy cellphone photo attached. マサヒロ (Masahiro) brand tofu from 男前豆腐店 (Otokomae Tofuten). Damn good tofu that my friend Quinlan has raved about previously. I ate it plain, with no soy sauce or condiments like grated ginger or bonito shavings, using a spoon. Just about makes a meal in itself. And you can’t deny that’s one cool label. It’s expensive, which means that the Minister of Finance stipulates it may only be eaten about twice a month!

With my wordy preamble, I realize I’ve pushed this post way past the rules that govern “tonight’s meal” posts. I’m verbose. I admit it.

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