In the Place Where the Winds Rest | Shin Noguchi

Friends, today I (Amy Jasek) would like to present to you film photographer Shin Noguchi, who graciously agreed to share one of his projects with us. I have followed (been captivated by, and admired!) his work for a while on Instagram, and was particularly beguiled by the photographs he shared recently from some time spent in Hawaii. In my mind, having never been there myself, it is an island paradise punctuated by dangerous and fascinating volcanic activity. What I saw in Shin’s photographs was even better: a poignant reality, populated by interesting people. The icing on the cake for me, as a lover of words as well as images, is his expressive, evocative writing, which you can read below.

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In the Place Where the Winds Rest

I reached here again. When I was walking on this island, sometimes I met the wind resting without being tied to anyone, and without worrying about time. Additionally, I also met the “winds” who chose this island as their land of the end from where they were born and raised, such as England, Texas, New Jersey, Florida...

Cheerfulness, beauty, rest and quiet.. among with them, and political issues, poverty, persecution, discrimination, disparities.. that can never be separated from them, were also flowing on this island: the island of Oahu in Hawaii is known as "The Gathering Place.”

I will definitely come back here, in the place where the winds rest, and want to be close to them. As a person who came to this land before asking myself why.

Below is our interview, via email; words in bold are mine, Shin’s responses follow in plain type.

How did you get started with photography? Specifically, how did you get started with street photography?

I grew up surrounded by many arts, foreign movies, and Jazz and Rock music because of my parents’ influence, and I wanted to record it using something when I noticed that the extraordinary moments I saw in my childhood were existing in our daily life, our ordinary life. In my teens, my father gave me an old Fujica camera, and I would shoot, shoot, and shoot my own life and other people's lives. I really love the candid / unposed photographs of people from long ago. It has been around ten years since I came to focus more deeply on the concept of human beings / society, and now people call me a "street photographer" in this society.

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What do you enjoy most about street photography?

I think that street photography always projects the "truth". The "truth" that I talk about isn't necessarily what I can see, but what also exists in society, in the street, in people's lives. I always try to capture this reality beyond my own values and viewpoint / perspective, and I think, in addition to catching the truth, visual and emotional depth appears in the photographs as a result of being particular about the details. To shoot people with a camera is, for me, is like saying "hello". Sometime I use my mouth for it, sometime I use my eyes, and sometimes my camera, that's it. I just really enjoy "talking" or making conversation with people in the street, and if I use a camera for it, I always use the viewfinder; I never use hip-shots to hide myself.

Do you feel like your photography evolved in the time that passed between your trips to Hawaii? Did you find yourself looking at the place in a different way during your most recent trip, compared to when you visited in the past?

23 years ago, when I was 20 years old, I went there for the first time to visit my future wife, who was living and studying in university alone. I took some photos, but it was my first trip abroad and I could only record the superficial part of the land like other tourists. I really wanted to see and know what kind of life the locals were living, and I was able to visit there again in 2016 for the first time in 20 years. I enjoyed walking and shooting in the local streets better than last time, and this time, I tried to click the shutter by following the flow of the wind with which the locals were spending.

Why do you choose to use film?

I use Leica M6 and MP for personal work, and digital Leica M9-P for some assignments mainly. I really love the tone of the atmosphere that the film has over digital, especially Kodak Portra 400 that I have been using always. A digital sensor may be able to record almost every bit of information in the frame, but it can not capture an atmosphere, and I think the most important element in expressing human beings exists in this layer. In this layer that I call "the tone of the atmosphere," which also includes the photographer's own thoughts and process until clicking the shutter, that just existed before the photograph was born, and that arises from the fusion of "content" and "form".

Your family is obviously a big part of your life (I love the photographs of your daughters!). How do they feel about your photography?

While I'm scanning/editing photographs, my lovely three daughters watch and they give me some response, like "Dad I know this place!", "I was here when Dad captured this moment!", and they talk to each other about these moments. I think it's a very important thing / moment for the family to spend together, as well as making money to support my family, and I'm also trying to increase the time of parent-child communication through photography.

How great that they enjoy it so much! Do you ever let them borrow a camera to make pictures of their own?

If you’re asking “do you give your Leica to them when they want to use it to take pictures?” my answer is no, it’s too heavy for them, but don’t worry I give compact cameras to them, (not my smartphone!) and not just one: three cameras that I choose for each of them. I’m sure every father does this for their child; they choose amazing moments we never see with adult eyes.

Thank you so much for sharing your work and some of your story with us! I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you do next.


Connect

See more of Shin Noguchi’s work on his website (the full story on his experiences in Hawaii is here) , and on his Instagram. Also, be sure to check out Eyeshot Magazine; he is featured in the June issue! He is a member of the UP international photography collective. His new photobook will published this year in Italy, so be on the lookout for news about that as well.


Special K Pentax | Bill Smith

Everyone knows the Pentax K1000, a camera with a long history going from the mid 1970s until the end of the 1990s. We’re not talking about that. I want to show you three cameras in the Pentax line up though with a short history from 1975 to 1978: we’re talking about the KM, KX, and K2. Three cameras people don’t look at as much but they should, K1000’s are getting silly expensive for what they are, and as my local camera pusher coins run into the dirt like a Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser turned taxi cab. Before we get there, we’ve got to talk a bit about the K mount.

By the late 1960s, Asahi Pentax was selling cargo ship loads of Spotmatics and M-42 Takumar lenses to the world, but the lens mount was getting long in the tooth since competitors went to breech lock (Canon) and bayonet mount (Nikon and Minolta). Another Camera manufacturer, Germany’s Zeiss Ikon, was looking for a design and manufacturing partner; a collaboration on the K-mount was struck with Asahi Optical. In a parallel universe somewhere there would be K mount bodies looking like the Pentax KM/KX/K2 with either the Zeiss Ikon or Contax brand name on them. That didn’t happen; by 1975 Zeiss Ikon made the decision to leave the camera manufacturing business just to focus on optics. Asahi Pentax was left with a new lens mount and they decided to make it open source so companies like Chinon and Ricoh could piggy back on. The K mount is still used today by Pentax in their line of DSLRs.

The Pentax KM, KX and K2 were a continuation and improvement of the Spotmatic and the Spotmatic ESII. Cosmetically at a distance, if you squint a bit, they look the same, the ergonomic layouts are similar. All of them take 1.5v SR44/Energizer 357 batteries which are super easy to find.

Let’s start with the KM, it was the entry level model, note the K1000 didn’t arrive until a year later as the student and budget special. The KM is for all intents and purposes a Spotmatic F with open aperture metering (the lens hood is the on/off switch) minus the shutter lock and of course with the K mount. If you look through the prism, you’re met with the same meter reading as Spotmatic F or the K1000. This is a fun camera to use, pretty low tech and light years ahead, and ironically cheaper than the K1000.

Stepping up to a new level, the KX had an upgraded light meter you can turn on and off just like a Nikon FM or FE with the film advance meter. The Meter read out is just like the Nikon FE and Nikkormat EL. One more added feature was an aperture readout in the viewfinder just like Nikon Ai cameras released a few short years later. Pentax got it right with this camera. If you are looking for the best of all possible worlds, I would just say get KX, or two (one for colour the other for black and white) and be done with it.

The top of the line K2 is altogether a different animal. Unlike the KM and KX, it had a vertical electronically controlled copal shutter with a flash sync of 1/125, it has the same meter display as the KX along with the on/off switch being the film advance lever. The K2 is light years ahead of the ESII with full manual control of all speeds from B to 1/1000 when you’re not in aperture priority mode. Two years into the product cycle Pentax introduced the K2DMD which had a motor drive and was positioned for advanced and professional shooters. The K2DMD was made to about 1980, ultimately being replaced by the LX. The one achilles heal for this camera, aside from the electronics being over 40 years old, is the film speed and exposure compensation being on the lens mount: they can get pretty stiff over time and can be a be a fingernail breaking exercise if you’re not careful.

All three cameras were discontinued in late 1977/early1978 to be replaced by the super compact MX and ME(Super); the K2DMD soldiered on for two more years. The K1000 outlived them all by having its production moved to Hong Kong and later mainland China.

The KM/KX/K2 are fun to shoot with, adhering to Asahi Pentax’s “Just Hold One” branding. If you want the K1000 experience but want depth of preview, mirror lock up, and a self timer, the KM is your camera. The KX is the big step up, and the one I recommend if you want the upgraded meter, but are leery of the K2’s electronics.

Now the K2 is an interesting camera. In fact, if you don’t have the budget for an LX, I would take a good long look at this one. Yes the electronics are up there in age, but they are light years ahead of the Electro Spotmatics which are by and large paperweights now. The K2DMD is fetching K1000 prices as it is a sought after camera and the last from the Spotmatic design ethos from a decade before, and it had a motor drive.

Budget wise all three bodies can be found at camera shows for around $100 US or CAD. I would budget money for a CLA, especially for the K2. As mentioned above, the K2DMD is worth a lot more, in some cases between $200 to $300. Make sure the motor drive works.

Now we talked about the camera bodies so much: the SMC Pentax K and SMC Pentax M K mount lenses are just as much amazing glass as the Super (Multi Coated) Takumars. The SMC Pentax K mount lenses were produced between 1975 and 1978, and were 52mm diameter for lens filter and hoods. The SMC Pentax M lenses were launched the same time as the MX and ME(Super), had a 49mm diameter, and are more plentiful out there in the second hand market due to the longer production run. As for what’s best, my recommendation is read the Pentax Forums reviews. Let’s just say the fans are very detailed in their reviews for OEM and aftermarket lenses and you won’t be steered wrong.

So there you have it, an introduction to what I call the Special K Pentax line up: a trio of below the radar SLRs only made for a few short years that were overshadowed by the budget model.


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Bill Smith, an Ontario-based film photographer, specializes in landscape, street, architecture and portraiture. Follow Bill on Twitter or Instagram.

Austin, TX Photowalk | Katie Mollon, Chris Ullrich, Amy Jasek

Several weeks ago, three of us were able to get together for a film photowalk in Austin, TX. These sorts of things are often discussed but rarely take place; however, on this occasion we had the special treat of a fellow FSC member in town for a visit, and everything came together just right! Here are some of our favorite photographs from that day.

Katie Mollon

I'm so happy that Amy wanted to organize an FSC walk in Austin when I told her that I would be in town. For the few days leading up to our event, I had been bumming around downtown while my husband attended SXSW. While the people-watching was fun in the city, the monotony of modern business buildings had me itching for new scenery. I felt inspired by the energy of South Congress: the neighborhood that Amy selected for our walk. The first thing I saw upon exiting my Lyft was an outdoor artist market, and knew I was amongst my kind.

We met up at Jo's Coffee stand, which itself was visually unique. That Saturday was particularly perfect weather: people were out in droves. I'm normally very shy about photographing people, but it becomes much easier in large public crowds. Chris, Amy, and I slowly made our way down the street past the colorful boutique shops and restaurants with outdoor patios. I was drawn to all of the Texas iconography: cactuses, cowboy boots, and long-horn skulls. However, I announced, my photograph of a scooter in front of Willie Nelson truly summarized my SXSW experience of Austin.

I packed my three easiest “point and shoot” cameras for the trip: a classic Holga, a Plastic Filmtastic Debonair, and a Yashica T4 Super. I like variety, so I loaded the Holga with Ilford FP4, the Debonair with Lomography 800 (the faster the better with plastic cameras), and the T4 with Psychedelic Blues #4. I was using the T4 for a lot of my downtown snaps, so I mainly focused on the first two cameras for this walk. I love alternating between double-exposures and singles. Some subjects beg to be layered, while others you don't want to lose in the details.

Chris Ullrich

South Congress Photowalk with the Nikon L35AF

I’ve been making photographs for a long time and part of the fun, especially when shooting film, has always been trying out different cameras. I have my favorites, of course (the Leica M6 and Nikon FM2n chief among them), but this time around I was toting a pair of Nikon L35AF point-and-shoots I had picked up on eBay for about 20 bucks each. One was loaded with Tri-X and the other Fuji Superia. Each was rated at box speed (ISO 400 in both cases).

I don’t typically use a point-and-shoot because I like having total control over exposure and focus, and I had never used the Nikon L35AF before at all, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d read a few reviews and knew the camera had worked well for other photographers, so I was pretty sure I’d be able to make some acceptable photographs with them.

Turns out, I was correct. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the Nikon L35AF was to shoot with. It pretty much nailed exposure and focus on every frame, even in some difficult high-contrast situations, and the images scanned well, requiring very little to no adjustment in Lightroom.

All in all, I had a very good experience with these cameras and plan on using one again very soon. In fact, I may just keep one in my bag all the time, just in case.

Amy Jasek

I was lucky enough to get to photowalk with Katie two days in a row, so I’ve included a photograph from the day before in East Austin as well (it’s the first one). I had my Hasselblad 500 c/m and Nikon F with me, both loaded with Tri-X.


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See more of Katie, Chris, and Amy’s work on their Instagrams!