".....and the beat goes on....more 15mm portraits of Al Kaplan by......."

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by al_kaplan|1, Aug 28, 2005.

  1. Hell Al, you'll be juggling the things next . . . (handy hint, don't forget to take the straps off). Have fun (oh you already were) Johnny.
  2. No.4, you look nearly undistorted, steady on!
  3. As usual I'm shooting normaly rated ISO 400 film, some Tri-X, some HP5 Plus, some Delta 400, in the Bessa L with the 15mm Heliar. The night shots were wide open at f/4.5. The one of me driving the truck? The truck wasn't moving and the camera was braced on the dash board at 1/2, maybe even a full second. The night shot at Starbucks was probably at 1/8 second with the camera braced against the window next to where I was sitting. I'm amazed at how flare free that lens can be even with light sources in the picture itself.

    There's a photo of my trying to shoot a shot with that "extra-long super telephoto" 40mm Summicron on my Leica CL. It's amazing how confining those compositions get to feeling when the brain is otherwise locked in 15mm mode! Do any of you experience that when shooting with just one lens for awhile? A difficulty in seeing what other lenses might be seeing?

    There are a couple of shots of James Mitchell with his Japanese girlfriend, all three of us squeezed into the two bucket seat cab of my Toyota Tacoma truck for a ride back to the hotel on South Beach. Next truck will have a bench seat like my last one!

    I frequently eat breakfast at the neighborhood Sunnyside Cafe, good ol' eggs, grits and sausage patties cooked southern style with subtle overtones of Hispanic spices. This place used to be a donut shop years ago where I hung out years ago there with Nathan Benn, former National Geographic photographer and recently retired head of the New York office of Magnum. I wish I had pix of him, Leica M2 (or Nikon F)in hand at some newsworthy event we both covered, but all I have is one of him holding my then infant daughter Elena back when Nathan was still in High school. A missed opportunity! You never know where success will strike!

    And of course my friend Mary on our weekly trip to the market. Some weeks she lets me take her twice. Oh thrill! James, next time you're in Miami do you want to take Mary to the grocery?

    Any comments or suggestions about the series is welcome. Thanks -Al
  4. Awful.

  5. I frequently eat breakfast at the neighborhood Sunnyside Cafe, good ol' eggs, grits...
    Thanks for the update, but these photos are still not very good.
  6. A while back I hoped to see your photos of rock stars, native americans, etc, but if these
    are indicative of the quality of your work, never mind. Some people may like them, but
    then millions of people eat at McDonalds every day.
  7. I'm with you on the bench seats, man.

    Buckets in a truck? No wonder the domestic auto industry is in trouble...
  8. I like the first one very much but not very much most of the rest. Maybe a tougher editing
    could improve the whole project. I've the feeling that I have seen most of this photographs
  9. That was a rather short break wasn't it now?
  10. Is that vehicle in motion Al?
  11. The first one is kind of interesting.
  12. Thanks Brad. Good to see that you're back on the forum again after your vacation. You're right, the photos aren't very good. That's why people here mostly seem to like them I suppose. Guess they don't share your sophisticated tastes.

    On the plus side they were taken on real traditional B&W film with a Leica thread mount lens on an LTM compatible camera. Sometimes I even stick that 15 on one of my M bodies. Isn't that what it's all about? How about posting some of your film based images taken with your Leicas or Leica compatible equipment, unless of course you have the new digital Bessa body, or perhaps maybe your wife let you spring for Leica's new digital back for your extensive R lens collection.
  13. None of the photos taken inside the truck were while the truck was in motion. It was either parked or stopped at a signal light.
  14. I find that in the end a constant beat gives me headache - perhaps a change of tune would alleviate this problem.
  15. That's why people here mostly seem to like them I suppose.
    Based on the greeat positive feedback, above?
  16. ...and the beat, beat, beating of the chest and the tooot, tooot, tooting of the horn...you
    selling these by the pound al? i'd like to place an order for a "i (heart) al kaplan" coffee mug
    and a "i (heart) al kaplan" whoopie cushion, cause this just ain't enough for me.
  17. James has a cute girlfriend and owns one of my prints too. Man
    that guy has good taste..
  18. Agree with Ray...
  19. "On the plus side they were taken on real traditional B&W film with a Leica thread mount lens
    on an LTM compatible camera. Sometimes I even stick that 15 on one of my M bodies. Isn't
    that what it's all about?"

    Not really - but, as Brad mentioned before, you keep beating that drum...
  20. Below is an email just in from Al. Kind of sad...
    On Aug 28, 2005, at 12:18 PM, PREACHERPOP42@aol.com wrote:
    Cool! Did you email all your friends or are you now posting under a bunch of accounts?
  21. r s

    r s

    #1 is good, I like it a lot actually. Dark and leaves some for the imagination and the odd angle adds something here as well.
    The other photos I feel I've seen before.
  22. Al, to clear it up, I'm Kei Nakamatsu and Brad's Brad. Haven't been contacted by Brad either.
  23. BTW, the 1st photo's interesting, but the others have passed the point of repetition...and
  24. Fun stuff, Al. Keeping going. James, nice girl. James, I'm sending
    you a CD of the shot I wanted to send you. Scanned off the negative,
    all work under my control.
  25. Al, Very glad that you have weathered the storm. This picture of Joan Baez appeared in the Times this week. Is the young photographer? in the centre foreground your good self?
  26. I enjoy looking at the super-wide pictures in the series. For one thing, I like the ordinary, day-in-a-life approach to the subject matter; in fact, I like the every-dayness of the pictures themselves. To tell the truth, these pictures interest me more than most of the high-impact, award-winning images in the "Top Photos" gallery. At the risk of seeming completely off my rocker, I would end by saying the pictures in the series seem artful, as in well-seen and well-crafted, to me. Besides, they're just pictures. What's the sweat?
  27. Al---It's all good---looks to me like you have an interesting life indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us and don't stop !!!!
  28. I respect the idea of a photographer wanting to show the world his image in situ. I personally wouldn't mind seeing one of these kinds of photos taken by every regular on this forum, just to get an idea of what they and their world are like.

    On the other hand, a series, especially a multi-installation series such as this, requires much more to be interesting. A series done over a long period of time, such as Family by Friedlander, or a series done in locations that tell an actual interesting story over a short period of time would be in my opinion more successful than multiple slapdash presentations of minimal coherance or relevance toward a specific goal (unless of course the goal is that which has been previously mentioned by other forumers).
  29. Ian, no, that's not me. I used to sport a liberal growth of hair on my upper lip in those days. I don't think I was ever photographed with Joan, or at least not that I was aware of.
  30. I'm not Brad, but I agree with him.
  31. I'm not Brad, and I'm not sure I agree with him. But the argument that an image shot with
    film on a Leica is inherently better than say a original digital capture - particularly when
    we're arguing about web-based images, seems to be stretching a bit. An image works or it
    doesn't - if it works, then I am perhaps interested in the technical details. If it doesn't, I've
    already wasted enough time.
    All that aside, I'm not sure any of the 15 mm self-portraits stand on their own - I would
    have to look again. But as a sweeping whole they border (to me) on the surreal -
    exhibiting an obsessive self-interest in the subject (which is good). But their strength
    doesn't arise primarily from technical details (other than the lens field of view and the B+W
    choice) but from the subject chosen and the compositions.
  32. jtk


    Al, you're the man. Time to bulldoze Mt Rushmore.

    Suggestion: earring.
  33. I still like it, Al. Everybody among the bored should kick his own butt and try to look better in similar situations and maybe we could have a peaceful egomaniac forum splitted.

    The series is at least pushing the Leica system. - I don't dare to pull out a huge SLR lens at McDonalds yet, while I'm having my solitary meal in the crowd. I'm waiting for my first results with that 14mm and believe I could learn from your project; the technique seems good for a few occasional shots once in a while. (If I sound OT: today a used CV 15mm went for 506.22 Euro on ebay.de - a bit out of my range at the moment) - I understand reasons of those who are bashing you, because the old ordinary stuff you posted came closer to pictures which the average guy would like to have taken. - I still like to thank you for teaching and inspiration.
  34. Both are respected artists. But a fan of either, coming across the other, might be disappointed. I think Al is not the Hieronymus Bosch of the self portrait, and if he had reported the Cantebury Tales, we would know nothing of the Miller, the Nun, or the Knight.
    Look at Robert Crumb, and you might see the photos of Al fall into place, and the big picture emerging. Al, Mr. Natural,...they don't think like the "rest of us". You can't look at Crumb asking Bosch questions. You gotta look at Crumb for Crumb.
    Then you find your answers. Some are trying to see Kerouac, some are trying to find Camus, at times, but you're digging with the wrong spoon. Try the Crumb Spoon. See what you come up with.
  35. The Great Henry Aaron hit a home run 755 times in his career, but failed to do so almost 12,000 times. John Szarkowski on Garry Winogrand.
  36. Thank you, Ray and even Brad. I still like these pics, because they are fun and done by a friend of mine telling his own kind of story.

    Al, do I get prints of those that I'm in? Or maybe just the second one. Also, I like the first one a lot.
  37. All along I have viewed Al Kaplan's super-wide angle series of pictures, as I do others' pictures on this site, as examples of another member's work. It's all amateur stuff to me--that is, pictures taken by those who take pictures because they enjoy taking pictures. I like pictures that stand on their own well enough; I also like series of pictures that accrue meaning as a series. Part of my enjoyment in viewing the development of this particular series of pictures arises from watching Kaplan's "juggling" of pictures, his adding one picture after another to the series, without dropping anything. As someone else said, Fun stuff.
  38. I mean the first overall pic--the dark one with the spidery hand on the truck's wheel.
  39. Another great set of shots Al. I really enjoy this series. Thanks for posting.
  40. First one scared me so badly I haven't yet worked up the courage to look at the rest.

    Kept seeing reruns of "KAPLARACNOPHOBIA."

    Gotta put an appropriate parental advisory on shots like that, Al.
  41. Actually, these images are a lot of fun. I find it highly interesting to see Al's life. Something that is unique and something that I have not seen elsewhere.

    As for those that bash the technical aspects, get a life, these are posted in fun for fun. Lighten up and enjoy.

    Al, keep up the fine work. I enjoy your images and postings.
  42. One more thing.....I would MUCH rather see these images of Al's that to read another inane and brain dead post regarding Bokeh.
  43. Any comments or suggestions about the series is welcome. Thanks -Al

    I don't know Al or Ray or Brad or Salome or anyone else. I've been looking at PN for a couple years and decided to get more involved, signing up, posting a few pics, rating pics, making comments, etc.

    "Any comments...welcome" wrote Al so I made a comment. Now, I personally don't care what tools are used when books get written, dances get choreographed, films-paintings- sculptures-photos-etc get made; I only care if the content and presentation touch me. These self-portraits bore me. I've looked at dozens poorly exposed/composed pics of Al doing, well, doing nothing and he asked for comments, so I said something. Big deal. Ya don wanna know, don ask. Ya only want praise and compliments, say so.

    I've gotten scores of emails thanking me for my comment above and dozens of requests for prints of pics in my portfolio. Please, fans, keep the RMB's coming cuz electrons ain't free.
  44. Man, I gotta get me one of those fifteens for my Bessa R.
  45. Al -- Your 15mm shots are tremendously enjoyable. Keep up the good work. Bob
  46. Look at Robert Crumb, and you might see the photos of Al fall into place, and the big picture emerging.
    Ms. Deux,
    Word on the street has it that even Mr. Crumb no longer partakes in expanding his vision through the use of pharmaceuticals. After reading what you had penned I might propose that you ponder the same. One has to look no further than Maxon too see where that path may lead.
    Your analogy of associating Mr. Crumb to Mr. Kaplan is entirely absurd and outlandish. A more accurate correlation could be illustrated as a creative genius and the village... well I presume that you know what I mean.
    If Mr. Kaplan's self portraits are genuinely imaginative and creative then we must identify any drunken frat boy to ever point a disposable camera in his own direction as such also.
  47. the first one is superb! keep shooting AL!
  48. The first one's good, the rest are, in someone else's words, shyte.
  49. Look at Robert Crumb, and you might see the photos of Al fall into place, and the big picture emerging.
    Robert Crumb no. Narcissus, yes.
  50. First and last ones do it for me.

    Edit, edit, edit.
  51. I really like the first one, too. It's the best, by far, of these 15mm self shots I've seen.
  52. "I think Al is not the Hieronymus Bosch of the self portrait,"

    I don't think Hieronymus Bosch was the Hieronymus Bosch of self portraits either. It's guessed he produced one in his life time. Were you thinking of someone else, or is this just more BS?
  53. Is it really so hard to see Al's sense of humor in putting himself in every frame? These aren't pictures of Al; these are pictures of scenes from everyday life, in which Al's omnipresent, omniscient yet distorted head is both part of the scene and a commentary on it.

    Sure, some shots in the series are better than others. The first shot in the present set -- Al the Spider -- may be the most interesting as an individual image, but it comes dangerously close to making Al himself the subject, and that is not what this series is really about.

    Huw, I think, hit the nail on the head: the least successful image is the one in which Al's Lincolnesque visage appears almost undistorted. Al is, of course, literally part of each picture, but on another level he is there to offer the viewer a vicarious second perspective into the scene, like the Notre Dame gargoyle in Cartier-Bresson's classic shot.

    Al, don't let the naysayers faze you. Geniuses have always been misunderstood. When your show opens at MoMA, I'll be there.
  54. Al, can I have a large print of the first shot?
  55. Travis, check your Email. I'm running a few days behind in the darkroom thanks to the storm but sure, I can make up a print for you.
  56. Try the Crumb Spoon. See what you come up with.
    No, you haven't sufficiently looked at Crumb then. Take another lesson. I know you're given to flowery language, Belle, but please do try to keep the hyberbole in check. Taking nothing away from Al's project, I can't begin to tell you how much your making this comparison disturbs me. So wrong. Just dead wrong. Obscene.
  57. "I've gotten scores of emails thanking me for my comment above and dozens of requests for prints of pics in my portfolio. Please, fans, keep the RMB's coming cuz electrons ain't free."

    Sorry to say, but the old adage that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. In all honesty your portraits are pretty pedestrian and boring.

    Glad to hear that business is booming and your prints are in such demand.

    Warmest regards,
  58. That quote in Jay's post above was from a post by Corre Foc, a new member who joined August 16th of this year, not something that I said. I'm happy that he's making so much money on his photos.
  59. Yes Al, I was referring to Corre.
  60. The first shot is the most "artistically" interesting, but in some ways does not fit into the series, which grows stronger as it increases in longevity. It's *too* artistic. But in it Al has made an image that should have pleased some of his critics.

    Why is it OK for Lee Friedlander to include himself in pix but not Al Kaplan, who has a more interesting face?

    As this series progresses it becomes more interesting to me. Also I think you are getting more comfortable with it.

    I thought Peter A's post above was a perfect dissection of the controversy.

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