Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photography costs!

[This was cross-posted to my Retiring out of America blog]

Yesterday evening I decided to make a few images of la tour Eiffel from out the front window doors.  This time I wanted to make some very high resolution photographs.  This involves taking multiple overlapping photographs of a scene and then stitching them together after the work is downloaded off the camera.

I set up the tripod and worked on the scene from around sunset until just after 2200h.

At 2230 the door bells rings.

Ancient Photographer (me): "Qui est-ce?"

La Police (the oldest of them): "La police."

Thinking as fast as I could about home invasion robberies and the likelihood that these aren't the police, I took a chance and opened the door.  I was greeted by three men in normal street clothes.  One showed me their badge and said...

LP:  "Vous prenez des photos, n'est pas?  Votre voisin nous téléphonons.  Vous avez une télescope, oui?"

100percent crop - la tour Eiffel

 Center section of la tour Eiffel - 100% crop

It turns out, someone across the street from us in the general direction of la tour was concerned I was taking their photo!

AP: "Non.  Je n'ai pas une télescope.  Mais, oui.  J'ai pris des photos.  Et, je ne m’intéresse pas de mes voisins.  Ce qui m’intéresse est la tour Eiffel."

If the man wanted to see a real telescope, I could have showed him a big brass monster that someone across the way keeps in their window.  No doubt for star gazing purposes.  Hah!

LP: "La tour Eiffel?"

AP: "Oui."

He then asked me to show some ID and show him the photos.  But I was a little peeved and asked about how they were clothed.

LP: "Vous n'avez pas de police dans les États-Unis?"

AP: [gestering to my clothing] "Pas comme ça!  Et, ce qui concerne votre identité..."

There must have been just the right tone inflection and indignation as the officer went on to explain they were from the Municipal Police and all they were going to do was go back to the caller and explain I wasn't taking a photo or acting as a "peeping Tom."  The other two police showed me their badges as well.

100percent crop - la tour Eiffel

 Near the very top of la tour Eiffel - 100% crop

About this time, Jude shows up at my elbow and peeks around me to have a look.  She, it turns out, was concerned about the same thing I was.  Home invasion.

AP: "Bouge pas!" [turning to get my passport and camera]

My wife locked the door behind me, but not before I heard the officer saying "... oh, rest assured, I'm not going anywhere..."  I knew I'd hit a cord, yet I had no idea if it was "good" or "bad".  AND having the door locked behind me must have really driven home a point.  Again, I'm still not sure which point that might have been.

la tour Eiffel ~ Creative Commons Licensed

 The Offending Photo at 1/4 resolution of the final result 
~ over 7500x17000 pixels ~

After showing my passport, giving our telephone number, and showing the officer the images of la tour, they bid us a "bon soir" and left.

Jude asked me "Did they really think you would be taking photos of someone in their apartment?  You should've told them "If the person who phoned you is so pretty that they need to be concerned about other people sneaking photos of them, you should have brought them with you so we could've had a look-see for ourselves.""

Funny thing was, while being indignant and trying hard not to be too condescending, I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Alas, my French language skills are several light-years away from that level of banter. Particularly with the "authorities".

Monday, May 14, 2012

Old stuff...

Here is an interesting bit of news.  An early prototype Leica just fetched 2.16MILLION Euros at a recent auction.  That's a far amount of money for something that used 35mm movie film stock.

I suppose I'm not sure how I feel about that amount of money changing hands for a prototype instrument.

Pitcher ~ tin type

 Vintage image?  Or not?  And does it matter which it is?

On the one hand, it could be viewed as an interesting bit of history.  If so, then it should be put in a museum somewhere.  On the other, it makes me wonder why anyone would feel this particularly instrument would be worth that kind of money.

The BBC article notes that "The prices such cameras fetch show the growing interest in early photographic materials."

If this were true, then why these small format cameras and not some of the potentially fascinating equipment from the mid-1800's?  After all, there was an incredible explosion of engineering creativity at the birth of photography.

Montmartre Cemetery

What was used to make this image? Does it matter?

I think of Petzval formula large format lenses.  They were mathematically designed to render out of focus areas of an image in very specific ways.  Few equivalents exist for small format cameras today.  And the lenses which do similar things to the Petzval likely achieve the effects quite by accident, not by design.

That is just a simple single example of something I feel could have incredible value at auction.  If only people understood what went into the making of very early photographic instrumentation.

Then I think about tools of creative expression.  Would this kind of money change hands if it were, say, one of Matisse's paint brushes or a have used glob of Rembrandt's paint?

I suppose the dictum is true: How we spend our money is a direct reflection of our values.

What is valuable in this?  This exercise is left to the reader to sort it out.