Archive for the ‘Cameras’ Category

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

We’re still deciding exactly when and where to do our official honeymoon, but the day after we got married Hurly and I headed to Palm Springs for a four day pre-honeymoon – or “honey’muse-bouche” as I dumbly dubbed it.


Most people want to visit certain countries or celebrated cities. Part of me does too, but more and more my soul is centered around wanting to stay in certain hotels. We chose Palm Springs for a number of reasons, the main one being it’s where the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is located.


Built as a Howard Johnson’s in the 1960s, the complex remains true to its roadside motel roots. It’s the majorly stoned site of the next five Lana Del Rey videos, the cinder-blocked setting of that sweat-stained Matthew McConaughey movie you never got around to seeing cause it never got around to being made.


Being an Ace, I knew it’d be hip. But having never stayed at an Ace, I didn’t know if it’d be dickish and douchey.


We arrived on site a few hours before our room was ready, so we headed to the hotel’s re-did restaurant, King’s Highway, for a lazy lunch. Originally a Denny’s, the restaurant has maintained its diner-style counters with swiveling stools, refrigerated dessert case, and breakfast-all-day menu.


The food as well nods to the site’s greasy spoon past but updates it with a Californi’organic twist. Fish tacos, kale and date salads. Sunshiny stuff like that. They had something called Jamaica Pie which was key lime with hibiscus and worth a try just for its name alone.


They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it must be true, because after two bites of Jamaica pie I was in full-on crush mode for King’s Highway and falling hard for The Ace all around.


We’d reserved a honeymoon-worthy suite. It was big, but the little things made the biggest impression on me like the Red Nosed Reindeer double bulbed sconces over the bed…


And the happy bag of Have’A corn chips stocked in our mini bar.


After we got settled in our room we explored the grounds, armed with no less than three cameras with which to mount the first of our many Married-Men photoshoots.




Our suite had two patios. The larger one had a citrus tree growing over the wall…


And a fireplace I’d enjoy each morning while waiting (and waiting and waiting) semi-patiently for Hurly to eventually wake up.


One day we hit the Feel Good Spa. I considered a hippie-dippy spirit cleanse involving crystals, but went for a clay wrap instead. It basically felt like getting massaged by melting butter and some warm maple syrup and there ain’t nothing not delicious about how that feels.


The Amigo Room, the hotel’s dark and divey bar regularly books live musical acts.


Hurly and I stayed up way past my bedtime our last night at The Ace to check out some cigarette-jeaned band that was scheduled to go on at 10. While they set up their instruments I stayed busy by super-modeling mob-boss style.


I’m usually ready to head back home after a vacation winds down but leaving The Ace was absolutely awful. It wasn’t the least bit dickish or douchey. Every staff member was warm and normal, not icy or intimidating. Every sign, and sofa, and song, and french fry, and bathrobe, and cactus at the complex was perfect and magical.


It’s bar none my favorite hotel I’ve ever been to. And it doesn’t make tons of sense to go back to it right away, instead of finally going to Japan or seeing what Africa is like or visiting the town they filmed Twin Peaks in, but I mostly don’t care.

I just wanna go back to The Ace, ASAP.

Forget Tomorrow: Fuji’s XF1

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

It’s been a great while since I’ve pined for or posted about a camera. I’m not even positive that now is an appropriate time.

It’s possibly super inappropriate because…I already have two Canon digital cameras circa 2010, and Hurly has a digital SLR, and I shoot on 35mm film when I can handle the hassle, and everyone ‘n I just shoots everything on their phone these days anyways, and most of all: What does it matter what one shoots an image with today when the image can, and certainly will, be Instagrammed into faux importance anyways?

But here’s why it might be a completely appropriate time for me to pine for another camera. This Fuji XF1 exists.

And it looks exactly what everything should look like: Today making out with Yesterday, on a train, in a tunnel.

And, I don’t like my two newer Canon cameras and sorta never have. Neither of them takes photos as reliable or well as the older, more archaic Canon PowerShot A530 I had back in 2005 (oh, how its images glowed!) or the Nikon Coolpix 3100 I had in 2003. The flash on my newer Canons are always out of control, yet the images too dark. The colors always Kermit-y and sickly.

So…Is now an appropriate time to pick up a new camera? Maybe not.

But in a post-invention-of-the-iPhone world, it might not ever again be an appropriate time to pick up a new/actual camera. That’s what Today making out with Tomorrow would look like, and it’s icky and it’s ugly.

And Yesterday and I can’t sit back and let life look like that.

A Downside to Upgrading?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Next week I’m eligible to upgrade my phone, which I’m only partially excited about because the subpar camera on my iPhone 3GS has taken some really above-par images the past year that it’s been stashed in my pocket. The fuzzed up photos it captures I’ve found to be rather dreamy and almost Polaroid-like. (With or without post-effects apps.)

I’m crossing my fingers that the three extra megapixels, better optics, and built-in flash that’ll be heading into my hand next week won’t perfect away all the awesome imperfections I’ve gotten so used to.

Because I don’t really want to document my daily life in crisp, accurate reality. I want to keep capturing it abstracted and veiled, like it all took place 25-extra years ago on the sets of strange Sissy Spacek movies.

Speaking of which, I now present a series of never-before-seen images from the past seventeen months, taken and never Tweeted while on the sets of strange Sissy Spacek movies while I lazily lived my life.

Goodbye, ol’ phone!

A Life in Miniature

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

In prepping for Paris, I could (after four years) no longer postpone purchasing a new and perfect digital camera. I had been eyeing the hunky chunky Canon G10’s and G11’s for over a year, but at almost $500, until they shoot HD Video, I figured I should hold out. I also considered the Canon S90 with a ring around the lense the user can assign to adjust either exposure, ISO, or focus – but after finally trying one out this past weekend, the ring seemed clicky, clunky and surprisingly inconvenient.

I ended up opting for a camera that wasn’t really ever on my radar screen – the Canon SD1400, and here is why:


First off, it’s awesomely pocketable. There’s already a D-SLR in my house, so it’s nice to have something on the way other end of the size spectrum.


Initially I thought it was almost too small, but after firing some test shots in the store, I noticed that when the flash fired, it didn’t fry out the image into white, hot, horribleness. The camera automatically dials down the force of the flash, depending on the shooting conditions, to ensure un-ugly images. The camera was tiny, but it was proving to be quite quick and ultra clever.


At 14 megapixels and $279 dollars, while still at the store, I went online quickly to see if there were similar Canon models with less pixels and for less pennies, and of course there were. But those models didn’t have my new favorite shooting mode/effect: Miniature.


Used to replicate the Photoshop tilt/shift effect that transforms ordinary cityscapes into seemingly scaled-down miniature sets from movies, applying this shooting mode isn’t just awesome for wide, outdoor shots of streets and oak trees.


It’s just as enchanting using indoors and close-up, for mega-macro close-ups or almost Holga-like abstractions of ordinary, straight-on set-ups. (You might need to click and enlarge the images to properly witness the full miniature effect.)


So with a D-SLR, my Lomo LC-A, and my new pocket-powerhouse SD1400 from Canon set for departure, I’ll be able to obnoxiously over-photograph every pastry, peony and park bench I come upon in Paris.

The Lap of Luxury

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I wasn’t kind to this little camera when it first presented itself to me.


First off, I scorned its lack of a built-in flash, and being that it arrived without a manual no matter which golden dial I turned or tweaked, I couldn’t even open the blasted thing to load a test roll of film.


The device was demoted unceremoniously to knick-knack status, but since then, it’s become one of my favorite objets décoratifs. Like an opulent little czar it roosts regally near my front door illiciting wide-eyed oohs and ahhs from nearly all who enter.


I tried today once again to unlock its mystifying film chamber but still it refused to budge. I no longer curse its opulent uselessness, however. I’ve plenty of plain and plasticky cameras to get, you know…productive with. My snaky little Leica deserves to just sit about in lazy, good-looking luxury and otherwise not do a thing.

Fair Play

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

This weekend I developed a roll of 35 mm film and found some pre-Labor Day photos I’d taken with my Lomo LC-A, including images of my first (of two) visits to the Minnesota State Fair.


One of my favorite places at the fair is the Agriculture building. The first reason is that the signage and the restrooms are all as they were 50 years ago.


The second reason is the gradient jars of ribbon-winning honeys.


I only rode one midway ride this year, and it wasn’t the Kamikaze – but its red, white, and blue flashing lights were a joyride of their own.


An unremarkable rabbit who did nothing to warrant being photographed.


The view from our sunset SkyRide. Half the fun is waiting in line and hoping you get assigned your favorite gondola color. (Faded Retro Turquoise. But I think we got stuck with Boring Grass Green.)

Canon PowerShot D10

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I spent my arctic childhood winters taking indoor swimming lessons at the local YMCA. I graduated from the Minnows class all the way up through Porpoise, five or six years later, and still love to just float at the bottom of a swimming pool as if its my home.

I haven’t known how to feel toward digital still cameras that shoot video, even HD video, and list the feature as a wonderful perk. How does the quality and the control compare to shooting with an actual video camera? It’s just never seemed worth getting excited about.


But the new-ish Canon PowerShot D10 shoots stills and video (muffled pre-shark-attack air bubbling audio included) under water! For around three $100 bills. Now that’s something I can dive into.

It’s not possible to go swimming without a silly smile swerving around your face, and it’d be impossible not to watch back the footage from a fish eye’s view without that stupid smile showing up again.

Here’s one lucky D10 owner’s recent aquatic clip. (Almost looks like Super8 or something!) YouTube has plenty more splashy video blasts. Just search for Canon D10.

Tomorrow: The Olympus EP-1

Monday, June 15th, 2009

The EP-1, a revised version of the tan ‘n glam Micro Four Thirds camera I featured in one of my very first Treasury entries will be officially announced to the hungry world tomorrow.


‘Til then, marvel at its nifty, neutralized color palette, and contemplate its rumored $900 price tag.

Fragile Film – Lomo Follow Up

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

My Lomo film camera’s been pretty reliable so far. This fuzzy photo taken sometime this winter is the sole exception.


The streaky peach stripe wasn’t invited but now that it’s here, it’s not entirely unwelcome.

Russian Camera Road-Tested

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Nearly two months later, I’ve finally developed the first film I shot with my Christmas present to myself, a Lomo LC-A camera.

I asked the lab not to color-correct my images, since Lomo cameras are known to produce ultra-saturated, barely realistic colors. The man behind the counter said a certain amount of correcting was mandatory based on the processing machines of today (Rats!) but beyond that he said the technicians would let things alone.

I’m curious as to what would have happened had I let them correct the color as they saw fit. The images I got back were specifically un-saturated and a little pink. But they were dreamy and aged like I’d hoped for, so I’ll experiment some more before I lay down my final verdict. For now, I’m optimistic.

From my trip to Florida to visit my family:


The Colony Plaza is where the men behind Disney World stayed when the theme park was first being built. It was the only adequate hotel around there at that time, before Orlando exploded into the tourist trap it soon became. The Plaza had been slated to be torn down recently, it’s abandoned and the windows are blown open, mattresses and TVs litter the parking lot. But three years after I first fell in love with it, it’s still there, and I hope it always will be.


Given that I grew up in the cold north, anything southern, especially edibles like fried chicken and cheap waffles, I find to be fully fascinating.

Back at home, this image is more what I’m used to:


Knee-deep snow, and a dwarfy dog who’s good at tricks and bad at behaving.

Photo Booth Bonanza

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Even the most camera-shy curmudgeon bursts into a happy little ham behind the magical curtains of an old-fashioned photo booth. A charity event this weekend at which I made an appearance offered free sessions inside just such a booth. Better yet, hardly anyone else in attendance had time to care, which meant I was free to strike poses endlessly!


I’d liken the dream-like level of my joy to rummaging through a bottomless Christmas stocking. To temper my giddy glee, the sobering challenge I soon assigned myself was to produce a strip in which I could tolerate how I looked in all quadrants of the photos.


I never quite achieved that, but here are the final four contenders. (I’m almost ashamed to say there’s fifteen more strips where these came from…)

Future Treasure: Four Thirds Camera

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

I don’t know how in-the-know others ’round here are about digital camera technology. Apparently, there’s a new category of devices called Micro Four Thirds cameras which are rolling out right about now. Due to a brand new optical set-up these groovy gadgets offer the fancy clarity and depth of a digital SLR camera, but in the pocket-able form factor of a simpler point-and-shoot. (Plus interchangeable lenses.)


I’ve had two digital cameras in my life. A 3.2 megapixel Nikon which I loved right away, and when it broke, a 5.2 megapixel Canon which I never-ever loved. I’ve been patiently awaiting a justifiable opportunity to upgrade and…

I’ve got high hopes for this Olympus Micro Four-Thirds model which was revealed as a prototype last fall and which insiders are buzzing might be released next month. I’m thinking it might do just the trick for me. Luxe in leather…yes please!

Less hack-job-y info on the Four Thirds breakthrough here and then here and also here.