There Is No Cat

We apologize for the inconvenience

Thursday, December 10, 2015

52@52 Week 19

I was kind of surprised to get this photo at all. By Wednesday night this week, I hadn't shot a single frame of film all week, despite having gotten our Rolleiflex fixed last Saturday at the estimable Kri-Mar Photo of Elmwood Park, NJ. I just hadn’t felt inspired. So when I got home last night, I figured I would use my last shot of New55 P/N and see what came out. I have been enjoying the explosion of craft breweries in New Jersey in recent years, and go most weekends to one of our local breweries and bring home a growler of their finest. Last weekend I stopped by Kane Brewing and got a growler of their Solitude, a wonderful Belgian Dark Strong Ale. I typically take pictures of my beers inside a Foldio2 light box and post them on Untappd, the beer-oriented social network. Since it’s December and it is no longer light out when I get home from work, I figured maybe I would be able to use the Foldio2 and set up a still life shot.

A glass of beer

This is what I got.

But that’s not why I was surprised to get this. One thing I’ve found with the New55 film is that I get a high failure rate. Sometimes that’s because I haven’t been careful; I’ve learned to measure twice and cut once, which is a good idea when you’re shooting large format film in any case, but doubly so with this film. Sometimes it’s more down to the way the packets are put together. I can’t say for sure if this particular shot had an issue, but when I went to pull out the dark slide, it came all the way out, and I couldn’t push it back in once I had taken the shot. When this has happened before, I’ve given up on that shot and tried again. But this was my last frame of this film (until I get some more, anyway), and it was close to my self-imposed weekly deadline and I didn’t see an easy way to get my shot for this week otherwise. So I took the camera and holder into a dark room, the one I usually load film in, and half dismantled my Polaroid 545i holder to get the film out without cracking open the developer pods. Then I tried to reassemble the packet, put it back in the holder, and pull it out in the usual way and develop the film and print.

It half worked. I made a small mistake when putting the packet back together such that the negative was pressed up against the backing of the print paper, which is silvery and shiny, and not up against the photosensitive side, which is white. Needless to say, I was putting this back together in the dark and without the infrared cameras they New55 people use when they assemble these to start with. So I didn’t get a print. But the negative worked.

I shot this again with the Calumet CC-401 4×5 and Schneider-Kreuznach Symmar-S 210mm f/5.6 lens, extended on the monorail to get the close focus required for this shot. This is when I’m glad I got the CC-401 with its 22 inch monorail instead of the CC-400 with its shorter monorail. I stopped the lens down to f/8 and set the shutter to 1/15 second, which seems to have been right for exposing this shot at ISO 100. Still waiting for my Intrepid, which should ship next week, and my Wanderlust Travelwide, which should ship at some point in the indeterminate future.

Two friends of mine posted this link about the National Park Service looking to hire a large format photographer to my Facebook wall. I commented on the first that I would have to be a much better photographer to even consider the job. On the second share, I commented that I had made the mistake of turning a hobby into a profession once already, and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly interesting about this photograph of a glass of beer. It doesn’t illuminate anything about the beer or its surroundings. It doesn’t say anything about, well, much of anything. It’s a glass of beer. Someone posted something on the Large Format Photography group on Facebook a couple of weeks ago about how everyone writes about what camera they used, and what lens they used, and what film they used, but they’re not addressing their motivation, or what they’re trying to say with the photographs. Guilty as charged. My motivation was desperation to come up with a usable shot for this project using the subjects I had at my disposal. And since I’m not Edward Weston and this isn’t a pepper, what you get is a boring shot of some beer. It’s a really good beer, mind you, but just some beer, and not one that you’ll probably ever get to try unless you visit the brewery on the Jersey Shore.

And that’s why I wouldn’t even consider applying for that job with the National Park Service.

I find it interesting that such a dark beer came out so light in this photo. But that’s a technical consideration, not anything about the composition or about what I’m trying to say with this photo.

I’m not sure why I photograph any more. I just keep doing it, trying to figure that out. I don’t feel like I’m getting better as a photographer by doing this project. If anything, it’s the opposite. Maybe I should just take a page from Gary Winogrand, who said that he photographed to see what things looked like photographed. This is what a dark Belgian Strong Ale looks like photographed. Maybe that’s enough.

Posted at 3:56 AM


Note: I’m tired of clearing the spam from my comments, so comments are no longer accepted.


This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


This site is powered by Missouri. Show me!

Valid XHTML 1.0!

Valid CSS!

XML RSS feed

Read Me via Atom

new host


Home Page
Flickr Photostream
Instagram Archive
Twitter Archive

There Is No Cat is a photo Ralph Brandi joint.



Family Blogs

Jersey Girl Dance
Mime Is Money

Blogs I Read

2020 Hindsight
Apartment Therapy
Assorted Nonsense
Backup Brain
Chocolate and Vodka
Creative Tech Writer
Critical Distance
Daily Kos
Dan Misener likes the radio
Daring Fireball
Design Your Life
Doc Searls
Edith Frost
Elegant Hack
Emergency Weblog
Empty Bottle
Five Acres with a View
Flashes of Panic
Future of Radio
Groundhog Day
Hello Mary Lu
Jeffrey Zeldman Presents
Jersey Beat
John Gushue ... Dot Dot Dot
john peel every day
JOHO The Blog
Kathryn Cramer
Kimberly Blessing
La Emisora de la Revolucion
mr. nice guy
oz: the blog of glenda sims
Pinkie Style
Pinkie Style Photos
Pop Culture Junk Mail
Seaweed Chronicles
Shortwave Music
Talking Points Memo
The Unheard Word
Tom Sundstrom -
WFMU's Beware of the Blog