Michpics Rewind: Huron River Pinhole

Pinhole: Huron River by Matt Callow

A follower of the @michpics Twitter account recently shared a post from photographer Matt Callow (taken with a paint can) from way back in 2006. It was the last of a three part feature as part of our Michigan Photographer Profiles & I wanted to share it with you all:

Matt writes:

I made this photograph in December 2004, just a few months after I’d moved here to Ypsilanti. It’s a pinhole image of the Huron River running through Riverside Park in Ypsi, taken from the Tridge, the pedestrian walkway that runs under the Cross Street bridge.

I’d been working for science toy company in Ann Arbor, and one of the things we had kicking around in an old store cupboard was a pinhole camera made from a quart-sized paint can, a sample that had never been used. I ended up buying it and taking it home, and then promptly forgot all about it. It sat in my office for months, collecting dust, waiting quietly.

Winter in Michigan is a bittersweet season for photography. On the one hand, there’s some of the most beautiful light, spectacular weather and incredible skies, and those bleak, spare landscapes that I like so much. On the other hand, it’s cold and wet, you can go weeks without seeing the sun, and the simple act of taking a photo becomes an enormous challenge. One particularly miserable Michigan morning, with frozen rain lashing and the icy wind sweeping up the river, I was feeling the itch to go out and photograph. I didn’t want to risk taking a nice camera out into the weather, and one of my cheap plastic jobbies wouldn’t have been up to the low light levels. At that time, I didn’t really know anything about pinhole photography, but for some reason remembered the paint can camera and decided this would be a good time to try it out. I figured that it’s waterproof, and that the long exposure times would mean I could capture what little light there was. So I loaded it up with some expired Kodak paper I’d picked up cheap from the bargain bucket at the photo store, and set out for the park behind my house.

I had no real idea about pinhole exposure times, I just knew they were long. The instructions that came with the camera suggested three or four minutes for a cloudy day, and as it was so dark and gloomy I decided to add an extra minute for luck. I got the bridge, put the camera down on the rail, pointed it at the river, removed the “shutter”, and then stood around freezing in the stinging rain while the camera did its thing. Then I traipsed back home and cracked open the developer.

Nothing came out. Just a blank piece of underexposed paper. But instead of doing the sensible thing and giving up, I headed back out into the elements and had another go, this time with a longer exposure. A whole extra minute of standing there on a bridge, in the sleet, babysitting a paint can. But this time, sure enough, when I got back home and developed the paper, I came out with this image.

I was amazed. I wasn’t really expecting to get anything at all, never mind anything that looked so soft and beautiful and strange. Check out that glassy water! I loved it. And of course I was hooked. Since then I’ve taken many hundreds of pinhole photographs, with all sorts of cameras, some that I’ve made myself or hacked from other cameras, and many more with my trusty paint can. In fact I’ve become rather obsessed with pinhole photography, it can do that to you, you know. And even though I’ve made pinhole photographs that are far superior to this one – better technically and more interesting aesthetically – I’m still extremely fond of this photo, a little bit of unexpected magic that I managed to conjure up on a freezing December morning in Ypsilanti.


Also see…Michigan Photographers: Michpics Talks with Matt Callow (part I)Michigan Photographers: Matt Callow answers Reader Questions (part II)

And thanks to Matt for doing such a wonderful job as Michigan in Pictures’ first featured Michigan photographer!

Bumper to Bumper

Tailgating

Tailgating, photo by Michael Seabrook

“Just pay attention when you’re behind the wheel. If you can’t drag yourself away from your cell phone, just lock it in the trunk.”
~ Lt. Michael Shaw, Michigan State Police

Here’s hoping that everyone who’s traveling this weekend (that’s 1.2 million Michiganders) can practice safe driving this weekend. Labor Day is our deadliest holiday – pay attention and please don’t drink & drive.

Michael took this shot of Two P-51s and a Spitfire flying in formation at the 2015 Thunder Over Michigan Air Show in Ypsilanti. He says the perspective makes them look closer than they really are. View his photo bigger and see more in his Airshows slideshow.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

I Can’t Believe He Said That

Can’t Believe He Said That, photo from the Dusty Diary

Over on the Dusty Diary, Laura writes that she would pay good money to know what the remark was is this unknown portrait.

At first I thought this was a wedding portrait. Now I think this is a family. All the guys, with the possible exception of the guy on the left, share a facial resemblance. There is a familial informality in the manner in which two of the men are grasping the chair backs. I’m guessing the person who made the remark in question is the tall guy in the center. Also suspecting that remark in question was a bit naughty. Woman on left is married… to whom? One of these gentlemen?

Also, older woman’s face is probably the single most beautiful thing I’ve seen this past week.

Click through to see the photo bigger and some details shots of their faces and definitely tune into the Dusty Diary for regular gems that Laura finds in the Yspilanti archives!

I love Michigan in Pictures

Holga_04_15.jpg, photo by Andy Tanguay

I think that Michigan in Pictures is the best web site that I have ever been involved with. Then again, my response to “You’ve won a trip to Milan!” would probably be “Milan, Michigan?”

One of the happiest parts of my life is that I get to spend some time every day looking at photos about Michigan from some amazing photographers and then learning about the subjects of the photographs and often times the people behind the lens. I’m very grateful for all that the photographers and readers contribute to make Michigan in Pictures what it is. Thanks!

The random background of the day on my computer is this photo from Andy’s Hardcore 313 set. This picture is of an abandoned train station station in Ypsilanti. It might be the same Ypsilanti train station where Presidents Ulysses S. Grant & Martin Van Buren delivered speeches and where Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of President Garfield, was thrown off the train when the conductor found out he didn’t have a ticket.

Then again, it might be just an abandoned train station. You can view it bigger on white, or in Andy’s photostream.

Edit: Almost forgot! I did this post about Michigan in Pictures so I could link to it from the new Absolute Michigan group on Facebook.

Creating Cities in Michigan

Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Traverse City, Marquette and Kalamazoo are by no means all of Michigan’s cities (or even the largest). Each, however, seems to be an anchor for its region – a center to which people look to for culture, entertainment and commerce.

October 13-15, 2008, lovers of cities large & small from Michigan and all over the country will head to Detroit for the Creative Cities Summit 2.0 (CCS2), an exploration of what our cities could become and how we can work to make them. Organizers have chosen Detroit, a city so deeply forged in America’s industrial fires that it’s been devastated by the flickering of that flame. I’m headed down there and will try to bring some of the ideas back to you through Absolute Michigan – I hope that some of you can join me there.

The Photos (left to right)

Creative Cities Summit 2.0 in Detroit on Oct. 13-15, 2008

CCS2 will present a dynamic and engaging conversation about how communities around the world are integrating innovation, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, arts & culture and business to create vibrant economies. Full conference registration is $300 for the two and half day event, and there’s also a “no frills” registration that is only $100. There’s also a free “Unconference” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on the 12th for designers, urban planners, civic leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, students, community leaders to explore and discuss what’s possible for Detroit.
Keynote speakers include:

  • Bill Strickland, MCG-Bidwell Corp.
  • Richard Florida, Author Who’s Your City
  • Charles Landry, Author The Art of City Making
  • John Howkins, Author The Creative Economy
  • Dean Kamen, Inventor, DEKA
  • Majora Carter, Sustainable South Bronx
  • Doug Farr, Architect and Author Sustainable Urbanism
  • Ben Hecht, Pres. & CEO Living Cities
  • Tom Wujec, Fellow, Autodesk
  • Carol Coletta, CEOs for Cities
  • Giorgio Di Cicco, Poet Laureate, City of Toronto and Author, The Municipal Mind
  • Diana Lind, Editor, Next American City magazine

Breakout sessions on topics such as:

  • Race and the Creative City
  • Cities, Universities & Talent
  • Marketing, Media and the Creative City
  • Measuring New Things – ROI in the Creative Economy
  • Creative (Small) Cities
  • New Ideas in Urban Amenities
  • Community Vitality: The Role of Artists, Gays, Lesbians & Immigrants
  • Midwest Mega-region: How the Midwest Can Compete
  • Transportation Innovation for Cities
  • Making the Scene: Music & Economic Development

Much (much) more at creativecitiessummit.com.

Michigan March Madness: Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center

Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center

Convocation Center, photo courtesy Eastern Michigan University

From Wikipedia’s Eastern Michigan University entry I learned that the school was founded in Ypsilanti in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School, the first normal school created outside the original 13 colonies. It became the Michigan State Normal College in 1899, Eastern Michigan College in 1956 and ultimately Eastern Michigan University in 1959. In 1991, the school become one of the first to abandon a Native American mascot (the Hurons) for the current name of Eagles. In 1991, when EMU qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, announcer Brent Musburger referred to the team on-air as the “No-Names” and there is apparently still a campaign to restore the Huron. EMU is in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and:

Eastern’s men’s basketball team has appeared in four NCAA Division I tournaments, and have a 3-4 record, tied for third best among Michigan colleges. In the 1996 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Eastern Michigan defeated the Duke Blue Devils in the opening round; it would be the Blue Devils’ last first- or second-round defeat until 2007, when they were upended by VCU in the opening round.

EMU plays their games at Convocation Center, a nearly 205,000 sq ft structure that was completed in 1998. Here’s a photo of the arena dressed up for convocation. They don’t list what programs use the facility, but here’s a link to their women’s basketball (2008 MAC champions) and men’s basketball programs. Basketball Reference lists a number of notable EMU grads in the NBA including Earl Boynkins.

More Michpics Michigan March Madness.

Michigan Orchard in Snow

Michigan Orchard in Snow

Michigan Orchard in Snow, photo by coonjamm.

Today’s photo of a cherry orchard near near Paw Paw from February will hopefully remind those of us tempted to complain about the heat of other things we could complain about.

I’d also like to call attention to Van Buren County, Michigan our latest Michigan shoreline county article on Absolute Michigan.

Six Degrees from the Ypsilanti Farm Bureau

ypsi5.jpg

ypsi5.jpg, photo by mfophotos.

From the “It’s a small world but I wouldn’t want to paint it” department…

maproomsystems says:

So we’re walking along, and I see some dude taking a picture, and then I see it’s a polaroid, and so I say to my wife, “You know, I’d bet anything that that’s one of those krappy kamera people. When I get home, I’m going to do a flickr keyword search for Ypsilanti and I’ll bet that photo he’s taking will be posted.”

And lo and behold, I was right.

Ypsilanti Farm Bureau elevator and silos

This photo is part of Mark’s set of cool Polaroids, which includes another angle of the Ypsilanti Farm Bureau Grain & Feed towers.

On the subject of interconnectedness, check out what Kevin Bacon has to say about the concept of six degrees at sixdegrees.org.

Peninsular Paper Co.

Peninsular Paper Co.

Peninsular Paper Co., photo by argusmaniac.

On the Huron River in Ypsilanti.

Across the Tracks with Krappy Kameras

Across the Tracks

Across the Tracks, photo by anikarenina.

The Krappy Kamera Club has the goal of bringing together people with the love of Krappy Kameras in the greater Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Holga, Diana, Brownie – these are a few of their favorite things.

On a related note, KKC member and newspaper photographer Bill Bresler will present Plastic Fantastic: Toy Camera Photography in the Digital Age on Sunday October 22, 2006 at 2 PM at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing.