A Place in the Sun, by John Humble
November 16, 2023
Permalink | Tags: Photography, Book Reports, Travel
There are times when I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.
One of those moments happened earlier this year. On a trip to Southern California my wife and I made this past spring, we spent a handful of nights in Santa Monica. Having decided to capture the whole trip entirely on film, I had my Nikon F with me as we strolled down the Third Street Prominade in downtown Santa Monica one afternoon. Suddenly a gentleman who was sitting on the prominade asked about my camera, and we struck up a conversation. After trading contact information, we parted ways.
That gentleman’s name was John Humble. I didn’t know it upon first meeting him, but after spending some time looking at his work through his website at johnhumble.com and his Getty Museum profile, I began to realize that I had just met someone who would become one of my most admired photographers.
Even though I haven’t totally detached myself from rendering my images in electronic form on a device screen, I’ve been warming to the value of having and looking at physically printed images. And perhaps the best way to appreciate those images is in a thoughtfully assembled and high-quality book. In many respects, as the truly good photographers will tell you, books are better investments than camera gear.
Having become familiar with his work, it became clear to me that a sampling of John Humble’s work deserved a place on my bookshelf.
A Place in the Sun (2007), the companion book to the Getty Museum exhibit of the same name, shows John Humble’s masterful ability to find beauty in settings that one might believe is completely devoid of it. He especially succeeds with locating people in the context of their surroundings. I also love his ability to draw out the simple yet striking beauty of the sweeping lines of freeway overpasses from the more human perspective of someone on the ground.
John Humble’s book became not only a valued part of my photography book collection but also a little reminder of the importance of good luck that sometimes happens when I’m out and about.
November 1, 2023
Permalink | Tags: Travel, Film Photography, Photography
On more than one road trip to Southern California, my wife and I have simply blown through Sacramento. But thanks to a conversation with a neighbor about, of all things, a movie—he had recently seen Oppenheimer in the IMAX theater there—we got put onto a train of thought that ultimately led us to reconsider a town that we had merely seen as a pit stop. Feeling the call of the open road, we decided to spend a few days exploring Sacramento.
We began the visit by doing a bit of hobby shopping. While my wife made a visit to a yarn shop in Midtown Sacramento, I strolled over to Mike’s Camera to pick up some film and to see if they would be willing to indulge my curiosity about a particular Canon full-frame mirrorless camera I’ve been ogling, the R8. I wanted to know what it felt like to bring the camera up to my eye and hold it in my hand, and I liked what I saw.
It also turns out they had a great selection of 35mm film in both color and black and white. While I stood there making my purchase selection, I observed a healthy amount of traffic at their film processing drop off and pick up counter. If there was any remaining doubt in my mind about whether film was alive or not, there was none after that.
I myself ended up with a fresh stock of ten rolls of film: a few rolls of Ilford Delta 100 to try out—I’ve never shot that film stock and am interested to try it out—and eight rolls of Ilford FP4 Plus, which I’ve grown to like more and more.
With our respective hobby shopping out of the way, my wife and I converged again and visited a number of sights.
Highlights included the California State Capitol, where we casually wandered around.
Seeing portraits of various governors of the nineteenth century on the ground floor, it occurred to me to hunt around for more recent ones. It didn’t take long to find them at the top of a stairwell. One pair of portraits, that of Ronald Reagan and of Jerry Brown, hung next to each other in stark contrast. Their stylistic differences clearly underscored the differences in their respective administrations.
We also visited the Crocker Art Museum. Both my wife and I are aficionados of modern art (she more than me), so we naturally gravitated to their more recent collection of art.
In a nutshell, we enjoyed browsing through their exhibits. But as far as art museums in mid-sized cities are concerned, nothing compares to the modern collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Another highlight was our visit to the Leland Stanford Mansion. Interior photography was unfortunately prohibited, but I did snap this photo of the striking contrast between the mansion amid the modern office buildings that surround it.
Having grown up in a Rust Belt town myself, maybe I have a soft spot for underdog cities. I get the feeling that Sacramento doesn’t get fair credit for what it offers especially given the fact that it sits in the shadow of the Bay Area. But I’m glad we made a point to visit Sacramento because we discovered a city with a ton to do and with a lot of interesting character.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
August 14, 2023
Permalink | Tags: Travel, Film Photography, Photography
With high temperatures forecasted to reach well into the 100s, it seemed like a good idea to go on a daytrip to see the redwoods on the far northern California coast. I shot the trip on the one and only remaining roll of Fuji-made Fujifilm Fujicolor 200 I had left from a three-pack I found at a local drug store some time ago.
It was still quite warm when we finally made it to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, unexpectedly so, in fact. I fumbled around with my Nikon FM10 camera for a good hour and a half or so. I swear it felt more like a half hour. The mosquitos were quite bad, again unexpectedly so. But it was nice to experience the sheer size of those trees in person.