The History of Photography: 2000

by Matthew Cole
1999 The 2000s 2001

Seek Solitude and Quiet
Seek Solitude and Quiet: Especially when playing golf. Here Henry, in his first round of golf ever, considers which of his three clubs (3 Wood, 9 Iron, Putter) to use on the ninth hole of the Fort Snelling course right next to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport as a Northwest plane climbs out. Yashica T4, Carl Zeiss 35 f/3.5, whatever film was on sale at Target

The year was spent getting used to the Contax G2 and its quirks. One interesting sidelight was testing the lightning detector, a device designed by the ever-inventive Dave Dahms last year. We both built one just in time for the 1999 severe weather season to end and so were looking forward to bad weather this year. These devices, made to fire the camera when lightning occurs, are to take pictures of lightning in daylight, otherwise a tough trick to pull off. Unfortunately, they instead became known as Lightning Preventors, working nearly faultlessly to divert storms elsewhere, contain lightning bolts and break whole weather fronts into isolated cells. At one point I set up to get lightning by the cathedral in St. Paul as storms were moving in rapidly from the south. Here I discovered that flashing police car lights will trigger the camera. I also found that the single 9 volt detector stopped the front cold and the stalled cells dropped 12 inches of rain on parts of Eagan, 10 miles south, flooding lots of homes. Sorry!

Anyway, Dave finally caught a daylight bolt and, a couple of weeks later, the detector-driven G2 caught it's first bolt, at night, granted, but with a lit foreground, not a situation where you can leave the shutter open forever waiting for something to happen.

More Photo Hints from 2000

Careful Who You Elect
Be Careful Who You Elect I: The gods must be angry. I just became a citizen in late 1999 so will be able to vote next time around. Here in Minnesota we elected ex-pro-wrestler and cheesy actor Jesse "The Body" Ventura. He governs, he referees pro wrestling, he is color commentator for the XFL. Personally I was OK with this, because his radio show wasn't very good (neither was the XFL as far as that goes) and being governor got him off the air, but someone doesn't appear to be too happy! The storms which yielded this photo killed one man and destroyed a number of homes in Granite Falls, Minnesota on July 25. Contax G2, Carl Zeiss 28mm f/2.8 lens, Sensia II, 1 second f/8 or 1/2 second f/5.6, I did both.
Appreciate Handmade Quality
Appreciate Handmade Equipment: No, no, not the camera, it's a mass-produced Japanese thing with a fancy name, the device on top! That's my "build" of the lightning detector. Dahms's is undoubtedly smaller and more efficient, but that's why he's an engineer and not a schmuck like me, although I did use those studly stainless steel allen bolts (non rusting, you know--taking pictures of lightning has turned out to be somewhat damper than I had anticipated). You can buy a device like these from Stepping Stone Products if you're not into soldering. Unlike ours, it includes "MOSFET technology to provide 4000V isolation between camera and Lightning Trigger", useful if you happen to get hit by low-voltage lightning rather than the usual 50,000 volt stuff.
Careful Who You Elect II
Be Careful Who You Elect II: I'm not sure but I don't think this is the official portrait of our Governor. Oh, that's right, this was on a ride at the State Fair! Still, it's a pretty good likeness. Contax G2, Carl Zeiss 45mm f/2.0 lens, E100VC
Work with Still Lifes
Work with Still Lifes: Our cat is very fond of bunnies. She likes to watch 'em, study 'em, play with 'em, and then eat 'em. I thought she'd done a nice job of artistically setting this one up for me. So if rabbits' feet are supposed to be lucky, how come all these rabbits with four each keep getting eaten in our backyard?
Paraphrasing B. Kliban:
Love to eat them bunnies
Bunnies what I love to eat
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet
Contax G2, 45mm (?), E100VC
Hell on Wheels
You Don't Need Fancy Equipment: I got the kids a disposable camera for the last day of school and the results were so wretched that I went out on eBay and bought them a Nikon One-Touch autofocus camera for $40. This is a photo from that camera, which does a marvelous job and is cheap enough used to be not too big a disaster if it gets lost or broken. This is Geneva proud of her newly-acquired Rollerblading skills. Nikon One-Touch, 35mm f/2.8 lens (it's fixed lens), some cheap film
Use Multiple Exposures Can Save Film!
Use Multiple Exposures to Save Film! Film costing you a lot? Want to take more pictures for less? How about taking, oh, 40 pictures on one frame? That's what I did here. Rather than put the camera on a tripod, I just set it to multiple exposure, closed down 6 stops and shot 40 times handheld on a single frame. The effect is kind of Monet-like, sort of. I actually got this idea from Gary Black's site and tried it this one time. Contax G2, Carl Zeiss 45mm f/2 lens, probably 1/4000th at f/11 40 times or so

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