Photo Notes

March 30, 2021

Changes in Seeing

The made this image in the Gallisteo Basin, just a couple of miles from where I live. I expect to go back out there later this week. I’m not sure what gear I’ll bring with me. I’m challenging myself to work with different cameras and films to improve my ability to interpret what I see in different ways. Interpretation of a subject is part of making a photograph rather than just taking one.

New version
Gallisteo Basin 12-8-2020-2

I’m putting two versions of this on my blog. The original version I did just after making the photograph. I opened the shot again yesterday, a few months after I did the original version, and made a new version. Of course, I like the new version better, right now… It’s easier to see and re-interpret an image when you’ve put a little time between you and the original shot. There is always more to see.

Original version
Gallisteo Basin 12-8-2020-2

I am now offering prints of many of these images. The index codes for these images are: 46A 3-12-2021 #2. you can buy a print! Right now, all prints are set to fit on an 11×14 inch piece of paper. If the image is too thin it will have white paper on the sides. I am printing with an archival ink/paper combination. Prints are shipped by USPS priority mail to anywhere in the US that’s covered by Priority Mail service. The price is $75 for the first print and $60 for each additional print ordered at the same time. Please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com and include index code and your address. I will send you a PayPal request to arrange payment. I will be adding old and new images to this service. If you see an image on my site you would like to purchase please tell me where you found it and I’ll try to make it available to you. Thanks for your support!

And my books!
Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

https://amzn.to/3tH5Dp9

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

https://amzn.to/3c8nLlU

March 28, 2021

Testing a Graflex XLSW

Testing a Graflex XLSW 46A 3-12-2021 #2

This shot is made with a Graflex XLSW. I was testing it out here at the house. There are a couple of cameras built around the Schneider 47mm Super Angulon f8 lens. Brooks made two versions of the Veriwide, and Graflex made a special version of their medium format XL camera that was designed for this lens. I’ve posted a lot of shots I made with a camera I assembled out of parts of a Brooks Veriwide and a Graflex XLSW. This is actually a whole Graflex XLSW. I wanted to see if it’s significantly different from the camera I’ve been using. The test negatives from both cameras are very good. Not sure what I’m going to do with two such similar cameras, maybe get one of them ready to sell… I really like the lens and having a small, super wide camera that shoots 6X9cm film. If you’re interested in a Superwide roll film camera send me a message at john@siskinphoto.com. Thanks for your interest and support!

I am now offering prints of many of these images. The index code for this image is: 46A 3-12-2021 #2. you can buy a print! Right now, all prints are set to fit on an 11×14 inch piece of paper. If the image is too thin it will have white paper on the sides. I am printing with an archival ink/paper combination. Prints are shipped by USPS priority mail to anywhere in the US that’s covered by Priority Mail service. The price is $75 for the first print and $60 for each additional print ordered at the same time. Please e-mail me at john@siskinphoto.com and include index code and your address. I will send you a PayPal request to arrange payment. I will be adding old and new images to this service. If you see an image on my site you would like to purchase please tell me where you found it and I’ll try to make it available to you. Thanks for your support!

And my books!
Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting: A Guide for Digital Photographers

https://amzn.to/3tH5Dp9

Photographing Architecture: Lighting, Composition, Postproduction and Marketing Techniques

https://amzn.to/3c8nLlU

July 15, 2016

Rock House #5

Rock House #5

Rock House #5

One more image of the Rock House. Not quite in numerical order, but frankly I can’t remember the order I shot these in. This is the side of the building from the creek. There wasn’t always water in this area, but there often was. Rare for Los Angeles. This will be incorporated into the fine art site. Check out the earlier posts at: http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3190 and http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3190 and http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3337. This place must have been amazing before the fire.

I’ve recently posted a couple of shots of a waterfall in Box Canyon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3182 and http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3176 ). Literally built into left hand rock, shown in Box Canyon #2, is this house. I came upon the place hiking down the canyon. I had no idea it was there, and there is much less than a quarter mile from where I lived at that time.

Shot with my Speed Graphic of course. I think I used my 135 f4.7 Xenar lens. This probably, certainly, isn’t the best lens Schneider ever made, but it’s a lot better than the lens that’s usually found on a Speed Graphic. I started using a Speed Graphic when I was in High School, back in the early 1970s. One of the things that makes large format shooting so rewarding are the great lenses, but not all large format lenses are good. My Speed Graphic really taught me to be a photographer, but it taught me the hard way. When you do large format photography mistakes are expensive, so you learn to be precise.

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.

One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

July 14, 2016

Rock House #3

Rock House #03

Rock House #03

A third image of this amazing place. This shot shows how the native rock was incorporated into the wall of the building. They really don’t build them like this very often. This is the third post about this place in the blog and of course all of this will be incorporated into the fine art site. Check out the earlier posts at: http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3190 and http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3190. I still wonder what the house looked like before the fire.

I’ve recently posted a couple of shots of a waterfall in Box Canyon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3182 and http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3176 ). Literally built into left hand rock, shown in Box Canyon #2, is this house. I came upon the place hiking down the canyon. I had no idea it was there, and there is much less than a quarter mile from where I lived at that time.

Shot with my Speed Graphic of course. I think I used my 135 f4.7 Xenar lens. This probably, certainly, isn’t the best lens Schneider ever made, but it’s a lot better than the lens that’s usually found on a Speed Graphic. I started using a Speed Graphic when I was in High School, back in the early 1970s. One of the things that makes large format shooting so rewarding are the great lenses, but not all large format lenses are good. Some of the early problems I had were caused by the shutter.

I’ll add more shots from the Rock House soon.

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.


One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.
I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

April 11, 2016

Box Canyon #6 (Face)

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography,Large Format Photography — John Siskin @ 2:56 pm
Box Canyon #06 (Face)

Box Canyon #06 (Face)

Another shot from Box Canyon. For somewhat obvious reasons this is subtitled Face. When I was young, in High School, I saw some Edward Weston prints. I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere how much this affected me. As I looked at more of his images I became particularly fascinated with the dune shots. While I did experiment with actual images from the dunes at Pismo Beach, I also looked at rocks and other surfaces with eyes that had seen the dune shots. Light and shadow, texture and smooth, all these things fascinate me. I hope you’ll be interested as well.

I don’t think I noticed the shape of the face when I shot this, but memory is unreliable. I know that I used to climb between the rocks in Box Canyon looking for abstract compositions. This is from a 4X5 inch negative, so it’s certainly made with my Speed Graphic. I also had a Toyo 45C view camera at this time, but I didn’t take it out hiking. I love the Speed Graphic. I got it when I was in High School. I went to one of the old camera stores in Hollywood with my Dad. The guys at the store seemed very old, like they’d been in the store forever. I remember the sales person saying that the rear shutter curtain had been removed from the camera. He said that was a good thing, because no one had ever figured out a way to develop an image that had been exposed on the rear shutter curtain. Sort of an inside Speed Graphic joke. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but as I became acquainted with the camera I figured it out. Speed Graphics have a rear shutter, basically a long ribbon, also most lenses for the camera have a shutter. The rear shutter provided a 1/1000th of a second shutter speed, as well as other fast speeds, which was why the camera was called a SPEED Graphic. I must have got that camera about 1972, and people weren’t using the cameras to do press shots anymore, which meant that you didn’t need the high speeds from the rear shutter. Later on I put a rear shutter back into the camera so that I could shoot lenses that didn’t have a shutter. I wish I remembered more about that purchase, especially about buying the camera with my Dad. It’s been a while since I shot with that camera, but I still have it. Some of my favorite shots were made with that old Speed.

My Speed Graphic camera with the 135mm lens, not the 65mm Super Angulon.

My Old Speed Graphic

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.

One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

One more thing: I have more than 4900 registered users at this blog. Wow! Thanks for your support!

April 4, 2016

Rock House #1

Rock House #1

Rock House #1

I’ve recently posted a couple of shots of a waterfall in Box Canyon (Box Canyon #1 and Box Canyon #2). Literally on the other side of the left had rock is this house, or what remains of this house. I know depressingly little about it, other than it’s called the Rock House. Sort of the obvious name. At some time there was fire and the place wasn’t rebuilt. You can still see the blacked surfaces on some of the timbers. The place is built out of rough hewn timber and actual logs. Much of the cabin is the native rock, and, perhaps some of the rocks mortared into the walls are local. The place is absolutely fascinating.

I came upon the place hiking down the canyon. I had no idea it was there, and there is much less than a quarter mile from where I lived.

I have no idea who owned the land. I have no idea when the fire happened. I don’t know when the place was built. In some of the shots you can see flexible conduit for electricity, but I don’t know if the electricity was put in later. I also saw a water heater, but that isn’t in any of my shots. Anyway I leave for you the mystery of the rock house.

Shot with my Speed Graphic of course. There are shoots made with my 8X10 camera, as well as the 4X5, I might add those later. Regardless I’ll add more shots from the Rock House soon.

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.


One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

April 1, 2016

Box Canyon #1

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography — John Siskin @ 1:01 pm
Box Canyon #1

Box Canyon #1

This is about the same location of Box Canyon #2, but of course there is just a trickle of water. It’s amazing to think about: all this area is sandstone, laid down as ocean floor. Then it rises up and is sculpted by water. Photography gives me the chance to appreciate the beauty that time and water sculpt. I wonder if I would have learned to see the beauty in these places if I had never picked up a camera. I’m still learning to see, and to write with light.

I came upon this place while hiking down the stream. It’s invisible from the road. The Rock House, which I’ll be adding to these posts in a few more days, is built right against this stream. It must have been amazing to live in this house during a big storm.

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.


One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

Box Canyon #2

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography — John Siskin @ 11:44 am
Box Canyon #2

Box Canyon #2

This is another shot from Box Canyon, one of my favorites. There are a lot of places in Los Angeles that have good waterfalls and beautiful streams, in season. The thing is that most of the year this stream is a trickle, or even dry, but after a rain it’s quite impressive. Since I lived just a few hundred yards form this stream I could go there when it was good. I counted once, after a big rain you could see seven waterfalls from the road in Box Canyon.

The only bad thing about shooting steams in Los Angeles the presence of poison oak. Anywhere there was water you also found poison oak. Sometimes it seemed like I was always scratching.

As you know I’m adding these images to my blog as part of my re-do of my fine art portfolio pages. I’m also doing it to make these images available. If you’d like an archival print of this shot, please order with the PayPal link. The image will be about 11X14 inches and mounted on 16X20 cotton rag board. I’ll even throw in shipping, if you are in the U.S.


One more thing I wanted to mention: I offer several workshops at my studio in Indianapolis. I hope you’ll check out the workshops at http://www.siskinphoto.com/workshop.php.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

March 31, 2016

Box Canyon #3

Filed under: Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography,Post-Processing — John Siskin @ 3:09 pm
Box Canyon #3U

Box Canyon #3U


I’m making two versions of this image available today. As before these posts are part of my on going update of the fine art part of my site. If you’d like to purchase either version of this shot be sure to use the PayPal link below the version you want.

These images were made form the same negative, taken with my Speed Graphic. The place is in Box Canyon, which is between the San Fernando Valley and Simi Valley. One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is how many really wild places there are inside the city. Of course wild can be interpreted in several ways, and some areas, like Laurel Canon have been wild in nature and in people. Box Canyon is a little like that: very rustic with a wild population. I lived there for several years, and I still miss it. I’m adding more pictures from this area, so I hope you’ll keep looking at my site and the blog.

The first version of the image uses false color to make the image much more dramatic. I like both versions. I’ve written about the technique I used on this image before, so if you’re interested in the technical details look at this link: http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=431

Below is a more neutral interpretation of the negative. All photographic printing involves interpretation; even a “straight” from a chemical darkroom involves choosing a paper and a contrast. Of course Photoshop allows us more room for interpretation, which can be a good thing.

Box Canyon #3

Box Canyon #3


If you’d like to buy a print of either or both versions of Box Canyon #3 please use the PayPal links. You’ll get a print mounted and matted to 16X20-ready to pop into a frame. Why not order one now?

I’m offering several workshops on my site; why not visit now? siskinphoto.com/workshop.php
I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

January 26, 2016

El Matador #4

Filed under: Fine Art,Fine Art Portfolio,Landscape Photography — John Siskin @ 11:11 am
El Matador #4

El Matador #4

Another shot of El Matador, this has been named #4 or long exposure for a while, so I’m going to continue referring to it as #4. This is a very long exposure, which is why the surf has the ghostly effect. I’ve always liked the shot, but I like a lot of the stuff I shot at this beach.

It’s another shot I made with the super-wide camera, you can see more about this shot by checking this other shot from El Matador:

I also wanted to tell you about Living in Los Angeles. Often people forget how great it is to live there. I got up early and drove to Mt. Pinos, a little more than an hour from where I was living. I spent the morning cross-country skiing. I left in the early afternoon and drove down to El Matador. Did some body surfing. I was actually in the water when a pod of dolphins went by. Try to do that anywhere but Los Angeles. No picture of the dolphins. Stayed at El Matador to watch the sunset. When I was growing up San Onofre was the family beach. I learned to surf there, then we spent summers at Manhattan beach. I choose El Matador as my beach, everybody should have a beach.

If you’d like to buy a print of El Matador #4 use the PayPal link below. You’ll get a print mounted an matted to 16X20-ready to pop into a frame. Why not order one now?


I’m going to give a Micro-Photography Workshop soon (http://siskinphoto.com/blog/?p=3105) and another Lighting Workshop, probably in March. Please check them out. You can find out more about my workshops, and access some FREE Classes at my website.

I hope you’ll also check out my books, use the links below:

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