Bill Hansen considers himself smarter than the average bear, although fortunately he has never had to put that hypothesis to a test. He was born at a very young age and, much to his chagrin, has been getting progressively older ever since. He has a lovely B.A. in Cultural Anthropology adorning his bathroom wall and it is, by far, the single most expensive piece of paper he owns. An award-winning photographer currently based out of Syracuse, NY, Bill's work has been exhibited multiple times at the New York State Fair and has been featured in several shows across Central New York.

He enjoys taking long walks on the beach; spontaneously going on adventures with his beautiful wife, even if it means driving twelve-hours just to try duck-fat-fried poutine; and sometimes, just sometimes, he finds subtle satisfaction in a good cup of coffee.

If given a choice, Bill would rather be in Hawaii.

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Diamond Head

Diamond Head Sunrise

Diamond Head Sunrise, Waikiki, HI. Canon 40D, PS.

Diamond Head, the iconic Hawaiian volcano, is probably one of the most photographed mountains in the world and, as a good tourist on O’ahu, I tried my best to do my part.

From sea to summit, Diamond Head rises 762 feet; fortunately, the hiking trail inside the crater already spots you two-hundred feet of elevation for a modest 560 foot climb over a 3/4 mile to the top. I say ‘fortunately,’ because after the roughly 160 steps to the top and an odd little ladder scramble to the summit, my knees felt like they were made of molten iron, and not in a good ‘molten iron’ kind of way.

But the views from on top were worth it.

Waikiki from Diamond Head

Waikiki from Diamond Head, Canon 40D.

Waikiki as seen from Diamond Head

Waikiki as seen from Diamond Head, O'ahu. fBHF on Ektar 100.

Diamond Head Lighthouse

Diamond Head Lighthouse, O'ahu, HI. Canon 40D.

Windswept Bush on Diamond Head

Windswept Bush on Diamond Head, O'ahu. fBHF on Ektar 100.


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BHF – Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully

"Aging Gracefully - Waikiki, HI." fBHF on Kodak Ektar 100.

Ah… this has to be one of my favorite shots from our last Hawaiian adventure.

My wife and I waxed poetic about this older couple walking Waikiki beach hand-in-hand in front of us. We playfully envisioned them as though we were staring thirty-or-so years into our future: still in Hawaii, still madly in love, flaunting what we still had left, as we stroll along the sandy shore, the azure Pacific lapping at our feet and the sunshine warming our wrinkling skin as it gently flaps in the breeze.

I teased my wife that I’d be lucky if she still wore bikinis that far into the future; she said she’d be lucky if I ever wore a Speedo. I replied that it would probably take the full thirty years just for me to squeeze my fat-ass into a Speedo and humanity would probably be for the better if I never tried.

She heartily disagreed, so I gave her thirty years to change my mind.

See more:
Gallery: fBHF – O’ahu 2009

Holga Hike Today

Today’s the day!!!

Both Spring & the Holga Hike are here. Shake off those Winter blues by getting outdoors with your Holga and capturing the pleasant pastels of Spring (or lovely black & whites, if you’re so inclined…).

Just remember to submit your image by April 5th.

I was already out & about with my trusty Holga during the first training run of the Mountain Goat Run at The Armory in downtown Syracuse (my wife was running, I just puttered around while waiting; I had a pretty good cup of coffee though).

I’m not sure if I’m completely happy with what I’ve shot already, so weather permitting, I’ll probably go out again later this afternoon to try to take some photographs that are a tad less urban and a bit more rustic.

Maybe Beaver Lake would be an idyllic destination.

Holga Hike logo © HolgaMods; used with permission.

Sometimes the magic gives you toads

Wading into the Light

'Wading into the Light.' Waikiki beach, Hawaii. Vintage Diana F, Kodak Ektar 100, PS.

Somewhere along the way, my vintage Diana F developed a dastardly light leak in the upper left-hand side of the frame (lower-right image).

As opposed to a beneficial or relatively benign light leak, I’d say this one ruined several rolls of film from Hawaii, except ‘ruined’ is such an ugly word.

How about I just say it ‘challenged’ the composition of several of my shots?

When dealing with crappy cameras, you learn to expect the unexpected. Sometimes the magic gives you unicorns riding motorcycles; other times it gives you toads.

Mind you, they’re still magical toads, so with some effort you still might be able to finagle it into a Princess; but then again, sometimes all you end up with are warts.

The above image is my attempt at saving a princess from an eternity of toad-dom. It’s definitely not the image I had conceived when I shot it, but I think it works. The mirrored symmetry of the new composition balances out the unevenness of the original.

So the good news is that it only took me the better part of fifteen minutes today to diagnose the leak in the Diana F (around where the viewfinder & the flash contacts meet) & plug it with ‘fun-tack’ (you know, that ubiquitous sticky putty adhering beer posters to walls in dorm rooms all across our nation’s colleges & universities).

The bad news is I still have a whole bunch of amphibians waiting for their turn to be kissed.

My Favorite Photographer

Central Park Cherry Blossom

Central Park Cherry Blossom, flipped lens BHF, Ilford hp5+, developed in Diafine

So apparently I’m not above a little bit of open pandering for free film.

UPDATE 03.16.10: I didn’t win the free film. Oh well.

Who is my favorite photographer? I’m not necessarily sure I’ve ever truly pondered that question before.

Of course, my mind goes to such luminaries as Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz, Andreas Feininger & Walker Evans, but have they visibly influenced my work, other than inspiring me to pick up a camera?

Then, what of my low-fidelity brethren, if I may aspire to call them as much? The toycamera.com community has consistently challenged me to become a better photographer through their wit, comradery, advice and jaw-dropping talent. Yet, dare I single out one particular photographer from the whole?

I guess, push come to shove, I’d have to say my favorite photographer is me. Not out of hubris or any sense of vanity, but rather out of necessity. I need to believe in myself as a photographer, not just as a man with a camera. My wife has already sacrificed so much to allow me to pursue my passions, I owe it to her, if not myself, to follow through with my dreams. It’s been a gradual process; a bit slower than either one of us originally imagined. The current economy hasn’t helped. But I’m getting there.

What would I do with the film?

I’d use it.

To capture images, to build a stronger portfolio, to find my own distinctive visual voice. One-hundred rolls of film roughly equals 1200 shots in a Holga or BHF; 1600 in a Diana; or 900 shots in a Kodak Jiffy. That’s a lot of man-hours of work, in shooting, processing, scanning and editing, so I don’t enter this contest lightly. It’s a hard-sworn promise to rededicate & immerse myself into my craft.

Why am I my favorite photographer?

Because I’m always eager to see what I’m going to do next.

BHF – Waikiki Sunset

BHF - Waikiki Sunset

Waikiki Sunset, taken with a flipped lens BHF, Kodak Ektar 100

Another image from my trip to O’ahu this past December. My wife & I were hurrying along, trying to get from the hotel to the House Without a Key for cocktails, after spending a little bit too long at the beach that day. We had just started our mile-long stroll when I startled my wife by suddenly running out into the middle of the street, just to capture the scene relatively unobstructed with my favorite blurry-cam.

Of course, my wife chided me for violating the “No running out into traffic while in Hawaii” rule, but I think the result was worth it.

See more:
Gallery: fBHF – O’ahu 2009

First Annual Holga Hike

Ah… the signs of Spring’s imminent arrival keep popping up around me: Temperatures are rising and the snow is beginning to melt, robins are roosting and geese are returning from their southernly sojourn, and probably most tell-tale, I finally wore my Chucks outside for the first time this year; although on March 20th, the first official day of Spring, I may temporarily trade my Chucks in for a pair of hiking boots.

HolgaMods.com is sponsoring the First Annual Holga Hike: part photo contest, part enthusiast’s day (a la World Toy Camera Day), in all, a celebration of Holgas, Spring & the Great Outdoors.

To quote:

“If hiking is good for you, then hiking with a Holga is even better, right?”

www.holgahike.com

No arguments here.

Holga Hike logo © HolgaMods; used with permission.

Smashing Magazine

Holga_BBS

Newport, RI 2007. Holga with x-pro'd Fuji Velvia 100f.

Smashing Magazine has an article on ‘Toy Cameras’ featuring a piece of my Holga work.

The article is a general survey of toy cameras for the uninitiated (generally sticking to the Lomography retail line-up) and includes several digital means to reproduce the toy camera and Polaroid aesthetics.

While the semanticist in me disagrees with the inclusion of the Lomo LC-A, which to me would be better classified as a low fidelity (lo-fi) camera, as it has more bells & whistles than a typical “toy” camera and what’s left of the analog purist in me partially disagrees with digital imitation on a core level, I do have to say I am flattered that the author saw fit to include my image as representative of what can be achieved with a Holga.

This specific image, in particular, I have always felt unsure about. According to Flickr, it’s one of my most popular images, except I could never ascertain if that was because it was a good photograph or if it had something to do with a prurient phenomena of bikinis on the internet.

Maybe it’s a little of both and maybe “prurient” is too strong of a word. The image has more going on than just the foreground subjects and an easy rule in photography:

Pretty girls often make for a pretty picture.

How to flip a Brownie Hawkeye Flash lens

Brownie Hawkeye Flash

Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash

I’ve noticed a lot of search traffic hitting my site specifically looking for information on how to flip the lens of a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash (BHF). While there are probably multitudes of other resources on the interwebs, I figure I’ll just throw my two-cents out there.

For those who don’t know, the BHF is a black bakelite beauty with a top-down viewfinder, single element meniscus lens, shutter speed somewhere around 1/30 to 1/60 & a bulb setting, while it lacks a tripod mount, it has a nifty handle. In it’s heyday, the BHF was a very popular camera. Your grandparents most likely had one. Nowadays, you can find them cheaply at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, and eBay, or for a higher premium decorating shelves in antique stores & hipster boutiques.

I got mine for free on Craigslist thanks to a kind-hearted Samaritan who was donating several cameras to anyone who could justify receiving one. I simply wrote “I’ll use it.” It arrived in the mail a couple days later and I’ve been enthralled with it ever since.

Anywho, an unmodified BHF takes a relatively normal photograph, but something magical happens when you flip the lens. It’s like the soft focus of a vintage Diana multiplied to the Nth degree. The lens’ focal point shifts from infinity to about 3 feet in the center, while the edges just melt away into blurry goodness. The effect can be quite surreal.

Flipping the lens of a BHF is actually a simple procedure with a very low-risk of permanently #@$%-ing anything up and is easily reversible. That said, I assume no responsibility with these directions if you somehow manage to accidentally bork your favorite family heirloom.

Ready? Let’s get flipping.

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Pali Pano

diaf-oah-pali-pano1

Pali lookout panorama, multiple exposure, vintage Diana F, Kodak Ektar 100

I’m starting to process some of the multitudes of images I captured on O’ahu this past December. The above photograph was taken at a tourist pull-off on the Pali Highway, a scenic route that takes you over (and through) the mountains from Honolulu to Kailua on the windward coast.

By its nature, it’s a shot that probably untold millions of tourists had taken before me and a shot that millions of untold tourists will continue to take in the future; in my imagination however, I’d like to think I was the first to use a vintage Diana F with Kodak Ektar 100 to make a multiple-exposure panoramic.

I’ll continue to process these images for now, as my wife is itching to scrapbook/album our entire vacation and wants to see what I have to contribute. So, I’ll post anything of interest here and then bulk load the rest up to flickr.

In blog news:

  • – I’m learning enough CSS to finally tweak most of the little things that I disliked about the blog layout. I’m still not 100% satisfied, as I still don’t truly understand why certain aspects refuse to change, despite my better efforts; but I’ll continue to work on it.
  • – If anyone out there is knowledgeable in WordPress, how do I get to fool around with the ‘dynamic_sidebar’? I want to have widget-specific CSS, but the sidebar doesn’t separate label widgets independently. Am I even making any sense?