Frank Petronio photographer

Pick a Lens

I did some A:B testing between the 35/1.4 Zeiss Milvus and Nikon 35/1.8G. The $2200 Zeiss blows the $500 Nikkor away but it weighs 2.5 pounds. I think I’m going to put up with it though, the thought of going to Italy and doing second class photos riles me more. 

The 300mm is staying home, I realized that with my propensity for sniping people that I might get myself in trouble with it. 

Blunderwater Camera

Like many others I’ve long admired underwater and surf photography ~ beautiful sunset waves, sleek swimmers, strange distorted seascapes. So when Aquatech had their sale last Fall I picked up a Base water housing for my D810. I’ve used it enough to realize that I’m only getting mediocre results, partially due to lack of control and the mucky water we have around the Northeast. To do things “right” I need to get the model with a full set of camera controls, flash housing, larger domed ports for better lenses ~ and then travel to warmer, clearer waters or find myself an awesome pool. But that’s a much larger investment and I’m not convinced I’m enough of a waterman to really do anything significant with the rig. Like powder skiing, I rather be out enjoying the experience of playing in the waves instead of photographing others, call me selfish. And besides, if I ever was in the surf with this plastic beast attached to my wrist I’d probably drown. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun to play with. I listed mine for sale so go for it, knock yourself out!

Polaroid 20x24

800mm lens, Sinar shutter

64,000 watt/sec of strobe

The camera has its own technician

Back when I was a wiseass on various photography forums I developed a small following (ca. 2011). One fellow asked me to do his engagement photos with the Polaroid 20x24 camera at the NYC studio. I only charged him $500 (rather than $2500) because I was excited to try the camera out. I think the studio rental was $1800 and each exposure was $300 but I suspect the prices fluctuated somewhat. In any event it cost him a pretty penny… travel, nice hotel, professional stylist, and at the end of the day there were 8 or 10 large prints that he suddenly realized he needed to ship home to Atlanta ~ hustle to find a shipping box and arrange safe passage ($$$). By the time he got one or two framed he must have spent $10 grand. Ouch. 

He called me last year to ask if I wanted the prints because they were getting divorced? Bummer but no, I did not. Of course if someone bothered to store these prints for 100 years they’d become priceless again. But it ain’t going to me. 

It was fun using the giant camera but I wish I had slowed down long enough to have made some better photos of the process. As it was these are the only snaps I have, from a crude small sensor camera. 

I haven’t checked the status of where Polaroid 20x24 is at lately… like a lot of art there was a wealthy backer of the enterprise. There was some sort of relationship with the Impossible Project and other trendy ventures but I never paid any further attention. Hipsters get more wrapped up in the media than the medium when they should be out making new photographs instead.

Back in the 80s-90s when Polaroid was a viable tool for professional photography I thought it was too expensive, wasteful and time consuming. Its chemistry stunk like old piss. And like Kodachrome it gets overly romanticized in spite of being a lousy way to make pictures. 

The camera tech I worked with ~ Jennifer Trausch ~ is a damn good photographer who has mastered the 20x24 Polaroid and 8x10 conventional film cameras. Better than me. Her website hasn’t been updated in years, no idea what she does now. 

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