Category Archives: Interviews

Night Photography: Night Writerz Podcast Interview with Joe Reifer

White Tractor -- by Joe Reifer

White Tractor — by Joe Reifer

The latest episode of the Night Writerz podcast features an interview with yours truly. Open up iTunes on your Mac or PC, search for the Night Writerz, and subscribe! Here’s direct link to episode #7 of this great podcast dedicated to night photography. The episode starts with a slideshow of night photography — make sure iTunes is setup to see the images at bottom left.

The interview starts at 5 minutes into the episode, and covers a wide range of night photography topics including exposure considerations, light painting, workshops, and the San Francisco Bay Area night photography community. Many thanks to Chad Clark of the Night Writerz for having me on the show! And check out the past episodes, including interviews with Troy Paiva, Chris Conrad, and Dave Black.

Night Photography: An Interview with Joe Reifer

A Newport Custom with No Key reaches out -- by Joe Reifer

A Newport Custom with No Key reaches out — by Joe Reifer

[On a note related to the interview, the image above contains light painting in 2 places. Can you tell where?]

A short while ago I was contacted via email by Mark Welker, who interviewed me for a college photography class. The interview  included my ramblings about night photography, light painting, and location access. Here it is:

To start off could you give me a brief bio with some of your history with photography. When did you first start taking pictures, educational background, major influences, when did you start making money/doing shows, etc.

I got interested in street photography in college, and learned traditional black and white printing from a friend. I started as a music major in school, and ended up with an English degree. I worked in a custom black and white lab for awhile, and enjoyed shooting with crappy thrift store cameras. After college I didn’t do much shooting beyond regular snapshots, because I was focusing on playing music. In the late 90’s I started a project documenting peeling billboards in my neighborhood, inspired by my love of collage artists like Rauschenberg. Around this time I became friends with professional photographer Jay Watson, who was instrumental in reawakening my interest in photography.

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Interview: Photographer David Hibbard

The Sky Beyond -- by David Hibbard

The Sky Beyond — by David Hibbard

I met landscape photographer David Hibbard in 2003 during one of Brigitte Carnochan‘s portfolio workshops. David consistently presented beautiful prints of his quiet, contemplative coastal landscapes. I was impressed with both the images, and his meticulous craftsmanship. Eventually the conversation turned to workflow — David was shooting slide film with a Pentax 6×7 camera, scanning on an Imacon, and using either Epson or Lightjet output for prints (depending on the print size). Recently David has added a Canon 5D digital SLR to his toolset. I currently shoot with a 5D and 6×7 film as well, and David agreed to conduct an interview to talk about cameras, workflow, and his forthcoming book. The interview was conducted via IM on 3/5/2008.

Joe: Let’s start with your Latest Work gallery – the abstract, moody street work is a departure from the more quiet coastal and forest landscape images I’ve seen from you in the past. Is this work a product of your recent plunge into the digital world?

David: It really is a return to work I did when I was much younger and just getting into photography. Back then, I lived in SF and wandered around the city a lot, armed with my trusty Nikon F. Acquiring my Canon 5D brought me back to that type of work. It is a great camera for taking quick, visual impressions. The image-stabilized lens I got with the camera helps a lot in that regard.

Joe: Sounds like you’re using the 5D for street and travel photography, and sticking to your Pentax 6×7 workflow for serious landscape work?

David: Yes, that is how and I working now. I love the resolution of fine detail that I get with the 6×7 system, and that is what I need for my landscape work. The 5D does not quite match that level of resolution. Although I love my Pentax 6×7, and I love working with film, I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay with that. I’m very tempted by medium format digital.

Joe: Your largest print size is 32×40 from a 6×7 chrome. How large have you printed from the 5D, and have you done side by side testing against 6×7?

David: I’ve gone as large as 13×19 so far and I may try some bigger enlargements soon — maybe 17×22 or even larger. I haven’t done any side by side comparisons yet. That’s probably because I tend to use one system or the other when I’m in the field — but not both at once!

Joe: You’re wiser than I am – I’ve been shooting with a 5D and a Mamiya 7II in the field, and carrying two tripods hurts after awhile. I’ve found I don’t like printing bigger than 20×30 from the 5D.

David: How do you decide then which camera to use? I did take both systems down to Point Lobos the other week and having to decide which to use drove me crazy.

Joe: That’s part of what I was going to ask you! I’ve been immersed in digital since 2002, and only last year started shooting more 6×7, due to the long exposure advantages and look of Fuji Tungsten slide film. So I’m mostly shooting 6×7 at night. My choice is easier because I have a full 35mm digital kit, but only one lens for the Mamiya 7II (a 50mm).

David: It sounds like you have a specific reason for using 6×7. I would think that the decision as to when to use it would be fairly easy for you.

Joe: Yes. But seeing the results on the light table makes me want to use it more. Even though scanning gets tedious, and paying $10 per roll for the combined cost of film and processing can add up.

Have you been keeping an eye on the 1DS Mark III and rumors of a new big megapixel Nikon dSLR? Seems like a more affordable alternative to medium format digital.

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Interview: Randy Smith of Holgamods


Monkey — by Joe Reifer

I shoot a couple rolls with a Holga ever month. I got my tricked out Holga from Randy Smith’s www.holgamods.com. For just a little bit more than a stock Holga, Randy offers some really useful customizations. His standard mods include:

  • aperture modified to have f/8 or f/11 instead of just approximately f/13
  • focusing modified to allow close focusing down to 2 feet
  • modified mask
  • black interior flocking to reduce light leaks

My Holgamods holga also has a pin that allows you to do time exposures — excellent for night photography! Randy also does pinhole Holgas, pinhole body caps, and Holga lenses grafted to SLR body caps.
Deborah Lattimore interviewed Randy for JPG magazine issue #8. I had a few follow up questions, and he kindly agreed to an email interview:

Joe Reifer: How long have you been modifying Holgas?

Randy Smith: I believe I’m in my 6th year

JR: Are there other handmade camera builders or hackers that were an inspiration to you modifying Holgas?

RS: Not really. Most of my Ideas come from my needs, customer suggestions or from browsing some of the photo forums.

JR: How many Holgas do you usually modify in a day’s work?

RS: Too many :) — about 10-15 variations of my Holgas, maybe 4-8 digital Holga body cap lenses and a few pinhole body caps. Prior to doing the interview for Deborah Lattimore in JPG magazine, I was sending out about 250 Holgas a month. Since then, I’m up over 600 a month now. Can’t wait for it to slow down a little.

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