Ethel the Easter Egger, Ameraucana    

“Winter’s coming.” The days are short and though temperatures have been higher than normal, it’s

still chilly outside. Assignments have slowed to a trickle and the beekeeper project is on hold till

spring. With the exception of the occasional iPhone photo I really haven’t been shooting much. That

 began to change yesterday after my son sent me a text asking if I could make some new photographs

 for his Manayunk Farm website.

With temperatures in the 40’s and partly sunny skies, I spent a few hours following our eight hens

 around the backyard. We like to let them free range during the day as long as someone is home to

 chase off the occasional hawk or fox  and to close up the coop at dusk. We never have to worry about

 rounding them up, they rise with the dawn and roost at sunset, we only need to remember to lock the

 doors at night in case a racoon or opossum decides to pay a visit.  

Thing Two, Buff Orpington, exiting the Hen House after laying an egg.      

After a long dry spell our hens have begun laying again, thanks to increasingly longer days and the

string of LED lights draped through the coop. There is a direct correlation between amount of light

and egg laying.  Now, we get seven or eight eggs per day. We fry them, boil and bake them and

what we can’t use we give to neighbors.




A Buff Orpington and Swedish Flower Hen at the feeder.

From a photographic standpoint there are less hours of daylight in winter but all the light is usable,

even at mid-day, as the sun travels across the sky at a lower angle. The day was an even mix of 

bright sun and partly cloudy so some of the photos were contrasty with sharp shadows while others

where soft and diffuse. 


I think one the most important aspects of photographing animals is to get down to their level which 

often means laying down on the ground.

Read other posts about our experience as urban chicken keepers.
The Chicken and the Queen of Hearts







            It was during a recent phone conversation with Robert Asman of Alchemy-Ink, that I learned that Joe Nettis had passed away. Joe was a Philadelphia based commercial photographer with a long and illustrious career. He began taking photographs at 12 years of age and shot for his high school newspaper and yearbook. After graduation he attended Philadelphia College of Art, which is now University of the Arts. He took a bicycle trip through Europe and National Geographic published a selection of his Images. Joe then persuaded National Geographic to Sponsor him on a round the world journey. He became a contributor to Life Magazine and his image of Adlai Stevenson appeared on the cover. He went on to shoot for other magazines as well as do corporate and advertising work both on location and in the studio. He also made commercial and documentary films. He was a contributor to several stock photography agencies. Joe was always making photographs with or without an assignment. He was a longtime member and supporter of The American Society of Media Photographers.
            I  met Joe when I was working at Asman Custom Photo shortly after moving to Philadelphia. Robert (I call him Bob) did the printing and I processed film and made contact prints. Bob’s lab was on the third floor and Joe’s studio was on the second floor. Joe would call when he had film to be processed and I’d run down the steps to pick it up and get very specific directions as to how it should be processed and printed. Joe was a perfectionist about his processing and printing just as he was about every aspect of his photography and it showed in his work. While we were a custom lab and handled each clients job with care, Joe always got special treatment. I learned a lot about what and how to photograph by viewing his negatives in the drying cabinet on the light table and under the enlarger.
            As much as I enjoyed lab work I really wanted to be a shooter. After I got to know Joe I offered to assist him for free. Just so happens he had a shoot the next day. It was to photograph a Showgirl for the cover of Atlantic City Magazine. Joe took me up on my offer. Not only was that my first time assisting on a photo shoot but it was my first time in Atlantic City. Despite having offered to work for free Joe paid me for the day, he was that kind of guy. I continued to assist him as well as others for a number of years while I built up my own client base.  
            In my 30 years in photography I have never met anyone as passionate about photography as Joe Nettis. He was a marvelous man and I will always remember him. I wish to extend my sincere condolences to his wife Elaine.


I didn’t participate in “World Wide Pinhole Photography Day” last year. I don’t remember exactly why, maybe the weather was lousy or maybe I was too involved in a project around the house to go out and shoot. This year was different. My wife and son left to visit relatives, our recent house guests returned to Maine and the cloudy skies and rain of that morning had given way to a warm, sunny afternoon.
I had forgotten WWPD was the last Sunday in April. But was reminded after reviewing  my  Google alerts. This year, because Easter falls on the last Sunday as well, participants have the option of shooting the Saturday before or the Monday after and still be eligible to upload their image.
My darkroom is a mess, more a storage closet than a room for making photographs. I had no Dektol to process paper negatives, no  D-76 to process film so I decided to use the pinhole body cap I had made for my digital cameras. While searching through various boxes for the body cap, I came across my NPC instant film back for my Canon F1 film cameras. The back still had film in it, not a full pack but hopefully enough to get one good photograph. Even though the film was several years out of date, I had faith it could still produce an image. I wasn’t concerned, that due to it’s age, the color might be off. I’d be scanning the print and could  make color corrections in Photoshop. I kept digging until I found the Polaroid 100 camera that I had converted for pinhole use.
I love the Polaroid 100 for pinhole for several reasons. According to The Land List, Polaroid made 1,200,000 of these cameras. They have little value to the collector and can be bought cheaply at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets. They use relatively inexpensive pack film that can be purchased in a variety of  emulsions, both color and black & white. While Polaroid has ceased production, Fuji instant film is easily obtainable. Expired Polaroid pack films are also available from places like The Impossible Project.

Naturally, the Polaroid 100 can be used as a pinhole camera with the bellows drawn all the way out, as with traditional picture taking . This yields an image with normal perspective. It is also possible to make pinhole photographs with the 100 by not extending the bellows at all, by doing so you are shorting the focal length ,yielding an ultra wide view. The only caveat is that you need to change the pinhole to match the shorter focal length. I tape this smaller aperture to the removable plastic front cover so I can switch between the two focal lengths.

The Model 100 has a flip up viewfinder that is accurate enough for normal shots and even when shooting ultra wide it helps to at least determine the center of the frame. There is a tripod socket which is a must for the long exposure times necessary due to the tiny apertures. The lens can be removed with out too much difficulty or special tools.

The Image above is of The Manayunk Bridge over the Skuylkill River. Based on the design of a Roman aquaduct , The bridge is the symbol of Manayunk, a Philadelphia neighborhood. Once a railroad bridge now an icon, soon to be bicycle path. I’ve lived here 20 years and had never photographed it until yesterday. My inspiration came about a week ago, after viewing the web site of another local pinhole photographer Mary Agnes Williams. I have never met her but perhaps I should.


There’s still time to make your pinhole photo, if not today, maybe tomorrow. Happy Easter!

One of the criticisms levied against ASMP’s Strictly Business is that it’s only held in three cities, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago. That’s once on the west coast, once on  the east coast, and once in the mid west. Yeah, you may have to fly, take a train or drive to get to one. You’ll need to book a room at a hotel. Is it worth it, you might ask? Ask Christopher Shain. Chris heard about SB3 then traveled half way around the world to attend the Philadelphia Seminar. Christopher is an architectural, industrial and corporate photographer based in Sydney, Australia.  He won the prize(ASMP hat) for traveling the greatest distance to attend. Chicago doesn’t seem so far away now, does it?

Hey!, isn’t that Rosh Sillars in the background let’s talk about him next.

 To see more photos click SB3 Philadelphia.

Christopher is pictured above with our fearless leader, Eugene Mopsik.

Panoramic of my street the morning after the first of two major snowstorms to hit the Northeast in 2010. The first storm was greeted with excitement and wonder. It was a day off from work, a day off from school. All was right with the world, Climate Change hadn’t totally upset Nature’s balance, at least not in Philadelphia. The second storm was not as welcome.

Two frames stitched together using photomerge in Photoshop.

My portrait of Ninja, Rick, “Ryuama”(Dragon Mountain)Henderson of the Triple Cities Martial Arts Academy of Upstate New York, made it into the show.

Rick is a licensed Art of Combat trainer, holds six world titles in Kata and Sparring and is current World Heavy Weight Sparring Champion. Despite the fact he could knock you out in the blink of an eye, Rick is the kindest and most gentle person, I have ever met. Full disclosure, he’s my brother-in-law!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010, 7PM
The University of The Arts
Hamilton Hall
320 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

This years judges were Paul Runyon, John Saal, Zoey Sless-Kitain, and Jill Waterman.

This years sponsors: The Camera Shop, Brilliant Studio, Philly Creative Guide, Philadelphia Photographics, Modern Postcard, Wacom, Power Plant Productions and Yards Brewing Company.

See you there!

W.C.Fields once said, “Never work with children or animals.” I wonder if he meant children and animals were difficult to direct, or that he was afraid he’d be upstaged? From my experience, I’d say it was a little bit of both.

While searching for images to show at last night’s, ASMP Philly “Expose Yourself” social event, I decided to show images I had shot for The Mainline Animal Rescue. This was the perfect opportunity as I could combine two verticals into one horizontal image that would fit better into the presentation. I sized each at just under 400 pixels wide and pasted them into a new white background that was 8oo pixels wide.

The price of admission was six bucks, six images or a six pack of beer. Thanks to Blake Discher for that suggestion and thanks to Jim Graham of PowerPlant Studios, for hosting. The event was well attended with over thirty Philadelphia photographers showing their work.

Philadelphia International Bike Race

Philadelphia International Bike Race. Riders attack” The Wall” in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia.

There are two days a year I’d would be rather be in Philadelphia than anywhere else. The first is New Year’s Day. While many people watch football on television while nursing hangovers, we Philadelphians make our way downtown to watch the Mummer’s Parade. The Mummer’s Parade is a day long procession of String Bands in elaborate costumes and magnificent floats, kind of like a one day Mardi-Gras.

The other day I look forward to, is the first Sunday in June (tomorrow) when Philadelphia hosts the top cycling teams from around the world.

The race, now in its 24th year, was always named after a big bank but mergers and losses in the mortage sector, have left this years race without a major sponsor. The race is now simply called The Philadelphia International Bike Race.

In the early years I photographed the race for the original local sponsor. I had a press pass, transportation around the course and I was paid well. That bank is long gone. Now it’s a family outing with my wife and son. I take a camera but without access to the course it’s hard to get good shots of the racers. The constant changes in helmets and cycling attire emblazed with ever changing corporate logos date the images, giving them a short life span for a stock file. I’ve let go of the angst, shoot what I can and just try to have fun.

Our friend Neil lives in Manayunk, only one block from the infamous Wall. Each year he opens up his house and patio for a bike race party. We use to live on the same street so it’s good to see some of our old neighbors again, some we only see once a year at Neil’s party.

We socialize, drink beer and eat burgers from the grill until we hear the helicopters overheard, telling us it’s time to stroll over to The Wall to watch the riders’ arduous accent. Then back for another beer or another burger and watch the race on T.V. until we hear the helicopters again.

If you plan on visiting Philadelphia to watch the race get here the day before or take public transportation. Septa’s R6 Norristown train will drop you off right at foot of the Wall. It will get crowded, very crowded, especially after Noon. If you have a car, park it! Do not even try to drive anywhere near the race course! Take public or better yet ride a bike!

Pinhole photograph of ride at carnival

Pinhole photograph of ride at carnival, Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

In case you had forgotten , I just thought I’d remind you that today is World Wide Pinhole Photography Day. If you ask me, Hallmark is really missing out on this one. Each year, on the last Sunday in April, Pinheads around the globe make photographs with lensless cameras and upload their best shot to the official W.P.P.D online gallery. It is not a contest, there is no judging and no prize money. There are no predatory rights grabs either like so many photography contests these days. They ask only for the right to include your image in the gallery. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before submitting anything to a contest. They should claim only limited rights and then only to the winning entries, not all entries. Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day was created to promote and celebrate the art of pinhole photography.

The weather here in Philadelphia was lousy, heavy clouds and cold, so I thought I’d just take some quick pinhole images of Gus’s old Dodge and upload one to the gallery. Then I remembered the carnival was still in town, the whirling rides, lights on at dusk, would be perfect pinhole fodder. After crossing several chores off of my wife’s honey-do list, I sealed my fate by asking my son if he wanted to go back to the carnival.

After parking the car. I handed Wynn a twenty dollar bill and we parted company, him off to buy ride tickets and me to make pinhole images. I walked around and took photos with a Canon 20D, fitted with a D.I.Y. pinhole body cap, mounted on a Bogen tripod. I had been shooting for about an hour when I heard “Sir, excuse me Sir” from behind me. I know I’m in trouble when someone calls me “Sir.” I was being followed by two Rent-a-Cops, one male and one female. The male cop told me the owner didn’t want me taking any more photos of the carnival. My mind raced as I tried to think up a clever defense. I needed something like the closing remarks of Alan Shore (James Spader) in L.A. Law, but all I could up with would have sounded more like something Denny Crane (William Shatner) would blurt out. Not wanting to make a scene, I said “Okay, folded up the tripod and walked out of the carnival. To tell the truth I really wasn’t sure what my rights were in that situation, or the carnival owner’s rights or the rights of the church who owned the property. There were plenty of other people taking photographs with point and shoots but by using a tripod (necessary for all but the most impressionistic pinhole photos) I stuck out. Maybe it’s time for a high resolution, compact camera like the Canon G9.

I was down but not out. I retreated to the sidewalk. A public side walk, where I knew I had a right to shoot from. I set the camera and tripod down and looked up the street as if waiting for a ride. With one eye on the Rent-a-Cops, I pointed my camera at the twirling Zipper and pressed the shutter, turning away for the 15 second exposure. I glanced at the LCD screen and saw I had cut off the top of the ride. I recomposed and press the shutter again. Fifteen seconds later I looked down at the LCD screen on the back of the camera and I could see, I had it. I found my son, bought him some French fries and we headed for the car.


I attended Richard Power Hoffman’s Time Lapse Filmmaking Workshop at Scribe Video Center here in Philadelphia.

After completion of his feature film Invisible Mountains, which took him eight years to complete, Richard wanted to find a way to tell his stories that didn’t involve a crew, expensive equipment, and a cast. Using one inexpensive, yet high resolution still camera, Richard perfected his technique and began making time-lapse films comprised solely of still frames.

Fridays at the Farm: A 19 minute film comprised of nearly 20,000 still frames taken during the growing season at a local community supported organic farm.

Prayer for Philadelphia: A 3 minute film comprised of 5000 still frames, Grand prize winner of the Great Expectations 2007, Hopes and Fears film competition.

Media, PA: A 3 minute, 5000 frame piece, 2nd place winner of Ikea’s, Hometown Make Over Contest winning a $5,000 gift certificate for nine business’s in Media.

Seeds of Spring: A test of different techniques for an upcoming children’s film about the growing cycle of a tomato on a farm. Shot in Full Dome format. To be projected onto planetarium domes! Sounds a lot more exiting than the 16mm, black and white, films we use to watch in grade school back in the stone age, Oh yeah, does anyone Remember Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Sorry, I digress.

In 1998 Richard started Coyopa Productions in Media, PA visit his website to read reviews, and view trailers.