Sunday, May 24, 2020

Thunderbolt (Memorial Day 2020)

... this is a heck of a good World War II documentary - 'Thunderbolt' (1947) - directed by William Wyler and John Sturges, and photographed by members of the Army Air Forces... it's currently been playing on Netflix - is where we first viewed it a few months back...

(You Tube video)

... excellent accompanying narrative voiced by actor Lloyd ("Sea Hunt") Bridges:

- "This is how ya' live when you're an airplane driver fighting an air war..."
- "Major Francis "Spanky" Manda - squadron operations officer... he's 22..."
- "Captain Howard Hickok - flight leader... he's 23..."
- "Gil Wymond - commander... he's 24 - the old man..."
- "Group commander Lt. Colonel Archie J. Knight... he's 27..."
- "57th Fighter Group... three squadrons... 1000 men..."
- "Alto Air Base, Corsica... good steel mat runway - 150ft x 6000ft..."
- "The brass upstairs plans the war... they want something... you do it... don't always know why... 
   don't always care... but you know there's a reason - a good one..."
- "The P47 Thunderbolt... one man - one engine - extra fuel tanks for range - rockets - 500lb bombs - 
   cameras - you've got eight guns - cyclic rate of 800 round per minute - 106 bullets a second..."
- "You're in the air... game of follow the leader - the squadron leader - he doesn't tell you what to do - 
   does it - you follow - wing tip to wing tip..."
- "No bombsight on the P47 - the pilot does his own aiming... last man goes in - drop your bombs - 
   pull out - black out for a second - the blood drains from your head - but you're young - it comes 
  back fast..."
- "A hit - no more bombs... you've got plenty of gas... plenty of ammo... go on the prowl - see what 
   you can find..."
- "Railroad tracks... not a bad way to find a train... you find one... give it a few squirts - might kill
   somebody..."
- "A light house out there... wonder if I got any ammo left - yep..."
- "Radio station... blow out a few tubes..."
- "Somebody in that field - no friends of mine..."
- "Gerry vehicles parked in that farmyard - must be a headquarters..."
- "Houses around here look kind of suspicious... uh oh... whaddya know!..."
- "Heading home... one plane light... nobody saw it happen... maybe he spun in... maybe he bailed
   out... you'll think about it later..."
- "Alto... home..."
- "All you know is, for some the war is expensive... you wish the people back home could at least
    see it..."
---------------

"... the object of war is not to die for your country 
but to make the other bastard die for his..."
                                           - Gen. George S. Patton

Sunday, May 3, 2020

"Aminals is 'Telligint"

... Ig the cat has his own towel which is used to dry him off when he comes in from the rain - one of his favorite things (which he has come to expect)... he came in a few nights ago, and unnoticed by us, soaking wet... he sat there meowing for a while, trying to attract our attention... we were preoccupied with some business... after being told to "BEAT IT!" a few times, he gave up, went over to the towel rack, pulled his towel off onto the floor, then rolled around on it to dry himself off... he's pretty smart...

"... why don't you shove that camera up your ass and do something useful - like dustin' the house!!..."

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Downtime

"... for the team of twenty-nine who man the Calypso life aboard is an incessant labor - repair and re-repair, improvise and re-improvise, and when it's all fixed, all fashioned, re-fix and re-fashion it all over again... the work requires pros... men who got guts and brains - and few romantic illusions... there are no Conrads here, no Melvilles, no Lowrys - only realists , with two or more trades... only men who can endure, ignore or shrug off long confinements, the perpetual rack and pitch of Calypso, the endless cacophony of wind and sea, machinery and other men's work... and when it isn't fix it, it's scrub it or paint it - an endless fight against corrosion, peeling, blistering...  (Rod Serling)

"... whatever the job, complex or mundane, the men of Calypso do it, and they do it well... they all know that they are vital parts of a collective endeavor... that our discoveries will be seen by millions of television viewers, and that our hull will echo in the hearts of young people world wide..."    (Jacques Yves Cousteau)
                                              
                                                                                - 'The Water Planet', Cousteau Odyssey, Episode 12  

... combining a sh*ty winter (no snow) with the current downturn in life, we've had a lot of opportunity the past few weeks, and months, to revisit the highly influential television series, 'The Cousteau Odyssey' (aka: 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau') - gotta love YouTube...

(Internet Image)
... the men, Jacques Yves Cousteau (R) and his friend and chief diver of the Calypso, Albert Falco... 

(image from the book, 'Falco, Chief Diver Of The Calypso')
... cross-sectional view of Cousteau's research vessel, 'Calypso'... 

... we hadn't seen these shows since they first aired on television beginning in the late 60's and extending into the mid 70's - beyond then and extending into the early 80's the luster of the adventures began to tarnish as larger corporate sponsors with political agendas became involved - you could even see it wearing on Cousteau...

... highly recommended viewing for those looking to occupy some time, and particularly for the unfamiliar...

---------------

... the September, 1970 underwater cinematography issue of 'American Cinematographer' magazine... again, highly influential... besides articles on Cousteau and crew and underwater filming in practice, there was an article on a surfer/filmmaker by the name of George Greenough, who had recently completed a new surfing film called 'The Innermost Limits Of Pure Fun' - we were most impressed by Greenough's low budget and go-it-alone approach to his work, which included designing and fabricating his waterproof camera housings, mounts, tripods - just about everything he needed - no quest for fame and fortune, he mainly just wanted to be left alone to go about his own business... he was the first filmmaker to film the inside of a tube of a wave while riding a kneeboard of, again, his own design...

... another work of influence was a film titled 'Solo' shot by a skilled climber/filmmaker by the name of Mike Hoover - we saw it unexpectedly in a movie theater (probably 1972) as a short subject prior to the main feature, a typical practice in feature film presentation back then... have no recall what the main feature was - all we could think about was hastening the showing so we could set into the repeat performance and view the short again... the May, 1973 issue of American Cinematographer (which we still have) had a pretty informative production article... the old (before the '85 flood) visitors center at Seneca Rocks, WV used to show it regularly in their theater - don't know if they still do, never been inside the new center subsequent to the fire years back... we finally go a VHS copy sometime in the '90's - a click on the link provided above will get ya' to a YouTube feature - not the best transfer, but good none the less... probably a bit hokey by todays standards, but guys back then had more soul than splash...

---------------

... doesn't hurt to have multiple skills other than pointing and shooting a camera as nowadays - here's a few suggested in the excellent book, 'Secrets of Hollywood Special Effects' (Robert E. McCarthy, 1992)... we could add a few to that...

... we've had probably more fun designing our own equipment and solving the logistics off "getting the shot" as we did with the actual process of creating a finished film... we always took the "rubber air bulb duster" analogy when it came to equipment - if ya' purchase it from a camera shop it's called a "camera air bulb duster" and it costs $15 - if ya' purchase it from a drug store it's called an "ear syringe" and costs $.99... we've fabricated scrims, filters, diffusers, reflectors, mounts - it's a lot cheaper to beat up a modified 100w/12v halogen automotive work light ($10 from NAPA) in a wet cave system than a several hundred dollar photographic Lowell lighting system - and they both work just as good (and use the same bulb)...

... one of a set of four dolly trucks we built from pressure treated 2x4 lumber, nylon rod, steel all thread rod and skateboard wheels - designed to roll along tracks fabricated from flush coupled 4" diameter pvc casing pipe, of which we had access to a free used supply...

... helmet cam fabricated from an old dirt bike helmet - no GoPro at the time - that's an old Hi8 Canon video camera attached...

... learning the ins and outs - an old 'Kodak Brownie 8' film camera and Kalart 8mm film editor... shot mostly Eastman Kodachrome II color reversal film back then and a bit of B&W as well - don't recall the manufacturer of the B&W film stock - do remember that we shot a pretty good pheasant hunting short, probably around '68 - it was tossed long ago, with a ton of other stuff, when mom decided to clean out the attic without asking - we talk to a lot of guys who've had that same problem...

(internet image - 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark')
... somewhere out in the cosmos there's an asteroid orbiting that is home to a warehouse of infinity proportion that stores every item ever tossed by every guys mom... might not be a bad fate spending eternity going thru all those crates - it's all good sh*t... wonder how long before we'd get to our stuff...

... a couple young guys have inquired to us recently with questions (mostly film processing and negative cutting/editing) regarding Super 8mm and 16mm film photography - said that they don't even know anybody that's ever even shot 35mm still photography...  Arriflex, Eclair, Beaulieu - all great cameras each and we've shot with 'em all, and we're still pissed for not purchasing a used 35mm Mitchell years back when we were messing around with stop motion animation (a guy we met in NY was selling it for $500 in perfect condition) - you get just as great results from less expensive equipment and a good lens - pictured above are two Eastman K-100 16mm turret cameras we own - camera on the right is mounted with a Peleng 8mm/f3.5 fisheye lens w/ 180ยบ angle of view, M42 to c-mount adapter... and we've always loved spring wound motor drive - we were reading a biography a while back of a guy who was cameraman on a small expedition to a difficult mountain peak in Pakistan or somewhere - comes time to get the summit shot and he discovers that his batteries have frozen - pretty much ended his career on the spot (f*k it, shit happens  - we'd still use 'em - and most had died attempting that peak) - but he would have done himself a big favor if he would have packed along a spring wound camera as backup - even if he only got twenty seconds of even 8mm footage - we sure would have... anyway, lots of that stuff still out there on eBay in good working order...

... filming with our Bolex H16EBM...

... Strongman Matt checking out an underwater video camera housing...

... ha - inspired by Cousteau we long ago attempted to film a huge, rumored 8ft length, Muskellunge that was lurking in a deep stretch of water along the local Youghiogheny River here in PA - was said to resemble a railroad tie when lying about the shallows - despite swimming probably every inch of that river bottom and hours of surveillance from an overpassing railroad trestle, we never saw the fish -  but many reportedly did - a local guy who was  obsessed with landing that thing was said to have blown it out of the water with several sticks of dynamite - don't know the truth to that story but we ourselves were questioned by the local Fish Warden concerning the incident - suspiciously, the suspected culprit (who everyone knew) gave up his quest for the fish immediately thereafter... we only got as far as shooting a few test still photos of a couple bass and walleye (saw some big ones, too) - those all disappeared - the only remaining image from that adventure is the one above... we suspect that they're all locked up in a crate somewhere in that warehouse...

Monday, April 6, 2020

Secret Journey

... one path...

... 'Ghost in the Machine'...

...'Spirit' boulder...

... a bit of wayback inspiration from 'The Police'...

---------------

(YouTube video)

(YouTube video)

... encore...
(YouTube video)

... good stuff...

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Over The Hills And Far Away

... the only directions that we need...

... springtime - first day out - a long afternoon workin' out some tight winter tendons on 'Guppy' boulder...

... easy route...

... hard route (Goodman's old route "Master Blaster")...

... and makin' peace with the natural world - we believe she may be a bit pissed at the moment...

Edit 03/28: 
... vintage image of original crewman Strong Man Matt - probably around '96... even when he can't be with us he's with us...

Edit 03/29:
(You Tube Video)
... Hey - lets add some MTB... makes your car run better, too - had a Chevelle that would do 125mph when ya' would put this in the tape deck...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Sanctum Sanctorum

"... whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god..."

                                                                                                       - Aristotle       


... responsibly practicing "social distancing" for the past sixty plus years - we always called it "f*k everybody", however...

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Too Little, Too Late

... winter really disappointed this year - three decent snowfalls that coated the ridge with maybe six inches of morning powder - each instance fading to wet slush by early afternoon as the air warmed from above and the unfrozen, warm wet ground thawed from below - and each occasion we're bridled by prior commitments ta' boot - so any snow excitement was limited to two brief broom sweepings of the front sidewalk - never even broke out the snow shovel... we personally consider the first day of trout fishing season to be the official last day of winter in this neck of the woods (we've occasionally fished in some near blizzard conditions years back) - that's five weeks away - so there's still hope yet... but if not who cares - bring on springtime...

... we came across a few old photos that we forgot about - these two images are from Bear Run Nature Reserve (BRNR) around 1990, skiing with a young Muscle Girl Sarah and Strong Man Matt - we used to have a batch of XC ski photos for this place but they all disappeared - we're sure that all the 35mm film negatives still exist within the negative archive files - however, a recent "mandated" upgrade to our Mac OS subsequently quit supporting the operating system to a great film scanner that we functioned with for years, rendering it useless - so that's where they'll stay... we're pretty fed up with everything computer controlled - come spring we'll be spending the majority of our time outdoors as usual, where we don't use any of that crap, so who cares... we find that all this "computer automation" just makes the dumb even dumber, anyway... at least nature is a final design and build - done...

... "God looked upon his world and called it good, but Man was not content - he looked for ways to make it better and built machines to do the work - but in vain we build the world unless the builder also grows"...

- 'I Robot' (The Outer Limits - 1964)

... that ain't happenin'... anyway, we digress...

... here's a old BRNR trial map... under optimal snow conditions (say a foot plus) that is great backwoods ski area - around twenty miles of trails with nearly 1100FT topographic relief spread out a little over 5,000 acres traversing creeks, spruce/rhododendron thickets and hemlock groves - pretty rocky and steep in spots so the deeper the snow cover the better for skimming rocks and downhill control - wouldn't call it a beginner XC area as it can be a real workout and the steeps are just that... used to ski here a lot back in the reliable snow days as it's only about twenty minutes from the front door - some great late evenings were had...

... we were lookin' for a reason to even handle a pair of skis a few weeks back (it was a January day and nearly sixty degrees) so we photographed this image... we been gliding around on a pair of Rossignol BC 110's (2) with Voile HD 3-pin hardware/Alpina Alaska 75's (1) drivers, for the past couple of seasons - Black Diamond adjustable poles (3)... we got pretty fond of skiboards (4/5) for quite a few years - we originally bought 'em as approach skis for ice climbing as they come mounted with ratchet strap bindings that accept mountaineering boots - we liked their performance navigating dense woods and steeps so much that we souped 'em up a bit with 3-pin hardware for just plain old backwoods trails - we wouldn't recommend 'em for much more than powder snow as they're pretty sluggish in any snow that you can form a snowball (particularly for breaking trail) and if crusty you're all over the place - we also would prefer a fish scale pattern base (not available for some reason) as opposed to the built in climbing skins which hold a lot of moisture and balls up with snow - we usually spray the heck out of 'em with 'Macs 8300 Silicon Spray' available at NAPA Auto Parts... for fun (and to clean off the dust and cobwebs) we included an old school pair of nordic style Trak Glide "No Wax" skis (7), souped up with old Voile Plate style 3-pin bindings, non adjustable bamboo poles (6) - don't know how many pairs of those we split -  and ASOLO Glissade 310 boots (8)...

... came across a few more old stills from Ohiopyle SP from around '87-'88 - hangin' out with the "Good-Man" and a young Strong Man Matt... the upper three photos are along a "secret trail"...

... 3-pin equipment seems to be coming scarce with most everything we see nowadays being toe-bar style drive... we've never skied 'em so really can't comment... we tend to be a bit rough on equipment (at least that's what we're always told), but have broken more bones than (durable) 3-pin gear - that's good enough for us... we don't get out that much anymore, anyway...