Simon Griffee Design Photography Writing Illustration

August 2009

Il Mercatissimo Truck, Bracciano, Italy, August 2009

Published 2009 August 30

Hello 28mm!

Asia Calling, Consolidation, Dusty Boxes

Published 2009 August 23

The furthest east I’ve been from where I was born is the Cyclades with my friend Andre back in 1999. I miss traveling, seeing completely unfamiliar places, listening to words I don’t understand.

Lately the East has been calling my name. I received inquiries about my lenses from Taiwan and comments on my Ricoh notes from Nevin Young in Hong Kong.

One of my favorite things about photography is its ability to communicate across cultures. This communication happens not only with photography as a visual art form, but also with photography as a common interest between people. Talking about the tools of photography can bring people together as much as talking about pictures.

Nevin writes about photography with compact cameras over at GX Garnerings. I like reading English written by non-native speakers. It has a charm all its own. We’ll meet in person some day, Nevin, whether in Rome, Hong Kong or somewhere in between!

JRB and KJT are planning a trip to Thailand. We’re almost certainly going to join them. Maybe we’ll meet Nicoletta in India on the way back, or go the other way around and meet Alison somewhere high in the Andes or deep in the South American jungle… I also miss California… And do want to see more of Africa and the Middle East… Maybe the call of Asia leads to the rest of the world, or at least to a beach, somewhere.

Consolidation?

Having too many things—accumulation—whether physical or psychological, can lead to stress. I know this from looking at my home, my parents’ house, from the outside. Inside I couldn’t see it, and I was too young. Now I do see it, and am making a conscious decision to live with the least I need.

I do have doubts about this.

It is good to have a home to return to, to look through old things and feel the flash of memories. It does imply pursuing past pleasures, living in the past, does it not?

We live now, not yesterday, not tomorrow. But, I do enjoy those flashes and the inspirations they sometimes bring…maybe I could use some sort of storage…maybe I should photograph and digitize as many objects as I can…a photographic project…thinking out loud here.

Boxes Covered with Dust

I am thinking about opening comments on selected posts here soon, inspired by Karim, who I still think should get a camera and go traveling and forget about marketing for a long while.

I don’t want conversations with friends to disappear in the ‘social network cloud’ should it all come crashing down, which I think is bound to happen at some point. After all, one of the best things to find in dusty boxes is an old letter from a friend, is it not?

This will be my dusty box on the internet…

—Simon

L’Isola del Cinema, Rome, Italy, August 2009

Published 2009 August 23

Camerati

Published 2009 August 18

Alessandro Sala at Cesuralab:

The birthplace and final resting place of Benito Mussolini is becoming a Mecca for fascists from all over Europe. Thousands of black-shirted visitors descend on the small town of Predappio each year on the anniversaries of Il Duce’s birth, death and rise to power.

Why the Ricoh GRD?

Published 2009 August 18

Ryan asked me (paraphrased):

bq.. So I too am always looking for the pocketable, digital, as close to rangefinder as possible.

That EP-1 looks nice, as does the new leaked Panasonic. I actually really like the feel and look of the Canon G10. Why the Ricoh over some of the others?

I’m posting my reply here in case it is useful to anyone else:

My criteria for choosing a GRD, based largely on reading about it and handling one for a few minutes once (without the optical viewfinder):

  1. Superior handling and controls compared to other small digis.

  2. Light, small camera. I don’t want to carry heavy things with me, especially when traveling. I was inspired by Alex Majoli, who has done much work with little digital compacts the past years.

  3. Optical viewfinder on the flash hot-shoe. I don’t like framing by looking at a screen. I’m getting a Voigtlander 28mm all-metal finder because it has the 3:2 aspect ratio lines which I prefer over the 4:3 ratio in the Ricoh viewfinders (you can set 3:2 aspect ratio in the camera).

  4. Single lens focal length. I like working with one focal length for an extended period to ‘learn it.’ I find it helps me concentrate on the scene in front of me. I think I would prefer if it were 35mm rather than 28mm, but it’ll do (and there’s an add-on lens to change it to 40mm I think). Been shooting with a 50mm equivalent lens on the Leica almost exclusively for 2 years…personally it’s time to learn a wider view…

  5. Proven support by Ricoh—they issue firmwares and seem to listen to their customers and to what photographers want in a small ‘serious’ compact… Other cool features like square aspect ratio, very high-resolution screen, fast f/1.9 lens (in the new GRD III).

My other choices would be Panasonic LX3 and maybe the new Panasonic or Olympus EP-1… Panasonic LX3 would be my ‘zoom in’ far-away photos camera. The problem with the last two is that they are the first models of a new type of camera, and in my experience (M8 problems) I think it’s best to avoid these! The G10 is a bit too big I think…There are some comparison pictures in the bottom of this page (here’s a rough translated version).

Lastly, the GRD just looks damn cool :-)

Earth’s Moon Around Midnight, Bracciano, Italy, 12 August 2009

Published 2009 August 11

MoonEarthSolar SystemLocal Interstellar CloudLocal BubbleOrion ArmMilky WayLocal GroupVirgo SuperclusterLarge-scale structure of the cosmosObservable universeUniverse. 1/125 sec, f/11, ISO 200.

Canon 5D & Lenses for Sale (All Sold)

Published 2009 August 9

I am selling my Canon 5D full frame DSRL camera with a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, 17–40mm f/4 L zoom wide angle lens and 70–200mm f/4 L image stabilized zoom telephoto lens for the prices below. All the equipment is clean and in perfect working condition. All Sold.

Rough Packing List for Extended Travel

Published 2009 August 9

Two days ago I saw the sun setting into the Tyrrhenian Sea off the ancient Etruscan port of Pyrgi. While walking on the sand at dusk I decided I will go traveling and end up living by a beach somewhere early next year. I started the following list to help me get organized:

  1. Pair of very good quality shoes suitable for all terrain and weather. Rugged, durable, dark brown or black. Comfortable to wear all day. Also wearable to social events when clean. Looks like something from Paraboots would do: Sebastião Salgado in an interview by Marcelle Katz in the Sunday Times, 1995:

    “Almost more important than my cameras, are my boots. I’m on my feet maybe 14 hours a day and I walk a lot. When I travel, I take only one pair of black boots which I wear day and night. I’ve had the same pair for 13 years and they are practically glued to my feet. They are called paraboots—an old French brand, which were originally made for the workers in the markets of Les Halles. They’re not beautiful but they are capital!”

  2. Pair of flip-flops

  3. 4 linen shirts, 1 dark brown, 1 light brown, 2 white (only one with short sleeves)

  4. 4 artificial fiber undervests

  5. 5 pairs of cotton socks

  6. 4 pairs of briefs

  7. 2 pairs of dark linen trousers

  8. 2 linen jackets, 1 of slightly heavier & warmer material than the other

  9. Dark brown belt

  10. Black tie

  11. Pair of linen shorts

  12. Pair of swimming trunks, quick-drying

  13. Small towel, quick-drying material

  14. Hat (straw?) with neck string

  15. Long cotton scarf, also suitable for wrapping around head as a turban

  16. Metal or leather water bottle

  17. Eye glasses & case

  18. Contact lenses, case, saline water bottle

  19. Toothbrush & small toothpaste tube

  20. Shaving kit

  21. Pocket knife (Swiss army)

  22. 5-10 meter piece of string

  23. Cotton cleaning cloth

  24. Small first aid kit

  25. Bar of soap (usable for washing of body & clothes)

  26. Bottle of shampoo (small)

  27. Wallet & coin pouch (small)

  28. Notebook in leather sheaf (small)

  29. Silly passports

  30. Pen & pencil

  31. 2 small digital cameras with 3 spare batteries & 3 spare SD cards each

    • Leica M8 or M9 with 35mm and 50mm (35mm-equivalent) lenses
    • Ricoh GRD III with 28mm (35mm-equivalent) lens
    • No Leica, GRD & other waterproof compact?
    • No Leica, GRD & Panasonic LX3?
    • Leica M3?
    • Voigtlander 28mm optical viewfinder
    • 2 spare batteries for each camera
    • 2 spare SD cards for each camera
    • 2 small USB SD card readers
    • Battery chargers
  32. Small laptop computer with built-in wireless networking, as light as possible

    • Macbook? Toughbook What are the lightest laptops? ‘Netbook’? OS X? Ubuntu Linux?
    • Software: Web browser, text editor, image editors (raster & vector), image library, FTP, VOIP
    • Power cable
    • Modem cable
    • Lan cable
  33. Portable backup hard disk drive, as small as possible, with one cable (powered by the computer), potentially with capability to connect directly to camera

  34. Mobile phone with wifi capability?

  35. Solar charger?

  36. Lightweight small ‘daypack’ backpack, which can also be checked-in with ‘potentially explosive liquids’ and pocket knife

  37. Good hand/backpack with space for all of the above, yet small enough to be taken with me in a commercial aeroplane’s cabin. Made to last. Maybe something from Saddleback Leather Company


Later in the evening, at Tre Casette, located between Sasso and the coast, I observed the moon rising above the dusty Roman horizon while listening to a surprisingly faithful Pink Floyd cover band consisting of a man and woman playing guitar and organ. They had sound mixers, lasers, lights and a smoke machine.

The breeze was gentle, the night balmy.

I didn’t have a camera.

Near Circo Massimo, Night, Rome, Italy, July 2009

Published 2009 August 8

Streetlight, Man, Shadow, Rome, Italy, July 2009

Published 2009 August 8

Possible for Libero Pensiero.

Trastevere Night, Rome, Italy, June 2009

Published 2009 August 6

The Pig Warrior Dream

Published 2009 August 5

I am moving from metal strut to strut in a large structure shaped like a helicopter. Other low-flying Apache war helicopters are flying inside, their rotor blades swung forward, chopping the air, searching for me. I manage to reach the opposite side of the structure and lower myself under a table. Amber is with me.

Looking back the way I came from I see a shape foraging beneath the struts. It notices me suddenly and begins to run toward the table. I move to the side where a corridor free of debris forms a line between myself and the monster I now see clearly: an armor-clad pig warrior, running on its two hind legs.

I have some sort of gun shaped like a hose which I point at the creature and fire repeatedly. It has no effect. The pig is almost on me and I realize I must kick it. I kick as hard as I can—CRACK!

I wake up with a noise and jolt. My right foot is planted between the bed’s wooden railings. It hurts, but nothing seems broken.

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