Petzval Lens



Six years ago my buddy Matt Smigiel got together and did a Wolverine-inspired photography shoot.  I'm a big comic-book fan and I had a ton of fun with Matt that day, and I knew someday I'd like to get around to doing another one.

Well, after a lot of procrastinating and seeing the "Noir" version of the latest Wolverine movie "Logan" I dusted off the claws and got Matt to come down to Nashua for another day of *snikt!"-ing claws and saying "bub" a lot.

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Tim Paul Weiner

Tim Paul Weiner

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Tim Paul Weiner.

Tim is a bass player, employee of Berklee College of Music, and member of HOT MESS.  Remember them?  We also have a mutual friend, Elise MacDonald, former owner of Studio 99, who introduced us.  Tim liked working with me when we created some images for Hot Mess, so he booked a solo session with me.  He needed images for a revamped website.  I love working with musicians, and with Tim, it was so easy since we had already worked on the Hot Mess session together.

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Christ John Otto

Christ John Otto Christ John Otto is an author and the founder of Belonging House.  He contacted me after seeing the work I've done with Ian Ethan Case and we've developed a friendship while preparing to work together.  Christ (rhymes with "wrist") was looking to have some promotional photography created in the form of head shots for his website and upcoming books.  During our session, he let me play around a little bit and diverge away from our head shot session and take a little more freestyle approach.

Christ John Otto

Christ John Otto

For the image above, I slapped the Petzval lens on the front of the camera and took Christ into an empty studio next door to mine.  I love this look he is giving me here.  I love how the background gets kind of messy and circular because of the Petzval.  I don't use the Petzval enough and have to remember to put it on the camera more often.

Then I tossed a prism in front of the lens and started picking up reflections and refractions.

Christ John Otto

I love when a client allows me to play a little bit during our session.  I'm usually very lighthearted during all my sessions, but the people that let me break out a little bit and try this and that hold a special place in my heart.

Christ John Otto

Christ is currently on a multi-month sabbatical in Scotland right now.  Color me jealous.  He told me before he left that he's already anxious to hire me for another session, which is the best compliment in the world to get.

See you soon, Christ.  Make magic while in Scotland.  See you when you get back.



High School Senior Portraits: Christian

High School Senior Portraits: Christian

On top of my love for music photography and portraits, I also spend a good deal of time working on personal photography projects centered about things that are important to me throughout my life. I've been neglecting my more personal photography work for a while now, and I'm hoping that I can correct that, and reintroduce my personal work to a new audience.  There are links available on my fine art website HERE.

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Dave's Bowler Hat


How can you not love this image?

Dave has been looking for a hat for a while now.  Partly because he wants to find out what kind of hat will fit his head shape, and partly because he's thinking of joining the Cowboy Action Shooting League, and he's working on creating his persona, "Porkchop Chang".

He's been thinking about bowler hats for a while now - because "Oddjob" from the James Bond film had one, and he got to thinking that maybe it would fit his head shape as well.  So when a hat he bought arrived in the mail, I told him to c'mon down to the studio and we'd take some photographs of him wearing it so he could see how it looks on his head.

I did a little post-production on the image to make it feel like it was taken some time ago, back when people wore hats like this out and about.

I think it looks pretty good.  I think the brim of the hat could be a little wider and come out over his ears more, but overall I love the look and shape it gives him.  Plus, I just love hats, so any chance to photograph a friend in a lid is a-ok with me :)

Hana Kahn

Hana Kahn

I met musician/photographer/blogger Hana Kahn through my friend/photographer Kathleen Frank who recently moved to NH from Florida.  We've been itching to get together and mess around and spend the afternoon making photographs, and, finally one lovely August afternoon we made it happen.

Hana Kahn

I didn't shoot a whole lot - I enjoyed helping Kathleen out with her images and just enjoying the creative process and the weather.  I brought along my Hasselblad & grabbed a Polaroid (image above) and grabbed a few shots with the Petzval.

Hana Kahn
Hana Kahn

My favorite shot from the session, though, would have to be the first image up top (and here it is again:)

Hana Kahn

This was taken using my tasty little $12 prism I bought off of Amazon.  I love how having the prism in front of the lens, twisted in the right way, gives off that gorgeous, milky out of focus bottom.  It's picking up the light and refracting it through the prism and creates what looks like this gorgeous foreground element that I'm shooting through.  I love her pose and the colors and the background.  It's a very atmospheric portrait.

It was a really fantastic afternoon, and I wish I could have afternoons like that more often.  Thanks to Hana and Kathleen for making it possible. Go visit Kathleen's website and Hana's as well.  Thanks ladies for a fantastic afternoon.

Southern NH Meetup / Petzval Images

Kara • Southern NH Photography meetup

I used to frequent local meetups as much as I could in the past but over the years they fell off my radar.  This year they have started to sprout up again locally so I figured it was time to dust off my meetup status and hit one up.  And bring the Petzval along.

Nicole • Southern NH Photography meetup

We all met at Beaver Brook park, which is where Sara and I had our wedding ceremony.  The thing about meetups is that you never know who is going to actually attend.  We ended up having a large group of photographers but only two models for the afternoon, so I patiently waited my turn.  Usually in meetups you have lots of shooters all trying to shoot at the same time.  This happened during this meetup as well, so I did my best to stand back and wait my turn.  Its rude to the photographer and the model.  The model should be looking at the main photographer but often times they look at all the other shooters (note: if you do this, stand back next time and wait your turn).

I didn't shoot a whole lot.  I was using the Petzval lens without a tripod and strictly went with hand holding it.  It got a little cumbersome.


I’ve got my viewing loupe jammed into my eye.  I'm trying to focus on the subjects eyes with live view zoomed in and trying to focus using the knob on the Petzval.  I'm trying to keep everything steady by gripping the camera and lens tightly while pushing everything into my face to brace it steady even more.  Then, my eye starts fogging up the viewing loupe.

It's a mess.  I'm a mess using this free handed.  Anything for the shot, right?

One of the things you have to be careful with at meetups is what I call "location creep".  I had noticed that during the meetup nobody was shooting the models together.  I waited until the very end of the meetup when everyone said they were done and had their fill, and I asked the two models to follow me over to a location that hadn't been used yet.  I set them up on either side of this interesting sculpture.

Kara & Nicole • Southern NH Photography meetup

After seeing what I was doing, it quickly became a line of people behind me, waiting for me to finish so they could also shoot this image in this location.  Location creep.  I'm not a "secretive" photographer - I don't hide locations in my images from other shooters.  But theres something about lining up to take images from a setup/location that you didn't think about.  Sometimes people ask me if I'd want to do an elaborate setup/shoot at a meetup, and this is why I won't - because of location creeping.  As a photographer, just be mindful of this kind of thing during meetup situations.  It can sometimes leave a bad taste in other photographers mouths.

Kara • Southern NH Photography meetup

Thanks to photographer Zack Stone for arranging the meetup and to everyone that came and spent the afternoon hanging out, shooting and having a few laughs.


Sid by Edith Weiler

I believe I'm obsessed with wet plate and tin type photography.  I think that is a safe thing to say.  I love it.  LOVE it.  I'm constantly daydreaming about the day when I'll be able to mix my own wet plate chemicals and build a large format camera to use specifically for wet plate and tin type photography.  It's true alchemy.  It's being a Wizard; concocting a magical potion that can freeze moments and do it with such style and clarity and contrast.  Beautiful.

Sara and I had our wedding portraits done as large, 20x24" tin types by Yige Wang.  I love that man.  I love our portraits.  They are amazing.  So when my friend Edith Weiler started concentrating on wet plate photography, I started getting really anxious to watch her.  To help her.  To sit for her.

Edith is working on a body of wet plate portraits that will be part of an exhibition in November.  She asked Sara and I (and Dave Seah) if we would want portraits taken of us by her.

Excuse me?  Abso-freaking-lutely.

Every session we've had with Edith has been fantastic.  She lets me ask any question I have.  She lets me look over her shoulder throughout the entire process.  I've got a pretty good feel for how everything should go just by watching people like Yige Wang, Keith Alan De-Franca and Edith make their wet plates and tin types.  I'll be ready when the day comes.

Here are some shots from our first session with Edith a few months ago:

Wet Plate Portraits by photographer Edith Weiler


Wet Plate portrait

This image looks like it's straight out of a WPA photo book from the 1920's, doesn't it?  I look like someone during the Depression.  This exposure was around 25 seconds, so there is some slight blurring and movement.  I kinda like it though - it adds to the "age" of it.

Images were taken in Edith's backyard, with a simple roll of black backdrop paper gaff taped to the back of her house.  Her camera is in the foreground to the left.

The front of Edith's camera.  She had this really lovely lens cap made from leather.  Since Petzval and other older brass lenses don't have apertures, you need a cover over the front of the lens to prevent light from getting in.  This gorgeous leather cap was custom made for Edith.

For our next visit with Edith I shaved my beard a bit so that I could look a little different.

Tintypes by Edith Weiler

The exposures were better this time, especially on Dave's face.  I love the tones and the contrast that these images have.  These scans are nothing compared to the real plates themselves.  If you ever get a chance to see a real wet plate or tin type, please do.  They look so much better in real life.

Trying very hard to "look the part" during our shoot.  I think I was meant to live in the 1900's.

Sid by Edith Weiler

Looking a little more dapper this time, complete with a bow-tie.  Look at those tones.  It's gorgeous!  it's me, but a me from 1912.  I love it.

Edith then wanted to get a shot of Sara and I together:

Sara & Sid by Edith Weiler

So awesome.

Please visit Edith's website.  She's a treat to work with, and I'm looking forward to working with her in the future.

Wet Plates and Tin Types are amazing.