Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I will always remember those words. My Mom used to be a Bingo nut. Playing at five different places each week, including the Elks Club that was across the street from our home in Pompton Lakes, NJ. These old ladies can be a rough crowd, especially when cheap drinks are involved. "Shake up your balls!" they'd yell at the old guy running the machine. Then, he'd stand up and slowly gyrate his pelvis – as best a senior citizen could do without putting himself in the hospital.

Anyway, growing up in the 1970s, once in a while, especially during the summer months when nothing was going on in "Mayberry", as my late mother-in-law called it, I would accompany my mother across the street on a Wednesday night. I can still smell the cigarettes!

After I moved to Arizona and met Randy Efros, I found this Bingo Hall a few blocks from his home in Phoenix. I immediately fell in love with it and wanted to photograph it. A few weeks ago I finally found the time on one of my Sunday morning surgical photo strikes. I started out with the 8x10" camera in black & white, then switched to the 4x5" camera and shot both color and black & white. I still have to develop the BW negatives, but I have the color.

As it is Mother's Day soon, these are for Mom!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another Superior photograph...

... from my friend Tiffany Pacileo!

Taken on our recent trip to Miami, Tiffany was at the ready when I broke out my 11x14" camera for the first time. Thanks Tiffany!

Visit her websites at Paint My Vacation and City Sites Photo Art.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning

I was driving around while my daughter was taking her painting class two weeks ago and I remembered that my mentor, Rod Klukas, had told me about a freshly painted building a few blocks away on McDowell Rd. near Rt. 51. I drove by and knew I had to make this image in color.

I went past it and turned around to see it from the other side of the street. I pulled in a parking lot and set the 4x5" camera up with a Fuji 450c lens which can bring me across the street with ease. This was a tough one to meter and I believe I metered for the magenta. Kind of reminds me of a rainbow.

Anyway, watch out sailors!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

2 Years in the Making...

As Tom Petty said, "The Waiting is the hardest part."

I have wanted to take this photo for almost 2 years now. It is on the corner of 32nd St. and Oak St. in Phoenix. Usually, the sun is not right or too harsh and it washes the colors out. Or, they would have "Corona" Beer banners plastered all over it.

Two Saturdays ago everything was perfect. I was in the area because I took my daughter to her painting class. It was raining lightly. And there were no ugly banners in place. I drove by but it was raining into where I would have my lens pointing. So I drove around some more, got a cup of coffee, went to see Rod. An hour and a half later the rain stopped and it was still overcast. Perfect for color! I drove back, set up the 4x5" camera and made the exposure in less than 10 minutes.

I love this image... it has so many colors in it and they are all very strong. And the cow makes the image. I can't wait to see it printed large.

Joe Trevino: Without Distinction at ASU

I went to my friend Joe Trevino's MFA Thesis Exhibit at ASU last night. The exhibit is titled "Without Distinction".

This was my first venture into the world of academic art. I was expecting more of the typical deadpan photography so prevalent in the MFA crowd, but I was pleasantly surprised. Joe is not your typical MFA candidate. He has thought his project out and expended great amounts of time, energy, and resources. He also is sort of a hybrid, toeing the line between classical straight photography and what they call photography today. He uses an 8x10" view camera and shoots color transparencies, a rarity today. The transparencies are scanned and output to large format inkjet prints. I would guess the larger prints were at least 36x45", large but not so large that you have to walk to see the other end of the image. A nice size to view, for sure. The prints were flush mounted but not matted or framed.

Joe and I like to photograph some of the same things but he tends to concentrate of an even tighter view and distinguish the indistinguishable, that which is without distinction. There is an almost surreal quality to some of his work.

The exhibit was well conceived, well executed and well attended. I wish Joe much success in his future photographic career.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Portrait of an Artist...

Well, I finally got (I think) a good portrait for my LF class. My daughter is taking a continuing ed portrait painting class at her school on Saturdays, taught by her teacher, Michael Pesselato. I asked him if I could take his portrait for my class and he graciously agreed. Mr. Pesselato is an accomplished artist and art scholar. He is also a wonderful and dedicated teacher and has helped my daughter grow as an artist.

During his class I set up my 8x10" camera in the studio, found a composition and a place in that composition for Mr. Pesselato. The room was lit fairly well but not enough for large format portraiture. I don't like strobes and don't understand them so I prefer hot lights. They had a couple of old Smith Victor reflectors so I used them to add a little light to Mr. Pesselato. Even with that I had to shoot wide open (f/9 on my Fuji 300 Apo) at 1/8 of a second on TMax 400. Thankfully, Mr. Pesselato is not a "swayer" and stood perfectly still for two exposures.

My daughter just does not want me to photograph her... must be a "Dad" thing. So I asked one of the other students, a classmate of hers, if she would mind. At first she was hesitant but when I explained to her that I would be taking multiple portraits of her in the same frame she thought it would be cool. I composed an abstract kind of shot, having her face reflected in a mirror she was using as part of her self-portrait project. A photo of her is also in the image as well as part of her painting which is obscured by the back of her head. I think it's kind of cool. This one is on 4x5" Tri-X.

So, I have broken the ice on portraiture and think I would like to do it again.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Color Without Form...

I was out photographing a few Sundays ago and ended up at the Scottsdale Civic Plaza. There is this tree trunk in front of the brushed steel surface of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art that I wanted to photograph in black & white with the 8x10" camera. I made my exposure and then thought about how beautiful the Civic Plaza, or Mall as they call it, is. They have sculptures, fountains, grass and flower beds. In particular, pansies. I have loved pansies since I was a small child. My grandfather always grew the most beautiful pansies. Their colors are pure and strong.

So I went back to the car and switched cameras to the 4x5" and brought color film with me. I set up to try and do some close ups of the pansies. However, with the limited depth of field I was getting, and the gentle breeze that was making the flowers move, I became frustrated. Better to do these in the studio under controlled lighting. Then I took my glasses off for a minute to rub my eyes. Things were blurry as I was looking at the flower beds... but they looked beautiful. So, I went back to the camera and deliberately threw it way out of focus and started panning for compositions. I was amazed at how pure the colors are when you don't have to worry about form. I made one exposure to see how it would turn out.

It turned out rather nicely, I think, so I want to do a series in this style, printed very large on watercolor paper. I know people will say "All you did was blur it in Photoshop." Then I can show them the chrome and they can see for themselves. I really did look for the composition after I had de-focused on the ground glass. It is kind of gimmicky, which seems to be what curators, judges, and critics want these days (that's for another discussion)... who knows? And, as one day everything will look like this to me, why not get used to it now :^)

Another one bites the dust...

I was driving around and photographing on Friday and passed another place that I have photographed that has now been stuccoed over. I'm thinking this is real now. Maybe I should photograph my neighbor's house! ;^)

Anyway, I have lots of new photographs to share from the past few weeks. Just have to scan them and think of something clever to say about them.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On the third day He rose again...

Sunrise, Good Friday, Manasquan Reservoir, Howell, NJ, 2003, Richard M. Coda

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

From my family to yours, a Happy, Peaceful and Blessed Easter.

Want to Disappear? Let me photograph you!

Something very disturbing has been happening. It seems things in Phoenix that I have photographed have been disappearing!

A few weeks ago I was driving down 32nd St. in Phoenix on my way to the lab to pick up some color transparencies. I noticed that the taco place (below) I photographed last summer has been painted over in an ugly brown-green-black vertical striped pattern.

Last week I had to pick my daughter up from school so I went down 24th St., again to pick up some color transparencies at the lab, and noticed that the pawn shop I photographed last fall was being remodeled. The awnings had been completely removed and as of last week only the image below remained. This morning I was in the area again and the entire building has been completely stuccoed over.

I had thought that this peculiar phenomenon was limited to my color work, but this morning, after running a few errands and heading back to pick up my daughter from her art class I noticed that the Electric Lady Land Boutique (below) on Camelback is now vacant, too. I would now guess that black & white is not exempt, either.

Normally I photograph things after they have already disappeared, but now I find that I am photographing them before they disappear. I hope that I am not responsible for the economic climate in Phoenix!

So, if you ever want to disappear, just give me a call and I'll photograph you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Inspirations #9: Eugene Atget, Mannequins

Mannequins have long been a favorite for photographers. They are great subjects... they don't move or talk back! All kidding aside, they can also be a mirror of the society they inhabit. The fashions of the time, the social sentiment... it's all right there in the window for all to see. And because there's glass involved there is almost always a reflection of some sort. Some photographers include themselves in the photograph. Others compose at an angle specifically to remove themselves from the image, or to capture reflections important to the composition. Photographers who have photographed mannequins (or dummies) include Edward Weston, George Tice, Ansel Adams, and Garry Winogrand. For me, though, it is Eugene Atget who is at the top of the list. He photographed the storefronts and boutiques of Paris in the 1920s.

Avenue de Gobelins, Paris, 1925, Eugene Atget

3925 (Electric Lady Land), Phoenix, AZ, 2008, Richard M. Coda

I was photographing early one Sunday morning down in Phoenix, as I try to do on a regular basis. I was heading East on Camelback Rd. to another location after I picked up a cup of coffee. Electric Lady Land is across the street from one of our favorite restaurants in the Valley, Vincent's on Camelback. It is also painted dayglo pink, yellow and green, so it is hard to miss. As the sun was still rising the light also caught my eye. It made my way into the parking lot rather quickly and set up my 8x10. By the time I had the camera set up and ready to go, the sun had moved high enough so the two nude figures in the back were now in shadow. I had wanted them to be fully lit but I think I like this image. I may go back around the same time of year and try to get there earlier... maybe I should get my coffee AFTER next time.

Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, 2008, Richard M. Coda

On our December trip to Hollywood I became fascinated by Hollywood at night. While my wife and daughter were catching a show I was walking around in the cold rain photographing. I only took the digital out because of the weather, but next time I am there I will use the 4x5" and 8x10" cameras. Anyway, this display caught my eye for some strange reason and I made the image. I have it as a 13x19" print and it came out a lot better than I had hoped for considering I used a high ISO and it was hand-held in the cold.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Inspirations #8: George Tice, Barber Shops

George Tice has a special place in my photographic heart. Mr. Tice is also a New Jersey photographer at heart.

There is something about "Jersey"... either you love it or you hate it. I grew up in Orange, NJ until 4th grade, and then moved to Pompton Lakes, NJ in 5th grade. I hated Orange. I loved Pompton Lakes, and I still do. I lived in Jersey for 42 years, and to this day my closest friends are still Jersey boys... and practically all of the "girls I've loved before" are all Jersey girls (nod to Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen).

Photographically, New Jersey is anything and everything you want it to be. Early in my photographic career I found many things I was excited to photograph. But as the demands of life began to play a more pertinent role, photography took a back seat. After being away from Jersey now for a few years, and with my expanded photographic skills, and a sharpened eye, I wish I could go back for a while, just for photography, if nothing else. I may get my wish one day, as my daughter wishes to go to Art School back East for her college days.

My earliest recognition of a photographic New Jersey were a result of George Tice. After seeing his work in college, and later meeting him in person, and winning a second place award in the Photo Review Annual Photography Contest jurored by Mr. Tice, I began to see ordinary things in an extraordinary way. Working in Paterson, NJ (the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America) presented me with many subjects to photograph, but never enough time to do so.

Upon moving to Arizona in 2005 and renewing my photographic ambitions, I had a chance to see new things again from a fresh perspective. In retrospect, I now see things that I had seen in Jersey but never photographed, and indeed, they may be gone forever back East, but there are still opportunities here in Arizona.

Barber Shop, George Tice

To tell you the truth, I was not aware of this particular photograph until after I made my Barber Shop image in Phoenix. I was aware of Joe's Barber Shop, Paterson, NJ, 1970, (below) by Mr. Tice, but that is an interior shot. It was only after researching Mr. Tice online that I discovered this image. I find it amazing how something can influence you to act, resulting in something almost identical to that which you have never seen.

However, after making my photograph and meeting the owner I have decided to go back and photograph the interior in action. David, the owner invited me inside after he saw me photographing outside one Sunday morning. It was like going back in time, to a barber shop museum in 1957. His grandfather was the original owner and there are many items that are from that time period. I will post those images when I make them.

Joe's Barber Shop, Paterson, NJ, 1970, George Tice

4008 (Bel View Barber Shop), Phoenix, AZ, 2007, Richard M. Coda

I have since made another image of "Dad's Barber Shop" on McDowell Rd., in Phoenix. My wish is to make an entire portfolio on barber shops as they, too, one day may become extinct.

Friday, April 3, 2009

And the winner is...

Sorry for the delay on my free print contest. I was a little busy the past couple of days.

Anyway, there were only two individuals who provided the correct information to become eligible, Paul and Richard. To determine the winner we conducted a scientific poll, OK, actually my daughter flipped a coin. We determined in a previous scientific poll, OK, we picked names out of a hat... first one out was heads and that was Richard. Then we flipped the coin and it came up heads. Congratulations to Richard! I will email you to get contact info so I can get your print to you.

Who knows, maybe I'll do this again soon. Stay tuned, and be well.

Weekend Birthday Music...

No, it's not my birthday, although I'll happily accept gifts around June 19th!

April 4 is the birthday of two of my blues and jazz favorites – Muddy Waters and Michel Camilo.

McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), better known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician and is generally considered "the Father of Chicago Blues". Considered one of the greatest bluesmen of all time, Muddy Waters was a huge inspiration for the British beat explosion in the 1960s and considered by many to be one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.

Enjoy this video of his classic, Got My Mojo Workin'. This particular video is from the DVD "Colin James Presents The Blues Masters." Filmed in 1966 in Toronto, it features probably the greatest collection of bluesmen ever assembled on one stage, including Otis Spann on piano, Pee Wee Madison on guitar, P.S. Leary on drums, and James Cotton on the blues harp (harmonica).

Also celebrating a birthday is Michel Camilo, one the greatest jazz pianists of all time. Michel Camilo (born April 4, 1954) is a pianist and composer from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is known as a great jazz, latin and classical pianist with superb technical ability, and has played and recorded with many world-famous musicians.

Enjoy "From Within". This amazing sound is coming from only three individuals.