Reviews

Pick of the Week: Fischerspooner New Truth

Posted by Citizen Erased in Pick of the Week, Reviews | Leave a comment

fischerspooner new truthFischerspooner: “New Truth”

Fischerspooner: New Truth edited by Meredith Mowder is a book about the art and journey of the band Fischerspooner in the beginning. It`s 336 pages, and large format bombard you with a well curated and exact viewpoint of how Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner formed the band in 1998 and made their amalgamation of sound, art, and everything performance art,  the art pop project that just happened to release music. Fischerspooner is one of those bands of my 20`s who were my soundtrack to everything I did, even though their music itself seems so random and hard to pinpoint what exactly made it brilliant and meaningful. For my group of friends at the time Fischerspooner was EVERYTHING, and I think out of us 10 or so people we had never actually even seen Fischerspooner madness live. We just fed off of the music and videos, insane interviews and the rumblings of what happened live in New York. These two art majors from the Art Institute of Chicago made this happen from what appears to be a shear will to make music and preform, and I can tell you the amount of time in the book during interviews that Casey Spooner talks about experimental theater will make you roll your eyes a little. The book is love letter to this aspect of the band, as it documents the 1998 to 2003 period of their `band ‘career in-depth to an extent I think only a truth lover of art would appreciate (and maybe an appreciation of the band). The art pop performance project entailed a group of 25 performers and artists at the beginning and this book shares much of their story as the two central figures. There are ticket stubs, slides, album artwork, set lists, grainy photos of shows, professional photography of set and props, and wigs. There is also essays by curators and others in the art scene and an interview of Casey and Warren to give context to what you`re viewing. The book is largely trying to give the background to the project itself, and all the little elements that were obsessed about and apart of each unique performance during the beginning. Yes, there is a full page of a fake moustache, followed by a press photograph of a member of the band wearing it. That`s what you should expect when going through this book, if nothing else. And yes, I loved it, every moment of it.

a look at book:






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Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Review

Posted by Citizen Erased in Instant Photography, Lomography Wednesday, Reviews, Toy Camera | 2 Comments

fujifilm-instax-mini-90Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Review

The Instax Mini 90 by Fujifilm is the newest camera in their credit card sized instant photography range. The Mini 90 is a follow up to the almost forgotten Instax Mini 50 series.  What separates the Mini 90 and 50s before it from the colorful Instax 7(s) and 8 is the ability to customize your shot with advance settings while still being point and shoot. Included on the camera are multiple flash settings, basic lighting options, more shooting modes, a timer, and a tripod socket. New to this version alone however are the bulb and double exposure mode and a rechargeable battery which makes this camera the best they come up with for mini instant photography. The 90 also give offers instead of the bright colors and oddly shaped body of the 7 & 8’s a plastic and leather combination that holds and feels more like a camera (a design they’ve termed Neo Classic). Shoot modes include: Standard, Marco, Party, Kids, Landscape, Double Exposure and Bulb with 4 lighting modes of Normal, Light, Lighter, and Dark. As well you have Flash modes: automatic, forced firing, suppressed, and red eye reduction with option to turn on a self-timer for 1 or two shots.

Now for example photos and my review, you can also check out my Instax Film Guide.

Portraitinstax mini toronto (10)

Self-Portraithamicat instax mini film (1)

Catsinstax mini toronto (12)

Group Shotinstax mini toronto (2)

Landscapelomography instax mini film camping vancouver island long beach (15)

Still Life
instax-mini-film-instant-photography

Double Exposure
instax mini toronto (13)

Motionfuji-instax-mini-lake-ontario

Macromacro fail(I have not good example macro shots because they are all fails)

Sunnyspring instax mini film (14)

Cloudyfuji instax mini film lake ontario (3)

Duskhamicat instax mini film (9)

Sunrise/Sunsetfujifilm instax mini film

Direct Sunfall in instax film (5)

Shadefall in instax (2)

Nightfuji-instax-mini-film-15

Flashhalloween instax mini film (5)

Review

At the time I bought it last summer I was really wondering if it was worth it, especially as I really had my eye on the old Mini 50S in piano finish which was the same price as the Mini 8 and had almost identical features to the Mini 90 besides being the older model. However if shoot often with instant film and enjoy having a new camera with accessibility to film – ­­this camera will make you much happier than its contemporaries. Before I start reviewing and dissecting the Instax Mini 90, I want to state that I emphatically believe that it is the best camera option for mini instant film, even beyond the range of Fujifilm’s own cameras (hello Lomo’Instant) and the price is worth it. The only opposition to buying it over the others is personal preference for how it looks , not wanting to buy the higher price point (I bought mine for $60 more than the Instax Mini 8 but slightly cheaper than the Lomo’Instant) and the biggest one, no accessories (additional lens types and colourful cases). Like with any Instax film camera there is plenty of faults you can find with all of them including manual options, ability to use in all situation, and the viewfinder in name a few. If you want my opinion the best instant camera would be a vintage Polaroid camera compatible with current FujifilmFP100-C film but we are talking about cameras that use mini Instax film so I will digress. In my experience the Instax Mini 90 is the strongest out of them all and there is no element to it that is weaker or inferior to any other model when it comes to its technology.

Modes

The modes works well and allow you to use the camera in almost any situation. My favourite modes are the Party, Landscape and standard which I use constantly and get great results. My least favourite is Macro which I’ve never successful gotten a clear shot with despite trying various distance and subject matter. My second least favourite is Multiple Exposure, I know it might be hard to believe that someone who posts bi-weekly double exposures doesn’t enjoy this mode but I don’t. The results it gives me are easily over exposed with little details and I just can’t get behind it. I also not one to do typical multiple exposures so maybe the average person would still love this (I know it’s why I decided to buy the camera in the end). The other modes, Kids and Bulb I never use – I don’t know why I just don’t. One thing I will mention while I’m talking about the modes is the fact that Party and Kids for some reason do not allow you to shoot with no flash on. It infuriates me because unless I’m indoors or its night I mostly shoot with no flash and for them to arbitrarily not allow you, pisses me off especially since I use Party mode a lot. Although it can be said that the Mini 7/8’s don’t even have real modes so my negatives comments you have to take into perspective anything is better than nothing.

Lighting

The automatic Normal lighting is really good and versatile although it can be tricky as I’ve noticed at certain times in the afternoon you tend you get blue tinted photos for some reason. On bright sunny days when you are not shooting in shadows I recommend Dark as Normal will always be too bright. As for Light it’s good to use when shooting in shadows, but I haven’t had good experience using it in the afternoon as the sun is going down as it tends to make images more blurry and oddly have little contrast. Lighter is useless and blurry and has over exposed all dark situations I’ve used it on. Keep in mind I am referring to shooting by the hand as most people I am assume are not shooting with tripods. The two lighter options would drastically improve if used on a tripod as my biggest concern is the how blurry they are (I haven’t not tried this so I might be wrong). Lastly DON’T point at the sun; you will always get a black hole that ruins the shot.

Flash

For the flash modes as I’ve stated I solo try to shoot with the flash off. However I have used it at night and indoor and the default flash and red eye flash work great. It’s powerful and doesn’t wash out too much if things are at a good distance. However you want to make sure your subjects are not too close, I’d say anything an arm reach away (sorry all selfies will be over exposed ghosts). As for Non-flash I love, I do not trust any camera to know when the lighting is okay for flash or not, one reason why the Mini 90 is amazing because you can turn that off. But by default the automatic flash will be on and if you accidently leave it on, or are in the two modes that you can’t turn off the flash it will be a drunk fool and shoot in the middle of a sunny day just because. Automatic flash is the worst thing in any camera, full stop. Another peeve of mine is that I have to reselect the flash mode anytime I change the shooting mode, it’s annoying and it leads to that automatic flash being on when I didn’t realize and blinding someone during the middle of the day.

Normal mode – flash went of automatically fall in instax flash

No Flashfall in instax film (4)

Viewfinder

The viewfinder for me is the most frustrating part of the camera. I feel like I have a better time shooting if I ignored it completely. However when you are spending so much money per shot, it’d be nice to actually be able to frame it and what you see in the viewfinder is never what you’ll get. I’ve even started to try and figure out how to compensate for it and that just ends me up with worse shots. Now I’ve used the other versions and they are worse but I have to point it out because I’d love a true viewfinder and it’s a sour point in all the Instax cameras.

Other Features

One thing on the camera I cannot fault is the battery. For starts it has a rechargeable battery which I could just stop there as that’s already such an improvement. However not only do you no longer have to buy and carry around replacement batteries that weigh down you and your camera but the battery is amazing. I’ve owned the camera for a year and a half and charged it twice; once when it arrived and again a second time this summer. Now I don’t use the flash that often but it blows my mind that it lasts that long. The camera also has ‘selfie’ mirror on the front which is just the highly reflective shutter button that I didn’t even notice was there (I now no longer wonder why all mine turn out framed so badly). Speaking of things I didn’t notice, there are two shutter buttons on the camera. The top shutter is in the convention shutter button area and the second is on the front acting as the mirror and with the power switch around it – who knew? I use the one on the top exclusively and forgot the other even existed until now. Holding the camera now to test it I don’t know what position I’d be holding the camera in where that button would be more useful and comfortable that the other one. Luckily for me I’ve never accidently used it so it’s still a good design in my books as it’s there for people who want it but it doesn’t get in the way either. Other random features are the back mode screen and the film counter which do their job well. Only thing I can note is the film counter has on occasion told me the incorrect number of film available but that was after the camera was jammed in my bag and took 5 shots of the inside and one other time when I opened the back while having power on the camera. There is also a tripod mount that I have not used but it’s one of those musts and not enough toy cameras have one so I appreciate it. It also came with a very nice, fashionable and long leather neck strap that I love, and you can change it out for any other type of strap like a hand one. It’s also really light which probably in part has to do with not using batteries for power, and being the smallest of Instax camera. The size of it also makes it easy to fit into any of my smaller bags, you can load up with packs of film and still have plenty of room.

10 More Instax Mini 90 Photos:






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Pick of the Week: Haunted Air

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haunter airHaunted Air

Haunted Air by Ossian Brown is a 216 paged book that shows off one man’s collection of vintage Halloween photography, from ghosts to ghouls. It includes a foreword by David Lynch and a prologue by Geoff Cox and a brief historical note. It contains hundreds of devilish photographs taken on Halloween from the turn of the last century, and even includes one tintype that is likely dated back before 1900s.  The photographs themselves are haunting and encapsulate the spirit of the holiday and incredible for one man’s personal collection. I enjoyed the way the photographs are presented as is, which I feel is important when showing vintage photography. However and this something I normally don’t talk about in my reviews as monetary value is very subjective to the person, I felt Haunted Air was lacking in the quality and quantity for the price I paid. The book is about two times too big for even the largest of photographs shown inside of it, the photographs are just swimming in white background and I think that greatly detracts from them. Not to mention about 50% of the pages don’t even feature any photography on them at all, leaving so much wasted space and adding to the book feeling lacking; the 216 pages probably yields less than 100 photographs which is kind of absurd to me. As well none of the photographs have any information on them, no dates, no locations, nothing about their historical context except and inferred interpretation that they are taken around Halloween. Not to mention with a quick Google search you can find the finest and creepiest of all vintage Halloween photography that exists that is vastly and far superior to any photograph you will find in this book. I understand one man is not going to have all the greatest Halloween photographs from a certain period of time at his grasp but why create a book of your collection if it isn’t worth being seen in its entirety? As well the foreword by David Lynch is most likely included at the beginning or at all mostly because of whom he is (and I love his movies). It’s not even close to a decent foreword as it basically can be summed up as “I had a friend who showed me these photographs and I like them”, it doesn’t even mention the core of the collection is based around the holiday so if you picked up this book and read the forward and wanted to gleam what the concept was, you couldn’t. And on the other hand the prologue is basically paragraphs and paragraphs about what can be described as poetry about Halloween using even word in the dictionary that is even remotely connected to the holiday. At times I didn’t even know what Geoff Cox was on about, it sounded like he was describing murder half the time. I also have a bone to pick when he says “These are pictures of the dead” – no they are not, they are photos of people who have most likely died but they were very much alive in the photo. It’s a rubbish thing to say when there are many examples of photography of actual dead people, a morbid and fascinating practice of the last 1800s that on its own is far more hauntings and fascinating than this entire collection. The historical note is the only thing I enjoyed reading and should have been at the forward as the photos are nothing without their historical context to begin with. I adore vintage photography, and if this book was half the number of pages and half the price I would be raving about it right now despite not being the greatest example of vintage Halloween photography. I’d love it just because it was one man’s collection and I respect the work he must have done to collect it. However it’s not, it’s a grossly overpriced and completely lacking in almost every way. If you are dying to see more vintage Halloween photography than what you can see for free online, it’s the only book like it so like me you may want to have it anyways despite of what I’ve said but if you don’t fall into the extremely niche subsection – I wouldn’t bother.






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Review: Gil Elvgren All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups

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Gil ElvgrenGil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups

Gil Elvgren: All His Glamorous American Pin-Ups is a 240 paged 9x12in hardcover book that documents some of the best in pin-up illustrations from the twentieth century. I actually picked up this book not being too familiar with Gil Elvgren himself but just interested in getting an illustration book of pin-ups. I’m really glad I did because not only was Gil Elvgren on the forefront of the pin-up & advertising illustrations period but his work within it was exceptional and he is without a doubt one of the masters of the American Pin-Up era. The book includes a 33 page essay by Charles G. Martignette about Elvgren that is very well written and gives a lot of context to era and other artists at the time. As for the artwork featured in this book it includes his illustrations of pin-ups and mostly does not include any of his photography or advertisement work that didn’t contain pin-ups besides a few. There are a total of 534 illustrations featured in this book, each including the name and date of each piece. While it certainly leaves nothing out I would have preferred that the book was organized differently. Though it still beautifully styled and easy to see each illustration it suffers from being very overcrowded and often having too much going on the in places. I much prefer the pages that feature a solid white background over the ones they choose to add color blocking to. However over all I understand the want to show and feature all his work so it’s easy to overlook the design choices. I honestly love this book and haven’t even given it enough time because there is simply just so much to see. Even though I was not familiar with him prior to buying the book, I was definitely familiar with his work just from seeing it in passing and I’m sure most people recognize classic pin-ups of his so it is a great book if you are interested in pin-up illustrations. I am much happier with this book that I think I would have been buying a pin-up genre book instead. Most genre type books are far too plenty so it’s hard to find one that is of good quality and I think this book even though it only of one artist of the period it really encapsulates what it was all about. I highly recommended if like me you are just dipping your toes into pin-up artwork or a hard-core fan, and if you want to have a sneak peak there is a look below.

a closer look at the book:

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A Year of Reviews

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james jean memu postcardsHave a look back at the last year of Reviews and Picks of the Week! Whether it’s an art book or some shop I found on Etsy, I love reviewing cameras and books and showing you postcards, stickers and more that I find online. I also started to do Monthly Treasures this year that show you my online wish list and have really enjoyed it so look forward to that continuing in 2015.   I’m thinking for next year of doing monthly comic/manga reviews as my pile of those keeps growing and also doing a monthly featured zine as well. Don’t know if I can fit it all in on Monday’s post but we will see.






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Pick of the Week: Hell Babies by Junko Mizuno

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junko mizuno (1)Pick of the Week: Junko Mizuno’s “Hell Babies”

Hell Babies is a 2006 art book by artists Junko Mizuno that features her illustrations of surreal female characters that can be described as kawaii, disturbing, sexual and gothic all at once. Hell Babies is 94 pages and features her work from 1998 to 2001 with a padded sparkly plastic cover (I love this cover). She divides the book into 3 sections, starting with Hell Babies from 1998-1999, Vulgarity Babies 2000, Baby Files 2001 and an extra Unpublished Babies section that is on shiny cardstock. Each page in most cases features 1 manga/comic style illustration of a particular baby, usually along with her name in English and Japanese. The section for Baby Files is slightly difference and features a short story about each baby which I enjoyed very much. All the illustrations featured are very reminiscent of her currently style although less refined. It’s a good look into the start of her career and each illustration is very unique and indivialistic. The book is very well curated and flows nicely together, each illustration deserves its place in the book and it doesn’t grow boring or repetitive at any point. As an extra bonus at the end of the book there is page that can be cut out to make a paper doll with several outfits and accessories. Hell Babies would be a wonderful addition to your collection if you appreciated Junko Mizuno’s art, however if you are more use to her newer work you might want to pick up Flare instead. I have the Upgraded version which features the extra Unpublished Babies section for those of you wanting to pick this up (some versions are signed by the artists as well). I picked up mine a few months ago from Akatako.

a closer look at the book:






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Pick of the Week: Naoto Hattori “Twisted Surreal” Postcards

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Naoto Hattori

Pick of the Week: Twister Surreal Postcards

This week’s pick is artist Naoto Hattori’s postcard book “Twisted Surreal”. Twisted Surreal is a limited edition book signed by Hattori that contains 32 postcards of her paintings. It features various paintings from her backlog mostly dated from 2005 to 2009. Overall I really enjoyed the selection of paintings and found they were very cohesive and went together well. The postcards show a variety of her artwork and include most of the major paintings that she is well known for. The postcards are an okay size for mini prints at 4 by 6inches but do have black framing around so the image is a bit smaller than that. They are printed on quality card stock (thinner than my preferred cardstock) and have a shiny texture front and matt back that is good for writing. The postcards feature a generic address and postcard stamp area, but do contain detailed information about the painting like the name, date, original size and material list.  As well there is a gas mask detail over the writing area that adds some flare to the otherwise standard back. These postcards are a wonderful way to view her work however they are pretty typical postcards and only worth the purchase if you are not a fan of her work.   For more about her artwork, check out her site and for other items beside postcard check out her main shop that features prints, originals and additional items like t-shirts, stickers and more.

a closer look at a few of the postcards:






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Pick of the Week: Hikari Shimoda Postcards

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Hikari Shimoda (5)

Pick of the Week: Hikari Shimoda Postcards

This week’s pick is the Japanese artist Hikari Shimoda postcard set available through Akatako. This set includes 10 postcards featuring her paintings from 2013 and a personally signed sticker. Shimoda work is inspired by the anime and manga she grew up with and the idea that children are desired by society to save the world. I’m obsessed with her work and love her unique depiction of children and humanity.  There is so much expression in her portraits that I couldn’t resist picking up these postcards. The postcards are good quality and have a shiny front and back and come in very minimal packaging (a blue envelope). The paintings featured for the most are not full sized which is a shame and for that reason would likely not be as suitable to be used as mini-prints but I do love that she included the name and medium of each painting and displaying them much like she would in a gallery. Over all I think for the price and considering the rarity of being able to see a piece of her art in person let alone how limited her prints are this is a great way to enjoy her work . If you want to see more of her work, check out her website and Akatako also has originals and limited prints of her work as well. Below I have a closer look at each postcard and the sticker signed by Hikari Shimoda.






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Pick of the Week: Junko Mizuno Manga

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junko mizuno (14)

Junko Mizuno Manga Review

Today I am reviewing Junko Mizuno’s manga Cinderella and Princess Mermaid. I’ve been familiar with Mizuno’s art and toy designs for a while now so I was excited to check out some of her manga. The first one I read was her adaptation of Cinderella and it was a great introduction into her as a manga artist. The artwork enthralled me from the get go, with its bright vibrant colors to the character design. Everything felt uniquely Mizuno from the start to the end, which is a weird way to describe to someone not familiar to her work but in short – she creates strong women charactores, there is nudity and surreal elements and you will probably want to get a tattoo of it (or at least I do). The story was also really good and I found myself having fun with her play on the classic story and enjoying myself. Even better is there is stickers in the back and a short interview from her about how she got into being a manga artists. It was fun and felt along the lines of Johnny the Homicidal Manic, witty, morbid humour. I would highly recommend it as a manga because it’s feast for your eyes and a really good read on top of that. She does have other adaptations as well like Hansel and Gretel but I wanted to check out one of her original stories next. I went into reading Princess Mermaid with a lot of anticipation off the back of Cinderella and wasn’t met with the same type of excitement. Princess Mermaid is definitely the weaker of the two. It doesn’t help that the color scheme of the manga just felt really muted and flat after the vibrant Cinderella. The artwork itself was still well executed and detailed but it looks like Cinderella color scheme was put through the wash by accident. I wouldn’t have minded that as much if the story has been on par with the other manga. My biggest qualm with it is the story. The character’s themselves do not have a very well fleshed out back story and I found myself not caring what happened to any of the characters later on because there was no sense of loss or connection to them. Without getting into any spoilers it just felt hard to follow the sequence of events presented and the flashbacks weren’t well incorporated into the manga to the point where it was confusing if it was a flashback at all. Overall I still enjoyed the manga however it wouldn’t be something I’d likely read again. Like the first one it does come with extras, in this case a mini illustratored only story and some postcards. I’d encourage you if you like her work or want a manga style verions of twisted fairytales to check out Cinderalla however I’d pass on Princess Mermaid. Hoping to check out more of her manga in the future!

check out the artwork for Princess Mermaid & Cinderalla:






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Lomography Wednesday: Holga Lens Review

Posted by Citizen Erased in Lomography Wednesday, Reviews | Leave a comment

holga lens review

The Holga lens for Nikon and Canon is the classic Holga lens with various mount for most DSLR camera. The lens is supposed to transform your digital camera into a toy camera using the unique Holga lens to create distorted and whimsical photos without the need of a full Holga camera or using film. It has the same focusing options as the original lens (mountain, crowd, group, 1 person) and even vignettes. I’ve owned my Holga lens for Nikon for almost 2 years now and actually have the Diana version of it too (review here) and thought it was about time that I review to. I will do a comparison between the two sometime later this summer as well so look out for that. To start I thought I’d show you what’s possible with the lens and show you  side by side comparisons of my Nikon D7000 with a regular DSLR lens to the Holga lens.

Landscape and group photos

holga lens review (8)holga lens review (2)Profile shots holga lens review (2)holga lens review (13)Action Shotsholga lens reviewBlack and Whiteholga lens review (15)Flash
holga lens reviewDouble Exposuresholga lens review (14)

*my Nikon DSLR has a double exposure mode built in so only possible if your camera supports it

 Nikon with regular lens and then Holga lens:

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