A few more takes from the water taxi by Jana Uyeda

Now that the rains are upon us, I think I'll be experimenting from within the water taxi but I had a few scans to post so I'm putting them together here. That gentleman on the left of the frame with sneakers happens to be in a lot of the pictures I take from that vantage point. Funny how I didn't even recognize how regularly he appears in my shots until just now. You can see him at the 'blonde' here in that familiar pose.

Exploring movement through a lens-less camera by Jana Uyeda

This photo is a black and white take on the color pinhole shot I posted about earlier.  The landscape perspective was a favorite, but I didn't like the blown out sky so I decided to try the shot again.  I also wanted to see this in black and white.  So - voila!

One of my good friends often refers to my style of photography as 'shitty photography.' To explain her description, she refers to the 2008 movie Yes Man with Zooey Deschanel whose character teaches a 'jogging photography' class. If that doesn't make sense to you, here's a YouTube video to illustrate.


I've gotten a lot of questions from passengers while taking pinhole images on-board the West Seattle Water Taxi. They often ask what kind of camera I'm using, praise me for continuing to shoot film or wonder how old the hardwood Zero Image camera is. I think one of the most important questions I get is why I prefer to shoot pinhole.

The easiest answer is that I shoot pinhole because it doesn't look like most photography I see online. I'm inundated with sharp, saturated images everyday and the softness of a pinhole camera combined with the tonality of film are pleasing to my eye. The Economist recently posted an article about the growing trend towards analogue photography called Difference Engine: Digital disillusion. There is a definite sense of satisfaction when a roll is exposed correctly and developed properly which I don't get from shooting other cameras.

My pinhole series, specifically the Water Taxi and Shopping Carts series, are about exploring movement through a lens-less camera. Though a pinhole is not as sharp as modern glass lenses, it captures a great amount of detail without the harsh edges. While those details are important and can help to draw the eye of the viewer, paradoxically it's the blur that focuses my imagination. I'm not interested in freezing subjects, like the flag on the water taxi, because the boat and my city are constantly moving.  I want my pictures to be more than just a snapshot of the day.  My idea here is to capture the pace of my city as it moves, changes and evolves.

So there you have it. My attempt at explaining my own 'shitty photography' and I hope it was an enjoyable read. It's certainly helpful for me to write these blog posts as I don't always understand what I'm doing unless I type it out.

Have a great week and happy shooting. Mahalo!

Quick post: Portrait or Landscape? by Jana Uyeda

Here are a few shots taken from the West Seattle Water Taxi. I wanted to play with the American flag as it waves in the wind while the water taxi pulls away from the dock. Though I feel they are both successful, I wanted to ask which you prefer - the landscape or portrait shot?

The height of the portrait shot really emphasizes the flag staff, gives a pleasing geometry and I hardly notice what's going on in the background.

The width of the landscape shot really gives a sense of the surrounding area and the white waves foaming beneath the water taxi. I like this shot because I can see the city in the background and the white lines give me a sense of direction.

So what do you think? Portrait or landscape?

Hope everyone had a great and productive weekend. Can't wait to see your work. Mahalo!

Morning commute with my pinhole by Jana Uyeda

A few months ago I started taking the West Seattle Water Taxi to work in downtown Seattle. There were a few reasons I decided to test my sea legs. First, I had just learned that Marination, my favorite Korean-Hawaiian food truck, would be opening a brick and mortar restaurant at Seacrest Park. Then WSDOT started their disruptive bridge and roadway construction, including re-routes, delays and street closures, and I saw the advantage of commuting via Water Taxi. When I realized that I could park my car on the street along Seacrest Park all day for free, I stopped driving to work and threw away my bus timetables. Who wouldn't want to start their mornings with this view:

My pinhole camera is always with me, so I started experimenting with it while taking my commute to and from West Seattle. I balanced it on handrails, passenger seats, window sills, stairways and anywhere I could find an interesting angle from a flat surface. I didn't have any preconceived notions in my head, it was all completely new to me. The first few rolls from the Water Taxi were surprising and really kick-started my imagination. I started looking around me to see what was possible with pinholes during my daily commutes.

This shot came from a weird, Japanese 35mm 3D plastic pinhole camera which I borrowed from a friend. It was a typically grey morning, so I setup the camera indoors and allowed it to shake a bit. I've gotten more and more comfortable with the motion blur in my frames from the Water Taxi.

I've got more film to scan in so hopefully I'll have another post up this weekend. Until then happy shooting and mahalo!

Pinholes and a moment of pure luck by Jana Uyeda

Zero Image 6x9/ Kodak TMax 100/ Exposure time: 23 sec/ Rodinal (1-25) 5:30

This was one of those lucky moments during the first week of owning my Zero Image camera. I wasn't quite sure how to frame an image yet and was awkwardly setting it up on the seat next to me on the West Seattle Water Taxi. I'd been looking through various pinhole images and researching artist websites with a vague working concept in mind, including experimentation with movement.

Just as I was setting up my camera, the gentleman with the plaid shirt walked over and stood against the corner of the railing. I had just stabilized the camera and quickly took this shot. The water taxi was rocking during this 23 second exposure, and as we headed out, the camera also captured the movement of the boat slowly pulling away from the dock.

What makes pinhole so interesting to me is that you can capture motion and stillness in one frame. Since the camera was on the floor of the water taxi, the railings and passengers on board remained relatively in focus.

The combination of timing and pure luck in this frame encouraged me to continue experimenting with pinholes, long exposure and capturing motion in my modern city.