Spinning in: San Francisco, United States of America

Ken Stevens aka kdstevens lives in Novato, California. He moved to San Francisco in 1972 to attend art school and spent a good time in the pretty wild and mind expanding place that San Francisco was and still is today. Speaking of mind expanding, why not expand the visual horizon, the Lomographers point of view at the same time with the Lomography Spinner 360°? That’s what we thought and bestowed Ken with a camera in no time. This man is a photography veteran who cut his teeth with the legendary Rolleiflex, Hasselblad, Linhof and Leica cameras back in his student days when he earned his living by working in camera stores.
From the Golden Gate Bridge to China Town and the amazing Muir Woods – Ken takes you on a journey through the wonders of San Franscisco.

Q&A with Ken:

What do you think of the Lomography Spinner 360°?
The camera is magical in a way. There is a comparison to the cubist painters of the early 20th century—it opens up space and lets you see the subject from many sides at once. There is also a comparison to the impressionist painters because the camera records the image, not as our eyes process it, but more as our mind perceives it. The camera gives an interpretation, or an impression of the subject and opens it up and presents it in a way that can be more real and more in tune with how we actually perceive things. In shots like the ones I took in Muir Woods, where you are literally surrounded and dwarfed by the immense grove of giant redwoods, the Lomography Spinner 360° can better portray that than a conventional camera can. The images envelope you and convey the sense of dense forest wherever you look. The resultant images give the sensation of really being there. In a strange way you (the observer) are invited to become part of the photograph.

What’s your favourite technique?
One thing I did was to make two attachments for the camera. The first was a crank about 4 inches long that fitted into the tripod socket. With this I could hold the camera body steady and rotate the base column. It worked perfectly. Objects moving from right to left were visible (or if the camera was panning from left to right) everything else, including static objects, are a blur. If you want to record objects moving from left to right, turn the camera upside down.
Second was to make a longer crank arm that fitted into the flash shoe. With this I could take a timed exposure by mounting the camera on a tripod and holding the end of the crank arm then simply walk around the tripod. I can do this comfortably and repeatedly in about 6 seconds. There is another technique I developed where you initially stand just outside the view of the camera and use your arm motion to rotate the camera. Then there’s just a simple side step at the last moment to avoid being in the image. If you want to be in the image just crank at a steady pace and stand still. You will appear as a person with your arm in the air.

What’s your approach to Lomography Spinner 360° Lomography?
Growing up in the western United States I developed a love of the wide, open spaces and rugged wilderness. My greatest influences are the great landscape photographers of the past century. So that’s my approach. I usually mount the camera on a tripod or at least a monopod. Early on I discovered that people really were an essential element for my images with this camera, so I started to include them more and more. And people were interested in the camera. It’s the perfect icebreaker. When they see the thing spin around its stem, they are enthralled.