Saturday, June 3, 2017

Another Ondu Pinhole

This is one of the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD) images that I didn’t submit to the WPPD Gallery this year but in many ways I actually like this one better than the one I did submit. I was shooting a long (16 second) exposure on Kodak Portra 400 with my new Ondu 35mm Pocket Pinhole camera but I couldn’t get the red birdhouse in the foreground to stay still. The birdhouse hangs on a stainless steel cable from a tree limb and was facing away. When I turned it so that it was facing the way I wanted it to face it would slowly turn back around.

I decided the next best thing to actually having the birdhouse facing the way I wanted was to have it turn and thereby “blur out” during the exposure so I rotated it around so that it made a complete 360 degree turn during the 16 second exposure and the image above is what was captured in my little wooden box.

In spite of my misgivings about the shutter the Ondu really is a beautifully crafted camera. The wood it is made out of was clearly carefully selected and finished to produce a work of art. I love wood and love working with wood and I appreciate that the fit and finish on the Ondu is some of the finest work I have seen on something made of wood.

I will probably continue to use it just because of the pleasure derived from handling such a beautiful well made camera.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

WPPD 2017 & The Ondu

Well its Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day (WPPD) time again! Actually WPPD was on April 30th this year but I just got my film & scans back, picked out the one I wanted to post to the WPPD website and got it uploaded. The image shown above is the one I selected. It is an 8 second exposure on Kodak Portra 400 shot with the new Ondu 35mm Pocket Pinhole acquired last year through their most recent Kickstarter campaign.

It is a delightful compact little camera hand crafted from the most beautiful wood. This was the very first roll of film I put through it and was generally pleased with the results. My biggest complaint is the shutter. This is basically just a piece of wood that pivots up and down across the pinhole and works fine except it is very easy to not get it open all the way or to get your hand and fingers in the way when opening and closing. For longer exposures this is not a big deal but for short exposures it can create a brown blur at the periphery of the image. Here’s a picture of Ondu.
In the future I will use this camera with slower film and/or select compositions that require longer exposures so that I can take the time to make sure the shutter is completely open. Anything longer than 10 seconds should be fine for this strategy. That way even if the shutter arm is in the way briefly it will not affect the image.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Magic of Photographs!

I know its been a while since I posted anything here but I have been so busy with so many things the past several months and so much has happened in my life as well the world of photography.

In the world of photography the mighty Holga met its demise as we learned last year that production was being discontinued only to find out in the last week that its back in production again with new deliveries expected at Freestyle Photographic Supplies sometime in June. Ferrannia moves towards shipping its new black and white film while continuing work on getting its color slide film ready for market later this year. Kodak Alaris also announced that it is reintroducing Ektachrome slide film as the phenomenal film industry continues to surprise everyone with its refusal to concede to digital and die.

On the personal front we had “The Great Flood of August 2016” that affected thousand in South Louisiana including us. No we didn’t flood, but my daughter and her family did. My brother-in-law and his family flooded also and since our home was spared we were blessed to be able to provide shelter for both of them a time.

With so many friends and family flooded and displaced along with the usual ups and downs of life there really hasn’t been much time for photography other than the never ending and ever increasing collection of family photos for birthdays and holiday gatherings that are so important to those participating but not so much for blog readers; which leads me to the photo above.

Even mundane family photographs can take on special significance after a half century or under just the right circumstances. The photo above is of “yours truly” at Mardi Gras in New Orleans with my Dad back in about 1956 when I was 4 or 5 years old. If you know anything about Mardi Gras you will understand that this is street photography at its best. The New Orleans Mardi Gras frequently draws nearly a million people out into the streets in and around the area for a two week long street party focused around parades and other events. Of course in 1956 it was a smaller party but so was everything else, including me and the city itself.

This photograph was undoubtedly taken by my mother (notice she’s not in the picture) using her Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 box camera loaded with whatever black and white film was in vogue at the time. This beautiful camera produced many of my childhood pictures in a striking 6x9 format negative that required little if any enlargement. I recently acquired one of these fine old cameras and used it to produce the photo featured in my last blog post. That photo of my son, his wife and my grandson shows the quality image that these fine old cameras are capable of, especially when used with modern film.

 I actually thought this photo of me so many years ago had been lost forever after Hurricane Katrina destroyed our home in 2005, only to discover my sister had a copy in one of her photo albums which I was able to scan. Even though the quality of the original image was not that great and of course this is a scan of a fifty-something year old photograph that time has not been kind to, the image is still magical for me. And that’s what photography is really all about isn’t it?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Kodak Brownie Six-20 – First Results!

Here is a great family photograph from the first roll of Kodak Portra 400 through my new (to me) Kodak Brownie Six-20 box camera. This is of course what these fine old box cameras were designed to do and I can remember my Mother taking shoeboxes and photo albums full of these kind of pictures, except in those day (1950’s & early 1960’s) they were all black and white.

The image is a little fuzzy but that is likely as much from my unsteady hand as anything else. This is actually one of the sharper images I took on this first roll. Sixty years ago my mother took great photos with a camera just like this one but I freely admit to feeling a little awkward holding and operating the shutter. With a likely shutter speed of 1/50 or less holding the camera absolutely still during the exposure is essential and takes a little practice.

Its also noteworthy that unlike modern photographs that are generally taken with the camera held at “eye level” these old box cameras require that you look down through the “waste level” viewer so that the camera is actually looking up at the subjects providing a different point of view for all photographs.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Moonstruck Again!

There are few things as faithful as the lunar phases. Every 28 days we can count on another full moon and unless my schedule or the weather ruins it I will take every opportunity to try to shoot some more beautiful moonlit portraits. Last month I experimented until I got things the way I wanted them and finally after two nights of shooting I got a great portrait of my son. This month I picked up where I left off in June and almost immediately got a couple more amazing images. The first one is my lovely wife Mary, and with her assistance I even got a selfie.
There is definitely something about the light of the full moon that greatly enhances these portraits. I may have to try shooting similar portraits during the day to prove it to myself but I do not believe that anything else I could do (other than shooting by the light of the full moon), even with studio lighting would produce images as unique and pleasing. This is especially true when you consider I am shooting at f-2.8, ISO 12,800 with a 1 to 1.5 second exposure.

Of course part of the credit must go to the excellent on-board processor of the Pentax K-S1 for the quality of the images. These are jpegs pretty much right out of the camera with very little post processing.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cameras, cameras and more cameras!

You may have noticed that the last few blog posts have been all about new (to me) vintage cameras. I didn’t suddenly run out and buy a bunch of cameras to play with. The truth is I had gotten burned out on constantly trying out new cameras a year or so ago and just recently got over it.

I have actually had a couple of these cameras since last year but was not inspired to “play” with them until now.  When I am “testing” a new camera I am understandably more concerned with the camera than the photograph so the results of these shoots are interesting but not always inspiring. I tend to shoot the same subjects or images over and over again so I can compare the cameras capabilities to others I have shot with. If you have looked through my blog posts you will see that I have done a fair amount of that kind of thing but about a year ago I just got bored with shooting the same images all the time and decided to make the photograph, rather than the camera my focus. At that point I focused on just a couple cameras, mainly pinhole, and started trying to make photographs that made me feel like I had accomplished something of value.

I said all that to explain that after taking nearly a year to pursue my interest in photographs rather than cameras I can now enjoy playing with cameras again too and look forward to getting the film from these latest ones back so I can see the results and share them with you.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brownie Super 27

What can I say about this little 1960’s jewel except it is “super!” This is a 60’s version of a Kodak box camera except like everything in the 1960’s it has a lot of extra “bells & whistles.”

This camera starts out with a clean sleek modern (in a vintage sort of way) design and a big bright (amazingly big & bright) viewfinder. The rotary shutter is working now just as crisply as it did nearly 60 years ago when it was new and has two speeds. 1/80th is the normal shutter speed but if you open the little door to expose the flash it changes to 1/30. 

Did I mention it has a built in flash? Yep, just open the little door that usually conceals it and pop in an AG-1 bulb (if you can find one). Oh, by the way you will have to also put in a couple AA batteries in the battery compartment on the bottom.

The aperture is also rather sophisticated for a box camera. The normal setting is f13.5 for bright sunny days but you can turn the little selector on the front to choose f8 when its cloudy. With the two apertures and two shutter speeds you have a total of four different exposure settings, and a flash! Not too shabby for a simple box camera.

The camera handled well and was a pleasure to shoot as I went through my first roll of 127 Rerapan black & white film. I haven’t found any AG-1 flash bulbs so everything was shot in daylight. The only complaint I had was that the shutter is pretty easy to press so that if you wind after each shot like I do the shutter is always cocked and it is a bit too easy to inadvertently press the shutter when you don’t intend to. I wasted one frame on the roll that way.

This 127 camera shoots in the square format yielding twelve shots. I can’t wait to see how they come out but if the way the camera looks and handles is any indication the pictures should be great!