Saturday, October 24, 2015

Photo Professional

Here’s a shot of a couple guys hard at work. I don’t generally consider myself a professional photographer although I am occasionally paid for my work. When this happens this is the kind of pictures I am usually taking.

Actually, the one below is more typical. The one above was one I shot because it was just a great shot even though it had no technical value to the project at hand.
I do not want to diminish the value of artistic or creative photography but there is also a practical side of photography. Whether we’re dealing with equipment installation like this or some other more mundane image like damage to a vehicle after an accident or the contents of your house for an insurance claim, the ability to accurately capture an image that documents or records something is an always useful and necessary tool.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

B&B through a Pinhole

Above is one of the images shot at the Natchez B&B I mentioned in my last blog post. Shot on Kodak Ektar film with the Holga Pinhole Camera, this was the view of the fountain in the courtyard seen when looking through the window of our suite’s sitting room. I spent a fair amount of time just staring out this window. It was a delightful scene just begging to be immortalized on film so I obliged it.

I did not record the exposure time but I was using the “Light Meter Tools” app on my android phone to determine the correct exposure. I believe it was in the 1 to 2 second range. This little app seems to work perfectly except that it is 1.5 stops off. I determined this by comparing it to the light meter readings in my other cameras. The good news is that the app allows you to make an overriding exposure compensation setting to easily account for this. 

I know a lot of folks make a big deal about pinhole exposure times and bracketing every shot but I have come to trust my little meter app and my own judgement enough that I rarely take more than one shot of each image. If I do end up with any less than desirable images (and I do) it is not because the exposure was incorrect. Of course, the film I generally use in my pinhole cameras (Ektar, Portra & Tri-X) also has a pretty wide latitude.

My goal is to simplify the pinhole photography process to the point where it is easy enough to do it all the time. When I started I was carrying around at least one other camera to use for metering, a clipboard with notebook & pencil and a couple exposure & conversion charts, and the camera mounted on a tripod with a cable release. In those days it would sometimes take me 15 to 20 minutes to get a shot and I would bracket. I was happy if I got two or three images from a roll of film.

Now, with my handy dandy light meter app, I still carry the pinhole camera on a tripod with a cable release although I am just as likely to lock the shutter open and just use the lens cap for longer exposures. I may have another camera with me at times but it is for shooting not just for a second opinion on the exposure times, and I don’t need the notebook and the conversion charts anhymore.
I do miss the notebook and I can never remember my exposures so I may resume bringing it along to record my exposures for each frame.

The good news is that while pinhole photography remains a very contemplative and purposeful version “slow photography” I can now frequently get off shots in just a minute or two making the whole process more fun and productive. Also, I typically get several good shots per roll since I am not having to bracket everything.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

“f8 and B&B there”

When asked how he got such great images, Arthur “Weegee” Fellig replied, “Simple, f/8 and be there.” This is both a technical and a philosophical statement and kind of what I did here to get these pictures.

I recently experienced the Bed & Breakfast phenomenon for the very first time. I have no explanation as to why I had to wait so long except to say that over the years most of my travel has been for business rather than pleasure. As such I have come to appreciate the easy convenience of high quality hotels and motels that cater to road warriors with full schedules. The Bed & Breakfast routine seems to be more compatible with the casual schedules of tourists and vacationers.

The photograph above taken with my Pentax K-1 on a lazy afternoon shows the Deveraux Shields House which is the main building of the B&B we stayed at in Natchez, Mississippi.  Our suite was actually in Aunt Clara’s Cottage, another building just down the street shown in the photo below.
I confess the whole B&B experience was delightful and I enjoyed it thoroughly. As a photographer of course, the fact that the B&B and surrounding Natchez area offered ample photo opportunities was an important part of the success of the trip. Not only was I able to capture some great digital images but shot a number of great film images as well.

My July 18th blog post showing my very first pinhole portrait is an example of the kind of film work that resulted from my B&B vacation weekend. As time permits I will share others.

Ron & Eleanor, our B&B host and hostess for our 30th anniversary weekend in Natchez were great. The gourmet breakfast every morning was an excellent way to start the day and the helpful hints they and their staff gave as to where to go and what to do made the weekend a guaranteed success.

I am thinking that having local hospitality experts like Ron and Eleanor helping to guide your vacation experiences is one of the greatest advantages to going the B&B route. Plus at breakfast and the “Happy Hour” gatherings it is really kind of nice to get to meet your fellow travelers and share experiences.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Love that Tri-X

Black & White film photography is a growth industry! Yep, that’s the consensus from a number of sources and although there a number of excellent choices for black & white film stocks my favorite has always been Kodak Tri-X.

Here is a really creepy shot taken in a local cemetery. I guess it would look okay in color but black & white film really creates a whole “other take” on the subject. And yes, I know that digital cameras can also produce black & white images but they do not have the “character” of the images taken on film.

I guess cemeteries and black & white film just kind of go together.

This is another photograph taken with the Beacon 225 medium format camera I blogged about back on May 17th. A beautiful marvel of the early 20th century camera manufacturing art, this camera is really a high class version of a simple box camera that looks like more because of its exotic shape and durable features. The simple glass lens produces excellent and reasonably sharp images on 120 film transferred to 620 film spools. Its kind of like shooting with a Holga but with better results and clearly this 60+ year old camera has already outlasted several Holgas.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

“The Best Camera”

There are always articles and blogs trying to determine which camera is the best camera. I have even succumbed to this temptation a few times but I confess that when its all done and said I am a firm believer that the best camera is the one you have with you when you need or want to take a picture.

You can have the world’s most expensive camera with the highest resolution and “super-duper” lenses but if its not there when you need or want to take the picture it is less than useless. For this reason I have long advocated for compact and dare I say, point & shoot cameras.

Naturally being an image quality kind of guy I want something that will produce a decent image and I want to be able to override the “Auto” functions and take things into my own hands when the situation demands it. For all those reasons I carry a Nikon Coolpix P-300 with me and that is what I used for the photograph above.

This picture above of me and my new grandson John Michael, was taken by my wife the day after he was born using the little Nikon set on “P” (program) mode with the ISO manually set to 3200 to allow the shot to be taken in a poorly lit hospital room without having to resort to using the built in flash.

Had I used a DSLR or a 35mm SLR the image quality would have been much better but the convenience of the diminutive Nikon point & shoot allowed me to carry it around throughout a lengthy labor and delivery and have it with me at just the right moment.

For more on this amazing little camera see the link to my blog post on it below.

Nikon has released a number of later models of this same camera (like the P-310 & P-330) with bigger, higher resolution sensors and more features but I am still happily shooting the original one I bought back in 2011.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Going for that Vintage Look

The vintage photograph look is all the rage today. That’s probably why Instagram is such a big draw with its various filters and effects making cell phone cameras produce photos that look like something from the early 20th century.

Its actually a simple matter however, to produce real vintage images by using a real vintage camera, any number of which can be had from thrift stores or garage sales for little or nothing.

The photograph above was made with a Kodak Duaflex IV on Kodak Tri-X black & white film. The light leaks are authentic (no special effects needed) and to be expected from a 60+ year old camera. I used the “warmfly” setting in Picasa to add the sepia coloration because it brings out the gray tones better but the image is otherwise just as it came out of the camera.

Most folks think these old film cameras are obsolete and that you can no longer get film for them but that simply isn’t true. You cannot walk into your local camera store or drug store and get it. That’s true, but you can order both film and processing for almost any of the old film stocks online.

I personally use The Film Photography Project store ( ) for buying most of my film and The Darkroom ( ) for most of my film processing. These are not the only sources available but are the ones I like and use the most.
Walmart and Target as well as some Walgreens, CVS and other such local stores still sell some film (usually just 35mm and some instant film) and some even offer processing, either in store or sent out.  There are even a few local camera stores carrying film in some areas.

Having hit an all-time low a few years ago, film photography is now growing again. It will never be what it once was because digital photography has pretty much taken over but there is a growing host of young and old film photography hobbyists enjoying once again or learning for the first time the joy of film photography.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Gotta Love that Pinhole!

There is something really special about pinhole photographs. The one above was a 1 second exposure taken on Kodal Ektar 100 (ISO) film with a Holga Pinhole Camera on the lawn of the Louisiana State Capital building on a bright Memorial Day. The lawn was decorated with 11,214 flags in memory of 11,214 Louisiana natives who have given their life for their country over the years.

In retrospect, maybe I should have used the Holga WPC (wide pinhole camera). I might have gotten a much more dramatic wide angle shot maybe with the entire building but as it is, this one, with its infinite depth of field and the flags waving gently in the breeze evokes a feeling that somehow seems consistent with the time and scene portrayed.

The truth is, even with the naked eye it was a little overwhelming. The image leads the viewer to think that the flags go on forever as indeed they did – right up to the Capital steps. So many have given so much. The image forces us to stop and ponder for a moment, the stories represented by each of those flags.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pinhole Portraits

There is something truly unique about portraits made on film with a pinhole camera. There is of course, the infinite depth of field and special distortions associated with pinhole photography. More importantly however, because long exposures are required there is the special confluence of spatial and temporal factors that come together for a single moment in time and pause for the sake of a photograph.

I have wanted to do pinhole portraits for a while. The image above is my first real attempt at it and I am pleased with the results. This was shot with the Holga pinhole camera on Kodak Ektar 100 color film. The exposure was 45 seconds.

For 45 seconds the photographer (me), the subject, and the camera all agreed to stop and wait while the light painted a picture on the film emulsion. The rest of the world carried on as normal but right here in front of the camera we all paused as if for a moment of prayer and waited 45 seconds for the light to do its work.

This is one of the really cool things about film (or photographic paper etc.). It’s a chemical thing. Each emulsion allows this process to occur over time in a unique way that cannot quite be duplicated by digital sensors, at least not yet.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Kodak Duaflex IV Rides Again!

In my last blog I spoke at length about 620 film and cameras in general and the Kodak Duaflex IV in particular, as a tribute to “620 Day” (June 20th) and noted that this was the day every year when some folks (including me) dedicated themselves to shooting with the now (nearly) obsolete film format.

I also talked about how these 620 box cameras provide huge negatives and resulted in photographs that have a unique look and are absolutely beautiful. As you can see the image above shot on re-spooled Kodak Tri-X 120 black and white film supports that claim pretty well.

This photograph is uncropped and pretty much right out of the camera. I straightened it slightly because it was “cocked” a little but otherwise what you see here is the rich black & white image provided by the Kodak Tri-X film.

Tri-X has been my favorite black & white film stock for over 40 years. Known for its “white whites” and “black blacks” it still manages to rival other black & white film emulsions in producing a full range of gray tones to result in of the most striking monochromatic images.  

No doubt, a super high resolution scan of the image above would produce a sharper image but that would kind of defeat the whole point of this exercise. Kodak produced “tons” of relatively inexpensive 620 cameras like the Duaflex for amateur photographers and family snap shots. They were never intended to be used for so called “serious photography” but the amazing thing is they routinely produce some truly beautiful images.

This Kodak Duaflex model, the “IV” was discontinued in 1960 so it is at least 55 years old and performed beautifully with this first roll (for me) except for a few minor light leaks that showed up on a couple frames. Some folks think this just adds to the “unique character” of the photograph. Personally I would be happier without them but can’t complain if the seals leak a little after 55 years of use and now that I know about it, I can easily fix it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy 620 Day !

June 20th, otherwise known among certain circles as “620 Day,” is the one day each when some of us (who can remember) have an excellent excuse (as if we needed one) to dedicate ourselves to enjoying the pleasures of shooting 620 film on any one of literally millions of excellent classic cameras designed for this specific film format.

The one I chose to shoot this year is the Kodak Duaflex IV pictured above. I picked up this very nice little camera for only a few bucks at Goodwill. It has a single shutter speed estimated to be about 1/30th of a second but offers three apertures, f8, f11, & f16 and has a zone focus dial. Considerably more complex than a simple box camera it looks and works like a twin lens reflex camera (TLR) although not nearly as sophisticated as a true TLR.

The 620 film format was introduced by Kodak in 1931 as an alternative to the 120 film format and probably intended to help them capture more market share by using this “proprietary” film format in all their subsequent medium format “roll film cameras.” Kodak stopped making cameras for the very popular 120 film format and started making only 620 film cameras. Although used mainly by Kodak cameras, it became very popular and remained in production until 1995 when it was discontinued. The 620 format is essentially the same film as the 120 format film but on a thinner and narrower all-metal spool. 120 film was rolled onto a wooden spool at the time.

In the battle of the medium format films, 120 eventually won out and remains “The” medium format film today but only after 620 had a very successful 60+ year run at it. Dedicated mainly to simple box cameras and a few noteworthy exceptions that were designed for the professional or serious amateur photographer, this film is now only available from the Film Photography Project, Blue Moon Camera and perhaps a few others as re-spooled or otherwise modified 120 film. That is, 120 film that has been re-spooled onto 620 film spools or had the 120 spool modified to fit 620 film cameras.

The Film Photography Project (FPP) actually has brand new 620 film spools manufactured and uses them to re-spool their 120 film onto them for resale as 620 film. They currently offer nearly two dozen film stocks available for sale in the online FPP store. They also sell the 620 film spools for those who want to re-spool their own film. All profit from FPP sales goes to support the FPP’s mission to promote traditional film photography. You can check them out at

While images from 620 film cameras are frequently not quite up to par with images from 120 film cameras it is not because of the film. Most 620 film cameras are simple box cameras and do not have high quality optics but a similar camera using 120 film will yield exactly the same kind of results. Still, like the 127 and 828 cameras used for millions of family snapshots over several generations these 620 box cameras provide photographs that have a unique look and are absolutely beautiful.

Next week I will have the film back from this little 620 gem and will be able to let you know how the pictures came out. If experience is any guide I’m betting they will be excellent indeed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Holga HPL-P (Pinhole) for Pentax DSLR?

I explained what this gadget is in my last blog post (essentially a pinhole mounted in a plastic Pentax K-Mount lens barrel instead of an actual lens which can be used on Pentax SLR’s & DSLR’s) and noted that it was actually designed to be used with a Pentax crop frame (APS-C) DSLR sensor rather than a full frame or 35mm DSLR or film camera.

In the image above I used a Pentax istDL DSLR and we see that the image fills the frame completely. There is some slight vignetting but what we have here is pretty typical of pinholes in general unlike the severe effect seen in my last post in the picture shot with a 35mm SLR.

This image was shot at ISO 800 using a ½ second shutter speed and the same estimated f133 aperture. In post processing I brightened it up and tweaked the color balance a little. I also had to go in and remove the black spots that resulted from dust on the sensor.

Apparently this is a common problem when using pinholes on digital cameras.  Since the pinhole has an infinite depth of field and renders everything in focus from the sensor itself to infinity even the dust on the sensor shows up in the image. This isn’t a problem with a lens because the depth of field of the lens does not include the sensor.

The results here using a crop frame DSLR are a little better than with the 35mm camera noted in my last blog post but I am still a bit disappointed in the overall performance of this little gadget.  Nothing I have done with it so far comes close to the image quality of any of my other pinholes. Even the little Home-made 35mm cardboard pinhole camera creates better images.

Well, I am still on the quest for a better (than my little cardboard) 35mm pinhole camera so my next experiment may just have to be to make my own pinhole, mount it in a body cap and see how that works on one of my SLR’s. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Holga HPL-P (Pinhole) for Pentax SLR?

The Holga HPL-P is simply a pinhole mounted in a Pentax K-Mount lens barrel instead of an actual lens. The whole thing is plastic (like all things Holga) and looks very much like the Holga HL-P which is simply a plastic Holga lens mounted in a plastic K-Mount lens barrel.

As you can see from the image above there is a pronounced vignette effect in all four corners. This is the result of being designed for an APS-C crop frame digital sensor rather than the full frame negative of a 35mm SLR which is what I used to shoot this picture. Still, the image is not too shabby and does display the usual “look.” All I did in the way of post processing was brighten the colors of the scan up a little in Picasa.  

The greatest challenge to using this gadget (I really can’t call it a lens now can I?) was trying to see anything in the viewfinder of the SLR. It was mostly dark as a result of the tiny aperture. In spite of extensive research (even reading the instructions that came with the HPL-P) I was unable to find any definitive information on the thing except that it has a .25mm diameter pinhole. Based on that and some empirical data from the exposure values of the pictures taken I have estimated the aperture to be about f133.

The image above was taken using my Pentax ZX-L loaded with a roll of CVS 400 color film at a ½ second shutter speed.

Frankly, I am a little disappointed with this “pinhole lens.” I had hoped it could be used with a 35mm camera and that the image would be as good at least as my Home-made cardboard pinhole camera but I believe the pictures from the latter are much better than the former.

Next I will try it on a DSLR with a crop frame sensor and see what happens.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Beacon 225

I love this picture! It reminds me of why I love Tri-X film. It reminds me of why I love photography and most of all it reminds me of why I love my wife.

I wanted a Beacon 225 camera for a long time. I really don’t know why. God (and everyone else) knows I have enough cameras already but there is just something special about this little gem.

Here’s a picture of the camera (below).
Manufactured by Whitehouse Products back in the 1950’s when I was a “wee lad,” this simple medium format camera is built like a tank and has that vintage aura that demands attention. It’s actually a pretty simple camera with only one aperture and one shutter speed so any exposure latitude you may need must come from changing the kind of film used or the lighting conditions of the subject. There is a really cool looking flash available for this camera but I don’t have one – yet!

It shoots 620 film which was obsolete until enterprising analog photography folks like Mike Razo at the Film Photography Project (FPP) started re-rolling 120 film onto 620 spools. That’s all 620 film is after all, 120 film on smaller spools.  The FPP store now carries nearly two dozen different film stocks in 620 and they even sell the 620 spools in case you want to roll your own!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Light Meter App Works for Pinhole Cameras Too!

I generally use the meters in my cameras for determining the proper exposure settings. When shooting cameras without working on-board light meters I simply use one of my other cameras (with a working meter) to determine the correct exposure.

When I started shooting pinhole cameras (which do not have light meters) I continued to simply use another camera for metering, generally my Pentax K-1 mirrorless digital. Once the correct exposure settings were determined for the K-1, I used one of the Pinhole Camera Exposure Guides from MrPinhole.Com’s web site calculated and printed out specifically for the pinhole camera I happened to be using at the time.

For the first couple of rolls of film I bracketed every exposure but quickly realized that my method combined with the exposure guide from MrPinhole.Com was right on the mark every time. I can honestly say now that I have shot several rolls of film in three different pinhole cameras that all of my exposures have been technically perfect. Sometimes the composition is not what I hoped for but the exposures have been “right on” and I simply don’t bracket anymore.

As good as that is, I am always looking for better, faster, cheaper – you know the drill! So when I realized that there was an App for my Android smart phone that included a range of apertures from f1 to f2000 that claimed to work for pinholes as well as traditional cameras of all types I immediately checked it out.

Light Meter Tools by WBPhoto is a handy little app that appears to be exactly what it claims to be. I tested it against my way of determining exposures for my pinhole cameras and it was right on target but one stop off, every time. There is a handy provision to adjust the EV value to compensate for this and I have so I guess from now on I can leave the other camera and the exposure guide behind.

Lets face it, as much as I really enjoy pinhole photography, compared to more traditional photography, especially digital photography it’s a lot of work. Anything I can do to make pinhole photography simpler and easier means I will be that much more willing to do it and do it more often. This app does just that.

It may not seem like a big deal but with the pinhole camera, tripod, clipboard, notebook, pencil or pen in hand; being able to leave the extra camera behind (my cell phone is always on my belt anyway) is a great help.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

WPPD 2015

Well, Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2015 was April 26th and all the pinhole photos taken that day all around the world are slowly gathering together on the WPPD website ( once again. This is always an exciting time of year for me. I come home each evening and review the pinhole photos posted that day.

The first day of course is almost all digital photos taken with a variety of digital cameras modified to take pinhole photographs. The second and third day you start seeing more and more photos as the momentum builds.  Many of these are shot on film and processed at home by the photographer.

As the first week comes to an end the film photos processed by local labs start to show up with increasing regularity and the digital photos start tapering off. The trend will continue until the end of the month, May 31, when the submittal period officially ends with the closing of the exhibition.

This year I shot with my Holga WPC on Kodak Ektar 100 color film. Although I generally prefer 400 (ISO) film and have most often used Portra 400 for WPPD, I really like the color palette of this film and as you can see from the photograph above I was rewarded with rich bright colors.

The Holga WPC is an interesting pinhole camera looking very much like a stretched Holga. It offers two formats; 6x9 and 6x12. The latter is considered ultra-wide or panoramic which costs extra to process and scan (at the Darkroom). This time I chose the 6x9 format and decided (again) that I really like it. I have an old Kodak Vigilant 620 folder that shoots 6x9 format and although I don’t shoot it much I recall now how much I liked the format whenever I have used it.  

I also used a light meter App on my Android phone this year called “Light Meter Tools” and it seemed to work pretty well. This will be the subject of a later post.

The photo above is the one I submitted to the WPPD website and I am pretty pleased with the results.  It shows my wife Mary & son Noah, hanging out on a bench at the Baton Rouge Botanical Gardens with his guitar. We visited there for WPPD and to do a photo shoot for Krista, my pregnant daughter-in-law. I really love all the bright colored flowers and the rich greenery. It makes a beautiful background for whatever you’re shooting. I had asked everyone to wear bright colors since I planned to include people in my pinhole photos for a change. As you can see my son Noah, ever the contrarian, showed up in black & white attire!

I rarely shoot people with pinhole because the exposures are usually rather long and people seem to have problems being still these days. The results are quite special when you can make it work however.

This 4 second exposure was taken with the camera on a tripod and the shutter held open with a rubber band. The lens cover was simply removed and replaced 4 seconds later. I have a cable release but sometimes prefer to use the old fashioned simplicity of a lens cap. Processing and scanning as noted earlier were done by The Darkroom.

My photo submission is #1760. Check it and a couple thousand others out (last year they had over 3500 photo submissions) on the WPPD web site.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Drive-by Photography

I recently discovered a whole new genre of photography on Flickr and got inspired to try my hand at it. Its called “Drive-by Photography” and is generally done from a vehicle or from near one that has pulled over to allow access to a photographic subject.

Usually shot “on the fly” with a point & shoot camera or phone camera, these photos give a whole new insight into a world that is totally divorced from more formal types of photography. If photography is the art of capturing unique and fleeting moments of life this is truly the Zen of Photography in its finest form.

The image above was captured with a Nikon Coolpix P-300 while driving to work on a soggy Louisiana morning. This is an image that we have all experienced at one time or another but one that rarely finds its way into our photo collections. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Redscale Rides Again!

I confess that my last (first) experience with redscale film (see September 27th 2014 blog post) was a little underwhelming. I suspect that it was partially my fault. I was trying for the deep dark red look and I did succeed in that respect but I really didn’t know what to expect and I think I ended up under exposing the images too much by just shooting at “box speed.”

Box speed in that case was ISO 400 for the Rollei Redscale film which I suspect is simply Rollei 800 ISO color film (Nightbird) reversed or loaded into the film canister backwards. I had been told that this (redscale) process usually requires “at least” a one stop adjustment and that’s likely all the 400 ISO provided. The next time I use this film I will try to expose it at 200 ISO or maybe even 100 ISO which would be a two or three stop adjustment and I should see better results.

“Live and learn,” as they say. This time as you can see above the images came out better.  I was shooting a roll of 110 Lomography “Lobster” redscale film shot with a Rollei A110 camera. I shot at box speed (200 ISO) again this time since with this camera and film format there really was no choice, but as you can see it worked out much better this time with the “Lobster.”

I should also note that I have never been really happy with the 110 format because of the excessive graininess and lack of sharpness and these images have that as well but this little Rollei seems to somehow consistently produce some pretty amazing images in spite of the grain and associated lack of sharpness. In this case you might even argue that it is those very features that make the image unique and memorable.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

127 Day and the Brownie Bullet

Back in 2012 I bought myself a beautiful Brownie Bullet. This was my very first camera, given to me by my aunt when I was just nine years old. I have no idea what happened to the original but getting another one made it very special.

I have since shot a few rolls of various kinds of 127 film in it and I have been wanting to shoot it again since I discovered Rera Pan 100 black & white film a couple months ago. Rera Pan is a very nice film stock that reminds me of Kodak T-max a bit. 

So with all that in mind I decided to shoot the Rera Pan in my Brownie Bullet for 127 Day (January 27th) this year.

The photo above testifies to the excellence of the design and construction of this fifty-plus year old camera. It makes one wonder how many of our 21st century digital marvels will still be working in fifty years.

No super sharp digital image here. The look is true “vintage box camera” which was the original “Toy Camera”/“Instagram” style that is so popular today. With this camera of course no filters or post processing is required. This is what you get right out of the box - camera.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Yashica FR-1, First Shots

I am a weather wimp! I freely admit it. I hate cold weather.  I don’t particularly like rain. I certainly don’t like snow or anything that puts frozen water on the ground or on me. Are you getting my drift?
This is why I haven’t been taking many pictures lately. The weather has been – shall we say, disagreeable.

Fortunately I live in beautiful South Louisiana where such disagreeable weather is less frequent and of shorter duration (when it does occur) than almost anywhere else so I am looking forward to better weather soon.

In the meantime I offer the photo above for your consideration. This one shot with a Yashica FR-1 on Kodak BW400CN film during one of my infrequent winter shooting sprees.

Last year I stumbled upon a deal I couldn’t pass up for a Yashica FR-1. I had been given a bag with various accessories and a couple lenses for another Yashica a few years back and have always wanted to reconcile that bag of goodies by getting a camera to go with it. I resisted the urge mainly because as a dedicated Pentaxian already suffering from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) I didn't want to over complicate my life by starting another camera system. 

Recently however, my son has become interested in film photography and I saw this as a way to reconcile the Yashica gear and get him started with his own camera bag. So when I saw a FR-1 in great shape available for less than $10 I just had to jump on it.

The Yashica FR-1 is a surprisingly sophisticated 35mm SLR manufactured from 1977 to 1981. The big bright viewfinder has the apertures spread across the top and the shutter speeds arrayed down the right side with the selection indicated by a needle sliding along both scales. It also features a fully automatic aperture priority TTL metering and exposure control system with full manual override.
The “feather touch electromagnetic shutter release” allows seamless shutter control from 4 seconds to 1/1000 of a second and can be used with a number of accessories including wireless remote release (which I do not have).

The Yashica FR-1 design was based on and includes many of the features of the much more expensive Contax RTS. It uses the Contac/Yashica mount and indeed this one has an excellent Carl Zeiss f1.7, 50mm lens.  

I only shot one roll of film with this camera before giving it to my son for Christmas but was really surprised and impressed with it, so much so that I briefly considered keeping it for myself but reason prevailed. This is a really beautiful camera with a great solid feel and perfectly placed and arranged controls. It just feels good! The big bright viewfinder with all the exposure information clearly shown and accurate aperture priority exposure system makes using this camera an amazing experience.

I will try to post some more photos from this camera as my son shoots more with it. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Looking Back

That’s what we do at this time of year, isn't it? New Year just seems to invite introspection and reflection and so that’s what I’ve been doing, reflecting back to when this “new” film journey began. You might say the photo above started it all. This is a shot of a 150 year old fire hydrant located on the banks of Bayou St. John in New Orleans, taken back in 2010 shortly after buying a new 35mm SLR.

As I relayed in my earliest blog posts I lost all my film camera equipment in Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. If I am honest though, I had been slowly converting over to digital for a few years even before that. When I decided to “get back into” serious photography in 2007 I tried to do it all with digital and became very frustrated. This was probably as much my fault as that of the technology but I was frustrated none-the-less.

In 2010 I decided to buy another film camera. There wasn't much new 35mm equipment available at the time and I ended up with a $150 Promaster 35mm SLR which was a basic, all manual, 35mm SLR. It had a 50mm f1.8 K-mount lens and the picture of the ancient fire hydrant above was from the very first roll of Fugi 200 color film I shot with it. The pictures, including this one, were not that great. Let’s face it, by that time I had not shot an all manual 35mm camera in several years, the film stock was certainly not the greatest and although the processing was first rate, the scanning (by a local lab) left much to be desired.

What this new 35mm camera and this first roll of film did do for me, was remind me of how much fun flim is and how comfortable I was working with the kind of equipment I had used to make pictures for over 50 years.

So my New Year’s blog message for everyone out there is, whether you’re an old fart like me or a newbie discovering film for the very first time – forget all the technical stuff and either remember or discover for yourself that “film is fun!”