Monthly Archives: March 2011

2011 through 1970s Canon Cam

When I was a kid I remember both my Dad and Step-Dad using their cool, fully automatic film SLR cameras. I loved being able to get my little-kid hands on them (whenever I was allowed to touch them) and look through the eye piece, moving the lens and aperture ring around to fuzz-out then re-focus the world. During one recent pre-retirement purge of his house, my step-dad’s Canon AT-1 kit became mine! I was super-stoked. His kit included the camera body and wicked-cool retro yellow, orange and white camera strap, a Quantaray 28-80mm lens, Tamron telephoto lens, Vivtar 70-210mm macro lens (which must weigh 15 pounds), a Power Winder that attaches to the bottom of the camera and advances the film automatically, plus an assortment of UV & polarizing filters. Pretty effin’ cool.

The day after I brought it home (sometime in January) I took it for a spin. I couldn’t find the battery compartment (this being the first piece of Canon equipment I’ve ever owned, I wasn’t sure where to look) so I started shooting away with the battery that had been in the chamber since sometime when Ronald Reagan was president. It worked for four frames before it died. Here are a couple of those shots that I got at my friend Tracy’s art studio.

I was pretty elated when I got them back. The light was perfect–just as it appeared in her house. These were shot on Kodak Elite Chrome slide film iso 200. All that time spent playing with a light meter proved to be very helpful.

It took me almost three months to replace the battery but last week on a nice, warm, early spring afternoon I brought it along on a family hike in Cape Henlopen State Park. The results were equally as nice.

Some of the lighting conditions were a little challenging. In the above picture of the rusty bunker door I had to set the shutter speed pretty slow and open up the aperture to get enough light for the slide film. Even still, it had to be lightened just a tad when I scanned it.

Because I was using a longer lens it was a little tough to keep the shot completely in focus, as you can see in these next few pictures.

I don’t think these are terribly out of focus besides, as one who works with toy cameras I enjoy a little fuzziness.

I’ve always wanted to get a shot like this of the road. I got it by just pointing the camera down at the road—didn’t have to bend down or anything.

I’m also proud of these two shots. They’re reflections of reeds in a puddle in the woods.

I can’t wait to develop more film! Right now it’s loaded with some hand-made Revolog film and has the kit lens attached. Hopefully I’ll get those shots developed this week. What a great gift it was to get this camera. After collecting dust for so many years it’s great to get it back in action.

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Duke Ellington is a Kiev 88

Have you ever wondered what camera your favorite musician might use? OK, maybe I’m the only one. Since I love jazz I was thinking the other day about what kind of lo-fi camera some famous jazz musicians might use or which camera best captures the spirit of that person. Here we go…

Duke Ellington: Elegant, classic, sharp as a tack, refined, beautiful harmonies, smooth…..all the things I think of when I use my Kiev 88

Thelonius Monk: Crazy genius, marches to the beat of his own drummer, eccentric, always in motion. Kind of like my Spinner 360

Ethel Ennis: Smooth, elegant, vocalist with velvety voice, dreamy, soft. Born in one of my favorite cities, Baltimore, MD. I think she’s a Diana.

Dizzy Gillespie: energetic, Be-Bop trumpeter with crazy technique and great cheeks. I’ll give him an Action Sampler and see what he does with it.

Miles Davis: Can NOT forget one of the best musicians ever. His trumpet style ranges from frenetic be-bop to smooth, low, dreamy jazz. A true innovator always pushing the boundaries, always re-inventing himself, just like the Holga.

Tito Puente: Latin jazz master who plays some of my favorite percussion instruments (I played the marimba in high school….it rocks). Always on the beat but always trying new, crazy different things while staying within the confines of the tremendous genre known as Latin Jazz. I think a Lubitel is in order.

Joshua Redman: One of my favorite modern jazz artists, I went to see him when he first started touring. His style is unmistakable but not too crazy. Clean but innovative. His sound and his interpretations are unique and noticeable (to me, anyways) from afar. Polaroid SX-70, anyone?

These are just a few of my favorites….add to the list now, why don’t ya?


Holga Halos

Holy Holga Halos, Batman!

No, my camera hasn’t suddenly died. Those weird halos on my black and white snow storm pictures are the effect of my Holga Tele Lens. I’m not sure it was worth the $15.00, but I did get some interesting effects from it.

I was pretty excited about it when I first saw it. There are plenty of times when I’d like to get closer to my subject but not macro-lens close. I also really like the idea of being able to use a magnification lens for the Holga without all the measuring and preparing that goes into using my diopters.

Here are the stats:

Works with all types of Holga cameras (120 and 35mm series)
• Tele Lens zooms in 2.5x
• Includes a protective pouch, instruction manual, and lens cap

It’s pretty simple to use. Like any other Holga lens attachment just pop it on and start shooting. My first experience with Holga lens attachments was the fish eye lens. I used it twice and never achieved the cool, bendy fish-eye look to my shots, so it’s just collecting dust now. Maybe I got a dud? Who knows. I was hoping the tele lens would be different.

I was less than thrilled with the telephoto effect. It didn’t seem as if there was much magnification at all, however I do like the spacey selective focus look. It reminds me of a roll I shot with my Brownie camera’s lens flipped backwards. You get dreamy, fuzzy edges and a focus somewhere towards the middle of your subject. For that, I do like the tele lens. I’ll use it a few more times to make sure it’s not operator error, other than that, I’ll use it more the special effects it creates than anything else.


Unnecessary Roughness

My chemicals pulled a personal foul on me this weekend.

I was in the midst of developing my black and white rolls from the latest snowfall. The film was ready for the fixer when I realized, I’d forgotten to measure it out. It looked OK while it was pouring out of the bottle but after it settled out, I could see a layer of precipitate at the bottom of my container that looked like snow from a snow globe. Since it tested fine after the last time I used it, I decided to go ahead without making up a new batch. That’s where the rough part comes in.

After scanning my negatives I realized that the snow in my fixer had stuck to my negatives. Not all of them and not bad enough to wreck my images but you can see an extra layer of texture (that’s how I’m choosing to look at it) that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Considering that a lot of the pictures I was developing were taken of snowy winter scenes, it worked out pretty well and it reminded me that one of the beauties of film photography is the imperfections.

Most of the film I develop comes out imperfectly to say the least; droplet marks, streaking from squeezing too hard with rubber tongs, bent areas where I wrestled with the film a little too much when trying to spool it. These are all things that make a film photo truly one-of-a-kind. After reflecting on this ‘mistake’ for a day, I’m pretty pleased with the results. The fixer spots look like more snowfall. Like I said before, it’s another layer of texture and it’s pretty cool.

There’s a lot of dust on some of these pictures. I didn’t edit them yet so you can see where the fixer left it’s mark.

More about the halo-effect seen in some of these Holga shots at a later date.


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