Category Archives: My Adventures

Neon Signs through Plastic

A tour of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas was the first reservation I booked when I found out my husband was taking me to Sin City for my birthday. Located off the strip, it’s home to many iconic neon and electric signs from Vegas’ sparkly past. The goal of the museum is to preserve these beautiful signs and tell the story of historic Vegas. In addition to the signs on their property, the Neon Museum has restored and placed a handful of vintage pieces throughout the downtown area.

I knew my Holga with Fuji slide film would be the perfect medium for capturing these relics and I was not disappointed.

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The beautiful vignetting and crisp center focus of the plastic lens provided all the drama I wanted. I should really call this post “A love letter to my Holga and Neon Signs” because I can’t imagine a more perfect combination of film and subject.

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As our tour guide explained the rich and fascinating history of neon signs in Vegas, I and a few other photographers snapped away. I had my Holga, Fed 5 and iPhone while they sported fancy DSLRs. My husband was my patient and faithful assistant, holding empty spools as I furiously rewound my camera and reloaded film.

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I also got some fantastic shots using my vintage Fed 5 and Lomography Tungsten film, but nothing compares to this roll. Holga, I love you!!!

If you’re ever in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum is a MUST SEE!! While you capture some fantastic pictures you’ll also be learning some history and helping this group preserve a dying art form.

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You Took Your iPhone Kayaking?

I can’t begin to express how nice it is to write without the constraints of rules! Following APA format is exhausting and it really cramps my writing style, so I am happy to be blogging again.

It’s been very busy for me, as you can imagine. I’ve started graduate school…

Finished my first triathlon with a smile on my face…

…plus, I’ve been experimenting with my iPhone.

This week, I’ll share pictures from a recent kayaking trip. I’m fortunate enough to live less than five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, which means there are little creeks, bays and tributaries everywhere. To record our little adventure, I brought along an underwater camera and my iPhone.

The underwater camera shots were underwhelming, to say the least. There’s a stupid blue camera strap on the body and, try as I might, I could not keep it out of the pictures. Every last shot I took had the camera strap in it. Blech!!!! Next time I use that particular model of underwater cam, I am cutting off the strap.

So thank goodness I brought along my iPhone. Encased in a plastic bag, it survived the expedition and the captured some really beautiful pictures.

It was a bit of a challenge to compose pictures through a plastic bag. Composition was difficult because of glare from the sun. Drops of water near the camera lens distorted the image and made the camera lose it’s little computer-chip mind while it was trying to focus. To combat these issues, I wiped the bag and pulled it very taut over the lens. The plastic bag provided coverage and challenges, but it also gave soft, dreamy, Diana-like results. These pictures were all taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed.

That’s me in the hat. In order to get that shot I passed my iPhone to my husband using the paddle. It was quite a balancing act.

One of my favorite shots of the day is one I took of Jake and Elias. Someone with long legs (not me) figured out that hanging their feet over the sides was fun. My daughter Phoebe, pictured above, is blessed with long legs and said she could feel fish tickling her toes. We were all relaxing when I took this picture.

I had to straighten it out a little, but it really captures the mellowness of the moment.

I’ve also been using Snapseed’s Drama filter, especially for landscapes. Here are two beach shots I took as some rough weather was moving in.

More dramatic shots will be coming in another post, so until then….happy snapping!


A Personal Tour of the Photo Palace Bus

“I smell a Smena 8”: those were the first words I heard from Anton Orlov as he emerged from the darkroom of The Photo Palace bus. Yes, THE Photo Palace bus of Kickstarter fame. You’ll recall, Anton and his former partner in this photographic adventure were raising money to take the bus around the country, putting on workshops and spreading the word that analogue photography is NOT dead. The Kickstarter project did not raise enough money and Anton’s original partner Ryan Kalem moved on, but the Photo Palace bus is touring the country, nonetheless.

My family was visiting Salem, MA, just like we do every year, as part of our annual summer vacation to New England. After a great lunch at Salem Beer Works, we turned a corner near the Peabody Essex Museum (which is currently hosting an Ansel Adams exhibit) and spotted the familiar shape and color of a school bus. It took me two seconds to realize it was the Photo Palace Bus and another minute to actually believe I was seeing it in person. I broke away from my family and explained it was a bit of photo geekery that I had to experience for myself. Fortunately, my oldest daughter Phoebe was just as excited.

After spying my Smena 8, Anton explained it was one of the first cameras he’d owned. After showing him my other camera, the Olympus XA4, I had to get a photo with the man who was responsible for this mobile monument to photography. It’s not the most flattering picture of my mid-section, especially considering I’m training for a triathlon, but I was so excited!

Anton had travelled from Maine, where a witch told him he needed to come to Salem. Check out his blog post about his Salem experience and you’ll see what a great adventure he had. Our personal tour of Gilli began in the darkroom, located in the rear. Anton covered the back windows with a very well-designed fabric and wood contraption that allows him to display pictures through the windows as well as block out all the light. Here is his printing area.

Three metal trays sit in a large plastic sink, supplied with water from 75 gallon tanks mounted beneath it all. Next, he busted out some insane glasses that were a cross between bifocals and a jeweler’s loupe. These he uses when hand coloring his prints.

Anton’s two enlargers are opposite the sink.

There’s also a door on the back right side of the bus, which is a good thing because it was HOT in that little room. Back in the main part of the bus it was revealed that a sink and stove were hidden beneath a table displaying old cameras and prints.

Near this area is a cabinet that holds a few batteries. There are others beneath the bus. They can’t be stowed in the main are because, in Anton’s words “they leak hydrogen”.

A little transistor radio perched atop a beautiful wooden table supplied some background music. The tabletop came from a guitar manufacturing place and the little Polaroid radio runs on the battery pack from the film cartridge.

My unexpected discovery of the Photo Palace bus was one of the highlights of my vacation. It was a thrill to meet Anton and see what he’s done to Gilli. Lots of folks visited the bus while I was there and to see them get excited about Polaroids and old film cameras was really cool.

Many people from the Peabody Essex were there as well. One man was giving out cards advertising a project called  “A Year of Photography”, in which you can participate via their website. It’s worth checking out.

Anton was so friendly and answered all my questions with enthusiasm. I’ll continue to follow his adventures and who knows? Maybe I’ll run into again in another part of the country.


Running In the Mud and Taking Photos

In April, Team Will Run For Beer conquered the second annual Mud Run in Milton, Delaware and I was there, not only as part of the team but also as the official team photographer. I took my cheap underwater camera with me to document as much of the shenanigans as possible. It was no easy feat running with my silly little camera, but none of my friends were surprised that I decided to bring one of my “crazy cameras”. Here are a few pre-race shots.

This ultra light kept buzzing the pre-race crowd

Leah ran the kids Mud Run. Her sister Ella probably thought she was a little crazy.

Another team of kid runners

 I was really talking up the Mud Run this year at work, telling everyone how much fun we had last year. There are lots runners in Delaware, so I didn’t have any problem recruiting people. Here are some shots of the suckers who decided to run this year.

Ashley, on the right in the green shirt, ran with our team. She does Zumba but doesn’t run (poor girl). Kathy is on the left.

Gene runs and does sprint triathlons, so he was “in it to win it”. I told him we were “in it to finish it…for the beer”

Pam and Lisa ran as “The Skidmarks”.Pam (on the left) even got her two nephews to run the race, too.

As you can imagine, a mud run can make you pretty messy. Here’s a shot of our shoes before the run.

Before we started the race, we decided a show of team solidarity was in order. We stacked hands and on the count of three, yelled “Beer”!

After that, it was off to the first obstacle, a large, muddy hill.

The woods hid some messy obstacles. We dodged low-hanging tree branches and waded through sometimes thigh-deep water. There were also some mucky spots where a few shoes were lost. We slogged our way through with smiles on our faces and thoughts of the post-race celebration in our minds.

Once out of the woods we had to climb over and through lots of things, including hay bales, tires, large drainage ditch tubes and a maze. There were a few spots where we had to wait in line, so I was able to get some more crazy shots. This one is of me and my husband. We’re not terribly messy, so it must be pretty early on in the race.

After this series of ditches, I had to put the camera down until the finish line. It was just too damn hard doing an army crawl through muddy pudding with a camera strapped to my hand. Fast-forward to the finish line!

Even Ashley finished the race. I wasn’t sure my little Zumba friend was going to do it, but she’s a trooper. Jake met her with a can of beer. He was the brewski ambassador, handing out a brew to friends who looked like they were in need, like our friend Russ, in this shot.

We had a blast at the mud run and while it was fun getting stupid shots this year, I don’t think I’ll be running with the camera next year. Go Beer!


Double Everything

I’m truly obsessed with Fusioncam. It’s such a fun app. I like using it especially in museums because my husband is one of those people who reads everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, on each and every plaque. All the waiting around drives me nuts, since I’m one to skip to the highlights or just read things that interest me, but having that extra time has inspired many creative moments. Here are a few shots from a recent trip to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.

Display of USNA Class rings, version 1

USNA Rings, Version 2

WWII Japanese Artifacts

Aviation Artifacts

WWII era Japanese Uniform and Plane Silhouette

Silver Candelabra and American Flag

We happened to be back in Annapolis this weekend for a wedding and the Chinese lanterns strung across the ceiling gave me some good ideas.

 

 This is my favorite

 Sometimes a double exposure ends up looking like a hot mess, but when it works out just right, it’s beautiful.


Key West iPhoneography

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because I’ve been gearing up for my brother’s wedding in Key West, which took place a week ago today. What a fantastic place! My husband Jake and I were last there in 1997 and it really hasn’t changed a whole lot. I took a bunch of film with me, including some Revolog and Velvia. I used my Holga during the wedding, loaded with black and white film, so that I could capture the little moments that the professional photographer may have missed. Don’t get me wrong, his work is beautiful, but when you look through the lens of a toy camera you see things a little differently.

As soon as we landed at the airport, the snapping commenced. These are Hipstamatic with Susie Lens and Cano Cafenol film.

Roosters, chickens and cats rule the island. It’s amazing that they all co-exist peacefully, but then again, it is Key West.

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Loftus Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film

Key West doesn’t take itself too seriously, as evidenced by these funny and artful signs.

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Tejas Lens, Ina’s 1969 film

Americana Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film

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Loftus Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film

 The Menu @ Pepe’s…Free Pickles for Pregnant Women!     John S Lens, Pistil Film

Also @ Pepe’s…Steak Smothered in Pork Chops….what? Who does that?

James M Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film

We were there, of course, to celebrate my brother’s wedding to his high school sweetheart, April. Here are a few people shots of the wedding and afterwards.

Tejas Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film…….First Dance

Tejas Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film…..April and her Dad, who is talking to April’s daughter. You can see her eyes peeking out behind April’s shoulder

Tejas Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film……Singing with the band, Sweet Leda

One of my favorite shots of the night on Duval Street

Julie getting ready for an acoustic set….John S Lens, Alfred Infrared Film

There was a lot of beauty to behold in Key West, along with the weirdness…..and lots of stray shopping carts.

John S Lens, Alfred Infrared Film

John S Lens, Alfred Infrared Film

John S Lens, Pistil Film….This was in someone’s backyard

Susie Lens, Ina’s 1969 Film

 Susie Lens and Cano Cafenol film

John S Lens, Pistil Film

I had such a blast with friends old and new. If you ever get the chance to take a trip to Key West, run, don’t walk to the plane. I’m hoping 15 more years won’t pass by before my next trip.


Macro Yashica

Here are the results of my Yashica macro experimentation. Most of these are a little underexposed because I forgot that you need more light when using the diopter. I was also using 100 speed Fuji Velvia, not the best in terms of film speed, but you can’t beat the wacked-out colors.

I took a stroll in my yard to capture these images. I held a +10 diopter in front of the top lens when composing the shot, then moved it to the lower lens to take the picture. Shutter speed was at 125 and the light was bright and beautiful.

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The picture of my daughter Zoe is a double. I tried to capture a macro shot of some pink flowers as one of the layers of that shot, but it just ended up overexposed. Oh well. It’s still a great shot of my girl.

I really love the third shot of the pink tulip. The light was really nice and the composition was good, too. It’s a kind of crap-shoot when you use this technique, especially when the wind kicks up and starts blowing everything around. Once the lens is moved from the top to the bottom, there’s no way of knowing what the shot will look like. I just hold my breath, press the button and hope for the best.

While not a particularly inspiring shot, the next picture of little pink flowers on a tree branch is nice for the little pentagons of light that appear in the middle left and bottom right areas of the frame. My favorite is probably the last one, the dandelion. Other than being a little dark, it’s just what I hoped it would be!

Has anyone else used a similar technique? Any recommendations for Yashica filters? I’m going to try some color IR film soon and need to figure out a way to affix a filter to the lenses. I’m thinking that holding the filter in front of the lens may be the easiest way, but any suggestions would be appreciated.


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