Tag Archives: antique

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.

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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.


Yay for the Yashica!!

I am solidly in love with my new Yashica 635. This TLR beauty, made in 1958, is actually a dual-format camera TLR. A film adapter kit was made to work with these cameras so you could use 35mm film in addition to 120 medium format film. Mine didn’t come with one, but that’s quite alright with me.

I’ve been wanting one of these cameras for a very long time and it was worth the wait. For my first roll, I took it on a walk in the woods on a foggy day. I got some nice, moody shots that were taken on Ilford XP-2 iso 400…it’s a C-41 processed B & W film.

Looking through the viewfinder was a little challenging. The image was pretty dark (that may have been the product of the diffused lighting that day) but otherwise, I have no complaints. I’m going to try some macro shots of tulips and flowers today using my diopters.

I would HIGHLY recommend this camera for your vintage collection! If you can get your hands on one, it’s worth the money.


Two New Cameras plus Works of Art Through the Eyes of the iPhone

My parents, who so generously got me the Yashica 635, arrived at my house last week with two more vintage beauties for me. This Konica C35 was purchased at the same time as my Yashica.

I know next to nothing about this camera but am excited to play around with it. The other camera came from my Mom’s cedar chest. It was her camera back in the day….a Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 103

This one I am familiar with. It’s the relative of another Polaroid Land Camera that I own, the 220, and just like my 220 (which I affectionately refer to as Aunt Bertha’s camera because it came with EVERYTHING in the case, including a little lace hankie, and smelled like the top of a moth-ball-filled closet), it included the case, manual and a flash unit. Once I get a battery for it I’m going to give it a try. I’m hoping the roller functions better than the 220 so I don’t get gluey rollers half way through my film pack. What a pain it is to clean.

I’m still waiting for my first Yashica roll to come back from the developers. I took it out last week on a foggy morning as we took the kids and dog for a walk in the woods. I’m hoping for some moody, misty shots. Until then, I will share some iPhone photos I took while at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Curators are masters of using light to highlight the best parts of an exhibit. Whether the lighting is very low, casting gorgeous shadows on the walls, or warm and inviting, everything is beautiful and begging to be captured by an intrepid photographer.  Whenever I visit a museum I treat it as a workshop in lighting. I push myself and try new techniques to see how my camera best responds. This first shot was taken through my Holga Lens Turret’s blue filter.

This last shot was in the cafeteria. I used the Salvadore 84 lens on all the pictures that look doubly exposed.

Museums are also great places to test out your camera’s macro abilities. The iPhone is phenomenal at close up shots and even better with the Holga Lens Turret’s macro lens.

The rest of these pictures are taken without the macro lens.


Celebrating all day today….St. Patrick’s Day

I love St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the only day of the year devoted almost entirely to drinking. I’m not a lush, but I do love good beer and today, everyone else pretends they like it, too. It’s like National Beer Day. Another reason I’m celebrating today is that my parents are visiting and they’re bringing me the spoils from a few flea market trips. They wintered in Ft. Meyers, FL and are bringing me a Yashica 635 and Konica 35mm SLR. I’m SO excited to try the Yashica and will probably load it up with film and take pictures of the daffodils, clover and weeds that are now populating my front yard. Here are some joyous, celebratory pictures that I took in January with my Fuji Natura Classica. One of my BFF’s, Loretta, and her husband Brad watched an important American Football playoff game at our house and our team won! Also on that roll of Fuji 800 speed film were pictures taken on a recent trip to Washington DC. We visited the International Spy Museum and ate in Chinatown. There was a sign stating “No Photography Allowed” at the entrance of the museum, but since it was one of the first times I had my Natura Classica with me, I decided to flaunt their rules. I didn’t get busted….hehehehe.

They’re not the best pictures (clearly, I need more practice taking pictures covertly) but I had fun doing it. Here’s some better shots of Chinatown.

We didn’t eat at this place, but with a name like New Big Wong, we might have try it

This is where we ate. You could watch them make noodles amongst the duck carcasses. Pretty cool.

More DC, but not in Chinatown

This would’ve been a great shot if it hadn’t been for that pesky camera strap.

Tonight we’ll be going out to celebrate and hear some great local music. I’ll be documenting it all on my iPhone and I hope to have pictures that I can share with you next week. I’m hoping not to drop my iPhone in beer tonight. Wish me luck with that!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, or should I say, National Beer Day!


What I Learned From a Bad Roll of Film

Being less-than-thrilled by the results of a film photo shoot is a bummer, but that’s the life of an analogue photographer. When this happens to me I always try to find out a) what went wrong and b) what went right. The results on this roll from my Canon AT-1 are a prime example.

My camera was loaded with Fuji Chrome, iso 100 slide film and had the 28-80mm zoom lens attached. The first few shots of this roll were taken indoors. I tried to do some light painting using Christmas tree lights. I also took a macro-type shot of an orchid.

Both unexciting shots, but they help to tell this story. Next, we went for a walk on the beach. It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm January afternoon. Also on this expedition I took along my Fuji Natura Classica and shot some of the pictures in this blog post. When I didn’t have to worry about light metering with the Fuji, my results were really nice. With my Canon, it was a different story.

I completely forgot there was a light meter on the camera. I suppose that’s what happens when you work with simple cameras most of the time.

The exposure isn’t the greatest on any of these, plus my film must have been expired, which helps to explain the bluish tint. Look at the first picture again and you’ll see a lovely little element entering the picture from the middle of the top…those lovely sunbursts. I continued to get them in these pictures and really love the way they look.

There were a couple of shots which made this roll worth it, namely these two that I took from an odd angle.

Clearly what went wrong here was my exposure time. In almost every shot, I completely forgot about light metering. Slide film always needs a little more light and the slow speed of the film I was using didn’t help. On the positive side, I love the sunbursts and the unusual POV I took in the last few shots.

So you see, just because you think a roll is a disaster, you may be mistaken. It’s always important to learn from your mistakes, in photography and in real life, and appreciate the beauty that was actually captured.


Lost Film Found

Funny things happen when you start to clean up your office, like finding rolls of film that you thought had been developed. Remember that cool FlashFun camera my friend Pam gave me?

I can finally share with you the first roll of film I ran through it. It was taken in the summertime on a hazy day at the beach. One of my best friends and her husband were visiting for the weekend. Brad is probably going to kill me for posting these pictures, but he’ll have to drive two hours to do it first!

This is Brad. My BFF Loretta just doesn’t trust him to put on his own sunblock. He burns in 5 seconds outside and she didn’t want to take any chances

Elias getting buried in the sand by Emme, one of Loretta and Brad’s daughters

Four of the kids tentatively going in the ocean. It was a little chilly that day.

Ruby, one of my favorite little people and the second of Loretta and Brad’s daughters

Random shot that I forgot I took with the camera. We were in Gettysburg for a soccer tourney.

Overall, I’m totally digging this camera. The light leaks are very cool and so is the overall exposure level. I wasn’t sure those beach shots would turn out, since the light was so grayish, but they look rather nice. My roll of 127 film should have yielded eight exposures but I only got five. That very well could’ve been my fault, but I can’t be sure until I run another roll of film through. If it is indeed a flaw of the camera, I’m going to have to try some microclick-type action with it.

Speaking of which, I also got a roll back from my Art of Waiting project from September. I ran some Fuji Velvia through my Holga (minus the 12 or 16 mask that usually fits in the back) got some wicked-cool melded-together pictures, but you’ll have to wait until next week for that 😉


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