Tag Archives: history

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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Stereoscopic Cameras

How many times have you tried to describe something only to be limited by your ability to verbalize the shades, colors and emotions that you felt? With the invention of photography, our ability to communicate took giant leaps forward and since it’s advent, humans have been trying to improve upon capturing photos in some very interesting ways as I found out while browsing the net today. Take for example, the stereoscopic camera, which creates two images of the same event that, when viewed in a stereo viewer, creates an image that appears three-dimensional with depth and perspective no longer suggested, but right in front of your eyes, just like you’d be seeing if you had been there in person.

Stereoscopic cameras, it turns out, have been around for a long time.  According to Camerapedia, the first one was invented around 1847 and most ‘better households’ had their own stereoscopic camera that created pictures either by daguerreotype or calotype.

an early stereoscopic camera

Commercial stereo cameras became widely available at the turn of the twentieth century with the release of Jules Richard’s Verascope and Kodak’s Brownie Hawkeye Stereo cameras.

Kodak’s Stereo Brownie

During the twentieth century, two boom periods of stereoscopic photography occurred. The first period occurred, in the 1950’s with the release of the Stereo Realist and the second occurred in the mid-1980’s with Nimslo and Nashika cameras. These latter models offered lenticular printing to everyone (lenticular printing is a multi-step method of printing which produces pictures that move or wiggle when tilted from side to side).

Seton Rochwite with his invention the Stereo Realist camera, from http://www.stereoscopy.com/3dlegends/rochwite.html

Nimslo Quad Cam

My research also uncovered some interesting new innovations in the digital camera world. Adobe is developing a lens that captures all visual information into one exposure and through Photoshop the photographer can choose which elements to use in the final shot. That certainly takes the artistry and experimentation out of photography. Who am I kidding, it kind of sucks the soul out of the whole process, but it’s pretty interesting nonetheless. Check out this article and short video.

Then there’s the Nano Cam, which claims to be able to make a high-definition mega-pixel camera capable of capturing stunning images through the use of a multi-lens camera using nano technology. For now, film is all the technology I can handle. See the Nano Cam for yourself.

Finally, there appears to be a company out there making what looks like a modern, medium-format film-loaded 3-D camera.

photo from http://www.retrothing.com/2008/03/medium-format-s.html

Made by 3D-World this camera gives you six stereoscopic images on a roll of 120 film and it can be yours for the low, low price of around $1,500 USD. Where is it made? Why China, of course. Get the full specs here.

I think this DIY Kodak Disposable 3D camera is much more my speed. View directions for making one yourself on Photojojo’s website.

from http://www.photojojo.com

Clicking internet links is like looking up words in the dictionary. You go there to find one thing and end up completely side-tracked because you just have to find out the meaning of something new and crazy-sounding. Here are some images of some vintage multi-lens cameras that I was ACTUALLY searching for. Happy snapping!

Russian Panoramic Camera

1860 Dubroni Stereo Wetplate

Ernamann Heag Stereskop

Sears Soroco Stereo

American Optical Co. Stereo camera

Prototype of a 3 lens Graflex

Prototype of Nord Stereo Camera

Folmer Schwing Triple Lens Camera

Gallus Triple Lens Stereo Camera

Unless otherwise noted, all images come from the very cool Classic Camera website. Give them a visit!


Philly Lessons

Whenever I travel I bring a film camera along and our latest trip to Philadelphia, PA was no exception, but there was one little twist. Usually I bring a 35mm or medium format camera with me but yesterday I brought along my Polaroid Spirit and three packs of The Impossible Project’s instant film. It was a little bit of a risky move for me because it’s tough taking instant shots on the run: My family gets tired of stopping for me and often leave me in the dust so I have to be fast with my composition, focus and button pressing. Also, I’ve not yet mastered TIP’s films and usually get crappy results.

Of course, I also had my iPhone with me and I set a mission for myself. Take some macro shots of anything but flowers. They’re so easy as macro subjects, beautiful too, but I wanted to try to branch out (no pun intended). First thing I needed to do was find out what kind of film was left in my Polaroid–color or black and white. These two shots were the last of that pack.    

Lesson # 1: I got much better results on the second shots because I turned the light/dark slider to the middle, where it should be been in the first place for a bright sunny day, instead of all the way to the light side, as is often recommended for TIP films. So from now on, I’m going to set that slider where I think it should be, not where they recommend it be set.

We got a late start leaving and didn’t arrive in Philly until well after 1:30 pm so the first stop was lunch at Reading Market. I had a VERY yummy Italian Pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and provolone cheese from this shop

Lesson #2: You can actually take a decent Polaroid picture inside a busy market! I was shocked that this one came out as well as it did but I applied the knowledge gleaned from lesson #1 and voila!

Next we visited the Franklin Institute where I tried to take some macro shots but there just wasn’t enough time. We had to move quickly through the museum because we only had an hour and ten minutes before it closed. These are my macro attempts This diamond patterned metal never looks as cool close up as it does far away. I’ve tried a couple of times to do macros of it and haven’t found an interesting way to photograph it close up. I did, however, get some other really cool photos

The entrance to the museum

Pendulum filled with sand that drew a pattern on the table as it traveled

Pola shot of some optical illusion art

Looking down the stairs at the pendulum on the bottom floor

Surgical instruments

Cool, glowing light sconce

Old pocket watch and my eldest daughter in the background

We had a long walk back to Independence Hall and had to plot our course, so we stopped at the giant fountain in Logan Circle where I got one of the best shots of my three kids to date.

First they were goofing around. My son waded up to his knees in the water and then I got….

The Money Shot!

I saw them sitting staggered on the side of the fountain and took two shots, in which my son was giving his best cheese-ball grin, before I got this one. Look for it in this years’ Christmas card.

Lesson #3: The best family portraits are ALWAYS spontaneous!!

Our hike included Chinatown where I got some of these pictures

Loved the red in the lady’s hat and bags that echoed the red ribbons on the Foo Dogs necks

I’ll probably texturize this in Pic Grunger at a later date, but I loved the symmetry

On to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall where I KNOW I got the coolest shot of the day

I was FLOORED that this came out so well!!!!! It’s far and away the coolest Liberty Bell shot of the day. Here’s the picture I took with my iPhone. It’s a bit of a different angle, but you get the idea

No where NEAR the same detail. Which brings me to

Lesson #4: Just because a film has performed poorly in the past doesn’t mean it will perform poorly in the future.

I did NOT expect to get the crazy, detailed results of the Bell in those poor lighting conditions but, once again, I switched the light/dark switch all the way to dark because it wasn’t very well-lit, and I got a fantastic picture.

Other cool stuff from that area…

Granite wall with the names of George Washington’s slaves

Looking for something for dinner we strolled through what must’ve been the young and hip section of the city. All the beautiful people were sitting in tables on the sidewalk eating fancy food at restaurants with one name. That’s not really our style, especially with the kids in tow, so we found an alley with some excellent Irish-style pubs. Dinner was eaten here

Then, it was back on the subway for the trip back to the car. There are TONS of things to photograph in the subway. Here’s my Philly subway collection.

It was a really fun day and I learned some important lessons. The last of which is…

Lesson #5: Go with the flow. You may start out your day expecting to do one thing (taking macro shots of stuff other than flowers) but that thing might not be in the cards for you that day. Something better may be planned for you instead (getting excellent family photos and Polaroids).

Thank you, City of Brotherly Love, for inspiring my photographic journey. My little family and I will be visiting again very soon.


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