The arc of progress.

arc

Old, but not dead.

Over the past three weeks I’ve been checkin’ out the #ShittyCameraChallenge tag on Twitter and I’ve noticed that folks are using any old shitty camera they can get their hands on, including ‘vintage’ digital.

I still have my old Pentax Optio 300GS. It’s a tiny compact digital camera I bought in 2003. It’s a whoppin’ 3.2 MP, uses a 128 MB Compact Flash card, and it runs on AA batteries.

It’s not really shitty, but it is old.

It’s not really shitty, but it is old. And after 17 years, the sensor has a handful of dead pixels.

So, yesterday I walked around the house, garage, and backyard shooting whatever caught my eye.

These two shots had a similar feel, seemed meant for each other. A wagon wheel, and leaves from one of the Pride of Barbados plants out back.

Cool and dark.

not-as-botched.jpg

Life’s about making adjustments.

My extremely rocky re-entry into developing film last year resulted in one botched and one barely salvageable roll of Ilford Pan F Plus, shot with my Hasselblad 500c/m and Holga 120S.

I was using a new dark bag to load the film onto Paterson reels. Even though it was done in an air conditioned room, the amount of heat my nervous and excited hands and arms generated caused enough steam in the bag to make the film stick to itself, totally ruining the Hassy roll.

The Holga roll wasn’t much better. The edges of the film got pretty crinkled, but I managed to feed the whole roll onto the reel without sticking to itself in the process.

Seems like a lot of trouble, huh?

The hall bathroom in our home has a separate water closet with a door. I can close the hall door, get my film rolls, reels, the tank parts, scissors, and any thing else I might need set up on the lid of the plastic tub where all this dev stuff is stored. I then turn off the light over the sinks. It’s easy to move the tub into the closet and close the second door.

It is absolutely dark in there, but I put a rolled up towel at the base of the door, just in case. I also take off my watch. After everything is situated, I sit on the toilet lid with the tub in front of me and turn off the light.

Seems like a lot of trouble, huh?

I haven’t screwed up a single roll since making this change, so the effort is worth it.

Plus, I’ve ditched the dark bag.

Offbeat.

fun-funky-lenses.jpg

Fun and funky lenses.

It must be my love of toy cameras that compels me to experiment with offbeat lenses on my mirrorless cameras.

I have a good collection of weird add-ons, from Lensbabies to C-mount CCTV lenses and I recently added an Olympus M.Zuiko 9mm ƒ/8.0 Fisheye Body Cap Lens to use on my m43 boxes. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but reviews and sample images I found were convincing.

Pictured above are are four from my stash of curious and weird lenses… Olympus 9mm ƒ/8 Fisheye Body Cap, Thingyfy Pinhole Pro S, Pentax 25mm ƒ/1.4 CCTV, Lensbaby Composer Pro/Sweet 35.

Rusty shutters #35.

0000-diana-mini.jpg

Diana Mini.

August 2009.

I already had a Diana 151 when the Lomography folks released this little guy, and I thought adding this 35mm camera to the collection could be fun.

It’s a cool toy that’ll shoot half-frame and square, but I keep it on the square setting.

Loading film is super-easy, and all the controls are quite similar to what you’d find on the Diana 151, so there’s zero learning curve.

I’ve run 3 rolls of Kodak film through it so far, BW400CN, Elite Chrome 100 (XPRO), and Gold 200. All three performed well.

Yet another film camera I need to put a little more effort into using.

Film type: 35mm
Shutter Speeds: ~1/60 – 1/100 sec
Aperture: ƒ/8, ƒ/11
Focal Length: 24mm
Viewfinder: Optical
Focusing: Manual/zone – ~2ft – infinity
Dimensions HWD: 2.8in x 4in x 2.4in

New Old Stock.

smena8m.jpg

Quirky new addition.

This little guy arrived in the mail last week. It’s a Smena 8M. A Russian viewfinder camera.

An eBay purchase, it’s New Old Stock. Seriously. The box that showed up in the mail was sealed and unopened. They were manufactured from 1952 until the late 80s, but a little internet research reveals this one’s likely closer to the late 80s.

To call this thing quirky would be an understatement.

Full manual. 35mm. No battery. The shutter needs to be cocked before each shot.

The aperture ring – ƒ/16 to ƒ/4 – is inconvenient as hell, and loading and unloading film will be interesting because the rewind is a smaller-than-a-dime button with a serrated edge on top of the camera. No crank. The film take-up spool is loose.

It has shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/250 second, or one can go by sunny to cloudy icons at the top of the lens barrel.

There are videos aplenty on YouTube, if you’re the curious type.

So, besides the Smena 8M, I’m down to about 20 cameras to document:

  • Fujifilm Instax Square SQ6
  • Diana Mini
  • Shen-Hao HZX45-II
  • Polaroid Land Camera Model 180
  • Voigtlander Bessa I
  • Minolta XG-1
  • Minolta XG-7
  • Polaroid Colorpack II
  • Argus 520
  • Debonair 120
  • Pinholaroid (hacked Polaroid Colorpack II pinhole)
  • Sprocket Rocket
  • 8Banners Mc (pinhole)
  • Zero Image 2000 (pinhole)
  • Ondu 6×12 Multiformat (pinhole)
  • Fujifilm XQ1
  • Spartus Fullview
  • Argus Argoflex
  • Yashica-Mat 66

It’ll take a while to go through them all since they’re mostly old film cameras, but it’ll give me a chance – and excuse – to use up my film stash.

I’m pretty sure I’ll keep adding cameras to the list – because GAS – but putting these cameras through their paces will be my main focus for 2020-2021.

Take a few seconds and check out what I’ve put together so far over on @rustyshutters.

Not quite Spring.

the-gate.jpg

Felt like it, though.

I spent the first Saturday morning of February walking around Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin. Around 10 folks showed up for Simi’s PhotowalksATX gathering.

There were a few familiar faces – Greg, George, Ed, Ana – and a few folks I’d not met before – Justin, Derrick, Another Ed, Scott – and some folks whose names I did not get nor hear.

It was a beautiful Winter morning in the garden.

It was a beautiful Winter morning in the garden. A little chilly to start, but by the time folks were heading to lunch, it’d warmed up nicely.

It was my first visit to Zilker Gardens. Beautiful grounds. It has a lot of nice winding, gently sloped, paved paths, for ADA compliance I’m guessing, but there were also steps to use. Thoughtful.

I brought along the Sony RX100 III, my trusty Panasonic Lumix LX100, and it was my first outing with the Fujifilm XQ1.

There were a few paper whites popping out of the ground, and rose blossoms, pansies, and a few other flowers, but since it’s the dead of winter, mostly palms, ferns, and well, just a whole lot of green.

… it was my first outing with the Fujifilm XQ1.

Entrance into the gardens was $7 US for me, a senior, but that included parking. Not bad really.

There was a beautiful waterfall in one section of the gardens that I’m pretty sure everyone got a shot of… my picture was a little off-center, but it managed to catch a little cool lookin’ sun flare.

I was so busy focusing on getting into the gardens that I didn’t notice the front entrance gates, but the Rose Garden Gate on the north side of the property was something to behold. The only reference to the artist that I could find online was Lars Stanley and Louis Herrera.

Lunch was at Schlotsky’s on South Lamar. There weren’t as many folks as on the walk, but it was still a good crowd.

Simi’s photo strolls are always awesome.

Rusty shutters #33.

0000-sx70-se-sonar-onestep.jpg

Polaroid SX-70 SE Sonar OneStep.

October 2007.

This blue-button SX-70 – that’s why it has “SE” as part of the camera’s name, maybe – was purchased at the San Jose Photofair.

Sadly, I no longer have this camera. It started to produce a series of 4 small, fuzzy, and bright yellowish dots vertically just off-center left. Don’t know why or how that began, but I stopped using it altogether about a year after I got it.

I got some great shots with it before its demise, though.

I did a slight variation of Adrian Hanft’s hack

Auto focus was pretty cool. I was able to use a bit of my 600 film stash, too. At the time 600 film was still available and I would snag 5-packs at Costco for around $40 US, as I recall. A good deal.

To use that film in the Sonar OneStep, I did a slight variation of Adrian Hanft’s hack, which involved just removing the ND filter over the photocell and turning the light/dark dial all the way to dark for each shot. It worked well.

Body: Black plastic with brown vinyl porvair
Focusing: Split-image rangefinder. manual or autofocus
Lens: 4-element 116mm glass
Manual focus: 10.4 inches – infinity
Shutter: Electronic
Shutter speeds: 1/180th to 14 seconds
Aperture range: f/8 – f/74
Dimensions: DWH 6.49in x 3.93in x 1.77in

K-scope, revisited.

k-scope-013.jpg

Hexagon city.

I had one of those days yesterday.

The weather was funky. Grey, foggy, drizzly. I didn’t want to leave the house. At all.

So I played indoors. It’s been a while since I put together the Leica D-Lux 4 and the toy kaleidoscope I keep in my studio.

Play. Play. Play.

I fiddled with that cool little combo for hours. Patterns, shapes, color. So much fun.

Play. Play. Play.

I attended a talk in the Spring of 1998 put on by the UCSC Extension in Mountain View, CA. The speaker was digital artist David Biedny.

It was part of their Creativity in the Digital Age series. I don’t remember much about the talk in general, but the one thing he said that evening that’s stuck with me all these years was that creativity and play go hand-in-hand.

So true.

2019 Gallery

2019-faves-banner.jpg

Faves from the past year.

Among photographers, I’m sure this is not uncommon – at the end of each year, I take a look back at my body of work and pick out the photos I like most.

My choices may be due to a particular memory, maybe the composition, or the planning that went into a particular photo. It could be the happenstance, the color, or perhaps the light. Maybe it’s the mood or a good story.

For those reasons and more, this group of shots – and a few others – are my favorites for 2019 – please, take a peek at my year-end gallery.

 

Walking among the dead.

oakwood-tree-instax-mini-8.jpg

Austin’s history under foot.

I met Kevin Thomas at Oakwood Cemetery in Austin last Sunday morning for a film stroll.

It’s a place I’ve been wanting to shoot since I saw Kat Swansey’s cemetery shots in her IG stream and her recommendation for a visit to Oakwood.

Foggy and a little chilly, it started clearing around noon. The drive down I-35 wasn’t bad at all.

I brought along the Yashica-Mat 66. I loaded a roll of Tri-X 400 in it the day before. Everything seemed pretty normal. Sunday I couldn’t get the film to advance properly. Hmmm.

Also on hand was my little Instax Mini 8, and I burned through two packs of Mono Chrome. Got a coupla’ keepers.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

The Minolta XG-1/24mm ƒ2.8 + mystery roll, too.

I had the Sony RX100MIII in the bag, as well. Sadly, when I tried to use it, I discovered it had a dead battery.

So, I shot bunches with the iPhone 8 and Blackie App.

I thought I was prepared. Apparently not!

It was a good 2+ hour walk.

On my way back home I stopped at Austin Camera to pick up the negs/prints from the 4 rolls of C41 I left there last Saturday. Pretty cool to see what they contained. Around 20 keepers, plus I still have to scan the shots from the Sprocket Rocket.