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.

Printmaking blues.

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Positive.

I made my first attempts at cyanotypes yesterday. Interesting process. Simple, really.

Reminded me of way back, during my mid-20s, when I worked as a draftsman for a civil engineering firm. I made a lot of blueprints in-office for field use. I’ll never forget the smell of ammonia.

Cyanotypes are pretty similar.

It takes mixing two chemicals – ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide – and brushing the mixture on paper in subdued light.

The chemicals are non-toxic, but probably not good to ingest or inhale. Wearing gloves is a good idea.

Perfect? No. Cool? Yup. Fun? Definitely!

I made a cyanotype of this geometric pattern I created in Adobe Illustrator, which I printed out on a sheet of clear acetate.

I placed the acetate over the coated paper and sandwiched ’em both between a thin sheet of plexiglass and a backing board, holding everything together with clamps.

I set it out in the direct sun exposing the paper for about 8 minutes. I unclamped the printing frame, removed the paper, rinsing it under running water. I then dipped the paper into a tray that had a bit of hydrogen peroxide mixed in with water to help darken up the blue.

You can place any number of different things on top of the paper. Besides the graphic, I also used a small branch from a plant. I plan on using photographic negatives from my medium and large format cameras in the near future.

Perfect? No. Cool? Yup. Fun? Definitely!

There are bunches of tutorials on YouTube. Bunches.

The Blue Set.

Check your settings.

I make mistakes. Some big, some little. Consequences vary, but I always learn from them.

Take for instance these half-dozen shots made back in early 2011. I used my Panny GF1 and a c-mount lens, the SLR Magic Toy Lens 26mm f/1.4, to make a few pictures around the neighborhood.

Love that swirly bokeh. But the blue was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, as I noted in comments made about the portrait on Flickr “…the blue cast is from my not remembering to switch back to AWB before I headed out for a walk around the block. The Tungsten setting casts blue in daylight. But I think it works in the handful of pictures I posted this afternoon. A lesson, of sorts.” The unusual portrait got a good number of views, a coupla’ faves, and a handful of comments.

I seem to recall noticing what I’d done about 6 pictures into my stroll and changing back to AWB. Oh, well. Interesting results.

The lesson? Check your settings.

 

New Old Stock.

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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.

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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.

K-scope, revisited.

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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.

Walking among the dead.

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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.

Every once in a great while.

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Not often, but…

Every once in a while an image I’ve made gets a little attention.

One of my pinhole images was published in SHOTS Magazine, Fall 2019 Issue No. 145 “The Journey.”

It’s 35/45, the picture I made with the Zero Image 6×9 and an expired roll of Fuji Acros 100. The story of this pinhole adventure/experiment is well documented in an earlier post.

I pointed to the same same post when I uploaded the image to Flickr.

To my delight, the picture in that post ended up on Flickr’s Explore, which is something that hasn’t happened for my work in a really long time.

I noticed it earlier this month. Any comments on Flickr are rare these days and the notification made me check it out. At the time there were 58 faves. Crazy. The comments indicated the picture made Explore.

I went there, scrolled through until I found the image. Verification! Pretty cool!

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As of today “35/45. a little experiment” has 9,121 views, 75 faves, and 4 comments.

Amazing.

I make images to satisfy a personal need, but it certainly is nice to have this kind of reaction to my work. And I appreciate it.

Ex Libris.

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Learning is never ending.

A half-dozen photography related books I’ve added to my library over the past year.

Photographers on Photography: How the Masters See, Think & Shoot
Henry Carroll

Analog Photography: Reference Manual for Shooting Film
Andrew Bellamy

A Chronology of Photography: A Cultural Timeline From Camera Obscura to Instagram
Paul Lowe

Photography Changes Everything
Marvin Heiferman

Experimental Photography: A Handbook of Techniques
Marco Antonini, Sergio Minniti, Francisco Gómez, Gabriele Lungarella, Luca Bendandi

Zen Camera: Creative Awakening with a Daily Practice in Photography
David Ulrich

Austin streets.

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A Thursday morning photowalk.

I got out for a film-shooters photowalk in Austin this morning with Chris Ullrich and Amy Jasek.

The only digital camera I had with me was my iPhone 8.

I brought a bunch of film cameras, but mostly used my recently rediscovered Nikon One•Touch Zoom 90 loaded with a 24 exposure roll of 35mm Ilford XP2 Super and my little Olympus Stylus Epic loaded with a 36 exposure roll of Kodak Ektar 100.

Chris had his awesome Leica M6, and Amy had a really slick black Contax G2.

Chris and I walked from the new-ish Austin Library to Intelligentsia Coffee at 3rd and Nueces Street to meet Amy.

After conversation, coffee, and a light breakfast, the stroll began. Cameras in hand, we headed east on 3rd street to Congress Avenue, headed north where Amy broke out her new Ondu 4×5 pinhole camera.

Crossing over around 8th , we headed back down Congress Avenue to 2nd, then winding our way west, back to the library, where – before we went our separate ways – we talked at length about the current state of the Film Shooters Collective.

Great walk. Great conversation. Great people. Great fun. I hope I got some great pictures!