Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nikon EM

I picked up this Nikon EM at a yard sale for $10.  Though not a commercial success for the company, the EM is nicely made, light weight and compact.  The camera's aperture-priority auto exposure was taken as something of an insult by Nikon purists, but it is not a bad trade-off for always-accurate metering, and one can see the system-selected shutter speed in the view finder.

My yard sale find came mounted with a Tokina 35-70 macro zoom lens.  The focal length variability and the close-up capability make for a versatile shooter.  Unfortunately, when the zoom is extended, the camera's dim focus screen gets even worse as the center split-image spot blacks out if the user's eye is not centered just right over the finder.  In fact, I found it nearly impossible to properly focus the camera even under good conditions, and capturing action was entirely out of the question.  I  have heard of people installing different screens from other Nikon models.  I also wonder if a good E-Series prime lens might improve the view.  I probably won't find out, though, unless I happen to find one under a rock.  I'm not inclined to go out to buy expensive lenses to satisfy my curiosity about a ten-dollar camera.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Our first house in Albuquerque had a big back yard and several resident feral cats.  Two of the females produced litters within about six months after we moved in.  We got the three adults fixed with the help of the local free spay program, and we found homes for eight of the nine kittens.

This calico was the last kitten to be caught and was a little shy, with the result that no one wanted to adopt her.  So, she went with us when we moved a couple blocks closer to Old Town.

These pictures were made with my Olympus mju.  Like all of the Maitani-designed cameras, it is very compact and has the great Olympus optics.  It is also one of the most versatile shooters of the line, with the capacity to focus automatically down to 14 inches.

This is the eighth role of color film I have processed with the one-liter Unicolor kit I got from Freestyle.  The chemicals seem to be holding up well to re-use, and it looks like I will make it to the promised dozen rolls.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Flamenco en La Plaza Vieja

I enjoy the spectacle of Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta, but the best part of the event for me is the appearance of the Flamenco performers in Old Town.  

This guitarist, the singer and the dancers were all exceptionally talented.  The last dancer came down into the audience and captivated them with her seductive charm.  That is a quality of performance called "duende" that flamenco always strives to attain, and this group certainly succeeded.

The color shots were on Fuji 200 with my Pentax Spotmatic and the 135mm Mamiya lens.  Photographing performers in the gazebo is always a challenge, but I thought the Spotmatic handled the contrasts well.  I gave the scene an extra stop of exposure over what the meter indicated.  The black and white is on Tmax 100 from my Zorki-2c with the collapsible Industar 22.

Click through the photos quickly to get a sense of the dynamic character of the dance, or view the set as an animated gif.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


This year's Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque got sandwiched in with the remnants of a couple hurricanes from the Gulf of California, but it has gone pretty smoothly.  I don't have much tolerance for the crowds at the launch site, but an early morning breeze often brings a good number of balloons over the neighborhood and one often lands nearby.

Even in calm air it is a tricky business to bring a balloon down on city streets.

This star spangled craft touched down in a dead-end a couple blocks from our house.

The chase vehicles delivered fresh propane bottles and a new load of passengers.

The balloon took off again and joined the pack heading south.

I decided one morning to try following one of the balloons with my motorcycle.  I thought I would intercept the landing near Old Town, but I ended up on a tortuous chase which took me deep into Albuquerque's South Valley.  I watched the balloon come to ground finally in a mobile home park near Coors Blvd.

I used 135 and 50mm Takumar lenses on my Pentax K1000 for these pictures.  I thought the combination did a pretty good job, though a zoom might have made the shoot a little easier.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

mixing color

My fourth roll of DIY color was shot with my Mamiya C330.



russian olive

pink bucket

good fence, good neighbor

grey cat
I mixed in quite a few variables into this last effort.  So, it won't pass muster as a clinical trial, but it was fun and it worked out pretty well.  The film is Lomography 100, the cheapest color C-41 film I could find at $4 per roll.  I processed the film in one of my plastic Paterson tanks and agitated with the twiddler stick rather than with inversions.  The color looks pretty faithful to reality to me and similar to what I get from the Fuji 200, though maybe a bit more contrasty.

The addition of the handgrip and the poroprism to the C330 has made it somewhat easier to shoot with, but the size and weight of the big tlr is still something of a challenge.  The prism finder shows less than what gets on the film and forced some cropping for composition in the final images.  Carrying around the camera by the grip for a morning left me with a sore, swollen left wrist.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

so far so good

My second roll of home-processed color is from my Kodak Flash Bantam, shot on an over-cast day.

The color seems to match my recollection of the scenes pretty well.

A couple posts I found on the web about using the Unicolor kit implied that a final dip in photo-flo was not needed.  I tried it out and got a bunch of water spots.  Luckily, a quick re-dip in my usual dilute solution of photo-flo eliminated any spots.

The development time for Unicolor at 102F is just 3.5 minutes.  I would be more comfortable with more time which would be more forgiving of small timing errors.  So far, though, I can't see any real problem with the actual results.