Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why deny it?

I like cheap cameras, cheap film and cheap wine.

Looking back through my blog posts I see that I've been shooting this Olympus Infinity Stylus for about eight years and that I paid two bucks for it at an Albuquerque thrift store.  That is a little less than the cost of the the Fuji 200 color film that I usually shoot in it.  Since I do my own color processing, that adds about another buck to the cost per roll.  I'd guess my Infinity Stylus has traveled more miles in my pocket than most of my other cameras put together.

I'll get to the wine later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

This is the Sporti

The Ilford Sporti is a '50s product of West Germany.  It is a simple, but well-made medium format camera with a focusable lens, two aperture settings and flash synch.  This one had a lazy shutter, gummed up with half a century of dust and dried lubricant.

I dabbed a little lighter fluid on the back of the shutter from the inside, but that only freed it up momentarily.  Getting at the shutter's innards from the front proved an easy task.  Removing two small screws in the silver ring with the focal scale on it allowed removal of that piece.  Underneath that was the lens mount held in place by three more screws; removing those allowed access to the front of the box-camera-type shutter.

I scrubbed the face of the shutter with a q-tip moistened with Ronsonal which got things working better.  I then added a a dash of powered graphite to the lighter fluid and painted that on all the moving surfaces.  That got the shutter running reliably at about 1/25th of a second.

I decided to test the results with some expired Velvia 100 slide film that arrived with the camera.  Not having any E6 chemistry on hand, that meant I had to cross process the exposed film with my Unicolor C-41 kit.  The results were interesting, though not a fair test of the camera's capabilities.

I have some film on order now, so I'll try to run something through the camera soon that gives it a better chance to show what it can do.

A free manual for the Sporti is available on line at Central Manuals.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Good Luck, Good Friend, Good Camera, and a cat

I picked up this Olympus Infinity Stylus recently for a buck at a thrift store.  It was the first time in a long while that I have come across such a bargain.  There are a few scuffs on the case, but the battery was good and the camera looked and sounded like it was going to make pictures.

Just two more things needed -- some film and a subject.  As luck would have it, a friend showed up at my house with a box of expired film including two rolls of Kodak BW400CN, a chromogenic black and white film that can be processed in C-41 chemistry.  I used to shoot a lot of the stuff before Kodak discontinued making it a couple years ago.

Teddy, the neighbor's cat, volunteered modeling services.  She spends much of her day lounging on our deck, so the gig was not a big imposition.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

An image from the Patent Etui

I got a roll of Tri-X through my Patent Etui plate camera after considerable effort.  This one of a sculpture in the art museum courtyard was the only one I liked.

The Trioplan lens easily lived up to my expectations.  The focus adjustment and the Rollex film back gave me some problems that are yet to be fully resolved.

Friday, January 06, 2017

A Little Snow

A little snow goes a long way in Albuquerque. We got about a half inch last night. This morning, university offices and all the public schools closed for the day.

Most of my spare time lately has been devoted to getting my plate camera ready to make pictures.  When I've taken a break from that project and gone for a walk around the neighborhood, I've carried along my little Olympus 35rc.  It is a marvelous little rangefinder designed by the incomparable Maitani.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A Brace of Patent Etuis

I found another KW Patent Etui plate camera on ebay. It has had quite a lot more use than my other one judging from the worn condition of the covering, but the shutter, the lens and the bellows are all in shootable condition.

The first-acquired camera on the right came in nearly faultless condition and produced excellent quality images.  It has a 120mm Tessar lens.

The recently acquired camera to the left is equipped with a 105mm Meyer-Gorlitz Trioplan.  That is a three-element design rather than the four of the Tessar, but I always liked the images I got from the Trioplan on my Certo Dolly Super-Sport and I'm looking forward to seeing what this one will do.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Photography in the Twenty-First Century

I performed an impromptu social experiment recently.  I want ot share some of the details and a bit of analysis as I think it provides a useful answer to the question of what to do with one's photographs.

We recently hosted an informal holiday get-together of neighbors at our home, scheduled to begin at 10:00 am.  While straightening up the house that morning I decided on something of a whim to incorporate a slide show into the proceedings.  I selected a show that was already prepared and on line, a group of pictures made in our neighborhood over the past eight years.

Click image to view the Old Town folder at Google Photos.  To view the images there as a slide show, click the three-dot "More Options" icon in the upper right and select "Slide Show".

Before our guests arrived, I started the slide show running on my laptop, and then broadcast it via wifi to our flat-screen television located between the pellet stove and the piano in our living room.

The slideshow was running when the first guests arrived.  I made no announcement or reference to the show and there was no sound from the tv receiver -- just the fifty or so pictures being displayed with about a five second delay for each shot.  I don't think anyone gave much thought to the changing photo display initially; it just seemed a part of the decor.  Eventually, someone asked if those were my pictures (yes).  Later, I was asked about the location of a shot showing some empty planters in a garden (the courtyard behind the art museum).  Additional comments were made about the photography over the next three hours the gathering lasted, but the display did not interfere in any significant way with the group's ongoing conversation.  Some people looked at the changing pictures often and other only occasionally, but I think most people saw most of the pictures as they were displayed in a continuous loop.

One of the salient features of my experiment was the contrast it provided to countless slideshows I sat through in my youth.  Most people whose personal history extends back into the era of film photography will have similar memories of sitting in the dark with a wheezing slide projector throwing images on a white screen, often accompanied by some narration about a recent vacation trip.  Sometimes the shows were entertaining; more often they were stoically endured.  If the audience was composed of family members or close friends, there might be some talk and banter about the pictures, but there were not many opportunities for deviations from the script.

The things that most distinguished the old-style slide shows was that they had a very linear character, and they demanded the undivided attention of the participants.  The same can be said, in fact, about most other ways in which still images are offered up for observation.  It takes some willful preparation, some time commitment, and possibly some money to go to a photography exhibit, to read a book or to watch a program about a photographer's work.  The informal exhibit I mounted in our living room required none of those things.  Rather, it allowed for multi-tasking and gave the choice for participation to each individual member of the assembled group.  In other words, it was a photography exhibit that was consistent with behavioral norms and expectations of the digital age, a Twenty-First Century slide show.

Although the slide show I presented was informal, it nevertheless required some preparation.  The subject or theme in this case was easy to relate to for the guests -- they all lived in the area and had at least some familiarity with the places depicted.  That contributed to the viability of the continuous, non-linear presentation; it really did not matter much if their attention strayed at times away from the flow of images.  I could have chosen other subjects for such an exhibit from among my collection of photos which includes thousands of images.  It would have been fairly easy to assemble forty or fifty portraits; pictures of cats, cars, color shots, black and white images, what-have-you.  I think the thing to keep in mind is that you are a photographer, but you can also choose in this streaming digital age to be an archivist, a curator, and an exhibitor.

I have used several photo sharing services over the years and some of them provided a way to assemble and display slide-show presentations on line.  I use as a place to display what I consider my best photos, but I don't like it as a general purpose image management tool.  For that reason, I chose in this instance to use Google Photos for assembling and presenting my on line exhibit.

I accessed my Google Photos slide-show with my laptop running the Chrome browser which can "cast" anything displayed in the browser via my home wifi network to my television receiver to which I have attached the little Google chromecast device.  The chromecast gadget plugs into one of the HDMI ports on the back of the receiver.  On mine, there is a button on the back of the set with allows changing the tv output to HDMI from the cable or antenna.  Some other sets will allow that change to be made through the setup menu.  At the moment, you can pick up one of these digital streaming devices for about $25.  All of this can be accomplished quite quickly and easily these days.  Large flat-screen tv receivers and home wifi networks are everywhere, and you can even do it all on the fly with a tablet, or even just a cell phone and a portable wifi hotspot.