Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Return to Tent Rocks

We went back to Tent Rocks on Monday. Arriving around 10 AM, we found ourselves sharing the narrow path up the slot canyon with quite a few other visitors. A few people asked about my old camera, an Argoflex 40. Quite a few more commented on Margaret's Eastern Washington University hoodie, and everyone seemed to be amazed that she was making the hike in flip-flops.

I shot TMAX 400 in the Argus with the ISO at 200. Development was for 6.5 minutes at 22 degrees F in Rodinal at 1:50.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Combating Entropy

I have added a new feature to my web site home page to facilitate showing some of my old camera work. Down in the lower right corner will be found a link called "Sunday Slideshow". I have stored my photos over the years on several photo sharing sites, and all offer an easy way to generate slide shows from directories of images. For this inaugural Sunday, I have turned the big selector knob of my webmaster control panel to the mid-1960s to display one of my personal favorite photo-essays, Chinatown Hip Shots.

Nikon S -- Wikipedia
The NYC Chinatown essay was shot on a Nikon S that I bought in the '60s.  I sold it soon after shooting those pictures, much to my regret ever since.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home for Christmas

I never got a good picture of the stray cat we called Spot. Whenever I leaned down to his level with a camera in my hands he would run over and rub up against my leg. He was relentless in his declarations of friendship.

I tried chasing off Spot for about a year. Every time he showed up he looked worse for wear due to the many territorial fights he got into on a regular basis. He always had open wounds and matted hair; at one point he looked like he might have gotten hit by a car or mauled by a dog. Not long after that, someone in the neighborhood trapped Spot and took him to the free spay clinic in town. We knew what had happened because when he showed up again, finally, he had the tip of one ear missing, which is how the clinic provides an easy way to identify fixed, free-roaming cats.

Spot also looked completely different. His wounds were healed and his thick coat was clean and fluffy. His demeanor was a lot more mellow and he was even more determined to live in our yard. So, I started feeding him twice a day. He could usually be found sitting on the porch in the sun during the day, and our grand-daughter became very attached to him. Our inside cats felt quite differently, however, and there was no way we could let him in with them, regardless of how often he hinted that would be an excellent idea.

Spot was performing his doorman duties on a recent evening when some guests showed up for a holiday meal at our place. One woman took a special interest in the friendly white cat and, after hearing his story, she said she was interested in adopting him. The next day, I got out the cat carrier from the garage, padded the bottom with an old towel and tied open the door. When I put the carrier down in a corner of the porch, Spot walked right in like he had read the script.

We are told that Spot settled in at his new home as if he had always lived there.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Back at the Zoo

I took the new 35mm point-and-shoot pinhole camera for a walk through the zoo today. I just braced it against any handy surface for the exposures, and I thought it did quite well. The camera was the easiest conversion to a pinhole that I've done and it is fun to shoot.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gooney Bird Memories

There is a photo tribute to the Douglas DC-3 at Wired today on the occasion of its 75th anniversary.

Above and below are the only photos I've made that I like of the graceful beast. I don't have a good excuse for that as there are still several hundred DC-3 flying, including a couple belonging to an airline which you can hop a ride on from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.

I never had the pleasure of flying in the DC-3. The closest I got was a flight from Bogotá to Leticia in 1969 in a C-46. That was a Curtiss-made cargo carrier, also with two radial engines, but it came five years later than the Douglas DC-3 and it had twice the horsepower.

I do have, however, a vivid association from my childhood with the DC-3, or rather its military version, the C-47. My uncle Jack was shot down while piloting one during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. I clearly recall my father's death during the Battle of the Bulge later, but I have no actual memory from the time of Jack's crash. What I do remember is that for years his shrapnel-torn, blood-stained mae west and the burned shell of the microphone from his plane hung on the basement wall in the Seattle house we shared with my grandparents. Jack was temporarily blinded in the crash, and I don't remember him recounting how he managed to hold onto those gruesome souvenirs.

I've made photos of aircraft with most of my old cameras – they seem to go together. The ones above are from my Certo Dolly Super Sport. Quite a few others are linked to on a page at my web site devoted to visits to air shows and air museums. The pinhole section of my site also has a page devoted to the history of flight. During our time in Albuquerque I have photographed the visiting Collings Foundation warbirds on two occasions, once with my Pentax Spotmatic, and later with my Kodak Brownie Reflex. Albuquerque's Museum of Nuclear Science and History has a few old planes that I have photographed many times with many cameras, including my Brownie Hawkeye Flash.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tent Rocks

The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick. Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a "pyroclastic flow".
(from the Trail Guide)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cate's Guide to Elegant Dining

It will be a couple years before she gets around to writing the captions, but you get the idea.

This is the second roll of film through my Olympus XA. I think it is an impressive performer.

Death in America

Visiting and photographing this little New England cemetery was one of the highlights of a trip to upstate New York six years ago. The attraction of burial sites for photographers is something for which I've never seen a satisfactory explanation. Maybe I'll get around one day to attempting a solution to that riddle. In the meantime, let me just note that cemeteries and family photo albums fulfill some of the same purposes.

I got to thinking about this topic thanks to a blog I visit daily, Design Observer. The posting is an extensive excerpt from the recently published book, Cemeteries, by architectural historian,Keith Eggener.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Olympus XA

I have actually acquired two of these interesting compact rangefinder cameras recently. The first was purchased for $15 at an Albuquerque thrift store. Everything seemed to work perfectly, but I only discovered when I got the camera home that there was a small blob of fungus on the inside center of the rear lens. Getting to the innards of an XA lens is probably beyond my DIY capabilities. The fungus may not be a serious detriment to sharpness, but it does somewhat dampen my enthusiasm for using the camera.

The second XA came by way of Craigslist, also at a cost of $15, and also with a small problem -- though a fixable one in this case. The lens was clean and the shutter seemed to work well, but the slide-open cover was not clicking into place properly in the closed and opened positions. Some close examination revealed that a little steel roller was missing from under the top of the cover. So, the original XA became a donor camera, and I was able to restore Camera No.2 to full working order. I'm looking forward to getting to know it better.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Albuquerque Weekend

I got a new bottom plate for the Zorki-2C. The junker donor camera also came with a nice Industar-22 lens, so I shot a test roll with the refurbished outfit over the weekend.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kiev IIa

I've finally gotten around to putting a page about the Kiev IIa on my vintage cameras web site.

I acquired the camera about five years ago when prices and postage from the former Soviet Union were a lot lower than they are now. I also picked up a very fine Jupiter 12 lens and an accessory viewfinder around the same time. It turned out that the Kiev needed a shutter repair, but that was also obtained at a trivial price from Oleg Khalyavin in Ukraine.

I later did some small repairs on the Kiev IIa myself. One of the most common problems with this camera is irregular frame spacing. A temporary fix is to slightly loosen the screw controlling the clutch under the forked end of the film advance. A better solution is to disassemble the simple advance mechanism for cleaning and re-lubing. At the same time, I replaced the worn yarn light seals where the top deck meets the camera body.

I haven't used the Kiev IIa nearly to the extent that its fine quality demands. I'm thinking I should acquire some more of the great glass that is available for this camera. Please contact me if you have any Contax-mount lenses you might like to trade for some other classic camera gear.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Less is More

The mid-'70s Olympus 35 RC is a full-featured rangefinder camera that fits easily in the palm of your hand. Like the little Samoca 35 Super, the Olympus was the smallest camera of its type available at the time, and it incorporated many innovative design features. A CdS meter provides shutter-priority auto exposure with manual override. The E.Zuiko lens is a five-element design that yields razor sharp images. The aperture is set by the meter through a delicate mechanical linkage that seems like it should be vulnerable to damage, but all three I have owned have had perfectly functioning meters.

A very thorough review of the 35 RC can be found at Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest.