Sunday, September 30, 2012

cool morning visitor

Seems to be some kind of leafhopper  katydid, though our book doesn't have this one specifically.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Second Chance Yashica-Mat

I bought my first Yashica-Mat about ten years ago.  I used the camera for about a year until it developed a film advance problem which I was unable to repair.  I liked the camera and wanted to replace it, but that was about the time that film camera enthusiasts were discovering what a fine shooter it was, and the prices got out of my range.  Yesterday, a Yashica-Mat very similar to my original one showed up on the local Craigslist at a reasonable price, so I snapped it up.  This new one has a covering that is curling at the edges, but it seems fine mechanically.  The shutter sounds good at all speeds and the lens and viewing system are unblemished.  The Yashica-Mat is the nicest handling of any of the twin lens reflex cameras I have used, and I think you can't beat the images from the four-element Lumaxar.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

remodeling completed

I've moved most of the photos to my own web host server.  It doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference in the speed of the site, but I feel a bit more secure having all the pictures properly organized on my own site and a backup on my hard drive.  I left a few features with the pictures being served from Photobucket such as the scrolling header on the vintage cameras page which seems to work better that way.  A few of the uglier camera pages were tweaked, and the word cloud portrait of my collection was generated on Wordle.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


I'm doing a bit of preventive maintenance on my vintage cameras web site and am considering some possibilities for tweaking the design here and there.

I am mostly concerned at the moment with moving all the photos on the site to my own server.  Since I started documenting my collection and my adventures with the cameras about ten years ago I have hosted all the photos at Photobucket.  That worked out well for a long while, but lately the pictures have been served up very slowly at times.  I also have some concern that Photobucket might collapse suddenly, leaving me with the near-impossible task of rebuilding from scratch.  The process is not technically difficult, but it is rather tedious as I must first download the pictures, then change the html code on each web page and, finally,  upload the files to my web site host server.  I'm about a quarter way through the process at this moment.

My objective from the beginning has been to document my experience in using the old film cameras.  I always try to add enough historical details to provide some perspective as to how the cameras fit into photography's long history.  I also share what seems useful about overcoming the basic restoration challenges I have encountered.  Mostly, though, I have focused on the process and results of making photographs with the old film cameras, and tried to do justice to the capabilities of the cameras.

The web site has from the beginning been a kind of random collection in the form of a catalog of my acquisitions over the years.  The basic design of the site has changed very little, but I have worked at incremental improvements in layout and navigation that I hope is helpful to others interested in the art and technology of photography.  The effort has been greatly aided by the progress of all the underlying infrastructure including the search engines, photo editing  and publishing software, and the development of blogging platforms which automate much of the publishing process.

About a year ago, I put some ads on the web site with the hope of off-setting my expenses in running the web site.  I started off with context-sensitive Google ads, and that brought me about a dollar a day.  Not long ago, I switched to ebay ads which seem more relevant to the subject, and the income is the same for me.  I had some Google ads on the blog for a while as well, but they often weren't very interesting, and they seemed too intrusive to me, so they are gone for now.

So my main concerns at the moment are not major changes, but rather some alterations in the interest of security and ease of maintenance.  Even with those modest objectives, it is a somewhat daunting task to keep the machine working well and errors and omissions may creep into the mechanism.  I'll appreciate a heads-up if any problems have gone unnoticed.  In the meantime, my thanks to those who have played along with me over the years.

- Mike

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

quiet time

Hardly anyone but me at the zoo yesterday, all the kids having returned to school.  I couldn't find many animals that weren't dozing in the shade.

Monday, September 03, 2012

more nelly kate

1932 Voigtlander Brilliant -- Nelly Kate
I found a Youtube video of Nelly Kate which includes an interview along with the performance of three pieces which were later included in her Kickstarter-funded album, Ish Ish.  Some wonderful insights into the creative process, along with some fun variations on three of her compositions. (Listen to Nelly Kate with stereo earphones to fully appreciate the looping and layering effects in her performances.)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Into the Archives II

Margaret - October 15, 2003
This is one of the few pictures I could find that I like from the Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 532/16.  I bought the camera from the Classic Cameras store in Phoenix when they still had a walk-in retail shop there.  It was fairly early on in my experience with old cameras, and I decided I wanted a no-compromises film camera.  The Super Ikonta, yielding 6x6 images on 120, seemed to fill the bill with its f2.8 Tessar and a coupled rangefinder.  The camera needed little attention to get working, but the uncoated lens was prone to flare, and I could seldom coax decent pictures from it.  I finally traded away the camera for a couple other Zeiss Ikons, neither of which I liked either.