Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Rail Yards

The Blacksmith Shop at Albuquerque's Rail Yards is currently hosting a crafts, performance and food fair each Sunday from 9:00 to 3:00.  Visitors to the site can also view some of the other buildings that made up the massive Santa Fe locomotive repair shops.

The Santa Fe Railway Shops were Albuquerque's biggest employer for a couple decades.  At the height of their operations in the 1940s they were photographed by Jack Delano under the auspices of the FSA and the OWI.

Delano's assignment from Stryker at the Farm Security Administration and at the Office of War Information was to photograph the railway and the people who worked on it all along the east-west corridor.  The best compilation of his work in New Mexico and at the Albuquerque rail yards is in the Museum of New Mexico Press book, Far from Main Street.  Also featured in the same book is the work in New Mexico by two of Delano's colleagues, Russell Lee and John Collier Jr.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Strolling Old Town

The yearly  car show at the Art Museum took place last Sunday.  It seemed like there were more than the usual number of muscle cars, the sun was a bit too glaring, and I just couldn't get sufficiently excited about it all to make any pictures.   On my daily strolls through Old Town later in the week though I came across a couple old cars I liked, including this classic Porche.

And then I found this nice replica 1921 Faultless Raceabout parked in the Plaza Vieja.

Warm days have also brought out the musicians.  This group can often be found playing on the east side of the Plaza.

They always look to be having a great time making music together.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Río Grande del Norte

The Río Grande del Norte was designated as a National Monument a year ago. It encompasses about a quarter million acres in the north-central portion of the state that includes the deep gorge of the river. We camped over-night beside the river to the southwest of Taos.

The river looked fairly tame near our campground, but there is a lot of fast water further along that draws many river runners.

Margaret got her feet wet in the Rio Grande, but said it was probably a little too cool for swimming.

It was nice to go to sleep with the sound of the river.  I also enjoyed the opportunity to see the stars much more clearly than is possible in the city.  I put out the campfire and sat for about an hour watching Venus until it dipped below the rimrock to the west.

We drove to Taos for breakfast in the morning and then on to the Upper Gorge where the rim is about 850 feet above the river.  The views were spectacular, but we were not much tempted to attempt the hike down to the water given the steepness of the descent.  On the way back, we crossed the river at the little John Dunn Bridge and negotiated the switchbacks up to the top of the west rim.  

The camera I took along on the trip was an Olympus Infinity Mini, which resembles the earlier Infinity Stylus.  The rugged, waterproof construction makes it attractive as a travelling companion, and the capacity to run on standard double-A batteries is a plus.  I didn't think the quality of the pictures were up to the standard of the Stylus, however, and the ten dollars I spent on this camera would likely have covered the cost of the sleeker predecessor.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35

This was the last folder from Zeiss Ikon that was developed under the guidance of Hubert Nerwin, who was the company's chief designer from the early 1930s to 1947 when he emigrated to the U.S. to work for Kodak.

There has been a lot written about the Contessa 35, so I'm not going into much detail about the camera's features and operation.  One of the best sources about the camera on the web is Steven Gandy's page about it at the Camera Quest site.

My camera came to me in quite nice cosmetic and operational condition.  The non-working light meter is of no consequence, and could likely be repaired as described nicely by Mike Elek.

The only real issue with my Contessa 35 is a double exposure prevention lock that sometimes does not release the advance block when the shutter is tripped unless I remember to firmly depress the shutter release button.  I removed the bottom plate to brush on some lighter fluid and a tiny bit of oil, but did not fix the glitch, so I'll have to have another go at it.  This is a common problem one encounters with both the Contessa 35 and its little brother, the Ikonta 35.  

There are a couple small, but important facts about removing the camera's bottom plate.  The first thing that must be done is to unscrew the little rewind release button in the center of the advance knob.  That button unscrews normally in a counter-clockwise direction.  The actual advance knob which has two holes near the outer perimeter must be unscrewed in a clockwise direction.  After that you just remove the rewind knob by taking out the center screw, and then remove the four little screws and lift off the bottom plate.  Be careful at that point not to tip the camera or blow on the revealed mechanism as there are several loose washers and levers and quite a few tiny hair-like springs which you don't want to displace inadvertently.  It would be a good idea to snap a digital picture of the advance mechanism with everything in its proper place.

So, that is about the extent of my experience with the Contessa 35 to date.  I'm looking forward to working with it more.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

time travellers

I picked up this Zeiss Ikon Contessa 35 recently on eBay.  No one was bidding on it, apparently because the light meter was inoperative.  I ended up getting it for $21, which seemed pretty astounding to me.

We stopped by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History to view an exhibit of cyanotypes with samples from the collection as the subject matter.  The two preparators below gave us a nice over-view of their current projects.  She was working on the vertebrae of a giant sloth about twenty thousand years old.  He was slowly revealing the jaw of a small dinosaur from northern New Mexico with an age of about two-hundred-seventy million years.

Our lunch at a near-by diner was briefly interrupted by godzilla, but we were not in the mood to share.

I came across this giant of the bosque the next day during a walk near the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Four elements in three groups

The refined design of the Flash Bantam makes it a pleasure to shoot.  The image quality, however, has to be attributed primarily to the Anastar lens, Kodak's version of the Tessar.

from: Kodak Lenses, Shutters and Portra Lenses - 1952

These shots are from a roll of Tri-X shot at ASA 200 and processed in Kodak TMAX developer at the 1+4 dilution.