Penarth Pier

I stayed in the little town of Penarth (just a short train ride south of Cardiff) for a few days before flying out, and it’s a lovely town.

Evidently this is one of the last Victorian piers left in existence.  I believe it’s been recently renovated/restored but there’s some stink about the mishandling of the money they had, but thankfully I was just able to enjoy myself while I was there.  It doesn’t look like it from the pictures, but the place was crowded.

Trip 35 and color slides

Some of these go back to last fall, when I thought I’d try doing the tourist thing in my own town, but really just by snapping pics when I was supposed to be giving the tour.

I used an expired roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (aka Fuji Provia 100F) giving the Trip 35 the ultimate exposure test and I’m quite pleased that the selenium-powered autoexposure works perfectly fine, even after a period of 40-50 years.  I’m now starting to see that the Trip 35’s lens isn’t the most contrasty ever, especially when the sun sneaks behind the clouds, so I’m happy that I’ll be able to shoot slide film in here.

Armed with that knowledge I took the Trip 35 to Wales with me to shoot a few rolls of Velvia 100 and am very happy with the results (I’ve been posting them for the last few weeks).  The more I use this camera the more I love it.  At $8.00 from a thrift store it was a real bargain too, and one that I’m happy I sprung for.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it did so well with slide film since that’s what people were shooting back when the camera was being made, but it’s nice to know that after such a period of time it still has what it takes.

Cemetery (repurposed)

Rock Chapel, Blackwood.  A converted church that is now a private residence as well as a B&B, the husband and wife team who own it are big supporters of the Wales International Documentary Festival.  The chapel was my base of operations, and the graveyard outside provided much photographic inspiration over the two days of the festival.

As the chapel itself has been renovated and repurposed, so too has the cemetery outside.  I’d make a joke about the neighbors being quiet, but actually they weren’t, especially at feeding time in the morning.  I never knew sheep could be so excited over breakfast, but what they lack in facial expressions they make up for in the height that they can jump.  I thought for sure I had more pictures with the sheep in the graveyard, so maybe they’re there and I’m not looking hard enough…maybe they’re lying in wait, ready to pounce…

Love those trains II: Durango-Silverton

I was able to take a train ride while attending the Durango Independent Film Festival in the beginning of March.  Being winter, the line was only open for the bottom half, so it made a nice morning trip and something to do before attending my first screening at the festival.

While the scenery was nice, I was of course more interested in the steam locomotive itself.

On the festival circuit: Greetings from Durango

March 1-5, the Durango Independent Film Festival.

It seems that each festival I go to is a better experience than the last, but I don’t know that Durango can be topped.  They treated the filmmakers so nicely there, and it being 6 hours away from me, I decided to stay for the entire thing, which was definitely worth it.  I stayed in the General Palmer Hotel (living in Colorado Springs for so long, I could stay nowhere else) which looked largely untouched by time.  There were lots of activities I to do around town (like a trip on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad), plus a special filmmakers only-lounge in the basement of the local Irish pub…assuming you didn’t watch films, and I did try to catch as many programs as I could.  The best part though, was that the entire festival took place in the space of two blocks in downtown Durango, making everything nice and easy to get to.  I forged some great relationships with people and will definitely be going back in the future.

Say hello to the Fujica ZC1000

Well, what’s one to do when Kodak pushes back the release date for the new super 8 camera(again), and raises the price by 166%?  Go to their bitter rivals!  The Fujica ZC1000 was the top of the line single-8 camera back in the late-’70s which makes it a contender for the best small format camera ever.  It has many die-hard fans (especially in Spain, it seems) who consider Fuji’s cartridge design to be superior to Kodak’s in image stability.

The ZC1000 is among the most full-featured cameras available in the 8mm format, fully the equal of the Beaulieu super 8 cameras (and more robust in construction, it’s said) so comparing the specs to the new Kodak camera, it holds up quite well, only wanting crystal sync and a max8 film gate.  On the plus side it has a greater range of framerates, from 12-72fps, plus single frame (and can connect to an intervalometer), and I do prefer having all controls as easily-manipulable dials and buttons, not jogwheels and menus, with an optical viewfinder.  And if you do want video assist, it’s possible.

There is a downside, of course: with Fuji no longer making single-8 film, we’re left with using long-expired cartridges, cut-down 35mm reversal stocks from Retro8 in Japan, or reloading your own cartridges with Kodak super 8 film.  At least we have that option, and that the Fuji cartridges were designed to be reusable!  I don’t know how much trouble this is going to be, but I do admire the people who are keeping the single-8 format alive any way possible, and willing to give this a go myself.

As excited as I was about the new Kodak camera, I’ll wait until  it’s close to its originally-advertised price of $750 and skip the $2000 ‘limited edition’ version coming out in a few months.  And when I do have the new Kodak super 8, it should fit in nicely to my c-mount/8mm system I’m building here.  The Fujinon zoom lens is very highly-regarded, up there with the best Schneider and Angenieux zooms you find on the Beaulieus.  I’m sure the Fujinon will look great attached to the new Kodak camera…sacrilege perhaps, so I might as well go all the way and shoot some Fuji Provia super 8 film.

As well, I picked up the 10mm Kern Switar built for the Bolex cameras, and I hope to add a few more to that collection as well.  That Switar, incidentally, like the favorable opinions of the ZC1000 itself, came from Spain, from a filmmaker with whom I’ve become friends (This short film was shot with my lens on a ZC1000).  I found a British seller on eBay selling the single-8 cartridges and bought the entire stock.  The camera itself was, strangely enough, in Northeastern Colorado!  It was a 3-hour drive there, I tested out the camera for half an hour, then drove all the way back.  Even factoring in the gas money I’m quite happy with what I paid, and now have a great 8mm setup to make the leap from still photography to motion pictures.  It’s my goal to shoot my next film with this camera, and hopefully many after it as well.

Scoring Session: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Aka “Too Many Hats!”  I wouldn’t consider these the absolute best pictures ever, but it’s hard to be the composer, conductor, and music producer, and also try to take a few pics on the side.  This is the recording session for a new ballet film based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.  As a ballet, I had to compose the music and have it recorded by a certain date, without having seen any footage.  Now that it’s recorded, I’m hard at work mixing, mastering, and polishing, while my director Felicity works on the choreography.  While I’d like to say that I drew a great amount of inspiration from Wilde’s novel, reading it would have taken much time away from actually composing the music; I watched Albert Lewin’s 1945 film adaptation instead.

This marks the first time I have used the Canon 7 since Fall of last year, and I’m out of practice: there are one or two rather glaring focus errors, and while I think I would have been better suited with an SLR, I’d say that I really focused on the music first (pun intended), and only snapped a few here shots here and there when not actively recording.  The camera was lying around in a few different places and not all of the pictures were taken by me, as evidenced by the fact that I’m in some of them.  The main visual component was shot by the film director as a “making-of” documentary, so at some point there will be a video of the recording session floating around the internet.

The pictures are almost current, as the recording session took place just a week and a half ago, and a few days later I was on my way to the Durango Independent Film Festival.