One of the nicest tips I’ve ever got

It’s always nice when you connect with good people.  People have commented in the past on my old cameras I’m always lugging around on tours but this is the first time I’ve had someone that thought of me and my hobby enough to send me one of their old cameras as a parting gift.


Of course I’m really hoping to get a Leica or a Hasselblad from a passenger but this is a step in the right direction!

This was a group of four wonderful ladies that went on a High Country tour way up into national forest.  They happened to be from my home state of Ohio and it’s always nice when you have that in common; building connections with passengers is part of what makes a great tour.

I intended this post to be a review of the camera after I’d put a roll of film through it, unfortunately as I was going to do that I started having problems winding the camera and the shutter seems to be stuck half-open.


And I’ve been having problems with one of my F2s having light leaks…

For someone in rural Ohio in 1985, whatever the Fujica STX-1N cost brand-new must have seemed like a lot; these days it’s dirt-cheap if ebay prices are any indication.  It’s not worth it to repair and the extra zoom lenses that came with the camera are probably worthless as well.  I probably would have only shot a roll of film and then given it away, but it makes me sad that I can’t do even that to honor the generosity of my passenger.  I still consider it one of the nicest tips and nicest gestures I’ve ever received.

One last time with the Minolta SRT-MCII

Back in 2012 I was hitting my local Goodwill like I was wont to do, looking for deals you used to be able to find back then, and in the display case was a new camera that I hadn’t seen yet, and evidently it had been there for a few weeks because it was already marked down too…maybe I hadn’t been in in a while.  I was familiar with my mom’s Minolta so it thrilled me that I had finally found a camera that was her brand and I might be able to use her lenses!  The best part was the price, I think tax included I spent less than $7.50 for this all-mechanical marvel.  It came with a little case, a Quantaray zoom lens, a flash, the camera body, and a 50mm f/2 Minolta MD lens.  When in the checkout line the music playing over the store speakers was some awful song by Nickelback and the stupid cunt in front of me was singing along which completely soured the whole experience.  But that’s the story of how I acquired this particular camera, as much as I can remember considering it was a decade ago.  This Minolta was my constant companion through my Intro to Photography class by virtue of being the only camera that had completely accurate shutter speeds, though after that I pretty much went to my Pentax Spotmatic and never looked back.

It and a lot of other cameras I never used much ended up being stored in a box in my mom’s garage, she made me put them out there because she wanted more storage space for her own stuff; I suppose I was a bit upset at the time but figured those boxes were going to be things I’d never end up using, and I was almost right.  I’d brought those boxes down to sell at the local used camera store, and then one day I had a massive brain fart and forgot to bring my camera with me, something I almost never do, but thankfully they were willing to let me grab a camera for a few days just to have on hand…I’d feel naked without one!  Not that I actually ended up needing it but it did give me the opportunity to use the old girl one last time before passing it on.

In fact I shot two partial rolls of film through this camera, partial because I got frustrated with it not being the Nikon F2 and eventually rewound the film and loaded it into one of my F2s.  It’s not the Minolta’s fault, I mean what camera comes close to the Nikon F2?  The SRT’s shutter advance has a quite longer throw and the lens focuses the other direction, those were my biggest gripes, but they’re the only bad things I have to say about the camera.  And even if I was about to let it go, the camera was there for me when I needed it, and I’m in the point experience-wise where I can pick up just about any manual camera with a roll of ASA400 film and just shoot it without ever having to worry about not having batteries, getting proper exposure, etc, even if the ergonomics aren’t quite familiar to me anymore.

I don’t know the state of thrift stores these days and don’t know if the deals still exist that did 10 years back, but for a time Minolta cameras were the bargain if you could find one, nearly always cheaper than other brands, and with no real sense behind it besides not being as well known.  An all-manual (battery only for light meter) camera like this is exactly the kind that is recommended to photography students across the country (the world?) and it’s telling that even though it’s 50 years old it just works, and probably will long after all the fancy battery-dependent electronic cameras have bit the dust.  I can’t turn my nose up at this camera; it’s just that in the end I knew it needed to belong to someone else.

Expired Kodak BW400CN

This film was on sale at my local camera store, expired between 2006 and 2008.  I decided to give it a try, I mean why not?  So this is about the last week in November and first week and a half or so in December.

It’s not bad stuff.  I shot it sometimes at ASA200 and sometimes ASA100, and think it works well outside: shadow detail can be a bit lacking otherwise.  Also for some reason the film scans always came back really dirty, lots of stuff like dust, etc, on the negatives.  I shot a lot of Ilford XP2 last year and I will say that it’s nice having at least that chromogenic film stock available but I wish that Kodak would bring this back at some point…and also Plus-X.  Shooting the expired stuff is fine for a bit of a change but all my reflexes at this point are for shooting ASA400 film and I don’t really want to change that up too much.  I think I had 6 rolls total and they’re all gone; I don’t plan on getting more.

COVID diaries 2

This was how I found my mom’s house when I arrived the day after she died; she’d been in the hospital for about a week and a half at that point.

It still gets me how differently people can be affected by the virus.  I currently have it myself and am almost back to normal already after just a week.  But because of that there will definitely be a Part 3…

COVID Diaries 1

Scorpion Cowboy: selected headshots

This is the guy (along with his wife, a good friend of my mom’s), that got me into driving jeep tours.  I’ve developed a reputation within the company as the resident photographer.  A few of our drivers are actors or would like to be, and I suppose headshots would be a good first step.

 

Some taken using the legendary Nikkor-PC 105mm f/2.5, and then I went a bit wider with the AI-Nikkor 85mm f/2.  They’re not all technically perfect as I did often refocus and sometimes didn’t quite hit it, but I’m still pretty proud of how they turned out.  Of course I used movie film to give these a certain cinematic look, and I have to say that Eastman Double-X is just stunning.  I took less formal portraits using Tri-X and it’s fun to compare the different characteristics; honestly I think Double-X will have to be my go-to black & white film for portraits.  Whether it’s the differing amount of silver in the emulsion, the fact that it’s remained virtually unchanged since Kodak introduced it in 1959, or just that it’s formulated for motion pictures instead of stills I’m not sure, but whatever it is this film just has that look and I love it.

Successful adventures in self-portraiture

Back around 2016 I was making quite a lot of self-portraits, as part of the first iteration of Advanced Photo, and again in 2020 during the start of the COVID pandemic.  Recently reviewing those photos for the first time has inspired me to start again, I think due to the death of my mother.  It’s always a yardstick for me to measure where I’m at mentally and as this has been a trying time since December started; that’s what seems to bring it back up again.  Just recently Kodak’s Instagram account started a trend with #photographersonfilm which has included quite a few mirror selfies so at least I can say I was ahead of the curve there, but then again I haven’t really put any out there til now.

Ilford HP5+, Kodak Tri-X 400, Ilford XP2 Super

These are different from the self-portraiture exhibited in this post.  It’s a completely different project and older.  Except for the ones with the cowboy hat.  But most of these are taken in the mirror, I’ve been doing that since 2016 at least, and always enjoy when I can get my camera in the shot as well.  There are occasions when I’ll ask someone to take a picture for me and how it usually works is they take a photo of me with their phone and I’d like one of myself with my own camera, or I just straight up ask them first.  Either way my rule is “My camera, my picture/Your camera, your picture.”  It’s sort of the movie director argument of having “creative vision.”  That though, has resulted in quite a few mishaps because even if I give my camera to someone older that should absolutely know how to use a film camera, they can usually figure out a way to screw it up:

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Alternate author photos – Kathy

Back around 2015-16 my friend Kathy wanted me to take pictures of her for use as her official author photo…so far the book(s) she was writing have yet to materialize (I’d love to read them) but when they do hopefully the back photo will feature the photos I took of her using Cinestill 800T.  She liked the portrait I’d done of our mutual friend Duncan and wanted something similar but in color and I did my best I could back then; I think I could probably do better now.  But one thing that I did insist on trying more just for myself, was to put a couple shots through my Canon 7 rangefinder because I wanted to try that Summarit lens out with some Double-X.  And here are those results:

There’s just something about Double-X that just works for me: the tonality, the contrast, whatever it is, it’s one of my favorite films for portraits.  I don’t even think she saw these shots, the roll took a lot longer to use up and even though I posted some of the shots a long time ago I lost the digital files before I uploaded anything on here.  I recently had my scanner out of storage and took the opportunity to rescan a few rolls I seemed to have misplaced, this was among them.