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.

Aliens

Down in the San Luis Valley on SR17 between Moffatt and Hooper, is a center for extraterrestrial enthusiasts, a place that has a reputation for being frequented by UFOs.  People flock from all over America, perhaps the world, to sit on the observation deck at night looking for spacecraft.

According to the lady that runs it, Spanish conquistadors wrote in their diaries about witnessing UFOs landing on the plain when they were first traveling through this area in the 16th century.  I have not corroborated this claim, but just pass it along.  There is a garden that psychics say contains powerful energy spots, and it is traditional to leave something behind after visiting.  Walking the garden is said to heal you of diseases.

I stopped there after attending the Southern Colorado Film Festival, as a good place to use up two rolls of Fuji Reala (expired 1993) that were kindly given to me by a lady in a thrift store in Alamosa, CO.  I thought that in keeping with the always grainy, out of focus and generally crappy images of supposed flying saucers, 25-year-old film would be a good choice.  The only saucers I saw though, were grounded.

NAC customer example gallery

Back in the Spring 2013 I had my album manufactured by the National Audio Company out of Missouri.  They were supposed to be working on a customer example gallery, so I sent in a few promo shots…three years later the gallery is finally up and can be viewed here.  I’m happy to see Lacrimosa among them.

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I seem to be one of the only ones not using the standard white background.  I can’t decide if that’s good because it will help pull people’s eyes toward it, or bad because it now seems less professional.  Hmmm…

I posted this picture before, way back when.  But this one is new:

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(my friend John held the camera for me)

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Poolside fun with the Weathermatic

The ice and snow finally came last Thursday.  Then it left again, but now it’s back in full force, having somewhere around 6in on the ground up in Divide.  And since I don’t have easy access to a fireplace and glass of scotch at this precise moment, I can at least look back on a warmer time, 2 1/2 months ago.

Ah, the Minolta Weathermatic Dual 35.  I was glad to dig this camera out of the garage and put it back to work!  Staying at my friend’s house while on vacation, most of what we did during the day was hanging out in his pool.  Most everything else we did is captured here.  Again, there aren’t too many outstanding pictures here (and I wasn’t even wearing my glasses when I took any of these).

Those 223 batteries are getting expensive!  I picked a Duracell-made one at Batteries Plus just before I left, cost me $18…should have bought one online a few weeks before, I guess.  At the cost of a new battery every two years, this camera is costing a lot more than I thought it would.  I guess I need to use the camera a bit more here and there (and it does well outside of the pool as well) before the battery runs out by itself.

Knowing that the Weathermatic handles slide film well, I took along a roll of AGFAPhoto Precisa CT 100 (AKA Fuji Provia 100F), as well as a roll of Kodak Gold 200.  The C-41 was scanned at my local shop using the Pakon F235, the Provia was shipped to Mike’s in Boulder and scanned using their Noritsu.  I still have it in my head to gather up all my slide film and do a comparison between the Noritsu, Fuji Frontier used at Mike’s in Colorado Springs, and my own Pakon F335.  Maybe someday…

The Kodak Gold looks pretty good to me, especially when overexposed one stop, looks like lots of detail in the shadows, but I didn’t bother with dodging and burning.  I’ve shot other rolls of Kodak Gold, but they’re still waiting to be developed.  What I’ve seen of Kodak Gold so far made me want to try it out, and I’m glad I did.  I’m still in love with Fuji’s colors though!  At least I remembered to make sure that the lens didn’t have water droplets on it when taking pictures.  I wonder if being in a private pool helped (chemicals, I assume), as last time we were in a lake.  In any event, the water seemed to pour off of its own volition and wasn’t a problem.

If one looks close enough, a little motion blur can be occasionally seen, something I noticed last time I used it as well, and knowing that the camera only shoots at ASA100 and 400, I should have loaded up some 400 speed film in it, but forgot.  Even in bright sunlight, there can be motion blur from me holding the camera, and other times the motion is quite frozen.  I can’t quite say I understand it.  One thing else I found out is that occasionally, the Weathermatic’s exposure isn’t quite spot on, like below.  Of course it had to happen when shooting the Provia:

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Home

We lived in this house 1994-2002, the longest I’ve consecutively lived in one place.  The house was built in 1820 by J.C. Hayes, a veteran of the War of 1812.  War veterans were given land in that part of Ohio as a reward for their service–many of them became farmers and this house is still surrounded by 3000+ acres of farmland, all owned by one man.

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There was originally a red wooden barn behind the summer kitchen that among other things, held a tunnel that had been filled in.  There was talk that this house might have been a stop on the underground railroad, though I don’t know that my parents ever looked into it.  Unfortunately the current owners demolished the barn, so I don’t know if any evidence is left of that.  In the 1970s, the band McGuffey Lane used it as a practice space, I’m told.  Our next door neighbor and dear friend, a construction contractor, had owned this house for years, and at that point was in quite bad repair, to the point of deer living inside.  He put a lot of work into that house, and is responsible for much of the electrical work and plumbing.

There was a lot of work still left to do, but my parents saw the potential in the house.  When our friend died in the early ’90s, we bought the house from his parents, and continued the renovation, and opened a bed & breakfast.  I have a lot of hard memories growing up, but the house itself was home, a sanctuary away from the madness of life.  My grandpa died in that house.  My brother and mother insist that it’s haunted–I’m not quite as spiritually aware as they are, and the house never bothered me.  My mom had a premonition (if you want to call it that), and wanted to sell the business in 2000, but my dad refused; revenue had been steadily climbing since they opened.  Unfortunately after Sept 11 happened, a lot of people stopped traveling and pretty much anything connected to travel and tourism took a big hit, including us.  We sold the house and the business less than a year later.

The people who bought the bed & breakfast after us didn’t do too well and went under.  They owed us quite a lot of money but escaped that by declaring bankruptcy, as well as making off with several articles of antique furniture, etc before they moved down South.  I also think they took an industrial waffle iron that I was quite fond of, and would have loved to have owned.  Oh well, life goes on.  My dad knows more about the current owners and I didn’t ask him too many questions, though apparently the house is still operated as a bed & breakfast.  If I ever become filthy rich, I will definitely own that house again.

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The scans were a bit on the green side for some reason, and I had to do a little correction in Photoshop.  Strangely, it didn’t affect the rest of the roll.  The artifacts on the left side of the second picture are tears, I believe: it was the last shot on the roll, and the Weathermatic would be damned if it didn’t give me one last exposure.  God bless it…