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.

Old stone

Some brick and stone work around South Wales.  Some of it is old, some of it is newer but made to look old.

Talking to Britons, one of the things that came up is architecture and how they feel so tired of everything being made to match Victorian architecture, and wished for more modern-looking buildings.  And of course, being American, I’m sick to death of modern architecture and love seeing buildings, houses, churches, that might only be 200 years old (or younger), but look like they’ve been there for a millennium.

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle stands in the middle of the city of Cardiff, just North of the city centre (I’ll use British spelling), quite easy to get to if you’re out on the town, just remember that they close at 6 and stop letting people in at 5.  Definitely go see it if you’re traveling in the area.

From what I remember from watching Secrets of Great British Castles, Cardiff Castle stands on the ruins of an old Roman fort, and was originally constructed during the reign of Edward I.  Talking with an Englishman at the bar one night, evidently castles of this sort are called “war castles,” built during either the Norman Invasion or the English conquest of Wales under Edward Longshanks.  As you can see, it’s a motte-and-bailey style, but of course the original structure would have been made of wood.

Cardiff Castle is sort of looked down upon by locals specifically because it isn’t all original, though I don’t know why, if they were already building it in stone by the 1200s.  The main problem is that the Marquesses of Bute started their own “restorations” in the 1800s cashing in on the gothic revival fad of the time (many wealthy noblemen of the time tore down castles built in the 14th and 15th centuries to make something more in keeping with what was considered a castle at the time).  I believe there was rather a large stink raised about the demolition of the medieval inner bailey wall along with other buildings dating from at least the 1300s.  The grounds of the bailey would have held extensive gardens, but now are just lawn.

There was a rather impressive collection of buildings on the outer bailey wall built (or restored) during the 1800s and containing rather impressive living quarters, said to be kept as close as possible to medieval dwelling conditions.  Unfortunately I did not have enough time to take the tour, preferring to wander the castle grounds by myself and only leaving right when they closed.  I’m still impressed with what I saw, and coming from a country where something built in the 1850s is considered old, Cardiff Castle is still properly ancient.

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…

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.