Quo vadis?

I had a surreal moment recently, as scrolling through my Facebook feed was someone I know only from the WordPress world:

My worlds are colliding.  Also surreal: having a link to the Resurrected Camera from Petapixel (I’m #46).  But though I forgot about it in the 2 or so years since Jim first put me on this list, Jim’s description of my blog really bothers me: “Joe explores and discovers with his old film cameras.”  I don’t know if I’ve ever brought that up with you Jim, sorry.  Really it’s something that has caused a bit of an existential crisis for me.  If that’s the description that sums up what I’ve been doing here for almost 3.5 years now, I think I need to reexamine what I’m posting, what my motives are, and what this blog should actually be about.

It’s been a journey for me, and I started posting January 1st, 2014, after having taken an Intro to Photography class at my university.  I found that one photo class wasn’t enough and ended up going for a minor in photography.  Then I started shooting super 8, made a short film, and over the past year have been taking that to festivals.  My long-term photo project begun in Advanced Photo has been the chronicle of making the film from beginning to end, and photographing the film festivals has been the tail end of that.  But what is this blog actually about?

My intention at the beginning was to show the world that film photography is not expensive, and often cheaper than digital, as well as visually superior.  If that’s not what people think of when they think of The Resurrected Camera, I probably didn’t do a good job emphasizing this aspect.  Maybe it’s time to bring that back in again, or start finding a new theme, new direction.  The name itself, Resurrected Camera, came from the astonishing generosity of other people who have given me cameras, and the incredible deals I’ve come across for items that no longer hold value to people.  Is that still relevant?  And am I still following that goal?

Here’s a self-portrait with my beloved SPII.  I always talk about it because I paid $5 for it at a garage sale, it’s still my main camera, and really if I needed to, I could get by the rest of my life using nothing else.  Maybe it’s time for one of those one camera, one year challenges.  Or something.  The trouble is, since I’m done taking photo classes, I don’t really have a direction anymore.  All the stuff I’m down to are pics I took back in April (or earlier!) that I’m doling out once a week.  Sometimes posting even that much seems like a chore.  It was my goal to make what I’d already shot last all summer, but maybe it’s time to get all that out of the way quicker and start afresh.  I don’t know what direction I’ll take now, but it is my goal to make this blog a little less aimless in future.

(suggestions welcome)

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Family Gathering 2016

The main event.  A much more joyous occasion than two years ago, we met in Manassas, VA for my cousin’s wedding.  He’s the last cousin to get married, which probably means my brother’s and my days are numbered…

At least we’ll be able to put them through a long plane flight like the ones I’ve had to endure the last few years!

The trial and error continues.  Since last spring I’ve made it a point to shoot and get the hang of Ektar 100…it still hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe it’s the lack of sunlight that skews the color temperature, or the fact that with a manual camera I’m not getting a proper exposure, or that I didn’t perform a whole lot of color correction in post.  Whatever the reason, the unsatisfying results are just one more reason that I’ll shoot keep shooting the consumer-variety films.

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…

A grown-up birthday

A friend of mine from church turned 37, so the guys all decided to celebrate…by hanging out in a garage.  I guess this will probably show my young age, maturity level, what have you, but still, it sounds like kind of a lame birthday.  I suppose when you and everyone else you know is 30-something and married with a family, grabbing a few hours in a garage for a few beers and a pipe is kind of all that can be expected.  I don’t know, it’s not really a part of “growing up” that I can say I’m looking forward to all that much.

That said, it was still more socialization than I usually get, and I haven’t gotten to hang out with these guys nearly at all since I moved down to the big city.  Also, I haven’t celebrated my own birthday for years now, really.  It always falls on finals week so my friends never wanted to do anything, and after a while I just stopped feeling like my birthday was anything worth celebrating.  Besides, after you turn 21, there really isn’t much point to aging is there?

This is the last roll of film I shot through my (first) Canon 7 before it broke down.  My replacement came just yesterday, and hopefully that camera will be problem free.

This guy

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I never even got his name.  I saw him sitting on the side of the road in a wheelchair with a sign that read “No job.”  I usually ignore those with signs and especially those who will come up and ask you for money (bad experiences), but today, I felt something telling me to make an exception this time.  I bought him some Chinese food, listened to him talk for an hour or so, heard his stories.  He showed me his gunshot wound he received for walking into the wrong alley back when he lived in L.A.  He kept his head down, didn’t look me in the eye much.

He has no legs.  While he lives in a retirement home now, he spent a few winters outside and lost them to frostbite, a year apart.  Now he has throat cancer and was a week away from operating when I spoke to him.  He told me they’ll have to remove part of his jaw.  For the last week that he could, he was planning to smoke and drink as much as possible before he has to stop entirely.  He thought maybe he had run over a witch and now she had cursed him.  I tried to explain that even with only a week left, he could take control of his life at least a little bit by choosing himself when to give up booze and cigarettes, not waiting to let his health circumstances dictate it for him, but I did a bad job of it, don’t think I got my point across.

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I took a few pictures of him on my camera, he took a few of me with his.  Eventually he had to get going, so did I, before the snow caught us both.  It’s Tuesday now, he’ll be up in Denver for his operation, he says he won’t be coming back down this way.  He has a 75% chance to make it through, thinks they’re pretty good odds, and has a feeling he’ll live to be 94.  Whoever this guy is, I’m thinking and praying for him.  If he’s right, then he has a lot of life left to live, and I hope he is able to live it well.

An old-fashioned man

…and proud of it.

It doesn’t stop at just using film and old cameras.  I suppose it stems from a passion for history, but it makes itself felt in many areas of my life.  I appreciate old things.  There’s an innate level of craftsmanship and quality in something that has been around for a long time but still works as well as it did when it was new.  And there’s not much made these days that holds up like things from even 3-4 decades ago.

My grandfather was 70 when I was born, and I didn’t know him as well as I’d have liked to, but I have some mementos of his to remember him by, and that probably helped forge a connection to the past as well.  I have several of his cameras, some of his Army clothing and paraphernalia, and his favorite fedora:
0001AA015Photo by Jonathon Davidson, from the fake trailer “The Lights of Seven Falls.”
It’s just a bit too big for me actually, and for him as well, I believe.  I remember he used to line that hat with old church programs.  My solution is a rolled-up bandana.

My brother paved the way for me in taking up wet shaving over a year ago, and I picked up the torch back in September.  When in Ohio I raided my grandparents’ house looking for any old shaving accessories and came up with gold (well, brass).  Now I have discovered the joy of the badger hair brush, shaving soap, and using Personna double-edged blades in a 1930 Gillette Ball End safety razor.  It’s possible that this was the razor that ol’ Grandpa learned to shave with, though I don’t know one way or the other.
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My dad has a pretty good stereo and he’s always kept it set up and ready to play.  He never got rid of or packed away his records, so I was able to rediscover The Difference relatively early.  I’ve assembled a pretty sizable collection of my own over the last seven years.

55mm lens taken at 1/30.  200 speed film

More important than owning records though is the concept of owning music, something we’re losing.  I believe true value is expressed by what we’re willing to pay for, and the current trend is a sense of entitlement to get everything for free, including music, at the expense of the people who actually work hard to create something new and interesting.  Ownership is going out the window these days in favor of access, which should scare a whole lot more people than it currently does.  With that said however, I also find it hard to give real money in exchange for a download.  There’s too much of the “I need it now” attitude where so much is sacrificed in the name of expedience (this also relates to photography).  If I’m paying for music, I expect to get something I can hold in my hand, and if nothing else, it makes for a good backup (and having lost hard drives before, having backups is important).

There’s not much that can beat the sound of a well-engineered/mastered and good clean copy of AAA vinyl, and my research in that direction led me back to true analog recording with open reel tape.  Being a composer/songwriter, I do record music, and tape is my recording medium of choice.
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Most people make an analogy between vinyl and film, but this is wrong.  Vinyl is the end product, more like a print.  Both can be made from digital sources, in fact these days most are, in both cases.  Many more are made with analog at the front end, but perhaps digitized at some step in the process.  By the same analogy, AAA vinyl relates to an optical print, black and white or RA-4 color, both fully analog.  And to carry the analogy to its full conclusion, film is equal to tape, because they are both capture mediums, and represent the creative side of their respective mediums.  I suppose that also means that albums released on tape would be analogous to a 35mm motion picture film print.

What’s strange is that taking a picture on film can be so much easier creating a good recording on tape.  I’d know: when I made my first album it came out sounding like the musical equivalent of Lomography.  Actually, there’s a whole sub-genre of music called “lo-fi folk” that describes what I did, and I understand if it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I learned a lot merely by getting out there and doing it.  Here’s some more shameless self-promotion:
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In fact, I can’t really think of any area of my life where I’d consider myself up-to-date, even in the tech world.  I’m writing this from a Windows XP computer I bought from a thrift store.  My most recent computer game purchases were the first two Fallout games, and while I just updated my video game system from original Xbox to Playstation 3, my heart still belongs to the 16-bit era.

It sometimes feels like the world has passed me by, like the values of earlier generations have been swept aside in favor of something new and of-the-moment.  It’s a sad sometimes, seeing what the world is becoming, and knowing that I don’t want to be a part of it.  Let other people have their safety in numbers; I am who I am.  Or, “That which we are, we are.

I love books, hate Kindle.  I strive for proper grammar.  I support brick & mortar establishments as much as possible.  I use old cameras.

And I hold doors open for ladies.