Spotmatic shutter problems

This is where I start jumping around in time a little.  After shooting ~40 rolls of film summer 2019, I found out that on the last few rolls the camera shutter had developed a problem.  I had already decided that I would start using my Olympus point & shoot, which has the same focal length lens as I’d been using, plus weighing a heck of a lot less, so it wasn’t like I was obliviously using this camera and ruining so many images; it was only the last 2 rolls of Tri-X that I shot with the camera, thank God.  If you look at a lot of the exposures you can see that the right side of the frame is underexposed, to the point of being clear.

Still, it was annoying since I’ve had this exact camera serviced twice in the last couple years, but this time I think it’s my own fault.  I’m extrapolating from what Sover Wong says about the Nikon F2, but seems like it might be applicable, and I’m a guilty offender: I left my shutter cocked for hours, overnight, even several days in a row.  It’s a habit I have that as soon as I take a shot I’m winding for the next shot, I like to make sure I’m cocked and ready to shoot.  And I never thought about burning a frame at the end of the day to let the springs inside rest, so I did this to myself.  The slower shutter speeds are fine and I shot a roll of Tri-X at 1/60 back in the Fall but I’m hesitant to go above 1/125 which means outdoor shooting will be tricky.  I’m smarter now than I was earlier this summer, but this has put me at a bit of a crossroads.


This was a 1/1000sec exposure which should have been a good shot, alas!

I sent my Pentax ESII to Eric Hendrickson a few years back but he couldn’t bring the camera into spec.  My other ES has developed the same problem it had before which means I’d need to take it apart and give it a bit more valve oil.  And despite giving my beloved SPII two CLAs there were still other problems that came up this Summer (outside of the 6-month warranty), namely that the film spacing is starting to become a bit erratic and the film counter has stopped working. Is my local camera tech to blame for not checking everything thoroughly, or is this just the consequence of using a nearly 50 year-old camera?  Until this I’ve had no problem with the build quality of the Spotmatic and the lenses are top-notch of course.  While the shutter problem would require a CLA anyway and is totally my fault, what that means is that I’m looking at another $120-150 repair.  I’ve shot M42 (and this specific Spotmatic SPII) for a complete decade now and I’ve been so pleased with the Takumar lenses but with my current needs I’ve decided that it’s time to move on to a more capable camera system.

Project final: gallery installation – Advanced Photography (redux)

We had a pop-up show for one night, this was what I had printed and installed.  It’s hard to sequence them exactly linearly but the last picture gives you an idea what I had in mind.  Final sequence can be glimpsed among my exhibition photos here.

Artist Statement:

Yee-haw State – Joseph Irvin

Coming from Ohio, all I originally knew about Colorado were the stereotypes: mountains, skiing, Coors, and cowboys (this was pre-marijuana).  I was initially forced to embrace the Western aesthetic when taking a job as a Jeep tour guide around Colorado Springs, but I’ve gotten into the spirit over time, to the point where it is now a lifestyle.  Every time I go to a thrift store I’m looking for more western shirts and cowboy hats to wear on tours.  I’m paid to present a certain aspect of Colorado culture/history to visitors and new arrivals, and the boss’s mantra is “Make it like Disneyland!”  While it might not have happened quite like that in real life, we live in a postmodern settler society, where the cowboys have traded in their horses for 4x4s.  We’re driving them on old wagon trails and railroads.  A lot of my time is spent in Garden of the Gods, now the #1 visited park in the country (and it’s being loved to death).  In a state that is experiencing massive population increase and a rapidly growing tourism industry, what is it that makes Colorado unique, and what about that are we selling?  A lot of people say that they hope I never take this landscape for granted, and I didn’t…back when I moved here.  But one does get used to it over time: now it has the familiarity of Home.

Everything was printed on Ilford fiber paper at a custom size of 15×10.  I’d got my usual box of Oriental 8×10 but my photo instructor insisted I go bigger which was frustrating because I’d bought this paper months ago in preparation and now had to find something last minute.  Thankfully Cameraworks came to my rescue cutting me a deal with some 16×20 Ilford they’d had for a while.  I had less than 2 weeks before the show and had to print like mad all day everyday and still didn’t get everything finished, but enough to display at least.  I suppose that printing on 11×14 paper would have been easier to frame (I just hung everything with putty) but I had to come up with a plan fast to print as much as possible and use the entire frame.  So I cut my 16×20 paper in half, trimmed an extra inch, and made a custom taped-off template.  I had a negative holder which showed the edges of the frame so I tried as much as possible to give every print a black border, a nice differentiation to the usual white.  I think I’ve ranted before about cropping the side of a 35mm film frame when printing to a 5:4 aspect ratio, something else my photo instructor insisted on was seeing my entire frame.  Thankfully everything worked out.

Project Part 4 – Advanced Photography (redux)

(…And it’s a big one!)

We had an online critique and then for the exhibition I had to decide which images to print from this series as well as the other three critiques.  This is 11 rolls of film here, I asked my instructor to look through what I had and pick out the strongest images, so these are all the ones that work best (she said my hit ratio’s getting better).  No particular order besides chronological, except that there are several images that go together as a sequence.

The first four rolls were developed at the same time as this roll, and as the darkroom tech left out paper developer instead of film developer, they’re extremely high-contrast and difficult to print or get right in Photoshop.  Once I was on a roll I kept going and by the time the semester was over I’d shot about 150ft of Tri-X, around 30 rolls of film.  Then I shot another 20-25 rolls of film over the Summer during the height of the tourist season, and about 75 sheets of 4×5 in the Fall ’19 semester through February in the semester that technically is still in session.  By the time I get everything compiled I hope to have enough for an exhibition and a book but current events have put that on hold a bit.

Project Part 3 Outtakes – Advanced Photography (redux)

This bunch fits into two categories:

Ones I printed that we decided didn’t fit into the main themes/categories of the project, or were not as strong/have technical issues, but are still nice.

Ones my instructor had liked but I decided not to print because I’d already printed 25 images and only needed 15.

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Project Part 3 – Advanced Photography (redux)

This is when things really started to come together.  After meeting with my instructor for a one-on-one critique we were able to separate most of the pictures into three categories:

Cast of Characters

Shots from the Road

Gawkers as Spectacle

What also helped is that by this time tours had picked up a lot.  I was working more and had more opportunities for great photos.  One of the suggestions from last student critique was that I needed to ride along on other drivers’ tours and that accounted for four of the shots, in all three categories.

Project part 2 – Advanced Photography (redux)

This is when I finally got some photos that I was proud of, and that the photo class liked.  In many cases they don’t have too much to do with my final conception but there are hints here and there, just in need of refining.

The other thing is that these were taken in February and March or thereabouts and really I didn’t have much going on work-wise but it ramps up quickly after that, as it’s about to now again.