The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Archive for February, 2011

The Cameras That Were

I love collecting old cameras. Amateur format film cameras from the past ten to fifty years are cool to use for decorations and to study the development of amateur photography, not to mention the fact that they’re pretty cheep. Most of these cameras were made by Kodak, a company that wanted to make photography available to everyone. As the famous Kodak slogan goes “You push the button, we do the rest.”

In 1963, Kodak introduced the Instamatic 100. This camera was the first Instamatic, which means it was the first camera with a film cartridge that you could simply pop in and be ready to shoot. Simple to use and popular. A small reflector box pops out on the top of the camera with a slot for the user to insert Christmas tree light sized flashbulbs.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Kodak upgraded the Instamatic 100 to the Instamatic 104 and it’s close cousin, the R4. These later cameras sported a snappy new flash cube that had four small flash bulbs in it. After each bulb was fired, the cube would spin and a fresh bulb would come to the front. After all four bulbs were used, the cube would fly off.  (Sounds like fun.)

Heading into the 1980s, Kodak began to realize that digital photography was on the frontier. So they invented the disk camera to get people used to the idea that someday their pictures would be on a disk. (Or so an old photofinisher told me.) However, the negative size was small and the image quality of the disk camera stank. This particular model is the Tele-Disk, which has both a normal and a telephoto lens. You change which lens you use by pressing on the flash. (Finally, electronic flash!)

I happened to be lucky enough to find a disk camera with the film still inside. While taking these pictures, I was overcome with curiosity and opened it up for the first time. As you can see, the film cartridge looks like a small floppy disk.

As far as I know, you can’t buy film for any of these cameras anymore. They’re reminders of history and wonderful curiosities for lovers of all things photographic.

Next Week: More Cameras or Seasonal

I’m debating the idea of doing another seasonal sort of blog post. Another documentation of progress towards my favorite season. If I decide not to, I’ll probably photograph more cameras, possibly my first one.

Things to Come

Last week, temperatures in my corner of the world were unseasonably high. Snow melted, rain fell, and hope of spring was brighter than ever. The beginning of a new week brings us a reality check: snow and ice present and forecasted. However, spring is coming in about a month, which is some small comfort to impatient people like me.

When I long for something, I find myself easily reminded of it. I can’t wait for the tender shoots of spring greenery to rise through the ground. Bowl handles of all things reminded me of these shoots. A little tweaking was needed to make them greenish.

Like most people, my family keeps a few houseplants. I suppose this custom of keeping plants indoors began as an attempt to prevent insanity in the outdoors/green-thumbed type during the long winter months. It helps, but it doesn’t exactly work. Although the plants are pretty, full-blown cabin fever will eventually set in.

African Violet bud.

The newest edition to the flora of our home sits proudly atop the fridge. Yes, on the fridge. We were gifted with a lovely Amaryllis which happens to be toxic to our dear pussy cats. The top of the fridge is about the only place our athletic pussies can’t get to. This beautiful plant seems to defy winter with its long stalks and brilliant flowers, bringing a welcome bit of cheer into the bleak winter. Though winter may still be with us, the signs of things to come are here as well.

Next Week: Cameras

My father and I both collect old amateur format cameras, which I’ve been threatening to photograph for some time now. The time has come. I think I’m going to start with instamatics, but I might pull out a box camera, disk camera, or my first camera. We’ll see.

Something Different . . . and Kitty

Last week, I set out to do something different from I’ve been posting for the past month. I turned my attention to some solitary details within the house and then outside to the bitter cold snow with thoughts of monochrome and split toning. One of the first objects to interest me was actually one of the last I shot. I wasn’t sure how to approach it. Finally, I decided I wanted to make this plain old everyday object look a tad creepy, hence the odd angle from below. I used the duotone color space option in Photoshop. It’s not like split toning in Lightroom at all. Duotone (also tritone and so on)  mode is based on printing, so the more different colors you add, the more ink you would have in printing, and the darker the thing is. Fussing with the curves for individual inks finally gave me what I wanted.

Venturing out into the frozen tundra beyond my door, I spotted a lilac bush in its winter state. The remaining buds reminded me of hearts, and, as fate would have it, it’s Valentine’s day and I’m fussing with monochrome and toning.

Spying some interesting snow drifts from the blizzard, I trudged back to the edge of the yard. The wind back there is often quite strong and moves in unusual ways. In the last storm, it drove the snow away from the bases of the trees. Snowy frames encircled every trunk. I cheated a bit on my monochrome and toning theme for this shot.

However, there were a few spots where the snow did find its way up against the trees just a little bit. This spot worked well in an unrealistic blue as well.

Back inside, I found my kitty. Curled up all warm and cozy in her favorite chair, she probably wonders why on earth her crazy humans go out at all in this weather. Crazy humans get other weird ideas, like doing a photo study of cat paws. Yes, I’ve often wanted to do that, but it would take more than a week, not to mention the alignment of forces out of my control (the moods of two cats). Nevertheless, with that idea in mind, I composed this photo of my cat’s little white paw. I think JenJen would be pleased. She is very proud of her paws.

Next Week: Flower-Like

The days are getting longer and spring is just around the bend. To celebrate, I’m photographing flowers and things that look like plant life next week.


Since Valentine’s day is next week, I thought I’d use this post to show some of my ideas and feelings about love. I’ll openly admit I don’t know much of anything about romantic love, so most of my thoughts are innocent and simple.

Purity, simplicity, and innocence; a love of family and friends.


Blushing and awkward; the first time someone likes you, and you don't know how to feel.


Deep, sincere, and lasting; love for what really matters.


Next: Monotone

Being a bit tired of jewelry, I’ve decided to do some more abstract black and white next week. This may or may not include snow shots. It will be digital, and I’ll probably tint a lot of them. Hold on to your hat, next week’s gonna be different.