Back before auto mode and built in light metering, photographers relied on separate hand-held meters to determine the correct exposure. Many are roughly palm sized devices that use selenium cells (https://www.britannica.com/technology/exposure-meter#ref1164349). I was introduced to the old Sekonic incident meters as a Freshman film student. Eventually, I acquired my own incident light meter that seemed to work better. (Despite the faculty’s insistence that nothing was wrong with the school’s meters, rumors swirled about which ones were malfunctioning. I wanted reliability and consistency, so I got my own meter that I knew no one had dropped recently.)
Last month, I purchased two old light meters at a thrift store. I’m certain they aren’t accurate, but they are cool. The first is a Weston Master II cine meter. I love the numbering on the dials, so I decided to take some close-ups of the aged meter.
The second is a much less serious meter: a little pink GE. Cute, but not high end.
Although modern cameras have built in metering, the old, and sometimes no so old, incident meters persist. They still have a following and a purpose. You can even get a light meter ap in the style of an old incident meter.
Next Time: Spring?
I hope the next few weeks will bring some green to my corner of the world. Either way, if the weather is good, I’m going out to a park with my camera.
One day a few years ago, I decided to cook sweet potatoes for the first time. I needed to clean them, and found myself asking “What would Grandma do?” Yes, my Mom cooked potatoes, but for some reason I always got left out of that and was assigned carrot peeling duty instead, so I referenced my Grandma memories. Grandma scrubbed her potatoes with a scrubber she kept in her ceramic sponge-holding frog, a common mid-century kitchen item currently enjoying a bit of a comeback. Lacking such scrubber or a frog to put it in, I had to improvise a bit, but I got the job done.
The desire struck. I wanted a sponge frog. Yes, I could buy a modern one at several stores, but they just weren’t the same. I considered a few on e-bay, but again, Grandma solved the problem. For my birthday that year, she gave me a spare sponge frog she had stored away back in the day. It’s the best. I love it.
These photos are all from the actual theater auditorium. The side walls are decorated with sets of green lamps in alcoves and hanging red lamps.
Both sides of the stage are flanked with large metal dragons and enormous hanging lamps amidst elaborate columns.
Although the dragons are an Asian motif, the city skyline above and to either side of them seems more Mideastern in theme, but not without European influence. This is where the audience enters and exits the balcony seating. The designers endeavored to transport the audience’s minds to exotic places before the show they came to see even began.
The theater is a great old building, and I wish it many more wonderful years.
Next Time: Jewelry or Nature Close-up
I was looking for a 35mm camera from the 40s or 50s for my collection when I found this one at an estate sale. A little worn and dusty, but he’s cute. This is an Argus C3 made in Michigan either before or after WWII. Eventually, I’d like to do more research on this camera, but for now I’ve just cleaned and photographed it. Poor thing was pretty dirty. I did quite a bit of Photoshop work on the camera because of the dust even though I cleaned it a lot before shooting. For more information about Argus cameras, visit http://argusinfo.net
Next Time: More Table Top or Nature
Maybe you can tell, I’m pretty rusty with the still life/table top right now. Due to other commitments, I shot very little last fall and winter. Right now, I think maybe getting back to more of the basics would be good, so I might do some objects on white. Otherwise, we’ll see what Spring brings.
Last month, the local photo club decided to visit Yerkes Observatory. It is connected with the University of Chicago, but located in a small town in Wisconsin. Built in 1895, it houses what was the largest telescope of the time. Many astrophysicists studied there over the years. Albert Einstein even visited in the early 1920s. You can read more about the observatory here: http://astro.uchicago.edu/yerkes/
We began with an educational tour and a look at the telescope itself. Not the best conditions for photography, but I had to get a few shots.
The floor in the telescope area moves up and down. During the tour, we were sitting on the edges of the building, which remain stationary. Our guide announced that he would go over to the desk and raise the center floor while whistling the theme from Star Trek. He was rather good at it. Here is the somewhat Original Series looking control desk.
After lunch, Dad and I stuck around for exterior photographs. This is the largest dome anong with the entryway to the building.
On the other end, there are two smaller domes and more ornate carvings.
Dad wanted to stick around and see if the sun would come out. While waiting, I photographed some of the carving on the entryway pillars. The Satyr is a caricature of Mr. Yerkes. According to the tour guide, he was one of the not so well-loved wealthy industrialists of his time. He built the observatory to improve his image with the public, which is why it is such a grand building.
The architect was a bit eccentric. No one knows what all the caricatures and symbols on the building mean because he had his son burn his papers upon his death. He also made fun of Rockefeller. Originally, there was a bee stinging Rockefeller’s nose, but he visited the observatory, and the powers that be thought they should have all the bees chiseled off the columns before he arrived.
Moons, stars, and the man in the moon also grace the pillars.
Wandering around the building, I noticed that the side doors were not as well-kept as the fronts – not at all. This did not surprise me, as I imaging keeping up a grand old building of that size is a challenge. The peeling paint and old door knob had a nice rustic quality about them, so I thought they’d make an interesting shot.
Finally, Dad got what he was waiting for. The sun came out.
Next Time: Flowers or Old Camera
Spring is coming slowly. If it doesn’t come fast enough, I’ve purchased an old Kodak folding Autograph and an Argus I’d like to do posts on sometime.
I visited a classic car museum with the photo club a few weeks ago. Lots of cool old cars! Unfortunately, there were also a lot of reflections and mixed lighting. I used a tripod and tried to find shots where the reflections were minimal, neutral in color, or worked with the subject. It was good to get out and spend the day appreciating man-made beauty, but I hope I’ll be seeing some nature soon.
Next Time: I should finish those dictionaries.
I said I was going to photograph the lovely old Polaroid folding camera. Despite my best intentions and the best intentions of my father, neither of us could find it. However, I did find the ancient Kodak Medalist II. Although it’s not as old as some of the other cameras in my father’s collection, it is by far the most worn and well-traveled of them all. My father acquired it while cleaning out a photofinishing plant in Wisconsin after the place went out of business. The Medalist’s owner had died by then. Reportedly, he was world traveler, and this camera was his companion on many adventures.
The Medalist II was manufactured in the late 1940s. It was a fine camera in its time with rangefinder and other focusing helps. Like many items from that era, it was built like a tank. This top view shows just how wide it is.
The focusing mechanism is also quite rigid and sturdy. In the camera’s present state of disrepair, it is difficult to turn.
You’ve probably noticed I’ve made no attempts to clean or retouch this relic. My father decided years ago that it should stay as he found it: someone’s old companion in adventure bearing the marks and dirt of its life and adventures. Although the former owner had it repaired on several occasions, it would take a lot to get this one back in shooting order even if we were to try. I’d estimate the last repair was about a decade before my father acquired the camera.
This Medalist II belongs to the past. However, they are such fine cameras that some people are still fixing them up and shooting with them. Here’s one man’s story of getting his Medalist II in working order: http://blog.timesunion.com/chuckmiller/welcoming-the-kodak-medalist-ii/21899/
Next Time: Fireworks
It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is gone already. I shot the fireworks lat night, but I promised a camera post this week, and I didn’t have much time to edit today.
I didn’t make it to the fireworks this 4th of July, but I did check out the festivities at a nearby small town. This festival had a car show, which is one of my favorite events to photograph. Old cars have so much beauty, detail, and style.
Hood ornaments and other markings showing the make and model are always of interest. I was particularly taken with this bird.
This Pontiac symbol made for a nice symmetrical shot. It was also a great subject to play with split toning. I kept it close to the actual color of the car.
I also liked the shapes and colors on this 442.
Headlights and tail lights have a lot of character as well.
This time, I had a favorite car in the show: a Corvette Stingray in this beautiful blue color. What a car!