The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Posts tagged “old

More Post Office

I haven’t really been into photo editing lately. I want off the computer doing something more three dimensional. Again my blog is late, and again my blog is Post Office.

OldButtons

Old control buttons on the second floor.

Clock

Main floor clock over the doors.

LightFixture

Lobby light fixture. Note the detail in the lower glass. I’m not sure how the background lighting turned out like this, but I like the colors.

 

Next Time: Flowers?

They are coming up, and, like most people, I’ve been spending a lot of time around home these days.


Car Show

I went to a small town car show on the 4th, and yes, I’ve had trouble finding time to edit and blog this month. I did mostly some contrast and color adjustments with a little glare and dust spot removal. However, I did decided to split tone the Nova so it would be more blue and less whatever was reflected in it.

ElCaminoRedNovaBlueOldYellow


Light Meters

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.

WestonDial1WestonDial2

The second is a much less serious meter: a little pink GE. Cute, but not high end.

GE

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.

 


Sponge Frog

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.

FrogSpongeHolder


Old Schoolhouse

As you may have guessed, I haven’t been in much of a photographic mood this year. Nevertheless, my father convinced me to bring my camera on a family trip a couple of months ago. I didn’t think I’d have time for any real photography on the trip, but Dad was bringing his  4″x5″ view camera, which is a very serious camera. This meant photography would be a priority on the trip. The subject? Well, that was undetermined.

Near supper time on day one of our trip, we were driving through the countryside when I spotted an old, abandon schoolhouse out the window. I only caught a glance, but it was enough to flag the building as anything but your typical plain Jane schoolhouse. I noted the road we were on for future reference, then informed my father of the discovery. The next day, we retraced our steps and found it, but the solar angle was bad. Early on the morning of day three, we finally got out to photograph it.

The weather was cloudy at first. Not bad for the subject. It gave it a bit of an eerie mood, standing isolated in the country.

BackLSBackCUFoundation

Later, the sun started to come out. By then, I liked the angle on the front better. Since the schoolhouse was right on top of the road, it was a little more tricky. I don’t have a view camera, so I had to tweak perspective in Photoshop.

FrontLSFrontCU

Even a short vacation can lift you from a rut, even if just for a few days. Be prepared and keep your eyes open. Thanks Dad.


Dictionaries

I finally finished it. Getting back to still life with as little as I’ve shot since last summer (and such a small percentage of that planned table top) means I’m rusty right now. I have to make myself do this. The joy and fluency will return as I keep at it. But enough of my inner frustrated artist.

When I hear or read the word dictionary, this is what comes to mind:
TheDictionary

The big, red dictionary was once my Uncle’s. I don’t know how it got to us, but whenever my Mom told me to look something up in the dictionary, this was the book I picked up. We had other dictionaries, but this was The Dictionary. Mom let me take it with me when I moved out.

Not all dictionaries are venerable tomes though. I found this pocket dictionary at a library book sale a few years back. The writing in the front cover tells me a teen girl owned it back in the 1940s.

PocketDictionary

Next Time: Observatory

Speaking of old and venerable, I spent yesterday at an observatory constructed in 1895. In the early 1920s, it was such a big deal in astronomy and astrophysics that Albert Einstein himself visited it.

 


Lightning Rods

A few weeks ago, I was at my grandma’s house for a family party. Looking for something to photograph, I happened to glance up at her roof and see the lightning rods. I had forgotten they survived the great re-roofing of 97 and were still standing proudly on the tall old house.

lightningrodonpeak

 

lightningrodandleaves

 

Next Time: Fall Nature or Fall Objects

The season is here. No more denying it.


A Key Discovery

In a previous post, I mentioned I’d become obsessed with keys and was thinking of purchasing some old furniture or skeleton keys off eBay. It turns out I didn’t have to buy any. My mother and sister were going through some old things when they found these old furniture keys a relative had given my sister and I when we were young. Apparently, my mother decided we were too young for them and packed them away. Not anymore. Finding them made my day.

This is the smallest and most ornate of the keys. I think all the curves at the top look romantic, so I went with a love theme for this one. (As a side note, the keys is small enough and pretty enough that I’d like to buy some similar colored chain and make a necklace out of it.)

lovekey

The modern squared off look on this key is in stark contrast to its well-worn and scratched finish. I went for a simple approach, but I did black and white with an old book as the background to accent the key’s age.

keyonbook

This is the most elegant of the three keys.

keyonwhite

I wanted to make it look like it actually went with something, like jewelry box.

keyandbox

 

Next Time: Nature or Old Phone

Spring is slow in coming this year, but there are always some prospects out in the big wide world. If I don’t go out and find them, I promise you the phone is cool. It’s old as in has a dial, and a fancy shaped receiver.


Old Controls

I thought about doing all sorts of controls and switches, but then I thought most people know what those look like. There’s little novelty about the common place. So I went for old controls. Most of these are located in my father’s side of the basement. He was quite the audio nerd back in the day, so the first thing I found was an old stereo.

 

Next was this old dehumidifier, which I made slightly greenish for a 70’s look. The device itself still worked up through at least last year, but I think it gave up the ghost recently.

 

Next Week: Archive or Seasonal

Hopefully, I’ll have time to shoot a new post. This one will be on Christmas decorations. If not, be prepared for a round of random archive photos.

 

 

 



Jewelry: What is it to You?

Sometimes, jewelry is symbolic of a belief, a hobby, a birth month, or a relationship. It is also given to commemorate special occasions. Here are a few pieces and the stories they tell and bring to mind.

This old ring came to rest in my sister’s jewelry box after my mother found it in an older jewelry box she purchased at a thrift store. It is quite aged and makes me think of the passage of time and the marks it can leave. However, the ring remains decorative and pleasing. From a normal distance, you would never notice how scarred it is. I wonder who owned it before, how she got it, and what it ment to her.

My Aunt sent me this dragonfly necklace for my birthday during my sophomore year of college. I thought it was darling and proceeded to wear it the very next day – to my splicing test. Ah, filmschool rites of passage.

This last one may be the first piece of jewelry I ever owned, or at least I’ve had it as long as I can remember. I believe it was given to me for my baby dedication. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the idea, baby dedication is common in many evangelical Christian churches. Essentially, the parents bring their baby up to the front of the church and promise to do their best raising him/her. The pastor usually reminds the church they are to support the family and prays that God will bless the child. Pretty simple and short. Usually, this happens one baby at a time when the baby is a few weeks old. I recently found a piece of paper that informed me mine was not so. Apparently, I was dedicated on Easter with several other babies. I guess that explains the pretty flower in the center of my necklace?

Do you have any special jewelry that reminds you of an important event, concept, or time in your life?

Next Week: Shoes

Yes, I did just randomly decide on that. I want to do something different, and shoes have been on my mind for other reasons.


Small Town Festival

Last week, I returned to the town of Polo, which I did a post on two weeks ago. This week, the quaint downtown was invaded by a carnival. The reason? Like so many small towns in the area, Polo has an annual festival. Such festivals include rides, food, and often a parade. Polo’s even features fireworks, which is one reason my sister and found ourselves in the town last week, other than visiting family. Photographing fireworks can be difficult, especially considering that the Polo show was no more than half an hour this year due to the financial strain everyone is facing. Getting a clean shot can also be tough because of houses, trees, telephone wires, and crowds. Polo may not be big, but the town generally puts on a good show, so people from surrounding communities often show up for the event.

Photographing fireworks is tricky business. A tripod is mandatory for serious work. My first attempt at firework photography was in highschool, and I used film. Not very many shots and no ability to see what the previous shots looked like. However, I did have one or two OK shots. Since then, I’ve shot digital. The first step is to make sure you have a fresh memory card in your camera and another one easily available. Shoot a lot. You never know what it’s going to end up looking like. Why? To capture any spread of fireworks, you need to press the shutter release before the shells blow. I set my shutter on bulb, my ISO on 200 or so, and adjust the f/stop for exposure (using at least f/16). Timing comes with experience and some guesswork, but a rule of thumb is to expose from launch till the blasts disappear. This is not always practical, especially during the finally when there is non-stop launching and photographic visual chaos. Generally, I focus and frame on the first blast, but I may decide I need to move the entire tripod. Also, you may need to change framing frequently during the show. Since the Polo fireworks presented a range of heights and there were some vehicles and trees I had to shoot over, I had to change framing frequently. Since it was a short show, I only took around 70 shots. Here are some of my favorites:

The fireworks are the kickoff for the weekend festival. Next morning, I headed downtown to get some shots of the carnival warming up  for its first afternoon of operation. The same downtown block I’d photographed just weeks before was now in party mode and ready for the fun to begin. It just needed a few more people. And they’d be there.

Long shot of the downtown. Notice the old bank and other buildings from two weeks ago.

Warming up the graviton stationed in front of the old bank.

Next Week: 50mm Project I’m giving myself a challenge: shoot all the photos for next week’s post using an old, manual focus prime lens. It can only be good for me. The lens is a bit wider than I’m used shooting at, but it wouldn’t hurt me to limit myself to just a tad longer than a normal lens.


Exploring a State Park

Last week, I went out to explore a nearby state park. It’s much larger than the forest preserve I normally go to, so I wasn’t able to cover all of it. On the bright side, there’s more for another day. For the most part, it was your typical midwestern trees with the occasional flower, bug, or fungus. There is an unusually large piece of fungus decorated with tree leaves and seeds.

This dead tree had a particularly curvy shape. It was irresistible. It also had to be a black and white.

A river runs the length of the park and provides a nice scenic view, as well as a habitat for birds and other animals. Other animals like the mosquitos that had me for a late breakfast. I left my repellent at home thinking mosquito season hadn’t started yet. Bad idea.

Walking along one of the trails, I suddenly came upon this enclave of pine trees. A small group of conifers is surrounded by their deciduous cousins, making the spot out-of-place. If you look closely enough at the top of the cut off tree, you can see people’s names written on it. Such unnatural graffiti broke the otherworldly spell otherwise surrounding me.

Bark is also missing on some of the intact pines.

Likewise, the bottom of this tree is bare. Something is afoot.

Sometimes, one of the most interesting things about a preserve is how things just come down. How they sit and weather and age unmoved by humanity.

It was supposed to rain all afternoon, and it looked like it was going to haul off and drop several inches, so I began my trek back to the car. On the way back, I saw signs saying “No alcohol allowed in the park” and evidence that the signs were ignored. Naughty, naughty. But the bottle cap was pretty, and I have this weird artist thing about taking pictures of metal objects against pavement surrounded by natural objects. I try not to do it too often, mostly because it doesn’t make sense to me.

I plan to revisit the park someday when the weather is better and I have more time. I also plan to bring my bug spray. However, this wasn’t a bad first expedition. It’s always good for me to get out in the woods for a good long walk, even if it is mosquito season.

Next Week: Fireworks or Small Town Festival

Since the fireworks are part of the festival, I might post a little bit of both. We’ll see how it goes.


Polo: Another Small Town

I spent Memorial Day with my relatives in the small town of Polo. Since it was such a nice day, I decided to go downtown and shoot. I wanted to reaquaint myself with the place I’d often visited as a child and look at it through new eyes. Downtown Polo is, oh say, about a two block area of old stores all connected to each other. Some were kept up over the ages, others were not. My relatives don’t see anything particularly interesting about the town or all that old stuff, but I do. So I left the house, weirdo with a camera, and went exploring.

Sadly, a good chunk of the buildings on one side of the street is hanging in rags. It was difficult to discern if this one spot in particular even had a back wall. I felt somewhat crushed seeing it more dilapidated than I remembered.

At one corner stood the considerably more intact old bank. I only know it was the bank because it is labeled as such. Otherwise, I would assume that the handsome grey building across the street had always been the bank.

I had to admire the detail in the buildings. The way people built things back in the day was so much more ornate. Not at all like many of the plain square structures put up today.

On the other side of the street, I found this amazing doorknob. Seriously, have you ever seen such a beautiful exterior doorknob?

Buildings on the other side of the street seemed to be better kept up as a whole. This one is particularly nicely kept up or restored. I’m not sure which.

Unfortunately, a large and beautiful old school building just outside the downtown is not. I’m told the building was designed by a noted architect. My relatives can remember going to school here and can still point out their classrooms. They convey a great sense of sorrow about the state of this building. I’ve often wondered what could be done with it. The town has more modern and efficient school buildings, so they don’t need it for that purpose. Economically, a business big enough for the building wouldn’t survive in a small town. I’ve wondered if it could be turned into some sort of housing like they do with old factories in the Southeast, but the area around Polo probably wouldn’t support that economically either. It’s just not big enough. It’s amazing what’s hidden away in some corners of the state, and sad that those things aren’t living up to their potential.

Just how big is Polo? My father once speculated it would be impossible to get lost in Polo because it’s so small. In many ways, that’s comforting. I’ve always felt safe in that town. Surprisingly, there are even smaller towns. One of my college friends came from such a town not so far from Polo. I asked how she knew Polo was bigger. She responded that Polo had a restaurant that wasn’t a bar. Strange qualification, but as far as I can find, it’s still true.

 

For me, Polo is a very American sort of small town. It’s a familiar yet different place where I come to be with my relatives. I hope to be seeing more of it this summer.

 

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Next Week: Time or The Woods

I’ll tweet when I have a better idea of what I’m doing.

http://twitter.com/#!/MyCameraFriend


My First Camera

Although it’s been a year or two since I last used it, this Minolta AF-C holds a place in my heart. Back when I was in late grade school, my sister and I started learning photography from our father. Dad wanted to teach us on his first camera, but the shutter broke, so he pulled out this 1983 point and shoot with auto exposure, auto focus, and manual just about everything else. Eventually, my sister obtained another camera, and the AF-C became “my baby”.  At first, I carried it arround in the orange and black case my father used to keep it in. However, that case only had a small strap and snap made for attaching the camera to a belt. I didn’t wear a belt, but I made the mistake of trying to hold the case by that strap. The snap popped open, and I nearly lost the camera. After that close call, I purchased a sturdier case with an over the shoulder strap. My baby was safe.

 

 

 

For a point and shoot, she was always a good camera. A little old-fashioned, but still good. Sure I had to load the film manually, but I’ve fussed with auto load, and I’d rather do it myself. OK, so I had to remember to turn the flash on when I needed it, but that’s just practice for bigger friends on manual control. I’ll admit manually advancing the film after every frame is a bit inconvenient, but it becomes habit after a while.

 

 

 

I also had to rewind the film manually, but again, that’s not a problem. After I learned to use an SLR, I was only bothered by the lack of aperture control, zoom lens, and focus control.

 

 

 

I continued to shoot with my baby regularly through my freshman year of college. Some thought it needed to go, others thought it was cool. Because I was a photo minor, I upgraded  to my current Nikon D80 my sophomore year. However, I still have fond feelings for that little old point and shoot.

 

Next Week: A Small Town or Random Objects

If the weather’s good tomorrow, I’m going to cover a small town in my area, like I did late last fall (https://mycameramyfriend.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/exploring-the-village-a-look-at-a-small-midwestern-town/), only though I’m probably going to write more. If not, I think I could use to practice my indoor shooting skills some more, and random objects I want to photograph have been coming to mind.


Photographic Heritage: My Father’s Nikon F

Last week, I thought about photographing my first camera, but I decided an old classic would be a better choice. Photographing my father’s Nikon F, the first good SLR he ever owned, with my modern Nikon DSLR was a special experience. It tied together all the big happy camera/photoness in the house. This particular Nikon F is 45 years old and is still dearly beloved by my father. It was the best of its kind back in the day, and it is now a classic camera. Naturally, my dad made me promise I’d be extra careful with it.

The Nikon F.

 

Detail of lens and prism.

 

Markings

 

To all the Canon people out there, I’m not waging Holy War. I have dear friends who are Canon people. It’s just a little nostalgic Nikon person stuff. I’ll be less controversial next week.

Next Week: Time Outdoors, or Crazy Experiments Indoors

Speaking of next week, I’m thinking of braving the apparent bleakness of March in the faith that there’s something good out there. If not, I’ve heard dropping different liquids into each other is pretty amazing.


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.


Window Light and Age

Last week, I shot some still life photographs using window light, a small mirror, and some white poster board. It worked pretty well, but I’d like some more control over the light. Maybe with practice, I’ll learn to get the control I want with what I have.

In the first photograph, the window was like a giant softbox for me. I used the mirror to throw a little more light on the necklace. The idea for the photograph started with the books. They have such texture and age, but on their own, they lack a single focal point. Since the books are about something I love (photography), I chose a heart necklace as the focal point. This particular necklace was a good size and also had a feeling of age to it.

The second photo was illuminated mainly by  window light reflected from white poster board surrounding the pin. My only motivation for taking this photo was that I love this pin. The jewelry box seemed to be about the right age and I liked the colors together. I considered putting lace under the pin, but that proved too distracting. Thanks to Photoshop, you don’t notice the pin is actually missing a crystal. Any guesses as to which one? Let me know if you can tell, because that means I have work to do.

Next Project: Vases

Some time ago, I posted pictures of various parts of vases. I’ve been thinking I should show the entire vase and some more vases. I collected them at one point, so I still have quite a few hanging around. Check back next week (hopefully Monday) to see how it went.


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