Back in June, my Mom’s side of the family had a belated memorial service and a small reunion on the same day. We were just out of some COVID-19 restrictions in our area, relatives traveled from out of state to be there, and I was just able to drive again after foot surgery. The whole thing was oddly normal.
Our reunion was at the home of one of my Mom’s uncles. For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Uncle A. I don’t know him well, but this was an opportunity to know him more. Uncle A. was in Japan after WWII. He showed us his collection of Japanese objects from his time there. He has a much larger collection: canes. He has canes he purchased and also canes he made. Many of those he made play off the natural shapes and textures of various pieces of wood he’s found. I thought this was the coolest of them all.
Uncle A. may be up there in age, but he sure is an interesting guy. He grew up on a farm and acquired a large bull whip at one point. He can still crack it. He tried to teach to teach some of us how to crack the whip. It isn’t easy. The man has skills. Don’t underestimate your elders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Next Time: Fall Nature or Fall Objects
The season is here. No more denying it.
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.)
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.
This is the most elegant of the three keys.
I wanted to make it look like it actually went with something, like jewelry box.
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.
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.
I’m continuing my automotive theme this week with classic cars. I had a great couple of hours out at a local Cruise Night last week. Nice cars. Most of them were owned by older people who’d had them for years. Their pride and love was evident.
There were probably at least five Mustangs (this goes out to my Mustang-loving friend from college, if you’re reading this, you know who you are).
I don’t know much about cars, but I love the details on classic autos. It was like being a kid on an easter egg hunt: so many wonderful logos and features.
Next Week: Nature, weather permitting
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.
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.
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.