My birthday was a couple of days ago, and a bunch of people sent me congratulations on Facebook, which I missed, because I don’t visit the site anymore. Meanwhile, it was just revealed that Facebook was scraped by some company run by a bunch of right-wing fucks who used the data to weaponize political ads into echo chambers. I stepped back from Facebook couple of years ago, except to respond to a few messages and one event invitation, but increasingly I’m thinking about deleting my profile altogether. Not like it’s not been scraped and used against me anyway (and I’m on Instagram every day) but why have it out there if I’m not using it? There’s also advice on how to privatize it as much as possible (or, as much as they’ll let you without secretly rewriting the privacy settings again) to prevent third-party apps from scraping more information. It’s still up for now, but I just shut down a ton of privacy settings I wasn’t aware were on.
Back in November my sister stopped in for a visit, and while she was here dropped off two boxes of camera gear she’d accumulated over the years. Inside one was a bunch of old Kodak bellows cameras, a couple of bakelite 620 favorites, and some other oddities. In the second box was a pile of mainly 35mm gear in various makes. There was a bag of Fuji gear with several lenses, and a pair of Minoltas, one of which is a cleaner twin to my X-700. Among the treasures was a first-generation digital camera, a Sony Mavica FD-7, which is now 21 years old and used a 3.5″ floppy disk to record data. It just so happened a video popped up in one of my feeds where the author reviews three Mavicas of the same vintage, and talks about their qualities and quirks. Apparently it’s hard to find an aftermarket battery that will work correctly with these, so my momentary desire to find and order a new one will probably remain just a desire.
What you see there is the underlayment for the heated floor. The black lines are heating wires that run the span of the room. The tile guy is now skim-coating the floor and may be laying tile as I write this, but he may be waiting until the other three boxes that I didn’t account for show up in a week.
I said goodbye to the Rolleicord yesterday, selling it to a nice man who is taking photography classes and will hopefully give it another productive chapter in life. Talking to him got me thinking about how to print the film I’ve got; one thing I’d completely forgotten about was the darkroom I’ve got access to at UMBC as a faculty member. At Service Photo on Saturday, there was an entire shelf of photo paper and other chemicals, and I’ve got a stack of 6×6 negatives that I’d like to blow up and print.
How happy am I that the Eagles won the Super Bowl and the Patriots didn’t? Very happy.
Finn played soccer on Saturday and the coach put her in at goalie for the first half. I was initially worried, thinking that she might get bored and distracted if the majority of the play was far away from her and then suddenly right on top of her, but she did really well. The coach gave her five minutes of good advice, told her what to look for and how to set herself up, and she listened to every word. She was focused for the whole game, stopped multiple shots on goal, and by the half her team was up 4-0. The smile on her face as she walked off the field made my heart explode with pride. For the second half she played defense and did well, but I think I’ve got to work on ball-handling skills and her aggressiveness on taking shots. She treats the ball very gingerly and needs to get comfortable with hitting it hard and knowing where she wants it to go.
Afterwards we celebrated with a donut and then headed over the bridge to Easton for Zachary’s birthday, a Nerf dart war themed party held at the YMCA. The staff set up a room with obstacles and the kids chose weapons from a bucket of Zachary’s collection (Rob went a little crazy with buying and upgrading the Nerf gun collection; Zachary probably has 15 guns in various sizes and shapes) and they threw the kids in there for a half an hour to duke it out. By the time the staff blew the whistle the floor was covered in Nerf darts and jammed weapons. LJ and I loaded magazines and cleared jams and got things ready for the post-pizza rematch and I spent most of the second half in the room with the kids, fixing and loading guns for the kids. I might have taken a shot or twelve while I was there too…
Afterward, we went back to Karean’s house and let the kids play downstairs while the adults chatted over wine and snacks. By the time we got on the road, it was 8PM and Finn was beat.
A few months ago I switched DSLRs with Jen so that she would have the best one we own. The D90 I have is still a very good camera, but I haven’t used it much because I was shooting the Fuji almost exclusively in 2017. I charged it up today to carry it with me this week. When I turned it on, I got an error on the LCD reading r09, which means various things according to the Internet. It won’t autofocus or trip the shutter, which means something is wrong with the autofocus system. Either I have to clean the contacts on the lens and the body, swap lenses, format the memory card, reset the whole camera, or sacrifice a live chicken. None of the solutions online helped, so it might be that I’ve got to bring it in for servicing.
I’ve been getting cards from friends and family ever since this process started, and I’ve kept them together in a stack so that I can write back and thank everyone for their love and support.
I shot the photo above with the f/1.4 Nikon lens I bought a couple of years ago, and as much as I want to love it I’m going to just retire it. Pretty much everything I’ve shot with it looks fuzzy, foggy and out of focus. I’ve got an f/2 manual lens I got with an old Nikkormat camera that shoots cleaner, clearer, and sharper stuff more reliably, and honestly I think I’m over the razor-thin depth of field thing now in favor of better composed photos. I’m leaving the manual lens on Jen’s D90 from now on, as I’ve traded her my D7000 in the hopes she’ll like it more.
I don’t have a selfie of me in a gown today; that’s probably getting old. Radiation is pretty much the same; I avoided mooning anyone, which is good. No bowel exodus to speak of, appetite is normal (Shake Shack for lunch!) and no soreness or swelling.
Fun Fact: I now weigh more than I ever have in my life, give or take a few pounds.
I got the proofs of all my film back this afternoon, and I’m THRILLED. I sent five rolls off, one from the Rolleicord, two from the Yashica, and two from the Minolta 35mm.
The Rolleicord roll turned out to be ancient, and did not hold up well in the camera. Which is a shame because there are some beautiful shots of Finn in there, including this one:
That dates back to September 2011, when we were down in North Carolina with Mr. Scout.
The two Yashica rolls turned out better than I hoped, including these two shots:
These were metered by using my digital cameras to approximate the aperture and ISO settings. I could not be happier with these pictures, and I’m going to have them both blown up and printed.
We also got these shots from the family portrait session:
Looking carefully at the edges, there’s some circular distortion around the edges at wide aperture, which makes for an interesting bokeh effect in the leaves behind our heads. I don’t see it in the portraits at the top but it’s visible in these two. These bottom two were taken with the now-operational light meter, which means I’m on the right track.
Finally, the Minolta had some interesting shots, from years ago and the new:
The first one dates back to probably 2010 or so. The B/W shot is from our vacation this year.
Is shooting with film expensive, tricky, and slow? Yes. Is it rewarding? Hell yes.
We hiked up to the park on Saturday to take some family photos before I start radiation and chemo treatment. I brought the Fuji and the Yashica, loaded with a half a roll of black and white film. We walked down to a wooded, open area beside the river and did some tripod shooting with the timer, which was difficult due to the sun going in and out of the clouds; none of the shots metered the same. Then, based on some advice from a nearby hiker, we walked up a nearby trail to a beautiful waterfall and shot some more.
I’ve been having problems getting consistent color with the Fuji and I don’t know if it’s how I’m working with the camera or how I’m importing and processing in Lightroom. I want to love this camera more but it feels like the results I’m getting are regressing the more I shoot with it. I’m also concerned that my skill level is regressing.
The Yashica is a crapshoot and I have no idea if anything I’ve shot will come out, but that’s been the fun part. I’ve got two rolls of 120 dating back to our vacation that I’m keen to have developed, two rolls I shot with the Minolta, and another roll I found in the Rolleicord I’d forgotten about. Most of the stuff I shot with the Yashica was guesstimated by using the meters from other cameras, but I’ve been working on getting a Gossen Super Pilot light meter to work for the past couple of weeks. After some confusion with the replacement battery I purchased, I got it working relatively well. I’ve still got to do some testing with a modern camera to see if the readings are correct.
All of the film is getting sent off to thedarkroom.com, who developed a handful of mystery film for us back in April. My fingers are crossed for a couple of good shots from each roll; I’d love to get some blown-up silver gelatin prints of us from each, if possible.
As usual I shot a ton of pictures on our vacation. The lion’s share were taken with the Fuji, although I did bring the Nikon out to the beach one day. The runner-up was a Canon Powershot a540, an 11-year-old point and shoot that I inherited from work with a waterproof dive case. Proving the adage the best camera is the one you’ve got, I took this into the ocean with us every day and just kept pushing the button whenever I saw something. Almost every shot taken from the water was with this camera, and I don’t care if they’re only 6MP; they’re all good.
I played around a lot with a cheap egg timer/photo turntable while we were at the beach, and had some mixed results. In short, I can see why it only got three of five stars on Amazon; what was supposed to revolve 360˚ only made it to 180˚ before crapping out. Still, what I got with a GoPro set to 5MP normal, and stitched together with a little app called Time Lapse Assembler wasn’t bad. I’m toying with the idea of taking it apart to see if I can wind the spring up tighter to make it work better; for a $14 investment I’m not too upset. Besides, the GoPro I’ve got isn’t good enough to really get excellent stills–I’d love to set it up for nighttime timelapses of the stars moving but the camera isn’t sensitive enough.
I definitely brought too many fucking cameras and spent too much time trying to organize gear. Next year I’m going to pare back and replace the two camera bags I lugged there with one good backpack. I’ve narrowed the field down to the LowePro ProTactic 350, which will carry two bodies, a couple of lenses, and a 13″ laptop with more room for gear than the model I’ve got at work. I’ll leave the Nikon at home and bring take the Fuji kit with me, as well as whatever manual gear I’m fucking with at the time. I did shoot two rolls of 35mm and one roll of 120 film, so I’m going to try and finish the 120 off this weekend and send it out for processing.