Monday, July 31, 2017

Spotlight: Canon GIII QL17

First released in 1972, the Canon Canonet G-III QL17 is a cool compact 35mm rangefinder with a name that just rolls right off the tongue! Featuring a fixed 40mm f/1.7 lens and an automatic exposure mode, the G-III is a great alternative to the more expensive Olympus 35 SP. The G-III is a tiny camera, easy to bring along with you wherever you go. Its petite frame, versatile wide-but-not-too-wide lens, and nice feature-set make it an ideal travel camera for when you're packing light.


As you can see from the photo above, the G-III fits nicely in the palm of my spindly hand. While relatively diminutive, the ergonomics on the camera are quite pleasing. For a camera of its size, the controls are laid out nicely, and nothing feels cramped. I especially like the nice thumb tab on the focus ring and the short focus throw of the lens.

Both aperture and shutter speed controls are located on the lens barrel, along with a self-timer lever. Aperture stops do not click. Shutter speeds between 1/500 and 1/4 are available. I'm not sure why the 1/2 and 1 second speeds were excluded... seems kind of strange to me. There is also a bulb mode function, but to much annoyance, in order to select "B" on the shutter speed dial, you must first depress a small button on the lens barrel.

If you turn the aperture dial to "A", the camera will choose the appropriate aperture for you, based on the selected shutter speed. This shutter priority mode is a cool feature, but I did not test it on my personal camera because the G-III takes the obnoxiously hard to find 625 mercury battery, of which I have none. Thankfully the camera's shutter is fully mechanical. The one glaring negative of the G-III is how there is no way to measure light while in manual exposure mode. Yep, as far as metering goes, it's either automatic or nothing.

The viewfinder is pretty nice overall. The window is a little dim and blue tinted, but the rangefinder patch is pretty contrasty and easy to focus with. The frame-lines are parallax corrected, and move as you focus in and out.

Here are some photographs I made with the Canon Canonet G-III QL17. I used Ilford HP5+.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Spotlight: Rolleiflex (Model K4 640)

The Rolleiflex (Model K4 640) was first released in 1939, and, at the time, was the best 6x6 twin lens reflex camera money could buy. This particular Rollei belonged to my wife's grandfather, Dick Baer, and was just recently passed down to my father-in-law, Tom Baer. Tom let me borrow the camera while I was visiting Chicago last week.

The K4 Rolleiflex is the third main iteration in Frank & Heidecke's flagship twin lens reflex line. It has a relatively fast fixed 75mm f/3.5 Tessar lens (this is long before Rolleiflex cameras were made available with f/2.8 lenses).

These cameras were often used by photojournalists, and it's easy to see why. The Rolleiflex is smartly designed in a way so that all controls are right at your fingertips. Apertures and shutter speeds (1 second - 1/500th) are easily changed via two levers on the sides of the taking lens, and the currently selected settings are easily viewable in a window on top of the viewing lens. The focus knob and film crank are placed on opposite sides of the camera so that you can continue to focus while advancing to the next frame. The Rolleiflex is extremely small and portable for a medium format camera, it's really no bigger or heavier than an average 35mm SLR. It's a very non-obtrusive device.

The only real downside with the K4 Rolleiflex is the focusing screen. It's pretty dim, and focusing on anything in less than direct sunlight is difficult. There's a pop-up magnifier on the hood, but this does little to alleviate frustrations. One positive thing about the finder is how it's parallax compensated. As you focus closer, a black bar moves down across the focusing screen to demonstrate the parallax error.

Focusing Screen, along with aperture and shutter speed window

I used Katie's grandpa's Rollei to make photographs at a family party. Allegedly no film had been put through it since the 70's, but everything seemed to work great except for the 1 and 1/2 second shutter speeds, which would stick. Dick Baer himself was at the party, I think he enjoyed seeing his old camera being put to use again after all those years. Take a look at the photos below. I used Tmax 400.

Dick Baer, the original owner of the featured Rolleiflex and grandfather to my wife, Katie.

Friday, July 7, 2017

New Project: Memory and the Mind's Eye

I've started an experimental, potentially long term project devoted to the concept of memory and the mind's eye. These photographs attempt to depict how I visualize personal memories. Vivid and emotional moments stand out stronger than routine, everyday experiences. Sooner or later, however, even these moments begin to fade, mental images become obscured or partially destroyed by the passage of time and influx of additional memories.

Photography is a powerful tool that gives us the ability to visually recall moments in time with the utmost clarity.  As philosopher George Santayana writes in his essay, The Photograph and the Mental Image, “Photography has come to help us in the weakest part of our endowment, to rescue from oblivion the most fleeting portion of our experience—the momentary vision, the irrevocable mental image.” The photographs below try to demonstrate what happens to visual memories within the mind, unassisted by a photograph. I like to think of them as photographs of moments as if a photograph was never made, if that makes sense.

For this project I used my Pentax LX and Ilford Delta 100 film. Each photograph is made up of nine exposures: eight exposures of random/routine moments at 1/16 compensation, and one memorable/emotional moment at 1/2 compensation that I deemed important enough to remember. Most of the moments involved Katie, as she is the most important thing in my life. The titles refer to the one moment I wanted to remember, followed by a list of the rest of the moments I could decipher from the photograph out of the original eight.

I want to develop and refine this project further. Feedback is appreciated as always! Let me know if anything doesn't make sense, or if you think the concept is dumb. Anything helps. :)

Katie at Audubon Park on Her 27th Birthday, Thrift Clothing Store, Dressing Room, Cafe Luna, other forgotten moments

 After Sex, playing xbox (skate 3), other forgotten moments

After Brunch at Deville on Magazine, playing Rocket League, shopping at Walgreens, other forgotten moments

 4th of July at City Park, late afternoon walk, porn, other forgotten moments

 A Long Late Afternoon Chat on the Roof, a nap, looking out the window of a coffee shop, watching Youtube, other forgotten moments

 Frisbee Golf at City Park, looking for a book at the library, eating breakfast, other forgotten moments

 Sex, post office run, eating apple slices, playing with my cat, other forgotten moments

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Miniature Format #2

I just finished putting together the July 2017 issue of Miniature Format. This month's edition focuses on the Nikon F2. I'll be distributing the issue around coffee shops in New Orleans. Below is a printable jpeg of the zine. Just print it out full size on a normal piece of 8.5"x11" paper (with no borders if your printer allows it), and follow the folding instructions below.