Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Gear: Trigger Grip

Mamiya C330 with Trigger Grip, Fine Focusing Knob, and Vivitar 283 Flash
Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has been having an amazing day. I gave and received some pretty great gifts this year. I got engaged to my fiance, Katie Baer, which was pretty cool. I also gave my brother a Mamiya C220 for Christmas so he can experience the awesomeness that is the TLR. On the receiving side, I got a new Patterson film developing tank that allows me to develop two 120 reels at the same time. I also received an 11x14 paper safe, which I was in desperate need of. One of my favorite presents was a Trigger Grip for my C330. It's pretty awesome. It makes hand holding this beast of a TLR much easier, and it has a handy cold shoe on top of it as well.

So yeah, I just wanted to share this awesome new piece of equipment with you guys. Hope you have a great holiday!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Roll: Back-Alley Suburbia part 2

This is the continuation of my series on suburban back alleys. Totally in color, this work tries to show that even the most perfect of suburbs have an "ugly" side to them. I traversed more of Wilmette's alleys in order to show you what my town tries to hide from the public eye. All of these photos were taken on my Pentax MX with a 50mm 1:1.4 lens using Fujifilm 200 speed color film.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Print: Bride to Be

I made this print a couple of days ago in my darkroom. The subject is a mannequin in the window of a local dry cleaner's in downtown Wilmette. I've passed by that dry cleaners on many an occasion and always noticed how creepy this mannequin is.... especially at night, which is when I took this photograph. I used my Mamiya C330 with a 105mm lens.

Fun fact: This is the first print I have made with my C330 that has not been square.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spotlight: Argoflex Seventy-Five

I bought my Argus Argoflex Seventy-Five at a Salvation Army in Galesburg, near where I went to school, a few years ago. I think I paid three dollars. It was my first medium format camera. I remember I had my friend, David, show me how to re-spool 120 film onto 620 reels so that I could try the camera out. It was this camera that made me learn the awesomeness of Twin Lens Reflex cameras, and the potential of 120 film. It also got me into collecting vintage cameras, with Argus becoming my favorite brand.

The Argoflex Seventy-Five is about as simple as a camera from the 1950's gets. It has a fixed focus f11 or f16 lens that's 75mm in focal length. That means there's no focusing... your subject just has to be further than six feet away and in the sun. The camera has an "instant" shutterspeed (probably around 1/50th of a second), and a "Time" setting, which is actually a bulb exposure.

I like the deco-inspired aesthetics, with the strong horizontal indents running across the sides of the camera, doubling as grips. There is an engraving from the previous owner, named Kate McCurry. It's hard to imagine that on the 50's, this would be your ONLY camera.

Here are a few photos I've taken with the Argoflex Seventy-Five. As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Print: Truth (The End)

I made this 4x6'' print in my darkroom a few weeks ago. It's of an abandoned Citgo gas station down my street a few miles. Originally it said "The End" where the gas prices used to be listed. It gave off a very post-apocalyptic vibe. "The End" was replaced a few months ago with a real-estate poster, which is a bummer.  Lately the word "Truth" has been spray-painted on all of the covered up gas pumps. I made this photograph using my Pentax MX with Arista-Premium 400 speed film.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spotlight: Exakta VX

The Exakta VX was first introduced in 1951 by Ihagee, a German camera manufacturer based out of Dresden. The Exakta line had been around for a while before the VX (The original Exakta was actually the very first mass produced 35mm SLR!), but the VX marked the first Exakta that had interchangeable viewfinders.

I love how the all metal build contrasts with the sexy black leather. The Etched "Exakta" logo on the front of camera is just plain gorgeous, and I find the symmetry of the overall design to be quite pleasing.  Ironically, a few months ago I found a second Exakta VX at an estate sale (for much cheaper than what I paid on Ebay, mind you), so I actually own two of these cameras.

The Exakta VX has some unique features. For one, there are two shutter speed selection dials. One dial controls the fast speeds (1/25th through 1/1000th), while the second dial controls the slow speeds (1/5th through 12 seconds) and the self timer. You have to wind this dial before you can use it. This slow speed dial doesn't seem to work properly on either of my VX's, so I never use it. Another cool feature of the VX is the inclusion of a miniature knife inside the camera body. If you pull a certain knob on the bottom of the camera, you can cut the film inside the camera with this knife. It's useful if you just want to take a few shots, and then rewind the rest of the film into the canister to use later.
I've put probably about five rolls through my VX's, with nice overall results. The Carl Zeiss lenses I have for the cameras are pretty damn sharp. Here are some shots I've taken with it. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roll: Back-Alley Suburbia

So after writing my blog post on the Rollei 35, I got excited about the camera, and decided to take it out with me on a walk two days ago, since it was fairly nice out (for December standards).

Wilmette, the town I currently reside in, is a very nice, quiet, and safe suburb of Chicago. Everything is pretty much perfect if you're married with kids. Needless to say, it's also extremely boring. I like to photograph old, decrepit things, so there's not a lot for me to shoot here. Nevertheless, I went to explore some of the alleyways of Wilmette.  In these alleys, things are not kept flawless like they are from street view.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spotlight: Ricoh A-100 Super

The Ricoh A-100 was my first manually operated 35mm film camera. It's by no means an expensive or exceptionally well built camera, but it holds a special place in my heart. It was on this camera that I first learned how load film onto the take-up reel (of which I wasted 3 rolls of film... embarrassing). I remember loving advancing the film with the lever, it felt almost like a pump-action shotgun.  I originally bought my Ricoh at a flea market for $10. Using this camera is part of what really got me interested in darkroom photography.

The A-100 super has some nice features for being such a cheap camera. Firstly, it has a K-mount, so it accepts all of the amazing Pentax brand lenses available. In fact, before I bought my Pentax MX, I used this camera with my SMC Pentax 1:1.4 lens.  The camera can be operated in full manual mode, but you can also use it in aperture priority mode, which I have found to be very reliable. In fact, The A-100 Super has one of the best exposure meters I've seen on a 35mm SLR. It has a dial that lets you select your ISO speed (which, sadly, is broken), and an exposure compensation dial. A self timer is also available.

I used this camera to take photos for Katie's brother's band, "Istari". The photos are from an abandoned brick factory in the town of Galesburg, near where I went to college. All that's left standing of the factory is one lonely chimney, surrounded by a field of shoulder-high grass. It was a creepy experience.  

While I'm unsure whether I will ever put film through this camera again, I'll always have great memories of my Ricoh A-100 Super. Here's some more shots I've taken with it. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Spotlight: Rollei 35

When most people hear the name "Rollei", they usually think of the superbly crafted Rolleiflex TLR's. While I don't yet own a Rolleiflex, I do own a Rollei 35. After Rollei's success with  professional medium format cameras, they decided to delve into the 35mm market. The first 35mm camera they developed was the Rollei 35 in 1966, which retained many features of a professional camera, but in a much smaller size. I think it may in fact be the smallest full frame 35mm camera ever produced (The Olympus XA might actually be smaller, but whatever).

Such features included a Carl Zeiss Tessar Lens. Now, the Rollei 35 is a viewfinder camera, which requires guess focusing. However, if you hit the focus dead on, the images this lens produces are incredibly sharp. I tend to keep the aperture at f11 or narrower, to avoid missing the focus. I don't think I've shot any wider than f5.6.

A match-needle CDS light meter is also part of the camera; it's located on the top of the body. The meter on my particular camera is perfectly accurate, matching the readings on both of my stand-alone meters. One gripe I have is that my hand can easily block the sensor while gripping the camera.
Other great features include a wide range of apertures(f3.5-f22) and shutter speeds(2-500). A hotshoe is located (oddly) on the bottom of the camera for dimly lit situations. Lastly, the lens is retractable, making it super compact for when you need to store it in a bag or pocket.

Overall, I love this little camera. I plan on keeping it on me at times when it's not appropriate to carry a larger SLR or TLR with me. Here are some photos from my first roll with the Rollei 35. Enjoy, and thanks for reading. :)