Saturday, August 17, 2019

It's starting to feel like home.

One of the hardest things about moving to someplace that is entirely new is the disruption in my typical routines and activities.  Of course, I would rather be off with my camera somewhere, but there have been many things around the house that need to be done, as well as trips to visit stores for needed items, and I have seen way to much of a Lowe's lately.  In fact, if I don't have to go inside one for another month, I would be a happy man.  However, we are getting our home to fit our needs, and eventually, all that stuff will be behind us.  We are getting to know our neighbors, and in fact, our neighbor Rachel was pleased to see that I had a manual typewriter. So much so, that she dropped off the book Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks.  I have to say that people here are friendlier and more approachable than in Michigan.  The local food scene is wonderful, and there are lots of great local beers.  The weather has been wonderful, and the mountain skies are always interesting.  Do I miss Ann Arbor? No.  It's easy for us to get around and into town, and every day we find new things.  It's really good that we decided to move here, as it has given us a kick in the pants to not be in a rut, and I feel fortunate that we have been able to do this.
Reed Creek will be great for some future pinhole work

In the past week, I have been doing some photography in downtown Asheville and Weaverville, and found a lovely place to visit at the Univ. of North Carolina Botanical Gardens, about 10 minutes from our house.  Reed Creek runs through the gardens, and the terrain is quite interesting.  Getting out for some "me" time is important, as I need to explore the area, and think about the type of photography that I want to do. I'm away from all of my old photo friends in Ann Arbor, and it will take a while to have that same film user community here that I had back in Michigan.   Lance King, from Tennessee, contacted me a couple of weeks ago and told me about a cool place in Marshall, NC and gave me some contact information.  I contacted the owner of the Makers Circle, Susan Patrice, and yesterday I drove over to meet her and see what the place was all about.  It's only about a 25 minute drive from my house, and it's in the lush mountains NE of Marshall.

Susan Patrice with one of her modded cameras for doing
circular negatives.

Susan Patrice runs the Makers Circle, and it's an amazing place with an alt-process darkroom, regular darkroom, a big digital work space, and room to house people that want to do a residency there. She's extremely knowledgeable and is a fantastic working photographer.  Her work is immediately notable in that most of her images are circular. We spent almost 3 hours talking photography, and it was such a great visit for me.  I may end up using the darkroom there until mine gets set up. It is amazing  that there is such a great resource just a short drive from my house!  I learned a bit about local resources too, and my next visit will be to Ball Photo in Asheville, where they apparently have LOTS of film cameras and accessories. 

Today, we finally went to the North Asheville Tailgate Market, which is a farmer's market that sets up on Saturdays on the UNC Asheville campus. One word- fantastic - describes the market.   It really was a feast for all the senses.  It reminded me of the Farmer's Market that I went to in Portland, OR, though not as extensive.  We bought some produce, some bread and cheese, some things to plant, and I spent $3.50 to buy a huge bell pepper that Weston would have envied.  Now I need to set up some lighting and space to photograph it on 6x7.  Then, we'll eat it.



So, yes, this is starting to feel like home, and I am looking forward to many new adventures.





Thursday, August 01, 2019

Still Unpacking

We arrived in Weaverville, NC on the evening of July 20.  Our moving semi-trailer arrived on the 22.  Since then, it has been getting things unboxed, put away, set-up, and all the things that you have to do after moving.  Yesterday, I spent the morning waiting to get a NC driver's license and plate for the car. The cool thing is that the driver's license is good for 8 years!  In any case, I have been way too busy with things other than photography, though I have shot a bit when I have had the chance.  Last week a particularly foggy morning gave me the idea to go into Weaverville and visit the Lake Louise park where I not only got some nice foggy photos, but also discovered there is a nice waterfall not far from the road.  As we get more settled in, I'll be able to do more photography, and I look forward to that.  We get our washer and dryer delivered Saturday, which will be a welcome event!  It will be many months...maybe a year before I have a darkroom constructed, but in the meantime, I can develop film in the bathroom in the basement. 

A year ago, the idea of moving out of Michigan to NC was still somewhat abstract.  The reality is that I am now here, and I am embracing the the change.  Sometimes it takes a major event to change your life, and it can be a positive or a negative thing.  I am fortunate that this is a positive change, but it doesn't mean that it is easy.  Eventually, all my stuff will be where it should be, and I'll be doing some good work with the cameras.   

I do love these mountains in NC, and the people we have met have been very welcoming and very nice.  We look forward to many new adventures!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

T-minus 7...

A week from today, we will be at our new home in Weaverville, NC.  The movers arrive on Thursday.  We'll drive down on Saturday.   Getting all of my stuff boxed up has been a process for sure, but photographically, it's all done.  I am looking forward to NOT boxing things up and unboxing them.  It will be a while until I have an opportunity to set up my space and darkroom at the new place, but that's okay.  There will be plenty to do in the first few months settling in, but I'll still be doing a lot of photography.

In the process of boxing up my photography library, I did cull more books out, but still ended up with 29 boxes (10x15x12 inches) to have the movers load.  Since I plan on never moving again, I am happy with that.  Packing up the many photographs has been fairly easy.  Most of my unframed work is in clam-shell boxes, and the framed work is well-boxed. I sure have a lot of binders filled with negatives, and after we arrive, I plan on going through the last 10 years worth and doing some printing as well as posting online.  I boxed up much of the RC and fiber-based printing paper that was in my darkroom -- it will get used down the road, and I am sure some of it will be given away when I am in NC.  My film fridge will get emptied the day before we move, and the film put into a cooler that I'll transport.  Most of my cameras are already in locked  plastic totes that will be handled by the movers.  I'll be driving down with a couple of camera bags, as well. 

Overall, things have gone smoothly. We have a buyer for our Ann Arbor home, and we close on the NC home on July 17.  The next post you see will probably be from our new abode.

Shoot film!
Mark


Monday, July 01, 2019

Looking Back and Moving On

In two days, it will a year since my best friend, Marc Akemann, left this earth.  I still think of him, and he's still a part of my life.  I have been helping Coleen with Marc's photographic estate, and since I am moving soon, I won't be able to be as helpful as I would have liked to be, but I think my buddy Bill will be able to pick up where I left off.  Lately, I have had some time to scan in a bunch of film that Marc shot but never developed.  The Darkroom developed the C-41 and E-6 film, and I am slowly working on the B&W.  Now that all of my darkroom stuff is packed away, further work will have to wait until after we move. 

One roll of film was shot in 2013, and the roll appears to have shots from two of our trips on it.  I think the following photos were taken at a motel in Mackinaw City or Munising. I think it's the latter, because we both are dressed for cooler weather, and one trip was in June (not cold), and the other, late October.  Any how, Marc had set up his Nikon FA to do self-timer shots of the two of us.  The actual sequence is a bit bizarre, considering that Marc is no longer with us. 



I know that it looks like I am talking to a ghostly Marc, but it's because he was not situated when the shutter fired.  Nonetheless, I think Marc would have agreed that he looks non-corporeal. 

We will be moving to Weaverville, NC on July 20, assuming all goes as planned with the closing on the new house.  We also had great news this evening, as it looks like our house has an offer that will be acceptable to us.  So, I have been busy boxing things up during the past week.  The darkroom is empty, all cleaned up, and is clean enough to wash a baby in.  I still have many books to box up, and oh yeah, the rest of the house needs to be packed.  Our movers arrive on  7/18, and should be done on the 19th.  It's nice to not have to pack in a rush, and get things done in an orderly manner. 

Many Nikon lenses packed up. 

These are just the negatives/slides from 2016-2019
The darkroom, back in early March.

The now empty darkroom

Taken a few weeks ago. Most of the shelves on the sides are now empty.

I am looking forward to moving.  Our new house is only 10 minutes from Asheville, and a mile from Weaverville.  After all this packing/moving/unpacking is over, it will be time for a well-deserved vacation!    We'll miss our friends, of course, as well as some things about Ann Arbor.  It will take a while getting used to our new state, and while I'll miss the beauty of the Michigan lake shores, I'll find new vistas and lots of nature in North Carolina to fill up my viewfinder.  







Friday, June 28, 2019

The Pentax UC-1. If you see one, buy it.



I thought I'd seen all of the compact 35mm cameras made, until I picked up this Pentax UC-1.  I didn't know Pentax  made a camera so small, with such elegance and such a sharp wide-angle lens.  I suppose UC-1 means "Ultra Compact 1." but I could be wrong.  Maybe it means "Utterly Cute" or maybe it stands for "Use Continuously."  I was eager to put a test roll of film through this little beauty, also known as the Espio Mini outside of North America. 

The UC-1 is a clam-shell front camera, much like the Olympus Stylus Epic.  It's really a surprise to me that Pentax produced the UC-1, as it is so different than the typical Pentax P&S cameras that I have seen.  While it compares well with the Olympus Stylus Epic, it's really an even better camera in my opinion.


Strong Points of the UC-1


  1. Compact size and ergonomics - at only 4.2 x 2.3 x 1.4 inches,  and 6 ounces, this camera is truly ultra-compact.  It fits easily in the hand and the controls are easy to see and engage.
  2. Wide-ish lens - the 32 mm f/3.5 lens is deadly sharp.  Certainly wider than a 35 - 38mm seen on many compacts.
  3. ISO Range - DX coded 35 mm cassettes from 25- 3200.  Non-DX cassettes are assigned an ISO of 25.
  4. Focus Range - 1 foot to infinity!
  5. Panoramic Mask Function - not for everyone, but nice in a wide-angle camera.
  6. Power - 1 CR123A 3v cell. 
  7. Shutter Speeds - Programmed AE electric shutter with speed approx. l/400sec. -2 sec, Bulb: l/2 sec.- 5 min., Electromagnetic release  The Infrared remote is an option, but with it you can easily shoot in B mode on a tripod for long exposures.  Up to 5 minutes means you could easily use this camera for night skies.  
  8. Flash Control - Built-in auto flash with red-eye reduction mode, Automatic flash emission in low luminance or a backlight situation, Flash-ON:Daylight-Synchro/Slow-Shutter-Speed Synchro (up to 2 sec.), Flash-OFF:Flash override, Bulb Synchro: l/2 sec.- 5 min.
  9. Auto film loading, winding, and rewinding at end of roll.

Lots of control and information


Weak Points

  1. The LCD on mine is only partly operational.
  2. The chrome finish is attractive, but it does wear off.  
  3. Not a common model, which means prices on eBay are quite high -- over $100 for working cameras, higher for mint, and don't forget to search under Espio Mini! That's a debatable weak point if you are a seller.

Results

Back in December I loaded a roll of Fuji Superia 200 in the camera  and went downtown to shoot the roll.  I forgot about the roll, and it sat with others until a batch went to The Darkroom for developing. 

I have to say that I am impressed with the results.  This is certainly a camera that could be easily carried in a pocket and taken out in a moment's notice to shoot with.  Right now, the camera is packed away for my move to NC, but I will certainly be using it more in the future.  The sharp lens, excellent exposure control, compactness and ergonomics make this camera a real treasure. If UC-1, buy it!