Thursday, March 29, 2007

Argus Revisited

Back When...
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

I had a recent email followed by a phone interview about Argus cameras. A local production company, Palindrome Productions, is working on a video about the Argus Camera Company and how it impacted people in Ann Arbor and elsewhere. It sounds like a great idea, and I hope the producers get a lot of material for their movie. They are looking for vintage photos that were taken with Argus cameras from 1937 - 1960s, so if you have old family shots that were taken with an Argus, you might want to contact the producers.
Michigan In Pictures blogged the info, too, and did a great job with the Argus information.

The request follows:
Our production company, Palindrome Productions, is working on a short film about the Argus Camera Company, originally based in Ann Arbor, MI. To supplement our video footage, we are currently looking for still photos taken by Argus cameras models from 1936 to 1960.

If you have 1) family photos (everyday events, family vacations, recitals, holidays) or

2) photos of Ann Arbor, please contact us no later than Friday, April 13, 2007 at

We will need these photos for two production days (April 23 and 24). Thank you for your help in this search!

Bob and Mary Kay Berg

Palindrome Productions

I would have loved to have seen that sign when it was standing. Imagine Ann Arbor being renowned for something else besides the University of Michigan back then!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Show Time!

Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

The opening reception for the Cheap Shots show Friday night was a resounding success, as many visitors crammed into the gallery and in the hallway and overflowed into the arcade below. I'm estimating we had over 150 people pass through the door, and thankfully, not all at the same time. The gallery was packed, and rather than take up space best saved for viewers, I spent a lot of time at the street level, chatting with friends and visitors to the show.
We had plenty of wine and munchies, and luckily, no street people caught whiff of our free booze and food. If any did, they managed to look no worse than the photographers. Thanks to Geoff and Stephen and their spouses for putting on a great sperad of food. I had not eaten dinner before the opening, so it was nice having something to eat and not just crackers and cheese and wine.
Marjorie shared a ride down from Marquette, and got to be at her first gallery showing of some of her work. It was wonderful to have her home for the weekend, and she really enjoyed the opening and talking to people.
It was a great evening for Krappy Kameras and good photographers. There were workshops held on Saturday and Sunday which were well-attended enough to pack the small gallery space. I'll be at the gallery Thursday from 3 until 7 pm, and again Saturday, from 1 to 3 pm to dicuss using old cameras.
The show info is HERE

and a piece in the Observer and Eccentric Newspapers on the show.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Come And See The Show!

Another Show!
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

Friday, March 23, 7-10 pm is the opening for the Cheap Shots exhibit, featuring the work of 17 photographers under the guise of the Ann Arbor Krappy Kamera Club. It's taking place at Gallery 4, upstairs in Nickels Arcade off State Street in Ann Arbor.
A bunch of us have been busy getting the gallery ready -- last week we painted the walls, and we hung the photos on Tuesday. It looks GOOD. Only a year ago, we started this whole thing, and now we have our first show, which isn't bad for a loose-knit bunch of people like us.

More info in the show is here

Marjorie and I both have two pieces in the show, and although my camera wasn't terribly crappy, my lens was a lensbaby, which qualifies as super crappiness.

I'll be presenting a bit about using old cameras on March 31:
Dust Off Your Old Cameras and Get Busy!
Saturday 31st March

A talk by club member and vintage camera expert Mark O'Brien. He'll show examples of "orphaned" cameras, of the type many people find hidden away in their attics and basements (Argus, Brownies, old SLRs, etc.). He'll talk about how to get these forgotten gems up and running and out shooting film again. Afterwards he'll stick around to answer questions and offer one-to-one advice on the history and value of old cameras.

When: Saturday March 31st, 1-2pm

Where: Gallery 4, 212 Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor, MI

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shooting the Kowa Six

Buildng detail
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

About a month ago, I bought a Kowa Six off ebay. A nice medium-format SLR that I am liking more every time I use it. Marjorie and I went on a short road trip Thursday -- off to Three Rivers and Kalamazoo, MI. Travelled along M60 to Three Rivers, and encountered some towns we had never been through before - Homer, Mendon, and Schoolcraft, to name a few.
We saw that they are renovating or restoring the Riviera Theater in Three Rivers, and a nearby warehouse had all the seats and fixtures stowed there for restoraton, which was quite interesting to see through the big windows.
Later in the day, we walked around downtown Kalamazoo, met an interesting photographer named Norman Carver and stopped at his gallery. Afterwards, we met up with Erin Dorbin, a member of the Krappy Kamera Club, and shot some more around Kalamazoo. Erin and I were each carrying a Kowa Six. That was fun!

The young photographer

a multitude of reflections


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Keeping It Simple

chimney abstract
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

When I am out shooting, it's great to be walking around somewhere, even if it IS winter in Marquette. I was there last week as we travelled to the UP to get Marjorie for "Spring" break. I had a morning to kill, so Adrienne and I drove to several spots along the shoreline in and outside the city. The wind was brisk, and even though the real temp. was not below 25 deg. F., the wind chill was brisk. It was not the time to be running about with a bunch of toy cams and lenses! So, I had my Nikon N80 with a 50mm 1.8 lens. That's my idea of simple, I suppose, though it could just as easily have been a Nikon FM and a 50mm lens. I decided that I was going to shoot TechPan that day, as the film's tonality would be great for these winter scenes, and the lack of grain will later provide me with the ability to make decent-sized enlargements. With an ISO of 25, it is a good choice for a bright cloudy day in the winter...even in Marquette.

The second part of "Keeping It Simple" is finding good graphic elements that are strong, yet have detail, such as this chimney coming out the end of a quonset hut next to Thill's Fish Market in Marquette near the lake. As soon as I saw this in my viewfinder, I knew it was a keeper.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Nikon F Classic Beauty

Nikon F beauty
Originally uploaded by mfophotos.

The estate sale is over, and time to reflect on one of my purchases -- this very minty Nikon F with a plain prism, for example. One of the classiest of SLRs, this particular camera was made in 1965. It hardly looks worn. If it had been used to take 360 images a year (that's 10 rolls of 36 exposure film) - that would be a little over 144,000 exposures. I doubt it was anywhere near that.
The Nikon F was introduced in 1959, and quickly became the PRO camera of choice. If anything, it also signalled the soon to be dominant Japanese camera industry. Even though Minolta, Pentax, and Canon had SLRs with similar features, none had the "system" that Nikon introduced. None of them had the ruggedness and other features that have been the hallmark of the Nikon "pro" line of cameras. Sure, the Nikon F might not be the feature-laden wonder that we see today, but it doesn't need batteries, gives 100% coverage in the viewfinder, and takes an enormous array of lenses.

I have wanted one of these plain-prism Fs for quite a while, and ebay prices for them are ridiculously expensive. So, I was pretty amazed to see a bunch of them for sale from the Naslanic estate, and because I had been sorting cameras all day, I got it at a very good price. I can carry a little Gossen Scout light meter with me for tricky lighting situations, but otherwise, I don't need to have a meter on the camera. Yeah, this is almost like wearing bearskins and using spears for some of you out there...