Saturday, August 28, 2010

12 x 24 ways to be creative

12 ways to be creative
I ordered a dozen of these One-Time-Use cameras for an upcoming Crappy Camera Club project. Each participant gets a camera that's loaded with C-41 b&w film. In a month they will have shot every frame, and are to bring the scanned results to show at the following A3C3 meeting. We'll pick out the best images, and then have the photographers write some text describing their experience in shooting with the cameras and their creative thought process in making the images. I'll take all that and produce a book on Blurb in time for the holidays. It should be a fun process.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little Konica For Ya

Konica B&W
I recall reading in 2002, of a b&w one-time-use (OTU) camera that was being sold by Konica. That article was probably in Popular Photography or Shutterbug magazine. The review was quite favorable (although in general, most reviews of items sold by companies advertising in photo magazines are favorable, but that's another story) and certainly the OTU market had not addressed b&w very well until then. There is a nice summary on Camerapedia that tells the story of the Konica OTU cameras.

Fast forward 2008, when I picked up a half-dozen of Konica B+W for a buck each at a sale. I think I gave some away, and kept one for myself. I shot some frames on it in the spring of 2008, and again then some time later, and I finally finished up the roll a few weeks ago. I don't always do this with cameras, but for some reason, if I have a OTU sitting around, it takes a lot longer to finish a roll of film. Maybe I feel embarrassed to be seen using one. However, they do fall into the "Crappy Camera" category, if only because of their lack of controls and plastic lenses.

My general impression is that black and white is the prefect medium for OTU cameras. The C-41 b&w film was the Konica brand in this camera, and Kodak has their C-41 b&w in a OTU camera. I have previously used the Konica b&w in a 35mm SLR, but that was about 7 or 8 years ago, and I don't recall my results. Anyhow, that film is no longer available, but there are similar cameras made in China now being sold with what is probably Ilford XP-2 inside.

I am pretty happy with what I got back from Walgreen's. These images are right from the CD, and are not my own scans. I do believe that scanning this film on your own will probably have better results.

Cobblestone Farm (probably March 2008):

fence lines

North Quad, UM Campus (July 2010):

North Quad

As you can see, there is some falloff in sharpness at the edges, which puts this into the Crappy Camera camp for sure. If you adjust the levels a bit, there is some delightful vignetting in some exposures:

UM Art Museum, July 2010

The one-time use cameras are actually capable of some decent photography, so long as you don't shoot outside the parameters that they can handle. Sharp plastic lenses, and small apertures virtually guarantee a decent enough image for 4x6 prints, and perhaps even up to 8x10 if the camera was held steady.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Little AF from Nikon

Last week I picked up a nice little Nikon One-Touch (known outside the USA as the L35AF2) at a local shop for $15 - with the box and instructions. Normally, that’s more than I would want to pay for a recent-vintage 35mm P&S camera, but I remember having a similar camera long ago, and thought the results were pretty good then. Of course, back in the 80s I was not doing real photography. Pretty much snapshots at the time. This time around, I thought it might be fun to see what the One-Touch could do. For starters, it has a 35mm f/2.8 lens (four elements in three groups), and is purported to be of good quality. Having a single focal length in such a camera is a key. In my opinion, P&S zooms are too slow and noisy. 35mm is a great overall focal length, as well. The camera has a built-in pop-up flash, which can be over-ridden by pushing it back down after it pops up, allowing for exposures up to 1/8 sec. It operates with 2 AA batteries, easily obtainable, rather than those CR-2 batteries that are so common in many compact cameras. The One-Touch has DX-code sensing, and if any film cassette lacks the code, the camera defaults to ISO 100. ISO ranges are from 50 to 1600. It dates from 1983-85, and I suspect was a popular compact camera when it was sold.

Impressions and Results

I like the overall feel of this camera, and the zone-style AF seems to be accurate. The motor drive means easy shooting, and as such, could be a good “street camera.” With a 35mm field of view, the slightly wider than 50mm is a good choice. The viewfinder is nice and bright, and the final images pretty well matched what I recall framing in the vf. The self-timer is easy to use, and of course, a tripod socket will allow for better low-light photos.

I shot a roll of good old reliable Kodak Gold 100 and had it processed at my local Walgreens (develop only, and scan to a CD). The scans look good, and the camera handled the window light at Marjorie and Stephs’ Marquette apartment quite well.

Vanishing Point
Lower Harbor, Marquette

25 cents per hour
25 cents an hour.

Thill's Fish Market
Some duct tape needed

Should You Buy One?

A quick check on the great big auction site reveals a good many L35AF2/One-Touch cameras. Many are listed as “buy it now” for about what I paid for mine. It’s certainly a better camera than the pieces of junk that have the letters LC-A on them, and will give consistent results. It would not be a bad camera to carry around with a few rolls of film on a city stroll, and as it’s not a digicam, battery life won’t be a big issue, so it can sit in a bag for a few months and be ready to shoot. I recommend buying one and shooting some Kodak TCN-400 b&w C-41 film and you’ll be happy.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Goodbye, Marquette...for now

Marquette from Marquette Mtn.
Taken in October, 2007 from Marquette Mountain.

I am back in Marquette, MI for just a brief trip. Adrienne and I are here to get Jorie and Steph and their two cats and box turtle packed and moved back to Ann Arbor. It's really hard to believe that it's been 4 years since Jorie started college at NMU. She graduated in May, and has had an enviable summer up here. I know I would have a real hard time leaving this wonderful city on Lake Superior. However, jobs are scarce enough, and for an art school graduate, there will be more opportunity in Ann Arbor, than Marquette. Of course, I know that I will be back up here again, but nowhere near as often as when Jorie was in college. Marquette remains one of those places where one can have a dream and possibly make it work since it's cheaper to live up here than Ann Arbor, and who knows what the future will hold for those two young women? I hope that the move to Ann Arbor will lead them to success, too. That's all a parent can hope for.

So, farewell Marquette... for now. I will be back again someday to photograph your splendor.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Argust 10th

Back When...
Tuesday, August 10 is the tenth annual Argus day, or Argust 10th. I didn't do the first one, but I did do the second, and have been every year. A day to get the Argus out of the drawer or cupboard and go shoot with it. What Argus camera will you shoot with? I'll be using the Argus 40, a nice little TLR, and maybe the C-4, my favorite Argus.

Argus Day 080808
Just in case you wondered, yes the Argus C-3 (and possibly other models) were used by some professional photographers...typically early in their careers. The Argus C-3 is easily used for multiple exposures, a feature that possibly influenced Duane Michaels.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Dexter Film Scramble

Dexter Film Scramble
Originally uploaded by Voxphoto.

The photograph above, taken by Ross Orr, shows what are definitely un-crappy cameras-- especially Denis' Leica M6.

Last Tuesday we had our monthly Ann Arbor Area Crappy Camera Club Meeting. I set up the activity for the evening as something to get people out of their comfort zone just a bit. The rules were simple. Everyone participating had to bring a 35mm film canister with a roll of film of their choice. Once we were assembled in front of Huron Camera in Dexter, we placed the film into a bag and I shook it up, and each person then had to use whatever roll of film they pulled out. We had about 90 minutes to shoot the roll, and meet up back at the Dexter Pub.
My reasoning was that we tend to shoot films we are used to, and with advance preparation, we might choose to use a particular film for a specific situation. When you are forced to use whatever film you receive, you might shoot different subjects or shoot them differently because of the film type.

We had a good time, and I ended up shooting mostly along Warrior Creek. I had taken the wrong camera bag, as most of my 49mm filters that I would use with the Olympus OM-1 were not with me, and all I had was a polarizer. The film I ended up with was Ilford HP-5 Plus -- a 400 ISO film that is similar to Kodak Tri-X. Anyhow, I made do, and I think it worked out okay. At least nobody was evil enough to drop in a roll of Kodalith or slide-duplication film!

Big Trucks.

Warrior Creek, at about 1/15 sec.

shadows on the coffeehouse wall