Saturday, November 24, 2012

Vivitar 35CA - a nice surprise

A couple of months ago I purchased a Vivitar 35CA on ebay.  It wasn't in as good condition as advertised, and the shutter did not seem to be working properly.  I didn't pay much for the camera, so I set it aside.  Every once in a while, I would try the shutter (and I had put in a new LR44 cell).  To my surprise, one day it appeared to work like it is supposed to!  So, I put in a roll of Kodak Gold 100, and shot it over a couple of days.    The 35CA is an auto-exposure camera that adjusts both aperture and shutter speed automatically.  The only manual control is in B (bulb) mode.  It has a hot-shoe as well as a PC-sync connector for using a variety of strobes.  There is a Guide-Number setting on the side of the lens barrel that may allow for exposure adjustment based on distance, but I have not yet tried it.  The lens is a 38mm f/2.7 lens which isn't exactly wide nor fast, but it gets the job done.  A few years ago I reviewed the Vivitar 35EE, a slightly larger and older model that used mercury batteries. Like that camera, this one features a filter ring that allows you to use screw in 46mm filters.  

So, here are some examples from the roll of Kodak Gold 100.  I was actually pleased with the camera's low-light ability, and less so with bright light.  However, it definitely will give results that are satisfactory, and maybe even just a tad funky.  More rolls need to be shot so that I have a better feel for what the camera can do.
Abigail, having breakfast with us.

Campus Transportation Center

Donate blood!

hawthorn fruits

The Art Deco front of the State Theater

No Parking

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lomography's A Bunch of ...

Smart People.  Effin' crazy people.  I mean, in these "dying days" of film (which I have heard more than a few times), who in their right mind would design and sell a completely new roll-film camera that has a bellows?  Hellooo, George Eastman called and he wants his bellows back.  Say all you want about the folks of Lomography, but the latest camera being advertised by them, the Belair X 6-12 wants to separate money from my wallet in a most significant way.
Lomography Belair X 6-12, image from, edit by me.
Seen here is their Belair X 6-12 "City Slicker" model.  Note the 90mm and 58mm removable lenses.  The camera has auto-exposure (though the 1/125th sec max shutter might be limiting), zone focus, and 6x6, 6x9, and 6x12 cm negative sizes on 120 film.

There are other models with chrome and snazzy-looking leatherette that reminds me of the Polaroid SX-70 design scheme.

Yes, it has a bellows.  In 2013, we will be buying bellows cameras.  Take that, you damn digital sheep.

I'm turning 56 on 12-12-12.  What better way to celebrate than buy myself a Belair X 6-12.  I don't need a full-frame D600.  It can't do what this camera does.  6x12 -- even if it has that Lomography look, is something that is very appealing to me.  Is the camera pricey?  No, not really.  In today's dollars, I am betting it is cheaper than the Kodak Tourist cameras that took 6x9 620 film back in the 1940s and 50s.  So, I am pre-ordering one today.  Of course, I can't actually review the camera now, because I don't have one.  But I do want one.   Damn those Lomography folks, making cameras that people want.  They should buy Kodak, as they appear to have a better grasp of selling things than the dumbasses in Rochester.

Oh, and by the way, congratulations to Lomography for 20 years of fun.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Fast Fall Frenzy

A week ago, I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my buddy Marc Akemann (who is an exceptional photographer).  I drove up on a Friday to deliver my daughter's 2000 Jeep Cherokee which I had driven down at the end of September to have some work done on it, and it's no fun driving alone on a long trip.  So, Marc and I spent the night in Marquette, and Jorie and Stephanie made dinner for us.  On the Saturday, we said our goodbyes to the girls and we did some shooting around Marquette and then over to Negaunee, where we did some antique mall camera hunting (Marc found a beautiful mint-condition Ansco Memo!) and some shooting in a town that seems to have two main business types -- bars and antique stores.
Then, it was back eastward, and we stayed in Munising for a night.  Our plan was to do some waterfall photography, and we did pretty well, as you will see below.  Saturday afternoon found us at Scott Falls on M-28, and then at Munising Falls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
The light in October and November is quite good for landscapes in the UP.  For one, it's almost as if the "golden hour" stretches for 2/3 of the day, as the sun is quite low in the sky.  If it is sunny, the raking light is really awesome. We had great light last weekend, and with no leaves on the trees, it made for some clarity in the landscape.  The temperatures were cool, but not too much so. In fact, except for early Saturday morning, we were pretty comfortable with just fleece jackets.
A view from Straights State Park looking  S towards the Mackinac Bridge.  This is really nothing more than a snapshot with a Nikon Coolpix L100 (that had been given to me earlier in the week). This was on our way up in the Friday.

Saturday morning in Marquette along the beach near the Coastguard Station.  The rising sun kept poking through the clouds, and gave us some interesting morning light.  I really loved the combination of the reddish sand, the bluish rocks, and the light coming off the water here.  Olympus EPL-1 with 14-42 lens.
Marquette beach

I did shoot some film on this trip, and the Velvia and Provia film is out being processed. My cameras of choice for film were mostly my Nikon F3HP and F2S, and my Yashica A TLR.  I have yet to develop the roll of Efke KB25 that should have some kick-ass waterfall shots on it.  So, all of the images on this post are from digital capture.

Marc with his Ziess Super-Ikonta at Deerton. Amazing camera that he bought online for only $50.

We stopped at Scott Falls, which empties into a small creek along the S side of M-28 in Alger Co., W of Christmas.  I have shot these falls many times, but this time, there was too much water flowing down to even get to the spot that I have often shot from near the base of the falls.  That's a good thing, as some years I have seen the falls actually dried up.
scott falls
Munising Falls was a delight to shoot.  It's the first time I have photographed them in October, and it is a better experience when there are fewer people around.  The abundant rainfall this year also made for a more impressive waterflow, and the gray skies definitely tamed the contrast.  This was shot with my Olympus EPL-1 with a 25mm CCTV lens.
Munising Falls

We planned on doing several falls on Sunday, and our first stop was Tannery falls on the outskirts of Munising.  It seems to be one of those places that "those in the know" know about.  Once Marc and I realized how ridiculously easy it was to get there after we found the spot, I am sure we will be there again and again.  It's a 10 minute walk from H-58, at the junction of Washington Street and H-58. The property is owned by the Michigan Nature Association (MNA is a very worthwhile organization, and I encourage you to become a member).  What I liked about Tannery Falls is the access to the base of the falls and the cathedral-like backdrop to the falls, which are about 40 feet high, and fed by a small creek.

We spent quite a bit of time there.  The woods were still, the air crisp, and the light was awesome.  Marc mostly shot with his RB67, and I believe he got some awesome shots with it.   However, my favorite shot of him on this trip was him standing behind the falls with his iphone.
Marc behind the falls

Then, it was off to Mosquito Falls about 20 miles farther on, including the dirt road from H-58.  The hike in was beautiful, and we saw very few people on the trails there.  The falls are a little over a mile from the parking lot, and worth the trip.  Of course, there were no mosquitoes there in late October, but I imagine how the area got its name, so June ought to be an "interesting" time to visit.
The Upper falls, first:
Upper Mosquito falls

Then, the rapids or cascade :
Mosquito Falls rapids

and finally, the lower Mosquito Falls
mosquito falls

some detail:
Mosquito Falls

It was a great place to visit, and we were really pleased with the entire trip, as everything worked out well weatherwise.  We got back into Ann Arbor around 11 pm Sunday, and I know I slept well that night.

If you are going to seriously shoot waterfalls, make sure that your kit includes:

  • neutral-density filters
  • solid tripod
  • remote release or self-timer on the camera
  • polarizing filter
  • plenty of film or memory cards!
Obviously, you can't control the weather, but avoid shooting in full sun, and spring and fall or often the best times to shoot, but don't forget winter.  You will be amazed by the ice sculptures.