Sunday, November 22, 2015

Adjusting One's Vision

I am behind in posting here -- It's been a very busy month, and I was away on a work-related trip to Minnesota.  Between that and catching up, and scanning many, many rolls of film, I have a lot of posts coming up soon.  However, I am switching gears here for a bit to talk about a bit of a revelation I recently had.
Regulars to this blog probably are familiar with my toy camera work, and my love of trying different lenses that are going to give me a different result than the usual sharp and contrasty perfection we all crave.   I have been using a Nikon 1J1 for several years now as part of my photography toolkit, and it's a perfect small mirrorless system camera for taking on trips.  My recent trip to Minnesota was by car, so I took a few cameras, but not my usual gear.  I packed a bag with my Minolta XG-M and lenses, Olympus Trip 35, Yashica A TLR, and the Nikon 1 bag.   Part-way through the 6 days on the road, the Minolta SLR stopped firing its shutter, making me rely on the other cameras to do the job.  Basically, readjusting my shooting to the tools I had.  The Nikon 1 is a good camera for trip shots, and while I did some shooting with the 28mm and 50mm  35mm equivalent lenses, I wanted something less than perfection, and more along what I wanted from a toy camera.  Thus, I put on the 16mm f/1.6 C-mount lens as shown below. (I also used a 25mm c-mount lens with an adjustable aperture, and while both give me very desirable effects, the 16mm gives me the vignetting.  Examples from both lenses are below.)
There is only the one wide-open aperture setting, and the lens focuses from about 2 feet to infinity. I have to use the 1J1 in totally Manual mode, as well.  This combination gives me exactly the kind of dreamy, slightly vignetted images that are sharp at the center and fall off towards the edges.  No software is involved in making the images I like, and straight out of the camera images look like they were done with a cheap toy camera, but better.

I love this combo so much,  that I may just use it like this most of the time.  Obviously it's not great for every subject, but it makes some deliciously soft images that perfectly (to me, at least) provide the emotive reaction I had when shooting the scenes in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.    Sometimes it takes a happy accident to point out a direction one should take, and I might not have shot with the 1J1 nearly as much if the SLR had been working reliably.  Adjusting my vision accordingly, the Nikon 1J1 with the c-mount lens provided me with a creative tool that enable me to come back with some different images than I would have shot with the SLR.

Eagle River, WI

Land O' Lakes, WI

what the sign says

grassy dunes at AuTrain Bay, MI

AuTrain beach

AuTrain bay
Vilas Theater, Eagle River, WI

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