Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Heat Is On*

(*This post was supposed to be published back at the end of August 2017) 

This past summer we recorded 67 days over 100 degrees in Bakersfield. When the weather is that hot your options are to shoot early in the morning, late at night, in a studio, or travel outside of Bakersfield, I chose the latter. 

Teresa and I headed back to our other house in her hometown of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania to finish up some personal family matters from earlier in the year, but this time we would have the opportunity to visit some sites that we've been putting off.  For the trip I packed my , Nikon D700, Nikon F5 and 6 rolls of film: 2 rolls of Kodak Double-X B&W , 2 rolls of Kodak UltraMax 400 and 2 rolls of Fuji Superia 400.


First on the list was the city of Centralia, PA. Although there have been several recorded Coal Mine fires throughout the world, this one was only 100 miles away and some video gamers suggested that it was the inspiration for the Silent Hill video game locale (I doubt it).

When we finally arrived at the city limits our expectations exceeded the reality of Centralia. Almost all of the homes were bulldozed and removed except for a few steadfast homeowners that refused to move out. As we wandered around for 90 minutes we finally found Graffiti Hwy, which was the original road in and out of Centralia.

If you decide to take a trip, be sure to look for this berm with the signs pointing to the left.  Up and over the berm you will see the original Hwy.

 Overall the trip was anticlimactic, but at least I can cross that off my Bucket List.

On the way home we stopped at a Country Restaurant that had a huge gift shop that was larger than the actual restaurant.

Bacon Dressing?


An unexpected destination was the Sunflower fields in Centre Hall, PA.  I asked Teresa's cousin if she would like some photos of her family and she mentioned that the sunflowers were blooming. The weather was in the low 80's, but with the humidity it felt warm, not hot, just warm.

Our next trip was to visit Belleville, PA and attempt to photograph the Amish and Mennonite community.  I write "attempt" because vanity, via pictures,  of Amish is not allowed and so I made sure that any photos I took would not capture clear pictures of their faces.  I brought along my Nikon F5, loaded with Kodak Double-XX film.  I decided that Black and White would emote a rustic and authentic mood. 





On the way home we stopped off at a relatives house (a.k.a. Horner's Corner) to check out their corn and also pick up some canned peppers.  



I have to admit that owning some property and growing food sounds enticing, but being a "City Boy" I'm sure I'd get lazy and run to the store, far too often.

Spring Creek Road

The last trip was relatively close to our home, about 2.5 miles away, at Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte for the Annual Arts and Crafts Fair.  As you can see, the weather was overcast and cool.

High St. and Water St.

The Fair was just like any other Arts and Crafts event, not a single booth stood out except for one gentleman who had a booth with pictures he took from safaris in Africa.  He quickly identified my Nikon film camera and we got to talking about the wonders and frustrations of shooting film.

Black-eyed Susans

Spring Creek

Court House

Downtown Bellefonte

I'm looking forward to heading back to our "other" home soon, I miss our family and friends, and the peace and quiet of a small town.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Dealing with GAS

I’m not sure what emotions trigger Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) among photographers, maybe we feel it will improve our images by having better equipment, or if it is a false desire to possess something we couldn’t afford in our younger days, or may be an even older desire to be the part of an elite group of “look what I have” snobs. Whatever instigates these desires I too suffer from GAS.

A longstanding desire of mine was to own a Leica camera, which is a well-known and respected 35mm brand in the Photography world. My Father encouraged me to buy one and said that he too always wanted a Leica and that he would split the cost with me.  The look of shock on his face when I told him that his share would be $3,000 dollars made me reassure him that I had no intention of spending that much money on a camera. After all it is only a camera, a tool, one piece in a process and that making images comes from the person behind the camera and not the tool.

However, while browsing eBay I found a Leica in Excellent Condition for $35. Was this too good to be true? Of course it was, the Leica AF-C1 is actually a rebranded Minolta “Dual” Point-N-Shoot 35mm camera. Suddenly I felt the onset of GAS and my finger quickly and decisively clicked on the “Buy It Now” button. A week later the Leica arrived and after unboxing it, installing fresh batteries and a couple test frames, I set out to put the camera through some tests.

Leica AF-C1

Bellagio at 40mm

Bellagio Botanical Garden: Year of the Dog II



As with most Point-N-Shoot 35mm cameras, the image quality and ease of use are predictable. What I like about this camera is the dual lenses, one for wider compositions (40mm) and another for Close-up compositions (80mm).

The next camera I purchased was from Polaroid Originals, formerly known as The Impossible Project, who released their One Step 2 instant camera that was based on the Polaroid One Step camera. The design and technology put into this camera was very commendable, but the images leave a lot to be desired as you can see by the scanned images.
Polaroid OneStep2


With the release of their new Instant Camera, Polaroid Originals also released two new pack films, Color and Black and White, labelled i-Type.  In low light, without the flash, the Color i-Type film has a heavy pink tint and even in broad daylight the pink tint is noticeable.  I know image sharpness is not why you buy an Instant Film camera, but even Lomography's Automat Glass Lens Instant Camera using Fujifilm's Instax Mini film has superior image quality on a smaller print. I have yet to shoot Polaroid Originals' Black and White Instant Pack Film, but I won't get my hopes up. I'll probably keep the camera, but won't purchase anymore film for it. As you can see below, the square format instant film is the new I-Type, which is substandard compared to Fuji Instax and has an overpowering pink color cast.

Today’s Instant film shoot. Fujifilm’s FP100-C, Polaroid Originals I-type Color, Fujifilm’s Instax and Instax Wide.

My most recent acquisition was the Mamiya 7ii, which is a Rangefinder camera, that shoots medium format film providing a 6 x 7 negative.  I've been wanting this camera for the past 7 years due to it's large negative, lightweight and portability, and the electronic shutter built into each lenses.  Several have come up on eBay, but the prices were usually on the high end, $2,500 to $3,000, and were located in Japan. Then in early December a student posted one with three lenses (50mm, 80mm, and 150mm) in very good condition.  The asking price was more than half of what I've seen listed and with a quick click on the "Buy It Now" button the camera was mine. I have to admit, this is my favorite film camera, although it does get some getting used to the "rangefinder" aspect, but the quality of the images rival those of today 25+ megapixel dSLRs and Digital Medium Format cameras.

My Mamiya 7ii with the 150mm at Smitten Cafe

When the camera arrived, I tested all the lenses and the camera.  It worked flawlessly!!! This camera is suitable for Landscape, Street, and Portraiture photography. 


Fox Theater Horz




Red Rock Scooter Tour Scenic Stop

Vegas at Night II

Parking Lot with a View

Bellagio Garden: Year of the Dog

Since the purchase of my Mamiya 7ii, my GAS has subsided and there aren't any film cameras I need, or honestly want. Well except for the Kickstarter project for a new acrylic 4x5 view camera which I helped fund, but that's definitely another post.

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