On The Surface

Yesterday, I posted a photo titled “Surface Study” on my facebook page. The photo got me thinking about all the photos of surfaces that I have taken over the years, and I thought I would post a collection of my favorites here.

Here they are,

Pentax MZ-L
Kodak Ektachrome E100G 

Contax G2
Kodak Portra 400

Minolta PROD-20’S
Kodak Portra 400

Fujifilm Klasse
Mitsubishi MXIII 200

Pentax Z-1p
Kodak Portra 400

Pentax ZX-5N
Kodak Elitechrome 200

Fujifilm Klasse
Kodak Portra 200

Contax G2
Kodak Elitechrome 100

Pentax MZ-L
Kodak Ektachrome E100G

Kodak Medalist II
Kodak Pro 100

Ashland Oak Tree

Not far from my house there is a lone oak tree on a hill in a field. I first discovered the tree in early 2012, and in the years since it has become a regular photo subject of mine. If I am testing new equipment, or new a technique, I will often end up taking another photo of that tree.
A few days ago I posted a recent image of the tree on various social media, and got thinking about all the various images of the tree that I have made in the past 5 1/2 years. Interestingly (for me anyway) all the photos are taken from basically the same spot. I am rather limited in where I can go in my wheelchair, and I haven’t found another perspective of the tree that I like, so I just keep going back to the same spot.Even though the photos are all roughly the same composition, because of the different seasons, different weather, and different cameras/lenses/film, each photo still has its own unique character.

I wasn’t ever really intending to put all these images into a collection or series, but in looking through them all I realized that they make a really interesting set. I’ve taken well over 20 different photos of the tree, but there are 15 that I personally like.

February 2012
Digital SLR 

April 2012
Digital SLR

May 2012
Digital SLR Infrared

May 2012
6X7 Medium Format Film

April 2013
Digital SLR

January 2014
6X7 Medium Format Film

March 2014
6X6 Medium Format Film

November 2014
6X6 Medium Format Film

December 2014
Panoramic 35mm Film

January 2015
6X6 Medium Format Film

December 2015
6X6 Medium Format Film

January 2016
35mm Film

January 2016
4X5 Large Format Film

March 2016
4X5 Large Format Film

May 2017
4X5 Large Format Film

Expired film and a $9 camera in Portland

After getting my wheelchair camera mount all set up, and putting together a good camera kit for it, I thought it might be wise to keep an eye out for an inexpensive back-up camera body, just in case I should need it. Plus, who doesn’t “need” another camera, right? I started looking at various autofocus Pentax bodies that would work with my lenses as well as the right angle finder and electronic cable release I use, and decided I would like to find a nice Pentax SF1 or SF1N. The SF1 was the first proper autofocus SLR that Pentax made, and the SF1N replaced it as the flagship Pentax. Both these cameras are also currently one of the best deals in film cameras. They are well built, and full of great features. They’re also a bit big, heavy, maybe kinda ugly (depending on ones personal taste), and nobody wants them. After a bit of looking, I found a nice looking SF1N, bid on it, and ended up winning it for a whopping $9. I had to pay more than that for shipping!
After waiting about a week, the camera arrived just as we were leaving for a few days in Portland. After arriving in Portland, we opened the package and checked out what my $9 had got me. The camera looked like it hardly been used, and to make the deal even sweeter, it came with a good working 2CR5 battery which is worth nearly what I paid for camera. With my brother’s help, we tested all the basic camera functions and it seemed to be working perfectly, so we decided to load a test roll of film. The only film I had with me was a 36 frame roll of slightly rare “pre-aged” Lomo F²/400 Color Negative film. I wouldn’t normally use this film for testing a camera (I usually use something less expensive and also 24 frames), but the camera really seemed fine so I decided to go for it. You can read my review of the film here

Over the few days in we were in Portland, I managed to shoot most of the roll, then finished it off after getting home. The camera performed flawlessly. All in all a great camera for the money.

 

Here’s a photo of the camera,

 

And here are some of the photos from the roll,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on the Camera Mount

It’s been a little while since my last post (I’m a slacker I know), but I have been out shooting a fair bit with the wheelchair camera mount, and I thought I would share some of what I have done. So far, I have shot up nearly 10 rolls of film (that is a lot for me in a month), using 4 different cameras. I was even able to shoot a roll of 620 film using my 70+ year old Kodak Medalist II, and even got to see through the viewfinder/rangefinder without using a tripod. With a little assistance, I am able to shoot a lot more photos, a lot quicker, and with a lot less effort than usual.

Here are some of the photos I’ve made recently using the camera mount.

 

Pentax 645N
SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm f/4.5
Expired Kodak Portra 400VC

Pentax 645N
SMC Pentax-FA 645 45-85mm f/4.5
Expired Kodak Portra 400VC

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm f/4-5.6
Expired Kirkland (Agfa) Color 400

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm f/4-5.6
Expired Kirkland (Agfa) Color 400

Kodak Medalist II
Ektar 100/3.5
Expired Kodak Pro 100

Kodak Medalist II
Ektar 100/3.5
Expired Kodak Pro 100

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm f/4-5.6
Lomo F²/400 Color Film

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-F 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5
Lomo F²/400 Color Film

Pentax SF10
SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6
Expired Fuji Superia X-TRA 400

Pentax SF10
SMC Pentax-FA 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6
Expired Fuji Superia X-TRA 400

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-F 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5
Kodak Portra 400

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm f/4-5.6
Kodak Portra 400

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FAJ 18-35mm f/4-5.6
Kodak Portra 400

Pentax 645N
SMC Pentax-FA 645 75/2.8
Kodak Ektar 200

Pentax 645N
SMC Pentax-FA 645 75/2.8
Kodak Ektar 200

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-F 28/2.8
Lomo F²/400 Color Film

Pentax Z-1p
SMC Pentax-FA 50/1.4
Lomo F²/400 Color Film

Wheelchair Camera Mount

A little over a month ago, I posted a photo of myself on PentaxForums.com. The photo was of me in my wheelchair at the Oregon coast, with my Pentax 67 on a tripod in front of me. Another forum member saw the photo and then sent me a private message with a link to a blog post about a wheelchair camera mount that the blog’s author was using. It looked really interesting (but expensive), so I posted the link on facebook, just to share, but really thinking it wasn’t something I could ever afford. Over the next few days, I received a lot of positive feedback and offers to help get the mount for my chair. I then spent some time doing research into whether or not it was something I could even use, and how much it would all cost. After phoning the retailer and talking at length with the customer service rep, we figured out that it would work, and would be helpful for me. With everything I’d need, we figured it would cost about $2000, so my Mom setup a gofundme campaign and posted it on facebook. The response was overwhelming! The support from family, friends, and people I only knew over the internet, was huge and almost instantaneous. Within 6 hours we had met our fundraising goal and more. I was totally blown away. The next day we ordered the mount.

Fast forward a few weeks… the mount arrived, we got it mounted, and on Friday I took it out for a test run.

To everyone who helped make this happen, thank you so so so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend Drive

A few weekends ago Tiffany, Etta, and I decided to go for a short adventure in Northern California near a town called Weed. Before leaving, we looked up the area on Google Maps and figured out a route that would take us on mainly small back roads. One road in particular I have seen many from the freeway and have often wanted to stop and take a photo of Mt. Shasta. It turned out to a beautiful January day.

I took my Pentax 67 with us, and with Tiffany’s assistance, we made a total of 6 exposures on Kodak Portra 400 with it on the trip. Here they are,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minolta PROD-20’S Review – A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

On paper, the Minolta PROD-20’S makes almost no sense. It’s nothing more than a dressed up cheap plastic Point and Shoot camera. Why would anyone pay over $100 for a camera that (internally anyway) is basically identical to the Minolta Freedom 202, a camera that you can probably find in good working condition for under $10. Looking at the specs isn’t exactly exciting either. A slow triplet (?) lens, limited ISO range, and fully automatic flash… who wants that? Is it really worth buying, or is it (as another review called it) just a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

Here’s what it has,

Lens – 35mm/4.5 triplet (some sources say it could be 4 elements in 4 groups)
Shutter – In lens shutter with speeds 1/40s – 1/150s (source unconfirmed)
Film Speed – Crippled DX decoding; films below ISO 400 are exposed as ISO 100, those above as ISO 400. Non-DX films exposed as ISO 100.
Focus – Active infrared autofocus from 0,95 m to infinity.
Finder – Simple bright-line viewfinder. No parallax correction.
Flash – Built-in, automatically activated, no manual override.
Self Timer – Electronic, On or Off.
Film transport – Automatic loading, advance and rewind.
Battery – 1x BR-P2N lithium battery

If you buy a complete original kit, it includes,

Camera
Metal lens cap
Leather bag
Strap
Retro style cardboard box
Assorted paperwork – manuals, etc. I’m not certain on what is all included in the paperwork.

In early 2015, after being intrigued by the PROD-20’S for years, I bought an incomplete kit which only included the camera, lens cap, leather bag, and strap.
After using the camera for almost 2 years, here are my thoughts on it.

The camera looks and feels great. I’ll be quite honest here, as shallow as it may sound, the looks were a pretty major factor in my interest and purchase of the PROD-20’S. The fit and finish is quite good. The top and bottom plates, and the plate around the lens,  are all metal, finished in satin chrome, as is the lens cap. The leatherette is a dark brown faux leather, and any visible plastic is also dark brown. I think the combination of the dark brown and satin chrome looks fantastic. The viewfinder is actually decently sized. To load the battery, the entire bottom plate comes off, reminiscent of old bottom loading rangefinders. With the battery in and film loaded, the camera has enough weight that it doesn’t feel cheap and flimsy. Another reason that I bought this camera, is because it has two proper neck strap lugs. It’s surprisingly difficult to find P&S film cameras with neck strap lugs. Most have a single wrist strap lug, or two lugs on the end of the camera for attaching a shoulder strap. Because of my particular situation and ALS, I can’t really use any camera on my own unless it has a neck strap that holds the camera up horizontally.

It’s about as simple to use camera as there is. Auto film loading (just drop in film, pull leader out over spool, close back), auto exposure, auto focus, auto flash (whenever camera decides ambient light is insufficient), and auto rewind. The only controls on the camera are the shutter button and a self timer switch. The self timer switch looks like an old fashion mechanical lever, but is really just an electronic on/off switch.  User control is really limited to just framing and shooting.

Most serious photographers will tell you that it all comes down to the lens though. Take the Olympus Stylus Epic for example. It is another fully automatic P&S film camera, and it’s almost universally lauded as one of the best P&S cameras money can buy. Most of that fame comes from the superb 35/2.8 lens on the Stylus Epic. Compared to the Olympus, the lens on the PROD-20’S is, quite frankly, terrible. With a maximum aperture of f/4.5, it’s about as slow as P&S cameras get, it is sharp(ish) in the center and not at all sharp in the corners, it has terrible barrel distortion and terrible lateral chromatic aberrations, and it has low contrast, Really not much going for this lens is there? Over the years, I’ve come to realize that there is a big difference between Image Quality and Quality of Image. I think to often people obsess about Image Quality, and lose sight of Quality of Image.  The PROD-20’S is rather unimpressive when it comes to the conventional idea of of image quality, but in my opinion it has loads of character which all add to the quality of image. I like a razor sharp, aberration free lens as much as anyone, but sometimes it’s nice and just plain fun to make images where sharpness isn’t a big part of it.

So, while it may just be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, it looks cool as hell, it’s fun as hell, and I absolutely love the images I get from it.

Here are some of my favorites,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Gold

I spent part of the afternoon rescanning some expired Kodak Gold 100 that I shot in 2014. I was never really happy with the scans I originally did, and I was hoping I could squeeze a bit more from the film, but for the most part it was just crappy film. Sometimes expired film can be great, sometimes it’s terrible. I got a few decent frames from it though. These were shot using a Canon EOS Elan II  and EF 50/1.8. Scanned on my Epson V750-M using the method in the Articles section.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Year…

As another year ends, I can’t help but reminisce the past year and years before it. 2016 was a big year for me (photographically speaking). I had work published in one of my favorite photography zines Underdogs, as well as work published in the Film Shooters Collective book NSEW Volume 3, and I delved into the fascinating world of 4×5 large format film photography. I made great new friends in the photography world, and went on some epic adventures with friends and family, and made many images that I’m proud of.

For me, each passing year also brings a sense of sadness and foreboding with the uncertain future. As the year ends, I can’t help but think about the mobility and abilities that I have lost, never to get back. Each year brings the feeling that it could be my last (again, photographically speaking), as I become weaker and weaker, and even getting out becomes something more difficult than it might be worth.

I always try to make the best of things though. I remember at the end of 2011 I really felt that my adventure in photography might be coming to an end because I was starting to have real trouble lifting a camera to my eye. Here I am 5 years later, and one could argue that each successive year has been my best. Of course, none of that would have been possible without the extensive help from many people. The assistance given to me by my family, my friends, and all the support given to me by all the people in my life, is a gift I am forever grateful of.

I will continue to make photos for as long as I’m able, and I will likely have to find some new methods, but I can’t escape the fact that the (somewhat near) future will hold the end of my photographic journey. Until that day though, you can find me out somewhere, in a bright green powerchair, and most likely a camera (or 4), making photos.

 

Here are some of my favorites from 2016,

 

Contax G2 
Kodak Portra 400

 

Hasselblad 500CM
Kodak Ektar 100

Fuji Klasse
Kodak Portra 400

Bronica ETRSI
Expired Kodak TRI-X 320

 Rolleiflex 3.5F
FujiPro 400H

Minolta PROD-20S
Kodak Portra 400

Innova 6×9 Pinhole Camera
Expired Fuji Reala 100

Speed Graphic 4×5
Ilford FP4 Plus

 

Contax G2
Kodak Ektar 100

Rolleiflex 2.8C
Kodak Ektar 100

Speed Graphic 4×5
Kodak Ektar 100

Bronica ETRSI
135W Film Back
Kodak Ektar 100

Contax G2
Kodak Ektar 100

Bronica ETRSI
Expired FujiPro 160C

Contax G2
Expired Fuji Superia 400

Contax G2
Expired FujiPro 400H

Busch Pressman D 4×5
Expired Kodak Portra 160VC

Contax G2
Expired Kodak Elitechrome 100

1947 Kodak Medalist II
1975 Expired Kodak Vericolor II VPS

Rolleiflex 2.8C
Kodak Ektar 100

Pentax 67
Fuji Superia 400

Busch Pressman D 4×5
Kodak Ektar 100

Pentax 67
FujiPro 400H

Busch Pressman D 4×5
Kodak Ektar 100

Website Updates!

I’ve just added some much needed updates to my website.

First, I’ve updated the About section with some more recent photos of me, and also some great links for other ways you can follow me.

Secondly, I’ve added a subscribe button to the homepage, so you can receive an email whenever there is a a new post up.