There, I’ll be posting a photo a day. The pics will be the ones captured on film. I’ll talk a bit about the photo, the camera, the film and the developing process (I’m now processing my own film at home in my bathroom).
Not too horribly long ago, I got two new old cameras. The first was a 1936 Ikoflex, a sophisticated little camera that should take some great shots. The next was a 1940 Kodak Popular Brownie, a simple box camera.
After shooting a roll on each of them, I’m sort of disappointed with myself.
The Ikoflex had all that fancy photography stuff like aperture settings and different shutter speeds. It’s very capable of capturing some fine photos. Most of the roll, however, was washed out, except for the first photo.
So what happened? It’s rather embarrassing. I forgot that the aperture settings are measured “backwards.” Meaning, when you open the iris, the numbers decrease rather than increase. I had it backwards. It’s been awhile since I really thought about f/stops. I had the camera set for f5ish for most of the time in the sunny desert. That’s bound to end badly when shooting on 100 speed film.
The Popular Brownie, however, might have to be my dark winter camera. This one has no aperture settings and has no adjustable shutter speed. It’s a very simple point and shoot. When it was made, seventy or so years ago, I’m sure it worked just fine. But since then, the spring has probably gotten a little weak and the shutter speed has slowed a bit.
This gives you some washed out photos, which is a real shame. The two that you see here were the only things that came out. Everything else was almost completely white.
Thankfully, Seattle is typically cloudy, so from October through May, this camera will work just fine. It’ll take some experimenting, but I bet I can find the right conditions for it.
It’s been awhile since I posted here. I tried to keep up with it more, but I’m still thinking about closing it down and moving to WordPress.com. The audience seems bigger and it might just be a better place for me. Anyway, until then, how about a life update?
Since my last post about root canals, I got a root canal. It was horrible. Seriously, the worst dental experience thus far. Hopefully it will be my last. My dental treatment thing is, however, ongoing. It will be forever.
Smartz and I just got back from a ten day trip to Utah, Colorado and Wyoming (mostly). It was a huge amount of awesome. You can read all about it here.
And, at the Spiral Jetty, Smartz and I got engaged. It’s all pretty exciting! She didn’t want a ring, so I contacted our friend Ashley to see if she could make a necklace for her. There was a bit of a misunderstanding (completely on my part) and Ashley sent what I thought was the “wrong” thing. I had a brief meltdown/freak out, but boy am I ever glad Ashley knows better than I do. What she sent was perfect. Smartz liked it so much better than she would have liked the necklace that I first described to Ashley.
Oh it’s all complicated and I won’t go into it, but it worked out perfectly! Thanks, Ashley!
Along the trip, I took a ton of photos with several different cameras and several different kinds of film. I’ll post the results over the coming weeks.
I’m also getting ready to gather supplies so we can start developing our own film. The place that I use is getting too expensive and the place that Smartz uses is going to stop processing film. After the initial cost, this will cut our processing expenses down from $7 a roll to about $1.50 a roll. Not bad.
I can image that I’m leaving out some things, but I’ll get around to tell whomever is still reading this about them someday.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) I head back to the dentist for more and more and more work. This time, it’s a root canal. That sounds fun, no?
A “root canal” is actually called endodontic therapy. It’s the procedure where the dentist (from my limited understanding) hollows out your tooth with a drill and a brush. He removes the pulp and the nerves and then fills it with stuff (possibly gutta-percha – a plant from Southeast Asia) and then fills it and caps it with a crown.
Not THAT kind of canal!
Root canals have a long history of being THE worst dental procedure you could endure. In recent times, however, I think things have gotten easier. I hope so.
After this, I’ll have two temporary crowns and will have to get them replaced with permanent ones soon enough. After that, I think I’m done with crowns and root canals. Those are the expensive things.
Part of me wants to take a break from going to the dentist after this. Just a month or two. But another part of me wants to just get everything done as quickly as possible. The financial part of me is torn as well. I obviously can’t pay for any of this out of pocket, so it’s all going on a credit card. I’ve got good credit, and so I have a year or so to pay without interest. So you see, speed is essential to not paying interest.
This whole thing has been one big mess. In the end, it’s still cheaper than dental insurance (which is sort of messed up). But even more importantly, if I would have flossed, this wouldn’t have been as much of an issue.
So take it from me. Floss. A lot. Every day. Or at least once a week. And go to the dentist at least once a decade. Probably twice a year.
A few weeks ago, Kripamoya from the UK spotted a box camera at a rummage sale and, much to my great delight and surprise, thought of me. He picked it up and shipped it to me. I got it yesterday and, when I opened the box, did a little happy dance.
I love old cameras. It’s not that it’s “the older the better,” but anything pre-WW2 is such fun. This one is a Kodak Six-20 Popular Brownie. This model was made in the UK somewhere between 1939 to 1943. Like my other Brownie, it takes larger photos, with a negative measuring 2.25″ X 3.45″. You only get eight shots per roll of 120 film, but they are eight amazingly fun pictures.
Rummage sale finds are always hit or miss, especially when it comes to old technology. But this little camera works perfectly. I cleaned the front and back of the lens and it’s ready for some film.
This model takes 620 film, just like my 1950 Duaflex II. To make 120 film fit into a 620 camera, all you have to do is trim the edges off of the 120 film spools. It’s pretty easy and usually works. It totally works for the Pop Brownie.
When Smartz and I take to the Utah desert (and beyond), this new old camera will be accompanying us. Hopefully, I’ll return with eight amazing shots.
So, thank you, Kripamoya! I’m ridiculously excited to start shooting!
I’ve been watching movies about gangsters and bootleggers for a project that I’m doing (more on that someday) and came across a flick from 1974 called Bootleggers. Having no real idea what it was about, I got the movie, popped it in the DVD player and was greeted with this:
For those not in the know, Charles B. Pierce directed Boggy Creek II, the lovable movie about bigfoot that was riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also directed the first Boggy Creek movie, but that was a documentary. Turns out Pierce has directed a whole slew of films, mostly taking place in rural Arkansas.
And Arkansas was the setting for Bootleggers. The plot is basically the Duke of Hazzard. Old guy runs a still, his younger kin run the liquor for him. Rival bootleggers and the cops want them to stop. Hilarity ensues.
Oddly, while Boggy Creek II was a fairly horrible movie (wonderfully so), this one wasn’t so bad. It was amazing, but it was enjoyable. I’ll say one thing about Pierce, he knows how to capture rural Arkansas. You can tell there’s a real love there. The folks are crackers, but they’re his crackers.
Bootleggers was made in 1974, and if you’ve only seen Boggy Creek II, there are some things you need to know. While Pierce himself starred in Boggy Creek, he stays behind the camera for the entirety of Bootleggers. That’s not to say that you won’t recognize some Pierce regulars. Remember the skinny shirtless guy in Boggy Creek II? Well that’s Chuck Pierce, Jr, Charles B. Pierce’s son. He’s in this one too. He plays the main character as a kid. Some of the locals and extras are also familiar faces.
But the most welcome face is that of Jimmy Clem, Boggy Creek II‘s very own Crenshaw. In Bootleggers, he plays a good ol’ boy named Big-un Woodall. Seriously, his name is Big-un. Apparently, he’s Pierce’s go-to local, as he’s appeared in eight of the twelve movies that Pierce directed.
Filling out the cast is Slim Pickens and Jaclyn Smith (who went on to be one of Charlie’s Angels – the only one who stuck around for all five seasons).
The movie isn’t a masterpiece, but it sure does look pretty. It’s beautifully shot and makes great use of the Arkansas landscape. This is probably due 100% to the cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto. He went on to bigger and better things, getting his first big break as the cinematographer for Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. After that, he worked his magic on Silence of the Lambs and became M. Night Shyamalan’s regular director of photography.
Imagine being a 14 year old kid and discovering that the entire music world was changing around you. At 14, you wouldn’t really know the history or the reasons – all you would know was that suddenly bands like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Genesis were on their way out, with a whole slew of synthesizer-based bands taking their place.
In 1979, two kids from Italy noticed this and delved. Bands like OMD, Human League and Depeche Mode were following in the footsteps of Kraftwerk, taking the DIY ethics of punk and creating an entirely new genre of music. And so like any 14 year olds with a dream, they got some electronic organs and modified them to sound like synths. They built their own rhythm boxes, sequencers and vocorder, and proceeded to write a handful of songs.
As time went on, they got some better equipment and refined the songs already under their belt. They released exactly one song and basically disappeared. By the time they were old enough to get into clubs, the new wave synth movement was gone. but that one song, “I’m a Vocorder,” became a sort of cult hit.
These days, the single is a collector’s item, fetching upwards of $150. Thankfully, Seattle-based Medical Records has reissued not only “I’m a Vocorder,” but seven previously unreleased tracks recorded by Gay Cat Park from the early 80s. It’s a limited release of 650 (I have #608) on clear vinyl with red splatters.
So how does it sound? Surprisingly good. The sound quality is great. There’s a bit of variation from song to song (as would be expected), but overall, you really don’t notice it.
The songs themselves might seem a little (and I mean a very little) derivative. These kids were in their middle teens and were influenced by what they listened to. But the integrity and enthusiasm of youth is there, just as much as it was there in the even more derivative ’88 NYC Hardcore scene. And that is more than enough to carry this entire release.
Sure, there’s elements of early Depeche Mode and some of the lyrical qualities of Kraftwerk – even a strange homage to Yazoo – but there’s enough of their own materialistic feel to make this sound unique.
“I am a Vocoder, I am synthetic voice
I am a very extravagant device
Into my box, there are a lot of things
But I will not, tell you about their means
I am a friend of the circulator, Which is in love of microprocessor
Is out of memory, for this silicons chips
But is no possible excange with them his bits”
I’ve probably listened to this seven or eight times in the past day and a half. You need this, but you better hurry up. It’s ridiculously limited and already going for $35+ in online reseller shops. Luckily, you can still get it from Medical Records. But seriously, don’t dally.