Monday, February 06, 2012


When's the last time most of us had to actually WAIT to see how pictures came out?

(click for detail, sort of, best I could do at home.)

Yes, while the rest of the country was watching the Super Bowl, I was at one of the more unusual gatherings I've been invited to in a long time - a Kodak Film Wake and Crazy Camera Ball! Friend & Sebago clubmate Andy has been a photographer for years -

OK, wait, can't resist, here's a link to my favorite picture from his RedBubble collection, taken at the Quicksilver Pro Long Beach, NY 2011:

Anyhow, he and a few other people who are film photography enthusiasts decided to get together in Ditmas Park for a little fun with analogue film photography & knowing that I like to take the occasional picture myself, he invited me & TQ to come.

Friday night, I went out and found some black and white film and on Sunday I picked up a nice bottle of wine & headed over (TQ joined us later on). I didn't have a camera, I'd thought I had a cheap old plastic Canon around here somewhere but if it's here, it's buried too deep to find - Andy said he'd fix me up with something though, he's got a few and I ended up with a fun little thing called a Lomo Fisheye.

There it is - isn't it a funny looking little thing? We started with a good bagel-and-smoked-fish feast, then set out for a quick photo-safari around a couple of blocks in Ditmas Park. We then went back to the house where we'd gathered, where we were treated to a demonstration of black and white film development by Vincent Trivett. This was actually a reintroduction for me, I had taken a photography class back in high school, but my dad's camera had gotten damaged just before the class so I ended up doing a lot of stuff where you do the exposures directly on paper - pinhole cameras, shadowgrams, etc., so I didn't get as much practice as some of my classmates. Wrapping the film onto one of the wire reels still felt familiar, though!

I was kicking myself for not bringing my Lumix so I could take pictures of the demo, but it was really interesting to watch. My roll ended up being one of the 2 rolls Vincent developed for the demo, so now I just have to wait for work to settle down enough to take the negatives somewhere to get a DVD for sharing.

After the demo, Andy turned on the game, but we ended up pretty much blowing it off looking at Vincent and Marc Stager's online photo galleries (friends who are Pete Seeger/ Clearwater fans, check out this wonderful Kodachrome shot) until we all decided it was time to head for home.

I was looking at my negatives tonight wondering when I was going to have a chance to get them printed and how they were going to come out when it hit me that the batch photo software I use to shrink pictures for my stop-motion things might be able to invert a picture. Using my monitor as a makeshift lightbox (hence the shot-through-a-wire-screen effect), I took a digital picture of one of the film strips, picked out the Negate feature that reverses all the pixels. It's not pretty, but at least it's something of a preview!


O Docker said...

I'm agogma, but man, does this make me feel old.

I actually used to earn a living with this stuff, but the last time I came home from work with my hands smelling of fixer was probably around 1988. For about 10 more years, we continued to shoot film, but scanned the negatives into a computer and printed from Photoshop. Most newspapers finally switched to digital cameras starting around 1998.

Now, film cameras are regarded with the same weepy nostalgia as steam trains, gas lamps, and moderate republicans.

PeconicPuffin said...

I want to go to a Film Wake and Crazy Camera Ball!

Many things are gained, very few are lost with digital photography. But still things are lost. Heck there used to be a famous underwater photographer (to the extent they exist) that got out of the business when flash bulbs went away...he didn't like the light from strobes.

Bonnie...a tip of the hat of course!

Pandabonium said...

Super. Actually, I find that I still have to wait to see how my pictures come out as the screens on the cameras are too small. Some pictures that seem fine turn out to be out of focus or blurred by movement. Of course, with digital we can take lots of pics so it isn't such a problem.

I can still look at family photos over a hundred years old - like the one of my great grandfather standing in front of his horse drawn steam pump fire engine in Buffalo, NY.

I doubt the digital pics I take today will be around even ten years from now.

bonnie said...

It is rather fascinating how digital cameras have turned personal photography into ephemera, isn't it?

It was interesting getting myself back into the "I have exactly twenty-four pictures to take" frame of mind. I started cautious, then as we approached the house and I still had eight shots to take I actually got a little frantic looking for good shots.

Funny thing is I think the best shots will be the ones where the real photographers would tell me that something would look neat in the fisheye. Andy said once that digital photography was terrible for professional photography because suddenly EVERYONE could take a hundred shots and get one really good one (monkeys, typewriters, Shakespeare, right?)- but boy, there was no mistaking that the people I was hanging out with on Sunday just had eyes for what was going to work & what wasn't. That skill doesn't come in the box with the Lumix, does it?

Now what was personally gratifying was that the shots they'd send me to get with the Lomo were in some cases shots I'd been thinking about anyways.

And it was really fun going back and actually developing the film we'd shot!

Super Bowl Sunday was a strange day to do it but even that day we had a nice gathering, and it sounds like there was some interest in doing it again sometime.

I wonder if my old Canon was in one of the boxes I threw away when the mice got into them last year?

Pandabonium said...

That may explain the NY mice photo blog that popped up recently...

Your class using a pinhole camera was probably very instructive. I know that of late I sound like a cranky old Panda (which I am) but I really did do best with the Leica M3 I had for many years as compared with more modern computer chip film cameras. Having direct control made it a bit more simple and once one grasped the relationships it became more intuitive. Maybe I'm just not that quick, but the complexity of more modern cameras put a sort of barrier between me and the desired setting. Like a modern Airbus puts computers between the pilot and the airplane - sometimes with bad results. (Happily not in Sully's case).

I'm happy we don't have to count frames and pollute the environment with photo chemicals anymore, but ...

Maybe someone could design an exotic camera for a special nitche: a digtal camera with old style interface - light meter, f stop ring on the lens, an ISO selector, and shutter speed knob. I'd like that!

Tents said...

I love the 35mm myself!