I was just going through my gallery on my website and realized how many images I have from cemeteries. I don’t know what exactly draws me to them…a sense of history, a mystery of a life I never knew, or simply showing respect to those that have left this world. I have been intrigued since I was very young and my brothers and I would sneak into graveyards to peek at the headstones.
Since my foray back into film photography, I have shot Key West Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Lauderdale fairly extensively. I think my favorite subjects would have to be the angels…beautiful heavenly beings watching over the souls that have passed on. Key West has some gorgeous hand carved marble angels that I adore. There’s even one there that had an eerie light flare no matter what camera or angle I took it from.
My favorite cameras for shooting in these environs have been my modern Diana F+ and vintage Diana, Ansco Pix plastic 35mm, and Minolta Minoltina AL-s 1960s rangefinder.
In May we took a great trip through Birmingham, AL, Clarksdale, MS, and Memphis, TN and I took an assortment of film cameras with me. I chose my new favorite, Canon Canonet QL17 GIII,
the “old lady” original Diana,
and old favorite Olympus XA.
The odd thing was that when we got to Clarksdale, I pulled out each camera and every one had an “issue.”
Don’t know if there were anti-film spirits in the “shack” we were staying in or what. I first grabbed the Diana and the shutter button seemed to be sticking once triggered…I shot two frames before I realized this. It’s tough with 120 film in square format too because you only get 12 exposures, so each one is precious. I kept trying the shutter button on the second frame (luckily, the Diana “allows” for multiple exposures and at this point I knew I blew the first two anyway) and couldn’t get her to cooperate. So then, I’m a bit bummed cause I really thought that the place we were staying (Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale) would lend itself to Diana’s style…oh well. I placed that camera back into the bag.
The second one I pulled out was the XA…after the Diana problem, I decided I should check it before putting film in it. I opened it up and looked through the viewfinder to check that the meter was reading properly. I got nothing, nada…super bummed now. It seemed that the battery was dead in this one. Back in the bag.
So, the third and final film camera I brought was the Canonet…I had just used it (as I have continuously since I got it), so felt assured all was well. I loaded what I didn’t realize was a roll of 12 exp color film. Usually I use 24 or 36 exposure, but sometimes I purchase lots of expired film, so must have gotten the 12 exp in one of those lots. Once I loaded it, it didn’t seem to be resetting when I shot an image. The winder would not budge after each exposure. I had never had an issue with the winder on this camera, so was quite baffled. I figured it was the mechanism that resets the winder each time the shutter fires, so thought I could bypass it by hitting the rewind button to release it each time I took a shot. I did this for many frames on this roll, then wondered if the film was actually being transported when I was able to wind. Luckily, the Canonet has nice features like an indicator for film in the camera and also for film transport. I checked it as I wound the next time and it looked fine. I don’t know how many frames I ran off this way, but the method I was using would not really indicate when I was at the end of the roll…so I think I may have ended up with about 12 exp on the last frame 8-\ because when I decided to rewind and try another roll, I found that the roll was only a 12 exp. Oops! I did load another roll into the Canonet and the winder worked flawlessly, so I don’t quite know what happened there. Think I did get some good shots with it through our trip.
I have checked all the cameras and the Canonet hasn’t done the same thing again, the Diana is still being quirky, but I’m not sure how to work on a plastic camera :-\ (edit: with some tips from the web, I have lubed the shutter on the Diana and it seems to be working fine now), and when I checked the XA here at home the battery was fine…very strange indeed!
I have been led back into the analog (film) photography world by a bit of plastic known as the Diana camera. It happened a year ago when I saw one of these gems at an Urban Outfitters store and was reminded of my very first camera in the early 70s, which was an original Diana. I didn’t purchase the one I saw there, but began thinking about it constantly…I had purchased a book in the 90′s called “Angels at the Arno” by Eric Lindbloom which contained images shot with a vintage Diana camera like the one I had as a child. I dug the book out and was once again in love with the dreamy ethereal imagery created by the photographer with this camera. I had to have one! My husband was nice enough to find a store near us called Bear & Bird at Tate’s Comics in Lauderhill, FL (as we have no Urban Outfitters near by) and we went the next day. I picked up a shiny new Diana F+ and began shooting my expired 120 film which had been residing in my fridge for about 10 years.
My childhood love and my passion for analog photography had been renewed! It has been a slippery slope since then…I’ve been shooting primarily film images and have been developing black and white film in my home darkroom. I have also amassed quite a collection of plastic toy and vintage cameras. Next step…printing in the darkroom!