Over the last week hearing about the devastation and seeing the chilling imagery on television has made me think about these people and their suffering. I can not even conceive of what they must be going through…I live in South Florida and certainly saw some with Hurricane Wilma, but that pales in comparison. It was nothing compared to what happened in New Orleans with Katrina and now this tragedy in Japan.
I have adored Japan for so long for wonderful traditions, food, and culture. I even purchased an English to Japanese dictionary and a tour book for the day that I do get to go. From the Harajuku girls of Tokyo to the wonder of Mt. Fuji…it is a place I can only dream of visiting one day. For these reasons, I wondered what I, a person of little means, could do for Japan.
Upon thinking about it for the last few days, I remembered a time that I went with my husband and friends to the Japanese gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. I took many images that day with my trusty old Minolta Minoltina AL-s rangefinder and plastic Holga cameras. Being at this place is a small substitution for the real thing. I got images of beautiful blue tile roofs, zen gardens, and picturesque bridges.
I finally thought of what I could do…I will sell the Japanese themed images that I shot at the gardens and send a portion of the profits to a charity organization that is directly involved with helping those in need in Japan. The images here are just a sampling of what I will be offering. Click on any of these images to see more in my gallery on the website.
Also keep in mind that any items purchased through my website are not signed as they are shipped directly from the manufacturer. If you would like hand-signed and titled versions, contact me directly and I can get those to you. Direct from me prices are for an 8×10 (approx) print in an 11×14 mat one for $29, 2 for $50, or 3 for $60. Again, with any images sold from my “Japanese Inspiration” series will have a portion of the proceeds send for relief in Japan, whether from the website or me directly.
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.
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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!
After the Hi-Matic 7s and Minoltina AL-s, I was certainly hooked on Minolta rangefinders, but wanted my next Minolta to be the 7sII…but it was out of my price range. I set my sights on another vintage beauty, the Canon Canonet QL17 GIII (a long name for a legendary camera).
I have certain tactics I use on eBay in order to get the best deal I can. The QL17s I had been watching there were going for about $50 and up and even more for CLA (Cleaned, Lubed, and Adjusted) models. This time, my tactic was to get on eBay during the Super Bowl (best times I’ve found are Super Bowl and World Series), as most people in the US are watching TV instead of prowling eBay. I found a QL17 that was ending during the game that was described as “not in very good shape” and “not sure about functioning.” It looked dirty in the pics, but I could see no damage, so figured it was worth the risk and won it for about $35 with shipping.
I dubbed it “The Ugly Duckling” because it was so grungy. I began cleaning it up and realized all the more what great shape it was in. I even managed to get the residue from masking tape off the top I popped a battery in it and it came to life…here is “The Swan!”
I thoroughly enjoy using this camera…it has very intuitive controls (which is my pet peeve…I’ve had some that make no sense to use!), shutter priority auto mode, and fully manual mode. One quirky thing is that the meter only works in the “A” mode, not in manual. It’s handy when using this mode since you can change the shutter speed to get the desired aperture. For manual, I meter in A, then decide how I want to change shutter speed and aperture accordingly. Once nice thing about the meter being off in manual is that it’s essentially “off” then…thus if one doesn’t have a lens cap or it falls of, you won’t drain your battery.
Here are a couple of shots I’ve taken with this little beauty:
These were shot handheld in “A” mode on Kodak T-Max 400 developed in Rodinal 1:50.
More shots of/taken with this camera here: Canonet QL17 GIII set on flickr
My foray back into film camera collecting began with the plastic Diana F+, but I got off onto a tangent with vintage rangefinders shortly thereafter. First, with the Argus C-3, Kodak 35 RF, and Minolta Minoltina AL-s. Once I started using that sweet little “Tina”…I was hooked once again.
The Minolta family grows…”Tina” is joined by the big & beautiful Hi-Matic 7s
My web searches on other desireable rangefinder models came up with the Minolta Hi-Matic line. The 7sII looked very appealing, but the prices were out of my range (I normally don’t spend more than $30-$40 on my new acquisitions), so I set my sights on the previous model, the 7s. It had appealing features with fully automatic, aperture priority, and fully manual modes. It’s amazing with a camera of this age to just have to point at your subject, focus, and shoot. I used it at an air show one day and had it on the “Auto” setting the entire time…here are some results from it:
“Patriot Wing” shot with Minolta Hi-Matic 7s 35mm rangefinder w/ Kodak bw400cn film
So, it was official, I am an addict. I began researching which one to purchase next See my full set of images of/taken with this camera here: Minolta Hi-Matic 7s set on flickr