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.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to go on an adventure in Miami to the Gold Coast Train Museum. Little did we know what an adventure it would be…as my GPS in my Android phone took us all the way west …though I told the hubby it looked suspicious, he wanted to follow it. We just got to go through horrendous Miami traffic from west to east and finally found the correct location which was right by Miami MetroZoo (where he initially thought it was).
One of our reasons for visiting on this day was that it was free admission (as it is the first Saturday of every month) and there was a caravan of gourmet food trucks to be there. The hubby’s a foodie, so he really wanted to try the food trucks…and we really needed some inspiration for our photography which we knew the trains, our friends Robert, Michelle, and Bobby, and my step daughter Melissa and her daughter Aliza would give.
I took my post WWII Argus A2b and trusty Pentax MX with me. I needed to get the Argus out “just because” and I knew my MX wouldn’t let me down (since I’m still not well versed in the use of the A2b) so I’d get at least some decent shots.
We were starving after our driving adventure, so we headed straight for the food trucks. Luckily, they didn’t let us down. We scarfed a couple of fish tacos immediately, then the hubby and I went to separate trucks for the rest of our meal. I had a wonderful Mediterranean chicken wrap from a truck that only does wraps…super yummy!
Once we finished lunch, I realized there were a couple of old fire trucks and a Case steam powered farm tractor just outside the train building. I thought they would make excellent photographic subjects, so I proceeded to shoot away. Got some shots I really like of the tractor and especially the details of one truck (an American LaFrance). I just love rusty old historical vehicles like this. They have so much more meaning when they were used for saving lives or for producing food. As always, I thought about this history and wondered about the tales they would tell if they could.
We gathered up our crew and headed inside the train building. It was amazing, they had many different eras of passenger cars, engines, and cabooses. I loved the passenger cars most…imagining the lives of the people that rode in them. The most luxurious of these was the Ferdinand Magellan Railcar made by the Pullman Company. This railcar was used for the three presidents prior to Kennedy (Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower) to transport and do “whistlestop” campaigning. It was replaced with Air Force One for President Kennedy. The appointments in this car were amazing…it had an early version of air conditioning, two “suites” with adjoining washrooms…one of which even had what they called a “bath tub,” but it was more of a basin for the shower.
It was a great day checking out all the cool rail cars and I think we’ll go back soon. We had a good time, but with everyone in our group it was hard to shoot as much as I wanted to. I like to document the details and it takes me a while to do so…so the hubby and I will have to make a trip on our own to spend more time shooting. We highly recommend it and if you’re going to the Miami Metro Zoo any time soon, definitely add it to your agenda!
In recent months, I have been in a little “slump” in my photographic adventures. Luckily, in October when I took a driving trip to see my family in Virginia, my father gave me a Koni Omega Rapid (oddball medium format), Graflex Crown Graphic (large format), and a Rolleiflex Automat (twin lens reflex) to use! He’s always been good like that and I think that seeing me getting back into film photography made him want to hand these off to someone to use again…they were just sitting in drawers in their dank basement.
I got home with these new gems and was getting some great inspiration just by having these cameras in my hot little hands. Upon my return, I was on flickr catching up and someone had posted about a photographer by the name of Vivian Maier from Chicago that had just been “discovered” after her passing. He made mention of her use of a Rolleiflex and this really intrigued me. I found more information on the web about her shooting through many decades with her Rollei and that there were thousands of rolls of film found of hers. There were two major things that made me very interested in her; the fact that she was a woman photographer in a time when it was very male dominated, and that she used a Rolleiflex camera rather than a more “dainty” 35mm or other smaller camera that a typical woman of the era would.
I came to read about her, watch videos and see her story explode across the internet. What a find this John Maloof had come across! Thoughts of her falling into obscurity went through my mind and made me so thankful that John had the wisdom to see the great value of this woman’s images and the story of her life. There is now a display of her work and a couple of her cameras in Chicago…makes me really want to go there to see it and the place that she had called home for so much of her life.
Now this Rolleiflex that my father had entrusted me with had so much more meaning to me. It started with a fascination of the German engineering of a machine that was made around WWII and now the added interest of a mid century woman photographer having used a very similar camera. I can’t wait to use the camera more and watch the incredible story of this amazingly talented woman photographer unfold.
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
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!