Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Birds

It's been a while since I added anything here. Part of it is laziness, but more of it is the fact that I just plain haven't gotten out to do much shooting lately. Life always seems to get in the way.

This past weekend we took a trip up to Salt Lake City to pick up a dog. (Thats a whole 'nuther story) It was just supposed to be a quick up and back trip, so there wasn't a lot of time set aside for sightseeing. But we did arrive a little earlier than expected on Saturday, so we thought we'd drive up to "The Lake" to see what it looked like. Turned out to be a lot further than we thought, and before long we decided we'd all had enough driving for one day and there wouldn't be enough time to get there and back anyway. So we stopped at a small nature preserve at the south end of the lake.

It was a pleasant afternoon, a bit overcast with a light breeze, but not terribly cold. There were lots of families with their kids fishing around the lake, and many people just strolling around enjoying the fresh air. Lots of ducks paddling quietly around, some coming right up to us looking for handouts.

Then apparently somebody across the pond started to throw bread in to the water for the ducks.

Remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds"?

Within seconds we were surrounded by hundreds of gulls - all screeching and diving in to the water to steal whatever they could from the duck population. They must have been calling all their friends to the feast as well, because they just kept coming and coming.

I snapped off a few photos to record the novelty of it all...looking at them after the fact though, they almost look fake - like the gulls were photoshopped in. But they aren't. We were indeed surrounded.

And yes, that is smoke you see in the background. There were fires burning off in the distance. We couldn't really tell what they were though. It almost looked like an intentional burn of some sort.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I finally got around to developing the first roll of film from the Yashica today. It's been...umm...a lot of years since the last time I did any film developing, so I was a bit nervous. After watching several YouTube videos to refresh my memory and reading the directions over and over, I finally bit the bullet and loaded up the film. About 20 minutes later, I pulled the lid off and unwound a few inches for a peek...much to my delight, there were images! In fact, all 12 images appear to be at least somewhat usable!

The film is still drying, and I don't have a film scanner yet, but I did take a snapshot of the negatives hanging in the window to dry, just for fun. The backlighting is uneven with the open window behind and the resolution is horrible, so don't judge that quality. But at least there is something to look at until I figure out how I am going to scan them...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slow syncin'

Sometimes its hard to get enough light to do what you want when its late in the evening or the skies are a bit overcast. But that lack of light can make for some interesting effects as well.

"Slow sync flash" is a term used to describe when you have a slow shutter speed and trigger a flash at some point during that long exposure. This can be handy when you want your subject well lit, and get some detail in the background at night. Or, as in the case here, get an sense of motion to your subject...even if they end up looking a bit ghostly...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pinholes from the past

When I was in high school, I took a class in photography. It was one of my favorite classes, and I had a lot of fun with it. One of the projects we had to do was of course, the classic pinhole camera. Masking tape, tin foil, and an empty Quaker Oats carton make up the camera, then you expose directly on to a sheet of photo paper. This results in a negative, which you then use to do a contact exposure to another sheet of paper. The end result looks something like this:

This was my best shot at a pinhole exposure, and the one I turned in for a grade. The distorted perspective is an artifact of the paper being curled in to a cylindrical tube. With an effective aperture of somewhere in the neighborhood of f/200, exposure times on these cameras are on the order of minutes, so hand held is obviously out of the question. No need to focus though, as depth of field is practically infinite.

Pinholes are still popular. You can even buy pinhole "lenses" for modern digital cameras, which consist of essentially a body cap with a tiny hole in the center. You can of course make your own too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Old stuff

This isn't a particularly remarkable photo. The composition isn't all that great. The truck is really neat and very well restored/customized, but it was really just a "walk by" shooting without much thought given to it.

The thing I find impressive though is the fact that it was taken with a cheap Casio point & shoot camera. It just goes to show that you can get good results out of just about anything these days when the conditions are right.

As mentioned in a previous post, I did get a chance to take the Yashica out this weekend for its innaugural (post repair) roll of film.

The first thing I noticed is that this camera is an attention grabber. We stopped for breakfast Sunday morning, and while waiting for a table, a man walked up to me and said he used to have that exact same camera, and wondered aloud that had happened to his.

After we had been seated, a waitress was zooming by and it caught her eye sitting on the table. She stopped for a moment and asked if it was a Mamiya. Hmm. Not quite.

I guess the sight of a real camera amongst the onslaught of camera-phone toting teens taking self portraits at arms length is somewhat of a novelty these days.

We eventually ended up at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and I managed to raise the counter to 11 of the 12 exposures on the roll before the cold wind finally got to be too much. Since it was the only camera I had brought this time, I decided to save one in case something interesting caught my eye on the way home. Alas, nothing did, so I'll still need to find a use for that last frame before I can see the results.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Return to Film

Lately I have been taking a renewed interest in film photography. I haven't actually done any film shooting yet (at least not since getting my first digital camera), but I am collecting the bits and pieces to enable me to do so. Naturally I want to work with black and white and do my own developing. Its been one of those life long ambitions to have my own dark room, and now that the "digital revolution" has firmly taken hold, film equipment has become very reasonably priced indeed.

I found this little gem on ebay for a price too good to ignore. A Yashica A TLR. It had a sticky shutter when it arrived, but I spent a few hours with some solvent and dry lubricant and suddenly it snapped back to life! The shutter seems to be working perfectly now, and the rest of the camera is in remarkably good shape as well. I'm not sure exactly when it was built, but they started production in the mid-late 50's and ran till some time in the 60's I believe.

This picture shows it pretty much as I received it, before repairs. Its a bit cleaner now, but due to some confusion on my part about how to gain access to the shutter, I damaged the "leatherette" on the lens board while trying to uncover the screws. Stupid me, you don't have to take the lens board off on these to get to it! I was really annoyed when I figured out my mistake as it was in perfect condition before I mangled it. Oh well, at least replacement leather is fairly cheap and readily available, and it doesn't affect usability so I can make sure I'm happy with the results before spending the cash.

I ordered some film for it and it arrived today. Maybe this weekend I'll get a chance to try it out. Of course, then I have to pick up the chemicals to develop it too...and a decent scanner...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fun Stuff

There are lots of neat tricks you can play with a camera, and because of the ability to freeze moments in time, it can make for some interesting shots that make you stop and think...

The only Photoshop enhancement was the vignette effect around the edges to soften the white background a bit, and some exposure adjustment. It took a very patient model and a lot of pencil sharpening before we finally got it right.