Nothing on my mind, 01 June 2009

2009/06/01

Today, I’m just apathetic about current events. Seriously, the news these days tends to be such a downer. As such, I’m retreating from the real world and hiding in my own little reality.

MaxA_PierStump01

Photo Information:

Camera: Zeiss Ikon Maximar 207/3
Lens (Fixed): Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 105mm f/4.5
Film: Kodak TMax ISO 100 (120, in rollfilm adapter)
Exposure: Minolta Spotmeter F

I shot this photo near downtown Norfolk, VA, along the Elizabeth River. Its the remnant of a wooden pier support, I think. I like the texture on the wooden stump, along with the backdrop of the Elizabeth River.

Using the Maximar effectively requires using a tripod, since the camera was not designed for handheld operation (mostly; you can shoot it handheld, its just difficult to do so). Originally, the reason I wanted to capture this shot is the subtle highlights on the right side of the stump, which only show up around the late afternoon. The problem, of course, is that setting up the camera and composing the shot takes a minimum of five minutes. [1] This particular afternoon, the sky was rather cloudy, so the direct light from the sun was intermittent. The clouds were fast-moving, but even so, I had to wait another five minutes after setting up the camera to meter the scene. By the time I set the shutter and aperture settings and rechecked the focus (which, in itself, took around two to three minutes), the clouds had moved in again, and I had to wait another five minutes or so before they moved on, and the sun returned. Thankfully, this was not a long exposure, so I did not have to wait for the shutter to trip; even then, I had to take the next five minutes taking down the camera and tripod. Total amount of time required to capture this shot: a little over fifteen minutes. Good thing I didn’t have anywhere else to be at the time!

After getting the negative scanned, I burned the bottom of the image to darken the riverbank a bit; I didn’t really like the flotsam and such that’s down there, so I figured it would be less distracting if it were in shadow. I also had to dodge the highlights on the stump just a little to bring them out a little more, while also burning the stump itself to emphasize the different textures and tonal variations. Since the camera was pointed at the stump at a downward angle, only a small portion of the shot is in focus (I shot this at the widest aperture setting). Unfortunately, this means that the top of the pier is slightly blurred, but it also means that the river surface beyond is nicely out of focus. I think it still works.

Note also that this negative has not been cropped; the Maximar shoots 6 ½ cm x 9 cm (nominally 6×9, or 2 ¼” x 3 ¼”) negatives. The camera was originally designed to use glass plate negatives in individual plate holders, that latter of which could also use cut down sheet film. Though neither of these formats is commonly manufactured anymore, I have a rollfilm adapter that allows me to use 120 rollfilm in this camera, the film being 70mm wide. If you use 120 film in this manner and have a lab process it, be sure to mention that the frames are not 6×6 or 645; 6×9 is not a common format anymore, but the labs should be able to adjust their cutting procedure to accommodate this. The primary reason to mention it is that if the lab tech isn’t paying close attention, you may end up with your negatives cut improperly. [2] Unfortunately, the adapters are difficult to find (it appears that they were not very widely used), so if you do happen to acquire one (and it works), hang on to it! Miniature plate cameras such as this one have a universal mounting for the plate holders, so the rollfilm adapters can be used on any camera that uses this format.

Enjoy.

Notes:

[1]: Seriously, I’m not joking; I actually timed myself once. It took, on average, a little over 11 minutes to set up, meter, take the shot, and dismount the camera and tripod. This starts off “cold,” with the tripod on my back, and the camera in my pack. Don’t even get me started if I haven’t attached the quick-release mounting plate on the camera beforehand!

[2]: And no, I’m not trying to impugn the abilities of lab techs in general. If, however, the lab uses a fence with their cutters, the former may not be properly formatted for 6×9 frames, particularly if the lab cuts the filmstrip with four frames per segment (the lab I typically used would cut their negatives with both three and four frames per segment, probably depending on who was doing the cutting; as such, there was no predictability in their cutting results for any given roll, unless you requested a specific result). If you notice that your lab cuts 120 strips at four frames per segment (or they cut it sometimes with three frames, and sometimes with four), then you should make a point to tell them that your negatives have a non-standard frame size.

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2 Responses to “Nothing on my mind, 01 June 2009”

  1. MI Says:

    How you managed to turn a stick & some water into a striking resemblance of a tower along the ocean’s edge, using only a camera & some film, is quite beyond me.

    Nifty.

    • seeker312 Says:

      Odd, ain’t it…sometimes, I don’t know how that works out, either.

      In all fairness, though, only a handful of my shots work out well; consider, for example, that my Flickr site has around 1,500 photos on it, but I’ve probably shot three or four times that number in film (and well over 10,000 digital shots). Many of them are duplicates, accidents, or just didn’t work out as well as I thought they would when I shot them. I doubt I’m unique in this regard, though; I suspect that many photographers have shot far more photos than they ever willingly display. Nobody’s perfect, after all, though we sometimes actively forget the trials and tribulations that led us to our current situation. Retrospective re-interpretation of our actions is par for the course in human experience, though; or, as JMS puts it: “We remember what, and how, we choose to remember.”

      Now, if I could convince random strangers to pay for such images…ah well, one can always dream, I suppose…


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