Kodak Bantam, 30 March 2011


It’s no secret that for much of its history, Kodak’s primary concern was making simple, robust cameras that were easy for damn near anybody to use and obtain decent results. As such, while I’m not surprised that a Kodak camera could produce a good snapshot, I’m a little surprised that it produced the following shot.

BantamF6o3 CHI TMax100 WashingtonAlley01B

Photo Information:

Location: Chicago, Illinois; Chicago Loop
Camera: Kodak Bantam f/6.3
Lens: Kodak Anastigmat 53mm f/6.3
Film: Kodak TMax 100 (135 respooled onto 828)

I shot this photo while standing on the south end of the alley between Michigan Avenue and Wabash Avenue, on the north side of Washington Street. In the background are some of the buildings between Randolph and Wacker Drive to the north; the slender building in the center-right of the far background is the Mather Tower (completed in 1928 and designed by Herbert Hugh Riddle).

What surprises me about the shot is not that the camera captured something, but that it captured the scene relatively well. As I’ve written before, the camera has almost no settings to adjust, so it’s quite literally just a matter of pointing and shooting (and hoping for the best). Sure, much of the detail in the alley is lost in shadow, but the alley is generally quite dark, anyways; the Mather Tower also looks a little washed-out, but it’s clad in white terra cotta, so this isn’t entirely surprising, either. Okay, okay, so I’ll admit that I did a little dodging in the alley to reduce the amount of heavy shadow, and I did a little burning of the background elements as well. Still, I can only work with what the camera captures, and in this case, it still captured quiet a bit.



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