Nikon FA and Portra 160

My recent posts have been predominantly black-and white. This post is dedicated to Kodak Portra 160 and my first voyage with my Nikon FA. I am a die-hard fan of Canon SLRs. But having been gifted 4 Nikon SLRs in the past year (all rescued from thrift stores spanning from Georgia to Missouri), I had to start getting busy playing with these beauties. For my trip to Missouri this year, I chose the Nikon FA to be my SLR companion for the trip.

After visiting Lake of the Ozarks late in the summer last year, I was really wanting to get a shot that reflected the “post-season” feeling of the place. Once things have slowed down and there aren’t dozens of boats zipping up and down the lake, there is still a calm beauty present. Even when the boats are covered for the summer, this is still a great place for a week of R and R. I think this image captured that pretty well.

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The shot below, admittedly, was a bit of a joke. I got some nice shots of the lake house from the dock, but this one was just begging to have a bit of fun post work done. I did some color and contrast manipulation to give the shot a more surreal “technicolor” feeling.

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This shot was taken in front of Skyline Lanes in Clarksville, Tennessee. I took several others, but there was a serious problem with them. I’ll discuss that in a later post. At any rate, my unintentional model was a good sport about being in these photos. If you ever find yourself in Clarksville for any reason, find this bowling alley and go in for a few games. It really is like stepping back in time.

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The shot below was one of my favorites from the trip. I did have some glare/reflection issues on the windows, but a polarizer only made them worse. I moved my position as much as I could in order to manipulate the reflections, but it was all for naught. That being said, the reflections serve as a bit of a reality check in what could otherwise be a frozen frame from a dream sequence. The shot has such a sense of peace. Being someone who also collects mid-century pottery, I had to get the stoneware teapots in the photo. This images gives so many things to look at, but they don’t fight one another. I was pretty happy with it.

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I have to say that the Nikon FA was by far the most pleasurable SLR experience I think I’ve ever had. I say that at a very low volume as to not  upset my dear Canons, but it’s the truth. Ease and sensibility of use in all modes made me an instant fan. I was a bit apprehensive as the FA was a last-minute addition to my camera bag. With no light seals left to speak of, I was worried I’d have a bunch of.. well, “lomo” photos with lots of light leaks and all that. Thankfully, that was not the case. Luckily, I had tested the camera’s light meter against my handheld Gossen Digi-Six and the FA was spot-on in every situation I could test.

At any rate, the camera was great and I have developed a deeper love for Portra film.  I hope you enjoy. As always, I welcome comments and critiques.

Ilford Pan F 50 Film

In the days of having more stores carrying film a few years back, I absolutely adored using Ilford PanF 50 film. I mainly only shoot on my off days, which means it can only happen once I drag myself out of bed and have large amounts of coffee. By then, the light conditions are much more conducive to using ASA50 film without a tripod. 

This particular roll of Ilford PanF 50 was taken during a trip to Chattahoochee Nature Center a few years ago. While I know it may be a bit of a cop-out to post old photos instead of new things, these photos are worth sharing.  They haven’t surfaced before now because I have a problem critiquing the images I take. I get the negatives back and always think most of them are terrible. Now that I have the ability to scan them and inspect them on a larger scale, I’ve learned to hold my judgement until the scans are finished. I usually find that I like more of them than I would have otherwise thought. When I only had the prints or contact sheet to critique, it was very difficult for me to “see” the images in front of me.

At any rate, these shots using my Canon Rebel Ti and Ilford Pan F 50 film turned out great, and I’m delighted I gave them a second look. These were scanned with an Epson V500 using their negative holder. The photos, amazingly, were not touched up in any way other than removing dust bunnies here and there.  These have the tones that I usually have to play around with in PS to achieve.  Pardon the excessive patting-my-own-back  narrative in this post. I love these images enough that they deserve a little respect. Enjoy!

For me, this shot was the winner of the day. The tones, the composition, and the clarity of the subject against the  blurred background were all pretty much spot-on.

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Carpenter bee taking a late lunch. I love the way the left and right halves of the photo are different enough to stand on their own as perfectly good images.

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Photo two of the carpenter bee. i like the one above a bit better, but the bee was in better focus in the photo below.

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This shot was a surprise. I didn’t even remember taking it, but I think I pretty much nailed the composition.

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One of the nicer covered bench areas for taking a rest from the nature trail.

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The clarity on this scarecrow is simply amazing. I can’t stop looking at it.

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There are a few shots left from this roll that I’ll post in a day or two. I didn’t want to post everything in one post, plus  I can tell this post is already incredibly long and image-heavy. I hope you enjoyed seeing these. I always appreciate feedback about technique or recommendations of any kind. Feel free to chime in with a comment if you’re so inclined. Thanks!

Tea Time

Shopping in thrift stores is the one thing I love to do about as much as I love taking photos. Like anyone afflicted with the thrift store obsession, I have certain things I like to collect. Among these are mid-century California pottery, cameras (of course), some Japanese porcelain figurines, and tea sets. I don’t even care if there’s a little damage to some of the pieces or if the set isn’t complete.

A week ago, I happened upon a couple of early 1930s harp tables and decided that I would use them as a base for taking some still photography shots of some of the tea sets I have. Using the same extremely shallow depth of field to showcase a certain detail or design, I took to task. The photos you see here are some of the highlights. Incidentally, these photos were taken with a Pentax K-1000 that was also thrifted somewhere in the midwest by my partner in crime. I cleaned it up and replaced its light seals the night before these were taken. Anyway, here we go!

First up, the most complete set I have. Some gorgeous hand-painted Chikaramachi from Japan. The teapot’s spout has some damage, which is the place most teapots are injured. Even with this damage, the colors and scenery in these pieces was just too gorgeous to pass on. I wonder whose pantry these were sitting in for 70+ years? Strangely fascinating.

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Next is a tetsubin with three tea cups and holders. I’ve had the tetsubin for at least a year and a half, but these cups and holders came along a couple of weeks ago. I had been hoping to find something that would even remotely go with the set. Luckily, these came along.

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Finally, my most recent find was several pieces of a Nippon Noritake pattern. The teapot is badly damaged on one side, which I may show in a later project. For now, I wanted to let this girl show off her beauty in all its glory. Sadly, this is the only cup I was able to get. Luckily, there’s a saucer to go with it. I  hope I can get my hands on more of this pattern.

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And to end this post, here’s my shameless plug for Kodak Portra 400. I was so excited about using the Pentax K-1000 for this project, I forgot to set the ASA on the camera to 400. The camera was set on 200 the entire time.  On top of that, many of these shots were overexposed on purpose by about 1/2 stop. With latitude like this, I’ve already ordered and received another 15 rolls. Now if Autumn will just get here already.

Louisiana Scenes

These shots were taken in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2003. I had owned my first SLR, a Canon AE-1, for all of a few months. I decided to bring the camera with me on this particular trip in 2003. I’m glad I brought it with me, and I’m also glad I picked up a polarizing filter on my way out of town. You can see some rather extreme effect from polarizing in the state capitol photo at the bottom of the post and in the cathedral photo. At any rate, here goes.

This cathedral is located in downtown Baton Rouge. I took this photo from many angles, but couldn’t find anything I liked better than just head-on. Tip: Don’t leave your glasses in the car when you’re using a manual-focus camera. Even though it is a bit out of focus, it’s still a great shot with the gradient sky making the foliage really stand out.

These tug boats have been docked this particular area of the Mississippi River for as long as I can remember. I was glad to finally have a camera with me to capture them. You can definitely tell there’s some haze in the photo, but I don’t think it takes away from the feel of the photo. I’ve since learned that a UV filter is your friend.

I’ve always called this photo “The Mark of Zorro” because of the obvious “Z” formation in the photo. It could possibly have been composed a bit better, but I don’t think it would have achieved its “Zorro” had I changed anything.

This is a shot of the Louisiana State Capitol taken during a part of the day where the proverbial planets seemed to have aligned to give me this great sky. Not a single cloud, and the angle of the sun was absolutely perfect to quite literally black out the skies around the building. I enlarged this one and it’s on my wall.

Not too awful of a series considering I had virtually no clue what I was doing. In a way, I think it was better that way. I couldn’t overthink settings like aperture and shutter speed at the time because I really didn’t have much of a clue about how they affected photos. I do admit these were taken while using the Automatic Exposure setting on the AE-1.

Feel free to drop a comment if you want. Until tomorrow’s post, have a great Saturday!