Valves at Lowes Hardware. Shot with Bronica S2A, Nikkor 75mm f/2.8 at f/4 (or close) on Ilford XP2.

As I write, it is about noon on Wednesday here in Ozark, Missouri. The Sun is shining and the temperature is supposed to get up to about 60ºF this afternoon. I have a modeling running that will need a review in a few hours (it is a long run) so I have some time to do other things.

One of those will be to get The Girl out for a walk. Given that it is sunny, I might actually go somewhere else and make a few photographs. I am still testing some new equipment and learning to use film again.

I am enjoying the Sun and the warmer weather. I heard from the RV shop yesterday and my camper should be done soon, probably by Friday. It will be time to retrieve it and check everything out.

I also want to get in some radio play while the weather is nice. The forecast calls for clouds and rain this weekend, so this seems to be the time to strike. I have my eye on another park that I have not activated and it is not far away. The Girl and I could go over there and play a little.

The image is another from my test roll in the Bronica. I am a civil engineer. Valves are something I know a little about. The cluster of valves (fire outlet I think) caught my eye on a very cloudy, very cold day. So I made the capture.

Now for some outdoor time while the model runs. Life is good.

New Drone for 2024

This is along one of my regular walking paths in Ozark, Missouri. I had the new drone out for a test run and made this capture. I like having the ability to get an aerial image of an area.

Late last year I determined to upgrade my DJI Mini to the newest version, the Mini Pro 4. There are a lot of upgrades to the smallest DJI drone, but the one I wanted the most was an independent controller. I have never liked using my iPhone as the controller and was always concerned I would get a phone call in the middle of a flight. I had no idea what that might do to the controls and I get a log of spam calls.

I had a pretty good chunk of Best Buy store credits from my computer upgrades last year. So I elected to use them against the purchase of the new drone. I got about a ten percent discount as a result.

I like the ability to add aerial shots to my photography and will need to get Part 107 certification so I can legally use my drone on field walks. The imagery will help provide context for the ground shots. This will be a good thing.

The drone flies well, too. Life is good.

Tree in James River — Test Frame Bronica S2A Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8

Fallen tree on James River. Shot with Bronica S2A and Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8 at f/4 on Ilford XP2.

I recently acquired a Zenza Bronica S2A medium format camera. It shoots 6x6cm frames and came with a Nikkor-P 75mm f/2.8 lens. I have a lot more to say about the camera but will save it for another day.

I ran a roll of Ilford XP2 through the camera as a test roll before I decided to accept it. The scans came in on Saturday and I started to review them.

What I can say so far is that the camera is working correctly, at least for the test conditions used. The scan of the negative looks good, but a review of the negative with a loupe and good light will tell me more detail than the scan can. Nonetheless, I think this is a keeper.

I am looking forward to spending a lot more time with this camera. I want to shoot some real black and white film, such as Tri-X, FP4+, or HP5+, and then develop the negatives myself. I will figure out the scanning later, but I could use a DSLR to do the scans or dig out my film scanner.

I am grateful. Life is good.

The Complexity of Modern Cameras

The above YouTube video is by a favorite content creator, Alex Kilbee. He is an excellent photographer and a great teacher. It is definitely worth the watch. If you have not watched the video, then I suggest you watch it first. Then the following will make more sense.

Although I think I am a bit older than Kilbee (heh), I grew up with a simple mechanical camera and film. I was young and had little money to spend on equipment, so I made do with what I had… A body, a 50mm lens, and two aftermarket lenses — a 35mm and a 135mm. That was my kit.

I shot semi-pro back in the 90s with a pair of Canon AE-1 bodies and a few lenses. I made a few bucks, helped out some students and bands, and had a blast. Then I moved into the digital realm and got sucked into the quagmire of increasing cost and complexity.

I set my cameras aside nearly 10-years ago and used the iPhone for snapshots. Last year I was so busy I decided to pick up my cameras again so I could do something creative while hiking with my dog. I upgraded the Fuji X-T1 to the X-T5 and was astonished at the increase in quality and complexity, although the latter camera was far more refined than the former. I also picked up a Fuji X100V and found that to be the camera I carried most of the time… because of its simplicity in comparison to the more capable and more complex X-T5.

And therein is the key, I think, to Kilbee’s thesis for the video. I (we) need simplicity to focus on what is important, the image and working the subject. Digital is nice because the incremental cost of shooting is minimal whereas film is a real expense for each frame.

So, now I find myself with three old (but new to me) cameras: A Bronica S2A, a Nikon F2, and a Contax TVS point and shoot. Why? I have two reasons… well, perhaps three reasons.

First, I really like film. I am not shooting for hire or for publication; I am shooting to please myself. It is a creative outlet.

Second, there is a simplicity in the cameras. The point-and-shoot has some settings, but the camera mostly handles everything once you drop the film cassette into it. I find it an easy way of having a film camera handy when something interesting shows up. The Bronica and Nikon are simple, but capable cameras. The Bronica has no metering system — an external meter is required. The Nikon has a metering prism that uses a center-weighted meter. Both require the photographer (me) to set the shutter time and aperture. This is how I learned when I picked up a camera all those decades ago.

Third, I am learning to ignore the complexity of my digital cameras. The X-T5 will do a bagillion things in any number of ways. The X100V will do half a bagillion things in few ways. I find that setting them up for auto-ISO and auto-shutter speed, setting up back-button focus, adding one or two favorite custom settings (film simulations), and then running the aperture to create the depth of field I want is sufficient. I then forget about every other capability of the camera and just run it.

Aside: I run a black diffusion filter on my X100V — the smallest amount of diffusion possible. I find that this filter, coupled with a film simulation (Reggie’s Portra 400 and Tri-X are my favorites), provide a filmic look to the resulting JPGs. The filter also makes the X100V weather resistant, which is a bonus. I also keep the RAW files handy (sometimes) in case I want to experiment with different film simulations after the fact.

Kilbee is absolutely correct about the complexity of modern cameras and how that complexity can interfere with making photographs. It is one reason I am experimenting with film once again. But I also know that I will continue to use my digital cameras because they are capable of great images. I can dumb down the images with appropriate filtration and post processing, although I do not enjoy post processing.

The bottom line is to stop fiddling with all the camera options, pick a few to set up the camera so it works for you, then get busy looking at the world around you and making photographs.

Remainders: 27 January 2024

With the rain comes humidity. When the temperature drops to near the dew point, we get fog. It was a foggy morning. Shot with the iPhone 13 Pro Max and converted to a “film-like” look in SnapSeed.

I was neglectful of the remainders list this week. I looked at many more websites during the week and few more were notable. Alas, I did not capture the URL.

  • pyGeohydro is a QGIS package that provides access to a lot of public data.
  • USGS Stream Mapper is another QGIS package that provides access to the National Hydrography Dataset, a map of many of the streams and rivers here in the United States.
  • If it isn’t clear, I am using QGIS for my mapping needs now. This is an interesting open source project that is quite usable and recommended.
  • A contemporary of Henri Cartier-Bresson was Robert Doisneau, who also made many iconic images.
  • Rick Oleson makes upgraded focusing screens for many medium format and large format cameras. They are called the BrightScreen. This looks really interesting to me.
  • It is no secret that I am a fan of Kodak Tri-X film. I started using Tri-X more than four decades ago. I found another photographer who did a lot of experiments with Tri-X (and Ilford FP4+) varying exposure index and development times to push and pull the film speed. His results are very interesting, as are his developer choices.

The Waffle House

An iconic American diner, the Waffle House. Shot with my Contax TVS on Kodak Gold 200. Exposure details not recorded.
Some decades ago, probably in the 1980s, my practice of long road trips began. They were mostly associated with traveling from where we lived to visit family in Missouri. However, with time (and age), they have morphed into long travels for a variety of reasons. I still visit my family, but have added to that list old friends. Then there are trips added to visit work sites and just because I want to go.

What I found is the Waffle House. I have eaten breakfast at these places all over that part of the country that the franchise serves. The food is decent. It is not bistro-quality, but the short-order kind of food. I really like the waffles, the batter they use is very good. And I found that pecans in my waffle is an added tasty treat.

There is a Waffle House a few miles north from Ozark, Missouri. I am here visiting with my kids and waiting for the camper to be repaired after the blown tire tore s#*$ up. The parts are in and the camper is in the shop. Before the next leg of my trip, it will be good to have the little house restored. I really prefer sleeping in my own space.

My most recent bout of GAS1 I wished I had brought along a couple of my film cameras. Specifically, I had a Nikon FA kit partly assembled and the Pentax 645 kit was mostly assembled. But, I ran out of time to get everything done before I needed to leave. So, I left my film cameras behind.

This I regretted enough that I bought a Contax TVS point-and-shoot. It is a little Vario-Sonar zoom based 35mm camera that is very good. I wanted the T2 version, but the wannabees have driven up the price of the prime-based Contax that they are no longer reasonable. The TVS is a kind of sleeper that makes solid images at some cost to control. It is a point-and-shoot, after all.

I have always wanted a mechanical Nikon camera. When I was a young man, I wanted a Nikon Photomic. It was a tool of the professional, with prices accordingly. I could not afford one. I can now, so a F2AS joined my inventory along with a couple of lenses that are not in my collection.

I have lusted wanted a Hasselblad 500-series camera for a very long time. They were always out of my price range. I might have been able to buy one four- or five-years ago, but then the prices were driven up because of the Hasselblad reputation, I suppose. I have a couple of the V-mount lenses in my collection. I suppose it is now time to sell them… because…

After substantial research, the Bronica S2A is an acceptable substitute for the 500-series Hasselblad. No, it is not the equivalent. But it is close, close enough. It will provide the 6x6cm experience (and challenges). The Nikkor glass for the camera is quite good. It is a mechanical camera that should run the rest of my life. If it needs repair, it is repairable.

One wandered into my life a few days ago. I still need to introduce it. I will.

So, now at the end of my mental wandering, the image can be explained. I was running a test roll through the Contax TVS and saw this scene. So I turned off the flash and made the capture. I love having access to a Waffle House from Ozark. I am often up early, so I can get out for breakfast at a favorite place. It can be an interesting place to make a few captures as well.

I like it. Life is good.

1Gear Acquisition Syndrome, an affliction of lust that many photographers succumb to that causes an increased load and a reduced bank account.

Daily Image: 23 January 2024 — Books

One of the stacks at Dixon Books in Fayetteville, AR. Shot with Fujifilm X100V 23mm f/2 at f/2.8 using the Tri-X film simulation.

My kids and I took a day trip down to Rogers and Fayetteville, Arkansas on Sunday. Despite the cold, winter day (but not as cold as it has been), we had a blast. We visited a Duluth Trading Company bricks and mortar store. There I bought The Girl a jacket for our cold outings (and to keep some of the rain off). I bought myself some gloves as those I have are insufficient when it gets this cold.

We drove into Fayetteville for a Mediterranean meal and the headed downtown to Dixon Books. I love used book stores and carried a camera inside with me.

Dixon Books is one of those rabbit-warren bookstores that has lots (and lots) of bookshelves and stacks of books with small aisles to traverse the stacks. I love it.

I carried the Fujifilm X100V in my hand and made many captures surreptitiously of other wanderers of the stacks. A couple of those might be worth sharing. I also carried the Nikon F2AS, but decided that it is a bit noisy for that environment. A quite rangefinder was just the trick. (The X100V is nearly silent.)

I did not buy any new books, not having a list with me. But, I hope there will be another (perhaps many) trips back to Fayetteville and the next visit I will have a list with me.

After the bookstore, there was coffee at Doomsday Coffee, just a couple of blocks away.

It was a good day. Life is good.

No Service

If you know, you know… Shot with the Contax TVS using Kodak Gold 200. Exposure data unrecorded.

Not long after I arrived here in Missouri, I made my first trip to Bedford Camera & Video in Springfield. I decided to see what the camera store here was like and whether it would be a good place to buy film and have my processing done.

My first experience was positive. I bought some film for my new-to-me Contax TVS point and shoot camera. It is a premium 35mm point and shoot with a Zeiss Vario-Sonnar zoom lens. The zoom range is not large, just two times. But the focal lengths are useful even if the lens is relatively slow.

The clerk loaded the battery for me (a CR123A) and I loaded a roll of Kodak Gold 200. The camera wound the film onto the take-up spool just fine and announced it was ready to go. I added a few more rolls of 35mm film to my order, checked out, and headed back to the rig.

I paused to make an image of the store front and then The Girl and I headed south towards home. I was hungry and decided to stop for a bit.

The first food I came across was the Burger King on South Campbell. I pulled into the lot and walked inside. There I waited at least five minutes without acknowledgement. None of the workers greeted me. None offered to take my order.

I shook my head and walked back to the rig. Clearly they are not interested in my business. I will not be stopping there again.

We drove south a few more blocks and found a Steak & Shake. I have always liked their food, so I parked and walked into the store. I was greeted fairly quickly and then seated. Although it took a few minutes for one of the staffers to take my order, they got it done. My food was delivered hot and was tasty. I really like the fries at Steak & Shake.

I took some with me, along with a bite of my sandwich, and gave them to The Girl. She was expecting a treat, as usual. And, she got one.

I was satisfied with my outing and determined to shoot the roll of film to complete my testing of the new camera.

A few days alter (yesterday), Older Son and I decided to get out of the house and check some of the pawn shops and thrift stores for film cameras. The first pawn shop we stopped at asked “Do they even develop film anymore?”

“Yes, they do.” I responded.

He suggested we visit the Springfield Trading Depot (STD) because all of the pawn brokers are only dealing in digital cameras now. We thanked him and headed out.

STD (yes, that is the acronym) was interesting enough, but there was nothing there I was interested in. It made an interesting photo opportunity anyway. I still need to download and process those images.

I had finished my roll of film, so we headed to Bedford to drop it off for processing, I bought a few rolls of 120 black and white film, and we headed off to pick up DiL. I wanted an early supper and a trip to Bass Pro to replace her collar. The transmitter finally failed after I repaired the rotary control one time. So, it is time to replace it. She sometimes needs it to stay out of trouble. She remains an impulsive Girl.

We took her into Bass Pro (they are dog friendly) and it is such a HUGE place. There were a lot of people there (and quite a few dogs), but she really behaved well and barked at other dogs only a couple of times.

We got what we came for and were looking at the toys when we heard THE SQUEAK. She knew exactly what she wanted.

We played with that for several minutes, all four of us laughing. So we gathered up a couple of new toys for her and headed to the check out line. She was a very excited Girl.

We stopped at a Korean restaurant on the way home for a bibimpap bowl. I had not had one before and it was very good. Win! While there, I received an email that my film had been processed and my scans were ready to download. Win!

We retrieved DiL’s rig and then stopped at Andy’s Frozen Yogurt for a treat and then on home.

Yes, The Girl got a pup-cup.

When I got home, I downloaded my scans. I have a couple of keepers in the lot. That is not bad.

It was a good day. Life is good.

Remainders: 20 January 2024

This is likely to be my supplier of film and photographic support here in Springfield, Missouri. Shot with the Contax TVS using Kodak Color 200. Exposure data unrecorded.

Well, here we are in 2024.

Eleven Years — 19 January 2024

Older Son and I were actually at the B-29 Cafe, in the same center. However, the light on the sign does not illuminate the B-29 part of the sign. Irony? Shot with the Fujifilm X100V 23mm f/2 at f/8 with the Regie’s Portra film simulation.

I woke early this morning (or late last night) and was awake for an hour or so. There is nothing unusual about that — it happens often enough. Instead of picking up my iPhone, I picked up the MacBook Pro (such a lovely size for a laptop computer!) and opened the shell. It woke immediately and a light touch of my fingertip to the sensor unlocked it.

The day had already turned and I noticed the date. When I opened my weblog page, I saw the list of On This Day entries on the left. This served as a substantial memory punch that Wife left us1 11-years ago.

That realization was not the gut punch that it was several years ago. I did the work necessary to be healed. But, I felt that cold grasp around my heart that serves as a reminder of a substantial loss. I think that is part of the suck my friend Jim referred to so many years ago.

It sucks. It will always suck. But it will suck less as time passes.

I also noted that I did not post on several of the anniversaries. I will look again in the morning to see if I posted the day after. I am not one to back date my posts. I have also been extraordinarily busy the last few years.

My 2019 post was filled with dread of Ki’s coming death. She was very sick the end of 2019 with a brain tumor and I knew she would leave soon. That was also a difficult time for me2. Ki was a strong connection to Wife because of how well Ki watched over her when she was sick. It was hard losing her, too.

But, here I am 11-years later, remembering what happened this day. It was awful saying goodbye that last time. I feel a heaviness right now as I recall those last moments, her attempt to say something, and her departure from this life. To say it is a memory that will haunt me the rest of my life is not melodramatic; it is truth.

I am so thankful we had some good months together between the time her first treatment regimen ended and the second began. I am thankful that I insisted we use that time to do those things that were important to her, not knowing what was coming but preparing nonetheless. I am thankful her family and dearest friends came to see her before the end to bring their love and positive energy to her.

I am thankful for all the years we had together, for the life we shared, for all the laughs we shared, for love we shared.

I will not spend the day in mourning. She would chastise me for that. I will, however, remember her several times this day as I go through the tasks required of me. I will be grateful for the day and for the life that we shared. I will play with The Girl and get her out for a short walk, even if the temperature is heading toward 0ºF. (Yes, it will not be a long outing!)

I am grateful. Life is good.

1I use the euphemism left us for died sometimes. I am not afraid so say/write died. It is the descriptive word and it is completely true. But, sometimes I think that a less powerful word makes the language work a little better. But the truth is that she died, just as we all do.

2Do not dare tell me she’s only a dog. That will get you punched in the face without hesitation! I will then say “That was only a love tap!”